by Godzinna 7 and Alice Wright (with The World)
Epigraph: “Power corrupts the powerful less than it corrupts their worshippers.” --after Jonah Goldberg
Bad science saves lives. In Victorian England, the slums stank. The near-universal view was that “miasma” (stink) caused sickness and death. This made sense because folks sickened and died in the slums more than outside of them. So the city declared a war on miasma and cleaned up garbage and trash, dead bodies, and whatever else stank. Lo, sickness and death rates went down without a whisper of the germ theory of disease.
“Amused” and “bemused” are not the same. The former means “pleasantly diverted,” the latter “bewildered, confused, dazed.” But nothing is set in concrete where language is concerned, not even the “Gnome Chomsky” garden statue.
Farting for money has a history. ’Nuff said, at least in this space.
There’s no secret to success. Ask any successful man, and he’ll tell it to you.
Some say the secret of success is sculptural: keep chipping away the bits of your life that don’t look like the life you want.
Some say success consists of sequestering sibilant sounds. as they supply small service and sound hissy and serpentine.
Trinian Wheg may sound like a character in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but it’s just an anagram for “wearing thin.”
In one of the five volumes of the Hitchhiker Trilogy, Arthur Dent returns from a space adventure to his apartment and, feeling a bit peckish, eats a slightly moldy item from the fridge. The omniscient narrator lets us know that was a good thing, as Arthur had returned infected with a galactic fever that would have wiped out humanity on Earth in a week or so if the mold hadn’t nipped it in the bud.
Douglas Adams was a proselytizing atheist who offered the Pothole Puddle rebuttal to the Anthropic Principle. “How astonishing,” the puddle says, “that this pothole should conform so precisely to my shape and size! Whoever made it clearly had exactly me in mind.”
“Ratio” and “ariot” are anagrams. “Ariot” means “running riot,” as in “vines everywhere ariot.”
“Hypallage” (pronounced “Hy-PAL-uh-jee,” like “analogy”) is a rhetorical figure of which the “transferred epithet” is one kind, as in “cruel comments” and “angry argument.” It isn’t the comments that are cruel or the argument that is angry, the commenters are cruel and the arguers are angry. Having been alerted to the issue, you’ll probably notice five examples of hypallage in the next 48 hours.
At the end of this new year, Disney plans to unveil Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. According to a spokesperson: “Rogue One takes place before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope and will be a departure from the saga films but have elements that are familiar to [observers of] the Star Wars universe. It goes into new territory, exploring the galactic struggle from a ground-war perspective while maintaining that essential Star Wars feel that fans have come to know.”
“Experience teaches us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficent.” — Louis "Lulu" Brandeis
“Bellow the truth when you know it, or you abet forgers and liars.” --after Charles Peguy
“Are you W.C. Fields?” people would ask him. Sometimes he answered, “Why, no, I am Phineas J. Potash, a manufacturer of alarm clocks from Sandusky, Ohio, but I’m often mistaken for the beloved funnyman.”
Sometimes Fields had a contract to write the screenplay for a movie in which he was the star. His acting contract gave him script approval. So he would write a screenplay, get paid for it, reject it, and write (and get paid for) another. Hollywood wasn’t always as ethical as it is today.
“I do not seek rule by the rabble; they will always be a rabble. I seek a beneficent monarchy and an end to the power of the Church.” --Voltaire, vandalized
A “nigget” is a small insect, specifically one used as a familiar by a witch, sorcerer, etc.
By one scheme, “antiquity” went to 500 A.D., “medievalty” till 1500 A.D., and “modernity” is still in progress. If modernity lasts ten centuries like medievalty, we passed the halfway mark in 2000, just as medievalty was half over in 1000 A.D.
Of the making of books there is no end. You no sooner get rid of one writer than another grabs the falling pen and starts scribbling.
Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat history class. --after Chris Harris, probably.
The original Vise-Grip
“For some reason, there are tools that no one has been able to copy successfully. This is a reason that professional mechanics will pay tens of thousands of dollars for their Snap-On or Proto toolboxes when they could have the "same" set of tools for a tenth of the cost. Using good tools is a shockingly different experience for anyone who's only used the cheap stuff before.
