Listed Newest to Oldest

Headlines Torn from the Pages of History (and Thrown Away  Things That Didn’t Happen in 2015

USA No Way  Fake But Accurate News

Compare & Save Big-Time  Are You Paying Exaggerated Prices for Exaggerated Differences?

Mess Transit  Bus Riding Primer for Dummies

Win Any Argument  Using Paralogic and Surreason

Quick and Easy Housekeeping  Or Sisyphus Unbound and Unkempt

The Disunited States of America  A Preview of Coming Attractions?

E-Z P-Z House Selling  Redirect, Repackage, Relabel

Gag Cartoon Gallery  Jokes Without a Lot of Reading

Chartology Made Stupid  Connecting the Dots

Lights, Camera, Reaction!  The Periodic Table of Hollywood Plot Elements

How ESP Works  Mind Reading Diagramed and Explained

Mysteries of UFOs Revealed  They’re Here, They Are, They Are, They Are

Money Blather  Your Guide to Economic Jargon, Lingo, and Gobbledegook

A Short Long Good-bye  It's the End of the Year as We Know It

Space Warps and Wefts  What Fabric Is The Fabric of Space Made Of?

Uranimals  Beastly Beasts

American History 101 2.0  The Fake But Accurate Story

Cosmology-Wiz  A Shorter History of Everything and Nothing

Winless Wear  2008 Detroit Lions Merchandise

Government Machinery at Work  How the Wheels of the Bureaucracy Grind

Happy New Year  2007 in Review

Star Dreck  Musings of a Semi Hemi Demi Trekker

Those Darn Cats  Our Deal With the Devils

Dangerous Hot Air  The Truth About Inconvenient Global Warming

Don’t Look Down  Everthing You Never Wanted to Know About Air Travel

Not-so-Special Winter Olympics  Olympic Events You’ll Never See


Reader’s Digest

The B-B-Q Pyramid  For the Cooking Unimpaired

Mythic Snowmen  And More Snowmen

Venn Again, Again  More of the Same, But Different

Venn Again, Maybe Not  Another Last Laugh

Quick and Easy Meals  For the Cooking Impaired


Landmark Remodeling

Just Plane Stupid

Bizarre Business Cards We Hope We Never See

Trojan Horse Designs That Didn’t Quite Make it

Baseball Stadia for the ’90s

Personalized Remotes

Roller Coaster Mania

CRACKED's Plan to Balance the Federal Budget in ONE Year

Complete Guide to Piercing

History’s Least Successful Proto Humans

The Future Ain’t What it Used to Be

Tanks, But No Tanks

Police Line-ups Around the World (and Beyond)

Umpire Outfitters Catalog

Ye Olde Transport Catalogue

Suck School of Comic Art - Graduate Course  How to Draw Funnier

Suck School of Comic Art  How to Draw Funny

Crash Course  Cartoon Motorcycle Accidents Versus Cartoonist Motorcycle Accidents


Listed Newest to Oldest

Great War Bloopers and Tactical Jokes  Tommy Foolery, Fritz Flops, Pierre-Balls, Atta-Turkeys and Igor-Blymies

Discovery of the Element of Surprise  Pathétic News Presents

Middle-Aged Mundane Made Over to Modern  A Video Guide

Webio-Bot Illusion  A Little Fun With Optical Illusions

Webio-Bot Rerun  Getting Into the Net With the Web-a-Tron 9000


Listed Newest to Oldest

Webio-Bot Maze  A Lab Rat Game, Only With Your Mouse

Just What Kind of a Person Are You Anyway?  Take the Personality Test and Discover the True You

Happy Suckiversary  Play Art Director

The Copy Copy Isn't Really a Copy  A Double Word Quiz

Bizarro.TerryColon.www  Goodbye, Earthlings

Elusiver, Mysteriouser Creatures  Another Search Game

Mystic 8 Ball  Ultimate Mystic Service Answers Any Yes-or-No Question

Whack-a-Bot  Quick, Get ‘Em!

