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About me and terrycolon.com

Interview of me at Existable

Interview of me at The Setup

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

features1 archives1 cracked1

American History 101 2.0  The Fake But Accurate Story

Chartology Made Stupid  Connecting the Dots

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

Cosmology-Wiz  A Shorter History of Everything and Nothing

Dangerous Hot Air  The Truth About Inconvenient Global Warming

The Disunited States of America  A Preview of Coming Attractions?

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

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

Government Machinery at Work  How the Wheels of the Bureaucracy Grind

Happy New Year  2007 in Review

How ESP Works  Mind Reading Diagramed and Explained

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

Mess Transit  Bus Riding Primer for Dummies

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

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

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

Quick and Easy Housekeeping  Or Sisyphus Unbound and Unkempt

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

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

Star Dreck  Musings of a Semi Hemi Demi Trekker

Those Darn Cats  Our Deal With the Devils

Uranimals  Beastly Beasts

Welcome to the Burbs  Whatever it Is

Win Any Argument  Using Paralogic and Surreason

Winless Wear  2008 Detroit Lions Merchandise

Reader's Digest

The B-B-Q Pyramid  For the Cooking Unimpaired

Mythic Snowmen  And More Snowmen

Quick and Easy Meals  For the Cooking Impaired

Venn Again, Again  More of the Same, But Different

Venn Again, Maybe Not  Another Last Laugh


Crash Course  Cartoon Motorcycle Accidents Versus Cartoonist Motorcycle Accidents

Suck School of Comic Art  How to Draw Funny

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

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

Better Than Sliced Bread  Uncelebrated Inventions Great and Small

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

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

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

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

Folk Etymology  From the Greek Meaning “Fake it”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Powerplant in Your Garage?  Dense Plasma Focus Fusion

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

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

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

Works for Me  Prosperity Is As Energy Does

Bizarro.TerryColon.www  Goodbye, Earthlings

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

Elusiver, Mysteriouser Creatures  Another Search Game

Find the Secret Message  A different Kind of Word Search

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

Internetelepathy  I Will Read Your Mind

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

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

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

Terra Incognita  A Trick Tricky Geography Quiz

Unanimated Gif Monte  A Little Optical Illusion Fun

What Was That Nym Again?  Some Fun With Words

Webio-Bot Video Games and Animation

Whack-a-Bot  Quick, Get 'Em!

Webio-Bot Illusion  A Little Fun With Optical Illusions

Webio-Bot Invaders  Save the Planet

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

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

faves1 categories1

Another Silly Video Game

Ultimate Mystic Service Answers Any Yes-or-No Question

Another Search Game

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

Animated Optical Illusions

Using Paralogic and Surreason


How the Wheels of the Bureaucracy Grind

I Will Read Your Mind

Lift Explained


Remembering WWI As It Really Wasn't

Proving Cones and Gyroscopes Are Futile


Hover cursor over column to scroll with mouse wheel. Click on column to scroll with page up/down function.


Tower or Tower, It’s All Context

Adeep-fryer fries fries, a carmaker makes makes, con­struction companies engage in building building. At a restaurant you can watch the cook cook and the wait staff do their serving serving. These sentences contain repeated words, a copy of copy, that aren't redundancies since they're different meanings of a word.

Below are some different repetitions that aren't redun­dancies because they're heteronyms, two words with different meanings and pronunciations, but with the same spelling. As in a female pig is a sow and planting seeds is to sow.

Your challenge, figure out a pair of heteronyms that work in each sentence…

Read it all


Are You Paying Exaggerated Prices
for Exaggerated Differences?

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

Read it all


Bus Riding Primer for Dummies

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

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

Read it all


Balancing a Bike by Turning

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

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

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

Read it all


Learn from My Experience, or Get Your Own

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

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

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

Read it all


Dogs Are Like People in a Way You Might Never Suspect

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Genetically people are closest to great apes. Socially people are closest to dogs. There's a natural interaction and understanding between dogs and humans. For instance, dogs are the only animal that understands pointing. A person points a finger at something across the room and a dog understands what it means. "Go there, check that out, that's where it is." Our closest primate cousins just don't get pointing at all.

Not only that, but dogs can get the same information from our eyes and small gestures. That is, a person looks at and/or head gestures slightly to something across the room and a dog understands this is just like pointing at it.

This communication with the eyes works because of something you've probably noticed but haven't thought much about. On humans you see a lot of the white-of-the-eye, which is called sclera. This is not the case with most every other animal. No other primate has this trait. Here's the "aha", dogs have a noticeable white sclera. Not as much as humans, but it's there and can be seen when dogs shift their eyes.

This sclera trait makes it easier to tell from a distance where someone, or some dog, is looking. Silent communication without big gestures can come in handy. For sneaking up on prey, for instance. In case you're wondering, wolves have the same trait. But then wolves are dogs that just never socialize with people.

