The Wheel, now on sale! October 5, 2011 8:43 AM   Subscribe

Remember robocop is bleeding's masterful (and fictional) story about The Wheel? Ladies, gentlemen, children: Meet the real-life Consequence Spinner.

(The product doesn't seem at all mean-spirited, but I thought the echoes to r.i.b.'s story pretty striking.)
posted by chowflap to MetaFilter-Related at 8:43 AM (70 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

My flabber is well and truly gasted.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:46 AM on October 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


"Clean the bathroom" isn't a punishment, it's a contribution to the household.
posted by DU at 8:49 AM on October 5, 2011 [19 favorites]


Uhhhhggg.
posted by odinsdream at 8:51 AM on October 5, 2011


It is simultaneously a relief and a disappointment that The Wheel story is fictional. I thought it was a true story until now. Relief because I'm glad somebody didn't really do that after all, disappointment because I think I must be the only member of the site who didn't know it was fiction.

Anyway, this consequence spinner seems like an excellent idea, provided it gets perverted for use in certain kinds of adult relationships instead of being used to hand out punishments to children.
posted by FishBike at 8:52 AM on October 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


Make a list of consequences, numbered 1-12. Hand kid two dice. Save $15.

Bonus: turn kid into craps enthusiast.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:01 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Half of the beauty of The Wheel was that it was so arbitrary that you might get rewarded for bad behavior or punished for success. It encouraged mediocrity. It was something that Kurt Vonnegut would have put into Harrison Bergeron if he had been adequately clever.
posted by Plutor at 9:01 AM on October 5, 2011 [12 favorites]


Kids these days. When I was a kid, the wheel had a bullet.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:04 AM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


FishBike, hang up your disappointment. I believed, too. I always suspected there was a bit of exaggeration (Ala Burroughs or Sedaris), but I believed in The Wheel.
posted by dchrssyr at 9:05 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]




Make a list of consequences, numbered 1-12. Hand kid two dice. Save $15.

Bonus: the kid will learn about bell curves very quickly, especially if #1 on the list of twelve is noteworthy in some fashion.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:06 AM on October 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


The inclusion of "the grace space" is particularly apropos of The Wheel story. I presume that's some sort of "get out of jail free" option? According to the page: "We added a grace space, since we are also teaching our children to be gracious little humans, and there is grace in parenting as well!" Well ok then...

Personally, I always figured The Wheel would come to us in the form of an app though. This is 2011 people.

They also sell some items that fill needs I never knew existed, like this pack of 25 "School Correspondence Envelopes," for permission slips and such. I thought those were just called, well, envelopes.

After it gets off backorder, I am totally dropping $56 on the "Be Nice or Leave" sign!
posted by zachlipton at 9:07 AM on October 5, 2011


Also, I enjoy in a schadenfreude sort of way the Newton quotation proudly displayed on the spinner, especially as the point of the randomization is that for every action, there is an unpredictable reaction, or possibly no reaction at all. A valuable lesson in interpersonal relations! In classical physics, not so much.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:10 AM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


zachlipton: "Personally, I always figured The Wheel would come to us in the form of an app though. This is 2011 people."

I don't know, the way the spinner is shamefully hung around the child's neck when determining their fate has a sort of old fashioned Puritanical flair to it.
posted by charred husk at 9:13 AM on October 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


stupidsexyFlanders : Make a list of consequences, numbered 1-12. Hand kid two dice. Save $15.

ricochet biscuit : ...especially if #1 on the list of twelve is noteworthy in some fashion.

You know why it's a good thing that I don't have kids? Because the very first thought I had on reading this idea was "Hmm, I'd do this, and make sure #1 was the Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free option."

I would imagine that good parents minds don't think like this.
posted by quin at 9:14 AM on October 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


stupidsexyFlanders Well, to nit pick just a little, making a list of consequences and handing the kid the dice would require that list be numbered 2-13.

Also, you could make this wheel at home very easily! The spinner would be the hardest part, and even that would be easy.
posted by bilabial at 9:14 AM on October 5, 2011


I could have sworn that robocop copped (heh) to it not being entirely true, but I can't find the comment in which he says it...
posted by chowflap at 9:16 AM on October 5, 2011


chowflap, that comment is in the same thread, actually.
posted by mysterpigg at 9:17 AM on October 5, 2011


...and after you have accepted the consequences the name of your crime will be carved into your back, son.
posted by mintcake! at 9:20 AM on October 5, 2011


