Listed Newest to Oldest

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

USA No Way  Fake But Accurate News

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

Mess Transit  Bus Riding Primer for Dummies

Win Any Argument  Using Paralogic and Surreason

Quick and Easy Housekeeping  Or Sisyphus Unbound and Unkempt

The Disunited States of America  A Preview of Coming Attractions?

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

Gag Cartoon Gallery  Jokes Without a Lot of Reading

Chartology Made Stupid  Connecting the Dots

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

How ESP Works  Mind Reading Diagramed and Explained

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

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

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

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

Uranimals  Beastly Beasts

American History 101 2.0  The Fake But Accurate Story

Cosmology-Wiz  A Shorter History of Everything and Nothing

Winless Wear  2008 Detroit Lions Merchandise

Government Machinery at Work  How the Wheels of the Bureaucracy Grind

Happy New Year  2007 in Review

Star Dreck  Musings of a Semi Hemi Demi Trekker

Those Darn Cats  Our Deal With the Devils

Dangerous Hot Air  The Truth About Inconvenient Global Warming

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

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


Reader’s Digest

The B-B-Q Pyramid  For the Cooking Unimpaired

Mythic Snowmen  And More Snowmen

Venn Again, Again  More of the Same, But Different

Venn Again, Maybe Not  Another Last Laugh

Quick and Easy Meals  For the Cooking Impaired


Landmark Remodeling

Just Plane Stupid

Bizarre Business Cards We Hope We Never See

Trojan Horse Designs That Didn’t Quite Make it

Baseball Stadia for the ’90s

Personalized Remotes

Roller Coaster Mania

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

Complete Guide to Piercing

History’s Least Successful Proto Humans

The Future Ain’t What it Used to Be

Tanks, But No Tanks

Police Line-ups Around the World (and Beyond)

Umpire Outfitters Catalog

Ye Olde Transport Catalogue


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

Suck School of Comic Art  How to Draw Funny

Crash Course  Cartoon Motorcycle Accidents Versus Cartoonist Motorcycle Accidents


Listed Newest to Oldest

Discovery of the Element of Surprise  Pathétic News Presents

Middle-Aged Mundane Made Over to Modern  A Video Guide

Webio-Bot Illusion  A Little Fun With Optical Illusions

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


Listed Newest to Oldest

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

Happy Suckiversary  Play Suck.com Art Director

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

Bizarro.TerryColon.www  Goodbye, Earthlings

Elusiver, Mysteriouser Creatures  Another Search Game

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

Terra Incognita  A Trick Tricky Geography Quiz

Find the Secret Message  A different Kind of Word Search

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

Internetelepathy  I Will Read Your Mind

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

Unanimated Gif Monte  A Little Optical Illusion Fun

What Was That Nym Again?  Some Fun With Words

Whack-a-Bot  Quick, Get 'Em!

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

Webio-Bot Invaders  Save the Planet


Listed Newest to Oldest

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

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

Folk Etymology  From the Greek Meaning “Fake it”

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

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

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

Works for Me  Prosperity Is As Energy Does

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

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

Better Than Sliced Bread  Uncelebrated Inventions Great and Small

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Casual Sportsman…talks sports, of course

Fun Facts & Trivia…and frivia

Infrequently Answered Questions…you never asked

Links & Sites to See…with a simple click

Odds & Ends…and bits & bobs

Quotes & Sayings…or so we've heard

Snippets…from the art archives

Talkin Bout Money…because talk is cheap

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

Word Meanings & Origins…of real words…

…Fauxcabulary…joke words I made up


Top Ten Shorts… 2015201420132012201120102009Older


Crossword for Illiterates

The Daily Obviouser

The Entertainment Curve


Hooray for Hollywar!

Kicking the Debt Can

The Ministry of “Quotations”

2012 - Not Done

Not Done Redone - 2014 Post-dictions

NuSA? We Rename the States

Over the Horizon - 2014 Predictions

Peak Future?


The Startler

Ten Keys to Super Bowl Victory

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

Ten Signs You Might Be Getting Old

Ten More Signs You're Getting Old

This Is the Year that Will Be

Welcome to the S___burbs

Whither Urban Legends

Why SCOTUS Decides

Wildly Improbable Medical Palpitations (WIMPS)

Worthless Paranormal Powers


Are We Living in Mouse Utopia?

