There Is No Three in 3-D


Is there really a fourth dimension? Can there be fifth, sixth or whatever-th dimension? Ask yourself this, is there a first dimension? What is the second dimension?

Nothing in the real world exists as a one or two dimensional object. Those are mathematical abstractions we can use, but nothing real exists that way. Three dimensional items are not three things at once, they are one. 3-D is not three parted, it’s one thing, volume. We subdivide volume to measure or locate objects, but the dimensions exist together as a single unity. There isn’t anything anywhere that cannot be totally located and spatially described within three dimensions. Talk of extra dimensions is meaningless as Euclidean three-space already encompasses everything.

When people say time is a fourth dimension, we say they’re mistaken. Volume is a single concept, time is another concept entirely. You might say there are two dimensions, but we don’t think that works because dimension applies to how we describe volume and time isn’t volume. Volume exists in time, or over time, but we wouldn’t say it has the dimensions of time. What would those be? Past, present, and future? Would it mean anything to say a cube has length, past, width, present, height, and future? These concepts are so different they don’t work together in any way. Time isn’t a dimension.

Anyway, we’re claiming the universe is not three-dimensional, it’s one thing, voluminous. And time is another unrelated, and non-interactive aspect of reality altogether and not a fourth dimension. The three dimensions are creations of math, but the universe wasn’t created by mathematicians.

Filed 5/23/17

It’s “Brickbats” Monday


Brickbat, a piece of brick usually used as a weapon. Or a highly critical, often insulting remark. Though when presented here in quotes it’s a snippet from the Reason magazine archives. We do it today because we’re also doing the upcoming “Brickbats” spots today. To be seen here sometime in the future. Maybe.

Australian Capital Territory health officials have forbidden parents to sell homemade foods containing meat or dairy at school fund-raising events.

Filed 5/22/17

Pondering the Meaning of Light


They tell us light is a photon particle that acts like a wave. Particle and/or wave, can’t seem to make up its mind, it’s confused. Or we’re confused. Anyway, these photons enter our eyes, strike the retina, which sends a signal to our visual cortex that forms a picture. That’s how we see. Well, something like that. The eye is part of the brain and sends signals directly to the spine or muscles, too. That’s how we flinch. It would take too long to go through the visual cortex to “see” something coming and then react to protect ourselves. But we digress.

Our question, what happens to the photons after they hit the retina? Where do they go? What do they do? Do they get absorbed into the atoms there or what? Do we have fantastically huge numbers of photons racing around our innards? Are these photons then radiated away as heat, or rather ultraviolet light? We’re emitting UV all the time, that’s what night vision goggles detect.

At any rate matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed. All those energetic photons can’t simply go poof at the back of our eyeballs or in our skin since that gets bombarded with even more of the little buggers. They have to go somewhere and do something. Are they keeping us alive or what? God only knows. Maybe “Let there be light” means a lot more than we might ever imagine.

Filed 5/20/17

“I Shoulda Knowed That”


Do you run across clues or answers in a crossword puzzle, assuming you do them, and realize in a forehead-slapping moment it’s a word you’d come across numerous times and never really knew the meaning of? Sort-of like not getting a joke until years later. “NOW, I get it. Haw, that’s good.” Or maybe you never even wondered what the word meant when you read or heard it, just kind-of glossed over it, let it slide without a second thought? Distinctly uncurious of you, eh? Okay, maybe not you, I admit that’s me I’m talking about.

Anyway, here are three examples from somewhat recent puzzles: Pied, hoary, roan.

Pied, as in pied piper. Pied simply means multi-colored. I don’t think I ever considered pied meant anything. I figured it was part of the guy’s name or title. The Pied Piper of Hamlin. Just a fairy tale or nursery rhyme name like Bo Peep. That doesn’t mean anything, or does it?

Hoary is a word that sounds worse than what it is. Probably because it sounds akin to whorish or horrid. Hoary means old and trite. A usage I’m guessing derives from the other meanings of hoary: grayish white, having gray hair. Though that can also be used to describe animals and plants. Which might relate to…

A roan horse. Roan is usually used for a horse. Is that a breed or something? I never considered what it was. Roan simply describes its coat, what we might say for a person is like salt and pepper hair. A coat overall of one color with differently colored hairs distributed all over. Rather like the fuzzy pants or furry pattern I use from time to time. See illustration.