Webio-Bot Rescue  A Game Where You're the Hero

Webio-Bot Invaders  Save the Planet

Terra Incognita  A Trick Tricky Geography Quiz

Find the Secret Message  A different Kind of Word Search

Hollywhat?  A Movie Trivia Quiz of the Funny, the Obscure, and the Strange

Internetelepathy  I Will Read Your Mind

99 & 44/100 % Pure Amusement  A Pop Quiz About Percentages and Probabilities

Unanimated Gif Monte  A Little Optical Illusion Fun

What Was That Nym Again?  Some Fun With Words


Listed Newest to Oldest

Counter-Steering Made Easy-Peasy  Balancing a Bike by Turning

Notes for Young Illustrators  Learn from My Experience, or Get Your Own

Folk Etymology  From the Greek Meaning “Fake it”

Moving Goalposts  It's Harder to Make Ends Meet Because We Keep Moving Them Apart

Billiards Bits for Beginners  The Shape of Cheating the Pocket With Throw

Unsurprising Yet remarkable  One Step at a Time to One Step Beyond

Works for Me  Prosperity Is As Energy Does

The Futility of Fashionable Foods and Fitness Fads  Is It a Paradox or Not?

Changes that Changed Everything  The 10 Greatest Inventions of All Time?

Better Than Sliced Bread  Uncelebrated Inventions Great and Small

“Pass the Honey, Sugar”  The Processed Food Processed Food Haters Love

Bikes Don’t Turn By Leaning  Proving Cones and Gyroscopes Are Futile

Flying Made Simple  Understanding How Planes Can Fly Without all the Messy Details

Bernoulli, Coanda & Lift  What Is What and What Is and Isn’t Doing What

How Planes Can Fly  The Correct Explanation of Lift For Non-Engineers

My First Car  How I Almost Ran Myself Over With a Jerry-rigged Jalopy

Optical Illusions You Often Run Into  Don’t Worry, They Don’t Hurt


The Casual Sportsman…talks sports, of course

Fun Facts & Trivia…and frivia

Infrequently Answered Questions…you never asked

Links & Sites to See…with a simple click

Odds & Ends…and bits & bobs

Quotes & Sayings…or so we've heard

Snippets…from the art archives

Talkin Bout Money…because talk is cheap

Top Tens & Other Lists…of links, gags, whatever

Word Meanings & Origins…of real words…

…Fauxcabulary…joke words I made up


Top Ten Shorts… 2015201420132012201120102009Older


Crossword for Illiterates

The Daily Obviouser

The Entertainment Curve


Hooray for Hollywar!

Kicking the Debt Can

The Ministry of “Quotations”

2012 - Not Done

Not Done Redone - 2014 Post-dictions

NuSA? We Rename the States

Over the Horizon - 2014 Predictions

Peak Future?


The Startler

Ten Keys to Super Bowl Victory

Ten Things You Don't Want to Hear Your Boss Say

Ten Signs You Might Be Getting Old

Ten More Signs You're Getting Old

This Is the Year that Will Be

Welcome to the S___burbs

Whither Urban Legends

Why SCOTUS Decides

Wildly Improbable Medical Palpitations (WIMPS)

Worthless Paranormal Powers


Are We Living in Mouse Utopia?

Deep Focus Plasma Fusion

Eat Less Fat, Have a Heart Attack

Explaining the Union Jack

How lb. and £ Mean Pound

Ignorance is Confidence

Sodium Is Dangerous, Salt Not so Much

Spinflation: Cheaper Though It Costs More

Sports Nicknames Quiz

Sports Clichés and Berraisms

Turn Vice into Virtue by Acting Naturally

Why a Mile Is 5,280 Feet

Why a Nautical Mile Is Not One Mile

Why There Are 24 Hours in a Day and 60 Minutes in an Hour


Happy Holiday


Not Christmas, Memorial Day. Break out the baggy shorts, breezy Hawaiian shirt, the BBQ gear and all the fixings ‘cause it’s the unofficial start of summer. Being a day off for most, no work for me either. Instead, an old FHM magazine spot repurposed for the occasion.

Filed under Snippets 5/30/16

There’s Electricity in the Air


The Earth is electrically active with an electric field of between 50 and 200 volts per meter at its surface. A six foot man will experience a potential of up to 400 volts from head to toe. The average potential between ground and the ionosphere is 240,000 volts and can reach as much as 400,000 volts.

More from Gerald Pollack, the electrically charged water man:

Gerald Pollack: Beyond Water -- What Makes the World Go Round?

Filed 5/26/16

You’ll Put Someone’s Eye Out


A“Brickbats” spot from Reason magazine way back in 2007.

Kallen Ford and a friend were playing hacky sack outside Colorado’s Boulder County Courthouse when a police officer approached. The cop took their sack and issued Ford a $250 fine for “releasing projectiles on the mall.”

This was during the great hacky sack epidemic. Congress members demanded registration of all bean bags. Children were expelled for bringing Beanie Babies to school. The ATF employed teams of bean sniffing dogs. Thanks to the tireless efforts of law enforcement the hacky sack menace is now under control.

