In what some are calling the greatest story in football (soccer) history, Leicester City Foxes, a 5,000-1 bet at the start of the season, have won the Barclays English Premier League championship. While major upsets happen from time to time, most are in the form of single events or games, Leicester City’s rags to riches story ran over a 38 game season making it all the more improbable and amazing.
Not being sportswriters we won’t report all the details, which you can find all over the web in much finer form. We will just add a couple little curious twists to the Foxes tale. The title was clinched Monday when Chelsea tied second place Tottenham 2-2. Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri once was the manager of Chelsea. Eden Hazard scored the tying goal for Chelsea which cliched the championship, the same player who score the title clinching goal for Chelsea last year.
Lastly, we link to a video about the club’s amazing run made a month ago before the trophy race was decided. Anyway, now you know how the film should really end. No doubt the complete story will soon be told on video. Until then…
Filed under The Casual Sportsman 5/4/16
In the garden do you have a green thumb or are you all thumbs? If you number among the latter here’s a few simple tricks on how do make your yard the envy of one and all.
Eight Ways to Turn Your Yard from Yuck to Yeah
OK, with our advice you won’t have the best-looking property on the block, it’s not all bad. If you look a bit less well-off than your neighbors crooks are less likely to target your house as a potential bounty of valuables.
Filed under Top Tens and Other Lists 5/3/16
Now they want to remove Andrew Jackson from the twenty dollar bill. Which would probably OK by him if he were alive today, the man was no friend of central banking. His proudest moment was the ending of the Second Bank of the United States. In point of fact, the headline to this Shorts entry is the inscription on Andrew Jackson’s tombstone.
So one wonders, why was Andrew Jackson’s effigy on a Federal Reserve note to begin with? Was it ironic or something? Who knew the Treasury were a bunch of jokers? I mean, kidders. Jokers they may otherwise well be.
Filed under Odds & Ends 5/2/16
Navigating the super interacta-matic, oh-so modern Interwebs is much easier than hinted at in this oldie but moldy Suck.com spot. What with our handy-dandy pull-down menus and auto-zoomery, it’s easier than ever to read and enjoy terry colon dot com on any device plugged into the magic of the world wide web. While it may not be hands-free, it’s no sweat, and you can keep your shoes on.
Of course, we’re actually bragging about features that have been standard fare for over a decade now. All the same, how many other sites have you seen with their own custom cursors, eh? Scroll over the pic and see. The itty-bitty fun never ends at terry colon dot com.
Filed under Snippets 4/30/16
Click pic to play animation
Here’s a little bit of trivia for military history buffs. Or historical martial arts aficionados. Or something along those lines. This is trivia correcting trivia you may have run across concerning the Roman pilum. That spear thingy pictured in the toon above.
There is this idea that the pilum’s thin metal shaft with the spearhead attached is intended to bend after impact so the enemy can’t return fire. Well, not fire, this is pre-gunpowder. Return volley. Return serve? Whatever. Where this notion comes from I don’t know, but it didn’t come from the Romans.
First of all, a weapon that bends on impact is a lousy weapon. That’s because bending means the weapon is absorbing part of the impact, not a good thing for inflicting maximum damage. That’s why they use rubber knifes in stage fighting. The real reason for the long metal shaft bit is for better penetration.
Here’s how it works. Say a normal pole spear pierces a shield, which were often made of wood covered in animal hide. After the spearhead breaks the surface the shaft will have to follow through the opening to get any kind of deep penetration. Not so easy to for a fat, round, wooden shaft to get very far through the opening created by a leaf-shaped spearhead, too much resistance. Such a spear might get a foot through the shield. If the intended victim were holding the shield a foot out from his body, no harm no foul.
By contrast, once a pilum spearhead breeches a shield, the thin, metal shaft easily passes through the opening losing little energy. Which means a pilum can penetrate the depth of the metal shaft length, about three feet. If the intended victim were holding a shield a foot in front of them, well, do the math.
The same thing applies to hitting a man, once you pierce his protective armor, mail, padding, whatever, the pilum will get much better penetration than a pole spear. It is true that sometimes the pilum would bend, but it wasn’t designed to. Then again, a wooden spear shaft would sometimes break, which nobody ever figured was a feature.
