May 25, 2008


Filed under: pedantry, pointlessness — Brian @ 4:07 pm

I had my first Snickers in a while today, and on the wrapper it said, “Substantialiscious.” Hmm. Inside was this definition: “(noun). The weight of something when you weigh it with your tongue.”

Via Google, I find that Ryan G also noticed the mis-classification-iscious-ness of it: clearly this would be an adjective and not a noun. By the way, Mr. G is #2 at Google for this term, a position he should value for its addition of the objective weight of algorithm-driven authority to his opinion, which opinion I am proud to share.

But I must go further. If “substantialiscious” is truly “the weight of something when you weigh it with your tongue,” then it isn’t even a relative term. I propose this to be implicit in declaring it to be a noun. Nouns are not relative. They just are. Any given “substantialiscious” shares core traits with any other such person, place, thing, or idea.

We are further left to assume that anything one weighs with one’s tongue becomes forevermore a “substantialiscious,” merely by the act itself. Unanswered is the question of whether it retains whatever character it brought with it to the tongue-based determination of mass-times-the-force-of-gravity or whether “substantialiscious” also effaces any previous reality. “That was a bite of pizza, but no longer. It is now and forevermore a substantialiscious.” If this were true, then one’s stomach is, at all times, filled to varying degrees with substantialiscious and nothing else, save perhaps stomach acid and bile. This strikes me as unlikely.

Or – is “when you weigh it with your tongue” meant to indicate a single, passing point in time, after which things return to their previous state? Does, “when,” equate to “while,” here? That is, while one weighs a thing with one’s tongue, that thing transforms into a thing called a “substantialiscious” and, upon its removal from the tongue, or tongue-based weighing instrument, returns to being “a beet” or what have you?

In my opinion, the confusion implicit in this new word far outweighs (whether weighed by the tongue or any other means) the word’s potential utility. It will not find a home in my vocabulary.

The Snickers, though? There’s room for more of those.


April 7, 2008

They Fry Chips in Oil, Right?

Filed under: pointlessness, recommendation — Brian @ 8:18 pm

Health food idea: potato chips.

They fry ’em in oil, right? So, why not fry ’em in (omega-3 rich) fish oil instead and call ’em health food?

I’d try it myself, but I don’t have the patience to cut open that many fish oil pills myself.

Someone please try this out and let me know how it goes.

January 9, 2008

Fantasy Band

Filed under: advertising, Art, pointlessness — Brian @ 9:59 pm

Following Eric and Beth, I couldn’t resist this one.

Here are the steps:

I give you, “Do it for me” by Hierocles of Alexandria:


A fine inspiration for a band name. According to Wikipedia, “He seems to have been banished from Alexandria and to have taken up his abode in Constantinople* where he gave such offence by his religious opinions that he was thrown into prison and cruelly flogged.”

Photo credit: Ryan Dickey
(I’ll say that if you wanted album art, you could do much worse than what meesterdickey has in his photostream.)

*not Istanbul.

December 4, 2007


Filed under: pointlessness, Uncategorized — Brian @ 8:24 pm

Meme-ery from Jim – who renamed it from “Stuff I Hate About the Holidays” and, for reasons undisclosed, removed number four, which I’ve reinstated.

1) dessert/cookie/family food: Hmm. A food I hate. A holiday food I hate… I’ll have to get back to you, on this one.

2) beverage (seasonal beer, eggnog w/ way too much egg and not enough nog, etc…). I’ll second the crime of fruity beers. Ugh.

3) tradition (church, family, other). Shopping.

4) Decoration: Anything inflatable.

5) gift (received or given). Socks. Plain white gym socks. (Without making it out to be more than it was, my mom wanted to be sure we had lots of stuff to open, so sometimes we’d get things under the tree that we’d normally get in the laundry basket. She’s sweet that way.)

BONUS: SONG/CD that makes you want to tell the elves where to stick it.. EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM! by halfway through the month. It’s the month for books on CD in the car. Though, I gotta say I love feliz navidad. Not for the song so much as for hearing someone say, “prospero año,” which I wish we’d say instead of “happy new year.” It sounds so much better.

September 12, 2007

Why North-South is OK, but East-West is Problematic

Filed under: pointlessness — Brian @ 8:16 pm

Ever since leaving Chicago, I have a hard time telling east from west. Anyone who’s lived near a Great Lake can sense where the lake is when they’re within, say, 50 miles, and they know in what direction it lies. (When I lived in northern PA for a summer, I could sense where Lake Erie was, and was constantly 90 degrees off in my sense of direction. Lake Erie is north of PA, Lake Michigan is east of IL.)

In the middle of Ohio, all we have is north-south rivers. I am grateful that they’re at least uniform that way, but I have no trouble telling north from south. East from west, I have to think about.

To do it here in Ohio, I have to picture which direction the Atlantic ocean is, and then I know east. When I go home from work, for example, I’m heading toward the ocean, but I stop 500 miles short.

Why do I need a body of water to tell east from west, but I just know north from south?

I think I know.

We process written information and pictures mainly left-to-right. So the default “directionality” of things is left-to-right. But the way people talk about things on maps is “east-west,” as in, “that road goes east-west.” Nobody (that I know) says “west-east.” (Maybe because the US was settled east to west? Is this an American thing?)

Anyhow, it’s one direction for maps, another for everything else. This is why up & down is no problem, but if I have to go sideways, I’m likely as not to go the wrong way sideways.

I know you were curious. Now you know.

July 16, 2007

Mess with the bull, get the horns

Filed under: pointlessness, whatever — Brian @ 6:56 pm

A new crop of humans learns the lesson.