Deep Focus Plasma Fusion

Eat Less Fat, Have a Heart Attack

Explaining the Union Jack

How lb. and £ Mean Pound

Ignorance is Confidence

Sodium Is Dangerous, Salt Not so Much

Spinflation: Cheaper Though It Costs More

Sports Nicknames Quiz

Sports Clichés and Berraisms

Turn Vice into Virtue by Acting Naturally

Why a Mile Is 5,280 Feet

Why a Nautical Mile Is Not One Mile

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


What Did You Expect?


Is it another goofy-ass video from the monkeys at terry colon dot com? Well, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Discovery of the Element of Surprise

Filed 2/5/16

Doom Is in the Air


Attack of the killer kites? Extreme kite fighting run amok? Kite pirates on a rampage? Your guess is as good as mine for this old “Strange Deaths” art spot done for Fortean Times. I could jot down any old thing and the reader mightn’t be any the wiser it was spun from whole cloth. It is the web, after all, nobody checks up on these things.

Instead, I’m going to let each and every one of you participate in the proceedings. Type your own story of any length in the endlessly expandable text box below and, voila! it becomes a wiki-Snippet.

Yeah, there’s no send, submit or save button. Sorry, guess it’s not all so very wiki after all.

Filed under Snippets 2/3/16

The Name Game

Bolivia was named after one person, Simón Bolívar, “The Liberator,” so called. Saudi Arabia gets its name from the ruling house of Saud. They own the place, I guess. What if all countries were named after people, or maybe the most common surname in the land? Imagine the map of Europe. Heck, don’t imagine, click on the pic and see for yourself.

Click to enlarge

Admittedly, this is just a gimmick to present the most common surnames per country with a slight twist. As you can see, some names are popular in more places than one. Müller rules in Germany and Switzerland. Smith is numero uno in England and Scotland. I would have thought Stewart, Stuart or MacSomething would have been tops in Scotland. A bigger surprise to me is Malta with the name Borg. Go figure.

Then there are cases of variations on a theme. Jensen in Denmark and Joensen in former Danish settlement Iceland. Whether the Danes lost an O or the Icelanders gained one is an open question. There’s also the Croatian Horvat and the Slovakian Horváth. It appears somehow the H and the mark over the A got lost or added passing through Hungary. But the winner is the tripled-up Nowak, Novák and Novak in Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia respectively.

On the other hand, if you go by the names the locals use for their own country, there is one instance where the commonest surname and country name more-or-less jibe. The most common Croatian surname, Horvat; Croatian for Croatia, Hrvatska.

While I grant the locals get to call their country what they will, I don’t think Americans will ever latch onto those names. I mean, Slovenščina, Magyarország, Shqipëria, and Eeti Vabariik? I think we’ll stick with good old Slovenia, Hungary, Albania and Estonia, thank you very much. Could be worse though, what would we do with the likes of Poccия, Укpaинa and Ελλαδα?

Filed under Fun Facts & Trivia 2/2/16

Yegg Beaters

In the age of digital shopping, digital banking, digital credit, and maybe soon nothing but digital currency, we are seemingly overwhelmed with PINs, codes, passwords, and combi­nation lock type security measures of all kinds. Given all that, one might wonder what is the worst password imaginable? 12345, your name, your phone number, the word “password”? All pretty bad, as you no doubt already know since this topic is not exactly novel. On the flip side of the question, what might be the best encoded ID?

Some folks suggest it might be convenient to use a natural encoded ID like fingerprints or the like. Despite being unique, personal, and always with you, fingerprints can actually be lousy passwords. They are not all that secret; unless you wear gloves all the time your fingerprints are going to be all over the place for someone to lift. Possibly worse, if your fingerprint (or eyeball or DNA, etc.) pass­word is ever cracked, hacked, or stolen, resetting or swapping out your fingerprints (or eyeball or DNA, etc.) for uncompro­mised replacements wouldn’t be all that easy, would it?

Here is where I believe it is the customary practice for the author to offer a novel, surprising, simple and foolproof solution. First, totally divest yourself of possessions. If you have nothing to steal it can’t be stolen. Next, or optionally, eliminate every person on Earth, other than yourself, of course. If there are no thieves nothing will be stolen. Those are the only foolproof methods, everything else is a compromise.