Filed under Fun Facts & Trivia 4/28/16
Ye olde “Brickbats” spot for Reason magazine in 2008.
Code enforcement officials in Maidenhead, England, have ordered the staff of the Greyhound to close the pub’s windows. When people smoke outside, the authorities explained, the smoke could drift into the pub, causing it to be in violation of laws banning smoking indoors.
There used to be this newspaper cartoon called There Ought to Be a Law. This wouldn’t work nowadays because there probably is.
Filed under Snippets 4/27/16
And now, back to our regular posting content. Or maybe not, it is that time of year again. “What time is that?” I hear myself imagine the reader asking. It’s when winter seems finally to have had its last hurrah, cabin fever finally breaks and I long to be outside doing something, anything. Hence, away from the computer and the Internet. Hence hence, less new content here at terry colon dot com.
Not that the world at large will notice very much. After all, this site is in the basement part of the Pareto pyramid. “What’s that?” I once again rhetorically ask. That’s the old 20-80 rule. As in 20% of the websites get 80% of the traffic. Meaning, 80% must be satisfied with only 20%. Though I imagine most are not that satisfied with such, but what can you do?
Still, the Pareto principle applies all the way down the pyramid. That is, 20% of the bottom 80% of sites get 80% of the 20% of the traffic. Which means between them the bottom 64% of sites divvy up 4% of the total web traffic. Repeat that and you wind up with about half the sites getting around one percent of the page views.
Funny thing about this Pareto distribution, even though it manifests itself over and over in nature, society, and economics, nobody knows why. What is the mechanism that crosses all platforms, so to speak? It’s the riddle of the universe. Apparently the universe doesn’t believe in equality.
Anyway, if the Shorts additions become fewer and lesser, you will know why.
Filed under Odds & Ends 4/25/16
Another old Suck.com spot seems just the thing to introduce our lastest bit of interactive animated nonsense where the little mouse cursor actually makes sense…
Filed under Odds & Ends 4/22/16
“It is startling to realize how much unbelief is necessary to make belief possible. Ardent belief manifests itself not in moving mountains, but in not seeing mountains to move.”
“The most costly of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. It is the chief occupation of mankind.”
“It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they’ve been fooled.”
Filed under Quotes & Sayings 4/21/16
Some people zealously advocate a low-fat diet as the ideal for health and weight loss. On the flip side, others vociferously champion a low-carb diet for the same reasons. Could they both be wrong? Could they both be right? Remember this from childhood?
Jack Sprat could eat no fat
His wife could eat no lean
And so betwixt the two of them
They licked the platter clean
While this bit of old doggerel wasn’t dietary advice, it may have stumbled upon the truth. Some people do well on low-fat, others on low-carb. Hunter-gatherers and ruralists thrive on diets from 60% carbs to 10% carbs. Which seems to imply the fat/carb content is not the be all end all of eating well.
There are three basic nutrients, fat, carbs, and protein. Why is protein seemingly overlooked by all? People everywhere on most every diet are getting about the same amount of calories from protein, around 15%. Since this varies so little folks tend to ignore it, figuring if it’s pretty much the same for everyone it can’t be making a difference.
On the other hand, if every diet comes in around 15% protein, maybe that content is the most important factor. Maybe there is a minimum amount of protein everyone needs and the fat/carb ratio is secondary. Maybe a protein poor diet makes you overeat either carbs or fat, or both, to get the needed protein. Which would mean a small change in protein percentage could make all the difference.
Under this hypothesis the bandied about term “empty calories” has a different implication, food without protein.
Filed under Links & Sites to See 4/20/16
We revisit something mentioned recently here in the Shorts for no good reason other than we want to. While the typeface Helvetica is almost entirely without quirks, blond some would say, there is one letter that is more “designy” than what you might call the standard form. It’s the upper case R. Compare the various sans serif cap Rs above. Which is the odd man out?
For most the leg under the bowl is obviously angled and pretty much straight. The leg on the bottom right R is practically vertical and has a little curling, almost serif-like terminal. The last cap R is Helvetica.
Why the departure from the most basic form? I don’t know. Perhaps it’s explained in the movie, Helvetica. A film about a font. Eat your heart out, Frutiger. (Adrian Frutiger designed Univers, a very similar contemporary of Helvetica. Both font families were based on Akzidenz-Grotesk from 1898.)