Have you seen the pictures? The one I’m thinking of is the bloodless one currently the most popular on Yahoo News photos – sent more than twice as many times as number two, which is a cute baby panther.

There’s nobody here I can talk about it with, so I’m telling you guys … man! What timing on that photo! Don’t you want to know what happened in the next half-second? How did he get down?

I certainly hope he turns out OK. According to the AP, his name is Christopher Neff, age 24, from Norway. Or Michael Lenahan, 23, from Philadelphia. They’re both going in my prayers tonight.

It’s easy to sit here and shake my head and question the intelligence of these guys, and wonder if they don’t get what they deserve. But these guys don’t really deserve that. Sure, it’s stupid to run in the street with wild animals. But most adults men I know only grew a brain after they or someone close to them had their own brush with mortality. Usually from something intentionally stupid. (Self included.)

Isn’t that why there’s an extra four or five boys born for every hundred girls? Because some of us kill ourselves off, going out of our way to do something stupid, while we’re young?

I’m glad his condition sounds improved. I hope he’s able to run again soon. And I hope he won’t do it with the bulls next time.

June 28, 2007

iPhone Videoconferencing

Filed under: Apple/Mac, drawing, pointlessness, whatever — Brian @ 7:24 pm

Wouldn’t this be cool?
I mean, in a wierd sort of way…


…inspired by…

June 14, 2007

The Bible on Pi

Filed under: pedantry, pointlessness — Brian @ 7:36 pm

I found this post today in the WordPress Dashboard, making what at first almost appears to be a Good Argument that the Bible Is Wrong In This One Case Someone Pointed Out Here in I Kings 7:23, which says,

He made the Sea of cast metal, circular in shape, measuring ten cubits from rim to rim and five cubits high. It took a line of thirty cubits to measure around it.

The argument is that the Bible says pi equals “3. Also known as 3.00 or 3.0.” Well, 30 divided by 10 is 3, so it sounds like he’s got a point. Pi never ends, so if you say “it’s 3,” you’re really kind of wrong.

But you’re still wrong if you say it’s 3.14159. There is no string of numbers you can point to and say, “that’s pi!” and be correct. Even if the Bible used digits instead of words, here, there is no way it (or any other text) could state pi “correctly.” Sure, you can state it with more digits, and be less wrong. But it is not possible to state pi with any number of digits and be correct.

But his argument immediately goes off the rails in another direction, too. “3.00” is not at all the same thing as “3”. “3” could be anything from “2.50” through “3.49.”

In math, you cannot get a result that’s more precise than its least precise input. Said another way, the maximum allowable precision in an output is equal to the lowest number of significant digits in any of the inputs. And “ten” and “thirty” are the only inputs, and they each have one significant digit. So the output cannot have more than one significant digit.

And pi – to one significant digit – is three. That is, 3. Not 3.0, nor 3.00.

So the Bible implies that pi, to one significant digit, is 3. Which it empirically is.

To be clear, I’m nothing close to a Biblical scholar. But you can spot the holes in this “scientific” argument 1.609344 kilometers away.

June 13, 2007

Bumper Stickers Are the Answer

Filed under: humor, pointlessness, whatever — Brian @ 7:01 pm

I love bumper stickers. I don’t have any myself, but I love to read the ones on other peoples’ cars and try to figure out what they’re really saying.

Quite a few of them are opposed to something, but don’t offer an alternative, which kind of limits their utility. I know – they’re bumper stickers, not essays – but still. It occurs to me to run around with a pad of post-it notes and leave followup questions on the driver’s window. Sometime, I’ll start doing that.

Here’s one I’ve seen a few times around here: “Well-behaved women rarely make history.”

I don’t know what that means. Women in general rarely make history. Same with men. That’s the whole point – something that “makes history” is by definition rare. So, what do “well behaved women” have to do with anything? It seems to want to imply that poorly-behaved women frequently make history. And so, if you’re a woman who wants to make history, be sure to behave poorly.

Hmm. Now that I write it out, I see the wisdom. Change “make history” out for “make headlines” and it’s unquestionably true. Check the “popular stories” on any time for the photographic evidence.

Another one – you’ve seen it – seems to imply an unanswerable question. “War is not the answer.” That’s just teasing. Don’t just say what the answer isn’t. Tell us what it is!

I found out today on a bumper sticker. In white letters on a green background, it said, “Trees are the answer.”

So, there you go. War is not the answer. Trees are the answer.

Next up: what was the question?

June 8, 2007

B is for…

Filed under: pointlessness, The Neighborhood — Brian @ 6:19 am

From Gwynne, who used it as an excuse to get away from politics, to me – I’ll use it as an excuse to get away from being away.



Use the 1st letter of your name to answer each of the following categories.
They should be real places, names, things…nothing made up! If you can’t think of anything, skip it….

Copy and Paste to answer in your blog.

Your Name: Brian

Famous singer: Bob Marley
4 letter word: Beer
Street name: Busch Blvd.
Color: Brownish-amber
Gifts/presents: Beer Helmet
Vehicle: Beer Truck
Things in a Souvenir Shop: Bottle Opener Keychain
Boy Name: Brian. As previously stated.
Girl Name: Betty
Movie Title: Brew, Strange
Drink: Beer
Occupation: Brewmaster
Flower: Barley
Celebrity: Burrows, James
Magazine: Brew Your Own
U.S. City: St. Louis, MO
Pro Sports Teams: Brewers, Milwaukee
Something found in a Kitchen: Bag of mixed nuts
Reason for being late for work: Beer, excessive, recently.
Something you throw away: Bad Beer
Things you shout: hooray, BEER!
Cartoon Character: Barney Rubble

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