Filed under Snippets 5/23/16

Unhealthy Care


When it comes to trauma, gashes, broken bones, burns and such, modern medicine works wonders. Get twisted like a pretzel in a car crash and doctors and surgeons can restore you like Humpty-Dumpty after a fall. When it comes to chronic diseases modern medicine is often… what’s the word I’m looking for?… lunatic.

Would you advise a lactose intolerant person drink lots of milk and then combat the results with drugs? Crazy, right? Yet what do the experts advise diabetics to do? Why, eat a low-fat high-carb diet. That’s right, people who can’t handle sugar in the bloodstream are told to eat lots of foods that elevate sugar in the blood­stream. Which they then must counter with drugs.

Medical advice often combats healing, too. For instance, applying ice to reduce inflammation. One problem, inflammation is part of the bodies repair response, reducing it interferes with that, it make healing take longer. Similarly they recommend aspirin to reduce a fever, yet the fever isn’t caused by the flu or a cold bug or whatever. Fever is the body warming up to enhance the imune system. You want the fever.

It would seem modern medicine ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Some say the third leading cause of death is health care.

Medical Errors: STILL the Third Leading Cause of Death

Filed under Links & Sites to See 5/20/16

Left Hanging up In the Air on Tender Hooks?


Ever been “left on tender hooks,” as they say? (Not that folks say it that much these days, the phrase has pretty much been replaced with left hanging. Though the two are more or less the same, both figuratively and literally.) Anyway, how can a hook be tender? It seems ridiculous.

Well, it is ridiculous because tender hooks is not the real term. It’s tenter hooks. Maybe it got mixed up because of the way a lot of people pronounce tees in the middle of words. Especially Americans. You may not have noticed, since most of us do it, but we Yanks pronounce little bottle as “liddle boddle.”

In days of yore tenter hooks were a series of small hooks fabric would be hung on for stretching. So, to be left on tenter hooks was to be left hanging. Need we say more?

Think of it with this connection, tent and tenter. A tent is a shelter of stretched fabric, a tenter is a frame for stretching fabric. Both derive from the Old Latin tendere, to stretch. Hm-m, the Romans had it with a D and not a T. Maybe it should be tender hooks after all.

Filed under Quotes & Sayings 5/18/16

Impossible, Two Thirds of the Time


Your typical major league ballplayer has 20/12 vision. OK, what’s that 20/20 vision business mean anyway?, I hear myself asking. It means a person can see clearly something at twenty feet that is normally seen clearly at twenty feet. 20/12 means something at twenty feet is as seen as clearly as something at 12 feet. Big league hitters have the proverbial eagle eye.

Though an eagle is estimated to have 20/4 vision. Plus they have big-time magnification in their lenses, but we’re getting off track.

So, does 20/12 vision help hit a fastball? Maybe, maybe not. Some ballplayers wear contacts. Anyway, the amazing thing about hitting a 90+ mph fastball is the amount of time a batter has to see, decide, swing and make contact to drive the ball into fair territory. Actually, how little time they have, about the literal blink of an eye. Incredibly, major leaguers can often place their hits, which one guesses takes micro-second timing.

Hitting a Major League fastball should be physically impossible - a short video

Of course, scientists also used to say bumblebees shouldn’t be able to fly. Now then, what’s the batting percentage of scientists?

Filed under The Casual Sportsman 5/16/16

Sprechen Sie Thai?


Infrequently Answered Question #97: What’s the easiest foreign language for an English-speaking American to learn?

A: That depends on whether they want to speak it or also read and write it. The U.S. State Department has five categories of difficulty for learning foreign languages based on how long it takes to learn. A category five language takes roughly five times as many hours to learn as a category one.

In category one are the western European languages, Dutch, French, Spanish and so on. These are also easy to read and write since they use the same alphabet as English. Of these, French might be the easiest because English is already full of French words thanks to the Norman Conquest. Some say Dutch is the easiest to learn to speak. Though there’s not much need for an American to learn Dutch because practically every Nederlander speaks English. And French and German, if I have my facts straight.

There is only one category two language, German. Even though English has Germanic roots, the two have diverged so much they aren’t much alike these days. What makes German hard is its complexity, such as having three genders. If I knew more about it I could explain, but I don’t so can’t. You’ll just have to take the State Department’s word for it.

Within category five are east Asian languages like Chinese, Korean and Japanese. Of course, there is no one Chinese language, except to read and write where there is because they all use the same pictographic system. Korean is the easiest of these to read and write because it is written by combining syllable symbols rather than ideograms or letters. There are less than thirty different Korean syllables, making it the simplest writing system in the world.

