Last night I passed a Hummer parked on Enmore Road. Yes, a big, shiny black beast with silver trim helping to boost some poor man’s failing sense of self-importance. Or something. “What a wanker,” I thought.

I posed the question on Twitter:

Word puzzle: Changing one letter at a time, using only valid words, can you turn HUMMER into WANKER?

I didn’t expect an answer, but some people can’t resist a challenge. Warwick Rendell was first with a 15-step solution, but Steve ‘Doc’ Baty managed to do it in 11 steps.


Some people really do have too much time on their hands…

[Update 26 October: If you check the comments, you’ll find that we now have it down to a 6-step solution. Beat that!]

34 Replies to “HUMMER to WANKER”

  1. Cameron Collie’s 9-step solution has been disputed because it contains a proper noun, i.e. WALTER. Now although “Walter” is a man’s name, it is also a 400-year old word meaning “to wallow”. Middle English FTW!

    That saved me having to argue that a “walter engine”, as used on some U-Boats, made it legitimate.

    But it doesn’t matter, because Cameron came up with a 6-step solution which is going to prove difficult to beat, I think.


    Does this wrap up the challenge? If so, maybe someone can have a go at the script challenge, which is still untackled.

  2. Stilgherrian — I know that, I drive a Hummer. Just showing you become a wank quicker with Ford.

  3. @Jess: OK, well, I’ve got to ask. What’s the appeal of a Hummer? I should flag that I’m not a driver myself — of any vehicle — but the Hummer strikes me as an expensive, poorly-manoeuvrable cow of a thing. As an external observer. So what are its good points?



    Same length, different path. 😉

  4. Very comfortable. Heaps of room and actually cheaper to buy than a similar sized Land Cruiser. I do about 150 km a day and it handles very well. I enjoyed the test drive and ended up buying it. I test drove a Territory, Pajero, Land Cruiser and Audi. This one gave me the best ride at the price I could afford. Check out new car prices for top of range 4 wheel drives and compare. Manoeuvrability it’s OK. I won’t be doing chicanes at 100kph but had no reason to anyway.

    1. Jess,

      Ah yes the Hummer, and cheaper to buy than a similar sixed land cruiser. Wait to you try and sell it. Like most cars drop in value, but with a Hummer you would be lucky to get 1/4 of what you paid for it, and thats if anyone wants to buy it.

      1. In order for me to be concerned about the resale value I would have to be interested in getting rid of it. I intend to keep it for a very long time. Yes it will drop in price considerably but given its original value is also considerably less than the equivelant in a Landcruiser (60K to 100K) I managed to by a BRAND NEW Hummer for about $20000 less than a 3 year old Land Cruiser (Sep05 plated). 2 Year old Hummers on the same site they are asking approx 10K under NEW price. The condition of the car, its service record and how you look after it determine the sell price. You can also get a very good price if you are trading up (its all swings and round abouts really) NO car keeps its vallue but realistically I can buy 2 hummers for a similar price as ONE Landcruiser and if I get 1/4 of the cost back on both I will get 50K return where as I may only get half of my landcruser in that time and that wil be 50K also because I will be selling a 6 year old landcruiser wont I that will have 240000 on the clock. In saying all that I dont intend to sell it. We just gave my daughter her first car (which was my wifes old one) and when my son gets his license he will probably get the H3.

  5. It’s easy for people to critisize hummer drivers as ego driven but we all make choices for different reasons. Is a person who buys a ford and then spends 1000s on it so it “gets noticed” but actually feels happy a wanker

  6. @Jess: Since you ask, yes. Yes he is. Or she. Someone who pisses away resources with the goal of “getting noticed” is, in my opinion, a wanker.

    I don’t care whether that’s on bling for a car, whatever the model, or a car that’s bigger and shinier than they really need to get the job done, or any other conspicuous display of waste — it’s all shallow, tasteless, ignorant consumerism. And, particularly in the case of a resource-hogging road vehicle, it’s irresponsibly selfish.

    I’m hoping that your 150km drive each day is with five other people or half a ton of cargo, because otherwise using a massive piece of kit like a Hummer just to be “comfortable” is obscene.

