9/10/11 Man and Superman
Why do superheros have secret identities? I mean, if you're Superman why not be Superman all the time? What's the point of being Clark Kent part of the time? Wouldn't Superman get more girls than Clark Kent? Wouldn't Superman get a better-paying job than Clark Kent?
If Superman needed an income he could do a lot better than newspaper reporter. He could hire himself out to NASA to fly satellites into orbit. How much does NASA spend on a rocket launch? A hundred million? Superman could do it for a tenth of that and make out like a bandit. Work once a year, make ten million, save the world in his spare time.
Though maybe I'm looking at it the wrong way around. Is Superman's secret identity Clark Kent, or is Clark Kent's secret identity Superman? Then you might ask, why be Superman. Why not be Clark Kent, man of steel?
"Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Look, up in the sky. It's a bird. It's a plane. No, it's Clark Kent." Though since he can fly why would he leap over tall buildings in a single bound?
Then again, maybe both Clark Kent and Superman are secret identities. After all, he was actually an alien from the planet Krypton.
6/28/11 Ah-h-h-h-h-h, Summer
Time to be outside in the fresh air. Since my drawing board and computer don't go outside for fresh air, very little updating of terrycolon.com in case you noticed. Even if you didn't notice, same story. So, I guess I'll get back to it on some rainy day. Until then, enjoy the archives.
6/3/11 What’s Up With ‘Up’?
Some words are easy to understand, but hard to explain. Take the word 'up' for example. A word about as simple and basic as they come. If asked you might define it as the opposite of down, or hold up a finger pointing toward the sky or ceiling and say, "That way."
Yet, that's probably not the most common use of the word. Our speech is peppered with the word where it has no directional meaning. If pressed, it'd be pretty hard to explain its meaning in many cases. It's like a helper word that doesn't seem to mean anything at all.
Take the following: save up, add up, divide up, pay up, round up, wake up, shake up, phone up, call up, blow up, ball up, mix up, mess up, screw up, light up, lighten up, wake up, shut up, cramp up, rip up, tear up, listen up.
Why 'up' in any of those cases? Is there a direction involved?
Next up there's: clean up, follow up, dress up, open up, drink up, eat up, saddle up, settle up, back up, start up, dry up, wash up, button up, bundle up, cook up, crack up, shape up, fix up, fill up, take up, loosen up, use up.
All these things seem to go up not down. Though not always. A relationship can break down so you break up. Unless you make up, but you can't make down. Then you can get beat down or beat up. About the same thing and neither is very pleasant.
Thing is, 'up' has more meanings than you probably ever imagined. In my dictionary there are seventeen definitions as an adverb, sixteen as an adjective, four as a preposition, two as a noun, and two as a verb. If we go further we find three more definitions as a prefix as in upbeat, updraft, uphill and so on.
You don't have to take my word for it, you can look it up. I didn't make it up. I'm on the up and up.
5/6/11 Cops, Sleuths, Spooks, and Grunts
The top occupation of leading men in Hollywood films and TV is lawman. Which can be a sherif, marshal, or most often a detective. Then you have the private eye, a detective for hire. Related to these is the secret agent, a sort-of undercover detective in a foreign land. As leading men are also often soldiers, what we find is Hollywood good-guys carry guns and shoot people, but only if they deserve it.
It's a different story for Hollywood leading ladies where the top occupation is entertainer. Which could be singer, dancer, stripper, or possibly hooker if you stretch the definition of entertainer. But this is changing. Now-a-days Hollywood leading ladies are also police, detectives, and spies just like leading men. So, Hollywood good-gals now get to carry guns and shoot people, too.
There's one other change in Hollywood heros these days. A protagonist you'd never see in Hollywood's golden age — vampire. How did that happen? How did vampire go from blood-curdling night terror to misunderstood sympathy figure? Then again, I don't suppose vampire is a job, is it?
4/14/11 Ever Heard of Hong Kong Fondue?
France has over 200 different kinds of cheeses and China has... I dunno. I can't think of one cheese from China. Seems the familiar Japanese and Chinese cooking curiously lack cheese. No cheese sushi, no cheese stir-fry, no cheese fu yung. Not only that, they don't have forks, they eat with sticks.
The Japanese give us tofu, bean curd instead of milk curd. That's sort-of like cheese made from beans. And very bland cheese at that. Which also doesn't melt nicely on a burger or work at all satisfactorily on a pizza.
