automatic paper dispensers

in the past year or so, automatic paper towel dispensers were invented, mainly for use in public restrooms.

At our workplace, the motivation for switching to automatic paper towel dispensers were touted as helping to “go green”, the new term for environmental friendliness. I suspect that it had more to do with cost-cutting as i imagine that they theoretically save the company money by decreasing paper towel use, or else the company would have bought all of us Hybrids or something.

But that’s besides the point. As i was thinking about the phenomenon of the automatic paper towel dispenser the other day, i thought about the next logical and brilliant step to take: automatic toilet paper dispensers. As opposed to having an individual dip into the toilet paper roll for whatever they’re worth, hit a button and it rations out the amount that is theoretically all you need to wipe. Maybe there’d have to be two buttons, one for “small amount” versus one for “large” amount to cover various needs.

Which sounds ridiculous, but so do automatic paper towel dispensers to me, even after all this time. Maybe we need to take cues from Demolition Man and figure out how to use the three seashells.

replacing the electoral college

many will agree that the electoral college is an outdated system for determining our presidency, but no one can figure out what’s the best way to replace it.

here’s my idea:

everyone who decides that they’re going to vote has to take a comprehensive aptitude test. but not an aptitude test like the GRE or the SAT or something that’s just based on intelligence. it’s a much broader test that encompasses other things as well – mechanical things, house sorts of stuff, understanding of politics, awareness of issues, that sort of thing.

weight the individual questions based on some sort of predetermined system (as in answering 2+2=? isn’t as impressive as 13! mod 4). Then, based on the individual’s final result, weight how much their vote counts towards the final tally to determine who takes office. that way, someone who doesn’t know what end of the pencil is used to fill in the little boxes will only influence the vote a little.

there’d have to be some guidelines. it can’t just be an isolated measure of intelligence or practical things or awareness of social issues – placing too much emphasis on any of those things individually would influence the presidency too heavily. a balance needs to be struck, determined and governed by a well-picked council.

this way, everyone can still vote, which i think is important to the democratic process, but it eliminates the total free-for-all nature of the voting system being completely equal.

and then of course there’d have to be an air-tight auditing process to prove that it was all done fairly and no one breached the system and all that.

crooked windows

whilst sitting with katie in my favorite place to get hot chocolate, she noticed that there was a painting on the wall in which the frame was not flush with the floor. Ansel Adams on a slight tilt.

we’ve had this debate before about how i like to have a small degree of deliberate chaos in my life which could have its representation in a hung painting or poster slightly off-kilter versus her need for visual order, and this brought it to the foreground again. While nothing about our contrasting viewpoints was new, this time it spurned two new ideas into my head.

one: create a work of art within a frame where the work itself is deliberately on a slight tilt from its frame. That way, when the frame is completely flush with the floor, the work is slightly crooked, or when the work is flush with the floor, the frame is slightly crooked. This gives the person who hangs it on the wall the freedom to interpet it however s/he wishes with no correct answer (even though most people would likely keep the frame flush to the floor).

two: create a computer windows environment in which the windows and their contents can be on a tilt. of course it would have to be user-customizeable, but the particular configuration i would employ would be a slight tilt, maybe 5 to 10 degrees in either direction. And i would also program some sort of randomizer – whenever a new window opens (beit a web browser window or new word processing document or what have you), the computer randomly chooses which direction and what degree of tilt the window will appear within a specified degree range (like -8 to +8).

i’m surprised that number two doesn’t exist already. you’d figure that other people would be into that sort of chaos like me and have more saavy computer programming chops than i do. But when i did an initial google, i didn’t find anything either Windows or Mac OS that would emulate something like that.

i wonder if i could get anyone to do something like that for me.