    Since you ask.

  7. I travel by myself to work and NO I dont have half a ton of cargo. I also sit on a computer all day working as opposed to making political stances about people pissing away resources from a device that does the same thing. How do you get around if you dont drive. Please tell me it is by bike that would have been manufactured in one of those eco friendly countries like China or India. I do my bit towards saving of resources unfortunately driving the hummer isnt one of them. I do like the fact that when I start the engine in the morning somewhere in the arctic a penguin falls over.

  8. @Jess: How do I get around? Since I live in Sydney’s inner west, by train and bus and by walking. That’s not a political decision, but a practical one. It’s cheap, and I can do other things while travelling rather than having to operate a machine.

    Public transport isn’t an effective option everywhere, I know, and Four Corners recently made the point that most of Sydney’s public transport is below par. Outside major urban areas, options are limited, certainly.

    But you say you “sit on a computer all day working”? If that’s the case, why not place that computer closer to where you live, rather than driving 150km a day?

    I ask that in all seriousness. Computer-based work can be done from pretty much anywhere, so I’m always interested in what prevents businesses from decentralising and saving time and money.

    Trying to equate the resource consumption of my laptop computer to your fuel-hungry road vehicle is bullshit. By all means let’s look at our total resource consumption. I reckon I’ll come out looking crap in that department, actually, especially if you’re “doing your bit”. But bullshit comparisons don’t cut it, in my opinion.

    The implication you’re trying to make by saying you “sit on a computer all day working as opposed to making political stances” is also bullshit. We both use computers for both work and for recreation — such as looking for websites mentioning “Hummer”. You can drop that tactic from your list too.

  9. Touche. “looking for websites mentioning Hummer” worded perfectly to make it appear an ego driven task. Almost the same as googling ones own name. I work from home when and if I can but unfortunately whilst my work utilises a computer I have a numnber of staff that unfortunately need someone there to supervise. I also dont have the opportunity to use Public transport as that would make my day a 5am start and 9pm finish. I would love to live closer to work but its in a rather crap area (the housing nearby is mostly government housing). My wife works a bit closer to home. I wont use the hummer on weekends for short trips anymore as that will help

  10. I want to back up Stilgherrian here. I’m a computer worker – I don’t even have a licence (haven’t had a licence for 20 years) and I moved from inner city Sydney to Brisbane five years and even though I can work at home 3 days a week I can tell you it’s tough not to have a car in Brisbane – even in the inner suburbs. We are looking at buying a car now.

    But it is still Jess’ choice to buy a *Hummer* of all vehicles. Frankly if I had to commute 150km a day I’d look at the most economical sedan or hatch possible. If I wanted to spend more, a European-made sedan or hatch just because they offer very good comfort and features. A hummer? Those things are not even *cars* – they are *trucks*. You’re using what? Twice the amount of petrol? as a suitable sedan. In the city a Hummer H3T gets 13 mpg and even a V8 SS Commodore will do 16 !!!

    But a Toyota Yaris, Hyundai i30, Ford Focus or Fiesta, etc all these small cars are good enough and cheap enough and economical enough for most people’s needs and I bet even a 150km / day commute too.

  11. “I test drove a Territory, Pajero, Land Cruiser and Audi”

    I’m noticing a theme here.

    Most people pick a type of vehicle based on some sort of necessity – for instance, I require a 4WD (or similar) vehicle because I regularly drive on dirt/rocky roads. I ended up with a Subaru Outback, because it’s a normal-sized vehicle that also happens to feature a 4WD-like technology (AWD).

    So I’m curious, Jess: what was it in particular that drew you to test drive SUVs, to the exclusion of other types of vehicle?

