© Norman Sperling, Editor, February 5, 2013
JIR always looks for new angles. Longtime contributor Steve Groninger, a voracious reader, sends in several good catches of innumeracy. He finds Copernicus (or his translator?) saying "360° are equal to 2 right angles". Meanwhile, Herschel Knapp at UCLA points out that circles have 360° while triangles only have 180°, so circles are twice as hot as triangles.
Current issues make current articles. Twinkies are famous for not spoiling. Archaeology prof Alex Taub buried a pack at Wenatchee Valley College. Dug up a year later, he found a little spoilage, but not that much. I look forward to the return of Twinkies and especially Hostess cupcakes.
JIR also keeps up with the zombie apocalypse. For a useful indicator, A. L. Holm of the University of Michigan explored counts of websearch finds for "braaains" with various numbers of "a"s. The first supernumerary peak occurs with 3 "a"s, quantities decay till 11, then secondary peaks at 13 and 17, but it takes a surprising number to reach 0. I don't look forward to the return of zombies.
Also up-to-date is our article on texting, as seen by Lehigh prof Brian Pinaire. An idealist, he wants students to pay attention to what he's teaching. For a while I thought this was an age problem, with teenagers self-distracting. Then I saw their middle-aged parents doing the same thing. Should I text my students during class to remind them to pay attention to my lecture?
A longer look at recent trends reveals an accompaniment to several decades of Global Warming: Global Swarming! Pawan Dhar of Yokohama shows that as temperature has risen, so has the invention of new scientific directions.
That generates scads of new scholarly books. Many of us still use actual, physical books. Academic libraries are brimful of them. Longtime librarian Norman Stevens promotes an app for that: leave books anywhere they fit, and guide users to them by GPS.
A much shorter, more specialized form of literature is the "package insert" for drugs. Keenan Bora demonstrates how a treatment could be worse than its disease.
Timeless rather than timely is Andrew Olsen's exploration of the nether end of the spinal cord in human cognition. He indicates that people do often seem to think with their butt. I'm not going to touch that.
Immediately following that conclusion comes an expose of the role of a roll of toilet paper. It doesn't just indicate who's a winner and who's a loser, it determines which is which.
Neither of the 2 previous articles could explain the interview by which Tom Szirtes of Toronto got one of his best jobs.
David J. Burns of Xavier University, Cincinnati, proposes using a "Higgs Vacuum and Mass Transfer Device" for a wonderful particle-physics solution to clinical obesity and the Federal Debt. Higgs bosons confer mass. Extract fat from obese people, and then insert the mass into gold bars.
We are very pleased to publish a further examination of the Dreaded Sock Monster by Elaine Foster, near Melbourne, Australia. We're delighted to learn that she's recovering from some recent setbacks.
A followup of a different character explores the highly-publicized "Mozart Effect". Peter Lefevre of Caltech tested how rats would react to the "music" of the Insane Clown Posse. The lab assistants rebelled. The ethics committee rebelled. And the rats rebelled.
Some people like birds. Some people like cats. Cats prey on birds. Robert Haas summons up a bigger bird - an eagle - that preys on cats.
2 new cartoonists have found us. Sally Mills memorably pronounces on particle physics, and Michael Capozzola has a tasteful take on Star Wars.
For decades, JIR has struggled to find good illustrations. A minority of contributors illustrate their own articles. For the rest, we have to hunt. A new resource is yielding astonishingly appropriate resources: Wikimedia, a "sister project" to Wikipedia. They provided this issue with a leaky bucket, a zombie, boats, medicines, texting, library books, toilet paper, and the surprising picture on page 22. All we have to do is acknowledge the creative-commons sources and terms, and indeed we are very grateful for them. If you have some spare resources, and you also use Wikipedia and Wikimedia, consider enriching their articles, increasing their open media, or sending them some money.
© Norman Sperling, December 23, 2012
According to my students:
Aristotle believed that the Earth was geocentric.
