Thursday, June 15, 2006



[Existential Friday is on vacation.]

It seems that factual inaccuracies over here at CM have reached critical mass. Fortunately, my ever-alert commenters have unhesitatingly drawn them to my attention. Let's gather the facts.

1. "Two leagues"
CM said: "...our peaceful neighbor to the north, the country with whom we share the world’s largest undefended border as well as two major sports leagues..."

Jeremy said: "Even during the Stanley Cup finals, hockey apparently does not count as a major sports league. Or maybe you were thinking the NBA doesn't count since they only have the Raptors."

The Facts: I love hockey. And I know Canada loves hockey. And, off the top of my head: Vancouver Canucks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadians, Ottawa Senators and -- still hanging in the Stanley Cup Finals -- Edmunton Oilers. There may be more, for all I know, but so there and foresooth, Jeremy.

Okay, oops, I overlooked the Tornto Raptors in the NBA. There are three major U.S.-Canadian sports leagues. My bad.

2. "No worries"
CM said: "local idioms like 'no worries' " -- implying that the phrase is Canadian slang.

Psycgirl said: " 'No Worries' is CANADIAN? I didn't realize this...."

The Facts: Okay, I pulled this one out of my ass. But while Americans will use this phrase, it seems more omnipresent in Canada. Actually, a quick Google search suggests that the origins of the phrase may be Australian, and Wikipedia takes that position.

3. Esso -- Exxon
CM said: "[Canadians] still have the quaint "Esso," the brand that changed mean old Standard Oil into a friendly face. (Why exactly did they switch to Exxon in the U.S., anyway?)

Mike said: "Esso changed their name to Exxon in the United States because Standard Oil (a completely separate corporation) sued them here. Esso wasn't an abbreviatin [sic] for Standard Oil, but it sounded like one."

The Facts: Sorry, Mike, I don't usually correct my beloved commenters' spelling errors, but pedantry has its price. According to the Company History page on the Exxon-Mobil corporate website,
Both Exxon and Mobil trace their roots to the late 19th century, when .... John D. Rockefeller acquired a diversity of petroleum interests ... and, in 1882, organized them under the Standard Oil Trust.

[and next page] Jersey Standard changed its name to Exxon Corporation in 1972 and established Exxon as an uncontested trademark throughout the United States. In other parts of the world, Exxon and its affiliated companies continued to use its long-time Esso trademark and affiliate name. [Emphasis added.]
Sometimes when I make sh*t up it's actually right!

4. "Crunchie"
CM said: “Crunchie” is a type not available in the U.S. In Britain, it’s called 'Violet Crumble' and is chocolate-covered 'honeycomb' candy.”

Anonymous said: "i'm a brit living in the u.s., and miss the crunchies beyond belief! i've never, ever heard them called 'violet crumbles' though..."

The Facts: "Violet Crumble" is Nestle's version of this candy bar -- chocolate-covered "honeycomb" or "sponge" candy -- in Australia. (Those damned Aussies again.) I bought some in a U.S. shop that sold imported candy and assumed they were from Britain. Cadbury's company history page claims that they introduced the Crunchie in 1929. However, I find it suspicious that they don't have a circa-1929 candy wrapper to display. When I first tasted this candy in Britain in 1982 I could have sworn it was called "Honeycomb." But I can't find any proof of this. My theory is that Cadbury is engaging in revisionist history in support of its re-branding "Honeycomb" as "Crunchie" and that Anonymous Brit is 28 years old or younger. But I'm speculating...

5. Murder Crows, Inc.
CM said: I was surrounded by a gang of ravens.

Mariam said: "Ravens/crows travel in a murder. A murder of crows. Pretty much sums it up for me."

Madeline said: " i'm dating a guy who knows birds. he's pretty sure you were surrounded by northwestern crows."

The Facts: Well, I'll be damned. "A murder of crows." All I can say is, I'm glad I didn't know that I was being surrounded by a murder of crows while it was happening. Tell me, Mariam: if B and I had disappeared, would "a sleuth of bears" have tried to solve the crime?

Madeline, a friend of mine is dating a bird who knows guys. Maybe I should get you together.

UPDATE: Mike has the last word in a comments section smackdown!

ok. this site is *fun*!

it's "name that candy" -- you look at a cross section and have to name the candy (all english speaking country's names for the candy accepted under my rules!)

wolym -- a golem's female mate (y'all ever seen a golem??)
"Sleuth of Bears" sounds like either a novel about an ursine detective (in a world where the animals have human characteristics and talk, like a Disney film or Narnia), or a new kind of card deck, such as tarot, where there is a suit called "bears" and a face card, "Sleuth"

xnzbdvwt - text message query as to when you'll be done with the x-box so someone else can take a turn.
Just wanted to point out that I knew it was a "murder of crows." Mark yet another tally under "Things APL Learned While Watching the Simpsons."
Warren -- that website is awesome! I wish I had thought of posting pictures of cross sections of the Brit candies.

I was cruising through the quiz until I mixed up Payday and Pearson's Nut Roll. Then the wheels came off.

Wendy: "Ursine Detective" -- I like that.

APL -- you get full credit!
Oh my! It is ON, Mr. Madison!

Ok, first, you'd be hard-pressed to classify "abbreviatin" as a spelling error. It was a TYPING error. My spelling is impeccable whereas my typing is undeniably sloppy.

As for the Esso issue, I was not contesting that Esso and Standard Oil shared corporate roots. They did. At the time of the Esso->Exxon name change, however, they were separate corporations.

The Exxon Wikipedia page says this:

The name Esso, pronounced S-O, attracted protests from other Standard Oil spinoffs because of its similarity to the name of the parent company, Standard Oil. Hence, the company was restricted from using Esso in the USA except in those states awarded to it in the 1911 Standard Oil antitrust settlement.

But if you prefer to suckle from the informational teat of the Exxon-Mobile corporate website, I'll understand.
A smackdown! A smackdown! How positively exciting.

Mike, you are quite right that a typing and a spelling mistake are two different animals. Poor word choice on my part.

People make fun of me for snorfling at the informational trough of Wikipedia, but I'm happy to assume they got it right. It seems that we're both right... basically, Standard Oil was broken up by antitrust action in the early 20th Century, and I suppose Standard Oil of New Jersey was sued by another S.O. spinoff over the name "Esso."

But if you go back to my original post, it's consistent with Wikipedia and the lawsuit you describe. On the other hand, our little dispute centered on your disagreement with my saying that "Esso" stood for S.O.-"Standard Oil." But about that, you, sir, were mistaken.
Alright, I'll grant you that Esso stood for Standard Oil.

As for me answering your question about why they changed from Esso to Exxon, you are welcome.
How rude of me! Thanks, Mike.
Ah, the collective noun!

APL: Nice of you to invoke The Simpsons, but anyone who's anyone learned "murder of crows" from the greatest living English teacher, Sting:

Two priests came round
Our house tonight
One young, one old,
To offer prayers for the dying,
To serve the final rite
One to learn, one to teach
Which way the cold wind blows
Fussing and flapping in priestly black
Like a murder of crows

Word Daze suggested we come up with our own collective nouns. He created "a stretch of rubber bands" and "a speedo of swimmers." Great game. Though I must admit I needed The Simpsons to come up with a "matlock of senior citizens."
well, it sure seems like "a byte of bloggers" might be on that list.

tvpzw -- the pause button on your tv remote
I would say that anyone who is anyone learned that a group of crows was called a murder from the popular rock band Counting Crows and their hit "Murder of One." It also containes the band's name in the lyrics. I like that.

I think there's an incubus album that makes some reference to that too.
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