Just goes to show, even after all these years and old dog can learn new tricks. Even ones he probably should have already known. File it under frivia, if I was still filing things in categories. Did you notice that change? Maybe I’m not the only one who doesn’t pay attention to every little thing.

Filed 5/19/17

More Ships Aho-Ho-Hoy!


To outdo the Greek biremes and triremes the Majorcans built the battle hexareme. Never heard of the Majorcan Navy? Now you know why.

Another one of our goofball ships that didn’t make the grade for Reader’s Digest “Humor in Uniform” department. But, having multiple million fewer readers to please, it’s good enough for us.

Filed 5/18/17

Formula Films


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Here’s another old Fortean Times spot from 1997. The original art was titled “motiontracker.” Why? I don’t know. Obviously something about formula film sequels. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I seem to have come up nine hundred fifty or so short. Still, enjoy it for what it is, whatever that is.

Filed 5/16/17

Ships Aho-Ho-Hoy!


While the “ship of the desert” made life in the Sahara possible, the Satrap of Benghazi’s “camel of the sea” made fighting in the Mediterranean ridiculous.

Pretty silly, eh? That’s one of four goofball ships that didn’t make the cut for Reader’s Digest. But they did use two others. Look for them in an upcoming issue filed under “Humor in Uniform.”

Filed 5/15/17

Life, Liberty, and…


They say money won’t buy happiness. Is it true? While not having what you need makes you miserable, having what you need doesn’t make you happy. It’s like this, being hungry makes you feel bad. So you eat. Does that elate you, make you do a fist pump in celebration? Nope. It makes the want go away, but doesn’t fill you with a rush of happiness. You satisfy your hunger, you don’t happify your hunger.

Don’t get us wrong, alleviating want is good, but it won’t make you live happily ever after. Owning stuff, buying stuff doesn’t really make you happy. At least not for long. Being happy is a process not a goal. The Declaration of Independence has it wrong. It’s not the pursuit of happiness, it’s the happiness of pursuit that’s the thing.

Which reminds us of an old fable about a young and an old cat. The little cat circles around like mad chasing its tail in frustration and finally exhaustion. The old cat asks, “Why are you doing that?”

The young cat explains, “I have discovered happiness is in my tail and I’m trying to catch it.”

“I, too, have discovered happiness is in my tail,” replies the old cat, “but if I go about my business acting like a proper cat it follows me wherever I go.”

Filed 5/11/17

It’s Apics Wednesday


Huh? What’s Apics, I hear myself imagining the reader asking. Apics is the trade publication for the Materials Handling Association, a regular client. We’ll not try to explain what materials handling is all about, since we don’t really know all that well ourselves. It has to do with the supply chain management for manufacturers. Since illustrators don’t deal with inventory or supply it’s Greek to us. So we’ll let it go.

Still, we feel the need to explain the pic. Though we suppose if we had done it well it would be self explanatory. Kind-a like a joke, if you have to explain it it’s a poor joke. All the same, we’ll belabor the (maybe) obvious anyway.

There’s two kinds of innovation. First is a new thing itself, like the proverbial better mousetrap. The second type is a method of doing something better. If the point of the pic wasn’t obvious before it should be now. That’s a lot of what this materials handling business is about, how to better make mousetraps, not making better mousetraps. Or widgets, or gizmos, or thingies, etc.

Anyway, we slapped it on the site today because we’re doing a new spot for them and we just thought you might like to see what we do to pay the bills. It’s not all glamour, but it beats cleaning toilets for a living.

Filed 5/10/17

Animals Just Ain’t Human


Infrequently Answered Question #115: What separates man from beast?

A: Tool use? Nah, some animals, chimps and birds for instance, fashion and use simple tools. Language? Many animals communicate with calls and such. Music and art? Well, songbirds sing and bower birds decorate their nests, or bowers actually.

Looking around we’d have to say what really separates man from beast is clothes. People wear clothes. Animals never do. Not if they can help it, that is. Sure, some people dress their pets, but that’s human doing not Mother Nature. Anyway, animals go around stark naked and aren’t embarrassed doing so. By their expressions, we get the idea dogs are embarrassed wearing clothes rather than not. Cats, by contrast, look positively pissed when dressed up.

