You’ve been making your bed the wrong way THIS WHOLE TIME. Six ways to repent (number 4 will shock you!)


After washing bedsheets, it is difficult to immediately determine the proper orientation for a non-patterned fitted sheet (the bottommost sheet, with the elastic border, the one that looks like this).

Frequently, one turns the sheet 90°, only to discover that the sheet was actually correct the first way. Shameful!

Now that we have solved the issues of bubonic plague, dinosaur attacks, and coastal piracy, we must turn our efforts to solving the “fitted sheet orientation” problem.

Current state of the art:

If a set of sheets have an obvious pattern on them (e.g., stripes), it can be easy to remember the proper orientation of the sheet.


Fig 1: An obvious pattern (here, stripes) makes proper sheet orientation clear. This weird striped blob is supposed to be a fitted sheet.


Fig 2: The mattress has a long edge and a short edge, unless you have some weird square- or circle-shaped bed, in which case you probably have problems finding sheets in the first place.


Fig 3: Unfortunately, with solid color sheets, the only obvious orientation-determining feature is the location of the washing instructions tag.

If you remember exactly where the tag is (e.g. “it goes on the left side”), then you have solved the fitted sheet orientation problem.

Unfortunately, this tag is located in different places in different sheets.


One simple solution would be to establish a regulatory organization (ideally at an international level) to standardize the location of the tag on fitted sheets.

We could call this the “Fitted Sheet Tag Administration.” The advantage of just standardizing the tag location is that no manufacturing process would need to be changed, and no additional costs would need to be incurred in sheet design and/or production, since the tag is already present on all sheets.


Fig 4: Tag location could be standardized. “The tag always goes nearest the starboard-side pillow.” Assumes that the bed is a boat, for sake of standardization.

If a consumer could purchase a set of FSTA-licensed fitted sheets and know that the tag always belonged on (say) the right side of the headboard, then that individual would be able to put the sheet on the bed without experiencing any psychological trauma due to having to rotate the sheet.


Fig 5: Standardized tag location allows the sheet to be rotated to the proper orientation without requiring guesswork.

Justification with math:

If we assume that there are:

  • 7 billion individuals in the world
  • of whom 20% have fitted sheets
  • and that these are changed an average of 24 times per year
  • and that orientation-determination wastes an average of 10 seconds per sheet-changing
  • Then we end up with a total time wasted per year of:
    • (7,000,000,000 * 0.20 * 24 * 10) seconds = 336,000,000,000 seconds
  • Which is a total of
    • 10,647 man-years of wasted effort every single year

This is more total time than has passed since all of recorded history!

PROS: Saves 10,647 man-years of work for every year. Generates new bureaucratic employment positions.

CONS: The Fitted Sheet Tag Administration may become corrupt and decadent if it faces no accountability.

Your lack of art appreciation has brought shame to the land. Redeem yourself with this one weird sponsorship trick.

The issue:

The fine arts constantly struggle for funding, perhaps due to their general inability to compete with modern sources of entertainment.


In art museums, commercial sponsorship could take the form of (non-destructive) modification to the works of art themselves. For example, the Mona Lisa could be holding an iPhone (an idea which has been done before:, or one could spot a Radio Shack in the nightmarish hellscape of Hieronymus Bosch’s Hell (

For flat artwork, sponsorship images could easily be added by using a glass overlay with the desired promotional material painted on. See below for details:


Fig 1: A clear overlay (perhaps a piece of glass, or an animation cel) would be slid over the piece of artwork in question. In this example, “The Scream” is modified to be chomping on a delicious hamburger. Perhaps this particular overlay would be a McDonalds ad, which might encourage Burger King to buy a competing overlay for another famous painting at the same museum.


Fig 2: Side view of the above image: A is the clear overlay, B is the painting.

One weird secret that sphinxes don't want YOU to know!!! Theseus hates this riddle!
One weird secret that sphinxes don’t want YOU to know!!! Theseus hates this riddle!


This is a great idea and you (assuming you are a museum director or curator) should apply it right away!