[Kepler's Law #] Two: Plants move fasters when they are closer to the Sun and slower then they are far away. Third: The period squared equals the semi-radius cubed.
Comets were initially fussy and difficult to see.
Plates "smash" into one another in a subversion zone, like along the Chilean coast.
Volcanoes ... become dormat.
Black holes are prominent in the solar system, but widely misunderstood.
The Big Bang theory states that the death of a star created our galaxy.
the "emberrs" of the Big Bong
The Big Bing was the creation of everything as we know it.
[Let us know when Microsoft's search engine starts listing that one.]
© Norman Sperling, May 29, 2012
Comedian Steve Martin wrote a play about how Science and Art approach similar questions from different angles. I saw a community theater production of Picasso at the Lapin Agile: in 1904, young Einstein and Picasso run into one another at a bar. I'd love to see it made into a movie. Our lead article is the script of an epilogue, set in a different bar 40 years later. They still regard space and time from very different angles, but come a bit closer this time. How would they, or current physicists and artists, interact this year? Thanks to David Carlberg for the script.
Our cover article celebrates cryptozoologists' ongoing search for undiscovered or unappreciated hominids. Enjoy this Irish expedition to examine "The Wild Ape-Leprechauns of Borneo". Is the orangutan the strange target, or the leprechaun? We welcome Pandareus von Grundenstein back to our author list.
Entrepreneur/adventurer Richard Branson pulled an April Fool joke by announcing "Virgin Volcanic". His new screw-propeller vehicle would swim through liquid lava to travel from volcano to volcano underground. On the back cover, look for the dramatic embodiment of his motto "screw business as usual".
JIR's decades-long exploration of academe continues with David Burns's grading of exams according to the time students hand them in. I've noticed something along those lines: students with little to say finish early, students with a lot to say need more time to say all that. Meanwhile - and we do mean "mean" - Subhabrata Sanyal attempts to measure the factors that make him cranky.
Cartoon character "Popeye" is so popular that people overlook his obvious physical peculiarities. S. D. Hines examines him medically and finds facial dysmorphism, microophthalmia, distal limb hypertrophy, a mono diet, and intermittent explosive disorder. What other popular characters should be examined?
Jeff Jargon takes aim at genetically-modified foods not by minimizing the differences of those currently on the market, but by exploring future extensions. He offers a pitless cherry, all-white-meat chicken, and (noting the great taste of a bacon cheesburger) a graft/hybrid cow/pig. His "chipoodle", a chihuahua/poodle hybrid, was hailed as "the most nervous, yappy, high-maintenance canine ever conceived."
Hybrid cars obviously combine electric and internal-combustion features. Nancy Niemeyer mixes in the kitchen mixer.
How would a statistician write a dating advertisement? Joeri Smits shows his bid. No word about how well it has worked. How would such an ad be written for other specialists? Like you?
Common basket filters for coffee makers are cheap and ubiquitous. The bottom ones in each stack are also infamous for collapsing. I suspect that's because, the way they're formed in bunches, upper ones have pleats arched in a way that resists collapse. Lower ones have pleats arched so weakly they invite collapse. Danila Oder explores the resulting muddy coffee as "grounds" for murder.
Is it "rocket science" that's so famously difficult? Engineer Rod Hatcher says it's actually "rocket engineering" that's the really hard stuff. I think both sides are right, and making rockets work is still a horrendously complex and difficult accomplishment.
Richard Mead greatly simplifies physicists' ongoing to-do over Higgs Bosons. He spotted 7 of them huddled in a corner of his sock drawer. I hate to think what might lurk in mine.
Other topics include paper-folding, inside-out underwear, famous quotations and who didn't say them, and more goofy-named advisors and web domains.
