matt makes stuff



The Evolution of Pizza
Wobe the Rabbit
The Fabergé Egg Scam
The Wisdom of the Star People
People Invent Computers Invent Cars


I bought a flashlight, but I couldn't figure out how to turn it on.

I pressed all the buttons, I read the manual, nothing. I read it cover-to-cover twice and I'm positive the instructions didn't mention whether it even had an "on" feature. I knew the battery was good, because the screen would come on. So I asked around, and everyone said i need to install a special program on my flashlight if I want to turn it on. I thought they were kidding, but sure enough, I went to the store and I saw thousands and thousands of flashlight programs, in every possible language. They weren't even for sale, the store was giving them away for free. I had no idea why there were so many, or what the difference between any of them was. So I just picked one at random.

When I installed it, my flashlight demanded to know where I was and who all my friends are, and then it tried to sell me deodorant.

The Evolution of Pizza

Did you know? Artificial pizza flavor is based on an old pizza cultivar that's been bred out of existence; that's why it doesn't taste like what we think of as pizza today. You're actually tasting what pizza tasted like in the 1940s when that flavor was engineered. Strange but true!


This cultivar, known as "p. annuum piperpanem" had a rubbery crust, very similar to the rind of the common bell pepper. As this illustration from the Codex Seraphianus shows, the "cheese" was also much more viscous at room temperature, and the "sauce" more evenly distributed within. Although it was popular in Italy where it originated, pizza didn't become a worldwide sensation until 1962, when Venetian biochemist Antonio Boiardi introduced the flat version we're all familiar with, p. annuum planuspanem.

Wobe the Rabbit

When I was a very young child I didn't understand the concept of radio station call letters. Most of the radio stations in my area went entirely by their nicknames - "Rock 105", "Electric 102", "98.7 the Beat", etc. except for the country station, which was called WQBE.

This was extra confusing for me, because WQBE looks almost, but not quite, like a word that should be pronounceable, especially in the font the station's logo used.

I thought the station was called "Wobe" and someone just made a mistake.

Also, because the station's logo is always accompanied by a picture of its rabbit mascot, I thought that it was also the name of the rabbit.

To this day, when I see the station's logo, I think "that's Wobe the rabbit."


The Fabergé Egg Scam

Did you know? "fabergé egg" is a creole term that literally just means "made out of egg" or "contains egg". Ben and Jerry Bruckheimer, twins from Vermont with an entrepreneurial streak, saw it written on a package of noodles while on holiday in New Orleans, which gave them the idea to sell ornamental glass eggs with a fancy brand name at a vastly inflated price.

Their first business venture didn't last long. Critics quickly realized the eggs weren't exotic or worth the asking price, and Fabergé LLC folded after only producing around 50 of their signature eggs.

Jerry would go on to become a successful film producer; Ben used a similar marketing strategy when he founded the Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream Company, this time making up the exotic-sounding brand name whole cloth, which would lead him to great success.

The Wisdom of the Star People

The star people have always lived above. The earth people have always lived below. Once, they say, we were the same - living together, up above, beneath the star, a giant ball of fire in the sky. Then something happened. We got sick, they say. The star caused us great pain. We had to take shelter. So we moved below. The star people visit us. They say they're sorry we can't live with them under the star. But we're important, they tell us.

They bring us things, food, water, medicine, and in return, we dig. We dig and we find the soft rock. The star people say the soft rock sustains them, and in return, they sustain us.

One of my people asked, what do you do with the soft rock? Do you eat it? Do you use it to make things?

No, laughed the star people. We set it on fire. If we didn't have soft rock to set on fire, the star people and earth people and all the beasts and plants would go away. The earth is all that would remain.

We didn't understand. You have the star, we said. You have the giant ball of fire in the sky. What use have you for more fire?

They laughed. The earth people will never be able to understand fire, they said.

People Invent Computers Invent Cars

I fed a list of car names into a fake neural net and programmed it to output a list of its own ideas. Here's what the artificial AI came up with.

Chevron Petrolet
Landsinger Helicot
Jeef Brand Charity
Flord Peninsula
Sega Saturn
Toyonda Subuki
Pearl Camelia
Jefferson Car Car
Drive Train Warranty
Yankee 6-5000
Masaya Busterhawk
Denver Bronco

« home