Though one might say some animals kind-of dress up. Hermit crabs don abandoned mollusk shells. Which is more armor than clothes. Elephants cover themselves with dirt and pigs with mud. Not really clothes, though. A wolf in sheep’s clothing is only a saying not a real thing wolves do. Non-human mammals don’t wear clothes because, well, they grow their own. Fur. Or hair or wool in some cases. Except big, fat ones like hippos and whales who have nothing.

Now then, big, fat animals in clothes would look absurd. On the other hand, big, fat people without clothes… we don’t even want to think about it.

Filed 5/9/17

The Play’s the Thing, Again


“It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.”

Is that just something losers say to console themselves a la sour grapes? Like Leo Durocher said, “Nice guys finish last.” Or do we really believe the adage? Does it mean more or other than what we think it does upon closer scrutiny? We think it does.

While sports and games are, of course, competitive, they are also coöperative. They’re both at once. After all, every player agrees to play by the same rules, that’s the coöperative bit. That’s how you play the game, right? That’s why there are penalties within the game. You might win the play, but you don’t get to keep it if you didn’t play the game fairly.

Folks who only care about whether you win or lose and not how you play the game are cheaters, sore losers, bad winners, arguers, and crybabies. Who wants to play games with such folks? There’s the rub. Cheaters, sore losers, bad winners, arguers, and crybabies might win the game, but nobody’s going to invite them to play any more. In the end they’re losers. They lose the chance to play in the future.

At least if the good sports have their say about it. Sometimes you’re forced to play a rigged game. But that’s another story we won’t go into.

Filed under The Casual Sportsman 5/8/17

The Invention of Cossacks


Cossacks fall into the category of bigger than life figures along with ninjas, vikings, pirates, and gladiators, perhaps more legend than reality. Cossack is an English spelling and pronunciation of what a Cossack will say as Kōzăk. The word is Turkic in origin and roughly means wanderer or freeman. The same word lends itself to Kazakhstan, land of nomads, though there are no Cossacks in Kazakhstan.

Cossacks go back about five hundred years and are a self-created ethnicity, if you will. Cossacks gravitated to a kind of no man’s land on the Black Sea to get away from the four local empires of the time, Muscovy, the Polish Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Tartars. The various hordes, or tribe settlements, could have come from any of those areas and were loosely united in Orthodox Christianity and a desire to not be serfs or slaves or minions of empire.

To remain independent surrounded by hostile empires the Cossacks had to be physically fit and martially fierce. Some liken them to Spartans who drank a lot. As you’ve probably seen in the movies and such Cossack dancing is darned athletic, part dance and part acrobatics. You might say it was the original break dancing. It evolved from martial arts training. As far as dance fighting goes, a Cossack could probably kick the bejeezus out of those finger-snapping gangs from West Side Story.

Then there were bands of brigands who looked and fought like Cossacks, but weren’t part of any horde settlement. Whether they arose from Cossack ranks is hard to say. These are generally what people think of as Cossacks. Whether they were or not is debatable.

Filed 5/5/17

There’s No Place Like Home


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Here’s an old Fortean Times spot from 2002 about people being killed by everyday household items. Not the most joyful topic, but what do you expect for a rag that runs a monthly “Strange Deaths” department? We don’t have the story text, so we’ll just have a bit of fun with old saws about the home. Home is where the hard is. Wherever I hang myself is home. Calamity begins at home. Home sweet release of death home. A house is not a home, it’s a death trap.

They also say you can’t go home again. All things considered maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

Filed 5/4/17

A Caboodle of Redundant Common Phrases


Kit and caboodle –A kit is a collection, like a tool kit. A caboodle, originally boodle, is a group. (Not that people commonly say either boodle or caboodle any more.) Collection, group, pretty much the same thing. If your kit or caboodle is mismatched or haphazard you might say it contains…

This and that –This and that are obviously not the same item, but in the phrase nobody differentiates what’s this and what’s that, they’re both whatever. A lot like…

Odds and Ends –Odds are unmatched items and ends are leftovers. They’re pretty darn close to the same things. Just like…

Bits and bobs –Lo and behold we have this and that odds and ends. Which leads us to…

Lo and behold –Lo means look. Behold means see it, or look at it. To say the phrase another way…

Look and see –This might not be all so redundant as see can also mean understand while look doesn’t. To which we say…