“The original Vise-Grip is the best of both worlds: it's still dirt-cheap, and It Just Works. I've been in many situations where it made the critical difference between junking an entire system -- e.g., an engine -- and actually being able to repair it. And no knock-off copy has ever worked nearly as well. I have them in three different sizes, and would feel naked without them in my box.” --Quora
“You are dropped penniless into a village in the middle of England in the year 1500 [the last year of medievalty or the first year of modernity, depending on how you reckon]. You maintain all your current knowledge. How would you make your way to the top?” --Quora
Answer of Howie Reith, singer, entrepreneur: “The first order of business is to start growing bread mold and get a place to heat some glassware to 315 degrees (160 Celsius). (The temperature is not for the mold, as this would kill it. It is to sterilize the flask for incubation.) I know I'm going to get sick as hell within like, a week, if I'm lucky. I need antibiotics.
“Once I have those, I have the option of becoming a doctor, I suppose. By no means do I have much medical knowledge by 21st century standards, but in the 16th century? I wash my hands, I wouldn't put sick people in the same bed, I know tulips don't protect you from plague (but killing rats does), and I won't be spending time trying to balance humours.
“If I am afraid of being accused of being a male witch or a wizard with my extensive medical knowledge and therefore reserve my antibiotics for personal use, my next greatest advantage is probably the fact I'm literate. That would open many doors for me.
“I could start off as a scribe. I would write letters for people and read them.
“I am conversant with the Bible and the history of western religion, especially compared to the typical 16th century clergyman. I imagine I could get some position in the church.
“I have several of Shakespeare's plays memorized and he won't be born for another half century. So I could write them down. That could get me some renown. People will be upset if they want more, though.
“I hear Isaac Newton won't be born for another 150 years or so, so I could invent ‘the calculus’ and the theory of gravity. Poor Gottfried Leibniz will never have had a chance at all this time around.
“That should do it. Being the greatest scientific and literary mind of the 16th century would be enough for me. I'm not interested in political power.”
The attack of the Nim Heaps: “In mathematics, the nimbers, also called Grundy numbers, are introduced in combinatorial game theory, where they are defined as the values of nim heaps. …. The nimbers are the ordinal numbers endowed with a new ‘nimber addition’ and ‘nimber multiplication,’ which are distinct from ordinal addition and ordinal multiplication.” --Gentleman’s Monthly Intelligencer (You like? See Conway’s On Numbers and Games.)
The Food and Drug Administration has approved the sale of genetically modified potatoes and apples, noting that they “offer many nutritional benefits” and are “completely safe” provided that consumers “do not anger them.” --Dave Barry
Is there a less annoying way to express this valid idea? “Go big or go home.”
A fascinating minority report on Darwin holds that the theory of natural selection is not false but minor, a combination of statistics and natural history that explains little.
Public Service Announcement: The Fund to Cure Induced Liver Disease in Juvenile Lab Mice is a scam. Don't give. Also, watch out for Trap Door Realty, Inc., whose slogan is “We Know Where You Stand.”
Should we worry that Chinese President Xi Jinping signed his name on the Paris Climate Change Piece of Paper as “Phil McCracken”?
Among those who sought to replace Sepp “Sepp” Blatter as president of FIFA, the scandal-plagued governing body of international soccer (or else a variant accounting principle), was a South African businessman named Tokyo Sexwale.
“Ding dong ditching” is ringing doorbells and running.
The Federal Reserve has announced that it won’t change the $10 bill after all, because Alexander Hamilton’s private diary says he self-identified as a woman more than 180 days each year.
No, Virginia, "Mother" Bloor was not a Dominican.
I hope your New Year is going swimmingly. Remember not to throw away your list of resolutions after you have broken them all. The other side of the page can still be used, for example, to start that novel that's burbling inside you -- “It was a dark and stormy night…” or -- better -- "I was in bed with my catamite when the bishop came to call. I told the butler to seat him in the morning parlour while I dressed."