4/19/11 April Fooling
Infrequently Answered Question #58: It snowed yesterday. What happened to spring?
A: Spring hasn't gone anywhere. Who ever said it never snows in spring? Not me.
This might be where the whole April fool business came from. The first inkling of warm weather makes some folks think spring has arrived and they go out planting seedlings in the garden and stowing away their winter gear and... wham! there's a snow storm. Seventy-five degrees one week and freezing the next. You just can't trust April. Hey, it's the month they make you pay your taxes, too.
Then again, April fool might have resulted from when they changed from the Julian to the modern calendar and so April started at different times depending on which calendar you went by. If your April started on the wrong day according to the people going by the other calendar, you were an April fool. Or something like that.
Either theory works for me, even though only one might be right. Since it doesn't really matter, I won't sweat it.
3/31/11 Now Reading!
Infrequently Answered Question #57: Why does it seem the book is always better than the movie?
A: It's not. That's one of those things people like to say just to brag they've read the book. Pure snobbishness. As if reading is some kind of accomplishment. How hard or clever is it to read a book? I mean, the author did all the heavy lifting.
The written word tells you what people are thinking, there's metaphors and clever turns of phrases describing the world and people in the book. Those are things movies don't or can't do very well and so are always lacking from films.
Books can cover a lot more ground than a movie with short descriptions of actions. A single paragraph in a book might contain as much information as it would take a film 15 minutes to show. There's a lot of things that can be in the book that must be omitted from the movie if they don't want the movie to run for days.
If those were the only things to consider movies come off as a pale imitation of a book.
On the other hand a movie gives you spectacular, vivid, and continuous visuals no author could come close to with the written word. You know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words. Movies are thousands of frames, thousands of pictures. If a book tried to describe the ever-changing actions in that kind of detail it might take you months to read a book.
I'd also say it's easier to keep track of characters in a movie because you can recognize faces easier than written names. And in a scene with multiple characters speaking it's easier in a film to tell who's saying what to whom. And with what emotion they're saying it, which is tricky to do in a book.
Another thing, reading a description of some bit of slapstick or a character making a face or gesture will rarely make you laugh. And there are no sound effects in books.
When it comes to visuals the movie is better than the book. It's pretty easy to understand why — books aren't visual.
In the final analysis books and movies are so different it's no good comparing them. There's the old saying about apples and oranges, but perhaps the difference is even greater than two kinds of fruit. More like comparing pizza to football. Is pizza better than football? As food it's better, as sport it's worse.
3/7/11 Father's Feathers
Infrequently Answered Question #56: How do you get down from an elephant?
A: You don't get down from an elephant, you get down from a duck.
That was an old riddle my father used to tell me when I was a wee lad. I didn't get it and he'd never explain it. I couldn't see what ducks had to do with it when I was on an elephant. Was I using the duck as a stepping stool? It was total nonsense as far as I could tell. I don't know how old I was when I learned that down was duck feathers so the gag finally made sense.
Here's the thing, though. I don't think my dad thought the riddle was all that funny. Rather he was amused I didn't get the joke. Like how it's fun to fool folks with a tall tale. Teasing the gullible is fine sport. Unless you're on the teasing end when it's annoying. Which leads us to another riddle where not getting it was part of the gag...
"What's the difference between a zebra and a hat?"
"I don't know. What?"
"Social security? I don't get it."
"You won't 'til you're sixty-five."
Getting it or not all depends on what it means. Perhaps that should be, what "it" means.
2/5/11 The Entertainment Curve
Infrequently Answered Question #55: Why can't I find any entertainment that's both smart and exciting?
A: Because such a thing does not exist. It's a universal truth that smart things are dull and exciting things are dumb. However the opposite isn't always the case, dumb things are not always exciting nor are dull things always smart.
Basically dumb things stimulate the primitive part of the brain and primitives are just highly excitable. That's why there are soccer hooligans but no chess riots.
1/11/11 Whither Weather
Infrequently Answered Question #54: Will it be a long, cold winter?
A: Winter will be just as long as usual unless something extraordinary happens, like the Earth's orbit around the sun slows down or speeds up. This seems pretty unlikely so I wouldn't worry about it.