In prehistoric times humans and wolves (proto-dogs if you will) hunting together were more successful than when hunting separately. People and dogs have been working together in other ways, too. It's the ultimate "You scratch my back I'll scratch yours" alliance. With a little belly-scratching thrown in. Look around, people and dogs are everywhere.

Though dogs don't do as much work as they used to, we still feed and care for them. Makes you wonder, all things considered, which partner got the better end of the bargain?

Filed under Fun Facts & Trivia 10/3/15

It’s October, Time for Something Completely Similar


Click to enlarge

Look familiar? It would if you've been viewing terry colon dot com for a while. I'm allowed to plagiarize myself, aren't I?

Filed under Odds & Ends 10/1/15

Final Score: Lewandowski 5, Wolfsburg 1

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The Casual Sportsman doesn't follow the Bundesliga closely, actually not at all, but we did read that recently Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski came off the bench and scored five goals in 10 minutes. Which is astounding.

That's a full 90 minute game rate of 45 goals per game. Which is ridiculous. Just shows how silly it is to extrapolate an unsustainable short trend to a long trend. If you add all Lewandowski's previous games and goals it would hardly budge his career goals per game average at all.

Still, people like to get carried away with that sort of thing. That's how pyramid schemes promise to make everyone a millionaire. Which they never do.

Robert Lewandowski 5 Goals, 9 Minutes, 5 Records in Bayern vs Wolfsburg 5-1

Filed under The Casual Sportsman 9/27/15

Useless Diagrams and Equally Useless Rules of Grammar


Another old Suck dot com spot for which I'll provided new content in reference to the picture. Which is the opposite way these things are usually done, but can't be helped in this case because the picture was done years ago. What more is there to say about that?

I remember diagramming sentences when I was in junior high. I could never see the value in it. Still don't. Seems to me you improve your writing skills, find the best ways to construct sentences and what-have-you, by reading and writing, examples and practice. How parsing sentences into these weird, tree-like structures was supposed to mean anything to a 12 year-old is a mystery to me. Besides, if you wrote an entire book in diagrammed sentences it'd be unreadable.

Think of learning to play baseball. Practice, playing, practical instruction, and watching the pros play can really help. Understanding the physics of a baseball in flight won't help you hit a curveball, the bane of poor hitters everywhere.

You do need structure in language, that's what grammar is all about. All the same, there are some rules you learn that really don't make sense. Or they're just wrong and should be ignored. Like the don't end a sentence with a preposition business which came from Latin grammar and doesn't even apply to English.

Rather than duplicate my source's effort, you can read all about it at Mental Floss: Four Fake Grammar Rules You Don't Need to Worry about

Did you find their headline awkward or confusing? It ended in a preposition. Following the rule you get, "Four Fake Grammar Rules about Which You Don't Need to Worry." Does that sound better to you? Maybe it would translated to Latin, but in English not so much.

Filed under Snippets 9/25/15

How Science Doesn't Work, Yet Does


Abe, Bea, Cecil and Didi are watching a coin being flipped through a lab window. For five flips the coin lands on heads. Abe has a theory, the coin has properties such that it always lands on heads. Bea and Cecil agree. Didi says no, it's actually a two-headed coin.

The coin is flipped five more times landing on heads each time. Abe proclaims he has been confirmed correct because these results are totally consistent with the special properties theory. Didi objects saying the results are consistent with a two-headed coin, thus confirming his theory.

The group is joined by Effie who is told by Abe they are watching how the coin being flipped always lands on heads due to its special properties. Didi starts to object, Bea interrupts explaining to Effie that Didi is a lone crackpot and his ideas are not to be considered. At this point Didi is kicked out and no longer allowed to study or comment on coin flipping.

The remaining four watch the coin being flipped ten more times, landing on heads every time. After which Abe proclaims the special properties theory is now proven. Abe publishes the theory and lab results to much fanfare.

The next day Effie is alone in the lab studying coin flipping. Then the unexpected happens: the coin lands on tails. Effie calls the others to tell them. Abe says the results can't possibly be right as it violates accepted theory and should be ignored. Bea says the flip was done wrong, the result doesn't count. Cecil claims the coin reversed its properties in mid-flip and so the tails counts as heads. Effie goes along figuring they're the experts on coin flipping. Abe adds, "This does show what a two-headed nut Didi was." They all have a good laugh.

Thus the special properties of flipped coins theory is firmly established, and impossible to disprove no matter how often the flipped coin lands on tails. The end.