There are many clones or imitators of Helvetica. Geneva, Swiss, Zurich, to name a few. Notice they all seem to reside in the Swiss Alps. The Swiss call the place Confœderatio Helvetica after all.
While most folks with a passing knowledge of typefaces know what a serif, ascender and descender are, they likely aren’t familiar with the terms for all the parts of letterforms. Like many specialities, type design has a jargon all its own. If you want to know all about that, try this link:
To be super font geeky, here’s a typeface that blurs the line between serif and sans-serif, Optima. The strokes are not straight, they’re all curved, flaring outward at the terminal which renders somewhat of a visual impression of a serif, but there really is no serif. See for yourself:
Filed under Links & Sites to See 4/19/16
Yet another “Brickbats” spot for Reason magazine. This time from 2014.
In Saudi Arabia, religious police beat up a British man after they saw him using a supermarket checkout with a woman as cashier. Such checkout lines are reserved only for women.
No comment. I just liked the pic.
Filed under Snippets 4/18/16
There are no spelling bees in Italy. Why? Spelling is no challenge in Italian because, unlike English, words are actually spelled how they sound and vice-versa. You don’t need to memorize spellings, you need only hear the word and you can spell it. A spelling bee in Rome would never end and everyone would win.
The French, on the other hand, seem to add pointless letters on the end of words as mere decorations. Water in French is eau, pronounced “oh.” You can see that at the end of Bordeaux. What’s the X tacked on the end for? Renault also ends with an “oh” sound. Why the LT on the end? Then there’s les, chalet, and allez, all ending in a “lay” sound. Is there any point to the S, T and Z? I guess they just make the words look more Francophied.
Meanwhile, English spelling is a hodgepodge of inconsistency. One problem is most spellings became set around the 15th and 16th centuries while the Great Vowel Shift, a major change in English vowel sounds, didn’t finish until 1700. For instance, Shakespeare would rhyme blood and moon in his dialog, which don’t rhyme now but did then. Had all the vowel sounds changed alike for words spelled alike, it might have worked out. Unfortunately, different words changed, well, differently. Hence, spelling bees.
Of course, English is also full of adopted foreign words. Oh-oh, cultural expropriation. That’s bad. Or is it multicultural? That’s good. Oh well, all we know is the double-Os in good, blood and moon don’t rhyme.
Filed under Fun Facts & Trivia 4/15/16
Alas, poor Yorick. Wherefore art thou Romeo. To be, or not to be. It’s easy to spot many a quote from old Willie Shakespeare. Other coinages have worked their way into the language to the point we aren’t aware they came from the Bard of Avon. All the same, who knows if he made them up or was simply glomming ye olde slang of the day?
Filed under Links & Sites to See 4/13/16
And now for something slightly different.
Find at least six differences in details between panels.
Click here for answers
Filed under Snippets 4/12/16
I didn’t just draw cartoons for the old e-rag, I helped write content from time to time. Whether that actually helped is for the reader to decide.
Find at least six differences in details between panels.
Click here for answers
Filed under Snippets 4/11/16
Billiards was first played with mallets instead of cues. It was sort-of like table croquet. The trouble with that was when the cue ball was frozen to the rail they couldn’t get the mallet head on it. In which case the shooter would poke it with the mallet’s handle end, called the queue in French. These days we dispense with the mallet head and use a long handle with a bit of leather on the end, which we call a cue.
Why is it called both billiards and pool? The billiards name came first. Pool comes from the venue where the tables started showing up for public use: betting parlors. You’re likely familiar with football pools or similar betting schemes. Pools are a common way to bet and old betting shops were called pool halls or pool parlors. These put in billiards tables for the betting clientele who started calling them pool tables. Eventually the game played on them became pool. Gambling and pool have gone together a long time.
After a time pool tables made their way out of stately homes and pool halls into middle class homes. Now, not everyone has a room big enough to accomodate a full-sized regulation billiards table. Or pool table. Same thing. There must be enough room around the table to swing a cue, after all. Well, not swing it, but when the cue ball is on the rail draw it back its full length, about four feet or so. Anyway, the point is folks often go for undersize tables.
