People sometimes say that “there are no stupid questions”. I disagree.
If the question admits only stupid answers, I think that's pretty
strong evidence that it was a stupid question.
A hapless loser on Math Stack Exchange asks:
What is the minimum number of people in a single room so that it can be said “There are two people in this room with birthday in January ”?
Possible answers include:
There is no minimum, because the room might contain any number of people,
all of whom were born in November, and no others.
The minimum is 2, if both were born in January.
The minimum is 0, because you can say whatever you like, regardless of who is in the room.
One often hears the factoid that
In a year, the averge person swallows eight spiders in their sleep.
Of course, this is nonsense. The correct statistic is eight spiders per minute.
Today Twitter has drawn my attention to
#คั่นกูEP11, which they claim
has appeared in 496,000 tweets. This seems to concern episode 11 of
a Thai TV series
I hadn't heard of before.
I like these Twitter trending hashtags because they remind me how big the world is
and how small my little corner is compared with it.
- Just as the umlaut mark was originally a tiny ‘e’ written above the
vowel, and the Spanish ‘ñ’ was originally an ‘n’ with another ‘n’ above
it, there's also a Greek diacritical
mark which is a tiny iota written
below a vowel.
- That wedding music that every movie soundtrack uses was written by
Felix Mendelssohn as [part of the incidental music to A Midsummer Night's Dream](https://open.spotify.com/track/5LNwmPufnGLxEpcYgVhpRz?si=OWMQOoGiSgCK
sA6HRkqgwA). Film producers have a profound, almost fervent
respect for the works of the great composers of the past, because they
are in the public domain.
According to U.S. to Argue It Never Left Iran Nuke Deal, in Bid to Force Arms Embargo, Report Says :
U.S.-Iranian relations have been bitter since the Islamic Revolution toppled the U.S.-backed Shah of Iran in 1979 and ushered in an era of theocratic rule.
That is a heck of a sentence there.
Some might observe that U.S.-Iranian relations had been bitter at
least as far back as 1953, when the CIA and the U.S.-backed Shah of
toppled the democratically elected Iranian government in 1953
and ushered in an era of brutal dictatorship.
New York Magazine:
With Bernie Sanders’s decision to suspend his presidential campaign,
Joe Biden is not just the “presumptive” Democratic nominee, but the
putative nominee: It’s in the bag unless something extremely weird
Apparently “77-year-old man dies” is now “something extremely weird”.
There is not only a Juneau, Alaska, there is also a Juneau, Wisconsin.
The founders of the towns were cousins. The town of Milwaukee, Wisconsin
was also founded by a Juneau.
There is also a town of Alaska, Wisconsin.
Unfortunately, no town of Wisconsin, Alaska.
There is a Wisconsin Township, Minnesota, but the trail stops there.
“Cock-throwing”, a sport in which a chicken was tied to a post, and
players threw sticks at it with the goal of knocking it down or killing
it, was practiced in England as early as 1409.
A papal edict issued by Nicholas I in the 9th century required all
churches to use only the image of a cock as their steeple weathervanes.
Seven versions of La Vie en Rose charted in the U.S. in 1950.
The 1954 film A Star is Born, starring Judy Garland, was itself a
remake of a 1937 film of the same name. .
“Margaret” backward is “teragram”. A teragram is the same as a megatonne.
I do get a lot of spam from organizations people and offering to
supply “content” for my blog, and more often than not they say
I was just browsing slatestarcodex.com and we'd be really interested
in working out a deal for placing relevant, non-promotional content on
I try writing back to these people because I want to know where they
got the idea that I own slatestarcodex. So far none of them has
returned my mail so it remains a mystery.
Today's spam solicitation was more amusing though:
I'm Kenny, Cofounder of … . …
If you find my writing is suitable for your website: shitpost.plover.com,
I would like to create an exclusive article for your website about …
Hee hee hee.
Sorry, Kenny, not shitty enough!
Save us before we perish! For two days we have pined away without snuff.
The pharmacy informed me that they now have delivery service, so I said sure,
deliver my prescription.