Of course, my knowledge of east Asian cuisine isn't that great. Just what I've seen on the menus in restaurants. Maybe the Chinese have cheese, but they keep it to themselves. At least I haven't seen any. Not only that, but I haven't noticed much in the way of any kind of dairy in their cooking. There is coconut milk, but that's not real milk any more than tofu is real cheese.
So I wonder, are there pizzerias in Tokyo? Do they serve cheeseburgers and milkshakes in Chinese McDonalds?
3/25/11 Remember When
My first car was a 1964 Ford Falcon I bought for $100 in about 1974. This was an economy car of its day and pretty much bare bones transportation. Handling and ride were clunky and bumpy. No AC, no power steering, no radio. Such things were options which cost extra. There was no carpeting, the floor covering was a rubber mat. No seat belts and certainly no airbag. Manual trans with a column shift, brakes were drums all around. The engine had a carburetor and the ignition was simple mechanical points and condenser, computer chips were pure science fiction.
What I'm getting at is by today's standards that 64 Falcon was primitive. A car today is like a mobile den or family room. You sit in comfy, upholstered recliners surrounded by wall-to-wall carpeting, fancy sound systems, phones and even tvs. By contrast that old Falcon was more like an enclosed porch on wheels.
Sometimes folks lament, "They don't make 'em like they used to." In this case I'd say, "A good thing, too."
2/28/11 Short Month, Tall Snow
I heard on the radio this was the second snowiest February we've had since records have been kept. The we in we've being the Detroit area. How far back the records go I couldn't say because the radio didn't say. But I can't imagine it's more than a 150 years or so. All this snow this year only goes to show... I don't know what it goes to show other than it snowed a lot this February.
Does it mean weather is getting more extreme? You'd have to look at the record, which the Twentieth Century Reanalysis Project did. Their analysis of global weather since 1871 shows no evidence that the incidence of extreme weather events has increased. Which only goes to show, snow happens.
2/21/11 Oh, Sno-o-o-o-ow!
Ahhh, the joys of home ownership. I just shoveled a foot of home ownership joy off the walk and drive. If you own it you maintain it, that's part of the deal. Mow the grass, rake the leaves, shovel the snow. It never ends. Know what else never ends, paying for your property.
Even after the mortgage has been paid you're still not off the hook. Every year you pay property tax, and if you don't... bye-bye house. Property tax is basically a fee to maintain possession of what you've already paid for. It's like renting your own house from the government. Forever.
What if you applied the same principle to other types of property? Say, furniture for instance. How would people feel about paying an annual furniture tax so they can keep their living room suite? Let's take it a step further, what if you applied the same principle to money. How would folks react if the government taxed their savings at 2% a year? One might imagine some wailing and gnashing of teeth at that. Yet with land, no problem.
Makes you wonder, do you ever really own your house free and clear?
One might easily imagine how property tax came about. In days of yore most every worker or peasant was paid in cash or trade. This would make income tax pretty hard to assess and collect, following the paper trail as they say, because there wasn't much of a paper trail. Besides, most folks were illiterate and couldn't fill out tax returns anyway.
On the other hand, the government could keep track of real estate. Land didn't move and they pretty well knew who owned what. Land was a big source of wealth in olden days where farming, herding, mining, and whatnot were the primary economic activities. So they taxed land ownership as it was a fairly good proxy for who was making money — landowners.
Things are different now. A little crackerbox house on an eighth of an acre is hardly a source of income. Which makes you wonder, is property tax an outdated idea?
1/26/11 Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect
Have you ever been watching tv or reading a book and get the sneaking suspicion the writer doesn't know what they're writing about? This might happen when the story concerns something you know quite a bit about, your own particular field of work, interest, or study. In my case it'd be the illustration game or to a lesser degree horse racing tracks.
For example, I saw a horse racing movie where a track rat goes up to the betting window and says something like "A hundred dollars on Dragonfly to win." Thing is, no experienced gambler places a bet by the horse’s name, they use the number. They'll say something like, "A hundred to win on the four horse." Which only goes to show writers are mostly experts at writing and not always what they're writing about.
The same sort of thing happens with the news. How often have you watched the TV news or read the paper and had the sneaking suspicion the reporters don't know what they were talking about? Again, usually about a subject you know well. Did you ever then stop and wonder, if they could mess up on this familiar topic how well are they doing on other stories?
Which brings us to the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. As explained by Michael Crichton:
Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect works as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward — reversing cause and effect. I call these the ‘wet streets cause rain’ stories. Paper’s full of them.
In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story — and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read with renewed interest as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about far-off Palestine than it was about the story you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.
