2024: Live Another Day

Tedium embraces year nine with another look-ahead. No, we didn’t make our own wall calendar this year, but we’ll still complain about wall calendars anyway.

By Ernie Smith

Today in Tedium: Okay, we’ve made it to year nine. That’s pretty wild to me. Not quite a decade, but long enough that when I started this, I had way fewer gray hairs, and I was somewhat hipper. (But, to be clear, never hip.) And honestly, writing these year-end roundups never gets old. It’s my opportunity to put a small wrinkle in the void, to cleanse the palate before another year of Tedium. Is this issue of Tedium better than any of the others? Nah. But it is a good place to start ahead of another year. Today’s Tedium wraps its head around the future ahead of 2024. — Ernie @ Tedium

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The standard frame rate for 35mm film, which was decided upon by the film industry around the time that sound film was first added to the medium. This number also eventually translated to television, but not exactly, at least in NTSC countries. The standard there was 23.976 frames per second—not quite, but close enough. (Hey, it could be worse; in PAL countries, it was 25 frames per second.) The problem still occasionally appears, enough that some people notice it. In 2022, Apple released a software update because its Apple TV (along with many other streaming devices) did not account for the dropped frames caused by 23.976fps film.


What if we could just pull textiles out of the sea? (Shane Stagner/Unsplash)

Five signs 2024 will be better than 2023

  1. Seaweed is so hot right now. With sustainable clothing increasingly getting attention, fashion designers are becoming interested in using algae-based materials as a textile option. It’s certainly got potential as a sustainable option, even for those skeptical of eating it. Plus, fewer fossil fuels are required to make seaweed shirts. (Side note: One of the few fashion trends apparently started in Iceland.)
  2. In California, employers can no longer discriminate against you because you use cannabis. (Though, per AB2188, the law that goes into effect on January 1, you still can’t go to work high and expect your employer not to be upset about it.) Anyone who has ever had to take a drug test as a condition of employment—an invasive, kinda creepy process that has no bearing on your skills and capabilities, and something also covered by the law—is currently cheering.
  3. Scientists are on track to reshape reproduction forever. Here’s a story you probably missed earlier in the year—researchers at Japan’s Osaka University came up with a method to create mice from the cells of two male patients—yes, literally making it possible for two dads to give birth. (Well, if they’re mice.) Katsuhiko Hayashi, a lead researcher of this new phenomenon, called in vitro gametogenesis, is doing some fascinating work right now—though MIT Technology Review demurred from putting it on its list of breakthrough technologies, we have lower standards and will happily put it here.
  4. In Illinois, a law focused on preventing book bans in libraries—a popular, if infamous, subject these days—takes effect at the start of 2024. A similar bill was recently introduced at the federal level. (Also of note: Illinois has a first-in-the-country law for child social media influencers to get compensated for their work, but it doesn’t kick off until July.)
  5. Disney’s stranglehold on Mickey Mouse will deservedly end.

Mini Calendar

Yet another example of someone who made a calendar who wasn’t me. (Manasvita S/Unsplash)

We failed to make a wall calendar this year, so now we’re stuck complaining about the people who did

To the person who sent me a pre-scheduled email on September 1st, as per my request almost exactly 12 months ago, reminding me that I should create a 2024 calendar: Thank you, I saw it. I deeply appreciate it.

And it did spring me into action.

But I admit I got a little stuck in my own head about it. I did some groundwork. I worked on it in bits and pieces for weeks, actually. But I wanted to literally put hundreds of pieces of information into a wall calendar, and when the going got tough, I had to back burner it.

Hence, why you’re not seeing a calendar this year, and instead are reading a bunch of excuses from the guy who should be selling all of you a calendar right now. Maybe next year. (If you want to send me another reminder, shoot for August, maybe?)

Seriously, though, we’re not in the position of strength that we hoped to be at the end of 2023, but nonetheless, the weird wall calendars keep showing up. Here are just a few, uh, highlights that I spotted this time around. (Amazon affiliate links are missing from this if you’re reading in the email, but if you actually want one of these, head over to my influencer link over this way.)

Chicken Daddies

Finally, a wall calendar that hits all parts of the market.

