Posts filed under “General Knowledge”


How important is it to tech companies to keep you seething with outrage? Consider this notice (reproduced for the purpose of criticism and fomenting outrage) that has been popping up in the Microsoft Edge browser if you have your new-tab page set to show no news feed:

Try a new layout to see more news: Earn 100 Microsoft Rewards points when you switch to the Microsoft Edge informational layout. Plus, earn 400 more if you keep it for 7 days.

You may also note that there is no button to refuse. There are two buttons: “Obey now” and “Keep bothering me.”

The reason we are so angry at one another all the time is because billionaires are making more billions from our anger. Dr. Boli has one suggestion: Direct your anger toward the billionaires, and turn off your news feed.


Windows. You have lost connection to the Internet, and nothing will work now. You are a failure as a user and as a human being.

Apple. Your Internet connection was temporarily interrupted and Cupertino lost contact with you, so we are sending a Genius to diagnose your problem. She will arrive in 5 to 7 minutes. She likes herbal tea with stevia.

ChromeOS. You’re not connected to the Internet! You can still get work done in offline mode, but we’ll erase it all when you’re back on line.

Ubuntu Linux. Uh-oh! Your Internet connection is gone! But don’t worry! Just visit our forums, and our happy online community of expert users will be delighted to answer your questions!



Since Grant Borough adopted the all-coin-op system of government last month, a number of borough residents have asked how they can tell whether or not the prothonotary is working when they have deposited a coin in the slot. The burgess and council have appointed a committee to investigate the matter. Please remember to deposit your quarter in the slot outside the Officer Craig Underhand Memorial Conference Room in Borough Hall so that the committee can begin its work.


At the present rate of consumption, the earth has only enough seething outrage to last for the next seventeen years, and future generations are doomed to apathetic indifference.


Correction: The Hymn of the Day printed in your bulletin is incorrect. The correct Hymn of the Day will be “We Are Many Parts,” sung to the tune of “Some Assembly Required.”


When you swear that you have read and agreed to the terms and conditions of some online service, what are you agreeing to?

We have taken up this question before, and Dr. Boli hopes it will not spoil his readers’ fun to reveal here at the beginning that his opinion has not changed.

EventBrite is a popular ticketing service used by many organizations, including the City of Pittsburgh Environmental Services to schedule appointments for electronics recycling. If you have an old television that has died and passed on to a better life free of reruns at last, it is necessary to have the carcass recycled, and you must set up an appointment to have the chauffeur drive it to the recycling center.

In order to get the ticket for your recycling appointment from EventBrite, you must agree to three separate legal documents. Two of them, taken together, add up to 17,363 words, which would be, at a commonly accepted average adult reading rate, an hour and a quarter of uninterrupted reading. The third document does not exist: the link leads to a generic landing page, and the document cannot be found by searching for its title on the site. But you must agree to it anyway.

Let us ignore the phantom document for the moment and assume that, being a figment of our imagination, it contains no words at all. We are still required to agree to 17,363 words.

How does this compare to other legal documents?

The Constitution of the United States of America, including the secretary’s attestation of the corrections, is 4,498 words.

It takes almost four times as many words to state the conditions for receiving a recycling appointment as it took to set up the entire machinery of American government.

Ah, you say, but the machinery of American government was defective, and the Constitution has had to be amended more than once.

The Bill of Rights, including the preamble, is 828 words.

The rest of the amendments, from XI up through XXVII, including their dates of ratification, are 2,698 words.

The Constitution with all amendments, as well as the attestations and other matter, comes to 8,024 words. That is still less than half what we have to agree to in order to receive a recycling appointment from EventBrite.

And that is under the assumption that the third document, which was not available for us to read but to which we still had to agree, contained no words at all. We may be permitted to doubt that its language, when it exists, would be as terse as all that.

The fact that courts take these agreements seriously is all the evidence you need that our justice system has been sold lock, stock, barrel, and infantryman to the capitalists. These are not agreements: they are conditions imposed at will by private organizations upon people who cannot choose to refuse them. (Recycling electronics like televisions, for example, is a legal obligation.) The correct term for imposing conditions in that way is slavery, and it would be healthier for our political discourse if we simply said what we meant.


You visit a brewery and ask the friendly server whether they have a stout.

“Well,” he says, “we have…

“Imperial Milk Stout with Frosted Animal Cookies, Strawberry, Raspberry, Milk Sugar, and Vanilla…

“Imperial Milkshake Stout Conditioned on Oreos…

“Imperial Stout with Toasted Coconut, Coffee, and Cinnamon…

“Salted Caramel Butter Crisp Pastry Stout…

“Imperial Stout with Blackberries, Cocoa Nibs, Vanilla, and Milk Sugar…”

“So,” you say, interrupting the list, “the answer is no?”

“Well, if you don’t like our stouts, you might try an IPA. We have IPA with Strawberry, Rhubarb, Milk Sugar, Graham Crackers, and Vanilla…”

“I’ll just have iced tea,” you say with a frozen smile.

Now, you may think this is a little exaggeration, and it is true that Dr. Boli has once in a while indulged in slight exaggeration to make a point. But these names are taken straight from the list at a brewery in Sharpsburg, a brewery that lives in part of the old Fort Pitt Brewery, which once produced the most popular beer in Pennsylvania.

Apparently the word “beer” no longer means what it meant when Dr. Boli was younger.