At the other extreme is Thai which has an insanely complex writing system. I can’t even begin to explain it, but here’s a short video that will give you an idea of the complexity of it all:

World’s Most Complicated Writing System

So, if you want to travel to foreign lands and speak to the natives without a lot of language study your best bet is the Netherlands or the Scandinavian countries where most of the locals speak English as a second language. In fact, some of the regional dialects in Scandinavia are so different from each other, two Norwegians, say, from different parts of Norway can only understand each other if the speak in English. So they do.

English is also widely spoken in India because it’s simpler to be bilingual with English as a second language than to learn all the various native languages and regional dialects, of which there are many. That’s why call centers are in India and not China.

If you plan on visiting South America the most widely spoken first language there is… no, not Spanish, Portuguese. Brazil is that big. As a matter of fact, Portuguese is the fourth most spoken first language around. Though mostly in Brazil. Again, Brazil is that big.

One little tidbit because of all those Brazilian soccer players you see all over the place. The Portuguese NHO at the end of a name is the equivalent of a Spanish ÑO, and said the same way, nyō. It’s a suffix signifying little. So, Ronaldinho means little Ronaldo.

Filed under Infrequently Answered Questions 5/13/16

Bloody Trivia

heartsbg1 heartsbg2 hearts1 hearts2

The heart doesn’t pump blood by stretching and contracting like a balloon, it twists. You might think of it as working more like wringing out a sponge.

When a major artery to the heart is constricted or partially obstructed, the body can grow a secondary network of blood vessels to provide blood. The body does its own coronary bypass, only without surgery.

Donating blood can lower blood pressure and reduce harmful excess iron in the blood. Meaning the old practice of bleeding patients might actually have been beneficial at times. Who’d-a figured?

You’ve likely heard your blood contains so-called good and bad cholesterol, as in LDL and HDL. Funny thing about that, the L at the end of each stands for lipoprotein. Notice: protein. Lipoproteins “carry” cholesterol through the blood, but are not cholesterol. In fact, the attached cholesterol in each is identical. There really is no such thing as good or bad cholesterol as such.

Filed under Fun Facts & Trivia 5/11/16

Going Up?


Top Ten Minus Seven for a Net Three Accountant Jokes

  1. An accountant is someone who solves a problem you didn’t know you had in a way you don’t understand.
  2. Why do economists exist? So accountants have someone to laugh at.
  3. A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.

A pretty scanty list. So, let’s pad it out with a corollary to gag number three: A government subsidy is a reward for doing badly. And a bail-out is for doing absolutely miserably.

Markets reward success with profits and punish failure with losses. The company bottom line is information, it’s how you know you’re doing things right. Profit and loss are the grading system of economic life. It’s a good thing, what works survives, what doesn’t perishes.

Governments turn this on its head, they punish success and reward failure. It would appear Government wants what doesn’t work to keep on not working. Basically, government rewards losers at the expense of winners. Which is why losers love government and government is for losers.

Filed under Top Tens and Other Lists 5/10/16

A Tiny Mystery


I’ve had the same eight place setting flatware set for thirty years or so. Recently I noticed there were only seven dinner forks. This rather baffles me. I don’t leave the house carrying flatware about with me. It only comes out of the drawer when I eat, then goes back to the kitchen sink to be cleaned. I don’t leave dirty dishes laying about the house to be dropped behind or kicked under the furniture or anything. And it’s not like a fork can get washed down the drain.

How do you lose a dinner fork? Where did it possibly go? Anyway, in the nursery rhyme the dish ran away with the spoon, not the fork. I just don’t get it.

Filed under Odds & Ends 5/9/16

We Guess the Jolly Roger Just Wasn’t Jolly Enough


Ar-r-r, here be a “Brickbats” spot from Reason magazine in 2007.

In England, Morgan Smith’s parents decided to throw him a pirate-themed party for this sixth birthday. They even ran a Jolly Roger up the flagpole at their home. But a neighbor com­plained about the skull and crossbones to the Stafford Borough Council. Council officials feared the flag might be “unneighbourly” and said the couple must apply for permission, including a study of the impact the flag would have on the neighborhood before they could fly it.

How about an impact study on the effects of stupid government?

Filed under Snippets 5/6/16

The Quick Blue Fox Jumped over the Old Dogs


In what some are calling the greatest story in football (soccer) history, Leicester City Foxes, a 5,000-1 bet at the start of the season, have won the Barclays English Premier League championship. While major upsets happen from time to time, most are in the form of single events or games, Leicester City’s rags to riches story ran over a 38 game season making it all the more improbable and amazing.