Generally winter is three months long. Or 91.3125 days to be more accurate. Meaning winter doesn't start at midnight on the first day of winter nor end at midnight on the first day of spring. Though if you counted it that way, then a year would be one season of 92 days and three of 91 days. Except leap year when two seasons would be 92 days.
On the other hand, winter is usually pretty cold, at least colder than the other three seasons. Though how cold depends on where. That would apply to both Florida and Minnesota, though Florida won't be as cold as Minnesota. Unless something very strange happening like Florida breaking off and floating up to Newfoundland. This also seems pretty unlikely so I wouldn't worry about that either.
As for predicting a longer and colder winter in the conventional sense, I'm not a meteorologist, a seer, the Farmer's Almanac, a wooly caterpillar, or a groundhog. And even if I were a groundhog I wouldn't tell you until February second.
12/7/10 You Won’t go Blind
Infrequently Answered Question #53: Is tv bad for your eyes as my mother used to tell me?
A: Like a lot of things your mother used to tell you, not really. Staring into bright lights can hurt your eyes, sure, but how bright is the light from a tv? You get a heckuva lot more bright light outside on a sunny day. Set your tv in front of a big window on a sunny day and compare. Not convinced? Turn off all the lights and see how much the tv lights up the room.
Sunlight is much more intense. Ever hear of snow blindness? That's why the Eskimos invented sunglasses. Or rather proto-sunglasses, that thing with a slit they wore to cut down the light from the blanket of snow covering the landscape. Pilots get the same thing flying over vast cloud banks, which is why they wore aviator sunglasses. Anyway, who watches tv wearing sunglasses?
If anything is bad for your eyes it's reading. Consider the old cliche of the bookworm wearing glasses. That's no coincidence. All that close focusing leads to near-sightedness. Or maybe being near-sighted doesn't matter to non-readers.
Back to your mom and mine, I suspect they told us tv hurts our eyes just to get us out of the house. I mean, when my mom said it she didn't add, "Go read a book." She'd say, "Go outside and play."
11/8/10 What Can I Say?
Infrequently Answered Question #52: Why don't you post more often? Don't you have more to say?
A: I have plenty more to say. Though it doesn't mean it's worth listening to. Or in this case worth reading. As they say, better to say nothing and be thought dull than speak up and remove all doubt.
I could claim to be too busy. Which most people suspect is code for too lazy. Except in the case of returning phone calls or email when it's indifference or avoidance for whatever reason. Or good old-fashioned procrastination, which is pretty much the same thing as laziness. Or perhaps fear of getting the wrong response or bad news. In which case the operative phrase might be the later the better. Though one can't suppose the news gets better if delivered later.
So, was that worth reading? I rest my case. Still, there are the pretty pictures. Enjoy!
10/13/10 Your Results May Vary
Infrequently Answered Question #51: How much does the Earth weigh?
A: Believe it or not, the Earth weighs a mere 190 pounds. To me anyway. That's because I weigh 190 pounds. You see, weight is relative to the gravity of where you do the weighing. On the moon I'd weigh much less, on Jupiter I'd weigh considerably more. My mass is the same at all times, only my weight changes.
Common calculations of the Earth's weight are as if you took chunks of the planet and weighed them on a scale on the Earth's surface, then added it all up. (Or if you weighed the Earth on a twin Earth. Though you'll have a hard time finding such a planet, putting the Earth on it, and having a scale that wouldn't be utterly crushed in the process.) If you did the weighing on the surface of the moon, the Earth would weigh a lot less. If you did it on the surface of Jupiter, it'd weigh a lot more.
On a bathroom scale on the Earth I weigh 190 pounds. So then, if the Earth were on me it would weigh 190 pounds. Here's how you prove it: turn the bathroom scale upside down. Then the Earth is on the scale and the scale is on me. In which case the Earth weighs 190 pounds.
If you think about it, gravity is a pitifully feeble force. Here we have a humongous mass, which we call planet Earth, and all it can muster by way of gravity on you is a couple hundred pounds. Now, think of that the other way around. How much gravity in your puny body can you apply to the whole of the Earth? Well, a couple hundred pounds is all.
9/8/10 Or so They Say
Infrequently Answered Question #50: Where do urban legends come from?
