Tuesday, July 15, 2008

How long do nail clippers last? Forever?

No, not forever. I bought a new pair of nail clippers when I first moved out to college in the summer of 2001. Recently, the hook that holds the top part in place wore away so much that I couldn't keep the top part from falling off every time I used the clippers. I bought a new one and threw that one away. So nail clippers can last about seven years, but then the hook that holds the top part might wear out. If that happens, just get a new one and throw the old one away.


Sunday, December 30, 2007

What's your take on the 1988 Writer's Strike?

Thanks to Brian Feldman for submitting this question. The 1988 Writer's Guild of America strike was probably the most significant WGA strike of all time. There had been another WGA strike in 1985, with the writers eventually caving after a couple weeks, and people expected the same thing to happen in 1988. So imagine everyone's surprise when the 1988 strike lasted for five grueling months, making it the longest WGA strike in the history of the world (edging out the 1960 strike by about a week).

The 1988 strike caused irreparable damage to movies, television, and the countless people in their employ. Nobody won that strike. It ended in bitter compromise and made everyone more jaded. But because it so surprised everyone, it had kind of a stupid effect on the studios. Because this year, when it seemed like the writers were about to go on strike, rather than doing everything in their power to stop it, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers started fast-tracking half-assed scripts and greenlighting every piece of crap they had lying around. So they'd have as much revenue as possible coming in during what they now seemed sure would be a long strike. What a bunch of assholes! That's like if my wife told me she was thinking of leaving me, so rather than devote myself to working out our problems, I had her cook up a bunch of steaks before she left, so I wouldn't starve to death in the coming days. Those steaks would not be cooked with love, and they wouldn't hold up well over time. Which is why we should all be dreading the movies that'll be hitting theaters come the summer of 2009.

Every WGA strike ever is about the same thing. Residuals. The AMPTP should be used to it. And they should be better husbands about it. Be more open and sharing. Maybe go to some counseling, or take the WGA ballroom dancing every once in a while. But I guess none of these guys were history majors, thus dooming themselves to repeat the mistakes of their parents.

One would think that the 1988 strike would have taught us something about how terrible a strike can be. But with the current strike going on two months now, it seems that all the AMPTP is interested in is figuring out whose dicks are bigger. Theirs, or the WGA's.

Who cares about dicks! They are ruining movies and television!

Some people say the entertainment industry never fully recovered from the damage of the 1988 strike. Let's hope the 2007 strike doesn't scar the face of American entertainment any more than it already has.

By the way, if the strike spills a couple more months into 2008, it may then become appropriate to call it the 2007/2008 strike. Right? I would write more quippy things, but I don't want to be labeled a scab during these rough times. I guess that's a question for another time.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

What's the difference between scissors and shears?

It happens to everyone. You walk into a store looking to buy a nice pair of scissors, and you stop dead in your tracks. On one side, you see 8-inch straight scissors with stainless steel blades. And right next to it, 8-inch straight shears with titanium blades. They look almost identical, but the scissors are more expensive. Which one is the wiser purchase? What the hell is the difference?

I had this problem today, and I couldn't tell which one was more my style. The scissors had orange handles with some gray, and the shears had black handles, with some red. The scissors were pointier, and the shear blades were darker. The price difference didn't help me at all. Because if one is more expensive, then that must be the better one. But if the other one is cheaper, then a cutting novice like me could jump at the bargain and still get my money's worth. The thing that really made this a pain in the ass is that Office Depot didn't think they needed to put any description on the products telling me what made them different. I actually had to research this.

From what I gather, shears are essentially the same thing as scissors, but have double ground edges, useful for cutting heavier material. So if you only cut normal things, like gift wrap and construction paper, you could probably do all right with scissors, which is what I ended up buying. But if you feel like one day you might get the irrational impulse to cut through some hard plastic object that was never meant to be cut, I guess go for the shears. It doesn't hurt to be prepared.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Why do some websites ask you to verify your birthdate?