OK, those half-baked suggestions fall into the solution-is-worse-than-the-problem category. Instead, you might go in for what the big boys use:

Quantum Cryptography

Filed under Odds & Ends 2/1/16

Death Be Not Proud, It Be Mortifyin’

mortify (môr′ tə fī) verb. 1. Cause (someone) to feel embarrassed, ashamed, or humiliated. 2. Subdue (the body or its needs and desires) by self-denial or discipline. 3. Archaic, (of flesh) be affected by gangrene or necrosis.

Derivation: from late Middle English (in the senses ‘put to death,’ ‘deaden,’ and ‘subdue by self-denial’); from Old French mortifier, from ecclesiastical Latin mortificare ‘kill, subdue,’ from mors, mort- ‘death.’

So, death-ify to mortify. As in embarrassed to death, humiliated to no end, ashamed as hell. Or in the toon, mortified to death to no end in Hell with a capital H, which rhymes with… uh… does H rhyme with anything? Never mind. To return to the word under scrutiny, when you know the derivation you’ll see that old bit of art from the Suck archives fits to a nicety.

Filed under Word Meanings & Origins 1/30/16

The Possum Can’t Really Read, It’s Faking

This is an old spot I did for AdWeek magazine. To own the truth, having long lost and forgotten the story text I don’t quite know myself what the possum is doing on the subway. Yes, it’s reading a magazine, you know what I mean. How old is this spot of art, you might ask but probably didn’t. One hint, the commuters, as well as the possum who probably isn’t com­muting since possums don’t have jobs as a rule, are all reading stuff printed on paper. Reading from paper, of all things. How very second millenium. The paper part, not the reading.

In these digital days we have the paperless office and, one imagines by extension, the paperless subway. By paperless I mean no paper, as in newspaper, which fewer and fewer people are reading every day on the subway or anywhere else. Unlike newspapers which are going paperless much to their consternation, offices aren’t really paperless, or even less papered, as every cubicle denizen is on a computer hooked up to a printer and the temptation to print out any­thing and everything is too much for folks to resist.

Anyway, computers aren’t to be trusted, ink on paper is just more real somehow. The whole e-thing seems fraught with peril. You start with a thought, put it into words, which are transcribed as phonetic symbols, typed in and translated to computer code, gets sent as electrons or photons or something somewhere somehow, is translated back to computer code, transcribed back to phonetic symbols which translate to words which are symbols for the thought the end reader must interpret based on their own understanding. Though, now that I consider it, the weakest link in this chain isn’t the machinery, is it?

Filed under Snippets 1/29/16

Winter Weight and Winter Wait

Why are Americans so incredibly fat nowadays? Well, why do people get fat at all? Or better yet, why does any animal get fat, like the ones which layer on the lard every fall prepping for winter? Do they know lean times are just around the corner and are planning ahead? How about the first-year newbie critters who never saw it snow before? Is mama bear something of a Jewish mother, “Eat, eat, you’re skin and bones. When February rolls around you’re going to need that fat to keep you going”?

Video: Dr. Mercola Interviews Richard Johnson about the Fat Switch

This dovetails into Infrequently Answered Questions #93. Autumn is when many fructose-laden fruits and such ripen, the animals get hooked, gobble as many as they can sink their teeth into, and get fat. The creatures of the woods don’t plan it, they can’t help themselves. One marvels at how Nature works these things out.

Thinking of tie-ins, is it only by accident Lent is in late winter, the same time hibernating animals are also basically fasting?

Filed under Links & Sites to See 1/28/16

Kafka in DC

Another Reason magazine “Brickbats” rerun from nine years ago.

There’s no sign telling you not to take a photograph that might include the building at 3701 N. Fairfax Drive in Arlington, Virginia. But if you do, expect to be stopped by a police officer, have your personal informa­tion recorded and be told to delete the photo from your camera. That’s just what happened to Keith McCammon, who later found out the building houses the federal Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. In fact, the government apparently has a list of buildings that, for security reasons, it won’t allow people to photograph. But, citing security concerns, it refuses to release the list or warn people in advance they can’t photograph the buildings.

You have to break the law in order to find out what’s in it. “How do you plead, Number Six?” “Who is Number One?” “I am the new Catch-22.”

Filed under Snippets 1/27/16

Sugar Bum’s Rush


Infrequently Answered Question #93: Is junk food addicting?

A: Depends. What do you mean by junk food?

Q: That’s not an answer, it’s a question.

A: That’s not a question.

Q: What is this, some kind of music hall crosstalk bit?

