Incredible secret to lose weight FOR FREE—doctors hate it!


Food is delicious, and in the past, the main threat to survival was starvation rather than over-eating.

But, times have changed!

Historically proven method

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Now, almost everyone gets fat. How can this issue be solved without hiring an unyielding personal trainer and chef for every single person?


One way to solve this problem would also be extremely profitable for the company who made it happen. For a small initial fee, this company would go into a person’s house and remove the person’s microwave, fridge, and any food-preparation or food-storage items. The pantries and cabinets would be filled up with sandbags and discarded peanut shells.


Fig 1: The fridge would be removed from the dieter’s house.

Next, a vending machine would be installed in the house, where the fridge used to be. This would be the person’s only source of food (unless they happened to live very close to a restaurant or cheated in some other way).


Fig 2: The vending machine has now replaced the entire kitchen in the house of the dieter.

This vending machine would sell healthy and low-calorie items at low cost, and more appealing items at a very high cost. This would supplement the dieter’s willpower; not only would they have to just overcome their desire to lose weight in order to eat an unhealthy food item, but they would also have to insert (say) ten dollars into the vending machine for a slice of pizza. (We will assume there is a heating element that could reheat the pizza on demand.) This additional financial punishment might help keep people stay on their diet plan when they would otherwise have strayed.


Now the user can lose weight and switch to a healthier diet more easily, while the program that installed the vending machines can profit from momentary lapses in self-control.

PROS: Helps reduce obesity-related diseases and reduce overall national medical expenses. Increases life expectancy and quality-adjusted life years.

CONS: None!

Serve your next jury duty on Netflix or Youtube


Jury trials can last for an extremely long time, potentially upwards of several months. Every day during the trial, at least 12 jurors will be inconvenienced by showing up to the court.

The issues:

Besides the issue of wasting so much time for so many people, there are several additional factors:

  1. Jurors can become bored, inattentive, or simply overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of evidence that is presented at a trial.
  2. Any testimony or evidence has to be presented on-site at the trial during normal business hours (with rare exceptions for video testimony). This is unnecessarily limiting.
  3. Jurors may occasionally be instructed to exclude or ignore evidence that has been presented but (for whatever reason) is inadmissible. However, it is not actually possible for a juror to wipe their memory of the improperly-presented evidence.
  4. Jurors may be influenced more by the charisma and speaking style of witnesses or lawyers, rather than the substance of what they are saying.


Fig 1: The “scales of justice” can also be used to weigh people or sacks of flour.


Instead of having a trial drag out for weeks and weeks, it could be filmed and edited down to the length of a standard miniseries.

Each one-hour “episode” would consist of alternating segments by the prosecution and defense.

The episodes could be released in several ways:

  1. As a streaming “Netflix”-style video to the jurors to watch at home as streaming video at their leisure.
  2. As a streaming video, but requiring the jurors to all watch it at the same time and log into a shared chat room. This could also be accomplished from jurors’ homes.
  3. In a regular conference room or movie theater, where all jurors would be obligated to show up at the same time and the trial video would be presented (and refreshments provided). This would be the most similar to existing jury duty, except that it would be shorter and after work hours.


Fig 2: With a camera in the courtroom, the jury could be removed entirely.

This solves many problems:

  1. Qualified jurors attempting to weasel their way out of jury duty due to the burdensome obligation (greatly minimized)
  2. Jury duty could be scheduled for 8–9 PM for a week, thus preventing it from conflicting with normal work hours.
  3. Inadmissible evidence can be removed in the editing room.
  4. Trials would be cheaper and shorter.
  5. Would bolster the video editing sector of the economy.

Finally, particularly compelling trials could even be released on a “pay-per-view” system, bringing in much-needed funds to the civil infrastructure.


Fig 3: The old jury box (left) and the new jury box (right, note that it is empty) after the proposed modifications. It could be used to grow lettuce or radishes, thereby increasing the “sustainability score” of an eco-friendly courthouse.

PROS: Reduces the annoyance of jury duty, increases the quality of legal representation, and saves money for the court system.

CONS: None!