I'm going to further pick the nit and point out that the 2d6 system would required a 2 - 12 list of consequences... you're not going to be able to roll a 13 anymore than you can roll a 1. Maybe this will make the kid a DnD player?
posted by utsutsu at 9:24 AM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also consider that whatever you put up as 7 will come up a huge amount of the time, while 2 and 12 rarely will.
posted by absalom at 9:32 AM on October 5, 2011


side note: Robocop is bleeding and I will be fiction fighting over here sometime next week.
posted by The Whelk at 9:38 AM on October 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


I too thought it was a true story until now.
posted by babbyʼ); Drop table users; -- at 9:38 AM on October 5, 2011


Huh. Thought it was real, too.
posted by zarq at 9:41 AM on October 5, 2011


It never occurred to me that it was real. Apparently, I have trust issues.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:46 AM on October 5, 2011


It never occurred to me that it was real, because it was written by robocop is bleeding. I mean, that's a joke account you get access to when you're a TV writer, right?
posted by adamdschneider at 9:49 AM on October 5, 2011


We've got an extra Game of Life spinner floating around the house somewhere...use one of those, and you can add additional consequences! ("Okay, the spinner got stuck between two numbers/flew off the peg thingy, you have to do ALL THE CONSEQUENCES!")
posted by Lucinda at 9:49 AM on October 5, 2011


"Okay, the spinner got stuck between two numbers/flew off the peg thingy, you have to do ALL THE CONSEQUENCES!"

CLEAN ALL THE THINGS!!

(from the excellent Hyperbole and a Half: This is Why I'll Never be an Adult.)
posted by zachlipton at 10:01 AM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


WHERE ARE MY MILLIONS

This is what I get for not copyrighting my prototype.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:19 AM on October 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


Everyone knows you can't re-invent the wheel.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 11:03 AM on October 5, 2011


*Holds up severed arm* And THAT'S why you don't interfere with the spinning wheel, son.
posted by Babblesort at 11:25 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I had never read that comment/story until now. I think I love MetaFilter a little bit more for that being here, no matter how fictional it is.

Also the Wheel of Morality
posted by deezil at 12:11 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


chowflap: "I could have sworn that robocop copped (heh) to it not being entirely true, but I can't find the comment in which he says it..."

babbyʼ); Drop table users; --: "I too thought it was a true story until now."

I know, for a fact, that The Wheel exists and is a very true thing. He brought it to the Tenth Anniversary Meetup in all its flame-breathing brown-noise glory. The details of the story may be embellished, but do not doubt the power of The Wheel, lest it judge you.
posted by Plutor at 12:27 PM on October 5, 2011


Maybe this [2d12] will make the kid a DnD player?

Or possibly a master of Settlers of Catan? (Stupid thief. Stupid 7. Grumble grumble grumble.)

I saw the Dinner Spinner on their site and now that combined with the dice idea, and I FINALLY have a way to do grocery shopping and decide what's for dinner! (Per Hyperbole & a Half, perhaps 7 should be "nachos!")
posted by epersonae at 12:47 PM on October 5, 2011


The Wheel isn't real?

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!
posted by deborah at 3:08 PM on October 5, 2011



The Wheel isn't real?

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!


Dunno, I'm glad robocop is bleeding's sister didn't burn the house down, kill her mom and end up in an insitution.
posted by sweetkid at 3:36 PM on October 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


institution, even.
posted by sweetkid at 3:46 PM on October 5, 2011


C'mon it was obviously a short story.

An amazing one.

Half of the beauty of The Wheel was that it was so arbitrary that you might get rewarded for bad behavior or punished for success. It encouraged mediocrity. It was something that Kurt Vonnegut would have put into Harrison Bergeron if he had been adequately clever.

This is just snide
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:48 PM on October 5, 2011


One time I (a childless person) was on a date with a young mother and she decided I would be completely fascinated with listening to her theories of parenting. She told me two or three times she felt the most important principle was that her discipline be consistent. I explained to her some little of what I understood to be the research on conditioned learning and intermittent conditioning and assured her that she was likely to achieve vastly more reliable compliance if she was as wildly inconsistent as possible ( a la the robocop wheel method--this was long before I read his anecdote which I immediately knew where he was going with it before I had read ten sentences ).

She was utterly horrified and we never spoke again. So although robo's heart is in the right place in the real world I believe it's a no-go. Most people seem to believe it's like looking at Stanley Milgram and such for parenting methods.
posted by bukvich at 4:33 PM on October 5, 2011


Dunno, I'm glad robocop is bleeding's sister didn't burn the house down, kill her mom and end up in an institution.

Still, two out of three ain't bad.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:44 PM on October 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


Dare to dream.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:01 PM on October 5, 2011


Shouldn't the consequences fit the action? and if so, why do you need a wheel?