This is to make sure you are the appropriate age for that website. Sometimes, a site will feature content that is not for kids, such as profanity. Or, for example, promotional websites for official brands of beer will have you enter your birthdate at the home page, to make sure that you are old enough to look at the beer-related material, since beer is only for people who are 21 or older. If you enter a birthdate that reveals you to be underage, you will be shown a message explaining that you are too young for the website, and your journey will end there. But if your age is appropriate for the material, you will be granted access to the text and images safely contained within the confines of the website.

This is a highly effective method for screening minors, because the calculation of one's age from their truthful birthdate is never wrong. And no one will ever enter a false birthdate, because the text says that you have to put your real one.


Saturday, March 17, 2007

What the hell happened on Jeopardy! yesterday?

Indeed, this Thursday, the Orlando Sentinel reported that Jeff Ritter, the senior publicist for Jeopardy!, had sent them a notice that read as follows: "This Friday, March 16th, 2007... and for the first time in 23 years, Jeopardy! history will be made. It was such a remarkable event we consulted a game-theory expert, and he said it may never happen again!" When I first read this, I couldn't imagine what it could be. It had to be something mind-blowing. Like one person running the board and winning everything while everyone else gets zero points. But the episode has since come and gone. So, for those of you who don't watch Jeopardy!, which is, like, what, everyone reading this, including myself, I'll tell you what happened.

There was a three-way tie for first place, with each contestant finishing the game at $16,000. I'm assuming they are just going to bring all of them back for another show on Monday, as is official Jeopardy! policy for anytime there is a tie.

Thrilling, right? Who gives a shit? In 2004, Ken Jennings won $75,000 in one day. That's more than all three of these first-place schmucks' winnings put together. I hope Jeopardy senior publicist Jeff Ritter thinks long and hard the next time he gets the impulse to waste our time with stupid bullshit.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Why do I get the feeling I'm misusing the word "factoid?"

Because you are. If you ask the average person, the word "factoid" means "a brief, somewhat interesting fact." But, in reality, the word "factoid" is meant to describe a bit of unverified or inaccurate information that gets thrown around so much, usually through some kind of press, that its very repetition eventually cements it as an accepted fact. The seemingly agreed-upon definition of "factoid," then, is in itself something of a factoid.

If this is all too much to handle right now, just try to remember that the "-oid" suffix means "resembling, or having the appearance of." Like when you hear a human-looking creature being referred to as a "humanoid." Think about what that makes a "factoid."


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Why is Daylight Saving Time early?

Back in August of 2005, President Bush signed a bill into law called the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The basic purpose of this statute is to combat energy problems in various ways, and one of the provisions of the thing is that Daylight Saving Time has been extended by approximately four weeks. So as of this year, instead of starting on the First Sunday of April and ending on the last Sunday of October, it will start on the second Sunday of March and end on the first Sunday of November, and some scientists or something are going to study energy consumption in the coming years and see if it makes any difference.

We've been doing it the old way for about twenty years, and Congress does reserve the right to change it back to the old way if this turns out to be just one big waste of time. So do be prepared for another massive time policy change in the unforeseen future. In the meantime, I'm not sure what difference four more weeks of Daylight Saving Time is going to make for the average person living on the planet. I currently wake up after the sun rises and see it set every day, like before 5:30. I guess this means more sunlight for people like me. Those who get up super early have to do so in the dark now, and I feel bad for them. Overall, the "fall backwards" seems to be more fun than the "spring forwards," but I guess it depends on the person doing the movement.

You'll notice I've been saying "Daylight Saving Time" instead of "Daylight Savings Time." That's because the "Saving" is not supposed to be plural. The "Time" is the noun, and the "Daylight Saving" is the adjective. There should probably be a bunch of hyphens in there, but there isn't, so it's up to us to remember. It's probably too late, because history has shown that when large groups of people mangle or misuse a word or phrase, it tends to stay mangled or misused. I wonder if President Bush gives a shit about that.