Fine and dandy –Perhaps dandy is a little better than fine, but they’re still rather the same sentiment. Our likely reaction when something is…

Fair and square –Fair deal, square deal, same thing. A square has four equal sides, what could be more fair? Much better than…

Rack and ruin –The rack isn’t like the torture device, but a variant of the now defunct word wrack, which became the modern word wreck everywhere except in this phrase. Unfortunately we’ve run out of segues to lead into the last two, but here they are anyway…

Hard and fast –The fast here isn’t speedy, but firmly affixed or sturdy. (Fast is the root of the word fasten.) In which case fast pretty much means the same as hard: firm, not easily broken or detached. The phrase originated as a nautical term meaning a ship was firmly beached or run aground.

Beck and call –Call means just what you’d think. Beck only exists now-a-days in the phrase so you wouldn’t know what to think, except it means call. Sort-of. Beck is a shortened form of beckon, which is to call with a gesture, a nod, a hand motion, a curling finger, that sort of thing.

So then, why do we have so many redundant phrases such as these? Quite simply as a rhetorical device, repetition adds emphasis. Even better when words rhyme, like fair and square; or are alliterative, like rack and ruin. While popular phrases come and go these go on and on. Even when the redundancy is as obvious as on and on.

Filed 5/3/17

All Those Women in Our Pasts


One more little bit about the math of your ancestry. You have a lot more multiple-great grandmothers than multiple-great grandfathers. In fact, twice as many. How is that possible, you might wonder. Think of it this way, if every mother had one child and every father two… there you go. Anyway, that’s pretty much the math of how it happened. A lot of males were never fathers.

What happened to all those men? Quite a number were warriors who died fighting, that accounts for some never having kids. Men also did all the dangerous jobs, accounting for more. Women also did, and still do, marry up the status pyramid, they go for successful men. So all the loser men who couldn’t get a woman were flushed out of the system childless, to put it rudely.

Also, childbirth was a lot more dangerous in the past. Mothers often died giving birth. Leaving a successful man to have a second wife/mother leaving the poor loser men without. Yeah, it was no good for a man to be at the bottom. Still isn’t. Toss in polygamy along with the remarrying widowers and you can see how it can work out so twice as many women as men passed their genes on to wind up in you.

Filed 5/2/17

May We Say, “Mai Oui, C’est Mai”

alluphill alluphill2

It’s another interactive cartoon. This time, a two-fer. Mouseover the pic for the second joke. Did we do it because we couldn’t decide on the gag line? Just what does the headline have to do with it? Is there some secret meaning to it all? Another unsolved mystery? You may never know.

Filed 5/1/17

Unsolved Mysteries as Not Seen on TV Not Narrated by Robert Stack


Truth is often stranger than fiction. Join us as we explore the unexplained, investigate the enigmatic, inspect the spooky, probe the peculiar, and mull over mysteries that remain unsolved, because solving them would mean they wouldn’t be mysteries.

A stranger arrives at an out of the way roadside diner in rural Montana, orders a cup of coffee and a donut. Without another word, he drinks his coffee, eats half his donut, pays his tab and leaves, never to be seen again. Who was this mysterious stranger, why didn’t he finish his donut, and why did he leave such a small tip? We may never know.

In a small Nevada dessert town a man returns home to discover every LCD clock and appliance display in his home is flashing 12:00. There’s no sign of a break-in or intruder and all clocks and appliances are otherwise in perfect working order. The man resets all the clocks and appliances which have displayed the correct time unfailingly to this day. Was it some sort of elaborate scheme of an unknown practical joker, or something more sinister? We may never know.

A seemingly average American man driving down a well-travelled Cleveland thoroughfare sees a single shoe by the side of the road. Yet no sign of a man wearing only a single shoe is anywhere to be found. How did this mystery man loose a single shoe on the road only to disappear without a trace, just where was the other shoe? We may never know.

On a warm, humid summer night in Peoria a woman watches Seinfeld on TV with the inexplicable feeling she knows what every character will do and say before it happens, just as if she has seen and heard it all before down to the smallest detail. Was it just a case of déjà vu as some suggest, or was she somehow reliving an entire day of her life? We may never know.

