2015.08 minutiae

  • I have a whole lobe of my brain devoted to remembering commercials that begin with a singer announcing the name of his dog.  So you can imagine my relief to get confirmation from the Internet that at least I didn't make these up.

  • I don't make a practice of watching Fox News, so maybe people have been making this observation for years, but I watched the first Republican presidential debate, and was struck by how many commercials were for treatment centers for dying people.  I guess that's not too surprising given the demographics of the Fox News audience, but that particular implication hadn't occurred to me.

  • It occurs to me that I've owned about a skrillion Mastercards in my life but never a single Visa.  I wonder how that happened.

  • I happened across an article with a clickbaity headline — it was something like, "What's the warmest day of the year? The answer may confound you to the point that you have to check into a mental hospital!" or some such.  I thought I had a pretty good idea what the twist would be, though: people would probably guess the middle of summer, when experience and observation had long since taught me that the very end of summer is when it gets really hot — we're talking early to mid-September.  So I took a look at the map, which I have re-rendered here:

    Key: June, early July, mid-July, late July, early August, mid-August, late August, September.

    I was indeed confounded!  Because it turned out that I was right — but only for the thin purple strip along the west coast, where I grew up!  I just took it as a given that temperatures peaked shortly after Labor Day, right around when school started, but it looks like for vast swaths of the country, July actually is the hottest month!  (And for certain desert dwellers, temperatures peak before summer even officially starts!) 

  • P.S. to the above:  And apparently in some parts of the country, school starts before Labor Day.  Insanity!

  • When I was putting together my article on Babbitt I noticed that Sinclair Lewis uses the word "practise", which I think of as a Britishism: in the U.S., both the noun and the verb are now spelled "practice".  What now occurs to me is that American English also lost the noun/verb distinction between "licence" and "license", but settled on the -se ending for both — while British English frequently uses the -ce ending for both.  Chaos!

  • One thing about Babbitt that amused me a lot was that it's a book from 1922 in which the main character repeatedly grumbles that the only thing his teenager cares about is "wireless telephony".  Plus ça change…

  • Anthony Black of Delta Airlines: "Delta offers a variety of seat products […]"  Agh.  Well, I guess I should be grateful he didn't say "seat solutions".

  • A letter written by Archie Monroe Glass, Jr.: "Mr. President, I'm going to murder you very soon by shooting you in the head and will do the very same thing to the winner of the November Presidential election."  I don't think that's how it works!  I think you pretty much have to pick one.

  • So Barack Obama changed the official name of the tallest mountain in the United States from "Mount McKinley" to "Denali".  I went to Wikipedia to read more, and encountered one small problem:

  • Facebook: "Closer-Than-Normal Full Moon Rises on Aug. 29 for 1st of 3 Consecutive Months".  That's right — in September and October, that moon will also rise on August 29th.

  • I went outside one morning this month and my neighborhood smelled overpoweringly like fire.  I tried to go for my usual run but I had to call it quits early because I couldn't really breathe.  I did see an old man jogging down the sidewalk backwards, however.  When I got back inside I went online to find some information about the fire — it turned out to be a burning warehouse in Vallejo full of lead batteries.  So if my articles get more stupider after this now u no y.

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