A: You’re failing to grasp my clever rhetorical device implying the question is unclear…

Q: Are you saying I’m not clever, rhetorical boy? Just answer the question.

A: Ah, sorry. Now then, some junk and whatever-the-oposite-of-junk-is foods are addicting, some aren’t. Addicting meaning they fiddle with your brain chemistry so the little voice in your head keeps crying for more and doesn’t know when to say when, so to speak. Opiates, caffeine and alcohol are all greedy little voice in your head enablers. They’re addicting.

You can think of foods as falling into three basic types: fat, protein, and carbohydrate. Being chains of sugars, you can replace the word carbohydrate with sugar. So, stop thinking what I first said to think and think of foods as fat, protein, and sugar. Now then, is fat addicting? No. Is protein addicting? No. Is sugar addicting? Yes and no.

While there are all kinds of sugars, maltose, lactose, galactose, sucrose, et al, only glucose and fructose get out of your gut and get at the brain. Good old glucose is generally nice and better-behaved and not addicting, fructose is the naughty sugar, a bad influence on the little voice, it’s addicting. –Hey, if medicos can talk about good and bad cholesterol, why not nice and naughty sugar? All very sciency.– Naughty old fructose creates addiction identical to alcohol addiction, turning you into a sugar wino. Why might that be? Consider, alcohol is fermented sugar.

Now let’s look at what might be called junk food, a typical fast food meal. A Coke would be addicting since it has both caffeine and fructose. Fries might be addicting because of the potato, but not from the oil or salt. A burger might be slightly addicting because of the bun and ketchup, not the meat or cheese. A non-fat cookie for dessert, pure sugar, the little voice would latch onto it like white on rice and urge you to keep it coming.

Oh yes, being pure carbs, which is to say sugar, white on rice could be somewhat addicting, too.

Video: Fat Chance: Fructose 2.0

Filed under Infrequently Answered Questions 1/26/16

Save Nature by Not Going Back to It, but by Getting Away from It


Here’s a Green message you don’t often hear: The less naturally we live, the more we separate from nature, the better off nature is. Modern farming uses nearly 70% less land today to grow a given quantity of food than fifty years ago. Is organic farming more “sustainable”? Think how much natural habitat would need to be plowed under if we returned to organic farming.

Ecomodernism and Sustainable Intensification

Filed under Links & Sites to See 1/25/16

Meanwhile Way up North…


Does mamma lemming sound any­thing like your mom? It’s pretty much every parent’s advice for avoiding the logical fallacy, Appeal to numbers (argumentum ad numerum) or major­ity, or popular belief: asserting that the accep­tance of an idea by a majority, or by a large number of people, is reason to believe it.

Propagandists use it in bandwagon campaigns. You know, as a Madison Avenue hack might say, “A million whatever-they-ares can’t be wrong.” Really? As the man once said, “If a thousand people believe a foolish thing, it’s still a foolish thing.” So how do foolish beliefs become so wide­spread? Here’s one possibility.

An old saw says two heads are better than one, which is often the case. –Then again too many cooks spoil the broth, but we’ll ignore that.– On the game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? the studio audience majority usually votes for the right answer. A consensus answer that’s right on the money.

What if, instead of a secret ballot, the audience voted aloud sequentially? Now suppose the first person gets it wrong. If the second person has no idea, maybe they agree with the first person to play it safe. Then, even if they have doubts, voter three is liable to go along assuming the first two must know a thing or two. This starts an “informational cascade” as one person after another assumes the rest know what they’re talking about.

Thus, what they call a “consensus cascade” can lead majority belief one way or another depending on what answers are given first rather than actual knowledge. If you think only the impressionable masses fall prey to this sort of thing, you might want to read this from Michael Chrichton:

Aliens Cause Global Warming

Filed under Odds & Ends 1/24/16

“At’s-roy, Innit?”


That’s right, isn’t it?

And now, a link to a short video about how Brits and Yanks talk differently in a way you might not have realized. Well, I didn’t, anyway. Americans might find the presenter’s American accent a bit off. Still, better than many a Hollywood actor’s tin-eared attempt at an English accent which, often it seems, amounts to various regional British dialects, misheard, misspoken and jumbled together.

Heck, we can’t even seem to get the right next door Canadian accent right. I mean, what’s all this guff about Canadians saying “aboot” for about? Sounds more like “aboat” to my ear, though not quite. At least we all write the same, apart from the spellings Americans changed because they were too French. Like taking the U out of colour or swapping the C for an S in offence, which Canadians pronounce oh-fense with a long O, by the way.

