Saturday, January 01, 2000


Here you can view all the articles I have written, all in one place. These are also linked from the main page. This also happens to be the archive page for January 2000, but these weren't actually written at that time; I just needed a place to put this.

Brains vs. Brawn: The Rise and Fall of an American Legend

Chapter 1: Sasquatch Attacks!

My girlfriend and I went to look at cars to buy yesterday. I find all cars absolutely boring...they all look basically the same, and I don't give a shit if one goes slightly faster than the other, because I drive cars in a city, not a race course. 140 kph is good enough, and every car can do that. I also hate that driving a car unnecessarily pollutes the environment. Parking sucks too.

However, there is one car which is just different enough from other cars to make me like it a bit more. It's called the smart car. It is small and enviornmentally friendly and weird looking.

So we went to look at one. Luckily, there is a Mercedes dealership right here in London, Ontario. The car salesman came to greet us, and although he was friendly, there was something shifty about his eyes. After talking about options and pricing, he offered to take me on a test drive. "But first," he said, "I have to go take care of some business."

I got in the passenger seat, and he told me to put on my seatbelt. We drove for a while, and before I realized where we were going, we were in a pretty bad part of town. I was about to ask him what was going on, when there was a crash behind us.

I looked back, and saw that a large truck had just rear-ended us. And you'll never guess who was driving the truck. It was Bigfoot!

The car salesman told me to relax, then did a sudden U-turn. He explained to me that the smart car was small and maneuverable, and very fun to drive. He also showed me the power windows, as he clicked his window down and pulled a gun from under the seat.

He began to accelerate and fire at Bigfoot's truck at the same time. He told me to take the wheel, so I did, and I noticed that it was indeed pretty fun to drive.

We passed Bigfoot, and he turned around to follow us. The salesman took the wheel back, and turned down a side street. He began accelerating toward what looked like a dead end, with a narrow alleyway blocking our way. I screamed, thinking we would hit a wall, but the car was so small that it managed to fit into the alley. "Imagine how easy it is to park" said the salesman, and I laughed.

There was an explosion behind us as Bigfoot tried to follow us into the alley with his large truck (one of those flashy trucks with giant wheels; not sure what they're called). Too large to fit, the truck smashed into the walls of the alley. The salesman slammed on the brakes, and I looked back to see an orange ball of flame where the truck used to be. The salesman fired a few shots into the windshield, just to make sure.

As fiery bits of metal, glass and fur rained down upon us, I realized that the smart car is really great, and I'd probably like to buy one.

So yeah, that was a pretty fun day I guess.

Chapter 2: Purchasing Power

After the exciting test drive, we decided that we're going to go for it and buy the car, despite the fact that we will now be completely broke. I'm talking about stealing free food from the grocery store and conferences at the university, then bringing it home to eat in the dark, because we can't afford electricity, broke.

In any case, we went back to the dealership to sign the forms and order our car. Since we wouldn't be quite broke enough after buying the basic model, we decided to spend a bit more and get the "passion" (i.e. pretty and luxurious) model. It will be black and silver and built just the way we want it. Nice.

However, just as we were about to sign the order form, we heard a shattering sound from the front of the dealership. I grabbed V and hit the floor just in time to avoid being hit by a flying smart car which had just crashed through the front window. It rolled a few times, destroying several million-dollar Mercedes. Immediately, every car salesman pulled out guns from under their sharp suits and began firing at the window. At first I couldn't see what they were firing at, but as the dust settled I saw a dark shape standing there. It was Bigfoot again! He was alive!

I could see that Bigfoot was still smoking from our last encounter, but appeared to be fine. He swatted away bullets like flies, and leaped into the dealership. He picked up another smart car from the show floor and bit off a side mirror with his teeth, before crushing it between his hands like a tin can. He was about to smash another car, when there were sirens in the distance. Bigfoot paused, listening, then leaped back out the window and disappeared.

