Monday, February 20, 2017


Pass the buck an ear of corn.

The following represents approximately three hours of my life and is exemplary of the many, many reasons I find the human brain fascinating:

I am mildly frustrated (and not for the first time) that my phone has no pirate or pirate ship emoji. Something like 11 different kinds of train, 3 or 4 seafaring vessels, but no pirates, no ships, no skull-and-crossbones.

So, I decided to try to find some kind of rebus-like solution.

Maybe I could put a pie and a rat, you know, pie-rat. No pie Emoji. Really?There's a turd with eyes and whatever *this* ⚗ is, but no pie. Fine. There's a slice of pizza 🍕... pizza pie? Has anybody really called it that since the Flintstones? Anyway, a single slice of pizza does not a pie make. Maybe the symbol for pi? No pi emoji? Well, at least it's in Google Keyboard ("π-rat"). Of course - no rat emoji. I could put π <:(    )~ , but I'm not sure if that's really clear enough (although it's the frontrunner, at this point in the narrative).

How about thinking textually instead? "rate", like "exchange rate" or "interest rate" or the verb "to rate".
We've got 💱, 📉, 📈, ✔, 👍👎. All pretty vague.

Maybe we could go phonetically... The word actually sounds more like pie-rit/pie-writ...✍,✏📝✒...pie-rut... No deep tire tracks or amorous male deer...

Okay, forget "pirate". Let's try "buccaneer" - like the old corn joke: "buck an ear". There's corn, but it's shucked 🌽. I think that's just a "cob of corn". Do you still call it an ear if it doesn't have the husk? *Googles*

""Ear" comes from the ancient word "ahs," which meant “husk of corn.""

Looks like probably not. But there's a little husk on there. I could probably get away with it.

Okay, so: "buck"... male deer... no deer emoji... maybe *other* animals are also bucks...*Googles*... yes, but none of them are emoji. (Aside: I know we're used to them and everything, but antlers are weird. Just look at 'em.)

All right: buck/dollar... 💰💴💵💶💷💸 single dollar. Really? The U.S. economy hangs over the planet like some sort of sharp-edged implement suspended by a hair and there's no "dollar" emoji?! 💲appears to be the closest.
What other definitions of "buck" are there? *thinks*
..."buck the trend", "bucking bronco", "pass the buck"... what does that one really mean? Maybe it has nothing to do with money...*Googles*

"pass the buck. Shift responsibility or blame ... This expression dates from the mid-1800s, when in a poker game a piece of buckshot or another object was passed around to remind a player that he was the next dealer."

Cool...and then there's:

"To avoid arguments about whose turn it was to deal, the person who was next due to deal would be given a marker. This marker moves clockwise around the table after each hand. A knife was a common object used as such a marker, and the marker became generally known as a buck as an abbreviated reference to the buck's horn that formed the handle of many knives at that time.
When the dealer had finished dealing the cards he "passed the buck"."

Hah! Cool. But there's neither "buckshot" nor a buck's-horn handled knife emoji.

It seems that I am, for the moment, defeated. But consider:

1. Language is fascinating.
2. Human brains connect things in thrilling and unexpected ways.
3. It would appear that most of us wield language like every other form of technology in our lives: we can use it, but we can't really explain its parts, how it all works together or how it was made.
4. Research is hungry work when you let it run through breakfast AND lunch.

But I think the real takeaway from this story is pretty clear: Nobody, including myself, has any clue, whatsoever, what I will do with six and a half more days of holiday.

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