Many of you may have noticed that we write a lot of list-based articles here at Cracked. We have our reasons for this: They allow our busy, important readers to read them in small chunks, they're ridiculously clickable, and we just really like numbering things. But despite being so plainly intelligent and justifiable, this list-based tendency of ours has, on occasion, in the minds of some, been a cause for mockery. "Cracked can't publish anything that isn't a list," these weak-minded people say. "Did you see Cracked's newest article? 'The 6 Most Surprising Things You Didn't Know About Baffling?' they'll add, thinking they're so fucking clever. "Or was it 'The 7 Most Things?' HAHAHHAHHAHHAHA- HHAHAHAHA."
We hate these people.
But what the fuck. It's the holidays, and the only people reading Cracked right now are the diehards and search-engine aggregation spiders. So here it is, folks. "The 7 Most Things." Happy freaking holidays.
More properly known as the Volkswagen 181, the Volkswagen Thing was what happened when a Beetle was made to fuck a dumpster, with sexy results.
Less a car, more a poem wrought from corrugated tin.
Originally meant to be a military vehicle, the Thing was eventually sold to civilians, because someone thought that would be pretty funny. Featuring interchangeable doors, a windshield that looked a bit like a door, and an engine that could accelerate it up to highway speeds in about half an hour, the Thing also had the distinction of being about 50 percent more expensive than the Beetle, and infinite more percent than common sense dictated.
Graphics: 2/5 (Big deduction for the low-poly models.)
Sound: Braaaaaaaaaaap, ka-chunk, chunk, grrrrnnngng, "Shift, goddamnit," chunk, "Got it, you bastard." Braaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaap.
Fun Factor: 2/5 (It is the fastest thing on this list, but only just barely.)
It turns out that a "thing" isn't a simple concept. Philosophers have spent tremendous amounts of time considering the problem and come up with a whole variety of definitions for what makes a thing a thing, and various tests to quantify a given thing's thinginess. Go ahead and click on that link if you're feeling up to a challenge, but I'll just summarize it here, probably a bit unfairly: They don't have any fucking idea.
Just to illustrate this problem a bit, let's take a specific example and consider an actual thing.
Here's a good one.
Most philosophers will look at this and agree to at least classify this as a concrete thing, although depending on whose thing it is, they may make some jokes about it being more semi-concrete. But they can agree on little else about it. Is it a thing in and of itself, or is it only a thing because of its properties that we can perceive (texture, girth, purpleness)? And can those same classifications be used to describe non-concrete things? Things like ideas?
"Yeah, no, just thinking about this thing is making me feel a little more concrete."
Graphics: 4/5 (Lost points for pixelated censoring.)
Fun Factor: SPROING!
"Thing," or "ting," is an old Scandinavian word for a governing assembly. Varying in size from small community meetings all the way up to massive multi-tribe gatherings, these were the places where heavily bearded citizens could meet and discuss the issues of the day.
"WHY MUST EVERYTHING WE HAVE REEK OF SWEAT AND FISH PASTE?"
The name lives on in the formal names for many national parliaments in the region, including the Danish Folketing ("Thing of the People"), Norway's Storting ("Great Thing"), and the Icelandic Althing ("General Thing").
(Now, I know it's pretty cheap to make fun of foreign words that sound goofy to English ears, so I won't do that here. But learning that Iceland's Parliament is called the "General Thing" is one of the things that make me love writing for Cracked.)
God do I hope their parliamentary sub-committees are called "Specific Things."
Sound: "Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, bullshit."
Fun Factor: 4/5 (It's a parliament, so it can't be that much fun, but I'm giving it massive bonus points for the "General Thing" thing.)
This particular Thing was a Soviet listening device, also sometimes called the Great Seal Bug. Concealed within an ornately carved version of the Great Seal of the United States, a gift to the American ambassador from a group of treacherous Soviet schoolchildren, it recorded conversations within the ambassador's residence in Moscow for almost seven years before its discovery.
"We figured it out when it started giggling."
The Thing was more than just a normal bug, though, and would have to be to get such a cool nickname. Invented by Leon Theremin (yes, the one who invented the theremin), it's an incredibly clever device, its breathtaking simplicity leaving it almost undetectable. Which it'd have to be, considering the anti-eavesdropping precautions the Americans would have taken (beyond playing music really loud while talking).
Also, they always coughed when saying "bullshit."
Notably, they'd have regularly swept the room with bug-sweeping equipment capable of detecting electronic devices or radio signals. But the Thing was barely an electronic device, with almost no circuitry or batteries, and it almost never broadcast a radio signal. Powered by an external radio source, it would use its own ultra-simple microphone to modulate that radio source and reflect it; the rest of the time, it was completely inert and undetectable. This is basically the same idea used in RFID chips invented five decades later, and pretty conclusive proof that Theremin was a time traveler.
Graphics: 4/5 (For the bitchin' carved eagle, if nothing else.)
Sound: "God do I hate Russia. Thank goodness they can't hear me right now. So many goddamned cabbage dishes."
Fun Factor: 4/5 (Time traveling and treacherous children? This Thing is rad. The Cold War was full of cool stuff like this. Shame about that constant threat of annihilation.)