I turned to the salesman, who was already cleaning his shotgun and appeared completely calm. "Don't worry about that, happens all the time", he said, and slid the forms toward us. I asked him what the hell was going on, but he said that was a story for another time. I sighed, then signed away $250 for the deposite. Damn, $250. That's messed up.

Anyway, here is what our car will look like:

Chapter 3: Taco Hell

So, our car has finally arrived. We went to pick it up on Friday after waiting four months for it (it was custom ordered). We are already broke, eating stale dirt for dinner.

However, it is a beautiful little car. I will post some pictures here when I have some.

After bringing it home, I realized that I now have the freedom to go wherever I want. I'm no longer at the mercy of bus routes and going to places that both me and V want to go. I can get up at any time and drive wherever the hell I want.

So where was the first place I went? Taco Bell. V hates Taco Bell, so I haven't been there in years and years.

I arrived and picked up the new Crunch Wrap supreme. As I got my funky new smart keychain out of my pocket and prepared to leave, there was an explosion at the front of the store! It was friggin Bigfoot again! Only this time he had brought along his army of undead kangaroos with him.

Experts in explosives, the kangaroos hopped through the new hole in Taco Bell's wall, throwing joeys full of napalm at me.

I dodged with expert skill and grabbed some hot sauce packets. I began squirting them, aiming for the eyes. A few went down, clawing at their burning sockets, but more hopped in to take their place. Taco Bell employees were burning alive, but to my surprise, the surviving employees were putting their fallen comrades into meat grinders and making tacos out of them. I knew it!

I reasoned that the only way to get out of this alive would be to take out their leader: Bigfoot himself. I crawled under the counter and picked up a bucket of concentrated Pepsi. While tasty in small doses, I knew that it was horribly toxic when consumed in its raw form. Using my ninja powers to turn invisible, I snuck up behind Bigfoot and poured an entire tub of raw Pepsi into his mouth.

Bigfoot's eyes bulged out of his head. His mouth began to foam. I took advantage of the momentary distraction and made a run for the border. With his last breath, Bigfoot said: "I shall get you next time! You and that environmentally friendly fuel efficient car!"

There are three things which are certain in life: death, taxes, and the fact that Bigfoot hates nature.

I sped home, using hardly any fuel, and finally got a chance to relax. I ate my Crunch Wrap supreme, knowing that I deserved a reward for a job well done. Bigfoot's plan to destroy all of nature had failed...I had finally killed Bigfoot.

OR HAD I?!?!?!!!!1?!

Chapter 4: Why Opposites Attract

I woke up this morning to find that the city had moved into the season of fall. I swear I could see my breath in my bedroom. I looked out the window; no snow yet. However, my ninja senses picked up danger. I looked out over Western road, and saw a large truck/SUV/tank thing speeding down it. In the back was a blanket covering a large mass. A brown patch of fur sticking out told me that it was Bigfoot. Had he survived? Or was somebody carting the body around?

Then I noticed who was driving the truck. As I suspected all along, it was Dracula. Who else could have created those undead kangaroos for Bigfoot?

Let's compare Dracula and Bigfoot for a second. Dracula can be killed with a stake through the heart or direct sunlight, while Bigfoot is at his strongest during the day, and has a heart made out of pure steel. Bigfoot can run faster than a cheetah on the ground, but Dracula can turn into a bat and fly at supersonic speeds. Dracula is polite, charismatic and charming, while Bigfoot doesn't even wash his hands after going to the bathroom. Dracula is also repelled by garlic. Well let me tell you something about Bigfoot...he loves garlic. Bigfoot once killed every man, woman and child at a garlic factory just to steal a few cloves of the stuff.

So, it would appear that the two monsters are complete opposites. Why would they be hanging out together? Well you see, one's strengths make up for the other's weaknesses. If Bigfoot and Dracula wanted to infiltrate a wooden stake factory, then Dracula could charm the armed guards into letting Bigfoot inside, who could then go inside and destroy the stakes without fear of poking himself. They are the perfect pair.