Anyway, I’m getting off the track. Though actually, I’ve hit the end of the line. That link:

A Difference between English and American Speech – Lindybeige

Filed under Links & Sites to See 1/22/16

English Speak with Forked Word


Click pic to play animation

contronym (kŏn′ trə nĭm) noun. A word with two opposite meanings.

A contronym is an antonym of itself, as for instance cleave (divide) and cleave (adhere) or left (went) and left (remaining). Left seems some kind of Schrödinger’s word conveying both being there and not being there. Then you can cleave a chicken into left and right, eat the left and have the right left, right? One imagines contronyms are words someone of George Carlin’s bent would have plenty of fun with. –Probably better fun than we’ve been having with them.

Then we have the contronyms: trim, oversight, sanction… Rather than my retreading the wheel, I’ll just redirect you to the source:

25 Words That Are Their Own Opposites

Filed under Word Meanings & Origins 1/20/16

There’s More than Gold in Them Thar Teeth

Body snatching, grave robbing, and battlefield scavenging are, most would agree, pretty unsavory occupations, if they can be called occupations. Talk about filthy lucre and adding insult to injury. The cold-blooded might call them victimless crimes, at least the primary victims won’t be any the worse for wear, the worst has already happened and it can’t get worse than worst.

All the same, there was another side to these dark practices besides robbing the dead; not quite organ harvesting, but something like it. You might call it medical gleaning, a euphemism which looks better on a business card than, say, corpse monger. Back in the day before organ and tissue transplanting were developed, surgery pretty much entailed removing and lopping rather than inserting and attaching. Dead human internal organs aren’t much use to anyone other than medical students to study, and maybe cannibals.

The first type of insertion of bits from other people, beginning in the 18th century, was not swapping out vital organs, but implanting teeth. For the well-healed there were live teeth yanked from jaws of willing donors. The thrifty made do with dead teeth from “donors” who didn’t have much say in the matter, but at least weren’t bothered by the lack of anesthetics in those days. Though the donee might have gotten more than he bargained for if, as was sometimes the case, the donor had syphilis.

What the medical gleaners really needed was a supply of healthy young corpses, if dead can be called healthy. The Battle of Waterloo provided a windfall of 51,000 possible donors and a cache of so-called “Waterloo teeth” was made available as war scavengers following the Napoleonic armies made the rounds with sackfuls of teeth they sold to dentists and surgeons around Europe. According to one practitioner of battlefield post-mortem dentistry, “It is the constant practice to take the teeth out first …because if the body be lost, the teeth are saved.”

Nowadays we’re much too civilized to traffic in slightly used human body parts… oh, scratch that.

Filed under Fun Facts & Trivia 1/18/16

Looking at Looking at Looking


Click pic to play animation

Fauxcabulary Word #9

gawkward (gawk′ wərd) adj. Causing when-the-stranger-you’re-looking-at-looks-back-at-you-then-you-look-away-briefly-and-look-again-and-they-notice-that-too embarrassment.

When a gawkward moment crops up invariably, one guesses, the looker imagines what the lookee supposes the looker is thinking about the lookee. Depending on the looker and lookee this could be real or imagined ogling, morbid curiosity, wonder, or, as the case seems often enough, just plain absence of mind. Whatever the case one hardly knows whether to smile meekly, nod slightly, or pretend you were actually peering at some end­lessly fascinating whatever just over the lookee’s shoulder. All in all it’s a bit of an ‘oops-err-heh-heh moment’ society has neglected to provide a clear rule of etiquette for.

Filed under Word Meanings & Origins 1/17/16

One Fine Day in the Classroom…

physbal1 physbal2

Above is interactive joke number two. Hold the cursor over each person to make the dialog balloon appear. Do I need to tell you go from left to right? Then come back and read the rest.

I’ve heard that in the first year of medical school they tell students, “Half of what you will learn is either wrong or will be useless within ten years of graduation. The problem is, we don’t know which half.”

Which makes me wonder, what about all the other fields of study? Or is now the one time in history where we have the right answers for nearly everything? Other than for medicine, that is.

Filed under Odds & Ends 1/15/16

Hoy, Hoy


Infrequently Answered Question #92: What’s the dumbest question you were ever asked?

