Discover more from The Matt Jankowski Club
The wrinkle free solution to your shirt problem
Does this also count for vests?
When someone is describing another person and wants to convey that they are a real standup sort of guy who would help you out and be useful they might say something like "Bill's a great guy, he'd give you the shirt off his back". I think the implication here is that Bill is so generous and so thoughtful about other people, that he'd cause some mild harm to himself (presumably it's a cold day out and Bill is being made more and not less uncomfortable by giving up his shirt) in an effort to help other people out.
I feel like this expression must have been coined in a more shirt constrained time in history than where we currently live. When I walk around these days we are just lousy with shirts. Everyone is wearing a shirt, the stores are full of shirts with bargain basement prices, there are plenty of charities who will give you a shirt if you don't have one, and so on. I think that if in our modern times someone did approach you and take their shirt off and offer it to you, you'd be more inclined to think there was something wrong with them than you would to think of them as a standup person.
I also wonder about the number of historical situations where it was actually very helpful to take your shirt off and give it someone else to help them out. I don't think you could prove this, but I bet the people who have done all of this shirt providing are by and far people who prior to that situation had never been described as someone who would give you the shirt off their back. I'd also bet that the majority of people who have been described as back-shirt-givers have actually never given anyone the shirt off their back.
This would be a great way to make a new friend
Tourette syndrome is a medical condition where a person will involuntarily express various motor and vocal ticks. As portrayed in popular culture, the condition involves yelling obscene phrases at inappropriate times. This does happen, but is somewhat rare amongst people with the condition. I'd like to see someone who has the movie version of Tourette's (obscene yelling) ... but only with writing things, and only while doing crossword puzzles.
When our hypothetical patient sits down with the newspaper to work on the crossword section (let's also say that they are hypothetically compelled to do this every day, even though they know what's going to happen, because Tourette's also brings an OCD component with it) they can read all of the clues just fine, but when they go to write down the correct word in the provided space, they instead write down some horrific racial slur or other vulgarity or obscenity. Let's grant them that they are very good at finding words with the right number of letters so that it all fits into the puzzle.
If you didn't know about this person's condition and you were at their house and it had been a few weeks since they took out their recycling and you found that stack of papers with filled in crosswords and started leafing through it ... man, how about that.
A collection of romance novels
People really like organizing information and looking for solutions to problems. This explains the popularity of causal games like "Words with Friends", and it also explains a lot of cancer research which involves sifting through piles of data about the disease and the genetics of people who have various forms of it. Both groups are applying their curiosity and pattern matching and organizing skills, they are just doing so in different domains.
The words people have chosen to play a zero sum version of the game -- they know there will be a winner and a loser at the end, and they know roughly what will go into each path towards those destinations. They are also pre-assured that they are in somewhat of a closed universe of rules and materials -- the things that can happen in terms of letter availability and board spacing and how to take turns are all laid out with incredible detail, so there is essentially a guarantee that the game will end and that there will be a winner and a loser. They also know that the time investment involved will be on the order of minutes or hours per day.
The cancer people on the other hand are playing a game with no known outcome or rules. It might wind up being negative sum (as in, there will be incredible time and materials invested but nothing positive will come out the other side) and they might spend their entire lives pursuing the goal only to fail. They could spend decades on some promising path only to have it fall apart in front of them.
Because they are using similar skills, it's hard to know who the real heroes are here.
This is the deepest dish we've ever used for baking scones
A few times a year there's a study that comes out which highlights the worldwide dollars-measured wealth inequality with some phrase like "The top X people have as much wealth as the bottom Y% of people". The numbers here are usually sort of jarring if you think everyone should have the same amount of dollar measured wealth (it would be insane to think this, please don't think this). The groups publishing these studies and the people circulating them generally have an anti-wealthy-people agenda, or are bringing some sort of pro-redistribution agenda along with them. At a minimum, they are probably supportive of ideas to increase the taxes of the dollar wealthy part of this group or in some other way redistribute the dollar wealth that has accumulated to this group.
There are also several times a year studies which come out showing that things like infant mortality and deaths from disease and other preventable accidents are at all time lows, and that there is just an incredible trend of everything getting safer and better and cheaper for more people more of the time over the last few centuries. These studies generally ignore currency-measured wealth and focus on basic access to shelter, infrastructure, food, health services, etc. The people pointing to these studies in their arguments often make the case that everything is just great so could you please stop your whining now.
The people who use these studies in their (often opposed) arguments about what to do with things should probably stop yelling at each other and talk more.