At this point a someone might think, "This is just a story. Scientists adhere to the scientific method." Someone would be wrong. Just read the following quote from Richard Smith, former editor of the British Medical Journal, on Nina Teicholz's book "The Big Fat Surprise":

"…the forensic demolition of the hypothesis that saturated fat is the cause of cardiovascular disease is impressive. Indeed, the book is deeply disturbing in showing how overenthusiastic scientists, massive conflicts of interest, and politically driven policy makers can make deeply damaging mistakes. Over forty years I've come to recognize –which I might have known from the beginning– that science is a human activity with the error, self-deception, grandiosity, bias, self-interest, cruelty, fraud, and theft that is inherent in all human activities (together with some saintliness), but this book shook me."

Of the human failings mentioned, fraud seems the most psychologically interesting in that it's deliberate, unlike error or self-deception. Laziness might account for it. Why do the work when it's easier to make it up? Desire for fame or recognition might account for it. The "better" the results the more likely they'll be published, right? Zealotry might account for it. Zealots are absolutely certain they are right, no harm in adjusting the data to make it more convincing, eh?

In the end, you can trust science, but you can't trust scientists. No easy task because science is done by scientists. It's a conundrum.

Filed under Quotes & Sayings 9/24/15

Just in Time for Fall. I Mean Autumn. OK Both. Or Either. Whatever.


Ten Questions Few Wonder about Much

  1. Why do the English stand for election while Americans have to run for it? (Maybe it has to do with the proverbial English reserve.)
  2. How is it Americans fuel their cars with gas, which is a liquid?
  3. Why do we capitalize the days of the week, the months of the year, but not the seasons of the year?
  4. Why can there be wintertime, springtime, and summertime, but no falltime? (Nor autumntime, either.)
  5. Why doesn't double-u (W) have a short, individualistic name like all the other letters? (It's named after the letter U, even though it looks like two vees.)
  6. How is it going down to the mall and going up to the mall mean the same thing? (Why not just go to the mall, which also means the same thing?)
  7. Does a saxophone belong in the brass section or in the reeds section? (Not that orchestras contain saxes all that often.)
  8. Does a piano belong with the strings or timpani because it has hammers?
  9. Why do so many meats taste like chicken? (Or is it that chicken tastes like a lot of other meats?)
  10. Young beef is veal, young sheep is lamb, what is young chicken?

The answer to number ten: eggs. Get it? It's a yolk. (What a terrible pun.)

Filed under Top Tens & Other Lists 9/22/15

Then Again, Maybe the Most Famous Equation after 1+1=2


A recent conversation leads me to comment on the most famous and maybe most misunderstood equation in the world, E=mc². It seems many people believe this means matter and energy are the same thing, or different states of the same thing, or can be swapped back and forth or something like that.

The problem comes from the common error of equating mass with matter. Mass is a property of matter, it is not matter. It's why they say matter has mass and not matter is mass. The m in E=mc² is not for matter, it is for mass. Mass is not matter, c² is not matter, mc² is not matter. Therefor, energy is not matter and vice versa.

To couch the proposition in prosaic terms, the jeans I'm wearing are black. Are my jeans made of black? No, they are made of denim with the property of being black. Denim and black are not interchangeable. Niether is mass and matter. That's it.

Filed under Odds & Ends 9/20/15

Clothes Make the Man


Here's an old Suck dot com spot about… uh… doesn't matter. Let's have it about some brand spanking new content. Where exactly the expression 'brand spanking new' comes from is a mystery to me. What's spanking got to do with new? In fact, what's brand got to do with new? Is brand new newer than just plain new or what?

All that aside –which has nothing to do with the pic anyway– ever notice in WWII photos the leaders of countries liked wearing military uniforms? Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini. Even Churchill, the King of England, and the Emperor of Japan. Uniforms are standard regalia for dictators even today, but are Prime Minister, King and Emperor military ranks?

Still, who's going to tell any of these folks they can't wear a snappy uniform festooned with medals and awards? Especially a dictator. Try it and you might end up in a different kind of uniform altogether. One of very low rank with gray on gray stripes.

Filed under Snippets 9/18/15

All Laws Enforced to the Full Extent of Their Stupidity


For your edification a bit of old Brickbats art from Reason magazine of November, 2008.

Massena, New York, code enforcement officer Gregory Fregoe says inflatable pools are a menace, and he has cited at least 20 people so far this year for having them. City and state codes say any pool with at least 24 inches of water, even inflatable ones, must have a permit, a four-foot-high locked fence, and an audible alarm to let people know if someone falls in.

Filed under Snippets 9/16/15

Way off the Beaten Path


Did you invent your own sports and games, especially when you were young? Folks just seem to like turning anything into a contest, a game. We're just naturally competitive. The old, "Anything you can do I can do better" mentality. Give a couple kids hockey sticks, a soccer ball, and a basketball hoop and they'll make up a game.

Some variations on existing sports and games grow beyond a small group of friends and become more widely popular. Like the Nordic baseball, pesäpallo, we presented earlier. (see below) But wait, as they say, there's more…

10 Bizarre Variations of Famous Sports

At the link you'll find videos of sports like underwater ice hockey, played upside down on the bottom surface of the ice. There's also head ping-pong, toe wrestling and more. One of the more being some guy surfing with a motorcycle!