Not being sportswriters we won’t report all the details, which you can find all over the web in much finer form. We will just add a couple little curious twists to the Foxes tale. The title was clinched Monday when Chelsea tied second place Tottenham 2-2. Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri once was the manager of Chelsea. Eden Hazard scored the tying goal for Chelsea which cliched the championship, the same player who score the title clinching goal for Chelsea last year.

Lastly, we link to a video about the club’s amazing run made a month ago before the trophy race was decided. Anyway, now you know how the film should really end. No doubt the complete story will soon be told on video. Until then…

Premier League Download: The Leicester City Story

Filed under The Casual Sportsman 5/4/16

Garden of Easy


In the garden do you have a green thumb or are you all thumbs? If you number among the latter here’s a few simple tricks on how do make your yard the envy of one and all.

Eight Ways to Turn Your Yard from Yuck to Yeah

  1. Rocks and boulders, the bigger the better, frame a yard with alternative texture. They never overgrow the space, need watering, mowing or trimming. Best of all, they never die.
  2. If your trees and bushes have overgrown the property, remember, fire is nature’s pruning shears.
  3. Think outside the box outside the house. Plastic flowers work just as well outdoors as indoors.
  4. Wildflowers add a splash of vibrant color to any yard. An inexpensive, hardy, easy-to-grow perennial with a vivid yellow flower is the dandelion. No seeds required, they plant themselves as if by magic.
  5. Seed packages show what a fully grown healthy specimen should look like. Forget the seeds, plant rows of packages and you’re done.
  6. If your soil refuses to yield anything green at all, plop a large piece of driftwood in the center and call it a Mohave desertscape. Add a cattle skull for a spot-on finishing touch.
  7. Extend your patio or deck to the property line and your mowing, fertilizing, pruning, watering, and weeding days are over. A basket­ball hoop at one end turns your yard into an outdoor gymnasium.
  8. Install a single row of cinder­blocks around your property’s perimeter. Fill with water and voila! A stately reflecting pool in summer, an ice rink in winter.

OK, with our advice you won’t have the best-looking property on the block, it’s not all bad. If you look a bit less well-off than your neighbors crooks are less likely to target your house as a potential bounty of valuables.

Filed under Top Tens and Other Lists 5/3/16

“I Killed the Bank”


Now they want to remove Andrew Jackson from the twenty dollar bill. Which would probably OK by him if he were alive today, the man was no friend of central banking. His proudest moment was the ending of the Second Bank of the United States. In point of fact, the headline to this Shorts entry is the inscription on Andrew Jackson’s tombstone.

So one wonders, why was Andrew Jackson’s effigy on a Federal Reserve note to begin with? Was it ironic or something? Who knew the Treasury were a bunch of jokers? I mean, kidders. Jokers they may otherwise well be.

Filed under Odds & Ends 5/2/16

Newish and Improved-like


Navigating the super interacta-matic, oh-so modern Interwebs is much easier than hinted at in this oldie but moldy spot. What with our handy-dandy pull-down menus and auto-zoomery, it’s easier than ever to read and enjoy terry colon dot com on any device plugged into the magic of the world wide web. While it may not be hands-free, it’s no sweat, and you can keep your shoes on.

Of course, we’re actually bragging about features that have been standard fare for over a decade now. All the same, how many other sites have you seen with their own custom cursors, eh? Scroll over the pic and see. The itty-bitty fun never ends at terry colon dot com.

Filed under Snippets 4/30/16

How to Deal with Barbarians, Roman Style

Click pic to play animation

Here’s a little bit of trivia for military history buffs. Or historical martial arts aficionados. Or something along those lines. This is trivia correcting trivia you may have run across concerning the Roman pilum. That spear thingy pictured in the toon above.

There is this idea that the pilum’s thin metal shaft with the spearhead attached is intended to bend after impact so the enemy can’t return fire. Well, not fire, this is pre-gunpowder. Return volley. Return serve? What­ever. Where this notion comes from I don’t know, but it didn’t come from the Romans.

First of all, a weapon that bends on impact is a lousy weapon. That’s because bending means the weapon is absorbing part of the impact, not a good thing for inflicting maximum damage. That’s why they use rubber knifes in stage fighting. The real reason for the long metal shaft bit is for better penetration.

Here’s how it works. Say a normal pole spear pierces a shield, which were often made of wood covered in animal hide. After the spearhead breaks the surface the shaft will have to follow through the opening to get any kind of deep penetration. Not so easy to for a fat, round, wooden shaft to get very far through the opening created by a leaf-shaped spearhead, too much resistance. Such a spear might get a foot through the shield. If the intended victim were holding the shield a foot out from his body, no harm no foul.

