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About me and terrycolon.com

Interview of me at Existable

Interview of me at The Setup

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

features1 archives1 cracked1

American History 101 2.0  The Fake But Accurate Story

Chartology Made Stupid  Connecting the Dots

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

Cosmology-Wiz  A Shorter History of Everything and Nothing

Dangerous Hot Air  The Truth About Inconvenient Global Warming

The Disunited States of America  A Preview of Coming Attractions?

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

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

Government Machinery at Work  How the Wheels of the Bureaucracy Grind

Happy New Year  2007 in Review

How ESP Works  Mind Reading Diagramed and Explained

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

Mess Transit  Bus Riding Primer for Dummies

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

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

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

Quick and Easy Housekeeping  Or Sisyphus Unbound and Unkempt

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?

Star Dreck  Musings of a Semi Hemi Demi Trekker

Those Darn Cats  Our Deal With the Devils

Unnatural Empty Junkfood Words  Half-Baked Buzz Phrases and Overcooked Terms

Uranimals  Beastly Beasts

Welcome to the Burbs  Whatever it Is

Win Any Argument  Using Paralogic and Surreason

Winless Wear  2008 Detroit Lions Merchandise

Reader's Digest

The B-B-Q Pyramid  For the Cooking Unimpaired

Mythic Snowmen  And More Snowmen

Quick and Easy Meals  For the Cooking Impaired

Venn Again, Again  More of the Same, But Different

Venn Again, Maybe Not  Another Last Laugh

Suck.com

Crash Course  Cartoon Motorcycle Accidents Versus Cartoonist Motorcycle Accidents

Suck School of Comic Art  How to Draw Funny

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

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

Better Than Sliced Bread  Uncelebrated Inventions Great and Small

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

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

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

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

Folk Etymology  From the Greek Meaning “Fake it”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Powerplant in Your Garage?  Dense Plasma Focus Fusion

Science Legends
Things People Know to Be True That Aren’t

There’s More Than One Way to Skin a Cat  Three Card Monte Math Which May Surprise You

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

Works for Me  Prosperity Is As Energy Does

Bizarro.TerryColon.www  Goodbye, Earthlings

Elusiver, Mysteriouser Creatures  Another Search Game

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

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

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

Superest Super Bowl League  What Is the Best Pre-Merger League at Winning the Big Game?

Terra Incognita  A Trick Tricky Geography Quiz

Unanimated Gif Monte  A Little Optical Illusion Fun

What Was That Nym Again?  Some Fun With Words

Webio-Bot Video Games and Animation

Whack-a-Bot  Quick, Get 'Em!

Webio-Bot Illusion  A Little Fun With Optical Illusions

Webio-Bot Invaders  Save the Planet

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

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

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Ultimate Mystic Service Answers Any Yes-or-No Question

Another Search Game

Getting Into the Net With the Web-a-Tron 9000

Animated Optical Illusions

Using Paralogic and Surreason


updates

How the Wheels of the Bureaucracy Grind

I Will Read Your Mind

Lift Explained


reruns

Cosmology-Wiz

A Shorter History of Everything and Nothing

Remembering WWI As It Really Wasn't

Proving Cones and Gyroscopes Are Futile


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comparehead

Are You Paying Exaggerated Prices
for Exaggerated Differences?

Branding is all about creating a perceived difference in the mind of the consumer about products that are essentially the same. Like different brands of vodka, a flavorless, colorless distilled spirit. How much difference can their be? While various cars seem to be quite different (that's the whole point of styling) in basic utility they differ hardly at all. Cars are machines a person can easily use to travel protected from the elements from point A to B. Let's compare some cars based on that and see what we get…

Read it all

bus1

Bus Riding Primer for Dummies

Taking the bus is the newest hot trend folks around the country are flocking to in droves. Okay, that's obviously a lie, but I need a catchy lead-in to this bit. Anyway, sheep come in flocks and cattle go in droves, and who wants to commute like livestock? For the sake of argument, or rather to avoid any argument, let's pretend the opening line were true.