You read that right, a guy surfing with a motorcycle. True, it's a motorcross bike which is designed to go off-road. But on water? You gotta see it to believe it. Though we did wonder one thing while watching the video; what happens if he wipes out? Under water motorcross?

Some of these sports are for doing, not so much for watching. Hard to see how underwater ice hockey could be a spectator sport. That's because, being under the ice, it's literally hard to see. Then again, competitive eating seems to draw crowds even though that's easy to see, but hard to watch.

If you don't think people can make a sport out of just about anything, consider the county fair where growing fruits and vegetables are a contest. How about a dog show? Dog breeding and grooming as competitive sport. Reality TV, "Big Brother," has turned living with people into a contest. There seems to be no limit to what can be a sport.

Filed under The Casual Sportsman 9/12/15

Just for the Fun of It


Ten Things to Think about (but Not Too Much)

  1. Fast means to go without food. So, what is fast food?
  2. People in countries that don't play baseball wear baseball caps.
  3. A tracked vehicle basically lays down and takes up its own road wherever it goes. You can't go off-roading in a tank.
  4. Sharks kill nine times as many men as women. Sharks are sexist!
  5. Beef contains a lot of fat though cattle only eat grass and grain.
  6. Most of the gas burned by a car is to move the car, not the occupant. Will driverless cars not bother with passengers at all?
  7. Astrophysicists keep detecting matter and forces that are undetectable.
  8. Why do we say nape of the neck and scruff of the neck? Are there other napes and scruffs on our bodies? And aren't the nape and scruff the same thing?
  9. Despite having the largest slice of the food pyramid, the minimum daily requirement for grains and cereals is zero.
  10. Shouldn't Mother's Day come after Labor Day?

On item six, does it really take 4,000 pounds of vehicle to move around a 200 pound person? Then again, if we drove around in a vacuum we could save gas. That's because once you're up to cruising speed a lot of the energy used to keep the car going is for pushing air out of the way. I wonder if you get better mileage living at high altitude. Which makes eleven things to think about.

Filed under Top Tens & Other Lists 9/9/15

Happy Suckiversary


It's a trip down memory lane. It's a Snippet with lots of snippets. It's an Odds and Ends that's odd. It's a feature that's doesn't deserve to be featured. Whatever it is, you can see it all at the link below.

Happy Suckiversary

More From the Suck Archives


Here's an old Suck spot from 2000. This pic had to do with Bob Hope being the first modern stand-up comedian bucking the Vaudeville trend of clownish attire and slapstick behavior by dressing in a suit telling jokes. He was also the Woody Allen persona before Woody Allen. You know, the wisecracking coward.

But that's old content. Let's add a little new. Though inspired by the old illustration.

The business suit and tie has spread to just about every corner of the globe –despite globes not having corners– and has remained virtually unchanged for a hundred years. Has it reached sartorial perfection?

Thing about the business suit, it's pretty impractical. Well, for anything other than standing or walking around. You can't do any kind or physical labor in it. Raise your arms and the jacket completely loses its shape. Sit in it and the tail wrinkles and the bit at the back bunches up at the collar.

At one time the lapels could be folded up to enclose against the cold and wind. Not any more. Lapels are vestigial now-a-days. As are the buttons on the sleeves. Side pockets are often sewn closed. The necktie has never had any purpose other than decoration as far as I know.

I suppose the suit's impracticality might be why it's so popular. It's a sign the wearer is above manual labor, that the only heavy lifting the wearer is prepared for is picking up the phone and giving orders. It's also a sign you're not a clown, you're a comic.

Filed under Snippets

She Made Her Escape Holding a Keychain Troll Hostage


Another bit of Brickbats art from Reason magazine of August, 2008.

Marnina Norys was trying to board a plane at Canada's Kelowna Airport when security guards noticed her necklace, which had a 1.75-inch silver replica of a Colt .45 on it. An agent told her she couldn't board the plane with it on. She noted that the pendant couldn't actually shoot anyone. "It's what it represents," came the reply. The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority is unapologetic about the incident. "How do you know it wasn't a real gun?" one agent said.

Filed under Snippets 8/28/15

The Most Mysterious Cookie In the World

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

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

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

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

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

Filed under Odds & Ends 8/26/15

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


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

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

Filed under Snippets 8/24/15

Dog Days of Summer


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

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

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

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

Filed under Fun Facts & Trivia 9/20/15

Short Short


Not Top and Not Ten List of Unrelated Links

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

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

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

A Road by Any Other Name Smells Just as Street


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

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

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

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

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

Filed under Infrequently Answered Questions 8/13/15

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Filed under Odds & Ends 8/11/15