Review: A Favourite Mug

pictured: a mug that inspires prejudice

What’s being tested?

The conscious decision to actively favour a porcelain beverage receptacle above all other such receptacles to hand, and the ramifications of that decision.

What we found

Pros: Our testers found that having a favourite mug could serve as an effective entry-level source of stability and comfort in the perpetual constant of ‘uncertain times’. Similarly, if ‘certain times’ were ever to come into being, many of our staff speculated that not having a favourite mug could give rise to to needless uncertainty, potentially undermining our new found social stability.

Also, because the favourite on-test comes from a relatively inexpensive source of favouritism, it constituted a far more cost-effective favourite than a favourite miniature ceramic cottage or favourite hand crafted blown glass bird of prey, for example. Having a favourite mug was also found to be less of a gamble than having a favourite child or umbrella corporation, both of which were found to, in most instances, lead you up the garden path and subsequently break your heart without so much as an apology or a glance over the shoulder.

Our testers also noted that the prospect of customising their own mugs with their own designs through the services of a good high street stationers or printers presented them with the welcome prospect of creating a favourite of their own division, which could in turn lead to a whole mug cupboard of favourites. A favourite mug was also found to be easily storeable and therefore hideable, avoiding any unwanted instances of mug envy amongst visitors.

Cons: Our testers found that having a favourite mug exposed that receptacle to more-frequent-than-average usage, and as such accelerated the natural lifespan of its porcelain body, confirming the truth that one does indeed destroy the things one loves. Similarly, we felt that, while good clean fun, choosing a favourite mug potentially exposes the individual to unnecessary heartbreak, as the possibility of it either breaking or being found in the hands of another were constant and high. Finally, a minority of our testers voiced the concern that an individual should be subjectively preferential primarily in his or her choice of culture – in their preference in authors or artists, for example – and that focusing on choosing a favourite mug was neither subversive nor ironic but just a bloody annoying attempt at affecting some kind of lousy character trope.

Verdict

Our testers found that, while having a favourite mug initially seems like a good idea, the preference very soon loses the novelty and credibility that once drew the individual to it. We found that the preference was a very difficult thing to maintain interest in, and would come to constitute an unnecessary burden for the eventual majority of the time of the individual’s active preferencing. And yet to live without the preference would be to subject oneself to a lifetime of meaningless mugs with only passing relevance to the individual or even, in some extreme instances, foam cups. We recommend that the individual is aware of both eventualities and, if he or she does intend on choosing a porcelain preference, they choose something beyond porcelain – something with depth. We would recommend committing to not ignoring any cracks that appear, and avoid anything brandishing topical catchphrases or pink bunny heads.

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Review: The Late-in-the-Day Realisation that the Utopian Industrial Cities of the Videogames of Your Youth will Never Come Into Being

pictured: not likely, all in all

What’s being tested?

The awareness of the fact that the dreamlike metropolises that formed the basis of many of the stages or levels of several of the computer games from the late eighties to the mid nineties are not, in fact, a practical reality (for reasons including a lack of understanding of the fundamentals of social and urban development, among other things) and will almost certainly not be evidenced in reality within at least a century, if ever.

What we found

Pros: Our testers found that being able to move on from the idea that the cities that form the focus of the realisation on test will not come into being was, on the whole, a positive, given that the towns, capitals and retail outlets that do exist in this time period have most likely been unfairly judged by unrealistic standards up until the point of the new understanding. We found it easier to appreciate shopping centres and municipal car parks, for example, after coming to the conclusion that they could not and would not be ‘enhanced’ by launcher primed speedways, multi-coloured pinball bumpers or a giant fruit machine. We also felt that, while pedestrian in design and purpose, the shallow entrance ramp of a public library was, in most cases, preferable to a 360 degree loop or an unexpected spike trap/bottomless chasm.

In fact, our testers  mentioned that these idealised cities had a noticeable lack of general civic mindedness – the absence of basic commodities like shops, schools, bus stops and public toilets hint at a severe mismanagement of public resources on the part of the (largely invisible) councillors and government officials in charge of developing said fictional living spaces. We found that the majority of the resources implicitly available to the governing body in each instance were channelled into producing oversized springs, awkwardly placed conveyor belts and anti aircraft defences, even in areas in no immediate danger of aerial attack or in any need of springing things very high into the air.

As such, jettisoning the hope that such environments may one day come into being could be seen as a step in the right direction.

