This archived article was written by: Carlie Miller
I felt that it is time once again to add to your education by filling your heads with useless information. But is it truly useless? I did my best to stick to topics of everyday concern from gasoline to football, information that I am positive most of you thought about at least twice in your muddled lives. Of course I couldn’t help but add some random information to help you identify the world around you such as what is the musical exercise from the Sound of Music called and what is the name of a rock/brick you throw through a window? I am fascinated with words and phrases and how they influence culture and how culture creates and influences them. This article is twofold: you will learn more and expand your vocabulary, both increase societal status.
First, let us plow through some enthralling words and their meanings. If you are in your second year of college, you are called a “sophomore.” Why? I can tell you that the meaning is positive but the origin is not so nice. Sophomore or “sophism plus -or” means, “one who practiced sophism.” Sophism is the art of argumentation, debate if you will. It is suggesting that a second-year student gains some experience and knowledge and shows it through his or her speech. The Greek origins sophos meaning “wise” and moros meaning “moron” or “fool” bluntly states that the student is “wise at the point of foolishness” making the title of the second-year college student an oxymoron (and not a nice one at that).
Next time you want to throw an object through a window, be sophisticated about it. Do not say to your friends, “Watch this, I’m gonna throw this rock through Pizza Hut’s window.” Say instead, “Watch this, I’m gonna throw this dornick through Pizza Hut’s window.” Dornick is the official name of a projectile used to break windows (at least in Ohio) that is derived from the Irish dornog which is a small rock. It also happens to be the name of a fabric originally made in the Flemish town of Tournai.
So what is it called when you “do-re-mi it” like the von Trapp family? Well the group of syllables is called the “Aretinian syllables” or “Guido’s scale” after its creator, the Italian monk and musician, Guido d’Arezzo. The action of practicing the scale was to sol-fa, but the Italians were not satisfied and so came up with solfeggiare and the noun solfeggio. We English speakers thought that was a fine enough name and did not bother to Anglicize-it. Hence to sing along with Maria and the gang is to solfeggio.
Okay, word meanings and origins are out of my system, I will now answer your subliminal but burning questions. When you are at the gas station and waiting for your car to fill up, I bet (with the nickel I found in my car) that you look at the fuel price sign and in between curses and tears you wonder, “What’s with that other number?” It seems that the Internet is a flurry with guesses and accusations but, the average seems to say pure custom.
Once upon a time, gas cost X cents instead of X dollars. The oil companies would simply add tax to the gas price (in a very strange fashion) so $0.15 per gallon with a tax of $0.009 equals $0.159. After a while it was no longer necessary to combine price and tax in this way but, the oil companies were fond of the ever climbing three decimals and desired to be different from all their economic peers.
In the age of DVD and Blue-ray, one might ask themselves, or a friend, “DVDs are the same size as CDs, so why are DVDs packaged in larger cases?” According to some sources, CDs were packaged to fit into vinyl record storage racks with two CDs to every shelf (that way, you did not have to throwaway the record rack) and DVD cases match the height of VHS cases so video rental stores would not have to buy new shelves to accommodate DVDs.
The sources say that this way, consumers would be more attracted to buying CDs and DVDs because they could store them with their records and VHS tapes. I am suspicious of these explanations because I cannot recall a time when stores wanted to save you money without some sort of catch to buy something else. I remember when DVDs started to become popular and stores were selling thousands of DVD racks, sorters, protectors and much more. In fact, these items are still being sold today. Maybe we will never know the true reasons for why some things are the way they are or the information is out there somewhere and people are just not curious enough to care.
I know some of you have been reading through this article with frustration, trying to catch the paragraph about football or maybe they have given up but, it is finally here. What do Looney Toons have to do with the Green Bay Packers? This is the final thought that I hope will leave you thinking about how any type of information connects to every type of information. So, are we all familiar with the football team known as the Green Bay Packers? Just in case I will give a quick briefing.
Legend says that Curly Lambeau and George Calhoun of Green Bay, Wisconsin decided to start a football team in 1919. Curly worked for Indian Packing Co. and the team was given the name “Packers.” The Packers were successful and in 1921, the young National Football League decided to make the Packers a franchise team and gave the go to the team’s owner, the Acme Packing Co. (who took over the Indian Packing Co.) Now Acme lost the team in 1922 but, I will leave you to Google it if you want more information on the Packers.
So, what do Looney Toons have to do with the Green Bay Packers? In the 1920s, business telephone directories (Yellow Pages) were organized and alphabetized. Businesses created or changed names so they could be found at the front in the A section. The Acme Packing Co. was one of these. In the iconic cartoon Looney Toons, many boxes of saws, nails, dynamite and a wide variety of objects were stamped with the Acme logo. Acme became the acronym (or backronym if you want to be technical) for “A Company that Makes Everything,” hence the liberal use in Looney Toons. Looney Toons was also able to play on the word “acme” as its Greek origin means “the peak or prime” or it is the best but, in Looney Toons almost all of the acme products did not work in the intended way and they were not the best to start with.