Fix possessives, plurals, and contractions forever with this one incomprehensible English orthography trick

The horrifying issue:

The “apostrophe + s” ending in English has multiple meanings. This can be confusing.


Fig 1: Hypothesis: the apostrophe (as seen above) is a poor choice of symbol for indicating possession.

Here are some examples of a few applications of ’s (or s’ ) :

  1. Singular possession (“The cat’s tail.”)
  2. Plural possession (“The many trees’ leaves”—not “trees’s leaves”)
  3. Contraction, short for “is” (“It’s cold outside”)
  4. Contraction, short for “us” (“Let’s go inside”)

Aside from the varying rules, “s” is also the way of pluralizing in English. So possessive and plural can sound the same.

And “it’s” vs “its” is a popular point of confusion.

  1. “The horse’s hooves made noise.”
  2. “Its hooves made noise.” No apostrophe here! (And “it’s” is a separate word entirely.)


Let us disambiguate these cases in text, while keeping the pronunciation the same.

  1. Plurality remains “-s” and “-es.”
  2. Contractions (e.g. “let’s go” or “it’s going to rain”) can remain the same.
  3. For possession, we’ll use a new symbol. It will still be pronounced the same way.

OPTION 1: A plain “z” might work, and has a similar sound:


  • “The fishz scales.” “The octopusz tentacles.”
    • This becomes awkward when a word ends in a “z.” There are about 60 English words that this would affect.
    • Example: “The waltzz (“waltz’s”) steps were difficult.” Or: “The Jazzz (“Jazz’s”) audience.”

These oddities could be avoided with an apostrophe or hyphen:


  • “’z”: “The two quizzes’z answers.” “The fizz’z sound.”


  • “The quiz-z answers.” “The Joneses-z house.” “The cats-z tails.”

Fig 2: Maybe Z or -Z or ‘Z is the way to go.

OPTION 2: We could use a special punctuation mark that is only for possession.

The degree symbol (°) gets very little use in English, and could perhaps be re-purposed

  • “°”: “The two horses°s saddles.” “The various bottles°s labels.” “The cat°s meow.”


Fig 3: The degree symbol is generally unused in English writing, so it could be repurposed with few complaints. This might be the cat°s meow.

OPTION 3: Alternately, we could omit the punctuation-mark-and-letter entirely, and borrow a possessive-indicating character from another language (which we would still pronounce as “s.”).

  • Chinese possessive-mark equivalent:
  • Japanese possessive-mark equivalent:

The Japanese one is simple and resembles a (very large) punctuation mark already:


Fig 4: Perhaps symbols from other languages would be suitable. Example: “The horseshoe nails.” “The man jacket.” “The dozen cats tails.”

Possessive pronouns according to these rules:

We can also make “his / hers / theirs / its” fit this system:

  • her / hers —> herz / her’z / her°s / her
  • its —> itz / it’z / it°s / it  (note: not to be confused with “it’s” as in “it’s going to rain”)
  • theirs —> theirz / their’z / their°s / their

We have at least two options for “his”:

  • his —> hisz / his’z / his°s / his
  • Or if we disassemble “his” into “he’s”:
    • his —> hez / he’z / he°s / he
  • Or maybe even:
    • his —> hiz / hi’z / hi°s / hi

The last one has a new (but very unlikely) confusion: “hi°s” (“tell him that hi°s car is double-parked”) is now visually identical to “hi°s” (as in “we greeted them from afar with a loud ‘hi’, but the hi°s volume wasn’t high enough for them to hear it”).


  1. Plural remains “s” with no bells and whistles.
  2. Possession is indicated with either a “z” or some combination of punctuation-and-z (e.g. “°z”), or possibly by a completely new punctuation mark borrowed from another language (e.g. “”).
  3. Contractions (like “let’s go” and “it’s cold”) remain “’s”.

Now we’ve freed up the apostrophe for its primary job of indicating contractions!

PROS: Will create thousands of new jobs teaching writing to primary school students. Finally the tyranny of “its” vs “it’s” will be banished from the land.

CONS: If we start using “” or “”, other countries might invade when their own supplies of these valuable characters run low.

Never drop your camera again, although honestly who even has a camera anymore now that cell phones have good cameras. Pretend this post is from a while ago.

