Monday, June 25, 2007

Inflation and Flatulence: “Words of a Feather” Reveals Surprising Shared Word Origins

Author: Nick
Category: Money

words of a feather by murray suid

I don’t read a whole lot of books, mostly because I’m a firm believer that just about anything worth reading can be found on the internet for free. I may have to rethink this belief after reading a copy of Words of a Feather because it met all three of my criteria for something worth reading:

  • It’s funny.
  • It taught me something useful that I didn’t know.
  • It’s still funny after I realized I was learning something.

The author of Words of a Feather, Murray Suid, asked me if he could share a little bit about the book with all of you. So read on and then pick up your own copy of Words of a Feather.


I came to Punny Money planning to tout WORDS OF A FEATHER. But after spending 10 minutes here, I’ve saved more money than I’d ever earn selling my book.

For example, thanks to your “Top 10 List,” I will stop wasting resources on underwear.

How can I repay you for saving me thousands of dollars? Perhaps WORDS OF A FEATHER will provide the answer. The book focuses word pairs that seem unrelated yet share origins. Examples are “cosmos & cosmetics” and “dictator & dictionary.”

Such pairs provide insights into many topics. For example, when we realize that “senate & senile” are related, what happens in Washington becomes understandable.

Now let’s talk money. For example, both “anger & angina” trace to the Greek “ankhone” meaning “strangling.” Anger strangles blood vessels, sometimes leading to a hospital visit. Think of the bills you can avoid by being cheery and not angry. (Note: Etymologists are not licensed to practice medicine. Before medicating yourself with laughter, ask your medical provider if it’s safe to reduce your daily amount of anger.)

Next consider “flatulence & inflation.” Both words derive from the Latin “flare,” literally “to blow.” By the sixteenth century, flatulence had become a euphemism for “fart.” The related “inflation” literally means “blow in.” Originally it referred to filling balloons. By the 1830s, the word was used metaphorically to name the expansion of the money supply. Government printing offices turn out money that is blown into the system. Some would say that this is nothing more than governmental farting around with our money. It’s a good bet that inflation will be with us for at least as long as flatulence exists. Plan your investments accordingly.

I hope that these etymological insights will save you enough money that you can afford to buy a copy of WORDS OF A FEATHER. But if not, you can get some freebies at, where you can find samples from the book plus an interactive quiz that some people find very funny, but maybe not as funny as Punny Money.

Also be sure to check out the Words of a Feather blog for more entertaining etymological exposition.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Commenters Confirm Consumer Conspiracies

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: , ,

Punny Money has exposed its fair share of consumer conspiracies in its brief existence. Okay, maybe just three, but I bet that’s more consumer conspiracies than you’ve exposed. Of course, there’s one thing about these conspiracy theories that sets them apart from your run-of-the-mill, crazy-guy-on-the-street, end-of-the-world ramblings–these conspiracy theories are all true. How do I know? Because readers like you have commented on these conspiracies and provided further evidence of their truthnicity.

The Five Year Guaranteed CFL Bulb Conspiracy

warning, these green bulbs will cost you lots of green

Even though they’ll save you about $80,000 a year on your electric bill, CFL bulbs carry a sneaky warranty. In short, it can cost more to mail in a broken CFL bulb for replacement than to just buy a new bulb yourself.

But here comes SuperJason to the rescue with this brilliant bit of advice for tin-foiling this warranty conspiracy.

I buy mine at Home Depot. If they burn out within the warranty, take them into the store and they’ll replace them. I just did it for 4 bulbs, and they gave me a new receipt! That means the new ones are guaranteed again! I can also send in the rebate again if I like.

The 9-Volt Battery Conspiracy

a group of AA batteries protesting the 9-volt conspiracy

“Hey, let’s invent a battery that you can only use in a life-saving alarm and then recommend you replace it every six months.” Were these words ever spoken by the powers-that-be at the battery conglomerate? I bet they were, and deanking presents further evidence:

There is some national code that says a smoke detector must be able to run for a year on 1 battery. Therefore the instructions you saw to replace them twice a year does indeed point to a conspiracy…. Also, that is why the OneLink is being recalled: it did not last a year on a set of AAs. Looks like someone should have fallen in line with the conspiracy.

The Verizon Dry-Loop DSL Availability Conspiracy

the internet is a series of tubes

You may recall that Verizon lied, cheated, and stole its way onto the List of Companies We’d Be Better Off Without not too long ago, and a large part of that was thanks to its deceptive dry-loop DSL availability.

You see, Verizon wants you to pay them for phone and internet service, so thats why it typically bundles them together. But under pressure from consumers and government regulators, it started to offer DSL service without requiring land-line phone service, commonly called “dry loop.” Of course, every time Verizon sells dry loop DSL, that means one more phone customer out the window. So it makes sense that they might sometimes lie about dry loop DSL’s availability in your area.

Jason fell upon an even more insidious Verizon plot when he tried to sign up for Verizon’s DSL service.

Just called Verizon and because I have a landline with MCI and have DSL with Verizon, when the query was put into the system, Verizon said that dry loop DSL was not available for me. They put my address in as a new account and it was available. They suggested I drop my MCI phone provider and then call back, and I should be able to have the dry loop option available on my account. We shall see…

So Verizon might sell you their DSL if you have no land-line, but heaven forbid you have a land-line with someone else. What’s next? Will Verizon soon require you to provide pictures of your phone shattered into a million tiny pieces if you want dry loop DSL?

Send your consumer conspiracies to Punny Money and join the revolution against crooked corporate collusion.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Mo’ Free Time With Mow-Free Lawns

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: , ,

live webcam footage of grass growing

I can count on one finger the number of people I know who find any sort of enjoyment in mowing their lawns. Yeah, that person is me, and that’s because I have a tiny lawn that I mow with a push reel mower. It’s quick, quiet, and quite a workout!

As for the rest of you lawn haters, put down that gas mower and check out these alternatives to your weekly yard march.

  • “No-mow” grass formulas. While science is still a few years away from cranking out no-grow varieties of every grass, there are already some special seed blends that’ll greatly reduce your landscaping labors. Prarier Nursery’s No Mow Lawn Mix promises to reduce your mowing to just once or twice a year, while Fleur de Lawn features adorable pink flowers that will attract birds and possibly hot women.
  • Native grasses. Switch to native short grasses and you can toss out those fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Clovers all overs. Contrary to popular belief, clovers are not weeds. Instead, they’re short-growing, don’t need fertilizer, smell great, and are soft on the feet. Plus I hear they attract leprechauns.
  • Artificial “turf” grass. You don’t need to be a football or golf fan to appreciate the low maintenance requirements of synthetic turf. Putting green not included.