Whatever the origins of this belabored phrase, it’s wholly unnecessary. As the same for gesundheit or anything else you’re supposed to say when someone sneezes. Okay, there’s a sneeze, so what? Why bother pointing out someone’s sneeze? Whatever spiritual significance that may have been an issue in antiquity should no longer hold our bodily function hostage. I want to sneeze without anyone paying any attention. You don’t say anything when I cough, yawn, or fart. If anything, I should be the one saying something, hopefully an apology (or doorknob) for the last one, when one of those events occurs. But sneezes seem to be unique in that the audience is the first to react.

Now if you can’t shake the need to acknowledge a semi-autonomous, convulsive expulsion of air through my nose and mouth, please don’t expect me to say “thank you.” Is your self-worth so dependent on my validation that you noticed I sneezed? Now instead of wasting one breath by saying “bless you,” I also have to waste a breath in receipt of your blessing? Please, save your breath and let me sneeze in peace.

Twice the cleaning power? Where was the other half of the power before?

Weeks ago, I went out for laundry detergent and got lost in the aisles looking for my old product*. I couldn’t find the same behemoth I used to have to lug back to my apartment. Instead, all the detergents were now half the size, much more reasonable to carry back home by hand. Noticing that now Tide had a new 2X concentrated formula, my first instinct was relief. Now I could get the same number of loads with half the liquid detergent. But it didn’t take long for me to wonder what I was using before. If this is the 2X formula, which by the way is now the standard Tide product, was I using some sort of diluted detergent before?

I realize that Tide has a tough marketing campaign to convince people to use less of this new concentrated formula and calling it 2X might make people use less, but that also implies that the previous formula was 1X. Rather than thinking I was holding a revolutionary new detergent, I thought I was using a less diluted version of the old. It doesn’t help that Tide’s website still lists “Water” as the most prominent ingredient in its detergent. Also, consider this tidbit from the site:

More cleaning ingredients. Less water.*

Did you know another concentrated detergent contains up to 80% water? Not Tide. Tide has more cleaning ingredients, less water.*

*vs. the next leading regular liquid detergent, past 12 months as of 11/15/08

It’s like the McDonald’s campaign now promoting its 100% beef burgers. What were they using before? I don’t see any guarantee that they’ve alway used 100% beef. Tide has an uphill battle, and just the same, I don’t see any assurance that they aren’t just taking more water out of their detergent and rebranding.

*2X Ultra could have been introduced much earlier. I have no idea. It’s not like I buy detergent frequently

W

It even looks ridiculous

There’s a good reason why we shorten double-u to “dub.” Besides being awesome, “dub” is just much easier to say and a much better letter name than its full-length counterpart. I don’t care if double-u is visually represented by two “U”s, though I’d argue that it looks more like a double-vee to me. We don’t call the letter B double-dee. Or even worse, we don’t call H triple-eye. Hell, most of the angular letters could be multiples of the letter I.

I’m not going into the phonetic significance of “W” or the history. I don’t care why it is called what it’s called. Maybe it sounds like two U sounds, though I’m at a loss as to how UU sounds like “wuh.” I’m just saying it’s the absolute stupidest letter name. All the other letters can be pronounced in one syllable; double-u, fully spoken, has three. Consider this nifty kernel snatched from Wikipedia, “www” takes three times as many syllables to say as World Wide Web.  It’s simply the stupidest letter name. And it hasn’t escaped me that our 43rd President is nicknamed “Dub-ya.”

Most people already pronounce it “dub-ya” already. I propose we all stop playing games and just refer to the 23rd letter as “dub.”

There are many unspoken rules in society. Among these rules, general man codes have been adopted to deal with everything from accidentally touching hands (never spoken about again) to proper procedure to calling shotgun (only when en route to vehicle). But the one inviolate code is urinal distribution. Most guys pick up on this intuitively. Mention it to any guy, he’ll certainly be savvy. In fact, most women know about this cultural phenomenon. But for those a little behind on masculine societal trends, it breaks down to one simple rule: don’t stand next to another guy. In a row of urinals, always stand at least one urinal apart from the next participant. In a trough situation, appropriate space is at least one person’s width. Of course, this system can be complicated by such unforeseen circumstances as partitions, spills, short urinals, or emergency (though in that case, I’ll still ask if you checked the toilet stalls first).

This entry is not a treatise on the elegance of urinal selection however. In most cases, guys know this all intuitively. Instead, a more complicated situation happened to me the other day that I felt needed to be addressed. Imagine a row of five urinals. Number 5 is occupied when I enter. Another guy comes in behind me. Rather than take 1 or 3 and leaving the other to the next guy, I accidentally took number 2. I made sure I was adequately clear from 5, but by taking 2, I forced the next guy to either stand next to me or the first guy.

Above: acceptable configuration; Below: reality

As you can see, the result was like a demented logic puzzle. The top diagram being the optimal solution, the bottom being the unfortunate reality. Faced with this dilemma, the next guy was actually so confused as to stumble between urinals 3 and 4 before finally settling on 3. I almost felt as though he chose the one next to me as some sort of retribution for forcing him into this awkward situation. I noticed right away the problem I had caused, but what could I do? I was already in mid-stream. Afterwards, I wondered if I should say something. Perhaps I should’ve apologized for my mistake. But then that would be violating the other men’s room code. No talking…ever.

Why the focus on underachievement based on race? I have always been uncomfortable with using discrimination as a tool to fight past discrimination. As any firefighter can tell you, the most effective way to fight fire is with fire. In the past, I’ve advocated doing away with race-based affirmative action and targeting real root causes of underachievement more closely linked to economic gaps rather than perpetuating race stereotypes. Of course that debate is too loaded to be resolved in a succinct blog post. Instead, I’d like to address a more demanding case of human prejudice that could be better addressed by affirmative action.

We all know about the pain felt at rejection, and as a society, we try to flatten the playing field as much as we can. Our country prides itself on allowing anyone the chance to succeed without innate attributes holding us back. Race is certainly one of the most obvious extrinsic qualities that we want to avoid judgments about. It’s not something that we choose, or we can change, therefore we find it disdainful to discriminate based on that trait. But as much as we say that racial discrimination is a learned trait that should/can be unlearned through methodically reshaping society, what about prejudice based on physical attractiveness? I’d say that hating ugly people is just as inherent a disposition that should be targeted and systematically eliminated.

But how can we target ugly-haters? Unlike the key attribute singled out in heightism, which can be measured objectively, isn’t physical attractiveness subjective? Beauty is a spectrum, a spectrum that has shifted and emphasized different attributes over human existence. Though there may have always been an attraction towards proportionality, there are certainly attributes that have been treasured in the past that no longer hold true. Breast size for instance, though we tend to think that large breasts have always been the norm, small breasts were actually preferred in the Middle Ages.

I don’t think it’s that debatable that at least some traits of attractiveness are heavily influenced by media and society. Is it any more unfair for a black applicant to be turned away than an unfortunate-looker based solely on the interviewers preferences?

People are drawn to pretty people. There’s no way around that. But why perpetuate this preference for beauty by putting beautiful people in places of power? Let’s elect a short President, hire that woman with the droopy eyes, date the bald guy. For every job, set aside interview slots for people you wouldn’t want to touch with a ten-foot pole. Start including photographs for college applicants and specifically choose the ones who couldn’t get a date with the opposite (or same) sex. Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a color-blind society where people can still be celebrated for their cultural diversity? Frankly, I don’t think being ugly brings much culture, and I’m fine with phasing it out completely as a barrier to entry.