Cons: It was felt that surrendering the dream of living in a cool futuristic speedway city of the future would also mean giving up on the idea that 16 bit dance music might one day be piped into the streets, and that cool impractical animal-robots-with-healthy-merchandising-potential on every street corner would not soon be a likelihood. Our testers mentioned that giving up on all of this would also mean that your careers advisor was right about something. We  found that it was difficult to accept that the transient, romanticised neon electronic nightlife of each fictional metropolis would never be experienced, and that we would have to stick to going down the pub once in a while, like everyone else. We found that it was difficult to accept that, when we were 6, those lights we saw in the distance at 3 o’clock in the morning from the back seat of our parents car on the M25 really were just Birmingham.

Verdict

Ultimately, we found that while the ramifications of this realisation would take some time to adjust to, we had not been unaware of its likelihood, but rather had been deferring truly facing up to it. Our testers felt that this realisation was largely preferable to realising that Gran Hated You, Driving Somewhere Isn’t Impressive and Life Isn’t Like That. We also found that there was some solace to be found in the notion that Big Robot Suits were still very much a thing of the next few years, tops, and that at least we weren’t wasting our lives waiting for the technology to Catch Wild Animals in Cruel Metal Balls with the Intention of Getting Them to Fight One Another, which would be, on balance, a bit lame.

Review: Last Week’s Objectives

Pictured: the still-unfulfilled 'design a wheeled barrow-chair' aim, penned by a distant relative, returns to blight a new generation

What’s being tested?

The recognition of (notably unfulfilled) self-imposed objectives from previously self-imposed timescales, and the impact of those unachieved goals on the individual’s ability to impose new goals on him or herself. Also on test, the response of individuals directly affected by the objective-forming individual’s inability to consolidate on previously formed objectives.

What we found

Pros: Unfulfilled objectives often serve as effective reminders to the architect of those aims of his or her own fallibility, especially if said objectives appear in an unexpected or meaningful context (under a favourite child’s face on a family photo, or on a gravestone, for example). Effectively forming small, palatable defeats, our testers found that unaccomplished weekly aims could serve to galvanise the goal-author against larger, more significant disappointments (unexplained twitching, the closure of certain high street outlets, ‘the way things are these days’, etc.) via a series of smaller blows.

Also, we found that the tendency for certain objectives to constantly reappear on subsequent weekly lists imbued them with a kind of personality, akin to that of a travelling companion or treasured friend. Indeed, these objectives were often found to be more idealistic in nature (the most common being ‘get happy’ and ‘find happiness even if it KILLS YOU IN THE PROCESS’), and could be taken as evidence of the individual being in possession of bigger plans, albeit poorly formed and potentially fatal ones.  In this vein, we also felt that the individual’s lack of success in making good on seemingly easily accomplished aims could be implicit of said individual’s mind being on ‘higher things’, and not being calibrated to deal with menial, day to day responsibilities, though many of our testers also noted that individuals who WERE able to cope with real life were very often also able to think and do clever things, and should not be unduly insulted.

Cons: Often, unfulfilled objectives will be meaningfully romanticised as an indicator of man’s fallibility as a species, as opposed to just being indicative of one man/woman’s inability to do things/get things done. We found that an individual prone to this kind of deference of personal responsibility often applied the technique to other areas of his or her life, most notably in where their money disappears to, and why it isn’t their fault that it does. Our testers found that, if the stale objectives were easily visible (in an open organiser or on the fridge, for example) they could often serve as an effective deterrent to potential mates, or even well-wishers, as they were visible proof that the once well-thought-of love-target simply could not get things done/could not score off simply accomplished targets on a list/ could not lie about having accomplished simply accomplished targets by scoring them off a list despite not having accomplished them. We felt it worth pointing out that this deterrent could also be viewed as a positive, from a variety of angles.

Verdict

We found that a visible record of unachieved goals is the surest way of not only destroying an individual’s warrior heart (through a powerful combination of irrefutable failure and self imposed bureaucracy), but also shaming future generations in a similar fashion. Many of our testers were visibly worried that the physical record of the individual’s collapse in objective fulfilment competence would somehow (inexplicably) make its way into the past, into the hands of the individual’s predecessors, forcing them to reconsider taking the steps that would ultimately bring the individual into existence.  While we would stress that this occurrence is not exactly in the realms of likelihood, we would still burn any evidence of previous objective based organisation, unless those objectives have been fulfilled, in which case good for you.