CSotD: Sunday Kvetching

Arlo and Janis (AMS) offers some annoying truth about design over function.

Granted, Arlo and I are both old enough to remember life before remotes at all, as well as corded remotes that you couldn’t lose but you could trip over.

But flatscreens have done away with easy-to-use backup controls, because there isn’t sufficient depth on the edge to mark them, so that, if they are on the edge at all, you can’t tell which does what.

The compensatory factor is that they now sell universal remotes that are not only inexpensive but simple, by which I mean (A) under 10 bucks and (B) you don’t have to graduate from Star Fleet Academy to figure them out.

Buy half a dozen and you’ll probably be able to find one after two weeks when they’ve all disappeared.


Juxtaposition of the Day

(Loose Parts — AMS)


(Big Nate — AMS)

Loose Parts plays upon a central feature of Virtual Beanie Babies, which is that you can promote a dubious concept by constructing an explanation that will make people think you’re smarter than they are, since you understand it and they don’t. And, since you’re smarter than they are, they should trust you and give you their for-real money in return for some of your pixie dust.

Which makes the Big Nate cartoon kind of a spin on the old gag of asking a 10-year-old to straighten out your hi-tech whatever. The boys may have stumbled onto an unfortunate abbreviation, but they aren’t dumb enough to mow the guy’s lawn in exchange for the aforementioned pixie dust.

Even Elon isn’t falling for that one, and, to go back to Loose Parts, he has an explanation.


And before anyone goes to the comments section to explain that block chain is a real thing and makes sense, I offer this Pickles (AMS) as evidence that you can be correct and yet be wrong.

To start with, a lot of English “grammar rules” are nonsense, invented by pedants to give an appearance of order and consistency to a delightfully mongrel language.

A language, I would add, that is spoken by real people, with senses of humor and flairs for irony, who add colloquialisms to breathe life into their conversation, irregardless of the so-called rules, which don’t make me no nevermind no how.

As for varying pronunciations of “nuclear,” here’s an entertaining and informative explanation from a source so devoid of humor that it’s known as the Gray Lady.

Hopefully, that will help.


The little squirrel in the margin explains the joke in this Reality Check (AMS) so I don’t have to.

I play Wordle not quite every day, but several times a week. The reason I don’t play every day is that it makes so few ripples in my life that I often can’t remember if I’ve already done it. It’s kind of like those little seeds you can pop in your mouth after dinner in an Indian restaurant — pleasant, but hardly the highlight, or, certainly, the point, of the trip.

As for people posting their scores, it was brilliant marketing for the app, but I notice that complaints about it have dwindled and my only remaining negative is that, now that I’ve trained my mind to ignore those pointless posts, it makes me tend to ignore everything from the score-posters, some of whom I’d like to hear from on more substantive issues.


Juxtaposition of Constructive Criticism

(July 20)

(July 23)

I’m enjoying Crabgrass (AMS), the newly launched strip on GoComics, but Tauhid Bondia needs to find a second set of eyes, or — assuming he has an editor at the syndicate — a third set, because this week had two unnecessary flubs.

The first one is picky, but, in real life, Kevin wouldn’t have declared the 9 tables as hard, or, if his teacher were on her toes, she’d have taught him the trick most of us picked up in fourth or fifth grade: Subtract one from the number, then make it add up to nine. F’rinstance, if you’re doing 9×6, you take one from 6 and get five, then add a four. Five plus four is 9, and 9×6 is 54.

As someone who spent many, many evenings slumped over arithmetic homework at the dining room table, learning how to game the 9 tables was a godsend.

The second one is less picky and more central to the gag: They have started putting electric motors on bicycles.

There’s a guy who rides his ebike through the dog park every morning, with Chester and Henry happily trotting along beside him. If you haven’t encountered them — the bikes, not Chester and Henry — you need to know that they aren’t motorcycles, since you still have to pedal at least part of the time.

Crabgrass is a promising new strip, and, if you haven’t added it to your GoComics feed, you should. But we’ve got to find this guy somebody like Frank Reynolds’ wife to make his life miserable and his cartoons perfect.


The Buckets (AMS) brings up the combination of pity and annoyance I feel for those hapless Dagwoods wandering the aisles of the grocery store with their phones to their ears while they take orders from Central Command.

Which is better, fer godsake, than being sent with a list on paper and then coming home with (gasp!) the 8-ounce instead of the 12-ounce can of the wrong brand of tomato sauce. Far better to stand there in the aisle reading labels into your phone to confirm every item.

This isn’t nucyular physics, folks: The person who does the cooking does the shopping.


Our city has added more flowers to the lane dividers, with little signs telling the name of the company sponsoring their upkeep, and rural highways have long saved money by having volunteers clean up the litter in exchange for a sign, admittedly with an occasional controversy.

So I wouldn’t mind the sponsorship idea in this Off the Mark (AMS), with one caveat: I refuse to watch a 30-second video before being allowed to step off the curb.


Confession: I’m featuring this Pros & Cons (KFS) because it provides a segue into this lovely Melanie Safka cover of a Phil Ochs song at the 1976 memorial concert for him.