Birds and bros seem like an interesting novelty calendar duo, especially if you’re into either of those things. To be clear, this isn’t the only Chicken Daddies calendar I found on Amazon this year. This is simply the more publishable of the two.

Butts On Things

Bothered by the number of questions this calendar raises.

The high watermark of any great artist is the ability to draw a picture of a thing and put a suggestive crease in the middle. I hear that’s how Picasso got his start.

Kim Jong Fun

A global incident waiting to happen.

The world is already messed up enough right now on the global stage. This is fun, but we don’t need North Korea seeing this calendar on someone’s wall to make matters worse. You don’t know who’s reading your posts.

Dog Selfies

Did you know dogs know how to use smartphones?

This pretty cheap calendar raises an important question: If the dogs took the photos themselves, are these pictures technically in the public domain? You laugh, but there was an actual legal dispute regarding this exact issue.

Cliff Richard

What if we took a random guy and made a calendar about him?

If it feels like we’ve made fun of Cliff Richard’s wall calendars before, it’s because we did. But this time he’s wearing glasses, which means we can do it again. Cliff Richard, now 83, is still kicking, by the way.

To end things here, I will admit that I was looking to see how AI-generated imagery, one of 2023’s defining trends, shaped the wall calendar. And, for what it’s worth, I didn’t find a lot on Amazon. No, I had to go a bit further afield for the AI stuff.

2024 Calendar

Someone needs to do a version of this calendar that makes out the letters W-H-Y.

One of the most notable examples I found was over at Etsy, where someone used an AI tool, probably Midjourney, to hide the letters of months in serene vacation views. Which, fine, good luck trying to do that in real life.

But AI often cheapens the experience, unfortunately, especially if you know it’s there. Say what you will about Chicken Daddies, but it’s pretty obvious they staged those daddies with those chickens in real photos.

Maybe once I finish my own calendar, I’ll finally have room to complain. One of these years.


The number of times Willie Mays, who wore number 24, was named an all-star in his career. Mays—who, at age 92, is actually still with us—is perhaps the most famous person associated with the number 24, the number he wore with the San Francisco Giants throughout his massive career there. The Giants have a lot of respect for the number 24, too—they currently play at a stadium located at 24 Willie Mays plaza, in with a statue of Mays out front and 24 palm trees surrounding him. Mays is a legend in his own right, but he’s far from the only athlete to don the number 24—some other legends to do so include Jeff Gordon, Ken Griffey, Jr., and Kobe Bryant, each at a level of success and prominence equivalent to Mays in their respective sports.

8 Bit Forest

Sometimes, a pixelated forest is what you need.

The state of our Tedium in 2024 is defined by adaptation in the face of uncertainty

If you turned 2023 into a board game, what are the odds that you’d correctly guess where all the pieces properly landed?

Sure, some things might have been obvious—the contour of the U.S. presidential race feels pretty obvious, for one thing. The decline of technology we liked, for another. Rising prices. The general feeling of malaise and chaos that greets you whenever you load up a lot of social media sites. That’s an important one: Social media is way more confusing right now, and there are no real winners.

But there were other things that couldn’t be predicted: OpenAI randomly kicking Sam Altman to the curb? The Writers Guild and SAG making AI a centerpiece of their respective strikes? The fact that “rizz” beat out “enshittification” for Oxford’s word of the year? The fact that, of all companies, Panera released the most dangerous foodstuff of the year, besting the company that literally sold chips it promoted as dangerous and risky?

Hell, the most random pop-culture trend of the past decade, Barbenheimer, hitting in the middle of the strike?

In some senses, 2024 feels like an abyss. In others, like an opportunity. I hope to turn it into an opportunity, personally.

At least on my end of things, 2023 was a big year of transition. This newsletter made many changes, some of which did not look like the ones I promised at the start of the year. That’s the result of transition, too. I didn’t ultimately get what I planned for out of this year, but at least I got to keep evolving, and a little evolution is always nice.

8 Bit Sky Day

A beautiful view, though with less detail than usual.

