Wednesday, September 30, 2009

'Dog Vomit Slime Mould'

I had the good luck to discover this charming species, Fuligo septica in taxonomical terms, when one of its less noxious but still unpleasant cousins sprouted up on my kitchen floor. Ick, and more ick.

A slime mould is a particular kind of mould that, well, is slimy. Apparently, hilariously, slime moulds can make their way through mazes and control robots - at least according to a creationist website I saw (if you ask yourself why i would be scouring creationist websites, you don't know how distressed I was by the thing on my kitchen floor). Mine was bright yellow and spongy. There is a kind of slime mould called 'scrambled eggs slime mould' because it apparently looks like scrambled eggs. Then, there's 'dog vomit slime mould' - which presumably looks like, well, you know - which takes vulgarity in nomenclature to a whole new level. Honestly, why is there no punk band out there calling themselved 'Dog Vomit Slime Mould'?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

'Colorado Brown Stain'

To make a long story short: somewhere in the United States (Colorado, I guess), way back in the day, it was discovered that kids had teeth that were stained brown in colour, and maybe even cracked and pitted, but had surprisingly few cavities. Through some miracle of warped logic, this was deemed a good thing and the kids were deemed lucky.

It turns out, to put the cart before the horse, that these kids were drinking water that was chock-full of fluoride. It didn’t take long before the government decided that kids everywhere should be as lucky as this bunch of Coloradans, so the fluoridation of water that is such an issue in “Dr. Strangelove” was born.

All because of a mystery condition that bore the spectacularly unlovely name “Colorado Brown Stain”.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

'Praise-God Barebone'

Ever heard of the Fifth Monarchists? No? Well, neither have I. Turns out they were around in the 17th century and figured that the Apocalypse was imminent: namely, 1666. Obviously, they had egg on their faces in 1667. But it makes me happy to think that millennialist nutbars have hundreds of years of predecessors to look back on. The Wandering Jew must be ecstatic about it.

Anyway, they had a minor role in English parliamentary history when Oliver Cromwell went a little nutty, creating a republic (a ‘commonwealth’) and playing around with different kinds of government before just becoming a straight dictator. His last attempt had the awesome name “Barebone’s Parliament” not because it was particularly cash-strapped but because one of the MPs had the awesome surname “Barebone”.

Even cooler: a Fifth Monarchist (who was republican…), Mr Barebone bore the arse-kicking given name “Praise-God”. Apparently ‘phrase names’ were all the rage then.

Still cooler yet: Apparently, he was maybe possibly christened as, dig it, Unless-Jesus-Christ-Had-Died-For-Thee-Thou-Hadst-Been-Damned Barebone. It’s just a pity they didn’t have birth certificates back then. Or “Hello! My Name is…” stickers.

Note: whether or not Praise-God himself bore that name, his son, an economist, certainly did. Way, I repeat, way cool.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

'Fannie Mae' and 'Freddie Mac'

Oh, those nutty economists. Just how nutty are those economists? Well, first they set-up two drearily-named organisations that do things that I’ll never understand but that involve money. These were the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Lone Mortgage Corporation. Perhaps as those names were tough to condense into 7-digit telephone numbers, they decided to give their acronyms cutesy pronunciations. So “FNMA” became “Fannie Mae”, which is better I guess than “Finn Ma”, what I would have come up with, and “FHLMC” became “Freddie Mac”, a stretch if I’ve ever heard one. I get the “Mac” bit, but “FHL” has pretty much nothing whatsoever to do with “Freddie”… perhaps they could have tried “Franhilda Mac”?

Oh well. Again, them wacky economists – what’re you gonna do? The thing is, though, that the FNMA and the FHLMC are so fond of their cutesy nicknames that they’ve actually rebranded themselves accordingly – ignoring the question of who would ever take a stuffed-shirt organisation seriously with a name that either is British English for ‘Vagina Possibly’ or sounds like the late Bernie Mac’s little brother.

No wonder they needed bailouts.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

'Country-singing Merles'

At first I wanted to nominate Merv Griffin, on the off chance that Mr. and Mrs. Griffin, some time back in the thirties or whatever, actually said, “Oh my God! It’s a boy! Let’s name him Merv!

It turns out, however, that the Griffin family brainstorm actually produced “Mervyn”, a name which, while assuredly weird, is much more name-like than “Merv”.So on it goes to the Merles of the world. It takes a strong man to have a name that rhymes not only with “pearl” but also with “squirrel”, but for some reason fully three country-and-western singers have drawled their ways through life with the name “Merle”. And none of them decided to adopt stage names. All three of them are really Merles. So here they are, in all their glory:

Merle Haggard, an all-round awesome name that tops up the “Merle” with an adjective that means tired and rundown, and apparently has albums called “Swinging Doors and the Bottle Let Me Down” – pinnacles of nomenclatural awesomeness.

Merle Kilgore, the one I’d never heard of, though apparently he co-wrote Johnny Cash’s awesome country ‘n’ mariachi hit “Ring of Fire”, for which he’d always have a place at my table if he weren’t dead. Kilgore is an impressive name too, being a combination of two features of horror movies or, back in the nineties, an exhortation to assassinate the vice-president.

Merle Travis, the one with the plainest name and, based on Wikipedia’s assertion that ‘his lyrics often discussed the exploitation of coal miners’, the biggest dork. And to win a dork-race among Merles, well that’s saying something.