Things looked worse than ever. I chose not to pursue the truck...they were close enough to finding where I live without me giving it away. I prayed that Bigfoot was dead, being driven to a funeral by his undead friend. Somehow, though, I doubted it.

Chapter 5: The Case of the Harmful Halitosis

Today, I went out to drop off some movies (Fantastic Four and Mr & Mrs Smith...both OK but not great movies). On the way home, I noticed a wonderous sight at the corner of Oxford and Wonderland. There was a castle there which had not been there the day before. I pondered this for a moment, then came to a startling realization: Dracula had moved into the neighbourhood. It's the way vampires work, you see; they move from place to place, using their magic vampire bricklaying powers to instantly make comfortable castles to live in. If you drive by that intersection, you probably won't see it though. Only those who have been trained in the way of the ninja have eyes capable of seeing these castles.

I activated the smart car's stealth capabilities and pulled into the driveway, hoping to find some clues as to Dracula and Bigfoot's plans. I sifted through the garbage can and found some documents referring to an evil plot to put rotten meat in all new smart cars, making them reek of decay instead of new-car-smell. What bastards! They needed to be stopped...but how?

As I was about to leave, the door to the castle opened. Bigfoot came out, wearing a bath robe and slippers. God damn, he was alive after all. As he bent down to get the mail from the doorstep, a hand shot out of the doorway and pinched Bigfoot's ass. Dracula stepped out, giggling, and the two monsters locked lips in a furry embrace. I had a feeling they were more than friends. I drove off, instantly aware of what needed to be done.

I prepared a lovely gift basket full of garlic. I put a pretty bow on it, and addressed it to Bigfoot. Love, Dracula.

I disguised myself as a delivery man, then returned to the castle and rang the doorbell. Luckily, it was Bigfoot who answered. As we all know, Bigfoot loves garlic, and as soon as he saw the basket and read the card on it, he ate the whole thing in one mighty bite. I watched as he turned around, a big smile on his face, and called for Dracula.
The vampire ran into the room. He smelled the garlic and recoiled, but Bigfoot was overcome with gratitude. Bigfoot ran to Dracula, picked him up in one massive hand, then kissed him on the forehead, kissed him on the ears, kissed him on the nose, and finally, kissed him on the mouth. By the time he realized what he had done, it was too late. Dracula's face was melting off, burned by Bigfoot's garlic infused slobber.

Bigfoot's cry of anguish sent a cloud of garlic-laced breath across Dracula, finishing him off. I fled the castle as Dracula was reduced to a pile of dust, not wanting to be there when Bigfoot's rage was unleashed.

One down, one to go.

Chapter 6: The End of the Road

Lately, the #1 question asked about our smart car is "how does it handle in the snow?" The answer is "the same as any other car, dumbass." I really found out how good it handled earlier today, when I got into a bit of a slippery situation. Let me tell you about it.

After my last encounter with Bigfoot, I studied the documents recovered from his trash. I deduced that his plan was to strike the Mercedes factory in Europe at midnight on the night of the winter solstice, hiding raw meat in every car coming off the line. Although Dracula was out of the picture, I had no doubt that Bigfoot would attempt to carry out the plan in his memory. So I activated the smart car's jet capabilities and flew to Europe, determined to stop the plan from ever reaching fruition.

I came upon the factory in the dead of night. It was cold and blizzardy out, and I could feel my snot freeze as I got out of the car and watched the factory through some binoculars. All seemed normal, until a set of headlights suddenly shone right behind me! I pulled out my bow and arrow, ready to fire, but it was not Bigfoot who got out of the car. In the darkness, I first thought it was William Shatner who stood before me. However, as he drew closer, I saw that it was only Tom Hanks.

"Tom!" I said, "what are you doing here?"