One might think it’s easier to play on a smaller table, shots are shorter, right? Actually, in another respect it can be harder to play on a small table. Having less surface area there will be less space between object balls, which are still standard size. Cue ball control, maneuvering the cue ball around for your next shot, can be more difficult as a result.
There’s an 8-ball hustle that plays into that. The shark will offer to spot you five balls of their choosing after making their first ball. How it works, they remove balls of yours that are in the way making it easier for them to run the table. The sucker thinks they’re getting a break, but it’s the hustler who gets the advantage.
Size is not the only difference between tables. An average player who watches 9-ball played on cable TV might be frustrated they can never seem to get the kind of action the pros get on breaks or draw shots. There may be a reason for this other than skill. The felt, or baise, on those tables is different from felt you commonly find on home, bar and many pool hall tables. It’s competition felt, which is smoother offering less rolling resistance. In pool parlance, it’s a fast table.
If you get the chance to play on a fast table you will notice a marked difference. (There’s a pool hall near me that has them.) It will take some adjustment because your strokes will have to be a bit lighter or the cue ball will just keep going and going well past where you would expect on a slow table.
Just some additional trivia bits to tack onto my article…
Filed under The Casual Sportsman 4/8/16
They might seem like the same thing, folks use them as if they were, but they aren’t. Inflation, the consumer price index (CPI) and the cost of living. While related, they aren’t triplets, more like two brothers and a cousin. Or it could be a brother and sister, but the exact analogy is not important. They’re different. Like pennies from heaven, manna from heaven, and do you eat manna.
Inflation is the value of currency, CPI is the value of product, cost of living is the price a person pays to live they way they do. Inflation is due to increasing the currency supply, like pennies from heaven, which make prices rise, which makes CPI go up.
On the other hand manna from heaven makes prices go down, which makes CPI go down. After all, it’s cheaper and easier to simply pick up manna strewn about than it is to make manna from scratch yourself. Or whatever it is you would have to do to get manna. I don’t eat manna, I don’t even know what it is.
The point is, CPI can reflect inflation, but other things, too. If productivity increases more than the currency supply increases prices will go down despite there being inflation. To equate CPI with inflation is simply, well, wrong.
Saying increased productivity is deflationary is also a mistake. Manna from heaven doesn’t change the penny supply, though it means you can spend the pennies on something else. That’s increased prosperity. On the other hand, pennies from heaven don’t change the manna supply, it just makes it cost more. Why central banks think pennies from heaven make us better off is a mystery.
Leaving that aside, one wonders if inflation can even be accurately calculated. How do you separate out the effect of manna from heaven on pennies from heaven? Heck, they have half a dozen measures of the currency supply, starting at M0. (Why begin at zero instead of one? Another mystery.) If they can’t even settle on what the currency supply is, how can they know what effect it has on prices?
Finally, the CPI and the cost of living are not the same thing either. If you don’t eat manna, getting it free falling from the sky won’t effect your cost of living no matter what free manna does to the CPI. If you’re tired of all the manna talk, think of it this way: the price of yachts is totally meaningless to Joe Six-pack; prices at Wal-Mart have no effect on Richie Rich.
It’s like this, the CPI isn’t the cost of living because folks don’t all buy the same amounts of everything on the list, which go up and down in price differently for various reasons. If you spend ten percent of your income on rent and it doubles, it’s very annoying. If you spend one third on rent and it doubles, you wind up living in your car.
Now then, how does this all fit together and what does it mean? I really don’t know. I question whether the powers that be who tweak, nudge, and generally try to fine tune the economy actually know, either. They talk as if they do. But I will add this: The Fed gives us pennies from heaven, God gave the Israelites manna from heaven. The Fed ain’t God.
Filed under Talkin’ Bout Money 4/7/16
Here’s a new one on me. The other day I got a phone call from a robot recording gizmo asking for someone unknown to me immediately followed by, “If we have dialed a wrong number, please call…” I don’t know what this ploy is, but it seemed pretty goofy. The only thing I can imagine is a return call where they charge you by the minute, like a psychic line or something of that ilk. I didn’t stay on the line long enough to hear the number.
Still, why would I return a wrong number phone call to tell them it’s a wrong number? Especially a wrong number robot solicitation. Not my problem or for me to waste time correcting phone solicitors calling a wrong number. I can’t imagine a less tantalizing sales hook. At least the Nigerian Prince offers a pot of gold, this one doesn’t even offer a rainbow.