The issue:

The original shape of a film camera was dictated by the physical constraints of film and lenses.

However, digital cameras have maintained the same unwieldy and awkward layout of film cameras, even though there is no longer a reason for a camera to be shaped in such a way.

In fact, the asymmetrical “grip the camera on the right side, and awkwardly push the shutter on the top of the camera” must lead to thousands of dropped and lost cameras every year.


Let’s look at the basic design of a camera:


Fig 1: A simplified camera. BLUE: “active” elements (controls on left, a focusing ring on right). RED:  shutter button.

There is another well-known “point-and-shoot” object that has a much more ergonomic grip than a camera:


Fig 2: A simplified handgun. BLUE: hammer. RED: trigger.

Let’s compare the way in which a hand holds a camera vs. a handgun.



Fig 3: Grip comparison. In the handgun example (left), note that at least three fingers grip the gun at all times. Additionally, the hand is held in a roughly neutral position, which makes it easy to point at the intended target. In the camera example (right), a one-handed grip results in three fingers awkwardly gripping against the thumb (in blue). Assuming that the camera is held in the right hand (which is where the shutter button is on virtually all cameras), the camera’s center of gravity means that it wants to fall down and to the left.


Cameras should be designed for one-handed operation with a pistol-style grip. Although it is possible to buy aftermarket pistol-grip adapters for professional cameras, they are large and either 1) do not have a shutter trigger or 2) need to be specially interfaced to the shutter button, which makes them incompatible with consumer-grade cameras.


Fig 4: Proposed camera design, allowing a secure grip and easy one-handed aiming and operation. As an additional benefit, the grip could be placed slightly forward of the camera body, thus allowing the center of gravity of the entire camera + lens assembly to be directly over the grip (rather than forward from the grip, as you would get with an aftermarket pistol grip).

PROS: Reduces the chance of dropping a camera. Makes aiming much easier.

CONS: Admittedly, the grip would significantly increase the size of the current crop of extremely thin point-and-shoot cameras. But it would be perfect for the “prosumer” market.

Amazing receipt tip that will help you spend more money than you had planned (thus stimulating the economy). You won’t believe what happens next!


Up-selling is a great way for a business to generate additional sales by tacking on a vaguely relevant follow-up item to an existing sale.

Well-known examples:

  • Car industry: Adding on a fancy stereo system to a new car purchase.
  • Fast food: “Do you want fries with that?”
  • Consumer electronics: Buying an extended warranty (for example, AppleCare)

The issue:

Despite the ubiquity of up-selling in a few product categories, it’s relatively uncommon in most businesses.

Perhaps it is difficult for most businesses to think of a way to up-sell without seeming crass, or maybe it is just hard to think of relevant items that would go with a specific purchase.

Here is a proposal to make up-selling incredibly easy and not even require an additional transaction.


When you get a receipt for your purchase, there will be a mini-catalogue of other related products and a set of checkboxes. If you check the boxes, those items are added to your order and included in the original transaction.

Fig 1: Original receipt. So boring and unprofitable!

Fig 2: Receipt with checkboxes for add-on purchases. Here, the cafe patron purchased a jaunty scarf and a box of assorted chocolates in addition. Note that this receipt takes exactly as long for the business to process as the standard one (it takes the buyer a tiny bit longer, since they have to go up to the counter to pick up their new purchases).


  • At a fast food restaurant, you could buy a pack of gum via checkbox after your meal.
  • At a barber shop, you could buy a recommended shampoo / hair gel / conditioner via checkbox after your haircut.

PROS: Could increase sales and profit margins for struggling businesses. As an aside, this is one of the few ideas on this blog that is not incredibly horrible in an obvious fashion. Apologies.

CONS: Would cost a tiny amount more to print the slightly longer receipts.

When someone lost all their money to a scam, you’ll never believe how they recovered 90% of it thanks to one weird legislative trick!


Financial scams come in all shapes and sizes, ranging in nature from “unbelievable” to “completely hilarious.”

But, it’s rarely hilarious to the scammed person! And even people who haven’t fallen for transparently obvious scams can be affected, as relatives are often are on the hook to keep their loved one from starving on the street post-scam.