"I'm here to promote my new movie, The Da Vinci Code, which features an exciting smart car chase in it. I heard about Sasquatch's plan, and I thought that stopping it would be good publicity."

"Interesting, Tom," said I, "but I see no reporters or cameras. How will the public know about this act of heroism?"

"I knew that you would be writing about this on your world-famous blog," said Tom flatteringly.

Before I could ask any more questions, there was a commotion at the factory. I looked through my binoculars just in time to see a flash of fur dart into the main doors. Two dead guards lay on the snowy ground. I immediately turned around to chase Bigfoot, but Tom stopped me. "Do you really think that's 'Smart'? Going after the mighty Sasquatch with only a bow and arrow?" he said. I knew he was right, and almost began to weep with despair. But then Tom placed an object in my hand. "This is no ordinary gun," he explained, "this gun shoots TIME BULLETS. They will transport anything they hit to another time!"

I smiled, and gave Tom a nod of thanks. I charged into the factory, a bow in one hand and the time gun in the other. I followed a trail of dead bodies to Bigfoot, who was standing at the end of the assembly line with a bag of raw meat. I became even more angry when I noticed that it was kitten meat. Bastard! I fired the bow rapidly with one hand, using the ancient ninja techniques of drawing the string with my teeth, but it was no surprise that the arrows bounced right off of Bigfoot's tough hide.

He looked at me, fire in his eyes. "You are the individual who has injured me grievously, and murdered my beloved husband" he roared with fury. "Have at you!"

The monster threw several half-completed smart cars at me, but I managed to shoot them out of the air with the bow. Bigfoot roared again, and charged straight at me. I took steady aim with the time gun, then fired. Unfortunately, the time bullet only struck his left leg. The leg was transported back in time with a flash of light.

I later read a history book describing the story of a poor family who, during the Great Depression, prayed to God for food, any food. A large hairy leg then appeared on their kitchen table. The family ate it, but described it as "stringy", and later became atheists.

Anyway, before I could reload and fire again, Bigfoot managed to get into one of the cars coming off of the line. He wouldn't have fit into it, had his left leg not been missing. Damn! He drove off at top speed as I got into another smart, giving chase.

As I drove away, I saw Tom Hanks outside. Bigfoot's army of undead kangaroos had arrived, and Tom was fighting them off with a box of grenades. "Life is like a box of chocolates" he said, "you never know what the hell you're gonna get!" Tom then pulled a handful of grenades out of the box and tossed them at the kangaroos, laughing maniacally the whole time.

Knowing Tom could take care of himself, I drove past. I chased Bigfoot for what seemed like hours, maneuvering down the twisting and narrow European roads. The car handled surprisingly well in the snow, though I slipped around a little bit. I think I'll get snow tires for my own car. Finally, Bigfoot took a turn a bit too fast and crashed into a lightpost. The car exploded on impact, since lightposts in Europe use volatile gases as power. Bigfoot got out of the car, his fur on fire.

The monster has survived my attacks before, so I knew that I really had to finish him off this time. I stepped on the gas and aimed the car toward him. I made sure the time gun was on the seat beside me, then activated the smart car's self destruct feature. The car struck Bigfoot, catching him on the roof, and I immediately jumped out of the car door, rolling in the snow. The car traveled a few more feet, then exploded. The heat caused all the time bullets in the gun to go off at once, opening a giant portal through time in the middle of the road.

Through the portal, all I could see was bright red light. I immediately knew that it was a portal to the distant future, when the sun has swallowed the earth and life as we know it no longer exists. The shell of the car careened into the portal, carrying Bigfoot right into the center of the sun. I briefly saw the outline of his skeleton before he was completely incinerated.

My mission was complete. I had finally destroyed Bigfoot, the symbol of everything that is wrong with the world. I had a party that night and invited Tom Hanks, but he didn't come.

Too good for me, is he? I might have to kill him next.