A: Many, many years ago someone called me on the phone and asked me where I was. Duh, where did you call? Back in the day phones were hard-wired to the wall so if you called my home phone and I answered… guess where I am.

Now-a-days, what with everyone and their uncle having cell phones, this wouldn’t be a dumb question at all. I imagine under twenties probably wonder about the usual phrases of phone useage.

“Please, hang up and dial again.”

“Um-m, hang what where? What dial?”

Just as old-timey phrases made sense to folks 200 years ago and not now, things change so quickly easily understood idioms you tossed about growing up are conundrums to kids today. If you’re a seasoned citizen like me, that is.

“Who cut the cheese? Crank open a window.”

“There’s a crank? I don’t get it.”

“Roll down your window.”

“It rolls? I don’t get it.”

“You sound like a broken record.”

“Broken record? I don’t get that, either.”

Speaking of dumb questions and time displacement, in Back to the Future Professor Brown asks Marty, “OK, future boy, who’s the President in 1985?” Well, this can’t verify if Marty is telling the truth about really being from the future, Professor Brown doesn’t know the correct answer, does he?

Filed under Infrequently Answered Questions 1/14/16

After Police Review, the Decision on the Field Stands

As it’s playoff time in the NFL, it’s a good time for this Reason magazine “Brickbats” from a couple years ago.

Referees working the football game between Tarkington High School and Splendora High School in Texas have filed a complaint against Liberty County Precinct 5 Constable L.W. DeSpain. DeSpain, who was not working at the game, charged onto the field when he disagreed with a call made by the refs.

Maybe your favorite team is out of the playoff picture. No matter, you can still place your bets, which is half the interest in the NFL. The other half is fantasy leagues. At least I think I saw some­thing recently how fantasy league betting rivals wagering on the actual league. Preferring fantasy to reality, sign of the times, I think.

Filed under Snippets 1/13/16

The End of the World as We Don’t Really Know It


A whole lot of pretty bizarre stuff happened in the fourteenth century. Folks didn’t understand it then, we don’t truly understand it now. The once accepted plague from black rats is largely discounted these days. Here’s an alternative hypothesis to entertain, it came from space. Is that possible? I have no way of knowing.

One thing I do know, I was able to repurpose an old Suck art spot. What do you know, the lazy plan works.

The Hundred Years War, the Fires of Tamatea and 1348 AD

Filed under Links & Sites to See 1/12/16

Nobody Likes Runny Meat


If, as they say, you are what you eat, so must be the creatures of the forrest. Taste-wise, anyway. Which is one good reason wild game tastes, well, gamey. Besides chowing down on pungent appetizers you’ll not find in a feeding trough, wild animals are lean and mean with less tasty fat, unless you bag one in late fall as they fatten up for winter. There’s another reason for the toothsomeness difference of wild game, exercise. Which takes some explaining.

Muscles burn sugar in the form of glycogen for fuel and the more an animal burns the less glycogen its muscles contain when converted from living beast to dinner. Glycogen turns into lactic acid after death making the meat tender. So, a layabout fat pig will go to slaughter full of glycogen, a wild boar you chased through the brambles not so much. Lactic acid turns bacteria on the flesh into slackers increasing meat’s shelf-life. High pH living puts the little buggers to sleep, they go dormant if you want to use sciency terms.

To go off on a tangent, acidity is why leaves don’t rot until fall. During summer leaves are covered with bac­teria, but are also full of water which raises pH so the microbes just sit there on vacation. When fall rolls in trees cut off the water supply, the leaves dry out and the bacteria wake up and start breakfasting like there’s no tomorrow. That’s why if you don’t dredge your backyard carp pond, if you have one, it’ll become choked with slimy leaves that never seem to rot.

Back to our meat story. The taste difference of tuckered out animals has not gone unnoticed, though moderns who do all their hunting in the super­market wouldn’t be aware of it. The Ojibwe had a word for “having the taste of an animal that was tired out before being killed,” Pikikiwepogosi.

Oh yeah, pH is for “potential of hydrogen.” Which is why the H, an element, is capitalized. It’s an electro­chemical thing, but we won’t go into all that.

Filed under Fun Facts & Trivia 1/9/16

Je Ne Sais Quoi


If I said “swashbuckler” you’d likely as not conger up images of those dashing French swordsmen, the Three Musketeers. Though why musketeers are renowned for prowess with the blade and not musketry is another question. Still, in every Hollywood extravaganza featuring the trio none have ever buckled a swash or swashed a buckle. Where did the term come from, anyway? I hear myself ask.