Acting out? Time-out chair for 10 minutes. Broke a window in a temper tantrum? Apologise and have to donate your allowance to replace it.
posted by jb at 7:29 PM on October 5, 2011


Wait, he's not really a robocop?
posted by Greg Nog at 7:42 PM on October 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


I dunno my parents taught me that I was smarter than everyone else and that if I wasn't successful I wasn't working hard enough. I ended up a neurotic mess. If they taught me that life was a random game that you should just try to survive or enjoy I might be happier.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:48 PM on October 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Lovecraft In Brooklyn: "I dunno my parents taught me that I was smarter than everyone else and that if I wasn't successful I wasn't working hard enough. I ended up a neurotic mess. If they taught me that life was a random game that you should just try to survive or enjoy I might be happier."

I would have benefited, instead of being told "You're really smart, you're not living up to your potential" I'd been told instead: "Really, everyone has the same potential and how smart you are matters less then how hard you work".
posted by Deathalicious at 7:54 PM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


You're really smart, you're not living up to your potential

I got that constantly. I still get that. Apparently if I sat down and wrote I'd crank out a bestselling novel.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:56 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Make a list of consequences, numbered 1-12. Hand kid two dice. Save $15

I am pretty sure that if you use two dice, you will never get consequence #1. Anyway, the first thing that struck me when I read that quote about the two dice was this was sort of strat-o-matic parenting. Having played (and still playing with my kids) strat-o-matic baseball with the dice and the cards with the outcomes, this strikes me as genius to apply it to life in general.

As for the wheel story, I believed it except the part about his sister going to Princeton. I thought he made that part up just to make her look good after she insanely killed her mom.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:55 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


The wheel of consequences would lend itself really well to the John Fare story.
posted by edgeways at 10:01 PM on October 5, 2011


you're really smart, you're not living up to your potential.

From every report card and parent-teacher conference, every year, was this gem:
”[ApathyGirl] is so bright/smart, if she would only learn to apply herself.”

Yeah, I know. Eponysterical.
posted by ApathyGirl at 10:10 PM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Your teachers thought you were an appliqué?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:16 PM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


sweetkid:
Dunno, I'm glad robocop is bleeding's sister didn't burn the house down, kill her mom and end up in an insitution.


Uh, a Darth Vader-ish "no". I figured it was probably untrue or varnished truth.
posted by deborah at 10:41 PM on October 5, 2011


Jesus Christ. I had a junior high teacher who actually did this with a pair of dice ... one for the punishment, the other for the duration. So you might get one day of putting up chairs after school for slapping another kid, or six weeks of detention for coming in a minute after the bell. He thought it made students more likely to obey all the rules when the punishments were capricious and risky but actually it was the worst-disciplined classroom in the school. And when the dice were rolled it was like fucking Lord of the Flies with everyone screaming and cheering at the dice and the roller.

This lasted until some kid did get six weeks detention for sliding in seconds after the bell, the mom went on the warpath, and the principal found out.

The whole thing was honestly horrifying to go through as a child and I don't remember ever having to roll the dice ... just the unease and the sense that the rules didn't matter was upsetting, and he Hobbesian state of nature the class collapsed into whenever someone rolled the dice was honestly a bit frightening. It was almost like a mini-mob shouting for blood.

Worst teaching tool ever.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:09 PM on October 5, 2011 [12 favorites]


If they taught me that life was a random game that you should just try to survive or enjoy I might be happier

You know you can teach yourself that now, right?
posted by flabdablet at 11:39 PM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


When I was a kid a teacher read us Shirley Jackson's The Lottery in English class. It TERRIFIED me for decades after, and I still get chills typing the name of the story.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:52 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


1d12, not 2d6
posted by crocomancer at 6:42 AM on October 6, 2011


I am glad that I read this post simply because it introduced me to that fine story.
posted by Splunge at 6:44 AM on October 6, 2011


Nah, make a list of consequences from 3-18 and use 3d6. It's a much nicer curve...
posted by Karmakaze at 6:46 AM on October 6, 2011


LIB:

> When I was a kid a teacher read us Shirley Jackson's The Lottery in English class. It TERRIFIED me for decades after, and I still get chills typing the name of the story.

I had exact same experience. Who TF came up with that and why?
posted by bukvich at 7:01 AM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


According to legend Jackson got the idea while strolling her newborn with the other housewives.
posted by The Whelk at 7:07 AM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think it's pretty much the go-to for introducing American schoolkids to short stories.

