“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”.
Waldo Peirce and his friend John Reed booked
passage together on a freighter from Boston to England. As the ship
was leaving Boston Harbor, Peirce decided that the accommodations were
not to his taste. Without a word to anyone, he jumped
off the back of the ship and swam several miles back to shore. Reed
was then arrested by the ship's captain for the murder of his vanished
travelling companion and thrown into the brig. When the freighter
eventually arrived in England, Peirce was at the dock waiting to greet
his friend Reed—he had dried himself off and taken a faster ship to
- Midichlorians predated The Phantom Menace. There is
a bacterium of that name. It is the closest
known living relative of the free-living bacterium that joined
symbiotically with the ancestor of the eukaryotic cell and became
Yesterday during a discussion of the necessarily relative nature of
“potential energy”, the topic veered into what it would be like if we
measured people's height from the center of the sun instead from to
the surface of the earth.
Me: You'd be like 92 million miles tall.
Katara: Everyone would be the same!
Me: Yeah, but we'd all be taller at night than during the day.
The Big Dictionary has no citation for “pizazz” from before 1937.
The earliest one is:
Pizazz, to quote the Harvard Lampoon and Harpers Bazaar, is an indefinable dynamic quality. (New York Times, 26 Feb 1937)
This strongly suggests that an antedating could be obtained by going through
contemporary issues of Harvard Lampoon and Harpers Bazaar.
The spelling of pizazz has always been variable, but I was surprised to learn
that during the 1960s it was sometimes spelled “bezazz”.
There's a Deaf Smith County in Texas.
It's named after Deaf Smith. What did I expect?
Deaf Smith was born Erastus Smith. His nickname was because he had a
The smell of burnt matches is caused by sulfur dioxide.
The Big Dictionary's earliest citation for the phrase “R&D” is from Pohl
and Kornbluth's novel The Space Merchants.
A while back I complained that the sufficx ‘-potamus’ wasn't
widely-enough used. Today I saw this Reddit comment:
The only people I see with this quote on their car or on a t-shirt
is the stay at home dependapotamus that complains about everything…
All the news that's Rupert Grint.
I dreamed that it was well-known that George H. W. Bush habitually cheated
when putting together jigsaw puzzles, to persuade people that he was better
at doing them than he really was.
In the dream I imagined that he would take a piece out of the puzzle and put
it on the table. Then, when someone came by who might observe, he would pick
up the piece he had removed, look at it for a moment, and put it
instantly in the right spot.
But when I suggested this to someone else, they said that what he actually did
was even more devious and underhanded. I was not able to find out what it was.
I also dreamt I was visiting Shanghai and left my money on the bus.
Rollie Fingers was offered the chance to play for the Cincinnati Reds,
but refused because they would have required him to shave his mustache. .
Michael Douglas is the son of Kirk Douglas
The more I think about this, the more it seems to me that
a monad is not at all a monoid in the category of endofunctors,
but actually a monoidal subcategory.
That's the problem.
According to Twitter, I may have won the Iowa caucuses.
What do I do now?