dessert fork, part 3: better than a poke in the eye

First the news... It took Ted Kennedy several weeks and direct calls to Ministry of Fatherland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to get himself off the no-fly list--sucks for the rest of us. Microsoft has had some issues working internationally; Kurt Vonnegut sounds off, and I'm sad to say he touches a nerve in me. Here's some interesting thoughts on the problems caused over time by the US handling so much of Europe's military needs. And finally, remember that there is always someone crazier than you.

My boss, quite a bit less cynical than I, never thought business students could be quite this...inexperienced. I'm not sure what sort of selective observation has kept him from noticing that businessweasels are often not terribly bright, or their intelligence is limited to specific domains.

This cut on my leg from the mirror incident is healing slowly, and when I feel it it's still a solid millimeter or two deep, indicating to me that it was originally maybe two or three times as deep as I thought it was, which would explain why it hurts, and also that it seems likely to scar. Which is cool. Chicks dig scars, as my ex-girlfriend (not easily charmed, though also not particularly girly) insisted.

Well. I got another email about dessert forks, that controversial topic I've dared to approach several times (in passing, more in-depth, and revisited):

    Well, I too am curious about the dessert fork's notched tine.
    ( The topic came up at a
    family gathering this last weekend and the only answer anybody had was
    that it could be related to a seafood fork, which is used to pry open
    shells. That's the best I have and it's not authoritative. If you've
    come across anything between then and now, I'd love to hear it!
It turns out the full picture of the dessert fork is both more complex and simpler than it could be, because the design has varied wildly over the years, and just because we think it works pretty well doesn't mean everyone else thinks so, and hasn't either reverted to an earlier design, or tried something new. It's all detailed at length in Henry Petroski's The Evolution of Useful Things, in Chapter 8. The book is marvelous, and I recommend it. To sum it up, the wide tine of the fork is a reinforced cutting tine, and the notch in the cutting tine is so you can still use it to pick things (which is a generalized and more likely version of my theory that the notch narrows the tine because if one were to stick a tine that wide into, say, a puff pastry, the pastry would split rather than sticking on the tine).

Really, just read the book and be interested in the development of the paper clip. (People at my company, ACCO [American Clip COmpany], like to say that ACCO invented the paper clip. I informed my boss that no, they didn't; I don't tell anyone any more, really. We're all grown up and out of grade school and still some people don't like a know-it-all.)