Archive for January, 2018

Typography map of Europe

Fascinating article (from 2012) about a German map that showed “the distribution of typefaces across Europe in 1901.” Article goes on to discuss the political significance of the Fraktur style of typefaces, and the ways that the Nazis first embraced and then rejected that style.

XXX: uʍop-ǝpısdn

It appears that in all these years, I’ve never yet written about turning text upside-down. Note: It’s possible that some parts of this column won’t be readable, depending on the font in which you’re reading it. Apologies if so. I think that if you view this column on the Words & Stuff site, in a […]

Pants revisited

(This post is more or less NSFW.) Back in column III (which includes some NSFW material), I wrote about a game in which you replace words from Star Wars quotations with the word pants. Years later, I came across a list of the Top 278 Star Wars Lines Improved By Replacing A Word With “Pants”. […]


Spondonicals is another name for billy grips: a sort of detachable pot handle, which you can use to grip the edge of a pot on a campfire. I first encountered the term on an Australian “bush-walking” site (linked above), which quotes someone as saying that the term derives from a Three Stooges movie. For more […]


In 2010, Mary Anne posted about the word sprezzatura, referring to “a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it.”

Signs at Penn Station

Article from Slate, published in 2010, about signs and wayfinding in Penn Station. It’s a little far afield from my usual topics here, but I think the ways that words (and other kinds of indicators) can help us or hinder us in navigating a space are more or less on-topic.

Neural net comes up with bird-species names

Janelle Shane, who has trained neural nets to generate entertainingly semi-plausible names for all sorts of things (Pokémon, Star Wars characters, etc), posted a new list about a month ago: bird names. But this time, most of the names weren’t much weirder than real names of bird species. Still, I enjoyed them. A few I […]