­xkcd thread

Penelope rhymes with envelope, but I can’t decide if it’s the noun or the verb.

Reminds me of the widely circulated lore that cyanide gas smells like bitter almonds.

OK: what’s a bitter almond? When in my life would I have ever encountered that nut. When would I have smelled one? Shelled, or unshelled? Or do they mean cyanide gas smell like the tree or the flowers of the tree? Was bitter almond smell, like a butter churn, something everybody in 1910 would instantly recognize that’s slowly faded from our collective experience and therefore collective memory? Hellifino.

Since encountering cyanide gas is a life-or-death event, you’d think they’d be a little more precise and detailed about all this. But noooo.

At least it appears the CDC is beginning to de-emphasize this silly lore. Last I knew it was one of the Sacred Facts of DoD chem warfare training that they burned into the memory banks of every newbie. To zero practical effect even in an HC encounter.

We had a tank disabled by an arrow at an army base here. Crossbow arrow of unknown origin went between the turret and the body, and it jammed.


Having smelled cyanide (I have made kill jars for entomology uses), it smells like…bitter almonds. Which is a smell I know because I was in the habit of prying open peach pits and the like as a kid (don’t ask me why, I dunno - I just did). But beyond that it smells enough like almonds to just say almonds. With a bitter quality to them :smile:.

It’s really a pretty spot-on description.

I loved that one.

Honestly, having never smelled anything called bitter almond, I believe I would recognize cyanide from that description. Especially since it’s really the same thing – fruit pits contain small amounts of cyanide.

And the reason people can recognize the smell of rotten eggs is that sulfides are one component of the flavor of even fresh eggs. In very, very trace quantities, but we’re really, really sensitive to sulfide scent.

Okay, I just got 15 min of entertainment from googling ‘worst ladder’. :smile:

If I ever made a pocket thingy with a powerful laser, the laser would be the first thing I tested. And the ad copy about the thingy would mostly be exclamations of how wickedly cool that laser was!

Why do we even call them smartphones? They should just be called “Allthings”.

Way too many people can identify with this one.