PROS: Saves fine art from destruction, brings more visitors to art museums.

CONS: Could make regular non-sponsored museums seem boring in comparison.

The 4 tricks to Highway Fast Lanes that you’ve been doing wrong this whole time


There is a certain amount of inherent appeal in the concept of a “fast lane” for any rate-limited transportation mechanism.

For example, on a roadway, a lane might be reserved for alternative forms of transportation (or for the especially virtuous and/or wealthy). One popular “fast lane” is the “high occupancy vehicle” (HOV) lane for cars with a certain number of individuals; this is intended to incentivize carpooling and reduce the overall amount of roadway congestion.


Fig 1: Red triangles mark a “fast lane” on this highway. Normally there would be several “normal” lanes, marked blue, although only one is shown here.

Recently, there has also been debate about of “Internet fast lanes” for certain forms of traffic. For example, maybe a company with a lot of money could pay to have its content preferentially transferred.


The reality is that “fast lane” vs “regular lane” is equivalent to “regular lane” vs “slow lane”—”fast” is a relative term.


Fig 2: A 5-lane road (or Internet connection), representing total capacity.


Fig 3: Ideally, we would magically create a new “fast lane” (left). But what we must actually do is steal one of the “normal” lanes and make it into a fast lane (right). This has the effect of making the “normal” lanes even more congested than before.

With that in mind, we come to the following proposal:

Proposal (in two parts):

The gist of this proposal is that instead of paying for themselves to be allocated space in a “fast lane,” individuals could pay to have other people put into the “slow lanes.”

Part 1: Internet example:

Imagine an apartment-dweller beset by slow Internet speeds due to a high degree of usage of the same connection by other people in the building. Although this individual might be able to pay for a faster (and more expensive) connection, under this new model they could also choose to contribute to a fund to slow down the Internet speeds of their neighbors instead. Once the neighbors connections are slowed down, more bandwidth would be left over for the paying individual’s own use.

Additionally, perhaps the apartment-dweller determines that their slow internet speeds are due to all of their neighbors downloading from a single source—”UncompressedBluRayDirect.” This user could then pay to specifically limit the bandwidth of UncompressedBluRayDirect (instead of targeting their neighbors).

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Part 2: Car example:

Some areas have an “HOV lane OK” sticker that allows certain cars to drive in the high-speed lane even if they don’t have enough passengers in them to qualify under the normal rules. (Motorcycles are often also allowed to drive in these lanes.)

But instead of having an “HOV OK” sticker, there could be a “SLOW LANE ONLY” adhesive sticker that one could purchase and stick onto one’s neighbor’s cars.

This sticker would be purchased from the local Department of Motor Vehicles and would limit the stuck-on vehicle to the slow lanes only.

PROS: Provides a more straightforward interpretation of the allocation of limited resources.

CONS: The “slow lane” sticker would probably need to be applied secretly in the dead of night to avoid negative repercussions.

12 ways to Game-ify elections: number 9 will blow your mind. Also it’s probably a weird trick I guess?


If civil society is to remain functional, some fraction of citizens must actually participate in it. However, apathy is easy!

We propose the use of proven gamification techniques to motivate otherwise-uninterested individuals into feeling a sense of civic responsibility.


In games, achievements are minor rewards for performing certain actions (e.g. “Stomped 50 goombas” or “Flew an X-Wing through the St. Louis Arch”). But there is no reason that they can’t be awarded for non-gaming actions as well. (This part is not a new idea, as seen in and .)

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Is your cat a Communist? Sponsored link.

Here, we will appropriate the “achievement” system for accomplishments in the political realm. The government already knows a lot about you: how much you’ve contributed to political groups, whether or not you showed up to jury duty, and whether or not you voted.

So why not track this information on a user-accessible web site and provide “Civics Achievements” for citizens to strive toward?