The issue:

So we’d ideally like to reduce the number of scams that separate people from their worldly possessions. (This only applies to financial scams, and not, for example, “lose weight instantly with this one weird trick!”)

Right now, scammers operate in a realm of fantastical results where they don’t face any competition. For example: “10% returns on your investment, every month! Guaranteed to not lose money!” These claims are necessarily far superior to the claims made by legitimate investments.

We would like to add more competition to the scam-space by sanctioning a certain number of officially-licensed scammers.

Thus, instead of having 100 legitimate businesses offering “1.5% investment return per year” and one scam business offering “35% return every month!”, we would now have the same 100 legitimate businesses, but 100 new scam businesses that would offer a variety of unbelievable returns.

So far, this only makes the situation worse—but the crucial difference is that these new “official” scammers would have to abide by certain rules, and would have to return a certain fraction (say, 90%) of scammed funds to their marks.

percent-100Fig 1: Before the proposal: 100% of scammed funds are stolen by unscrupulous scammers.


A prospective scammer can register with the government for a “scam license.”

Possession of such a license immunizes the scammer from prosecution, as long as they follow these rules:

  • 1) Properly document all financial transactions
  • 2) Hold on to 90% of the scammed funds for each scammed individual.
  • 3) Return this portion of funds when they are (eventually) “called” on their scam.

Additionally, in order to keep these scammers from competing with legitimate businesses:

  • 4) The official-scammers must make outlandish claims of returns so as to not be mistaken for a legitimate investment. These would be specifically regulated (e.g. “Promised returns must be at least 5x higher than this year’s best-performing ETF on the NYSE”).
  • 5) The scammers must claim to compete in an existing market, to prevent scammers from poisoning innovation by making any new high-returns market immediately appears to be a scam. So “we have one weird trick for flipping real-estate and guaranteeing 200% gains” would be OK (real-estate flipping is an existing market), but “We have a secret plan to mine asteroids and earn a billion pounds of gold” would not be (asteroid mining is not an existing business).

percent-90 Fig 2: The licensed “official” scammers can take 10% of scammed funds, and must return 90% to their overly-credulous “investors.” Red portion of pie chart represents the stolen funds.


These new officially sanctioned scammers might be able to lure gullible “investors” away from real scams, and cause them to only lose 10% of their money rather than 100% of it.

Although it’s possible that people would fall for multiple scams in a row, it would still be preferable to lose 10% of funds each time rather than 100%.


PROS: Reduces the number of financial scams by providing additional competition for those scams. Provides additional sources of employment for ethically-flexible employees in the financial sector.

CONS: Would remove sources of income from scammers, who presumably occasionally also have families to support. Cry a tear for them!

Use common mechanical attachments with a standard bicycle using this one weird tip. Also, you won’t believe what happened next.

Background: A person can generate on the order of ~100W on a stationary bicycle for a half hour or so, for a total of 0.05kWh. This would be enough to power a space heater for about 3 minutes, or a low-draw 10 watt LED light for 5 hours.

There are already various electrical contraptions with batteries that allow a person to theoretically charge a laptop / phone using pedal power.

But there is currently no standard purely-mechanical interface to the bicycle!

The Proposal:

In order to remedy this omission, there should be a standard interface that would allow any mechanical device to receive rotational energy from any bicycle, without requiring modifications to the bicycle. This could be useful in a post-apocalyptic scenario.

The basic plan would very similar to a bicycle-to-stationary bicycle conversion kit (examples: ).

  1. It would consist of a roller that is driven by direct contact with the rear bike tire. (Although it would be more efficient to capture the rotational energy at the pedals, most methods of doing so would require at least some minor alterations to the bicycle [1] .)
  2. The roller would have a standard-sized drive gear on one end, which could be connected in order to power compatible equipment without the need for any electrical or battery-based intermediaries.