I had a very clear picture in my head of what would happen: they would fill the
prescription at the place down the street, then hand it to someone who would carry it
to my door. My wife had independently had the sanme picture.
But no, instead they transmit the order to a central location and ship it by U.S. post.
Why did I expect anything different?
I went to the store this morning. Some things were sold out, most things weren't.
The dumbest thing I noticed that wasn't there:
Massachusetts state law provides:
When the board of health of a town shall deem it necessary, in the
interest of the public health, to require a resident wage earner to
remain within such house or place or otherwise to interfere with the
following of his employment, he shall receive from such town during
the period of his restraint compensation to the extent of three
fourths of his regular wages;
provided, that the amount so received shall not exceed two dollars for each working day.
Thanks to Chas. Owens for bringing this to my attention. The cartoon
panel is taken from Webcomic Name.
I wonder when this law was enacted? The web site does not say.
To “slub” is to pull out and twist a bit of fiber from a wad, in
preparation for spinning it. The twisted lump at the end is also called a
slub. I had previously only known slubs as the little bumps, left over
from the cocoons, that you see on raw silk dresses.
The Pandrol clip is named for its inventor, a guy
named Per Pande–Rolfson.
All the Scandinavian versions of “Peter” are missing the ‘t’: Per, Pehr,
Peer, and Pär. What happened to it?
“Impropriation” is when ecclesiastical property is placed under control
of a layperson. The diary of John Evelyn mentions that the tithing in
some parish was impropriated to his uncle, who then gave £20 per year
back to maintain the church. Why didn't the parish just keep the tithes,
then? (Maybe they came to less than £20? I really don't know.)
The phrase “other fish to fry” goes back to the 17th century:
1660 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence
(1857 ed.) vol III p. 132 “I fear he hath other fish to
According to a sloppy Google Books search, variations appear with
- “Bigger fish to fry”: 25
- “Other fish to fry”: 20
- “Larger fish to fry”: 1
It seems to me that “larger fish to fry” ought to mean the same as “bigger fish to fry”,
but it sounds weird. Is that just because it's unusual? Or is there some pattern
to the way English uses ‘bigger’ and ‘larger’ from which one could
predict that ‘bigger’ would predominate here?
A (Dutch) co-worker informs me that the Dutch version of this phrase
is “andere katten te geselen”. Instead of frying fish, they are
flogging cats. Who knew that the Dutch were so depraved?
(Not really related:
OED Quick Search for “other fish”
asks: “Did you mean: motherish?”.)
In his book Chess is My Life, Viktor Korchnoi wrote: “I went up to the
controller and asked whether it was legal for me to castle when my
rook was attacked. I was assured that it was. Afterwards, this
incident was cited as being an indication of how extremely tired the
players were. But in fact, out of the 2500 games that I had played,
there had never been an instance where it had been necessary for me to
castle when my rook was attacked, and I was not sure that I understood
correctly the rules of the game!”
In 1974, Korchnoi was playing Karpov in the Candidates final for the
right to challenge Fischer. Midgame, Korchnoi strolls over to the
arbiter O'Kelly de Galway, and asks if he can castle while his rook
is attacked. O'Kelly looks at him stunned, but answers yes. "It had
never come up before," Viktor shrugged.
According to Wikipedia, Bono belonged to a “surrealist street gang”.
What the heck is a surrealist street gang? Did they ride flaming
giraffes? Did they get into pitched battles with the dadaist street gang
from the next street over?
After the departure of Mayor Pete from the presidential campaigns, I
wondered who else was of Maltese descent. Of course Wikipedia has a
list but I was not expecting to see Britney
Spears on it.
Also, Justine and Jason Bateman.
The name of the Hungarian dessert crêpe
palacsinta (and similarly in Austrian,
Italian, and a bunch of Slavic languages) is the same word as
It's Latin for “cake”.
Learned a bunch of other stuff but forgot to blog it.
I ran my program, was puzzled when it didn't produce any output.
So I modified it, ran it again, did this six times in a row before I
figured out the problem.
I was actually running
chmod +x program.
I asked the coffee shop lady how she explains capers when a customer asks what they are.
She said “tiny pickles”.