Establishments mentioned in this issue:
* The Melbourne Institute of Precipitate Isotrophism
* Department of Regression to the Grand Mean
* University of Unreality
* University of Imaginary Numbers
* Alaskan Neurologic Center for Subaqueous Sesquiology
* Polikeness School of Nutritional Sciences
* Denver Nucleic Agency
* Plunder Island Probiotic and Bionutritional Research
* Organization for Useful Cognitive Help (OUCH)
* Bureaucratic Invidious Negative Officialdom (BINGO)
* Acquaintances of Ministerial Informal Governmental Activities (AMIGA)
* Ghastly Repulsive Invidious Non-Governmental Offices (GRINGO)
Journals mentioned in this issue:
* The Journal of Unpleasant Student Experiences
* The Journal of Plant Sociology
* Acta Comic Toxigens
* The Journal of Abnormal Locomotion in Toddlers
* International Journal of Salad Experimentation
and, as unclassifiable as its author:
Director Supreme of the Gene Dream Team
Authors come from Australia, Canada, England, Israel, and Norway, and the American states of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Ohio, Vermont, and Washington.
© Norman Sperling, December 23, 2011
The noticeable uptick in the national economy, encouraging though insufficient, is mirrored by JIR subscriptions. We're getting a few more than before, though not enough for prosperity. Part of this comes from general interest in recent scientific-press studies of (truly) irreproducible reports. Science-media critic Charlie Petit even used JIR in his lead when he commented on that - thanks Charlie!
Now in the postal system is JIR v51 #5. It's full, as always, of science humor. An MD using the pseudonym "Fizzy McFizz" wrote "All Research is Actually Made Up", supporting a conclusion that some draw from the reproducibility challenges. Burlesquing expansion on small-number statistics, Paul Monach of Boston University compares a category in which he can find 2 examples, to a huge population surrounding them.
While the Zen approach continues to interest people, Eric Levy shows that the Un-Zen life - seeking immediate gratification - seems closer to what they actually do.
Our cover article is "Ants are Superbeings!" by Australian researchers Elaine Foster and R. A. J. Reynolds. It points out many of ants' superior abilities, including their social behavior which acts in some cases like a super-organism. Serious entomologists ("ant"omologists?) are considering this, too. For one take, read Mark W. Moffett's spectacularly illustrated 2010 book Adventures Among Ants, from University of California Press.
We thank the talented young artist Marlin Peterson of Washington state for our cover art. He's a scientific illustrator who seeks to reproduce the results of Science that can't be photographed. Enjoy his website at www.marlinpeterson.com. The picture shows Argentine ants colonizing new ecological niches. The Argentine ant, Linepithema humile, is very remarkable indeed, and I'm sure we haven't heard the last of it. What remarkable things do the ants around you do?
Conferencemanship occupied some of JIR's earliest contributors, and still concerns our authors and readers. In this issue, P. Alexandre tells "How to Answer Questions" while maintaining (an illusion of) superiority.
Comedian Norm Goldblatt ties up beer, pi, the Higgs Boson, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, ET, and religion while having "Beer With An Alien". I've had a meal with Norm myself, but we didn't get to any of those issues.
Trevor Kitson, our most prolific contributor from New Zealand, apologizes to Rudyard Kipling for his chemistry takeoff on "If".
What is the proper opposite of the Vulcan Blessing, "Live Long and Prosper"? Logician John Mariani of Lancaster University, UK, explores the possibilities. "Fail And Die Soon" stops agony too soon to be a big curse. "Die Soon Or Fail" goes in the right direction, but "Live Long Or Prosper" is "far more elegant, far more logical, and much, much nastier."
Our friend Larry Lesser of UTEP is back with a new song. Taking his cue from James Taylor's excellent Fire & Rain, Lesser talks technical in Combustion & Precipitation. And I pun right back at him in an Editor's Note.
2 contributors send up dysfunctional bureaucracies: Harry Stern of Kennesaw State University in Georgia satirizes social work's "community disorganization", while R. L. Zimdahl critiques university administration, having been part of one for many years. I'll stick to my own standards: when there's good will and good management, any system works; where there isn't, no system can work.