Folks who've never ridden a bus will benefit from some tips on how it's done safely and effectively. Therefore we present this Bus Riding Primer for Dummies. Which is not to say you have to be a dummy to ride the bus, but you may be one if you follow our advice…

Read it all

counterhead

Balancing a Bike by Turning

It's hard to believe some people don't believe counter-steering is a real thing. This despite the century or so of motorcycle racers doing it. For those readers unfamiliar with counter-steering, it is some­times stated as, "Turn right to go left." It might sound absurd, but it works.

The first thing we need to clear up is that counter-steering is not really about turning so much as about leaning and balance. Which means "turn right to go left" is misleading though accurate. I'll explain that in a bit.

If you read my article Bikes Don't Turn by Leaning you know why leaning a bike can't possibly make it turn. The reverse is completely contrary, turning a bike will make it lean. Which might sound somewhat inconsistant until you think about it for a minute…

Read it all

noteshead

Learn from My Experience, or Get Your Own

There comes a time in life when one feels duty bound to pass on the benefit of one's experience to the younger generation whether they like it or not. Then one can retire and collect Social Security so the younger generation can pass on part of their income in return. Whether this is an equitable trade is debatable. After reading said benefit of one's experience and realizing how paltry one's contribution is, one might conclude there's no debate about it.

One might also realize calling oneself one or oneself sounds pretty stilted and stupid and one should cut it out forthwith. And never again say forthwith, either.

I was going to call this article, "Advice for…" but thought that might be doing the young illustrator a disservice. Truth be told, I don't know that I have any great pearls of wisdom to pass on. Or nuggets either as wisdom comes packaged that way, too. Experience is the name we give to all the dumb things we've done. Wisdom is realizing afterward just how dumb they really were…

Read it all

whackhead
hole
bot
holetop
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bot
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holetop

Come enjoy Whack-a-Bot, the video game that's endless fun for the whole family. Though you'll have to take turns unless watching someone else play is fun to you. Then again, the fun might not be endless, but the game can be. That's because, well, try it and see.

Play Whack-a-Bot

t:
shortssnipe

The Most Mysterious Cookie In the World

oreo1 oreo2 oreo3 oreo4 oreo5 oreo6

It's the best-selling cookie brand around. You know it. You've seen it. You've eaten it. They put it in ice cream. It's ubiquitous. It's the Oreo. As famous as it is, have you ever wondered what the name means? As familiar as it is, have you ever wondered about the design on it? You know, the oval with what looks like an old-time TV antenna on top.

Well, keep wondering because I haven't got an answer. It seems nobody else has, either. Not even the Nabisco company. There's lots of speculation about both, but nothing definite, no hard evidence, no paper trail, no smoking gun.

Some say the name has a Latin root of some sort, as in oro, gold. Some surmise the O on each end of the word are the two chocolate cookies sandwiching the cream center. Though why cream is RE is rather odd. Still, nobody really knows.

The origin of the Nabisco logo, the double crossbar cross atop an oval, gets even wilder speculation. It's claimed to be Christian or satanic. That's a pretty wide spread. Is it the Cross of Lorraine on top of the world? Is it a Masonic symbol? Is it a UFO? Is it a football radio? Your guess is as good as mine.

One thing is certain, Nabisco is an acronym for NAtional BIScuit COmpany. Now then, the Brits call cookies biscuits. Maybe the whole thing is some sort of devious English plot to… what? Colonize the world with sandwich cookies? Ah yes, the sun never sets on the Biscuit Empire.

Filed under Odds & Ends 8/26/15

Good Thing It Wasn’t a Peanut or They’d’ve Had to Call the Toxic Waste Disposal Unit

applecore

Another oldie but goodie Brickbat from the Reason magazine archives from July, 2008.