By contrast, once a pilum spearhead breeches a shield, the thin, metal shaft easily passes through the opening losing little energy. Which means a pilum can penetrate the depth of the metal shaft length, about three feet. If the intended victim were holding a shield a foot in front of them, well, do the math.

The same thing applies to hitting a man, once you pierce his protective armor, mail, padding, whatever, the pilum will get much better penetration than a pole spear. It is true that some­times the pilum would bend, but it wasn’t designed to. Then again, a wooden spear shaft would sometimes break, which nobody ever figured was a feature.

Filed under Fun Facts & Trivia 4/28/16

Then They Banned It outside Because It Causes Global Warming


Ye olde “Brickbats” spot for Reason magazine in 2008.

Code enforcement officials in Maidenhead, England, have ordered the staff of the Greyhound to close the pub’s windows. When people smoke outside, the authorities explained, the smoke could drift into the pub, causing it to be in violation of laws banning smoking indoors.

There used to be this newspaper cartoon called There Ought to Be a Law. This wouldn’t work nowadays because there probably is.

Filed under Snippets 4/27/16

Up and Down Pyramids


And now, back to our regular posting content. Or maybe not, it is that time of year again. “What time is that?” I hear myself imagine the reader asking. It’s when winter seems finally to have had its last hurrah, cabin fever finally breaks and I long to be outside doing something, anything. Hence, away from the computer and the Internet. Hence hence, less new content here at terry colon dot com.

Not that the world at large will notice very much. After all, this site is in the basement part of the Pareto pyramid. “What’s that?” I once again rhetorically ask. That’s the old 20-80 rule. As in 20% of the websites get 80% of the traffic. Meaning, 80% must be satisfied with only 20%. Though I imagine most are not that satisfied with such, but what can you do?

Still, the Pareto principle applies all the way down the pyramid. That is, 20% of the bottom 80% of sites get 80% of the 20% of the traffic. Which means between them the bottom 64% of sites divvy up 4% of the total web traffic. Repeat that and you wind up with about half the sites getting around one percent of the page views.

Funny thing about this Pareto distribution, even though it manifests itself over and over in nature, society, and economics, nobody knows why. What is the mechanism that crosses all platforms, so to speak? It’s the riddle of the universe. Apparently the universe doesn’t believe in equality.

Anyway, if the Shorts additions become fewer and lesser, you will know why.

Filed under Odds & Ends 4/25/16

Now Playing


Another old spot seems just the thing to introduce our lastest bit of interactive animated nonsense where the little mouse cursor actually makes sense…

Webio-Bot Maze

Filed under Odds & Ends 4/22/16

Not Seeing Is Believing


“It is startling to realize how much unbelief is necessary to make belief possible. Ardent belief manifests itself not in moving mountains, but in not seeing mountains to move.”

–Eric Hoffer

“The most costly of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. It is the chief occupation of mankind.”

–H.L. Mencken

“It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they’ve been fooled.”

–Mark Twain

Filed under Quotes & Sayings 4/21/16

Is the Fat v Carb Debate a Sideshow?


Some people zealously advocate a low-fat diet as the ideal for health and weight loss. On the flip side, others vociferously champion a low-carb diet for the same reasons. Could they both be wrong? Could they both be right? Remember this from childhood?

Jack Sprat could eat no fat
His wife could eat no lean
And so betwixt the two of them
They licked the platter clean

While this bit of old doggerel wasn’t dietary advice, it may have stumbled upon the truth. Some people do well on low-fat, others on low-carb. Hunter-gatherers and ruralists thrive on diets from 60% carbs to 10% carbs. Which seems to imply the fat/carb content is not the be all end all of eating well.

There are three basic nutrients, fat, carbs, and protein. Why is protein seemingly overlooked by all? People everywhere on most every diet are getting about the same amount of calories from protein, around 15%. Since this varies so little folks tend to ignore it, figuring if it’s pretty much the same for everyone it can’t be making a difference.

On the other hand, if every diet comes in around 15% protein, maybe that content is the most important factor. Maybe there is a minimum amount of protein everyone needs and the fat/carb ratio is secondary. Maybe a protein poor diet makes you overeat either carbs or fat, or both, to get the needed protein. Which would mean a small change in protein percentage could make all the difference.

The Protein Leverage Hypothesis

Under this hypothesis the bandied about term “empty calories” has a different implication, food without protein.

