Five signs 2016 will be better than 2015
- Cheerleaders who root on professional sports teams in California will finally be treated as employees of the teams, thanks to a law introduced by a former Stanford cheerleader.
- Pumpkin pie is about to become the official state pie in Illinois, ensuring that if you like pie, Illinois is the only state that matters.
- Danny Boyle is shooting a sequel to Trainspotting beginning in the spring, proving that there is such a thing as "positive memories of heroin addiction."
- Guns N' Roses are finally reuniting, which means that now is a really good time to plunk down $7,000 on a Guns N' Roses pinball machine.
- The biggest trend in alcohol going into 2016 is the "hard soda." If you like root beer with the kick of actual beer, this coming year's gonna be pretty good to you.
Did we give up on wall calendars too quickly?
In the very first issue of Tedium, we complained (loudly) about the uselessness of wall calendars, a phenomenon we felt was old news. And for good reason—who the hell wants Thomas Kinkade's take on Disney in your kitchen when you can have a much more useful calendar in your pocket at all times?
As it turns out, though, we may have spoken too soon. That's because this January, people in Moscow will be able to turn the page on Vladimir Putin's 2016 wall calendar, which treats its subject with the kind of adulation usually set aside for Pope Francis. If you would like a copy of this calendar, initially published in copies of the Russian tabloid Zvezdi I Soveti, you might need to travel to Russia in hopes that you can get your hands on the limited edition item. CNN fortunately has a few samples of the product, filled with inspiring quotations from everyone's favorite world leader. A few copies of the calendar are currently selling on eBay, by the way.
Among the less-impressive calendar fare out there this year:
To be a fly on the wall of this room when it was decided to create a wall calendar for cat people, then to name it in such an evocative way.
OK, now they've taken this Super Mario Maker thing way too far. That said, if this thing had warp pipes, so you could travel between months without any problems, it might be worth it.
There's a guy out there who has a photo studio that's dedicated to taking photos of unusual-looking chickens, in the hopes that someone out there gives a cluck.
Actual quote from a review of this calendar: "All of the negative reviews concerning this calendar have nothing to do with the product itself and are from people that no doubt live sad, pathetic lives. Try to imagine viewing life through something other than a racial prism." Personally, I gave it one star because it's a wall calendar and wall calendars are by default useless (unless they feature Vladimir Putin).
"As we get closer and closer to the limit, bad things start to happen. Networks close to capacity get congested and unreliable. If you want reliability, you’ll have to start paying higher and higher fees on transactions, and there will be a point where fees get high enough that people stop using bitcoin."
— Gavin Andresen, the chief caretaker of the bitcoin technology, discussing the technical problems that threaten the future of the currency in 2016. The problem? Simply put, the system can only handle a handful of transactions a second, far less than the mainline currency system can. Next year, we're gonna have to start stuffing blockchains in mattresses if they can't figure this out.
The State of Our Tedium in 2016 is Best Defined by "The Dress"
Back in February, something unprecedented happened: people became intently focused on the color of a dress. It was the craziest story because it was born from the internet, from a regular user who wasn't trying to make it go viral at all.
She literally had a question ("What color is this dress?"), and the internet had an answer ("Isn't it obvious?"). The dress crossed cultural and generational lines, broke traffic records, and became the stuff of parody. And a week later, it was gone, biodegraded into compost for other big news stories that nobody cares about.
This year has been full of weird little stories like this one, things that explode in the public consciousness so quickly that we're instantly required to have an opinion on them, and the wrong opinion can be downright damaging. (Just ask author Jon Ronson, whose book So You've Been Publicly Shamed, which dared question whether our constant mockery of targets of online derision was healthy, defined a lot of online conversation in early 2015. The backlash to the book had him gasping for air by the end of 2015.)
And in a lot of ways, it's tiring. As unusual and dull as any of the stuff we've covered in the past twelve months—from ranch dressing to hand dryers—the actual news cycle was always a step or two ahead of us with something even weirder.
The fact that someone is going to inevitably going to ask you about the dumb thing they saw on the internet the other day has a way of numbing the skull. As a culture, we aren't allowed to let weird stuff exist on its own merits anymore. We must have an opinion on it, whether that weird thing is Rachel Dolezal or left shark. (And that's not even getting into politics, which we can't talk about, because, well, Monald Mump.)
Nothing that we cover in Tedium is anywhere near as strange or screwed up as any of these actual real stories. As a culture, we allow ourselves to be played by this never-ending cycle of emotion, instead of taking a breath and tuning out—a much better solution to the issue at hand.
The state of our Tedium is just as crazy as it looks. You'll see it everywhere if you're looking the right way. The way to handle the inanity is to rise above it.
You may be wondering if it's possible to come up with as many topics as we do for this newsletter, and the answer is … you should see my list. It's a mile long, and full of things I've seen on a daily basis, whether online or elsewhere that inspire me.
The hard part, sometimes, is finding new ways to make these ideas unique. There are things I considered covering—like Christmas cards—that I passed up because someone else did it way more justice than I ever could. (I'm hoping next year I can figure out a way to give these topics their due as they arise—perhaps as a new feature? We'll see.)
Year two of Tedium kicks off next week with a story about a topic that was once close to my heart—the Trapper Keeper. There's a story behind that device that deserves a little more notice. Finding these kinds of stories and getting them noticed? Now that's the fun part of the gig of writing about inane junk on the internet.
Now to go make some jalapeno poppers and, then, get my party on. Gotta celebrate the ball drop.