Kate Badger of Wolverhampton, England, faces up to six months in jail and an unlimited fine. Her crime? Tossing an apple core from her car onto the pavement.

Filed under Snippets 8/24/15

Dog Days of Summer

dogdays

According to the temperature record July is the hottest month in these parts. According to my perception record –not that I've actually recorded it– August seems like the hottest month. Maybe it's just me. Maybe "it's not the heat, it's the humidity." Or maybe the dew point, or whatever makes up the feels-like index, if they call it that.

In any case, the hottest stretch is the dog days of summer, roughly July 3 to August 11 when Sirius is most prominent in the night sky. Sirius is part of the constellation Canis Major, Latin for "Greater Dog." (Not to be confused with "the big dog" which I think is an expression from the American south.) Sirius is the dog of Orion, the hunter, and is also known as the Dog Star. Sirius is Greek for "searing or scorching." Very early Greeks thought the Dog Star was partly why early summer was so hot.

In the end, the dog days have nothing to do with dogs laying around in the sun, or the heat making everyone dog tired, or anything to do with earthly dogs. It's sort-of the Dog Star days of summer. Anyway, only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun. If they did, they wouldn't see Sirius which can only be seen at night. Still, there are no dog nights of summer. Go figure.

By the way, all this only applies if you live in the north. Right now it's winter in Australia, Argentina and other lands below the tropic of Capricorn. They might not even be able to see Sirius down there, though I couldn't say for sure.

Filed under Fun Facts & Trivia 9/20/15

Short Short

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Not Top and Not Ten List of Unrelated Links

  1. Fashion is something so awful it must be changed every six months, but to this?
  2. Lost flyer humor found here
  3. Newspaper headlines can be hilariously bad
  4. Photographic proof lowlifes are getting lower and more cartoonish than any cartoon of a lowlife
  5. Bike that really counter-steers, or maybe I should say counter-counter-steers

I've written about turning and counter-steering a bike, but link number five is something else. It's a video of a bike with reverse-wise steering, turning the handlebars clockwise rotates the front wheel counter-clockwise, and vice-versa. Nobody could ride it. However the narrator taught himself to ride it and… that would be giving it away. Check it out and see.

Filed under Top Tens & Other Lists 8/18/15

A Road by Any Other Name Smells Just as Street

avenue

Infrequently Answered Question #87: What's the difference between a street, road, avenue, boulevard, and so on?

A: I suppose by "and so on" you mean circle, court, cove, crescent, crossing, drive, expressway, freeway, highway, lane, parkway, place, roadway, square, terrace, trace, trail, and way. We have lots and lots of names for the pathways we travel on. While some of them are more-or-less self-defining, others seem vague and indistinguishable. Circle, crescent, and square are clear enough, but avenue, drive, road, and street not so much.

One difference might be location. Road, lane, trace, trail, and highway sound kinda country-ish. Street, boulevard, avenue, circle, crescent, and square seem citified. Though you can find roads and lanes in cities and avenues and boulevards stretching into the countryside. Another difference might be size. Avenue, boulevard, and highway make you think big and long. Place, court, and terrace imply small and short. Though street, road and drive can be any size.

Then there's alleys, which can also be alleyways or back alleys. What's the difference? Are there front alleys? Who knows? Unlike streets, roads, avenues, etc. alleys are unnamed. Usually. In San Francisco the alleys have names. Though that might make them streets officially.

In the end, there doesn't seem to be any accepted rules or standards as to what to call what. It's pretty much up to local tradition, planners, and developers. The options seem pretty open and if you can't decide which one to call your local travelling pathway, follow the example of Toronto and call it two, Avenue Road.