A selection of proposed achievements:


Fig 1: Political donations are commonly associated with extremely wealthy individuals and corporations, but it would theoretically be just as viable to get a contribution of $10 from a million supporters as it would be to receive $10,000,000 from a single deep-pocketed donor. Maybe an achievement-tracking system could encourage small donations from individuals.


Fig 2: The vast majority of individuals who show up for jury selection are dismissed and do not end up on a trial. But an achievement could make it seem like at least something was accomplished in that time.


Fig 3: Voter turnout could also be encouraged via an achievement tracking system. The only downside is that some percentage of voters would decide that their goal was the “I voted!” badge—rather than participation in democracy—and would probably stop voting entirely once they had satisfied the achievement’s requirements..

Informed voting:

Perhaps this achievement-based technique could also help encourage some basic research to be done before voters went to the polling places.


Fig 4: Referendums are famous for having extremely misleading titles. For example “End unemployment now!” could be a measure that sent all citizens to forced labor camps, which would technically fulfill the promise in the title.



Fig 5: Interaction with one’s representatives is one way to influence politics to some extent without spending money.

Application in non-democratic settings:

This technique can be applied in countries even without legitimate democracies. For example, one might imagine how a totalitarian state with sham elections could nevertheless drum up patriotism with a motivational achievement like the one below.


Fig 6: Exit polls conducted by the secret police reveal 100% support for our glorious leader.


You should write your representative (see achievements above) to propose this great plan, and then vote “yes” on the referendum in its favor. If you also read the text of the referendum, you will have made progress toward FOUR achievements while doing the actions in the previous sentence!

PROS: Saves democracy (at least until people collect their “I voted” achievement and then give up).

CONS: May result in seemingly impossible behavior such as individuals wanting to be called up for jury duty in order to fulfill their “jury duty” achievement. Also possible that future heroic deeds would be accomplished for un-heroic reasons—for example, a citizen might expose a secret reptilian mind-control plot not because they actually wanted to save their country, but because they needed to collect the “Whistleblower” achievement.

Natural Selection Candy Bowl: The 13 candies from your childhood that you won’t believe they still make… because you are an unusually skeptical individual


Here is an idea of admittedly limited utility: apply the principles of natural selection to a candy dish.

First, one must acquire a variety of candies of various types. In this particular example, I have ordered them (left to right) from most-to-least desirable. (The rightmost item is a toothbrush, which is the universally-despited dentists’ halloween treat.)


Fig 1: Four types of “candies” in the candy bowl. Although individual preferences may vary, in this case we assume that the overall preferences are as follows: Yellow > Orange > Green > Blue. We will refer to these as “candies” even though the toothbrush is not, strictly speaking, a candy in the traditional sense.



Fig 2: The initial candy bowl is (approximately) equally populated by the four candy types.



Fig 3: The candy bowl after co-workers / children / passers-by have visited it for some amount of time. Note that the yellow candies are heavily depleted, but the undesirable blue ones are still almost all present. (This is because they have a higher resistance to predators.)

After each step, we repopulate the candy bowl with one new candy for each (say) four of a given type. So if there are a total of 12 yellow candies in the bowl, we add three (= 12 / 4) more yellow ones. (This may require purchasing a substantial quantity of new candies.)



Fig 4: After another round of candy acquisition, the yellow and orange candies have almost been hunted to extinction.



Fig 5: The good candies have all been eaten, so now the candies’ natural predators refocus their attentions on the green ones.



Fig 6: Even the green candies are almost extinct now.



Fig 7: The candy bowl endgame consists of a monoculture of blue toothbrushes that no one wants. Success! The blue toothbrush has emerged as the most resistant candy with the highest fitness in this specific environment.


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PROS: Could be an interesting experiment to illustrate population changes due to selection pressure.

CONS: Requires purchasing a lot of candy!

The 6 food groups you never knew that you wanted to eat while on a treadmill… which you will have to do in the grim dystopian treadmill future!


As previously discussed, losing weight can be hard, especially when when hunting-and-gathering is reduced to “open fridge, acquire food.”

If it were less easy to acquire food, perhaps it would be easier to avoid becoming overweight.



