4 Huge Improvements to Everyday Life (We'll Never Adopt)
In 1995, Pizza Hut founder John Pizzahut had the idea of jamming rancid string cheese logs into the edges of a pizza, and thus was stuffed crust pizza born. Despite being humanity's single greatest achievement (sorry, written language!) and a major advance in the field of pizzaology, it still hasn't been adopted as the standard 23 years later. This is because we humans have a bad habit of not adopting something better if we're used to the older, shittier version.
Of course, finding more places to hide a substance that legally qualifies as cheese isn't the only example. There are things we do every day that have huge impact on our lives which have objectively superior versions that will never, ever see widespread adoption in the United States, if for no other reason than that making the change sounds like too much damn work. For example ...
Ranked Choice Voting Fixes Democracy (Or At Least Improves It A Bit)
Let us assume for a moment that you are an American who does not vote in federal elections because "both parties are the same." First of all, congratulations! You did it! You found a way to feel smugly superior to all those voting plebs, with their "convictions" and "exercising their civic duty," by doing nothing whatsoever. That said, there is legitimate criticism to be made of the American winner-takes-all voting system.
Any system that only offers two choices is already halfway to having no choices. If you're a progressive, you know that supporting a progressive third-party candidate you agree with could just split the vote and put a Republican in office. This encourages you to fall in line with whatever boring centrist the Democrats give you, and discourages those third-party candidates from even running in the first place.
This is where ranked choice voting comes in. It's a system where instead of casting a vote for a single candidate, voters rank several choices from first to last. If one candidate gets a majority of first-choice votes, they win. Congratulations, President Vermin Supreme! If no candidate gets a majority of first-choice votes, then the candidate with the fewest first-choice votes is eliminated. Sorry, Senate candidate Ted Nugent, looks like the seat's going to Kid Rock. Votes for the eliminated candidate are redistributed to voters' second choice, then third, then fourth, and so on, until a candidate has a majority.
That means our hypothetical voter up there could feel secure putting their preferred candidate first and then the Democrat second, knowing that if the former gets eliminated, their vote just rolls over to the latter.
While this may not be a perfect system, it's certainly a better system than what we've got. No more being forced to choose between the political equivalent of a sharp stick in the eye and an acid enema. Instead, you could just rank the political equivalent of a basket of handjobs first and put the sharp stick in the eye further down the list.
More candidates could run and be taken seriously, and more voters would thus have a reason to leave the house on Election Day -- something desperately needed in a country where only a little over half of the eligible population bothers to vote (one study associated the practice with a 10 percent increase in voter turnout). Ireland has used ranked choices for presidential elections ever since write-in candidate "Fuck The British" technically became president in 198-I-just-made-that-up. Australia has been using this system for state and federal elections for decades.
Despite some grassroots success in smaller U.S. elections, we'll probably never see it on a federal level. Unless, you know, the big two parties decide they're OK with loosening their stranglehold on the country. That could happen, right?
A Calendar That Can Make Up Its Goddamn Mind
When I say "calendar," I don't just mean the thing that lets people who have never heard of Google Images see a new picture of a baby animal in a tiny sweater every single month. I mean the way we understand and organize a year. The calendar that most of the world currently uses was instituted by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. It's probably the only thing from 1582 that we still use today, since doctor-barbers no longer prescribe spanking a woman with a medicinal tree branch if she's caught doing multiplication in public.
The Gregorian calendar is kind of a mess. Like a college student desperately trying to get laid, it has to reinvent itself every year. You're probably so used to its shortcomings that you don't even think about them. Is the Fourth of July on a Saturday this year? Because if it's on a Sunday, we all know that we better save a sick day for the inevitable Fifth of July Hangover Care and Exploded Hand Outpatient Treatment. And if you don't know what day of the week Flag Day 2019 falls on, how in the world are you supposed to plan the orgy? (Note: Flag Day 2019 is on a Friday, so order the George Washington mask and All-American Dildo for Patriots now!)
This is why two Johns Hopkins University professors decided that maybe a calendar that was invented before toilet paper had some room for improvement. Astrophysicist Richard Henry and economist Steve Hanke created the Hanke-Henry Calendar, which aims to be to modern calendars what syringes are to stabbing someone with a knife dipped in medicine. Their calendar divides the year into four identical quarters, and the same days fall on the same date every year.
The advantages are obvious. Christmas will always fall on a Sunday, Thanksgiving will have a set date of November 24th, and the Arbor Day Brunch and Child Sacrifice to the Silent Gods of the Forest will always fall on a Thursday. The calendarsmiths also contend that their permanent calendar would provide a host of cultural, financial, and time-saving benefits. And with a website that's a custom cursor and a dancing baby GIF away from being the Platonic ideal of a '90s website, why wouldn't you trust these guys?
At this point, you may be wondering how this calendar deals with leap years, the answer to which is "Shut up, nerd." But if you really need to know, an entire week is slapped onto the end of the year every five or six years. This "mini-month" is called Xtr, since spending all their money inventing a better calendar left them too poor to buy a vowel. If that sounds needlessly complicated, remember that under the Gregorian calendar, leap years occur every year divisible by four, except for years that are also divisible by 100, unless they are also divisible by 400, and it skips the first three leap years every 400 years. Which means you have to do -- ugh! -- math to figure out leap years in the current system.
Sadly, neither objective supremacy nor peer pressure will convince us to adopt the Hanke-Henry Calendar. Since it obviates the need to buy a new calendar every year, the fat cats of Big Calendar will never let it pass, since it would threaten their worldwide death grip on power. And without calendars, what will firefighters pose sexily for?
