Today in shocking discoveries from looking at a thing


I don’t put much stock in the so-called Mandela Effect, where you discover you remembered something entirely wrong and figure the universe is broken instead? But I am shaken by this. You ever look seriously at the guy on the Monopoly Board, that I think everyone called Mister Monopoly but Parker Brothers wanted to call Rich Uncle Pennybags, which isn’t a bad name either? OK. Think hard about your mental image of him. Now look at the picture of him on any of the Monopoly sets or playing cards. Notice something missing? That’s right: he hasn’t got a fish tail! Not only is the Monopoly guy not a mermaid, he has never been depicted as a mermaid, except in the fan communities on DeviantArt. I know! That’s exactly the amazement I feel.

Choose Wisely


Lending Locker for the long-stay hotel. 'Borrow a blender or a board game. The Lending Locker is stocked with kitchen items, games and small appliances. Borrow what you'd like by checking in with a team member at the Front Desk.'
“Can I borrow the juice squeezer?” “NO! ONLY the blender OR the board game!” “Can I borrow both?” And the clerk runs back to the manager. “Boss, they’ve broken the system!”

How you decide will affect the precise level of drama associated with your game of Yahtzee.

Also going on: my mathematics blog and its comic strips review. I also briefly debunk a lovely present my aunt and uncle gave me several years ago.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

In getting back to trading after the Christmas break the Another Blog, Meanwhile dropped four points. This beat analyst expectations as they’d figured there was no reason they wouldn’t drop eight or even twelve points considering how poorly everyone does right after a big holiday. Really they’re amazed anyone could get themselves out on the trading floor, considering.

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New Things To Argue About


The Internet is a high-capacity conduit for transmitting outrage from person to person. And yet there are things to be outraged about that you never even suspected to exist, which by itself should be annoying you. Thus we’re doing well so far. Here are some controversies you could get worked up about:

Cleaning The Toothbrush Holder.

Background: If you use one of those plastic cases to hold your toothbrush you’ve probably noticed how it’s got a layer of cruddy substance that we’re comfortable telling ourselves is probably a harmless mold lining the insides, all about an inch past where your longest finger can reach. What’s the best way to clean this out?

The Arguments: One faction claims that the best approach is to set the case into a bowl containing a dilute bleach solution, leave it to soak overnight, and then throw it out. Another maintains that the easiest way to clean it is to set it in the silverware holder through a regular load of the dishwasher, so that the jets of water will cause one or both halves to be popped out of the silverware compartment and get forever lost in the weird, scummy, slightly alarming pool of stuff underneath the spinning plastic blade-y thing. Another faction holds extremely tiny hamsters, but just for the fun of it, because there’s no fitting a hamster in a toothbrush holder.

Vegetarian Spiders.

Background: There’s a species of spider in Costa Rica that, to the surprise of biologists though not the spiders’ chefs, mostly eats plants. All the other 40,000-plus species of spiders are not plant-eaters, so far as they’ve let any nosey humans know. Earlier this week the comic strip Slylock Fox mentioned “spiders do not eat plants”. So: are Slylock Fox cartoonists Bob Weber Senior and Junior ignorant, lazy, or the embodiment of pure evil?

The Arguments: The group most outraged by this incomplete information presents the picture of an impressionable, knowledgeable child, curious about the world, soaking this up as part of a broad understanding of the world; and an embedded seed of faulty information will grow to, say, someday the adult in a hugely public stage, like the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions finals, asked to identify the unusual dietary preferences of the Bagheera kiplingi spider of Costa Rica, and be reduced to a panicky mess by having a cherished belief of a life ripped apart at the moment it costs a million dollars. The contrary faction says you may think worse of them for this but that would be kinda awesome TV.

The Edge Of The Galaxy.

Background: So you know how there’s a galaxy out there? If you don’t, step outside a moment — when it’s safe, don’t go interrupting your business piloting a corporate jet to do this — and look around; the spot where you’re looking is part of a galaxy known as the Milky Way because it is not a carbonated soda. Well, where does it end?

The Arguments: One group will argue that the edge of the galaxy can’t be defined because any objects gravitationally bound to the Milky Way are part of it and therefore objects arbitrarily far away will be part of it. Another group argues that they saw that episode of the Original Star Trek and if there were no edge to the galaxy then the show would never have gone to series because they’d just be going off in a straight line through a lot of emptiness for five years. Another faction has managed to progress the dispute so far that it’s now about whether an unambiguous distinction can be drawn between the Thirty Years War and roofing tile.

Sick Board Games.

Background: Do you remember that childhood board game where you get a cartoony figure with a bunch of organs loosely traced out, and you have to roll a die to mark strikes against one of the organs, and when one of them gets three strikes against it that’s the cause of death of your figure? That’s what we’re talking about.

The Arguments: One group insists this is the sickest game that was ever made in the 1970s or any time before or since. Another group insists this game was never made, it was just a dream, and you’re probably the kind of person laughing at the Jeopardy! contestant with the vegetarian spider. You can probably sympathize with both sides.

Another Note To Consider


So, some good news for a change. Music called, and she turns out not to be angry about what our little band was doing. We’re welcome to try playing again, and Music suggested some good board games. So we got the Monopoly set and put a metronome on it. It turns out the Monopoly snobs are right, the game is really good if you play it in a 6/8 time signature. I lost. Who builds a hotel on Vermont Avenue for crying out loud?