In this new design for a suburban house, the kitchen is physically separated from the rest of the house by a long “treadmill hallway”—simply a hallway with a treadmill instead of a normal floor (like the “people movers” in airports).

When a person wants to go to the kitchen to make food (or just grab something out of the fridge), they have to first traverse the treadmill hallway.

Upon entering the hallway, a sensor registers that a person has entered, and the treadmill is quickly brought up to speed, preventing the house’s inhabitant from easily getting to the kitchen. Instead, the treadmill increases (and decreases) its speed to keep the user in approximately the middle of the hallway until it deems enough time to have passed (and enough energy spent) to make the kitchen-seeker worthy of actually entering the kitchen.

The treadmill computer would presumably be more tolerant of individuals trying to leave the kitchen, and would let them pass undisturbed unless it had experienced an unusually frustrating day and needed to take it out on the house owner.


Fig 1A: The overall schematic showing the house (red), treadmill hallway (blue), and separated kitchen (green).


Fig 1B: A zoomed in view of the treadmill hallway. The treadmill is computer-controlled and has optical sensors and rangefinders to determine where exactly an occupant is on the treadmill.

PROS: Increases physical fitness, decreases casual snacking.

CONS: If there is a glitch in the programming, it could catapult the house’s owner out of the hallway at an extreme velocity. Possibly huge beanbags should be placed at both exits from the treadmill hallway.

7 Cats From the 80s That You Won’t Believe Where They Are Now (On Airplanes)


First: Somehow, there exists such a thing as a “Cat Cafe” (Wikipedia link). As the name implies, it’s a cafe with cats running amok inside.

Second: many people find air travel to be an annoying and stressful experience.


Cuddly animals frequently improve situations. In order to make air travel more pleasant (and profitable for the airline?), the Cat Cafe concept can be applied to air travel as well. We will refer to this as the “Cat Cafe Airline.”

Potential features of Cat Cafe Airline:

  • Each plane would be equipped with a menagerie of fluffy domesticated beasts.
  • These soothing animals would be allowed to wander about the plane.
  • First-class seats would have first pick, and would have exclusive access to giant cats like the Maine Coon and Longcat.


Fig 1: A regular (cat-free) airline overhead bin is cold, sterile, and unwelcoming.

Methods of supplying cats to passengers:

  • One option would be to have a “cat cart” in addition to the normal coffee / lunch cart. Instead of specifying a preference for (say) coffee or tea, passengers would choose between siamese and calico.
  • Alternatively, cats could normally live in the overhead bins, and would only exit them while the plane was in flight (to make room for luggage). It is unclear if the cats’ sleeping schedule would easily align with the in-use flight time of the airplane.


Fig 2: With dozens of cats inside, the airline overhead bin takes on a warmer and more welcoming appearance.

Other concerns:

  • People with cat allergies would obviously be advised not to book a flight on a “cat plane.”
  • In some cultures, animals such as pigs and dogs are considered “unclean” and anathema. It is possible that cats also have a bad rap in certain cultures, which might limit locations where these planes could fly.
  • With this many cats, cat fights might be inevitable. Fortunately, using their in-seat entertainment systems, passengers could bet on the outcome, and the airline could take a cut. This solves the problem without any heavy-handed cat regulation.

PROS : Opens up new business opportunities and soothes passengers on long-haul flights. No animals were harmed in the making of this proposal.

CONS: Cats might escape while a plane is grounded on an exotic unspoiled island, potentially soon exterminating all native life and becoming adorable apex predators.

6 Baffling Apartment Arrangements You Won’t Believe Are Real* (* they are not real)

The issue:

Many modern apartments are extremely well-built structurally (or perhaps even over-built), but have terrible interior layouts.

Unfortunately, it is extremely expensive to reconfigure a floorplan, even if no load-bearing walls (or walls concealing wires or plumbing) need to be modified. For maximum cost-efficiency, a person interested in remodeling could potentially just take a sledgehammer to these walls, but the final result would be unlikely to be aesthetically appealing.