So, the problem is how can you tell when the news reports on the unfamiliar are full of errors? They say you can't believe everything you read, but how do you know which parts to believe and which parts to not believe?
1/6/11 Doctor, Doctor!
An interactive joke. Hold the cursor over each character's head to read the dialog in the browser balloons. It's high-tech, easy, fun for everyone!
12/24/10 Mary Christmas?
In spanish San is a man saint, like San Diego or San Juan. Santa is a woman saint, like Santa Monica or Santa Anna. So then, is Santa Claus really a woman? Would that mean Chris Kringle is some kind of a circus freak, a bearded fat lady? After all, Chris is one of those gender ambiguous names which could be either a man or a woman. You know, like Pat.
Then again, Santa is married to Mrs. Claus and I imagine same-sex marriage is a no-go for a Saint, male or female. Whether circus freaks would same-sex marry is something I don't know. I mean, who would the half-man-half-woman marry, a man or a woman?
All that aside, Santa is also called Father Christmas and Saint Nicholas. That's a man without a doubt. Besides, Santa Claus is mythical so I don't suppose it really matters.
The iceman cometh. Frosty the snowman's days are nigh. That cold and gray time of year is almost upon us. Winter. While Jack Frost may nip at your nose old man winter bites your fingers and toes. Maybe that's why they put Christmas and New Years right at the start. It distracts us from from dreading the next few months of frozen hell. Instead we get holiday binging and family get-togethers.
Then again, the prospect of family get-togethers might fill some with a unnamed dread. But you can't blame me for your family or your dread. Nor can you blame me for winter. It's weather. As much as we talk about it there's nothing we can do about it. Just like family. You can't choose your family or the weather. All you can do in either case is move away. Even so, you can find a spot without family, but there is no place on earth without weather.
"Don't throw that out, it might come in handy some day." Sound like anyone you know? Maybe you? Taken to the extreme this is the philosophy of the packrat.
Take the true case of Mr. S who saved everything because "well, you never know." His house was all rooms with no room, just pathways between piles of stuff. Toys, broken televisions, non-working radios, newspapers, lumber, empty cottage cheese containers... anything and everything whether valuable or not. Mostly not. He never trading in cars, just stored the worn out models on the property. Though if you peered into his garage you'd never know there were cars inside under all the other junk. Mr. S was the quintessential packrat.
Why do they do it, you might wonder. My guess is anti-wastefulness, the notion it's a shame to discard what is still good. Or at least not utterly rotted to the core. So instead of sending it to a landfill they keep their own private indoor landfill in the hope that sometime-or-other, somehow-or-other to someone-or-other "it might come in handy."
Even if not themselves, "somebody could use this" they imagine. What's lacking is a distribution system. Enter the garage sale. Or if they hope to fool people into thinking their junk is somehow valuable they call it an estate sale. Though your hardcore packrat only submits to a garage sale at the cajolery of relatives.
You might wonder, what's the difference between a packrat and a collector.
Firstly, collecting is an activity, the collector goes out and gets. Packrattery is a lack of activity, packrats just let thing pile up. Second is selectivity, collectors collect specific things, packrats just accumulate everything. Next is worth, collectors usually have an eye on value, packrats merely consider if it "might come in handy some day." Lastly, collectors usually organize, display and keep their collections clean, packrats not so much.
Which brings up a few last questions. Do you have a guest bedroom no guest ever uses but is basically a storehouse for all your junk? If so, is it really a guest bedroom or a big closet? Can you not get the car into the garage because of all the "gear" in there? Do you have a storage unit which mainly contains stuff you don't really need or use? If so, you just might be a packrat.
10/4/10 It is What it is, Whatever it is
Warm blooded animals, mammals and birds, have four limbs. People have two arms and two legs, birds two wings and two legs, cows, cats, dogs and such have four legs. Many cold-blooded animals also have four limbs, but many have six, eight, or many more. Crabs, shrimp, insects, and so on. Seems the bigger the brain the fewer the limbs. Which is not a hard and fast rule as snakes have no limbs at all and none are Mensa members. It appears to take more co-ordination and more brains to walk on two legs than four than six than eight than etc.
Now then, can a tail or a nose be a limb? How about animals with a prehensile tail used for grabbing like a monkey for instance? What about an animal with a prehensile nose? You know, elephants. Are they five-limbed? After all you don't need to walk on it for it to be a limb. People don't walk on their hands, as a rule. There's no real point in answering these questions, which are more a preamble to a riddle Abe Lincoln used to repeat.
If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have?
Four. No matter what you call it, a tail is not a leg.