This fall, while on vacation and taking time away from the newsletter, I found a small hobby amid all the hiking I was doing. I would take pictures of the scenic things I was looking at, and intentionally try to make them look like vintage video games, or old CGA graphics. I had to sideload an app on my phone for this purpose, because it was no longer supported by my version of Android. But once I got it loaded, it was as if I found my speed in nature, something I’ve often struggled with.

The thing is, each of us has our own refracted view of this world. Some of us are more comfortable in a natural environment. Others prefer seeing through a frame, a viewpoint. (Guess which one I am?)

I admit I’m not a natural hiker, but I tried really hard to get used to it on this trip. I usually wear earbuds on the trail—I skipped them this time. It was hard, and I was often a pile of sweat by the end of each day. But I found a comfort zone with all of it, as I tried to keep up with my wonderful wife, a much more active hiker than me. Capturing this beauty, and presenting it in a way that looked familiar to me, was just one way that I found comfort in the unfamiliar. It wasn’t like I was creating a work of art—it was art in service of the activity, even if the end result looked kind of like gaming on a 386.

“Art in service of the activity” is a great way to describe how I’ve tried to better myself in this year of transition. I hope to keep at it—and maybe to hike a little more along the way, too.

8 Bit Sky

This looks like joy to me.

My brain feels less shredded this year than last, even if there are moments where I feel like I’m going in six directions. But nonetheless, I’ve had to find ways to adapt. I’m mostly working on the newsletter myself under a new model, though I try to keep in touch with Tedium’s great writers from the past, including David Buck and Andrew Egan, who are just as weird and fascinating as ever. When the opportunity shows itself, I’d like to bring them back into the mix.

I’m nine years into this whole mess. Which means next year is our ten-year anniversary. After all this time, that feels like a great goal to reach.

What does your 2024 look like? Do you land on the abyss or opportunity side of things? How do you keep things interesting and find new adventures?

(And how should I celebrate ten years of running Tedium?)

On November 6, 2001, Kiefer Sutherland’s public perception changed forever. Previously considered a reliable film actor best known for his ’80s roles in Stand By Me, Young Guns, and The Lost Boys, that was the day when he was introduced to television audiences as Jack Bauer, the federal agent trailed, tick by tick, on the TV show 24.

The conceit was clever: 24 hours a day? 24 episodes a season, one per hour. One day a season. Sure, you didn’t know what was going to happen with every episode, but you knew the structure.

The producers of 24 weren’t the first to the idea, but they basically shaped how people watching TV dramas would expect TV dramas to work going forward.

The show was not without its share of controversy—it was a TV show that dealt with anti-terrorism and premiered just two months after a tragedy that put such work in the public eye—but it nonetheless was one of the earliest signs that network television could hang with basic cable on the prestige-television front.

Sometimes, I wonder if this conceit, clever as it was for the period, feels increasingly old hat in the face of a world where it seems like the tick-tick-tick just makes us sad, or frustrated, or nervous. Nervous is great for television—it makes for a more compelling result. But we have a lot more video in the world in 2024 compared to 2001.

These days, Sutherland—one of a handful of actors to make a Quibi detour—has appeared in numerous shows with a similar feel to 24, none of which created the same impact with audiences. He’s much more active as a musician now. But he’ll always be seen as Jack Bauer from here on out. That’s the suit he now wears.

In many ways, the year 2024 feels like sci-fi come alive—people concerned about the rise of controversial politics, a backdrop of dominant monopolies, and artificial intelligence that seems increasingly positioned to color our lives—but simultaneously, I feel confident that there are plenty of people who want what’s best for our culture and will take all the necessary steps to keep us moving forward.

We live in a world where even our art can’t be guaranteed to come from the hands of a human, where an algorithm shapes and judges our decisions, and where people seem more interested in seizing upon divisions, rather than lifting the average person up.

But creativity is always there, and it can help us get out of any mess if we’re willing to use it.


OK, that’s it for Tedium in 2023. Find this one an interesting read? Share it with a pal!

And see you on the other side of the calendar.


Ernie Smith

Your time was just wasted by Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the editor of Tedium, and an active internet snarker. Between his many internet side projects, he finds time to hang out with his wife Cat, who's funnier than he is.

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