Anagrams of sin

I’ve been reading some of Dylan Thomas’s early short stories. I noticed fairly quickly that one of the recurring place names in them, “Llareggub,” is “bugger all” backwards; but it didn’t occur to me to look carefully at other names in them. But then I poked around online to find out more about the stories, […]

“Kiss me out of the bearded barley”

Sometime in the past year or two, I was listening to the Sixpence None the Richer song “Kiss Me,” and got curious about the line “Kiss me, out of the bearded barley”; I wasn’t sure what it meant. I poked around online to find out more; I think that all I found was the annotation […]

Tautological history

I happened across, and was amused by, this line the other day: History would never have happened were it not for events in the past. —WaPo commenter Ken99M Reminded me of Anna Russell’s line “Things would be so different if they were not as they are,” from How to Write Your Own Gilbert & Sullivan […]

Misinterpreting the royal lives clause

I was really confused about a legal clause that I read about in the news. I eventually figured it out, but I thought it was worth writing up my confusion. Recently, Disney set up a legal agreement that’s intended to last in perpetuity; or, if that turns out to violate the Rule Against Perpetuities, then […]

How to pronounce Finnish Moomin names

A video about how to pronounce the original Finnish names of many of the Moomin characters. (12-min video, from August, 2022; from @KatChatsFinnish, a channel intended as a resource for English speakers who are learning Finnish.) If I understood right, the person who made the video doesn’t know some of the characters’ English names; at […]

hat trick

I’ve heard the phrase hat trick lots of times, but I just learned that I’ve been wrong about what it means. It turns out to mean three successes of the same sort (esp. in a short time). Which led me to wonder why it means that. Dictionary to the rescue: the term "hat trick" […]


A pun from Facebook: Studies show that cows produce more milk when the farmer talks to them. It's a case of “in one ear and out the udder.” (A quick web search suggests that various versions of this joke have been around for a while and have no clear author, so I’ll leave it unattributed.)