A Written Language That Actually Makes Sense
The suspicion you had in third grade is correct: Spelling is dumb. Whatever jackass decided that rough, cough, bough, though, thought, and through should all be pronounced differently deserves to be mutilated and then to have his body hanged one limb at a time, in a real-life game of Hangman. That someone would try to improve on English spelling seems inevitable, which is why in 1906 Andrew Carnegie decided enough was enuf and created the Simplified Spelling Board.
The SSB had one goal: to make English spelling more rational, consistent, and phonetic, which it was believed would save hundreds of millions of dollars a year, allow more information to be written in less space, and educate children more quickly. The Simplified Spelling Board was like the Justice League of old-timey mustache-stroking intellectuals. It had among its members a Supreme Court justice, the inventor of the Dewey Decimal System, Mark goddamn Twain, and some guy called Dr. Funk, who you just know brought the party.
These guys made a list of over 300 phonetic spellings that they hoped would become the norm. And they actually had some success. Words such as "center," "anesthetic," "defense," and "theater" changed their spelling in part due to the efforts of the SSB. Most of their spellings didn't catch on, though, proving deeply unpopular even though Theodore Roosevelt signed an executive order adopting the simplified spellings in all official White House documentation. If not even the combined powers of Theodore Roosevelt, Andrew Carnegie, Mark Twain, and the mighty Dr. Funk can convince Americans to reform a system that's become inefficient and inconsistent over centuries of incremental linguistic mutation, what hope do we mere mortals have?
Of course, spelling norms aren't the only thing in written language that could be improved. Some people, including Benjamin Franklin, have decided at various points in history that modifying the alphabet itself is a better solution. The most fully realized alphabet is likely Quickscript, a version of the Shavian alphabet (named after the playwright George Bernard Shaw). In the Latin alphabet, letters are ambiguous and can represent multiple sounds, which you can certainly confirm by looking at C. Worse, when it doesn't have a letter to represent a phoneme, it Frankensteins together letters to form an unholy approximation. Quickscript corrects this by having 40 letters, each of which represents a single phoneme.
Sure, these letters may look like the result of a snake getting wasted and trying to write a death threat to the garden hose that his wife left him for. But besides making English phonetic, Quickscript also makes writing more efficient by making each letter writable with a single stroke. The more common the letter, the more simple the stroke, and phonemes with similar sounds have similar appearances. Common words are also given simple symbols to further increase writing speed. The creator of Quickscript estimated that it would take 50 percent less pen work to express the same information in the Shavian alphabet than in the Latin alphabet.
Of course, while Quickscript is a superior, logical alternative to the Latin alphabet, we'll never muster the will to actually change it, since nobody actually writes shit down anymore (when doctors fill out a prescription pad, they're clearly just guessing). Though technology-eschewing doomsday preppers would be thrilled to learn how much time they'd save writing their manifestos.
Base-12 Is A Better Way To Do Numbers
Base-10 is the Marvel movies of counting systems, in that it actually isn't that good and people only think it's the best because it's all they know, it's easily understood by children, and they don't realize there are better things out there. Base-10, if you don't remember from school, is the counting system that we use in the modern world. It's the system of nine digits (plus zero) that we use to form all other numbers. It's so ingrained that you probably didn't think other options were even possible.
In fact, we probably only use it because the Romans happened to use it, and they spread it all over Europe like a hitchhiking Dutch teenager spreading the clap on his gap year. Mathematical historian Georges Ifrah claims there's an even dumber reason we use Base-10: because that's how many fingers we have. While some scholars have debated this, prestigious learning institution Schoolhouse Rock agrees with his position.
And Base-10 seems like a great system on the surface. Sure, multiplying by tens is easy, as is scaling -- a million pounds is the same as a thousand thousand pounds, and a billion pounds is the same as 0.5 yo' mamas. But Base-12, also known as the dozenal or duodecimal system, kicks over Base-10's sand castle at the beach and steals its girlfriend.
Sad, weak, bad-at-sports little ten only has two non-trivial factors: five and two. Five is prime and can't divide further, and two is a pain because it's just too small to work with. Twelve, on the other hand, has four glorious non-trivial factors: two, three, four, and six. Note that these also correspond to a sixth, a quarter, a third, and a half of 12, respectively.
Base-12 is also much easier to use for division, particularly for expressing fractions. Try to express a third by dividing one by three, and your calculator begs for the sweet ecstasy of death as it stares into the gibbering maw of infinity. Do the same with Base-12, and you get a nice even 0.4. Remember those zany Romans? The ones who used a Base-10 system? Turns out even they used Base-12 when dealing with fractions.
The mathematician A.C. Aitken believed that the dozenal system would make mental calculation 150 percent faster and help children learn multiplication more quickly. There are entire societies dedicated to converting the world to Base-12, and those societies even have a newsletter, so you know they're legit. At this point, you'd have to be insane to think that Base-10 is superior. You probably also believe the lines in the sky are chemtrails, when any reasonable person can tell you they're angel farts.
Still, trying to change the system at this point would create so much confusion that the entire civilized world would fall into chaos. That is the sad reality of why so many fundamental elements of society exist: It's the way we've always done it, and improving it is just too damned hard.
Support your favorite Cracked writers with a visit to our Contribution Page. Please and thank you.
For more, check out 4 Life Hacks That Will Ruin Your Life:
Follow us on Facebook. It's free.