The buckler bit has nothing to do with our swaggering heroes being festooned with buckles on fancy belts, tall boots, jaunty plumed hats or what­ever. The first part of the word refers to pretty much what you might expect, a sound effect; as in swish, swoosh, swash. Like the sound of a metal disc swung through the air. Which is what a buckler was; a small, round, metal dueling shield popular in the 1500s. A sort-of steel, self-defense Frisbee.

So a swashbuckler was someone who wielded a buckler, with some panache we assume. Though panache more aptly applies to their rakish hats. Panache, as a noun, is a plume of feathers.

A buckler, like many shields, had a single central handle with a round protuberance covering the hand. This bulge was called a boss. Thus, such a shield with this raised surface bump was… embossed. If you’re not sure what a buckler is or how it was used, check out the video:

A Discussion on Swords, Bucklers and Shields in Historical Fencing

Filed under Word Meanings & Origins 1/7/16

Power Outage!

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Click pic to play animation

Infrequently Answered Question #93: What should you do if the power goes out?

A: As suggested in I.A.Q #7 you might light a candle and curse the darkness. Or do what I did yesterday when the electricity was off from 7:30am to 8:30 pm, curse the power company. Once you get that out of your system, which shouldn’t take too long as there’s only so many oaths you can sputter before you run out of steam, light a candle. At least while darkness persists, no point in having lit candles cluttering the place when the sun is out.

Then read, draw some pics, do a crossword. But first, put on a heavy sweater because the furnace doesn’t work without juice for the fan and ignition and it’s c-c-cold this time of year. Since I certainly couldn’t run the computer on candle power, I’m now a day behind on everything web-wise. There goes my extra leap year day. At least the toilet worked. What a relief. Ha-ha. A pun. Forget it.

Now, one might suppose with all manner of machines and whatnot being unpowered one might enjoy a little natural peace and quite. One supposes wrongly. I was subjected all day to a neighbor’s emergency gener­ator constantly cycling, R-R-R-R-r-r-r-R-R-R-R-r-r-r… I cursed him, too.

Anyway, restarting tomorrow, back to our irregularly unscheduled pro­gramming.

Filed under Infrequently Answered Questions 1/5/16

Why Not Start the New Year with an Old Book?


“He looked as if Nature had intended to make an ape, but at the last minute changed its mind.”

The above being Bertie Wooster’s description of Roderick Spode from one of the Wooster and Jeeves stories penned by the inimitable, hilarious P.G. Wodehouse. The joy of these tales is not merely the absurd vicissitudes inflicted on the oblivious Bertie and the clever way the ultimate English gentleman’s gentleman, Jeeves, saves his British bacon. No, indeed. The proceedings are narrated in goofball Bertie’s upperclass nitwit fashion, which is half the fun. An example from Very Good, Jeeves:

Baring a dentist’s waiting-room, which it rather resembles, there isn’t anything that quells the spirit much more than one of these suburban par­lours. They are extremely apt to have stuffed birds in glass cases standing about on small tables, and if there is one thing which gives the man of sensibility that sinking feeling it is the cold, accusing eye of a ptarmigan or whatever it may be that has had its interior organs removed and sawdust substituted.

Another excerpt from The Code of the Woosters:

I can well imagine that the casual observer, if I had confided to him my qualms at the idea of being married to this girl, would have raised his eye­brows and been at a loss to under­stand. ‘Bertie.’ he would probably have said, ‘you don’t know what’s good for you,’ adding, possibly, that he wished he had half my complaint. For Madeline Basset was undeniably of attractive exterior – slim, svelte, if that’s the word, and bountifully equipped with golden hair and all the fixings.

But where the casual observer would have been making his bloomer was in overlooking that squashy soupiness of hers, that subtle air she had of being on the point of talking baby-talk. It was that that froze the blood.

With winter well and truly here you couldn’t do better than curling up with a good Bertie and Jeeves book and taking a delightful romp in the long-passed, funnier world, that never really existed, of the British upper crust at play. You can read one book online for free:

Right Ho, Jeeves

Filed under Quotes & Sayings 1/2/16


News on the march and over the cliff. Another “video” to tickle the reader’s fancy, if the reader’s fancy is ticklish.