Such devices might include:

  • A drill (with power transmitted through a cable, in the same way as an old-fashioned foot-pedaled dentist’s drill operates).
  • A bike / car tire pump. Much easier than compressing a cylinder manually!
  • A water pump, perhaps for drawing up water from a well.
  • A sewing machine
  • A blender
  • An electric mixer
  • A circular saw

Fig 1: Pedaling this now-stationary bicycle causes the back wheel (red) to drive the stationary-bicycle-style roller (blue), which then causes the attached gear to rotate (yellow). Additional to-be-powered devices can be attached to that gear at the point indicated by the orange arrow. (Note: although in this diagram the gear is connected to a long axle, the gear would presumably actually be directly attached to the roller.)

PROS: Lets you use various blending / cutting / etc. devices in a post-apocalyptic world without electricity or batteries. The standardization of this system would allow simpler development of additional devices to be powered in this fashion.

CONS: This proposed device would probably occupy a lot of space in a garage or closet, which would be wasted in the event that there is no post-apocalyptic world to cope with.


[1]: For example, a gear could be interfaced directly with the front gear (avoiding the entire chain of transmission loss to the chain, rear wheel, and roller), or the chain could be attached to the front gear and used to directly power our drive gear / roller, avoiding the transmission loss with the roller and rear wheel.

Never be bothered by annoying political ads again! Because you won’t be voting!


Voting is important for selecting members of government and influencing policy through referendums, recalls, and other measures directly submitted to citizens.

However, it’s a lot of work to be an informed voter, and most voters are apathetic and uninformed. In the case of referendums / ballot measures that are directly voted on, most voters are not even qualified to evaluate the implications of a measure even if they actually bother to understand the text of the referendum.

The Issue:

Aside from the problem of bizarre ballot initiatives (such as this one banning horse meat sales:, many elections are determined not by actual merits, but rather by the success of advertisement and “get out the vote” efforts—which are heavily influenced by the amount of cash available.


Fig 1: Voting is sometimes easy and obvious…


Fig 2: But it can also be a confusing mess!


To fix this, one theory is that voters should become less apathetic. But that is not a realistic recommendation—it’s like suggesting “everyone should drive carefully!” as public policy for reducing car accidents, or “people should just eat less!” to solve the problem of obesity.

So a more realistic proposal is to allow voters to—instead of voting as usual—transfer their voting privilege to any other citizen.

This “representative” will then have his or her votes counted multiple times; for example, if 15 people transfer their vote to Representative X, then Representative X’s ballot counts for a total of 16 votes (their own, plus the 15 people who delegated their votes).


Fig 3: The idea behind this ballot delegation plan. The blue individual is the “representative,” and the red ones are the voters who are giving up their vote. In this particular instance, the blue individual would end up with a total of 7 votes instead of the default 1 vote.

Essentially, this is an informal reinvention of representative democracy. It has a few additional benefits:

  • It does not require the creation of additional gerrymandered voting districts (A few good examples are available at
  • It allows people to feel like their votes actually do count (even if voters don’t necessarily cast their own votes), which may be beneficial to the long-term health of the democratic process.
  • It allows people to easily participate in the democratic process while themselves remaining totally oblivious and uninformed. Since this is the inevitable state of affairs, it’s best to plan around it rather than to remain in willful denial.

There are three additional important features that would prevent obvious methods of abuse:

  • The “transfer your vote to a representative” process would be done by secret ballot, so no one could be coerced into actually transferring their vote if they didn’t want to.
  • The “representative” actually does not know how many votes they command. In fact, a person could be a representative without even knowing it. This would also reduce the effectiveness of lobbying / bribing representatives, since the bribe-er would have no idea if a representative actually had as many votes as they claimed.
  • There could be a limit on the total number of votes an individual could amass (perhaps 100, or 1000) to prevent single individuals from easily subverting the election process.

PROS: Could prevent elections from being decided primarily by money. Allows apathetic voters to have their uninformed and poorly justified opinions represented in the democratic process.

CONS: None! Go out and get signatures for a constitutional amendment today!

Never pay for a climbing gym again with this one micro-transaction trick (which is also weird)


In this plan, we will discuss a sub-category of indoor climbing: bouldering. Bouldering involves climbing up a surface that is studded with various hand- and foot-holds, and it generally involves no safety equipment beyond a padded mat.