Well, I hope you've enjoyed reading about my experiences so far with the smart car. This story has been 100% true. Bye now.

On Cartoons

Ok picture this: you're sitting in a crowded movie theatre watching Disney's "The Little Mermaid" for the first time. It's a pretty good movie, so you're starting to get into it. You sit back, eating popcorn and drinking pop that you smuggled in from the variety store next door (because pop is WAY too expensive in movie theatres), and you're letting your mind think the random thoughts it normally thinks while watching a movie. "It would be kinda cool to live underwater", you think. "Wow, this movie is sure animated well", you notice. And then a thought comes out of nowhere: "Hmmm, I wonder what's under those seashells that Ariel's wearing?"

At first you're embarassed that you'd even consider thinking such dirty thoughts about a cartoon character. But then you look closely at Ariel, in all her big screen glory, and realize that she really is pretty damn hot. Especially after she loses that fish tail.

Perhaps this hasn't happened to you (especially if you're female), but statistics show that over 73% of all heterosexual males have found a cartoon character attractive at least once in their lives. Like most statistics, I just made those ones up, but I'm sure it's pretty close to the truth. Think about it: cartoons are physically perfect. They have perfect skin, big, bright eyes, and curvy bodies. The animators at Disney make them this way on purpose. You wanna know why? Here's a statistic so obvious I didn't even have to make it up: 95% of the people at Disney are horny bastards.

If you need proof of this, simply go down to your local video store and look at the box of The Little Mermaid. See those towers in the background? Isn't their shape a little...odd? Ok, now actually rent the movie, and fast forward to the part where Ariel and some guy are getting married or something. Keep an eye on the little priest guy, especially his crotchal area. You can't blame him really...I mean, if I saw Ariel in real life, I think my pants would be feeling a little tighter too.

I once saw a TV show about the making of Beauty and the Beast. The people at Disney spent a lot of time researching exactly what the beast should look like. They went through pictures of various animals and monsters from past works of fiction, and eventually decided he should look kinda like a baboon. So why shouldn't they do the same thing for the women in their movies? They could look through pictures of actresses and porn stars, find the best parts from all of them, and put them all together in one bundle of cartoon perfection.

"Gotta get in tune with Sailor Moon 'cuz that cartoon has got the boom anime babes that make me think the wrong thing"
--Barenaked Ladies

The people at Disney aren't the only ones guilty of teasing us with images of attractive people that aren't even real. Look at Sailor Moon. I hear that in the original Japanese version of the show, they actually got naked once in a while. The existence of this "anime" or "japanimation" (those movies you see in video stores that say THESE CARTOONS ARE DEFINITELY NOT FOR KIDS, YOU MUST BE 18 TO RENT THEM written on them) alone proves that I'm not the only one who's looking at cartoons as more than cute happy fuzzy animals.

Speaking of animals...perhaps I'm going too far here, but I think the love interest in Disney's version of Robin Hood was a real fox. (Sorry, that was a horrible joke).

Ok by now you're probably thinking that this Phronk character is as much of a horny bastard as the people at Disney. Well, maybe I am, but I admit it so it's ok. And you should too. So the next time you're watching a Disney movie and the main female character comes on, stop trying to tell yourself that she's just a cartoon character, that's she's not kinda cute. Disney has done years of research to make you think otherwise, and you would never want to let Disney down, would you?

P.S. Mulan doesn't count. The fact that she could pass as a man by cutting her hair says enough.

Quotes Page

Some Good Quotes: Wisdom from geniuses other than me

Organized in semi-logical order.