Filed under Links & Sites to See 4/20/16

Frivia for Font Fanatics


We revisit something mentioned recently here in the Shorts for no good reason other than we want to. While the typeface Helvetica is almost entirely without quirks, blond some would say, there is one letter that is more “designy” than what you might call the standard form. It’s the upper case R. Compare the various sans serif cap Rs above. Which is the odd man out?

For most the leg under the bowl is obviously angled and pretty much straight. The leg on the bottom right R is practically vertical and has a little curling, almost serif-like terminal. The last cap R is Helvetica.

Why the departure from the most basic form? I don’t know. Perhaps it’s explained in the movie, Helvetica. A film about a font. Eat your heart out, Frutiger. (Adrian Frutiger designed Univers, a very similar contemporary of Helvetica. Both font families were based on Akzidenz-Grotesk from 1898.)

Helvetica - the movie

There are many clones or imitators of Helvetica. Geneva, Swiss, Zurich, to name a few. Notice they all seem to reside in the Swiss Alps. The Swiss call the place Confœderatio Helvetica after all.

While most folks with a passing knowledge of typefaces know what a serif, ascender and descender are, they likely aren’t familiar with the terms for all the parts of letterforms. Like many specialities, type design has a jargon all its own. If you want to know all about that, try this link:

Anatomy of a Character

To be super font geeky, here’s a typeface that blurs the line between serif and sans-serif, Optima. The strokes are not straight, they’re all curved, flaring outward at the terminal which renders somewhat of a visual impression of a serif, but there really is no serif. See for yourself:


Filed under Links & Sites to See 4/19/16

When Not In Rome


Yet another “Brickbats” spot for Reason magazine. This time from 2014.

In Saudi Arabia, religious police beat up a British man after they saw him using a supermarket checkout with a woman as cashier. Such checkout lines are reserved only for women.

No comment. I just liked the pic.

Filed under Snippets 4/18/16

A Rose Is a Rows Is a Roes


There are no spelling bees in Italy. Why? Spelling is no challenge in Italian because, unlike English, words are actually spelled how they sound and vice-versa. You don’t need to memorize spellings, you need only hear the word and you can spell it. A spelling bee in Rome would never end and everyone would win.

The French, on the other hand, seem to add pointless letters on the end of words as mere decorations. Water in French is eau, pronounced “oh.” You can see that at the end of Bordeaux. What’s the X tacked on the end for? Renault also ends with an “oh” sound. Why the LT on the end? Then there’s les, chalet, and allez, all ending in a “lay” sound. Is there any point to the S, T and Z? I guess they just make the words look more Francophied.

Meanwhile, English spelling is a hodgepodge of inconsistency. One problem is most spellings became set around the 15th and 16th centuries while the Great Vowel Shift, a major change in English vowel sounds, didn’t finish until 1700. For instance, Shakespeare would rhyme blood and moon in his dialog, which don’t rhyme now but did then. Had all the vowel sounds changed alike for words spelled alike, it might have worked out. Unfortunately, different words changed, well, differently. Hence, spelling bees.

Great Vowel Shift - Oxford English Dictionary

Of course, English is also full of adopted foreign words. Oh-oh, cultural expropriation. That’s bad. Or is it multicultural? That’s good. Oh well, all we know is the double-Os in good, blood and moon don’t rhyme.

Filed under Fun Facts & Trivia 4/15/16

Fresh Clichés by the Dozen


Alas, poor Yorick. Wherefore art thou Romeo. To be, or not to be. It’s easy to spot many a quote from old Willie Shakespeare. Other coinages have worked their way into the language to the point we aren’t aware they came from the Bard of Avon. All the same, who knows if he made them up or was simply glomming ye olde slang of the day?

William Shakespeare 400th anniversary: 60 everyday words and phrases you never knew came from the Bard

Filed under Links & Sites to See 4/13/16 Comics Spoof Redux Two

And now for something slightly different.


Find at least six differences in details between panels.


Click here for answers

Filed under Snippets 4/12/16 Comics Spoof Rerun One

I didn’t just draw cartoons for the old e-rag, I helped write content from time to time. Whether that actually helped is for the reader to decide.


Find at least six differences in details between panels.


Click here for answers

Filed under Snippets 4/11/16

Rhymes with P and That Stands for Billiards


Billiards was first played with mallets instead of cues. It was sort-of like table croquet. The trouble with that was when the cue ball was frozen to the rail they couldn’t get the mallet head on it. In which case the shooter would poke it with the mallet’s handle end, called the queue in French. These days we dispense with the mallet head and use a long handle with a bit of leather on the end, which we call a cue.