A question for you: experience has taught that I catch a lot more errors when I proofread paper printouts, rather than the computer screen. A little is due to the screen's less-accurate renditions of character spacing, but that doesn't explain most of my "catches". Do others experience this too? Or the reverse? Why does this happen?
© Norman Sperling, December 22, 2011
I finally finished finals, that mad dash to pay careful attention to 60 handwritten exams in a little over 5 days. As usual, most of my students learned their material well. But the ~350 pages also harbored a few bloopers:
* Quasi-Stellar Radio Sources ... were discovered after World War II by radiologists.
* Cepheids are an example of a galaxy cluster that experiences meteor showers.
* Mars' atmosphere is too thin for gravity to hold Hydrogen to the surface. That is why we are on Earth.
* Now the Earth has a carbon atmosphere. Since there was life, it changed carbon into oxygen and nitrogen.
* A cluster of galaxies form gobular clusters. A a cluster of gobular clusters form the Universe.
For the last 2 years, I've asked my classes to regard the extremes of astronomy in current-culture terms, by turning them into "Yo Mama" and "Chuck Norris" jokes. Their offerings:
in orbital mechanics:
* Yo Mama's so fat that when we played baseball, the ball got stuck orbiting her.
* Yo Mama's so fat that she has other fat mamas orbiting around her.
* Yo Mama's so fat that she has a Roche Limit.
* Yo Mama's so fat that she has rings of her own.
* Ancients thought the Earth was the center of the Universe. They were close: Yo Mama's so fat that the whole Universe orbits her.
* The real reason for impact craters is that Chuck Norris uses the solar system as his punching bag.
on the H-R Diagram:
* Yo Mama's so fat that she's spectral type W.
in black holes:
* Yo Mama's so fat that she caused a singularity and created a black hole.
* Yo Mama's so fat that she would consume a singularity.
* Yo Mama's so fat that when she throws up, she makes a white hole.
* A black hole is the region of a singularity from which nothing can escape, not even light ... except for Chuck Norris.
* Chuck Norris uses worm holes to get to work.
in the Milky Way:
* That's not actually a supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, that's just where Chuck Norris sets his barbells: right next to Yo Mama.
* although it is known how hydrogen, the stars and planets, and even how *we* were formed, it is still unknown how Chuck Norris was formed.
* Creation occurred when Chuck Norris round-house kicked in a vacuum, creating the Big Bang.
* The Universe exists so that Chuck Norris can exist.
* As long as Chuck Norris allows the Universe to function, we will continue to make new discoveries every day.
Stately, sober Nature magazine occasionally publishes some humor. Simon Quellen Field forwards this link to "Apoptotic gene therapy in the interdigital web" published on April Fool's Day 2005. Notice the delicious names:
* J. Nesis Way, Vatican
* Sum Ting Wong
* Hu Yu Hai Ding
* Wai So Dim
* Ohmy God Ih Svimfast
© Norman Sperling, August 9, 2011
The Journal of Irreproducible Results volume 51, #4, is now in the mail. As always, much of the humor connects to real-life issues.
One of our articles is about the Medical Narrative Essay, a form of scholarly publishing with a lower entry threshold than research papers. Dr. Katherine Chang Chretien makes a good point about the "crap-shoot" feeling authors get, because some essays may get rejected summarily by one publication, and accepted as-is by another. She's right! And it isn't only a matter of the article's quality, or the journal's. Sometimes we have too many submissions on some topic and too few on another, which changes what's welcome. Often a new editor wants to show a different face than the previous one. Sometimes an article is a perfect companion for something else that the author is unaware of. There can be lots of reasons in addition to whim - which also happens.
Our article "Science Blitz" by David Bartell and Paul Carlson was, according to Marty Halpern's blog More Red Ink, rejected by Analog as being too weird, crossing too many genre boundaries. Those factors worked in its favor for JIR, but we're happy to print it as a good, witty story that ties in science with a novel twist.