"The heart has its reasons which reason does not know"
-- Pascal, Pensees, 1670

"You can only find truth with logic if you have already found truth without it."
-- Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936)

"It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts."
-- Sherlock Holmes, A Scandal in Bohemia

"Art is science made clear."
--Jean Cocteau (1889 - 1963)

"Everything is vague to a degree you do not realize till you have tried to make it precise."
- Bertrand Russell

"I made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it short."
--Blaise Pascal

"The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane."
- Nikola Tesla

"True enlightenment lies on the verge of insanity"
-- Aristotle

"I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different."
-- Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

"Dreaming is the singing of the mind."
-- Sean Lennon

"Last night I dreamed I ate a ten-pound marshmallow, and when I woke up the pillow was gone."
-- Tommy Cooper

"Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night."
-- Edgar Allan Poe

"What kind of person does it take to invent a fictional world? Someone who is profoundly disappointed in the real one."
-- Clive Barker, Psychology Today, April 2009

"Hand-painted colour photography of super-fine images of concrete irrationality."
-- Salvador Dali, describing his work.

"Shyness has a strange element of narcissism, a belief that how we look, how we perform, is truly important to other people."
-- André Dubus, Broken Vessels, 1991

"I am a deeply superficial person."
-- Andy Warhol

"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion."
-- Sir Francis Bacon

"They always talk who never think."
- Matthew Prior

"You must not think me necessarily foolish because I am facetious, nor will I consider you necessarily wise because you are grave."
-- Sydney Smith

"An intelligence test sometimes shows a man how smart he would have been not to have taken it."
--Laurence J. Peter

"Originality is the fine art of remembering what you hear but forgetting where you heard it."
--Laurence J. Peter

"Expert: a man who makes three correct guesses consecutively."
--Laurence J. Peter

"Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for - in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it."
-- Ellen Goodman

"I have no money, no resources, no hopes. I am the happiest man alive."
-- Henry Miller

"Happiness isn't something you experience; it's something you remember."
- Oscar Levant

"It's not that I'm afraid to die. I just don't want to be there when it happens."
-Woody Allen

"Why should I fear death? If I am, death is not. If death is, I am not.
Why should I fear that which can only exist when I do not?"
-- Epicurus

"I was dead for millions of years before I was born and it never inconvenienced me a bit."
-- Mark Twain

"Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it
ceases to be serious when people laugh."
- George Bernard Shaw

"Don't be content to be the chip off the old block - be the old block itself."
- Winston Churchill

"If you can do a half-assed job of anything, you're a one-eyed man in a kingdom of the blind."
-- Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

"Know what I pray for? The strength to change what I can, the inability to
accept what I can't and the incapacity to tell the difference."
--Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes)

"It may be that the old astrologers had the truth exactly reversed, when they believed that the stars controlled the destinies of men. The time may come when men control the destinies of stars."
--Arthur C. Clarke

"Statistics: The only science that enables different experts using the
same figures to draw different conclusions."
- Evan Esar

"It's not pre-marital sex if you're not getting married."

"The Pillsbury doughboy is way too happy considering he
has no genitals."

"Most of the trouble in the world is caused by people wanting to be important."
-- T.S. Eliot

"If Atheism is a religion, then health is a disease!"
--Clark Adams

The scientist yearns to find and eventually know the truth;
The religious man wants the truth to fit his preconceived mold. So, as a result...
The scientist alters his perception to conform to the facts;
The religious man tries to change the facts to conform to his beliefs.
--(no source)

"Unanswered questions are far less dangerous than unquestioned answers."
-- The Roadside Pulpit

"Midgets have little in common."

"If you meet your master today, kill him. Be your own master."
-- Marilyn Manson

"Without being self aggrandizing. I've seen the little tidal waves that
I've caused in the music industry, and how people are becoming more
evolved in their images. And there are a lot of new Marilyn
Mansonesque people, but I don't get mad at those things.
It's like there's one real Santa Claus, but there's a
lot of fake ones at the mall."
-- Marilyn Manson

"The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing."
-- (Unknown)

"A man doesn't know what he knows until he knows what he doesn't know."
--Laurence J. Peter

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and
I'm not sure about the former."
--Albert Einstein

"The glass is neither half empty nor half full. It is twice as large as it
needs to be."

"Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it."