Filed under Infrequently Answered Questions 8/13/15

Utopia Ain’t All It’s Cracked up to Be

utopia

In 1968 John B. Calhoun created what he called Mouse Utopia for four breeding pairs of wild mice. Mouse Utopia had ample food and water; no predators; no disease; comfortable temper­ature, conditions and space. Here's what happened:

Stage One: Mice introduced, first litters born.
Stage Two: Population growth, doubling every 55 days.
Stage Three: Population growth slows to doubling in 145 days.
Stage Four: Population stagnates, births and deaths equal.
Terminal Stage: Last conception about day 920, all females become menopausal, the colony ages and all eventually die.

In the latter stages mice exhibited pathological behaviours and a loss of the will to procreate. It's interesting the colony didn't return to health with population decline, it died out entirely in less than three years. (There are different speculations as to why, but we'll not go into that. Instead we'll just look at some eerie parallels.)

The industrial/agricultural revolution kicked off a sort-of Mouse Utopia for people. Starvation, malnu­trition and epidemics became ever rarer. Childhood mortality fell from near 50% to 1%. Everyone survived to reproduce, population exploded. (Stage Two?)

Today in long industrialized countries the birth rate is slipping below replacement levels. (Well into Phase Four?) Childless lifestyles and abortion are common­place. (Loss of will to procreate?) Family disintegration and illegitimacy soar. The anti-hero, the dark, and the bizarre are celebrated. Morality is reduced to personal feelings. (Pathological behavior?) Is the Terminal Stage waiting in the wings?

The human reproductive cycle is much longer than that of mice, generations are measured in decades instead of months. Any such Human Utopia collapse would take a few centuries instead of years. Is the clock ticking?

Mouse Utopia died out, not from deprivation, but by getting everything without cost. Or so it seemed, the ultimate price paid was very steep. I'm not saying humanity will go the way of Mouse Utopia… Still, I can't resist closing with, "The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley."

Filed under Odds & Ends 8/11/15

Communicating Without Words

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While they didn't begin with the advent of the computer, groups of letters in place of words grow like e-weeds in the digital age. HTML, WYSIWYG, PDF, RAM, and so on. Emailing, blogging and texting have added more. OMG, BFF, LOL, and so forth. One question, are they all acronyms or not?

acronym (ăk′ rə-nĭm) noun. A word formed from the initials of a word group, or from parts of a word group.

Example one: scuba, Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus.

Example two: radar, RAdio Detection And Ranging.

Now then, NASA would be an acronym because we say it like a word, 'nahsah.' On the other hand, we don't pronounce HTML as 'hitmal' or anything like a word. Is it an acronym? Then again, NASA is always in all caps, unlike a normal word. Is it really an acronym or just initials? But if it were just initials wouldn't it be N.A.S.A.? And what is M*A*S*H what with those asterisks?

At this point the reader might be thinking, "Stop nitpicking. They're all acronyms. Let it go, already." To which I say, "Thanks. That'll make writing the rest of this entry easier."

Anyway, so many new acronyms keep being coined it's hard to keep up with them all. Especially if you get to them late in the game where everyone is using them without the explanation you missed. Though with search engines it's pretty easy to catch up. But it does mean printed dictionaries are out of date the moment they're published.

There is one acronym people nowadays use I don't like: POTUS. For one thing, it's formed with initials that shouldn't be in an acronym. For instance, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is not the NAFTAOCP, it's the NAACP. Why? Because it doesn't contain letters for prepositions, conjunctions, or articles. Basically, if you don't capitalize it in a headline don't use it in an acronym.

So the acronym for President of the United States should be PUS. I like that even less. No matter what you think of a particular President, calling them PUS just isn't very nice in public discourse. Not that public discourse these days is all that nice, but you have to draw a line somewhere. If you want to be nice, that is.

To return to the opening, it is appropriate the first electronic general-purpose computer was ENIAC, an acronym for Electronic Numerical Integrator And Calculator. Though it does break the rule against conjunctions. What can I say? I guess there are no hard and fast rules after all.