Filed under very Odds & Ends 4/6/16
Infrequently Answered Question #96: It’s April. Have you done your taxes yet?
A: What did you have to go and bring that up for? From our perspective we don’t do taxes, taxes do us. All year round and for more than some might think: income tax, sales tax, property tax, gas tax, liquor tax, tobacco tax, and so on. Plus hidden taxes such as business tax. You think businesses just eat that tax and don’t pass it along as a cost of doing business?
On top of that are taxes that aren’t called taxes. Filling out government forms and complying with regulations is work done for the government. Which the government does not pay for. When businesses do that they pass the bill to the consumer with higher prices.
From a Hoover Commission report of 1963. Imagine the costs today.
“No one knows how much it costs American industry to compile the statistics that the Government demands. The chemical industry alone reports that each year it spends $8,850,000 to supply statistical reports demanded by three departments of the Government. The utility industry spends $32,000,000 a year in preparing reports for Government agencies...”
How long did it take to fill out your income tax forms? Or did you pay to have them done? Was it for yourself or for the government? So, how high are taxes really? More than they let on, that’s for sure.
Filed under Infrequently Answered Questions 4/5/16
Number of bankers prosecuted for all the various frauds committed and admitted by the big banks in the last 20 years: Zero, nada, zip, nought, zilch
Personally realized ill-gotten gains returned by the perpetrators of those crimes: Zero, nada, zip, nought, zilch
The free pass for Wall Street fraudsters and market riggers started under Clinton, continued under Bush, and was formalized under Obama with “systematically important institution” status (AKA, too big to jail). So, for everyone out there who wishes the two major political parties would stop squabbling and work together in a bipartisan manner, there you go. Ain’t it great when all the pols are on the same page?
Filed under Links & Sites to See 4/4/16
The above Suck.com illo rerun leads us into the topic du jour: the most dangerous day of the year, news and rumor-wise. April Fools Day. On this date in years gone by many people have been burned repeating nonsense written as spoofs as being true. Is it because people are gullible? Is it because authors don’t know how to write parodies that are, you know, actually funny? Or is it because real news and people have become so absurd a spoof seems all too real?
Have we finally breached the Parody Horizon? An imaginary boundary where satire can’t surpass actuality which is already absurd beyond belief, though people believe it anyway. A singularity of infinitely dense thinking, a comedic black hole where the line between sensible and ridiculous vanishes.
Can you say, modern art? How about negative interest rates? It seems April Fools Day never ends. Maybe Abe Lincoln was wrong. Maybe you can fool all of the people all of the time. Or at least enough of the people enough of the time to make a lot of money.
Filed under Snippets 4/1/16
About one third of the calories you burn are used by a single organ. Can you guess which? Guessing is using it. Your brain. Breathing, pumping blood, moving food through the digestive track also takes energy. Building enzymes, hormones and all the other chemistry going on inside you takes energy, too.
You know how some diets, pills or whatever promise you can lose weight while you sleep? Now you know how that’s feasible. Your innards are busy 24-7-365 burning most of the calories you scarf down every day. If not, you’d wake up dead. A very bad way to start the day.
Skeletal muscles are very efficient and make do with not all that much fuel. While exercise helps keep you in the pink, as a way to lose weight… don’t count on it. Thirty minutes of strenuous exercise a day will get you all of about five pounds of weight loss a year. Losing 50 pounds would take ten years. Does that sound like a good plan?
Doing calculus, solving brain teasers, or pondering the riddle of the universe won’t increase your brain’s energy use much. Though if it did, it would mean diet books might work much better. Just by reading them.
Filed under Fun Facts & Trivia 3/21/16
Another Reason magazine “Brickbats” spot from 2011.
Safety officials in Great Britain have recommended the removal of fire extinguishers from communal areas in apartment buildings. They say extinguishers are actually a safety hazard because they could encourage people to fight a fire rather than leave the building.
We mustn’t allow people to take such matters into their own hands or it’ll be anarchy, I tell you, anarchy.
Filed under Snippets 3/29/16
If bubble cars, a la the 1950s, are not poised for a big comeback, how about bubble motorcycles instead? Bubble cars must comply with the safety standards applied to all cars. That adds cost and weight reducing mileage. Which rather defeats the main reason to buy a bubble car, to be cheap to buy and operate. I mean, Bentley doesn’t make bubble cars, right?