17 thoughts on “CSotD: Sunday Kvetching

  1. Regarding e-bikes (I’m a 50+ year bicycle mechanic and restorer, and am retired from a motorcycle dealership that also carries e-bikes): What’s passing for an e-bike today is varying widely. They’re varying from being a recognizably powered bicycle that can be pedaled home should the battery go flat, to two wheeled vehicles that, despite having pedals solely to keep the ‘bicycle’ classification, are in reality smaller light duty motorcycles with a frame geometry that makes pedaling anywhere difficult to verging on impossible. And big, fat wheels and tires to carry the weight. And the more expensive of these have a performance that outdoes mopeds (in VA, under 49cc, 35mph top speed, must be titled, licensed, and the rider must have picture ID and a DOT legal helmet) while being almost completely unregulated, because, of course, they’re ‘bicycles’.

    Not surprisingly, the bicycle style e-bikes aren’t selling well at all, while the ‘light motorcycle’ versions are moving quite well. To the point that moped sales are dead.

  2. Two items this morning:

    1) Only ’cause you mentioned them . . . Doonesbury (reruns) has an apropos take on Beanie Babies, starting Monday . . .

    2) ” . . . since you still have to peddle at least part of the time.” Well, I suppose those who rent these out are peddling them, but those who are using them are pedaling them.

    Item #2 brought to you by Ms Pedant.

  3. Andréa – Every e-bike owner I’ve met peddles them constantly! It’s exhausting at parties.

  4. Nope nope nope. “Nuclear” is right, “nucular” is wrong, because the power comes from an atom’s nucleus, not its “nuculus.” I can’t read your NYT article behind its paywall, but it doesn’t matter who learned to pronounce what in which Navy (I presume that’s what the article says because that’s the usual excuse). If that’s not a hard line worth drawing, then words have lost all meaning and trying to communicate is pointless.

    I am exaggerating my outrage for humorous effect.

    You’ve defended “could care less” as a sarcastic or ironic variation of the “couldn’t care less” before, but I don’t see what’s sarcastic or ironic about it. If it’s some sort of joke I don’t understand the punchline, unless the punchline is “I say things wrong.”

    Also exaggerating for humorous effect.

    Two neighbors have fancy new e-bikes, and both *require* the rider to pedal for them to work. The battery/motor provides a nice assist for climbing or distance, but they look and function like actual bikes, and are surprisingly light. Most importantly, neither of my neighbors would likely ride a bike at all without the assist, so I think they’re great.

  5. And by “pedal them to work,” I mean they must be pedaled for the motor to operate and help propel the bike, not pedal them to their places of business. I can read all those pedantic little minds out there, just waiting to pounce……


  6. Well, Brian, just between you and I:

    I put nucular in the same category as lieberry. They both grate on me, especially in the latter since I’m a lieberrian. However, I grew up in North Florida* and they’re both so firmly a part of Southern speech that I can’t fault anybody for using them. It’s kind of like tomato, tomahto, and mader.

    *North Florida is part of the South. South Florida is part of the North. This is only understood by people who have lived in Florida.

  7. I would put “I could care less” in the same category as “You don’t say!”
    which nobody objects to, but makes no sense to a literalist, since, obviously,
    the person just DID say. It is a variant of “as if I care!” which, again, nobody
    weeps over.

    Some of these colloquialisms are like Comic Sans, which is a universally hated
    font not because of any intrinsic flaw but because someone decided it should be.

    I’ve replaced the NYTimes link with a “gift link” that should open for everyone.
    Trust me that it is very much worth reading, especially the corrections, which
    made me feel a whole lot better. If the Gary Lady can stumble twice, who amongst us
    is perfect?

    Click here. By which I mean on the link just after the word “here.”


  8. Actually, since internal combustion power plants are engines and electric ones are motors, what people call motorcycles would more properly be called enginecycles, leaving “motorcycle,” appropriately, for e-bik…

    Oh, crud. You just caught another one, didn’t you?

  9. I would maintain that the link doesn’t actually come after the word “here,” but after the name of the word “here:” not after a use of the word but a mention of it.

    A comment that seems to be in line with today’s column.

  10. The NYT is being published out of Indiana now?

    I knew newspapers were facing hard times, but this is shocking.

  11. Actually, the nines are easy, even without the “trick”. Kids learn the times tables in order from 0 (or 1) up through 10 (or 12). By the time they get to the nines, they’ve already learned all the earlier single-digit numbers times nine. Commutative law, ya know.

  12. The 9s were the easiest to memorize, excluding 1 and 10. No need for that addition trick. Just memorize up to 5 and then the numbers flip (9×2 = 18; 9×9 =81).

  13. “it’s the sevens. the sevens are the hardest-est.”

    I always had more trouble with the googleplexs. (Googleplex times infinity equals what? Show your work.)

    “Uh, lots?”

  14. Buy a Roku TV. Download the Roku app onto your phone or tablet. Now your phone or tablet is your backup remote.

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