Public school is so random.
posted by SpiffyRob at 7:19 AM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


she was likely to achieve vastly more reliable compliance if she was as wildly inconsistent as possible

I don't know about her, but I'm a bit horrified by the assumption that compliance is the goal. That's thinking like a prison guard, not a parent.
posted by stebulus at 8:22 AM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


SpiffyRob: "I think it's pretty much the go-to for introducing American schoolkids to short stories.

Public school is so random.
"

I think the idea is that many people have the notion that novels are somehow "stronger" than short stories. This story pretty much proves that wrong.

Roald Dahl's short stories often make the mix too, for the same reason.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:30 AM on October 6, 2011


> that compliance is the goal. That's thinking like a prison guard, not a parent.

Doctors use the same word with patients. Bosses use the same word with employees. Do you think they are thinking like prison guards?

I am not having an easy time coming up with a better word than compliance. Agreeableness? That seems a little mealy mouthed.
posted by bukvich at 8:47 AM on October 6, 2011


"Really, everyone has the same potential and how smart you are matters less then how hard you work"

I disagree or at least I don't think that is always true. To me success is a combination of luck and hard work. You may get lucky and be born smart (or rich or to awesome parents) or you may work hard at developing a skill (or wowing the boss), but often you need both luck and hard work to get where you want to be.
posted by soelo at 8:56 AM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


> that compliance is the goal. That's thinking like a prison guard, not a parent.

Doctors use the same word with patients. Bosses use the same word with employees. Do you think they are thinking like prison guards?

I am not having an easy time coming up with a better word than compliance. Agreeableness? That seems a little mealy mouthed.


We're talking operant conditioning, so obedience would probably be most appropriate. Tsst!
posted by Sys Rq at 10:02 AM on October 6, 2011


"Doctor's orders" is a weird term. A doctor cannot command you to obey when you can exercise your free will to walk into the store and buy cigarettes and liquor. Nix obedience.

Compliance has got to be the word. Where is the languagehat bat signal?
posted by bukvich at 10:17 AM on October 6, 2011


Why not 4d6 and drop the lowest?

Or we could go with a 15 point buy, or maybe a nice array...
posted by utsutsu at 10:30 AM on October 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm reacting not to the word "compliance" but to the idea that this is the goal in a parent-child relationship.

Look, if A is hugely more powerful than B — in particular, A controls B's living conditions, and B cannot exit the relationship — and A's goal in the relationship is that B complies with A's wishes... how is that not imprisonment?

Parents should treat their kids consistently and fairly because it's the only moral way to handle that kind of power. If that means the kid's obedience isn't as dependable, well, too bad. (I readily concede your point about the research on intermittent reinforcement.)
posted by stebulus at 11:26 AM on October 6, 2011


Randomness of severity of events (half hour of room detention vs 3 week grounding) is a far cry from randomness of somewhat equal events (taking out garbage vs doing the dishes). Also, intermittent reinforcement has nothing to do with giving random, or consistent, disciplinary actions. Unless you're trying to increase the behaviors that you're supposedly disciplining. That was one reason RiB's story was funny, there were possible reinforcers for bad behavior on The Wheel.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:35 PM on October 6, 2011


Regarding "The Dice" I mentioned above, in response to: "she was likely to achieve vastly more reliable compliance if she was as wildly inconsistent as possible," where the teacher thought that he'd get better compliance with the rules if the punishments were random because you might get whalloped for a minor rule break ...

What actually happened was kids would wait to have fist-fights until they were in his room. Because they MIGHT get six weeks of detention, but they MIGHT just have to clean the frog tank. He never reported serious infractions to the principal because that undermined the randomness of The Dice. So there were several pretty serious fights in there. Cheating was also rampant because getting caught just meant rolling the dice.

Whenever I think of that time in my childhood, I redouble my efforts to make my rules (in parenting, in the classroom) are clear and their consequences are sensical, and that I'm consistent. I really would feel upset and stressed just walking in that room because I had no idea if we were going to have a regular class or if there'd be a fistfight followed by total social breakdown. Because of The Dice, any infraction took up AT LEAST half of the class time, and sometimes the stress of going to that class was so bad that I felt like throwing up. Needless to say, even on the days we actually had class, I didn't learn much, since it was all so stressful. That was my first "real" science class, and I sort-of suspect my distate for science classes grew from that, which is a shame, because as an adult I really love it and I wish I'd had a chance to really study it properly when I was in school.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:09 PM on October 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I got that constantly. I still get that. Apparently if I sat down and wrote I'd crank out a bestselling novel.

If I've learnt anything so far it's that unfortunately this is just a polite way of telling someone they're full of shit.
posted by dng at 5:35 PM on October 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


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