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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Literally, the Only Thing I’m Writing About Today

(The science buzz over at Secondhand SCIENCE this week is all about nucleation.

If you like ice, champagne or beer — that’s separately, not all together at once, weirdo — then nucleation should be on your radar. And maybe in your glass. Bottoms up, science-lover.)

Being overly literal — like, literally literal — is annoying as hell. Certain figures of speech or inconsistent usages make your cerebellum twitch, like a lab monkey with a forebrain electrode.

Or a lab monkey with mild OCD who takes things too literally. Probably that also works, if you’re not into torturing primates for the sake of science. Or humor. So, good for you.

The thing about being literal and also an introvert is that you wind up mostly only annoying yourself. You twitch, and you want to complain — but that involves interacting with other humans, and who wants that, really? Other humans are probably the ones who made you twitch in the first place with their un-literal illogical nonsense, so you tend to keep your twitching — and your bitching — to yourself.


It turns out you can be literal and an introvert and have a website. Which turns out to be a nice outlet for the weird non-literal things that no one else notices or cares about, but keep you awake at night twitching and muttering to no one in particular. Things, for instance, like these:

1. Pepsi made with “real sugar”

I like Pepsi. And I know what they’re trying to do here. But it’s wrong. Literally wrong.

Sugar is a carbohydrate, and there are many kinds. The three sugars we mostly shove in our foodholes are glucose, fructose and sucrose — the last of which is made of one each of the first two chemically glommed together.

(Yeah, that’s right, “chemically glommed”. It’s a technical term. I know sciency stuff. Shaddup.)

All of these things are sugars. “Real” sugars. Pepsi is trying to say — without actually saying it, for some obtusely roundabout reason — that they’re not using high fructose corn syrup. But the main ingredients of corn syrup are glucose and fructose (i.e., sugars), while cane sugar is largely composed of sucrose (also sugar), which breaks down into glucose and fructose (still sugars).

I’m not going to touch the “cane sugar versus HFCS” health debate with a ten-foot cotton candy-covered pole. This is purely about semantics. Cane sugar is “real sugar”. And corn syrup is “real sugar”. They’re not the same chemically, but they’re both sugar. “Real” sugar.

If Pepsi wants to say they only use “cane sugar”, then do it. “Real sugar” doesn’t mean the thing they think it means. Twitch.

2. Most of Buzzfeed

We all know that click-bait headlines are click-baity. As an occasional article writer, there’s some pressure to craft these monstrosities myself. But I don’t. Because I twitch.

Which is probably the stuff I’m writing is nowhere near as popular as Buzzfeed. But I just can’t do it. It’s not about authorly “integrity”, exactly. It’s more about not having an epileptic fit at the keyboard, over writing (real, recent, Buzzfeed) headlines like these:

21 London Street Foods That Will Change Your Life

By… giving me diabetes? From London? I don’t remotely understand.

Calvin Harris’ Ice Bucket Challenge Will Make Your Ovaries Explode

I’m fairly certain it won’t. I’m still contemplating personal growth by Hyde Street dosa. But my ovaries are safe as houses in the meantime.

“Also, I’ve seen the English Patient, and a mouth spider’s got nothing on that.”

This Woman Keeps a Spider in Her Mouth and It’s the Worst Thing You’ll Ever See

This is already untrue if the woman also keeps the spider in literally any other orifice she owns. And it’s the internet, so: probably. Also, I’ve seen the English Patient, and a mouth spider’s got nothing on that. Not to mention my ovaries may have just exploded, and that was no picnic to watch.

Basically, screw Buzzfeed. And the clickbait, misleading, twitch-inducing, wildly popular headlines they rode in on.

3. This sign in my wife’s parking garage

Which of these things is *twitch* like the other?“Which of these things is *twitch* like the other?”

Great, a checklist. I’ll follow that.

Compensating for missing letters — how do those come off, anyway; does somebody sandblast the door on the way to their Honda? — steps 2-4 make perfect sense:

My doors are locked, check.

My windows are up. My sunroof is… uh, “up”, sure. And my “convertible” — which I assume is probably located near my recently-exploded ovaries — is also “up”, to the best of my knowledge. (“Closed” would be better. But I’ll live with “up”.)

I have removed my valuables. (It’s possible I was asked to “re-love” my valuables. But come on — I already call them valuables; what more do you want? I’m going with my interpretation.)

The point is, all of these items can be taken as instructions, (more or less) literally. Then there’s the first item:

“Lights on”

I’m literal. It’s a good thing I’m not the one parking in this garage, or I’d be buying a new battery every week. My wife, she’s normal; she can handle it. Me, I’d be putting some AC Delco rep’s kid through college.

And twitching, all the way.

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