Filed under Word Meanings & Origins 8/7/15

Darwin Was Wrong

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OK, I wrote the headline to be provocative. What I'm talking about is the Darwinian evolutionary mechanism of chance mutation being questionable in the light of current research.

The human body is made of millions of cells. There are many times more foreign organisms in and on the body than there are cells. And there are a many times more viruses, too. (What exactly all these viruses do is not known, but the vast majority of them don't cause pathologies.) Viruses contain RNA, the basis of DNA, the code for how cells work.

Research finds viruses can share their RNA with living cells. A current hypothesis suggest mutations are caused by cells adopting and incorporating RNA from viruses in response to conditions. Which would make viruses a sort-of free-floating gene pool of a multitude of possible adaptations.

Anyway, as master statistician William M. Briggs says, randomness can't cause anything anywhere. There is no force of chance. To ascribe something to chance is to ascribe no cause at all. Randomness is the aspect of quantum mechanics Einstein loathed. As he put it, "God doesn't play dice with the universe."

Filed under Fun Facts & Trivia 8/4/15

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way from the Revolution

vietnam

If you're ancient like me you might remember when Vietnam was in the news every day. The biggest little country on the planet has pretty much receded to a footnote now-a-days. Perhaps you're wondering what happened to the place. Wonder no more. Read the report from intrepid traveller Michael J. Totten, Hanoi's Capitalist Revolution.

It seems the Vietnamese Communists discovered in short order communism doesn't work. On the other hand, Cuban Communists still haven't figured it out. Read about Mr. Totten's visit to Havana, The Last Communist City.

So, some Communists don't practice communism and some do. Which only goes to show…

You can't judge a book by it's cover.
Some folks never learn.
The best laid plans of mice and Ho Chi Minh gang aft agley.

Filed under Quotes & Sayings 7/29/15

When Average Is Not Normal

average

Some folks, like weathercasters, like to use average and normal interchangeably when they shouldn't. For instance they'll say something like, "The high today was five degrees above normal for this time of year." Well, no. It's pretty normal to be within five degrees of the average high temperature. Five degrees above average is normal, not above normal.

Nitpicking, you say? Maybe. But they say there is no such thing as an average person because everyone is off the average in some way. But that's normal. Being average in every way would be very not normal.

On the other hand, sportscasters use average when it seems to have nothing to do with average. As in batting average. Isn't it really a hitting percentage, similar to on-base percentage? Yet it can't really be a percentage because the number is too small. A good batting average is .333, right? That's one hit per three at-bats, which is 33.3%. Hm-m-m.

Percent is per hundred. A batting average is a per one rather than a per hundred figure. So 1.000 is one hit per one at-bat and .333 amounts to one third of a hit per at-bat. It's a strange way to put it when you think about it, but not strange because we're used to it being done that way. So, a hitter batting .333 averages one third of a hit per at-bat.

Of course, you can't really get a third of a hit. That's nonsense. So the average at-bat as per the batting average is not only not normal, it's impossible. Unless you're hitting 1.000 or .000, that is.

Filed under Odds & Ends 7/27/15

Baseball in the Land of the Midnight Sun

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When we think of Finland and sports we naturally think of winter sports, hockey, skiing and such. That is, if we ever think of Finland and sports. Doesn't come up much. Anyway, they have summer in Finland and so they have summer sports, too. For instance, they play baseball. Though not really baseball you'd recognize, a Nordic version of baseball invented about a hundred years ago called pesäpallo.

Finnish baseball is played on a five-sided dirt field shaped like a big, elongated home plate. In American baseball fair territory goes on forever and over the fence is homerun territory. In pesäpallo everything outside the lines enclosing the field is foul territory and so all homers are inside-the-park jobs. Though the batter only needs to reach third to get one. Which we suppose makes it a thirder and not a homer.

In pesäpallo the pitcher stands next to home plate (circular and not home plate shaped) and throws the ball up which the batter hits on the way down. Kind-of like two-man fungo. Since they don't need a catcher behind the plate, he plays in front of the second baseman, who plays where American baseball first basemen play. There is no center fielder, instead there are two shortstops. Who play in the outfield.

