TOM THE DANCING BUG: Super-Fun-Pak Comix, feat. Percival Dunwoody, and The Nature of Reality

Originally published at:

Tom the Dancing Bug, IN WHICH Super-Fun-Pak Comix features Percival Dunwoody, The Nature of Reality, a Mystery Box, and much, MUCH more!!


The “Mystery Box” otherwise known as the Trump Presidency.


Especially the “trapped in a comic-book simulation”, which probably describes our actual reality at the moment.


We must be trapped in “Dilbert”, where the author has suddenly and alarmingly voiced whole-hearted support for Trump. It is like business as usual; but with Trump.


I hadn’t seen the YUR-in-us joke before. Very good.


I pronounce it “oo-RAH-noos.”

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OK, here’s the thing … (said guy who is an expert residing on the internet):

The word for the “sky” or “heavens” is the Greek word οὐρανός .

The first syllable of the word has a smooth-breathing aspiration diacritical mark called the the “philon pneuma” or “phile.” The time-stress is on the last syllable which is marked with an acute (possibly tonal-shifting) accent.

It’s NOT pronounced “Yur-anus” and it’s NOT pronounced “Urine-us” .

It’s pronounced “Urr-in-ahs”, as in “Hurr durr, I’m an idiot, ah yes.”

Why no scientist ever pronounces the name of one of our most beautiful planets the proper way is beyond me. Perhaps the word is simply too exotic, even though classical Greek was an early part of international scientific vocabulary.

(And here is my pedantic point as best as I can make it in IPA symbols: ɝʏɴɔs )

It’s kinda like how some people pronounce the word “her-ass-ment” as “harris-ment” in order to be PC about harassment, instead of blurting out comments on a person’s assets without due consideration for polite company.

Well, dear reader, if you want to be PC, at least pronounce it the proper Greek way.

Stop anglicizing everything like you’re some kind of Lord Byron-style heir to the family fortune in a P.G. Wodehouse novel.

Nor art thou Heathcliff on the Moors (insert obligatory Thomas Hardy joke here).

BTW, Lord Byron? Worst. pronunciation. of. Spanish. ever.

(ho-ho, wot wot, yes m’ lord with the sniffles)

Nuff sed.


Thomas Hardy Sketch. Enjoy, as would Percival Dunwoody.


Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes, even when it’s just a word.

(One of our lecturers used to do that though he used to pronounce it more like “oorahnos”. Because, Greek. In the same way the showoffs nowadays would say “ahd eenfeenitoom” rather than the Oxford Latin “ad infinaitum”. Because proper Latin.)

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I always figured it was because they weren’t ancient Greeks.


I also pronounce Porsche as “POR-shah.”


I was told this one in an Irish pub around 1975, so apologies if you know it already:
Man knocks on door; he’s a jobbing decorator looking for work.
The householder says "OK, I’ll give you a trial, the porch needs repainting."
Four hours later the decorator knocks on the door and says “I’ve finished, only it isn’t a porch, it’s a BMW”.


Urectum would be more mature


One of my school science teachers insisted on calling it King George’s planet.

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Obligatory: “Urectum? U nearly killed 'em!”

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It’s not so much a joke as something emitted by YouTube commenters made flesh if one is unfortunate enough to refer to that planet by that pronunciation in their presence.

For myself, I’ve been pronouncing it OOR-un-us for years, just so that I could sidestep all that. I’ve claimed no provenance for that pronunciation, it’s just a valid way to pronounce those letters in English, as valid as the usual ways, and it appeals to me.

Just out of curiosity, was it the orange spew or the snapped twig? Just in case someone wins our Maker time machine challenge…

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Being quite serious, how do we know this? There were no tape recorders at the time, and since then the pronunciation of Greek has changed very significantly. (Other languages too; in the 19th century in English “stone” rhymed with “gone” and in some places “one”, and the English town of Frome still retains its 17th century pronunciation to the confusion of some visitors - we know this because Shakespeare rhymes “room” and “Rome”. Bath, my closest city, gets pronounced with both a short and a long a, whereas Boris Johnson’s pronunciation of Glastonbury as “Glarstonbury” is simply wrong.)
I was taught to pronounce it “ooranόs” with a short oo, a suppressed a and a long Italian o. But that’s a convention, and also reflects the way it would be pronounced in Russian (whose alphabet, and probably mutation conventions, is derived from 9th century Greek) It would be interesting to learn of scholarship that specifically supports alternative versions.

Anyway, good luck with getting anyone to pronounce a word using completely different conventions from the English preference for iambs. Perhaps Herschel was right and it should have been called George - though as that derives from Greek roots meaning “earth-worker” or farmer, it is not too appropriate.

(In fact beyond Jupiter all the planet names are pretty silly. Neptune is a god of horses and the sea. Pluto is the god of the realms under the Earth (though it’s intended to convey Percival Lowell Clyde Tombaugh. Ouranos means “sky” in Greek, not Latin, and Saturn precedes Jupiter. Perhaps the IAU should rename Uranus in the interests of consistency and putting a stop to stupid remarks.)


Cool, Farmer George was an “earth-worker”. How nicely appropriate.