Motorcycles, not being autos, don’t have to meet auto standards. So, they can be cheaper, lighter and more fuel efficient. Just what you want out of a bubble car. Having a high power to weight ratio makes them pretty peppy, to boot.
I don’t know about you, but if I were in the market for a new car I’d like to have something like the completely enclosed, three-wheeled bike from Elio Motors. Over 80 mpg for under ten grand. Beats the heck out of any overpriced electric or hybrid car in my book. Check it out:
Filed under Links & Sites to See 3/28/16
Last Friday we launched a sortie on your wallet with The Terry Colon Shop. This week we assault your sense of humor and maturity with…
Whether this is the stuff to feed the troops or shovel in the latrine is for the reader to decide. If nothing else, it at least shows the kind of nifty things that can be accomplished with a few lines (quite a few lines, actually) of basic HTML animation code.
Filed under Odds & Ends 3/25/16
A few fauxcabulary (made up) words from the world of computers:
iconundrum: A strange or confusing symbol or icon nobody but the designer of the thing knows the meaning of.
incorrection: A typo created by auto spellcheck that doesn’t understand you were using slang, jargon or coining a gag word.
qwert dirt: The filth that builds up between the keys on your computer keyboard.
tyupio: A typo resulting from your fat fingers hitting more than one key at a time.
Iconundrums often use that blocky, stick figure generic human doing something, with something, in something, or whatever. You know the dude I mean, the one identifying the men’s room. In graphic design circles its called Helvetica Man.
Now that computers and online self-publishing have conquered the world and everyone knows about typefaces, or fonts, the Helvetica reference is probably understood by all and sundry. Not so back when I started in the business a few decades ago. Anyway, I suppose folks think Helvetica is boring, plain, humdrum, or whatever, which was sort-of the original intent.
Helvetica comes from the Swiss school of typeface design, along with Univers. It was designed without quirks or embellishments to color up well at any size and so be easy to read. It was supposed to be the universal, standard, highly legible sans-serif font. Which it pretty much is.
Filed under Word Meanings & Origins 3/24/16
Seems an odd question. Everyone knows it’s obvious the Moon orbits the Earth. They always say it does and it certainly looks that way. It rises in the east and sets in the west. Just like the Sun. Oops. The Sun doesn’t orbit the Earth, does it?
Thing is, the Sun applies more gravitational force on the Moon than does the Earth. The Moon is actually orbiting the Sun. At no time does the Moon move backwards in its orbital path around the Sun, there is no loop. The Moon and the Earth follow wavy paths around the Sun, speeding up and slowing down as it were. Of course, the Moon much more than the Earth.
Here’s a simple way to visualize it. Imagine a three lane highway with a semi in the center lane and a sports car directly behind it. The semi slows a little, the sports car accelerates and passes the truck in the left lane, then moves in front of big rig back into the center lane. Next, the truck speeds up slightly, the car slows down moving into the right lane. The truck passes the car which then moves back into the center lane directly behind the truck to the starting position where the sequence then repeats over and over.
From the point of view of the truck driver the sports car is circling the rig. Yet at no time did the car go in reverse and back up along the road. Now, imagine the highway as a big circular racetrack with you at the center. From your point of view both the truck and the car are circling you weaving back and forth passing each other as they go around.
Replace the semi with the Earth, substitute the sports car with the Moon and turn yourself into the Sun. No easy task, so just imagine it. There you go. The Moon orbits the Sun, not the Earth. If you still don’t see it, check out the link:
Filed under Fun Facts & Trivia 3/23/16
Yes, a silly gag. I couldn’t resist. And yes, spring actually began Sunday. But it was too chilly to get into the spring of things until today when it promises to approach 60 degrees hereabouts. Hopefully. At least, that’s the prognostication of the weatherbot, or whatever these weather websites use. So, go unpack the white shoes, break out the short pants, dig out the straw trilby, and prepare your wardrobe for the warm, sunny days to shortly arrive. A nice new Tee from the Terry Shop (hint, hint) might make a nice addition to the spring wardrobe, too.
Filed under Odds & Ends 3/22/16