There are a few things I’ve been meaning to do through the years that I just haven’t gotten around to doing, and now time is running out and it looks like I won’t get to do them. And anyway, I would need to ascend to quite a lofty position of power to get them done, say dictator of America for example, and that in itself would take more time than I have left. I’m hoping that reincarnation is a real thing, so I can get cracking on this to do list when I come back as a despot next time around.
Switch to metrics
I can hear my American readers impulsively screaming, “Communist!” at their screens, but that is only because I have not yet come back as a ruthless dictator to mercilessly silence such outbursts.
If you have a brain you already know that metrics is way better and you will have no problem adapting. If you don’t have a brain that’s okay; you will be able to learn metrics in a nice comfy gulag where your daily portions of gruel and water will be measured out in grams and milliliters.
So I won’t go into detail about why metrics is superior, or how easy it is to adopt (by, you know, using it). I will just tell you what tipped the metric scales for me, and made this a hot item on my to-do list.
I got sick and tired of hearing about “zero” when people talk about how cold it is. For example …
DUDE: Dude, I heard it was like 50 below zero up in Fairbanks yesterday.
ME: Wow, you mean it was like 82° below freezing? That’s even colder than you thought, right?
WEATHER GAL: It’s 12° at the moment, but tomorrow expect a bone chilling -10°!
ME (yelling at TV): Both of those temperatures are below freezing, moron!
DUMBASS COUSIN CANDACE: I’m so glad those subzero temps are over so I can go nude sunbathing.
Zero has no special significance in Fahrenheit, okay? You’re thinking of Celsius – the sensible one where zero means freezing, and below zero means really cold, and above zero means not freezing and not as cold. In fact, using “10 below” to emphasize how freaking cold it is, is not even as impressive or meaningful as saying “42° below freezing”. Feel me?
Now, in case you think I am a heartless monster, fear not. We will keep American measurements for their very useful role in speaking hyperbolically. “You missed that shot by a kilometer, bro” just does not have the proper ring to it, and if you have to tell your friends that “Kami can for realsies drink like 3.79 L of tequila in one go”, well, they probably won’t be your friends much longer (nerd!). We already colloquially measure big distances in football fields and large volumes of liquid in swimming pools, so American measurements will fit right in with this type of usage.
I know what you’re thinking, 24-hour clock right? Wrong. Granted, it sounds pretty cool in war movies when they say, “Attack at oh-400!” And it makes a lot of sense for doctors and nurses to say, “Time of death, 13:30.” It’s simple and avoids confusion – did she die in the middle of the night? Did she die right after lunch? When did she die?
But no, the benefit to be gained by making a universal switch to a 24-hour clock is not worth all the whining and bitching that such a change would undoubtedly produce. We have AM and PM to distinguish day from night, and I think that is sufficient.
The change I will affect as master of the universe in my next life is simply to rotate the face of analog clocks counter-clockwise one click so that the first hour of both AM and PM is 1 and not 12. I think now that I have said it, I don’t even need to explain it. I mean, tell me one other situation where you start counting from the last number in a sequence.
Pedantic nigglers are now anxiously pointing out that you count up to one minute from zero, not one, and to that I say three things. First, when I am dictator I will do whatever I want. Second, when I am dictator I will have a nice place for pedantic nigglers, and it rhymes with poo log. Third, when I am dictator I will have two or three smart guys and gals on my High Council of the Rad, and they will advise me on this while keeping in mind numbers one and two above. What they will probably tell me is that it will be no problem, we can just change the 12 to a zero. Of course, then we will have to move to a 24-hour clock, which as I mentioned will instigate mass panic and I will have no choice but to put the imperial smack down.
Happy new year?
