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Urban Legends: Blue Star Acid

Urban Legend: a story that appears mysteriously and spreads spontaneously in various forms and is usually false.   The “Blue Star Acid” story warned of a form of LSD soaked tattoo that was being sold to school children.  The designs on the sheets were said to be the size of a pencil eraser and included […]

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Aglet: At the End of a Shoelace

An aglet (or aiglet) is a small plastic or metal covering used on the end of a shoelace, cord, or drawstring. An aglet keeps the fibers of the lace or cord from unraveling.  Its firmness and narrow profile make it easier to hold and easier to feed through the eyelets, lugs, or other lacing guides. […]

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Geekery: Nybble – Half a Computer Byte

In computing, a nybble, aka “nibble,” is a set of four bits. Since there are eight bits in a byte, a nybble is half of one byte. In the computer world, two nybbles always equal one byte. The four bits in a nibble allow it to have 16 possible values, which is the same as […]

cat-whiskers

Anatomy of a Cat Whisker

Cats have dozens of movable vibrissae (whiskers) over their body, especially their face. Vibrissae are usually thicker and stiffer than other types of hair but consist of inert material and contain no nerves, like other hairs. They are different from other hairs because they are implanted in a special hair follicle incorporating a capsule of […]

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Name Origins: James Bond

Author Ian Fleming took the name for his 007 character from American ornithologist James Bond, a Caribbean bird expert and author of the definitive field guide Birds of the West Indies.  Fleming, an avid birdwatcher, had a copy of Bond’s guide and he later explained to the ornithologist’s wife that “It struck me that this […]

wolves-howling

Why Do Wolves Howl?

By Rudy C. Spatz   When next month’s full moon unveils its luminescent splendor, and you feel the call of the wild to start howling, the ancient stirrings have more to do with one’s position in time and space than yelping out show tunes on the mountain top. While some humans might feel a strange […]

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Mountweazel

Tricks and Traps: Mountweazels

Mountweazels, aka fictitious entries, copyright traps, and ghost words, are deliberately incorrect entries in written and reference works such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, and maps etc. used to detect plagiarism or copyright infringement. The term was coined by The New Yorker magazine in 1975 and based on a fictitious entry for Lillian Virginia Mountweazel in the […]

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Picasso vs. Braque: Who Can Tell the Difference?

From 1909 – 1914, Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso worked closely together daily to develop Cubism. Both artists produced paintings of monochromatic color and complex patterns now called Analytic Cubism. By 1911 their styles were extremely similar and during this time, it was virtually  impossible to distinguish one from the other.

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Dilemmas: Morton’s Fork

A Morton’s Fork is a choice between two equally unpleasant alternatives, or two lines of reasoning that lead to the same unpleasant conclusion. It is analogous to the expressions “between the devil and the deep blue sea,” “between a rock and a hard place,” or the Spanish phrase “between a sword and a wall.”    […]