Colleges try to teach high-level information to students who aren't always prepared for it. The bullet-point list is one ubiquitous method to simplify and emphasize points. Prof. Lou Lippman points out that this can train students to take in information only in that format. I find myself teaching to standards that others seem to have left behind, such as requiring term papers of students who have never done any such thing before. A lot of employers will still want employees who can find relevant information and put it together coherently, and practically every employer will still need employees to take competent notes from oral instructions ( which are often much less coherent than professors' lectures!). We still need to engrain those skills in the students.
The ease and presumed anonymity of writing on the Internet spawns lots of new terms. Many of those are great puns, which we love. Others, however, earn their way into a glossary of neologisms, provided here by Doreen Dotan.
Lawns, and mowing them, are a cultural fad that too few question. A lawn that people actually use is fine with me. But most are for show, or for conformity. They suck up water and time. For usefulness, or for decoration, they deserve to be a lot rarer. Dr. Robert Haas couches the issue for the anthropologists of 1,000 years from now, but many of us already don't like lawn care here and now.
Opioid pain relievers remain wildly popular. Either an enormous number of people live in great pain (surely some do) or a lot just say so to get their opioid prescriptions renewed. This wide-spread, semi-legal zonking is rarely counted in studies of drug use. If scholars want to know the dimensions of drug use, they need to count this. They come up with statistics on illegal drugs, and it should be easier to add this factor. If specific doctors are "easy touches" or active over-prescribers, whoever licenses and certifies them needs to get serious about enforcement. But some patients try to get opioid prescriptions from Dr. Allan Zacher, and he rebels by writing for JIR.
We're publishing an English translation of a pair of articles that originally appeared, under pseudonyms, in a small publication in the USSR, 50 years ago. We have not found who actually wrote them, nor any previous translation into English. This translation is submitted by Sergey Makshinskiy. We always seek nuggets from other places and times, that our present readers would enjoy.
Our former publisher, George H. Scherr, PhD, has published another book! This one is on the history of fighting infections. Pasteur, he says, was following Agostino Bassi. Why Millions Died is being published by the University Press of America.
Reviewed by © Norman Sperling, July 21, 2011. Published in The Journal of Irreproducible Results, v51 #4, August 2011.
The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification, by Julian Montague. Published by Abrams Image, New York, 2006. www.hnabooks.com . 0-8109-5520-2. $17.95
Scientific classification principles can be applied very widely. Artist Julian Montague applies them, with droll irony, to the situations in which stray shopping carts are found around Buffalo. He classifies their condition, their origin and distance from it, and how they apparently came to the places where he found them. Montague's shopping carts progress through categories as weather, vandals, and snowplows batter them. Every example is photographed, with the author's classifications and occasional brief comment.
Shopping carts typically stray to the grimier parts of town, so the setting is often along railroad tracks and creeks, amid graffiti-covered walls, tires, underbrush, trash, and snow. Montague systematically excludes humans from his photos - only 1 or 2 can be discerned in distant backgrounds. This casts an "abandoned" feel over Buffalo.
Montague does not classify or give any taxonomy to the carts themselves. His classification deals with where they are found, not their inherent characteristics. In doing so, the book resembles astronomer J. Allen Hynek's attempt to categorize reports of encounters with extraterrestrials. "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" made a splendid title for a good movie. But it was never scientifically useful because it did not classify extraterrestrials, which was what we wanted to learn about, but rather how far they were from humans at the time of encounter, which is far less interesting and often accidental.
Montague's book can be used to demonstrate principles of classification in an amusing way, without getting tangled in Latin, Greek, or scientific technicalities.
© Norman Sperling, July 13, 2011
Marty Halpern, another editor, has blogged in More Red Ink about a time when he and I disagreed about stylebooks, among other things, while serving on a panel at the BayCon science fiction convention. The Journal of Irreproducible Results does indeed use different styles than most other publications. Contributors don't have to conform; if we accept a contribution, we will handle that hassle.