Oddly, first base is to the left half way to third base. Second base is where first base should be and there's no base at second. Third base is still third base though behind first base. (One imagines a new Abbot and Costello routine. "Who's on first? Where is second? What happened to third?") From third runners take a bent path in foul territory to a second home plate, which isn't a plate but a big semi-circle where the entire team at bat lines up on deck.

Finns go for the designated hitter in a big way. They have three of them, which they call jokers. Being at the arctic circle, Finnish night games can be played without lights. Players wear helmets at all times. Though with the way they pitch, straight up and down, we wonder why. We don't know Finnish, but if you drop the umlaut and replace the Ps with Bs you get besaballo. Cue Garrett Morris, "Besaballo been bery, bery good to me." Feel free to groan softly.

More about Finnish baseball at Pesapallo.net or this article from The Wall Street Journal. Watch the You-Tube video on the History of Pesäpallo. We say watch because it's in Finnish. What can we say? Pesäpallo doesn't have a big English speaking following.

Filed under The Casual Sportsman 7/24/15

As a Living Document, It Needs Doctoring

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Infrequently Answered Question #86: Why does the Supreme Court decide what a recently passed law means? The people who wrote and passed the law are still around, why don't the authors get to say what it means?

A: That's just the American constitutional process. Which the framers didn't know about until the very first Supreme Court divined it hidden in the Constitution. This is called a ruling by divined right. Only judges, or better yet justices, can decipher the true meanings because they're encrypted in what they call the legal code.

The court not only says what the Constitution and laws mean, they also define the words used. And so 'fine' means 'tax' and 'state' really means 'national government.' As a result, lawmakers don't know the meaning of the laws they're writing or passing until the Supreme Court tells them afterward. This explains why Congress must pass a law in order to find out what's in it. These are laws of unintended consequences.

You can think of Supreme Court justices as sort-of law seers. They wear black robes, sprinkle their speech with Latin, and meet in special justice chambers to communicate with the spirit of the law. All this helps them reach a decision, which often require a lot of language stretching because some decisions are quite a reach.

Filed under Infrequently Answered Questions 7/23/15

T-shirts Are Socks Worn on the Torso

Tshirt

Have you ever noticed, unlike every other kind of shirt, T-shirts don't have a seam running down the side? You know, from the armpit on down. Other kinds of shirts have front and back panels sewn together. T-shirts are a seamless tube sewn together at the shoulder with sleeves and a collar band added.

This means T-shirt fabric is made as a tube rather than as sheets. Just like tube socks are. And so the horizontal threads (whether that's the warp or weft I can't say) are wound around the body in extremely long strands from top to bottom. Which is sort-of like the way you knit a sweater. Well, maybe you personally don't knit, but you know what I mean.

So I ask, is T-shirt fabric woven or knitted? What exactly is the difference? Does it matter? Do you care?

More frivia at it's finest you'll get only from terry colon dot com.

Filed under Odds & Ends 7/20/15

And This Is the Language of Shakespeare

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Oddities in the English language are something of a hobbyhorse of mine. It's a language where exceptions are the rule and rules are more like suggestions.

For instance, the plural of ox is oxen, the plural of ax is axes, and axes is the plural of axis. The plural of hex is hexes, the plural of vortex is vortices. I'll lay even odds you can't make out a pattern. And isn't 'even odds' self-contradictory?

The plural of mouse is mice, the plural of louse is lice, the plural of house is houses. Hm-m-m-m. The plural of bass is bass and the plural of bass is basses. You figure it out.

Now then, a person providing bail is the bailor, a person bailed out is the bailee. Though if no bail is posted and the prisoner busts out, the person escaping is the escapee. Who's the escaper? The escapee is the escaper. Sure, why not?

