Monday, November 25, 2019

Lives of the Philosophers, Pt. 7

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was called Wilhelm at home because his father and grandfather were also Georg. This is the only thing about him I’m pretty sure I understand. I’m okay with that, since his work is used to justify so many opposing philosophies (Marxism, fascism, liberalism, conservatism, Lutheranism, idealism, logical positivism) that if any of them is right everybody else has him wrong. Maybe they all do. This is the guy who said “Sein und Nichts sei dasselbe,” which I think means that existence and its absence are the same thing. So, plenty of wiggle room for different interpretations.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Deadly Pencils of Yesteryear

See, you think you’ve totally exhausted a topic and then a new and exciting avenue of inquiry opens up and you’re inundated with a welcome flood of useless knowledge. I was considering how old-timey telegraph guys were always shown licking their pencils and I remembered a thing my dad had called an indelible pencil. I looked that up and what it is is there’s dye mixed into the pencil lead and you can wet it and it soaks into the paper and you can’t erase it. They’re rarely used now for two reasons: We got ballpoints. The dye was poison.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Then there's "cousin."

Logically, shouldn’t the word “atlantic” mean warlike? Why is there a soft c in hard cider? Quince is a delicious but very sour fruit that should, all things being equal, be called “fifteen” in Spanish. While we’re on the subject of pome fruit, why would you ever buy just a single pear when phonetically speaking you could get a couple of them for the same price? But look, what I really want to point out is that English lacks a genderless term for an aunt or uncle. I’d like to suggest “aunk.” Try it out. You can thank me later.

Monday, November 4, 2019


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