Bread lies

Spam subject line: 5 Dangerous Lies about Bread I didn't read the message, but I assume this is what it said: Bread will creep into your house at night and steal all of your valuables. Bread is a minion of Satan, and you are what you eat. When you spread peanut butter on bread, the […]

Sequel titles

Coming soon from the Coen Brothers: Blood Simple II: Blood Simpler. I think I made that one up. I’ve also suggested that the sequel to The Mac Is Not a Typewriter should have been called The Mac Is Still Not a Typewriter. A couple of other sequel titles, these ones not by me (I don’t […]


Note: Arachnophobic people may want to skip this post. The Wikipedia article about note-taking uses the word spidergram. It turns out that spidergrams are better known as spider diagrams, and that in the context of note-taking, that basically means mind-mapping, which I was previously familiar with. But I’m posting about the word spidergram for three […]

Sixty-one “letters”

I just read/skimmed a story from 1983—“Cryptic,” by Jack McDevitt—in which the protagonist has come across a radio signal that seems to include “sixty-one distinct pulse patterns, which was to say, sixty-one characters.” The protagonist consults the only linguist he knows, who says, among other things: “Sixty-one letters seems a trifle much.” And goes on […]

Bear and bar

A bear walks into a bar and says, “I’ll have a beer ……… and a whiskey.” The bartender says, “Why the big pause?” I had never heard that before, and I laughed out loud when I ran into it online the other day. Turns out it’s widely enough known that there’s even a song based […]


On Tumblr a year or two back, in a discussion of Leonard Cohen’s song “Hallelujah,” user bigscaryd noted that the phrase “tag your favorite line of hallelujah” scans to the meter of the song. Which led to other people creating new meta-verses to the song. Like this from animatedamerican: you tried to read the words […]

Fruit on wheels

As for this tropical fruit: it lived a long and happy life. When it retired, it faced a quandary: it loved its house, but it also loved to travel. In the end, it put wheels on the house and traveled all over the place, having many wonderful adventures. And that’s the story of this old […]

sf -punks

I continue to be annoyed by the proliferation of the -punk suffix to refer to subgenres of speculative fiction, but I shouldn’t be. It started with cyberpunk. Whatever you may think of that term, at least the -punk part was included in the word for a good reason: the idea was that cyberpunk works embodied […]

Mathematical notation in fiction

In two of the Hugo Award-nominated works of fiction, equations appear in the text. In one of them, a power of a variable is represented with ^, a caret. In the other, multiplication is represented with *, an asterisk. Both of those notations are very common in plain-ASCII-text email. But it seems unlikely to me […]


Encountered a new-to-me snack food yesterday: Peatos. I was initially startled, because I felt like the world is not yet ready for a peat-based snack food. Turns out that the idea is that it’s a Cheetos-like snack made with peas instead of corn.