Not following the Chicago Manual of Style is NOT an error! The Chicago Manual is hardly the best way to present humor - it's dull and sober and stuffy, the very antithesis of humor. Many editors detest that stuffy antique. Its followers seem like sheeple who mindlessly obey what emperors dictate, even though they can recognize clothing if they see it.
Here are some of our style standards, with some of the reasoning. We welcome other publications and writers adopting any parts of these that appeal to them.
Body type: 11-point Bookman Old Style.
Captions, By-lines, and Sub-heads: 16-point Century Gothic.
Our own advertising: Rockwell.
Bookman, Century Gothic, and Rockwell are the most-readable fonts we have. We use them because we want people to actually read our magazine. Semi-condensed fonts such as Times are harder to read. They cram more text onto the paper, but savings from the printer come at a cost to the reader, and we think the reader is more important. We particularly note that many readers are elderly, and as we age we sympathize with their vision difficulties more and more.
When there is just one table or figure, call it "the table" or "the figure", not "Table 1" or "Figure 1".
Digits are far easier to read than the words for them, and the principal point is ease of reading. Numbers are as tall as capital letters. Spell out "one" except when it is used mathematically as a digit. But all higher numbers should be expressed as digits, even if beginning a sentence.
0 can be ambiguous. If it's clearly the digit, use the digit. If in danger of being mis-read as the letter 'oh', would "zero" work more clearly?
"20th Century", "17th Century", and so on sound stilted, require a mental calculation to subtract to get the dates ... and are often misunderstood, especially by non-Western people. Almost always, they don't mean the specific, technical inventory of years starting with '01 and ending with '00. Almost always, they just handwavingly refer to a century-or-so. It's far clearer and simpler to say "the 1900s" or "the 1600s".
Punctuation in Quotation Marks
Punctuation that is part of what's being quoted goes inside quotation marks. Punctuation that is not part of what's being quoted goes outside of quotation marks. That way you know what's being quoted.
One contributor notes that JIR people seem to have more letters after their names than in them. For JIR's college-educated and technically-oriented audience, 100% understand "%" and are therefore slowed down by seeing it written out as "percent". For people with so many degrees, the same goes for the degree sign.
NASA, US, PM, etc.: full capitals, no periods. Styles that put them "down" were meant to save expensive labor on Mergenthaler linotype machines ... which nobody has used for decades. Instead, let's save clarity.
Cities which are very well known and unambiguous need not be followed by their state, province, or country.
Almost all capitals, and major-league cities (in major sports) are that well known and unambiguous: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, even Green Bay. Nobody thinks those are anywhere but the big place.
The same applies to intellectually-major-league towns: Ann Arbor, Bangalore, Berkeley, Boulder, Chapel Hill, Charlottesville, Corvallis, Eugene, Evanston, Huntsville, Ithaca, Laramie, Lawrence, Leiden, Los Alamos, Norman, Oak Ridge, Palo Alto, Pasadena, Pune, Princeton, Provo, Rolla, Stony Brook, Tempe, Tucson, Uppsala. [How many have you visited? How many have you spoken at?]
Well-known unique names of smaller places, too, need not be followed by a state name: Albuquerque, Altoona, Amarillo, Bar Harbor, Baton Rouge, Bemidji, Cape Town, Castelgondolfo, Chattanooga, Des Moines, Duluth, El Paso, Fresno, Frobisher Bay, Galveston, Kalamazoo, Kokomo, Little Rock, Macon, Mobile, Muncie, Nairobi, Olduvai, Omaha, Oshkosh, Paducah, Perth, Sacramento, Santa Fe, Saskatoon, Schenectady, Spokane, Tallahassee, Terre Haute, Thule, Timbuktu, Tulsa, Walla Walla, Yakima.