Be honest, people. How happy are you, really, on January first? Sure, right at the stroke of 12 (or in my new paradigm, the stroke of 1), when you are nice and drunk and everyone is kissing each other, you probably feel happy. The next day though, and the next 30 – hell, the next 60 or 90 in some places – I bet you’re not feeling so great. Christmas is over, no more parties to go to, no more presents waiting to be opened, just a lot of trash lying around and a dried out dead pine tree to deal with in the living room. Outside the weather is dark, cold and crappy, and there aren’t even any good holidays on the horizon to brighten things up. What, Valentine’s Day? I don’t know about you, but putting a romantic holiday smack in the middle of February, the most dismal month of the year, was a really stupid idea. St. Patrick’s Day seems more seasonally appropriate – let’s just get drunk and try to make it till spring without committing suicide – but still, not that great for our collective mental health.
No, the first three months of the year definitely do not feel like a new beginning. They should go at the end, where they want to be. The ancients had it right (and the Asians), the year should begin when things are beginning – in April. Just to keep things a bit more orderly I would consent to rotating the month names forward, similar to what we are going to do with the clock face, so that January starts where April now starts. That would put Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, the three funnest and most real-good-feel-good holidays, right where they are most needed, in the ass crack of the year. We could keep Easter in January (formally known as April), since it’s all about fertility and new life bursting forth and all that jazz. For that matter, maybe Thanksgiving should stay in the harvest time of year too, and we could throw a fire festival or something into the calendar sometime after that when the weather is getting really dark and shitty. Of course, these are details that the High Council of the Rad and I will iron out when the time comes. For now I just want to reassure you, things are going to get better. I just have to die first.
(Side note: Australia and New Zealand, Tasmania and Auckland, all you lot down there. It’s not that I’m forgetting about you. Unfortunately, nothing we do with the calendar is going to make any difference for you. But I think you know that. You’ve been resigned to your fate for so long, and that’s why you are so laid back. Keep hangin’ loose, dudes. I’m gonna leave you guys alone.)
We have managed to force the English language on the entire world, and as a despot-to-be I am perfectly fine with that. However, English is kind of a dick of a language, isn’t it? The grammar is really hard – but at least it makes sense after you use it for a while. The spelling is really hard and makes no damn sense at all. It’s almost like the British purposefully set out to befuddle the unwashed masses as they were colonizing them, strictly in order to more easily subdue them. Again, I like it. It’s crafty. But it’s not really my style. In my next life I will be the autocrat with a heart of gold, and I will make English as simple and easy to learn as possible for the enslaved billions of the earth. I will start by taking a machete to the alphabet.
First to go are the letters C (we have S and K for that), soft G (we have J for that), and Q (we have K and KW for that). I know that many people will be upset to lose the letter Q because it is so quirky and cute, but I think they will get used to it. The one superfluous letter that we will keep is X, simply because it will be part of my badass dictator moniker, Citizen X.
Silent letters will serve no purpose in my regime. Currently over half of the letters in the alphabet can be silent, which to me shows a very poor work ethic on the part of those letters. (In case you’re curious, the strictly non-silent ones are A, D, F, I, J, O, Q, R, U, V, X, and Z. I’m sure any cunning linguists reading this can tell me that even some of these can be silent.) So now, “I knew a dumb gnu” becomes “I nu a dum nu”. Simple!
Double letters are next on the chopping block. Is that extra L in kill, pull, and call really doing anything useful? I know, I know. It keeps the vowel doing the right thing when you add -ED or -ING. If you threatened “kiling” someone, for example, they would not even know to be scared. Not to worry though, in my new and way better world of spelling, each vowel will have only two sounds, and the long vowel will be represented by a capital letter. E.g.: Wy am I kiling yu? Bikuz I hAt yr hat.
That’s right, say goodbye to silent E! And to all those dumb vowel combinations! Check out the stupid old OU in YOU, BOUGH, and COUGH. Now check out the clarity and simplicity of YU, BAU, and KOF. Boom, 99% of all four-year-olds are now literate.
Consonant combinations like SH, CH, and TH will have to go too. My team of Cunning Linguists will come up with some clever way of representing these sounds with a modified letter – I’m just going to say $ for SH, for example. Won’t that be the $it?
I won’t just be reducing the alphabet. I’m going to introduce a letter that will take the load off a huge majority of the vowels currently in use: the schwa (that’s this guy: ə), and you will be seeing a lot of him. For those who don’t know, this is the sound of the unstressed I in AMBIDEXTROUS (also the OU), and the unstressed second A in PARAPLEGIA (also the IA).