On a typical Spring afternoon a Nebraska woman is doing her laundry without a care in the world. As she sorts her socks she notices one is unmatched. She retraces her steps, checking the hamper, basket, washer and dryer to no avail, the sock has vanished without a trace. Whatever happened to the missing sock, and where did all that lint come from? We may never know.

In San Francisco’s Chinatown after finishing his restaurant meal a man breaks open an ordinary looking cookie and finds a message hidden inside. The cryptic message reads, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” The very next year this same man wins $10,000 playing the daily lottery. Was it mearly an uncanny coincidence or did the annonymous fortune somehow know he should buy a ticket a full year ahead of time? We may never know.

One morning before work a Chicago woman looks desperately for her missing car keys. In her favorite easy chair she finds thirty-seven cents in change and three kernels of popcorn, but no trace of the car keys at all. Whatever happened to the keys, where did the money come from, and who was eating popcorn in her favorite chair? Was there a link between these seemingly unrelated items? We may never know.

Filed 4/28/17

Hicksville, Luzon P.I.


We all know hillbillies live in the boonies. The word hillbillies is easy enough to understand, folks who live in the hills. Just why or exactly what are/is the boonies? Anything to do with Daniel Boone? Nah, Daniel Boone never lived in the boonies because they didn’t exist then. At least the word didn’t. Boonies comes from boondocks which was originally American military slang derived from Tagalog bundok, meaning mountain. This term came about during the Philippine-American War.

Another Asian term we get from the military, gung ho. In Mandarin that’s kung work, and ho together. The Anglicized term became widely known as a slogan adopted in WWII by the United States Marines under General Evans Carlson. How exactly “work together” came to mean zealous is not clear to us.

A third Asian word that’s entered English, not by way of the military, is ketchup, or catsup. From the Cantonese kezap; the Z is pronounced like TS. Just like the Germans do it. Which must mean when the Chinese write Chinese words with Roman letters they spell like Germans or something. We don’t know.

Filed 4/27/17

It’s a Conspiracy


Why, it’s another old art spot from Fortean Times of 1997. What does it mean? It means the staff has conspired to pass off old work as new to fool the reader into thinking we’re hard at work keeping terry colon dot com fresh and new on a daily basis. Still, should the reader feel cheated we’ll toss in an unattributed quote that might somehow apply to the question of are there or are there not UFOs.

“We don’t believe what we see, we see what we want to believe.”

Filed 4/26/17

A Cheesy Theory of Cheese


Infrequently Answered Question #114: Milk is white, yet some cheese is white and some is orange. Why?

A: Because they dye it orange. One might wonder how that got started. Wouldn’t cheese buyers have been suspicious? “I’m not eating that, look at the color. That ain’t right.”

Butter is made from milk and it’s naturally yellow. Anyway, there are hundreds of cheese varieties and some are naturally white, some yellow, and some tend more toward orange. Still, with the variables in the cheese making process the color could vary from batch to batch. So they started dying it for consistency.

Why are people so obsessed with the look of food, one might ask. Here’s where we hypothesize, make something up that seems plausible. Unlike most mammals, humans have a lousy sense of smell. Our sight, on the other hand, is amazingly good. About half the brain is devoted to vision. Since food poisoning has always been a major threat we need to detect bad food so we don’t eat it. Since our smelling is so weak, what food looks like is an important clue to whether it might kill us or not.

That sounds about right to us. Then again, it might be totally wrong. Maybe people just like pretty colors and decorative food. Which might explain the peculiar job of food stylist.

Filed 4/25/17

Overstuffed with… Uh… Stuff


blivy [or blivey] (blĭv′-ē) noun. Ten pounds of manure in a five pound bag.

That word and definition courtesy of my dad, only he didn’t use the word ‘manure’ rather employing a vulgarism which sounds alot like ship. A blivy is something is so stinking awful it’s overflowing with stinking awfulness. Something where the concept is worse than the execution, and vice-versa.

When presented with a blivy of my doing he would say along similar scatological lines, “Son, you couldn’t even crap in your own pants.” Only he didn’t use the word ‘crap.’ Instead he used the same vulgarism from above as a verb. Whether I could produce a blivy in my own pants he never ventured an opinion. While a blivy is bad enough and to be avoided if at all possible, a burning blivy… well, you can imagine.

Not to be confused with a bivy sack which, not being a fly, is something you may like on a camping trip.

Filed 4/24/17