"The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts working the moment you
wake up, and doesn't stop until you get to school."

"Life is like a shit sandwich; the more bread you have, the less shit you
have to eat."

"Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only animal that
is struck with the difference between what things are and what they
ought to be."
--William Hazlitt

"I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning,
that's as good as they're going to feel all day."
-- Frank Sinatra

"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it."
- Groucho Marx

"All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is
the removal of censorships."
--George Bernard Shaw

"A censor is a man who knows more than he thinks you ought to."
-- Laurence J. Peter

"The wages of sin are death, but by the time taxes are taken out, it's just sort of a tired feeling."
-- Paula Poundstone

"History is a set of lies agreed upon."
-- Napoleon Bonaparte

"Reality is nothing but a collective hunch."
-- Jane Wagner

"Time weighs down on you like an old, ambiguous dream. You keep on moving, trying to sleep through it. But even if you go to the ends of the earth, you won't be able to escape it. Still, you have to go there - to the edge of the world. There's something you can't do unless you get there."
— Haruki Murakami (Kafka on the Shore)  

"I am Time: And I have destroyed countless beings, even the gods who
preside over this universe. I am the consumer and you are our food...This
relationship is not based on mutual likes or dislikes."
-- Yoga Vasishta

When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty.
-- George Bernard Shaw

"For many, faith is a suitable substitute for knowledge,
as death is for a difficult life."

"To assert that the earth revolves around the sun is as erroneous
as to claim that Jesus was not born of a virgin."
--Cardinal Bellarmine, 1615, during the trial of Galileo

"I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god
than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible
gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."
--Stephen Roberts

"Some problems are so complex that you have to be highly intelligent and well informed just to be undecided about them."
--Laurence J. Peter

Shirley's Adventures in Science

This is an assignment I handed in for a Classical Studies course. We had to write a story, then analyze some of the words for their Greek / Latin origin. I present it here for your educational benefit.

Classical Studies 100b: Assignment #1

Mike *****

January 22nd, 2002

Shirley's Adventures in Science

Chapter 1

Once there was a boy named Shirley. One day, he was walking down the street when he saw Nicole and her boyfriend Tom sitting on a dumpster. Shirley had a huge crush on Nicole, and this drove Tom insane with jealousy. As soon as Tom saw Shirley, he went into a bovine rage. Tom's fists flew repeatedly into Shirley's head. Shirley, a frangible boy, broke into two pieces.

"Stop this fatuous commotion!" screamed Nicole. Tom stopped his assault. Shirley, thoroughly embarrassed, pulled himself together and crawled to the hospital.

Chapter 2

Ten years later, Shirley was a successful scientist. His specialty was the genetic makeup of monkeys. One day, he drifted to sleep while working late into the night on the mundane task of counting monkey DNA. He dreamed of Nicole, for the first time in years. Seeing her there, in intangible dream form, made him long for the real Nicole. When he woke up, he vowed to find Nicole and make her his wife. "Surely she must have broken up with Tom by now," he thought, then laughed at the reference to his own name.

Shirley came up with a plan. In the stinky darkness of his lab, he created a new species of monkey. This was no generic monkey, this monkey was 20 feet tall and could shoot peanut butter out of its eyes! Shirley made a brilliant deduction: he could ride his monkey to Nicole's home, then ask her to marry him. She would be so impressed by his arcane knowledge of monkey DNA that she would want to do vulgar things to him.

Shirley rode his giant monkey out into the night. He found Nicole's house, and ordered the monkey to crash through her bedroom wall. The monkey did so, and Shirley was faced with a grave sight. Tom was there, in bed with Nicole. Shirley began to cry, as Tom pulled a shotgun out from under the bed. The monkey, sensing the pertinent danger they were in, shot two gobs of peanut butter from its eyes. The gobs hit Tom, and he collapsed in a brown gooey mess. Nicole got out of bed, rubbed her eyes, and looked at Tom.