E.g.: R yU ambədekstrəs? No, I sufr frum perəplEjə.
In fact, there are many adjustments my team and I will make, both great and small. Just to give you a sense, please enjoy this passage.
Bəginrz gId tu brd wo¢ing
LIk enE₮ing, brd wo¢ing iz mAnlE praktəs — and its səprIzinglE EzE tu lrn. Yu kən du it pretE mu¢ enEtIm yur aUtsId. Brding mAnlE involvz pA$ns, kArfəl obsrvA$ən, and ə wilingnes tu let ₮ə wundr and byUtE uv ₮ə na¢ərəl wrld ovrtAk yu. HEr r sum tips on haU tu get startəd…
I originally wrote this entire post in the new way. Then I realized that it’s probably too soon. You would take one look at your screen, assume that your computer was on the fritz, and run away. But future generations will look back at our way of writing and scratch their heads in bewilderment – the same way you do when you pick up a 17th century manuscript or IKEA instructions. They won’t believe that we talked the same, while writing things down in such a screwed up way.
The new way will have another advantage. People who can’t spell will be able to cloak their handicap and move through society without other people thinking that they’re stupid. Come on bad spellers, let me see those hands!
Population control and eradication of religion
Theism has had a pretty good run, a few thousand years in the front seat explaining the world, natural disasters, where we come from, where we’re going. Where it hasn’t made much progress, IMHO, is how to handle the many problems we face. It’s pretty short on solutions, is what I’m saying. Pretty much the best it has come up with is, things will get better after you’re dead. Not too reassuring! Far from developing vaccines, launching communications satellites, stopping wars or reducing the population, religion actually exacerbates things. Take the last one for example. The only time religion tries to do something about the population is when the members of one religion try to murder all the members of another religion. The rest of the time it’s busy closing abortion clinics and scolding people for using condoms. It’s time for theism to get in the back seat and let the adults do the driving for a while.
Now, population control has been tried at various times throughout history by various ambitious individuals: Genghis Khan, Jozef Stalin, Pol Pot, Donald Trump… But none of these guys was ever as successful as he wanted to be, and that’s because the blunt instrument approach is just the wrong way to go.
I’m going to use the approach which in fact, is already working. I am going to educate the shit out of your kids. Ass backwards places like Turkmenistan and Oklahoma are going to receive carpet bombs of cash for top-notch institutions of learning, to roll back generations of superstition-based nonsense, open the eyes of the young and get them moving in a forward direction. This will actually be the easiest item on my list, because I will just be continuing a trend that has already begun. You may not know this, but the world population has already stabilized – growth has slowed dramatically and is projected to decrease in the coming years. This is not because Jesus or any other deities have intervened, as you might expect, but simply because more people are being educated about rubbers (among other things). I will simply help this trend along by showering the globe in cash investment for education and contraceptives.
That should take care of population control. Religion will be trickier. Apparently no amount of reason, evidence or brute force seems to sway people. They just love the idea of invisible hands directing cosmic traffic. I guess that’s fine for the most part. Personally, I think people mainly just like getting together to hold hands, sing songs, and be agreeable to each other in a group. That’s groovy enough, but unfortunately all too often it means the group has to try to assimilate other groups, or destroy them, and I just can’t have that going on in my empire. I mean, even within one religion there is like, tons of conflict – Christianity alone has 45,000 denominations, with more splitting off every year. Can’t we all just get along?
But again, I won’t waste my considerable resources trying to stomp out religion. It just needs to be softened, and good old reality-based education seems to be doing the trick. If it comes down to it, as a last resort, I will force everyone with strong religious tendencies to become Lutheran. They seem benign almost to the point of ambivalence, and when it comes to religion, that is a good thing.
So there you have it, my list of things to do after I die and come back as the omnipotent ruler of the world. Now that you have a heads up, you can get started on these changes and go straight to the head of the class when the time comes. You might even get a spot on the High Council of the Rad. Wouldn’t that be the $it?