Then we have the word 'cleave' which has two completely opposite meanings. As a transitive verb it means to split or separate. As an intransitive verb it means to adhere, cling, or stick to. And if you were to un-cleave something did you pull it back apart or put it back together?

And this is the language of Shakespeare. So irregular the Bard of Avon signed his own name six different ways. Playing Fast and Loose with Shakespeare's Name

What a language. At least English doesn't have those pointless genders for every noun. I mean, why would a chair be male or female? How? It has no persona or genitalia. Folks invent or adopt new things all the time, how do they sex them?

Filed under Odds & Ends 7/12/15

Fauxcabulary Word #8

emblemish

emblemish (əm blĕm′-ĭsh) verb. To embellish with symbols, logos, slogans or decorations making something plain, or even nice, look cheesy instead.

Half the T-shirts, baseball caps, and sweats in America have been emblemished in some way. Some folks just can't get tacky enough and so enhance their emblemishments so they sparkle or even light up. The hardcore aren't satisfied with merely emblemishing their clothes, hence tattoos and piercing.

One imagines these are supposed to be fashion statements. While they're rarely very fashionable, they are statements. They mostly say, "Look at me. I have no taste or sense."

Filed under Fauxcabulary 7/8/15

America Celebrates

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It's July fourth and so it's The Fourth of July. Independence Day, the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The document that once and for all established the right of a people to break political bonds and rule themselves.

"Once and for all" meaning eighty years as Americans then fought another war to "preserve the union." So, if you win the war you have the right to independence; if you lose, you don't. Thus establishing the true ruling principle: might makes right.

These wars are called the American Revolution and the American Civil War. If we called both wars of independence it'd be obvious Americans were both for and against independence, depending. This follows the principle that history is written by the winners. To coin a paraphrase, might makes write makes right.

This only goes to show people don't always follow the rules. Even ones they write themselves. See, the founders made a big mistake with both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, they wrote them on parchment. If they wanted people to pay heed, they should have been written in stone. Like the Ten Commandments. Then again, most folks don't take them very seriously, either.

Enough of that. Let's go bar-b-q and watch the fireworks. Just don't bar-b-q the fireworks. Wait an hour before swimming. Wear a helmet. Do not eat toner.

Filed under Odds & Ends 7/4/15

Terry Tip: Make a Mulberry Float

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There's a bumper crop of mulberries around here this year. (This use of the word 'bumper' seems to always apply to crops. Could you have, say, a bumper head of hair? Is it a superlative, as in bump, bumper, bumpest? —I seem to have gone off track. Let's begin again.)

There's mulberries galore hereabouts. (Or should that be, "there are" mulberries galore? Why does the adjective come after the noun in the case of 'galore'? And in the case of 'aplenty', for that matter? —I seem to have gone off on parentheticals again. Or should they be set off by em dashes rather than in parentheses? I never know when to use which. Let's start over.)

It's a banner year for mulberries in my neck of the woods. Unlike a couple years ago when there were no mulberries at all. Darn fickle weather, can't be relied on from one year to the next. Anyway, for me this is free fruit there for the picking. Though picking is a pretty inefficient way to harvest mulberries. Ripe mulberries are small and soft compared to most berries, picking them off the tree one by one is tedious and turns your fingers purple.

There is a simpler method. Spread a tarp under the tree, take a pole pruner, hook onto a branch and give it a bit of a shake. The ripest mulberries will simply fall off. Don't shake too vigorously or a lot of unripe berries will detach, too. Gather up the corners of the tarp and herd the mulberries together. Maybe 'herd' is not the right word, but you get the gist.

Now then, that's not the main Terry Tip which is this: Take the collected mulberries and dump them in a big bowl of cold water. The ripest berries are denser and will sink to the bottom. Unripe berries, and sticks and leaves and such, will float. Skim or decant off the top bits and, voila! you have clean, ripe mulberries.

