Why do some cities have an “uptown” and others a “downtown”?

uptown charlotte

Road Sign for Uptown Charlotte, NC.

In everything from America’s biggest cities to her smallest rural towns, the central business district is called “downtown.” Except when it’s not. In some cities, the city center is referred to as “uptown.” As a North Carolinian, the city that sticks out most for the use of this bizarre term is Charlotte. If you’re going into the heart of Charlotte, you’re going to “uptown Charlotte.” Apparently, the city of Greenville, NC has also recently adopted use of the term. So, where do “uptown” and “downtown” come from? And why aren’t we being consistent? Read on to find out!

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Why is there nothing ironic in Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic”?

I enjoy listening to Alanis Morissette as much as the next guy (which isn’t much, I guess)… but there’s something that’s always bugged me. She has a song, “Ironic,” in which she lists lots of different tragic situations and then says “Isn’t it ironic…” The problem is that none of the situations in the song actually meet the definition of irony, which requires incongruity, not just tragedy.

If you haven’t heard the song before, here’s the YouTube video…

Upon hearing “Ironic” on the radio the other day, my gut responded with its usual visceral hatred for Morissette’s abuse of the English language. And then it hit me… What if that’s the irony? What if she’s really an artistic genius and she intentionally put nothing ironic in “Ironic” so that the whole song would be a heaping pile of irony? Thank God!

Unfortunately, humanity is not so lucky. In speaking of the song, Morissette stated “I’d always embraced the fact that every once in a while I’d be the malapropism queen. And when Glen and I were writing it, we definitely were not doggedly making sure that everything was technically ironic.”

So, there you have it. No artistic genius. Just a flagrant misuse of an already misunderstood term.

What’s the difference between apple juice and apple cider?

Cider Press

Credit: Red58bill

I’ll let the State of Massachusetts take this one…

“Fresh cider is raw apple juice that has not undergone a filtration process to remove coarse particles of pulp or sediment. It takes about one third of a bushel to make a gallon of cider.

To make fresh cider, apples are washed, cut and ground into a mash that is the consistency of applesauce. Layers of mash are wrapped in cloth, and put into wooded racks. A hydraulic press squeezes the layers, and the juice flows into refrigerated tanks. This juice is
bottled as apple cider.

Apple juice is juice that has been filtered to remove solids and pasteurized so that it will stay fresh longer. Vacuum sealing and additional filtering extend the shelf life of the juice.”

Why are there two versions of the Lord’s prayer?

If you’re a church-goer, you’ve probably experienced the awkwardness of the debts/trespasses debate in the Lord’s prayer. Pretty much everybody knows the prayer by heart, so people are likely to say the prayer from memory without consulting a hymnal or bulletin. But this leads to a problem… about halfway through, you have to start worrying! “Oh no! Are we supposed to say trespasses? Or debts?” By the time the congregation gets to “forgive us our debts/trespasses…,” a lot of the congregation sort of mumbles something out, and you can usually hear a mix of people saying one or the other. So why are there two versions?

Apparently, the Lord’s prayer was recorded slightly differently by Matthew and Luke in their gospels. Matthew’s version of the prayer is most accurately translated “debts” while Luke’s is rendered better as “trespasses.” Both are obviously intended to mean the same thing, however. We’re asking God to forgive the things we’ve done wrong, and committing to forgive those who do us wrong. Interestingly, this has actually led to a third version of the prayer, though I’ve never heard it used… Some churches now go with the overall meaning and simply say “forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.” I’m sure that will solve all the confusion.

Why does every song on the radio right now have a guy chanting “hey”?

I don’t really listen to hip-hop music. Nevertheless, while occasionally listening to top hits radio stations over the last several months, I’ve noticed an odd trend. There are lots of songs that seem to feature a guy (or group of guys) chanting “hey” repeatedly in the background. To make matters even stranger… every song seems to be using the exact same sound sample for the “hey.” It’s literally the exact same chant put in the back of tons of songs.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at this YouTube video…

So what’s going on here? Where did this get started? Read on to find out.

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Why are ALDI’s barcodes so big?

AldiIf you’ve ever bought anything at ALDI, you know that a lot of their products seem to feature ridiculously large barcodes. As you’ve probably already guessed, this is a cost-saving measure – bigger barcodes are easier to find and scan. In fact, ALDI’s artwork guidelines have very specific rules that specify that most packages should have multiple barcodes and that “extended barcodes should be used extensively.” They even get into where the barcodes need to be placed for a variety of different packaging types (box vs. tube vs. bottle with a trigger) so that the cashier can scan them quickly and efficiently. It’s absolutely fascinating reading.

Read ALDI’s Artwork Information Guidelines here.