The Issue:

Bouldering / rock climbing has gained significant mainstream popularity since 2010. However, one thing that has not changed is the price; most climbing gyms cost approximately the same amount as a regular gym, about 5% of the total take-home income of a person earning minimum wage.

Although this is not a huge amount, it is enough to discourage many individuals.

It is likely that many additional people would go to indoor climbing gyms if they were initially free.

Here, we take inspiration from the “phone app” market, where software is now generally free with in-app purchases, rather than being (say) $5 up-front.)


In order to encourage people to try climbing and (potentially) increase gym profits, there are two sub-proposals here, the “evil” one and the “non-evil” one. Let’s do the “evil” one first:

EVIL proposal:

  • The climbing part of the gym becomes totally free to use. (Equipment rental—shoes in this case—would still cost money.)
  • Instead of having normal climbing routes, the routes are changed such that it is possible, or in fact encouraged, for the user to be able to climb the routes in a safe fashion, but will likely end up “stuck” at the top in a way that it is very difficult to get back down safely.
  • Possibly the route ends on a safe ledge, but the only obvious descent is over a crocodile pit.

Fig 1: Crocodiles will work for less than minimum wage and are philosophically opposed to unionization, making them ideal employees.

  • Overhangs, in particular, are frequently much easier to climb up than down, and could be employed to this end.
  • Here is where the microtransactions come in: at the top of the route, there would be a vending machine that would sell access to a single-use rope / elevator, allowing the climber to purchase safe descent to the bottom (instead of risking life and limb trying to climb down the route over the crocodile pit).

NON-EVIL proposal:

  • Each route could have a fee associated with starting it (“$3 to start this climb”), but a climber is refunded that fee if they make it to the top on their first try.
  • Possibly microtransactions could also be applied here, e.g. “for an additional $1, we will light up the holds that are intended to be used for this route.”
  • Or, if the climbing wall was suitably futuristic and could be reconfigured by a computer, this could even be made into a sort of gambling game, as follows:
    • A climber would pay an “entry fee” for a yet-unknown route of a given difficulty.
    • Then a route would be randomly generated (or selected from a database of thousands of options), and the computer would reconfigure the climbing wall.
    • For every climber who FAILED to make it to the top on their first try, a fraction of their entry fee would be put into a prize pool.
    • That prize pool would then be claimed by the first climber to made it to the top on their first try.

PROS: Could broaden interest and allow people with few financial resources to start bouldering.

CONS: BIG GOVERNMENT would probably put a stop to the crocodile idea (it might not be an OSHA-approved workplace, among other potential violations). Possibly it could still be implemented in international waters.

Never be annoyed by jury duty again—use prisoners as jurors


Many citizens in countries with jury duty find it to be a somewhat burdensome obligation. Jurors are either unpaid, or paid only a nominal amount (on the order of a couple hours of minimum wage for an 8-hour day).

(Note that the jury system is by no means a requirement for a trial. In most countries, trial outcomes are determined exclusively by professional judges.)

The Issue:

Since trials can commonly last for weeks or months, and there is no provision for a person to be able to do their day job while they are on a jury, it can become very difficult for a juror to go about their life while the trial is in progress.


Fig 1: A hypothetical jury, randomly chosen from the local population. These 12 people probably would rather be somewhere else, but they’re doing their civic duty.


It might be possible to select from a group of individuals who are still more-or-less representative of the population as a whole, but whose lives would not be negatively disrupted by a lengthy trial. Specifically, the jury could be selected from the ranks of convicted criminals.

Since these individuals are already serving a prison sentence, they don’t have a job that would be interfered with, and there would be no need to ever “sequester” a jury made up of prisoners, since they are already sequestered by definition.

There is precedent for previous obligations being made optional, at least in the United States:

  • Church attendance (mandatory in the 1600s, now optional)
  • Military service (mandatory if drafted, now optional)

If the jury trial is to be retained, perhaps it too should be made optional for non-incarcerated individuals.


Fig 2: A hypothetical jury of only prisoners (in anachronistic garb).

PROS: Saves time and money spent mailing out jury summonses, saves lost wages and productivity of the individuals on the jury. Gives the incarcerated individuals something productive to do that is probably more interesting than being in prison.

CONS: None!