Why is it called both billiards and pool? The billiards name came first. Pool comes from the venue where the tables started showing up for public use: betting parlors. You’re likely familiar with football pools or similar betting schemes. Pools are a common way to bet and old betting shops were called pool halls or pool parlors. These put in billiards tables for the betting clientele who started calling them pool tables. Eventually the game played on them became pool. Gambling and pool have gone together a long time.

After a time pool tables made their way out of stately homes and pool halls into middle class homes. Now, not everyone has a room big enough to accomodate a full-sized regulation billiards table. Or pool table. Same thing. There must be enough room around the table to swing a cue, after all. Well, not swing it, but when the cue ball is on the rail draw it back its full length, about four feet or so. Anyway, the point is folks often go for undersize tables.

One might think it’s easier to play on a smaller table, shots are shorter, right? Actually, in another respect it can be harder to play on a small table. Having less surface area there will be less space between object balls, which are still standard size. Cue ball control, maneuvering the cue ball around for your next shot, can be more difficult as a result.

There’s an 8-ball hustle that plays into that. The shark will offer to spot you five balls of their choosing after making their first ball. How it works, they remove balls of yours that are in the way making it easier for them to run the table. The sucker thinks they’re getting a break, but it’s the hustler who gets the advantage.

Size is not the only difference between tables. An average player who watches 9-ball played on cable TV might be frustrated they can never seem to get the kind of action the pros get on breaks or draw shots. There may be a reason for this other than skill. The felt, or baise, on those tables is different from felt you commonly find on home, bar and many pool hall tables. It’s competition felt, which is smoother offering less rolling resis­tance. In pool parlance, it’s a fast table.

If you get the chance to play on a fast table you will notice a marked difference. (There’s a pool hall near me that has them.) It will take some adjustment because your strokes will have to be a bit lighter or the cue ball will just keep going and going well past where you would expect on a slow table.

Just some additional trivia bits to tack onto my article…

Billiard Bits for Beginners

Filed under The Casual Sportsman 4/8/16

Pennies and Manna and the Bottom Line


They might seem like the same thing, folks use them as if they were, but they aren’t. Inflation, the consumer price index (CPI) and the cost of living. While related, they aren’t triplets, more like two brothers and a cousin. Or it could be a brother and sister, but the exact analogy is not important. They’re different. Like pennies from heaven, manna from heaven, and do you eat manna.

Inflation is the value of currency, CPI is the value of product, cost of living is the price a person pays to live they way they do. Inflation is due to increasing the currency supply, like pennies from heaven, which make prices rise, which makes CPI go up.

On the other hand manna from heaven makes prices go down, which makes CPI go down. After all, it’s cheaper and easier to simply pick up manna strewn about than it is to make manna from scratch yourself. Or whatever it is you would have to do to get manna. I don’t eat manna, I don’t even know what it is.

The point is, CPI can reflect inflation, but other things, too. If productivity increases more than the currency supply increases prices will go down despite there being inflation. To equate CPI with inflation is simply, well, wrong.

Saying increased productivity is deflationary is also a mistake. Manna from heaven doesn’t change the penny supply, though it means you can spend the pennies on something else. That’s increased prosperity. On the other hand, pennies from heaven don’t change the manna supply, it just makes it cost more. Why central banks think pennies from heaven make us better off is a mystery.

Leaving that aside, one wonders if inflation can even be accurately calculated. How do you separate out the effect of manna from heaven on pennies from heaven? Heck, they have half a dozen measures of the currency supply, starting at M0. (Why begin at zero instead of one? Another mystery.) If they can’t even settle on what the currency supply is, how can they know what effect it has on prices?

Finally, the CPI and the cost of living are not the same thing either. If you don’t eat manna, getting it free falling from the sky won’t effect your cost of living no matter what free manna does to the CPI. If you’re tired of all the manna talk, think of it this way: the price of yachts is totally meaningless to Joe Six-pack; prices at Wal-Mart have no effect on Richie Rich.

It’s like this, the CPI isn’t the cost of living because folks don’t all buy the same amounts of everything on the list, which go up and down in price differently for various reasons. If you spend ten percent of your income on rent and it doubles, it’s very annoying. If you spend one third on rent and it doubles, you wind up living in your car.

Now then, how does this all fit together and what does it mean? I really don’t know. I question whether the powers that be who tweak, nudge, and generally try to fine tune the economy actually know, either. They talk as if they do. But I will add this: The Fed gives us pennies from heaven, God gave the Israelites manna from heaven. The Fed ain’t God.

Related: Spinflation

Filed under Talkin’ Bout Money 4/7/16


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