Sometimes, a floorplan would ideally change due to a change in the number of inhabitants of an apartment. For example, the optimal layout for a single individual is unlikely to be the same as the layout for two or three people. Or, perhaps a particular room is rarely used, and its space would be better applied toward extending another room.


One way to make apartment-reconfiguration simple would be to allow the walls to be moved. The method proposed below uses a number of independently-movable standard-sized wall panels and requires no tools to change the apartment configuration.

The general idea is:

  1. There is a track laid out in a grid pattern in the ceiling.
  2. A number of wall panels hang from this track. These wall panels can be slid and rotated along the track.
  3. The wall panels can mesh together to form a complete wall. See details below.


Fig 1: A movable wall panel.

Figure legend:

  • A (green): OVERHEAD ANCHOR: The wall is secured to the track overhead by a component that is too large to fall through the track (B).
  • B (orange): OVERHEAD TRACK: The entire ceiling is criss-crossed with a grid of tracks. Similar to track lighting, but these have to be much stronger since they are supporting the weight of the wall (and potentially anyone who leans on it / pushes it.
  • C (blue): SOUNDPROOFING / OPTIONAL WINDOW (TOP): To allow the wall to slide around, it must not be securely attached to the ceiling. Once the wall has been moved into place, the “soundproofing” component can be pivoted into place and secured flush against the ceiling, where it can apply upward pressure to secure the wall, as seen on the right side of the diagram.
  • D (red): SOUNDPROOFING / PRIVACY FLOOR PANEL (BOTTOM): Similar to “C,” except this component secures against the floor instead of ceiling. Aside from preventing a person’s feet from showing from under the wall, this component also helps securely anchor the wall panel to the floor by applying downward pressure.
  • E (purple & white) WALL PANEL: The movable wall panel itself.


  • Power outlets only exist on the immobile edge-of-floorplan walls and in a few ceiling / floor drops. This means there is no need to worry about wiring in the movable walls.
  • Overhead lights (if they even exist) are triggered wirelessly and can reconfigured to suit whatever room arrangement is desired. That way, light switches (which can also be wireless) can be reconfigured to match the actual lights in each room.

Meshing walls together:

The edges of each wall panel have yin-yang shaped “genderless” connectors that allow any panel to securely mesh with any other panel, regardless of orientation. (These is similar to the types of connectors used to link railroad cars, which can be attached regardless of orientation.) Note that no specific additional fasteners are necessary.


Fig 2: Overhead view of two wall panels meshing together. The connections can be made between any two panels, in any orientation (i.e. there is no “polarity” in the connectors).

The secret you never knew!

Layouts in practice:

The only real restrictions are the exterior walls, windows, and any “permanent” rooms (ones with plumbing or unusual electrical requirements). Additionally, due to the grid-like nature of the track and the connector types, walls will probably only fit together at 90° angles.

(It might be possible to design a track (and perhaps expandable walls) with a mechanism to allow arbitrary angles, but this is unlikely to be worthwhile in an apartment that is already bounded by rectangular external walls.)


Fig 3: A blank layout with two “fixed” rooms: the bathroom (“BATH”) and kitchen (“KIT.”). The red mark on the left side is the entry door from the shared apartment hallway. The blue region on the right side represents outward-facing windows in the apartment complex.

The kitchen and bathroom require plumbing and built-in features (and cannot be easily moved around), so they are assumed to be fixed. Despite these restrictions, this apartment could be reconfigured in many ways.

Several options are shown below. Bedrooms are numbered.


Fig 4: Various layouts that are possible by moving the movable walls (indicated in brown) around on the overhead tracks. Bedrooms are numbered “1,” “2,” and “3.” Note that a one, two, or three bedroom configuration is possible. Blue = windows.

PROS: Would be amazing in every respect.

CONS: Might allow architects and interior designers to slack off if they can fix layout issues “in postproduction.” It would probably be a huge hassle to move a bunch of wall panels around in a furnished apartment.

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!