Thursday, February 18, 2010

The 100 Greatest Things Of All Time: #79-70

#79: Determinism

Takes the worry out of those awful circumstances when you're brushing your teeth but also have to urinate. Should you

a) finish brushing your teeth, then urinate?
b) stop brushing your teeth, urinate, then resume brushing your teeth?
c) urinate while brushing your teeth?

Ultimately, it does not matter, and you are causally (though perhaps not morally) blameless no matter what you think you decide to do. Initial conditions + the laws of physics = whatever, you know!

: Quantum mechanics

Like most of post-1900 physical theory, sufficiently opaque to provide aid & comfort to anyone seeking to rescue some cherished fantasy from implausibility (see free will, above).

#77: Will Clark

A racist hunter who had a massive belly by the end of his career, this sweet-swingin' phenom hit a home run off Nolan Ryan in his very first major-league at-bat.

#76: Man Vs. Wild

This show is awesome. Relentless hard man and self-promoter Bear Grylls performs increasingly stagy survival-type bullshit on the Discovery Channel. The show has finally abandoned all pretense that Bear is ever actually at risk or teaching us anything about survival. On the episode I saw most recently, Bear taught the audience that the best way to survive being stranded in the Sahara is to find either 1) a well, or 2) a section of coastline that has a shipwreck filled with octopi. The show seems aimed at people who have never spent any time outside while not complaining. Watch Bear climb down a moderately steep grade! "You've got to be careful around these sharp rocks. They could result in a twisted ankle.... or worse."

#75: Jockeys

They are adorable. Hey, you know what I also like? The word "space" when applied to a designed interior, and the word "piece" when applied to an item of design. "This is a great space for that piece." "I like this piece in your space." "What a great space! Ooh, nice piece."

#74: Glass

Of all the miraculous things in this miraculous, miraculous universe, glass must surely be the seventy-fourth most miraculous.

#73: The Oval Logos Of The Late 1990s

Remember when? Remember when you could get a free Nordic Track by going to Remember when venture capitalists threw money at FreeNordicTrack because there were some really creative people working there, and-- although it was not yet clear what the business model would be-- FreeNordicTrack was revolutionizing the way that people got free Nordic Tracks? I remember those days. And I'm not quite sure, but I think that the logo for FreeNordicTrack was inside of a dynamic-looking oval, with an arrow shooting tangentially out of the oval and upward (never downward!) into space.

Ovals! Nothing looked as web-savvy as the oval. Nothing said "we are members of the digerati" like an oval.

#72: Edamame

Soybeans cost about 3 cents per ton. Edamame costs about $5 per pound. Yet again, the pigs have it easy, while we get screwed.

#71: Baby Wipe Warmer Cleaner Holder Rags

I know it seems totally ridiculous-- another example of consumerism gone mad-- but I swear these things have totally saved my life! These rags are tailor-made for cleaning the holders of baby wipe warmer cleaners. You'd be surprised how often baby wipe warmer cleaner holders get smudged. And of course our baby wipe warmer cleaner holders get a ton of use, because they hold all our baby wipe warmer cleaner! Will you excuse me for a minute? I'm going to go violently kill myself!

#70: Bouncing

Although it has been well-chronicled in lay science books, and it's a common factoid trotted out at cocktail parties, it bears repeating here: there is literally no reason why the phenomenon of bouncing exists. Physicists have run the numbers (because that's what physicists do: they run numbers), and both the Newtonian model and the quantum mechanical model work equally well with and without bouncing. Bouncing is an entirely frivolous bit of bunting on the universe. A signature flourish, if you will, by God. Indeed, many scientists have seen the existence of bouncing as evidence that the universe was created by a single Creator who gave his only son to redeem the sinful human race, and who allows instantaneous sanctification through the perfection of "holiness" in opposition to traditional Methodist thought but not quite in line with modern Pentecostal theology.

The 100 Greatest Things Of All Time: So Far
100: The 1989 Honda Civic LX sedan (manual transmission)
99: Weird dream that a Merychippus had one time
98: The sun
97: Pharrell Williams
96: A shack near San Gregorio, CA
95: The breakfast sandwich
94: Antimony
93: Seeing through Melville's bullshit
92: The scrappy white guy
91: Barack Hussein Obama
90: Foam
89: Dinosaur tributes
88: The way Jason Statham would pronounce "hydrocortisone"
87: Fruit
86: Light
85: Vernon Davis
84: 9969 Braille
83: Brick
82: The balk rule
81: Ink
This answer to the question "Is it possible to have wooden legs and real feet?"
79: Determinism
78: Quantum Mechanics
77: Will Clark
76: Man Vs. Wild
75: Jockeys
74: Glass
73: The Oval Logos Of The Late 1990s
72: Edamame
71: Baby Wipe Warmer Cleaner Holder Rags
70: Bouncing