  12. There is a large difference between being a computer worker and using a computer at work. I dont drive in the city as my trip is Motorwarway only with exception to the first 200 metres (getting on to the motorway) and last 100 metres (exiting off). 73.5 klm is done at cruising 100-110 kph. A toyaota yaris, Hyundai i30 or any of the others you mention are terrific cars but do NOT suit my needs. I have an adult family (2 adults and two teens) and we are a big lot. Not fat or obese but my 17 yo is 5’11 my 14 yo 5’10 I am 6’2 and my wife is 6’0. Whilst my single person commute during the week would suit maybe a small car we would need a second one to get around on the weekend. Thats definately not economically viable. As far as 13mpg go I am unsure where you get that number. It gets 100klm per 13 litres which is about 7.7 k per Litre which is closer to 20 MPG. If you drive it smoothloy and dont thrash it the fuel consumption whilst higher than some isnt that bad. The fuel economy is similar to a FPV falcon or SS Commodore and I dare say they are driven a bit harder so probably suck the same if not more. Its all about choice really and whilst I appreciate the occasional abuse for driving a truck I do really enjoy it.

  13. Once we get to discussing specific models of vehicle, we’re way outside my knowledge. Please, continue the conversation, but I don’t have much to contribute on that front.

    However I’m still not getting why a normal family sedan or station wagon can’t do the job of transporting around a normal-sounding family on modern paved roads.

    My parents did just fine with a normal 6-cylinder station wagon — a quick search suggests it was a Holden HK — for two adults and two kids, and we were running a dairy farm. Even with a couple of bales of hay or the fortnightly shopping load, there was plenty of room. We certainly didn’t need 4WD, even with dirt roads, even in winter.

    That vehicle would probably be considered small compared with some of the people movers a suburban family seems to “need” these days. I’m not sure about this word “need”…

  14. Well one issue with station wagons is nobody bloody makes them anymore. The Subaru Liberty/Legacy and Outback are the only ones that spring immediately to mind, and I think you can still get Commodores and Falcons as station wagons but the “sensible family car” slot in most line-ups these days is either a people-mover (eg Tarago) or an SUV. For the record, our sensible family car (for two adults and a two-year old) is a Subaru Liberty station wagon.

  15. My thoughts exactly: the Outback is no bigger than a typical Falcodore wagon, and is only 4 cylinders. There’s just no “need” for obstructing the view of regular road users with some self-aggrandising mastodon that actually needs CAMERAS to let the driver know what’s happening in the world around them.

  16. @Benno Rice and @The~SARACEN: Ta for those additions. There’s now thoughts gurgling in the back of my mind about how the desire for consumer goods is created by advertising as industries think of new ways to get us to spend more.

    A few weeks back I saw a blog post — I wish I could remember where! — that showed a 1970s magazine advert for men’s clothing. The blokes were watching sport on TV, something like an 18-inch CRT. The blogger had superimposed a huge dotted line showing where they’d now be watching a something more like a 42-inch screen.

    Same cultural event — blokes, beer, TV, sport — but now everything would be on a vastly bigger physical scale. Yet would there be any more enjoyment?

  17. Stil says: ‘Would there be any more enjoyment?’

    I think that’s the crux of the issue and the question that many people aren’t used to asking. More to the point, is the increase in enjoyment, if any, proportional to the amount of their life that they would need to spend working to pay for the bigger, better, shinier version?

    Since reading Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez’s Your Money or Your Life a couple of years ago, I’ve completely revised my stance on what I’m willing to pay for, because I’m not willing to spend my life working to pay for status symbols to impress people I don’t care about, or to be more comfortable in the short term if it means years in the rat race to do it.

    Consequently, I’m enjoying my 12 inch tv (which comes with free set-top box and dvd player cast off by someone else who upgraded) and my mid-life-crisis 21-year-old Swede called Sven, otherwise known as my $1000 Saab, which is only used because public transport doesn’t serve my purposes terribly well and I’m not sufficiently suicidal to ride a bike in Sydney. My computer is five years old and a bit cranky, but so far I’ve been able to keep it going.

    Those who are busy keeping up with the Joneses should remember that the Joneses are deeply in debt, and debt is a form of slavery.

  18. Quatrefoil. I am a bit confused about your interpretation of status symbols to impress people. The items you have listed are posessions and the fact that you have itemised them so definingly including the point of origin and value of them appears to contradict your view on not trying to impress people. You have chosen a lifestyle and spending pattern that is your choice and yours alone. You dont need to spend money to try and impress people and your blog highlights that. By the way if you actually manage your budget then you dont have to be in debt and can still enjoy the finer things in life.

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