Places that are not well-enough known, regardless of how distinctive, must stipulate the state, province, or country. Faaa, Iquique, Kamloops, Kano, Pismo Beach. [How many of those can you place?] When in doubt, add the state or country name.
When ambiguous, stipulate the state or country name: Alexandria, Athens, Austin, Berlin, Cambridge, Hyderabad, Kansas City, London, Macedonia, Manchester, Moscow, Oakland, Oxford, Peoria, Portland, Rochester, San Jose, Santiago, Springfield, Valparaiso, Wilmington. [How many of those have you been in 2 of? How many Springfields?]
Universities and other institutions which name their state should avoid repeating the state name after the city: "University of Oklahoma, Norman"; we don't need to say "Norman, Oklahoma" because we just said "Oklahoma".
For hyphenation at line breaks, the upper fragment of the word has to be pronounced pretty close to the way it is in the whole word. Fragments that are pronounced differently cause discordance in the reader, badly interrupting the content.
Usually capitalized, when meant as names of major, important fields: Science, Nature.
Usually capitalized, when meant as names of specific celestial places: Moon, Earth, Sun, Universe. Earth is the proper name of this planet, not merely a handful of dirt. Capitalize it the same way you must capitalize Venus and Mars, the planets on either side of it. I'm an astronomer so I can state that authoritatively. Lower-casing the name of this planet just because it's the home of the Chicago Manual of Style is a great insult to the 6 billion humans here, including all of our customers, most of whom have grown rather fond of Earth.
Book review © Norman Sperling, June 6, 2011
Have Fun Inventing: Learn to Think up Products and Create Future Inventions Easily, by Steven M. Johnson. Patent Depending Press, Torrance, California. www.patentdepending.com. paperback. Written and printed in USA. $24.95 +$4 shipping.
I knew I was going to have fun with these humorous inventions, and I sure did. Johnson combines plausible components in whimsical new ways. I've always liked loony inventions simply because they're fun. But Johnson sets his in a social context where they make sense, and comments on how they fit in.
Or how they don't. I've hated neckties since childhood. Johnson agrees that they're entirely useless - and shows such bizarre elaborations that even the most thick-headed boss should realize how silly they are. (At the Maker Faire I saw the first necktie clothing that I ever thought actually looked good: A lady had sewn dozens of them side-by-side to make a colorful skirt.)
Johnson monkeys around with cars, shoes, offices, sleeping bags, bikes, underwear, chairs, and exercise equipment. The vast majority of these inventions could actually be built, and some already have been. Most would be tolerably economical, and several niches he serves really could use something like his ideas, such as homeless shelters. A society that builds Johnson's bridges and houses will greatly surpass even the glorious architecture of Dubai ("sheikh chic").
Some of his vehicle mashups caught my eye because they address my own needs. On the Great Science Trek that I embark upon in 2013, I'll need aspects of an office, store, and workroom built into a camper trailer and an SUV. Johnson already thought about that, and shows how they could work. I'd love a witty Johnson design that has all the working parts, but which would also be practical to build and use - it would "work".
Johnson's invention names are often as witty as the cartoons:
* Parka Place
* Nod Office
* Kitchen Counterpart
* Neckotine Fit
* Wash Cycle
* Street FUNiture
* Cardiac Coupe
* Motorless Home
* Clam Shell-ter
* Remote Patrol
* Powered Pants
I enjoyed Johnson's previous 2 books, What the World Needs Now and Public Therapy Buses. This one is better because Johnson provides much richer background and reasoning, sets scenes, crows about successful predictions, and tells what went wrong with others.
If you're looking for some fun and a novel "take" on current culture, this book will amuse you for many hours. If you want to invent things, this book definitely will uncork a lot of ideas.
Typos are few and minor. None would interfere with understanding any of the contents.
I like this book so much that I got some autographed copies from Johnson to retail to my own customers @$24.95 +$4 shipping. I can accept checks, PayPal, or credit cards. eMail me at normsperling [at] gmail.com.