Some nearly ripe mulberries will float. Look for the darkest berries that sit lower in the water. These can be picked out before skimming off the detritus. (Or is it flotsam because it's in water? —There I go again.) Sprinkled with a little sugar the nearly ripe will be just as tasty as fully ripe mulberries.

I've also got some wild black raspberries growing in the back yard. These are easier to gather as they grow on canes close to the ground rather than on trees. My only Terry Tip for wild black raspberries: watch out for the thorns. On the canes, not on the berries. Who'd want to eat thorny berries?

Filed under Odds & Ends 7/1/15

Maybe the Sample Size Wasn’t Big Enough

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The health and nutrition experts tell us eating fat will give you a heart attack. So, let's look at the data from the largest test of this hypothesis ever, the eating habits of the entire population of Europe. The following is from the World Health Organization's European Heart Study of 2008.

CHD2

Notice anything odd? France has the fattiest diet and the lowest coronary heart disease (CHD) death rate. Georgia has the leanest diet and the second highest CHD death rate. The French eat almost twice the fat as Russians and have less than one tenth the CHD death rate. The overall trend shows the more fat the lower the CHD death rate.

Yet somehow a low fat diet is "heart smart." Why do they say this? I don't know, but medical experts can believe two totally contrary things at the same time.

After a recent study by the British Heart Foundation the investigators concluded there was no evidence that saturated fat is bad for your heart. At the same time they claimed saturated fat raised cholesterol levels which is bad for your heart. Meaning saturated fat does and doesn't cause heart disease. It's not saturated fat, it's Schrödinger's fat.

Not all the experts are buying it. To quote Dr. George Mann, former head of the Framingham Study (where the fat causes heart disease hypothesis originated back in the 1950s): "The diet-heart idea –the notion that saturated fats and cholesterol cause heart disease– is the greatest scientific deception of our times… The public is being deceived by the greatest health scam of the century."

The Cholesterol Hypothesis Is Wrong on YouTube

Filed under Fun Facts & Trivia 6/30/15

Nothing Works Like Not Working

labor

We could avoid the current brouhaha over increasing the minimum wage by taking a page out of the current farm policy playbook. That is, simply pay people for not working. We offer the Labor Price Support Act of 2015.

This will have a double effect on raising wages. It will reduce the labor supply thus driving up wages as employers compete for fewer available workers. Also, a high non-working wage will force greedy employers to offer much higher working wages to entice workers away from a life of liesure to take a job.

Capitalist apologists may argue this will drive up the prices of labor-intensive goods and services. Not so. Employers currently squeaking by on thin margins will be happy to operate at a loss. Investors are already buying negative-yielding bonds, so why not negative-yielding businesses? Since IPOs of money-losing companies are all the rage, unprofitable businesses won't be problems, they'll be golden opportunities for Wall Street to drive up the stock market and super­charge the wealth effect. Boom times here we come.

Besides, if too many businesses go under the government can always start paying them for not producing any goods or services under the Business Support Act of 2016. There is no unproductive activity the government can't pay for to make the economy work like a well-oiled Keynesian juggernaut.

Now, if you don't think producing less makes us richer, you're no economist. Some will tell you natural disasters and war are good for the economy. That's right, destroying things make you rich. It's a wonder Beirut isn't the richest city on Earth.

Filed under Talkin 'Bout Money 6/28/15

She Said She Had to Catch a Plane

rocketcab

Because I'm not motivated to write or draw anything new, you get an old spot illustration from the Reason magazine archives. Though if you haven't seen it before it's new.

Early one morning in Newport, England, a speed camera snapped a photo of Tom Matthews' 12-year-old cab. He later received a notice informing him he'd exceeded the 30-mile-per-hour speed limit –by about 390 miles per hour. "I drive an old Cavalier –not a jumbo jet," Matthews told the London Sun. "According to this, I've broken the land speed record."

Filed under Snippets 6/25/15

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