27 August 2008

Caution: Men Not Working

In case you were looking for more signs that we're surrounded by people who are dangerously lazy, and that we are definitely ruled by people who want us all to be so, here's a nice little tidbit for you:

Recently, while helping J- to relieve one of several local office-supply stores of the remainder of their loss leading pencils and notebooks, I saw a big display for a "Reduced Effort Stapler", which promised* to save me "70% of the effort required by traditional staplers."

Using a specific figure like this of course relies on the illusion, if not the actual fact, that they performed some kind of clinical research into this pressing problem. This is almost enough to stun me into silence, which you must have already realized is quite an impressive feat.

How they even managed to break down the effort needed to staple a couple pieces of paper together in the first place exceeds my imagination-- they've got to be coming as close to dividing by zero as anyone ever has. The undernourished math nerd in me, suddenly remembering the word asymptote way too late for my freshman year midterm, is eager to see the graphs* produced by this crack team throughout what must have been an incredibly arduous R&D process.

It was probably almost as complex as the epic gauntlet that was the gestation of that pinnacle of American ingenuity, electric scissors.**

Please come save us from ourselves, Jebus!

* They might have come out something like these classic graphs from xkcd.***

** Already ridiculed beautifully by David Cross.

*** Now that I've found another reason to link to this hilariously perfect and wonderful comic, I'll also point out this one that seems to have been made for J- and I as much as this one was.


unmitigated me said...

oh, sure. you staple together 60 packets with the reduced effort stapler and tell me you're not hooked for life.

Anonymous said...

You do know about electric staplers now, right? 0% effort required there. Think of all the cleaning you could do with that saved effort. Oh, wait... that was supposed to sound like a good thing.

Kori said...

First drive-through pharmacies and Starbucks-because that extra 10 feet is too far to walk and it might take an extra three minutes and I am just too busy to waith three minutes becuase I am that important so I can wait in my car in the drive thru and talk on the phone with someone as important as me and multi-task because I am telling my kid in the backseat to shut the hell up because I am on the phone and that is more important than the fact that my kids just puked all over he seat...and now effortless staplers? PLEASE! Oh. yeah. Praise Jebus.

Kat said...

It is taking all the self restraint I have not to get up on my soapbox about the sloth of this generation. The other day I witnessed an extreme act of sloth when my neighbor who was sitting outside called her husband who was inside on the phone to get him to bring her a drink. Like walking inside was going to kill her.

Anonymous said...

I think the whole "70%" part would have turned me into a skeptic.

Pretty much ANYTHING that tells me a percent of "betterness" gets the old pooh-pooh from me, unless it's something that is entirely quantifiable.

Because, maybe I staple with such vigor that that the effortless stapler actually reduces my work output by 95%?

Insane Mama said...

Staplers and me... we don't get along very well. Thos electric ones are dangerous. Believe me. I used to work in a CPA firm and lets just say that I was taken to the hospital because of a stapler.

Carol said...

Someone should start a whole range of reduced effort items.

It'd be a sure thing money spinner with parents.

Reduced effort dishwasher, self loading.

Sign me up!

Anonymous said...

What about calling the upstairs in your house from the downstairs in your house because you don't want to have to get off your chair? And of course, you use speed dial because it's too much effort to hit all the numbers. With all this saved effort it has to come out somewhere. More fresh meals, more cleaning? Getting to sleep later? That's it.

The Microblogologist said...

Force is pretty easy to measure actually and so the 70% thing may not be a total scam. Being the poster grad student for repetitive stress injuries who wouldn't be able to work without a 95% reduced force pipetter I'm definitely an advocate of such products. Sorry to suck the funny out of it!

small town city girl said...

I LOVE electric staplers! They are super fantastic!

LiteralDan said...

Middle Aged Woman: Why the capital W all of a sudden? It's a good change, but you had been so consistent that I'm thrown off balance by it.

I will NOT be hooked for life. Stapling is very satisfying just as it is.

Mary: Yeah I know they've got those, and they are ridiculous. Though copy machines that have automatic staplers are wicked cool.

Kori: Don't get me started on that, sister. High five! A little puke is good for them, right?

Kat: Soap-box, soap-box, soap-box!!! As Marvin K. Mooney's host would say, "Please do, Do, DO!!" See the relevant book title in this post for my similar feelings.

Andrea's Sweet Life: You sound like my kind of lady, lady. I love throwing stuff like that at people, because it's 100% correct. Stay strong!

Insane Mama: If you post about that, please send me a link to make sure I don't miss it in favor of something lame like feeding the kids. I would feel uncomfortable around an electric stapler, and now I feel like I have reason for it. I just need the details.

Carol: I think American industry has been cranking out "Reduced Effort Items" for decades now. We passed the tipping point somewhere in the mid-80s, I think. Now we have nothing to do with ourselves but whine, blog, and feel depressed about things.

Mary: Yes, the latter is most beneficial and most likely. Why venture into such dangerous territory? When is cleaning become too much cleaning?*

* Right when it starts, says I.

The Microblogologist: Ah ha! I knew I'd lure you or somebody else into discussing this. Let me first say that you can never suck the funny from me-- in fact, you just blew a whole bunch back in! Moohoohahahaaaa!

I know that force is quantifiable, but I think "effort" is way too intangible to measure. Applying X amount of force requires much less effort for me than for a child, for example.

As a related side note, if you go too far in lowering the amount of force required to do something, it can become horribly inconvenient for gods-among-men like myself to use those items. Picture Lennie with the rabbits, or me trying to hold an unopened can of (soda) pop without obliterating it with my overwhelming clenching force. I could go on.

small town city girl: I would only want an electric stapler gun, so it could double as a home-defense device. And so I could shoot stuff/people with it and say it was an accident.

jdg said...

I haven't stapled anything in more than two years!

LiteralDan said...

Oh great and mighty jdg, of Sweet Juniper and Harper's Magazine fame, I know what you mean. I have a desk with all kinds of office supplies, but I don't use them, because they seem so hollow without the fluorescent lights, white walls, paper-thin carpet, and mindless chatter that are meant to go with them.

Also, because I haven't yet needed to fax any memos to my new bosses.