"Mmm, peanut butter, my favourite!" she cried, and ate a handful of the wonderful stuff. She smiled perversely. "Shirley? Are you responsible for this?"

"Yes ma'am." replied Shirley.

"Any man who can create a peanut butter monkey is the man for me! Let's go get married now!" squealed Nicole. She joined Shirley on the monkey's back. They rode off into the sunrise together and lived happily ever after.

The End

Analysis of Bolded Words


sanus (adj.) "sound, healthy" (san-)

+ in-: prefix, used with adjectives, meaning "not"

Literal meaning: "Not healthy."

Modern meaning: "Not mentally healthy. Crazy."


< bos (n.) "cow" (bov-)

+ -inus: suffix indicating possession or having features of

Literal meaning: "Having features of a cow."

Modern meaning: "Like a cow. (Note: in my experience, cows can be pretty violent. So "bovine" is a legitimate characteristic of rage)"


< frangere (v.) "to break" (frang-)

+ -ibilis: suffix forming an adjective, meaning "capable of being"

Literal meaning: "Capable of being broken."

Modern meaning: "Breakable, or fragile."


< fatuus (adj.) "foolish" (fatu-)

Literal meaning: "Foolish."

Modern meaning: "Stupid, silly, foolish."


< motus (v.) "move" (mot-)

+ com- : prefix meaning "together"

+ -io, -ionis: suffix forming a noun, meaning "state, quality or action"

Literal meaning: "A state of moving together."

Modern meaning: "A condition where there is a lot of motion. A disturbance."


< mundus (n.) "world" (mund-)

+ -anus: suffix forming an adjective

Literal meaning: "Having characteristics of the world."

Modern meaning: "Boring or ordinary…i.e. of this world, not heavenly."


< tangere (v.) "touch" (tang-)

+ -ibilis: suffix forming and adjective, meaning "capable of being"

+ in- : prefix meaning "not"

Literal meaning: "Not capable of being touched."

Modern meaning: "Incapable of being perceived by the normal senses. Immaterial."


< species (n.) "appearance" (speci-)

Literal meaning: "The appearance of something."

Modern meaning: "A classification of animals. Animals within a species have a similar appearance and are capable of interbreeding."


< generis (n.) "race, kind, origin" (gener-)

+ -ic: adjective-forming suffix.

Literal meaning: "Characteristic of a certain race."

Modern meaning: "Relating to an entire group. Not out of the ordinary in the group."


< ductus (v.) "lead" (duct-)

+ de- : prefix meaning "down"

+ -io, -ionis: suffix forming a noun, meaning "state, quality, action"

Literal meaning: "The act of leading down."

Modern meaning: "Drawing a conclusion through reasoning. I.e. being lead down a path of clues and coming to a conclusion (?)."


< arcanus (adj.) "secret" (arcan-)

Literal meaning: "Secret."

Modern meaning: "Mysterious, or only known by a few people. Rare."


< vulgus (n.) "the crowd, ordinary people" (vulg-)

+ -aris: suffix forming an adjective

Literal meaning: "Characterized by the ordinary people."

Modern meaning: "Something lacking in refinement, or offensive."


< gravis (adj.) "heavy" (grav-)

Literal meaning: "Heavy."

Modern meaning: "Somber, dark, or serious. Not 'light.'"


< tenere (v.) "hold" (ten-)

+ per- : prefix meaning "thoroughly, very"

+ -entis : adjective forming suffix.

+ vowel weakening ('e' becomes 'i')

Literal meaning: "In a state of being thoroughly held."

Modern meaning: "Very relevant to the current situation. Should be held in attention."


< versus (v.) "turn" (vers-)

+ per- : prefix meaning "thoroughly, very"

+ -ly: suffix forming an adverb

Literal meaning: "Doing something in a way which involves thorough turning."

Modern meaning: "Doing something in a way that is opposed to what is right and good."