Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday Brain Teasers

Welcome back, class. Let's start with an essay question. Was there anything short of WWII that Germany could have said to communicate their dissatisfaction with the Treaty of Versailles and desire for a more liberal peace as exemplified by the Marshall Plan? Try to show how violence is never the answer. Now a word problem: Where x is the value, measured in headline position and column inches, of 11.8 million human lives threatened by famine, while y is that same value for the story of a dead pop singer, prove by induction that y>x. Be prepared to show your work.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A fictitious narrative which terminates in an atrocious pun.

He stood in the doorway with a paper plate in his hand. Covered in aluminum foil, it contained a double portion of the complicated quinoa salad he had complimented so effusively at dinner. Now the leftovers were his to take home, if he could ever get out the door. But the two women were still saying goodbye. He looked at his host and smiled. And his host smiled back. They smiled at one another. There was absolutely no eye rolling. Shifting his stance, he tapped, deferential, upon her shoulder. “Let us go now,” he said. “Without further adieu.”

Monday, July 11, 2011

I must blog about this immediately.

Remember Tamagotchis, the little electronic pets that first came out about 15 years ago? Kids would carry them around as they simulated an organic life cycle, demanding to be fed and cleaned and otherwise attended to at preprogrammed intervals. All virtual, of course; what you actually do is push certain buttons whenever the machine tells you. A silly toy- it teaches you nothing, prepares you for nothing. Still, a generation of kids walked around bent over these little beeping boxes, absolutely absorbed by this utterly meaningless activity. Those kids are now in their 20s, and have outgrown such childish pastimes.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Here's what makes us unique.

I'm looking at an outdated promotional calendar that carries upon it the mission statement/motto of the company that gave it away: “Our commitment to sophisticated technology is an investment in customer satisfaction.” Isn't that delightful? It's the sort of thing that's a perfect example of the sort of thing it is. I can envision them agreeing after hours of earnest debate and revision that, yeah, this really gets it. And one guy says, “But what about our tradition of innovation?” Then after a few moments of consideration, somebody says thoughtfully, “I think the tradition of innovation is pretty strongly implied.”