A: As the name implies, they come from the urbs. These are found just above the suburbs and below the overurbs. Though the point of origin isn't in the heart of the urbs, but in the urban fringe. Urban legends grow and spread best where the population and the people are densest.
These legends are just rumors that have gotten out of hand and taken on a life of their own. Scientists are at a loss as to how this happens exactly and there's a great deal of debate about when this life begins. Some say at the moment of conception, others when it reaches the third person.
Anyway, this is how it more-or-less works. (Artist's misconception)
Whatever the case, like rumors and juicy gossip, urban legend are very hard to kill as most are just too good to be untrue. And much too much fun not to repeat. Not even the real facts will stop an urban legend in its tracks. That they would is an urban legend. The only way to bring them to bay is to kill the messenger, but in most civilized (urbanized) places this is frowned upon.
8/4/10 Rain Drops
Infrequently Answered Question #49: Why doesn't water fall from clouds as mist? I mean, how can raindrops grow so large before falling when water is so much heavier than air? What's holding them up until then?
A: This is one of the unsolved mysteries of nature. Not that nature hasn't solved it, after all it happens. Fact is, clouds and rain are well-known, but not well understood. At least not by me. Be that as it may, let me postulate my own hypothetical conjecture. Meaning make something up.
Raindrops don't float, they drop, which is why they're called raindrops. Before they drop they're rainfloats. These float because they're made of H2O, two bits of hydrogen, which are lighter than air, and one bit of oxygen, which is air. So of course it would float. The real mystery is why it ever drops.
Rainfloats turn into raindrops because rain clouds are electrical. Rainfloats have a positive charge and are repulsed by the earth which has a positive charge. The electrical activity in rainclouds turn the charge negative, transforming rainfloats into raindrops. Having the opposite charge they are drawn to the ground. So the raindrops drop becoming rainfall, though not raindroppings.
At this point you might be thinking this is a load of nonsense. Well, you're right. Thor had red hair and a beard and Vikings didn't sport helmets festooned with horns.
6/29/10 What? What.
Infrequently Answered Question #48: Are any of the questions in I.A.Q. for real?
A: The questions in I.A.Q. are indeed infrequently answered. They're also infrequently asked. Though if the question is, have other people actually written in and asked these questions, I confess the answer is no.
All the same the questions are real, they take the proper form of questions as they contain the who, what, when, where, how and/or why as per usual in questions. They also end in a question mark which makes any statement a question. That makes them questions? That makes them questions. See? Si.
Anyway, if they weren't real they wouldn't show up on screen when you go to terrycolon.com. You'd have to be dreaming or hallucinating. How real are dreams and hallucinations? They're real dreams and hallucinations.
But now I'm talking in circles and parsing the meaning of is and getting into the pointless topic of is reality real. You know, like wondering if we are all nothing but brains in vats experiencing the world only in the mind. Which I say is pointless because even if we were brains in vats the world that exists in our minds works just the same as if it were a physical reality. So it's a difference which makes no difference which is no real difference.
6/1/10 Elemental States
Infrequently Answered Question #47: What's with the medieval belief in four elements? How could they think fire was an element?
A: There is a tendency amongst some to be a bit smug toward past thoughts and ideas. You know, we're modern and scientific and the ancients believed so much superstition, they just didn't understand like we clever folks do today. But what if the misunderstanding is on our part? We don't understand what they understood because ideas and meanings were lost in transmission and translation over time.
Let's examine the old idea of the four elements, the cosmos consisting of earth, water, air and fire. How silly, we think. Was it? Instead of the word 'element' what if we substitute the phrase 'state of matter' in its place. Now the ancient's thinking aligns with current thinking of four states of matter: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma.
Now then, let's replace the four old elements with an obviously corresponding state of matter. Earth is solid, water is liquid, air is gas, fire is plasma. In this case the ancient concepts are the same as the modern concept. And they beat us to the punch by 2,500 years without any modern instruments.
Who looks like the clever ones now?
The ancients had the insight that fire and lightning represent an essentially different regime of matter than ordinary air. Furthermore, the great electrical pioneer Michael Faraday was aware the ancients were aware. As he said, "It was what the ancients believed, and it may be what a future race will realise."