35 Comments

  1. I wonder how well-acquainted Americans are with “hedgehogs” (in the Wayno panel). They don’t exist in North America; the first time I ran into one was in a science fiction story by John Christopher: I had no idea whether the name described an animal that was supposed to be dangerous or cute.
    P.S. Gradually scrolling down to read Argyle Sweater (and seeing the dialog before the caption appeared), I was expecting an Elmer Fudd joke. Then I saw the head: with that mustache and tie, I was sure it was Col. Sanders.

  2. We may not have hedgehogs but everyone has heard of them. Not entirely sure why but they have.

    It’s woodchucks that are very common but Americans have no idea what they are. Go figure.

  3. In my tech support days I was often irritated by malfunctions in a kind of system known as TWAIN. I probably still don’t grasp exactly what it was doing, but in general it seemed to be a platform-independent (like Windows or Apple) , program- or target-independent (storage to file, printing, editing ) way of importing images or other data from a variety of attached peripheral devices (camera, flatbed scanner) .

    Actually a great idea, in a way, if it worked well — you don’t want each program and device pair to have its own interface. But in practice often it was one more layer where things could go wrong. So if we thought some setup was overly reliant on this system, we could remark tha5 it was “too, too TWAIN”.

    (There would have been room for Mark TWAIN jokes, but I don’t recall that coming up.)

  4. TWAIN = Technology Without An Interesting Name. Or Toolkit Without an Informative NIckname. It’s a backronym, originally it wasn’t an acronym at all.

  5. re: Hedgehogs.

    1) I’ve seen them for sale in pet shops. Why? Who knows . . . *I* sure as h*ll don’t.

    2) A friend in England has them in her yard; they are endangered and she is a member of a hedgehog rescue group, much as we have wildlife, dog, cat, etc. rescue organizations here in USA.

    3) For Christmas, we both donate to her hedgehog rescue group; postage for sending gifts to Europe, Australia, even Canada has gotten to be preposterous.

    4) My service dog, SweeTea, has a favorite toy – Hedgie (which is almost as large as she is).

    5) Jan Brett, whose children’s books are an visual delight because she is a wonderful artist, features hedgehogs in many of her books as at least one of the characters; it is thru her books that I became acquainted with the animal . . . and I now collect all her books, hedgehogs or not .

    (If you have a young child or children, her interactive site would probably delight them.)

    https://www.janbrett.com/

    The Snowy Nap – https://www.janbrett.com/bookstores/the_snowy_nap_book.htm
    Hedgie’s Surprise – https://www.janbrett.com/bookstores/hedgies_surprise.htm
    Hedgie Blasts Off – https://www.janbrett.com/bookstores/hedgie_blasts_off_book.htm

  6. OK – so my previous comment went into moderation (URLs), BUT SYNCHRONICITY . . . two emails after the one about ‘how many people in USA know Hedgehogs, my friend in England had written:

    Saw this wee guy from the kitchen window . . .

    I thought it was a bird, then I realized it was a baby who should be in his nest. I rushed some dog food out to him; he was quite hungry. Called the hedgehog hospital and will take him over today.

  7. I think most Americans are exposed to hedgehogs at a young age from Alice in Wonderland. Currently they are popular, although probably inappropriate, pets in America.

  8. @CIDU Bill: ” I have no idea how much wood they could chuck if indeed they can chuck wood.”

    Nor do we know how much hedge a hedgehog could hog if a hedgehog could hog hedge. Our world is *full* of mysteries.

  9. I’m assuming that everyone knows that hedges are very ‘British’, which is why they are named Hedgehogs (no, I haven’t actually looked up the etymology).

  10. These were really funny (I’m glad CIDU Bill singled out the Mark Twain one as the one deserving the “oy!”).

    I laughed loudest at the last one. I guess it works better this way with a wording different from Bohemian Rhapsody; It forced more people like me to figure out the picture and get that snap of recognition.

    Twice in one sitting I thought the human was the financial adviser (kind of an “oy”) before realizing the truth (big-smile-maker).

  11. Okay, as a Boomer/X cusp who plays a lot of trivia with millenial and millenial/Y cusps I find these “Surely people X don’t about Y” to be very capriciously valid/invalid. They’ll know about Taxi and the Jeffersons but not Three’s Company or the X-files. Then invariably thre will be the “How on earth do you know that; you are X. X people can’t know Y” to which the answer “What do you mean *every* body knows that” and if the don’t know Z the question “How can you not know Z” it will be met with “well, Z can’t be a big deal. Why would you think we *would*?”.

    So I don’t think anyone can actually pinpoint *why* they know what a hedgehog is any more than they can pinpoint *why* they know what a hyena is. Maybe it’s because of British literature like Alice in Wonderland or Mrs. Tiggywinkle (“But millenials don’t read! And they certainly don’t read classic British literature”) or maybe it is 50s era picture books that were all based an European tradition (“But modern kids book are all edgy and real abut the streets!”) or Sonic the Hedgehog (“Oh… Well, everyone knows the current generation breath video games” … “Um, we are *comfortable* with games but we aren’t all ‘gamers’…”)

    But really. You might as well ask how do we know about Hyenas when Hyenas aren’t native to North America. We just do.

  12. Actually I’ve found younger Americans tend to know the word “badger” but don’t know what one is to look at. Go figure…. or better yet *Don’t* go figure. Attempting to figure just gets us into an overgeneralization mess.

  13. I (an American) know about hedgehogs because I have multiple biology degrees. Also I read English books. Also an old friend had a pet hedgehog.

  14. A friend who teaches Classics has the following as part of her email signature:

    πόλλ’ οἶδ’ ἀλώπηξ, ἀλλ’ ἐχῖνος ἓν μέγα
    The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog one big thing.

  15. We know about hedgehogs from Alice in Wonderland where she tries to play croquet with a flamingo as the mallet and a hedgehog as the ball.
    At least those of us who still read books do.

  16. “We know about hedgehogs from Alice in Wonderland where she tries to play croquet with a flamingo as the mallet and a hedgehog as the ball.
    At least those of us who still read books do.”

    Well, I certainly read Alice in Wonderland but I certainly knew of hedgehogs (as well as flamingos) long before then (although that may have been where I first heard of a Lory or a Dormouse) so I barely even noticed. And I certainly knew of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle. But… Hedgehogs were those cute creatures with prickly spines. (Now admittedly I maybe confused them with porcupines.)

    I suppose I should be touched by Kilby’s concern with our familiarity but I must assure him it is as misplaced, as my concern he may be unfamiliar with hummingbirds. (Hmm… now I do wonder… Just how large do Europeans imagine hummingbirds to be.)

  17. Hyenas are large, flashy animals that get featured in nature documentaries. Hedgehogs are small and cute, and survive best when they can wander about without anyone noticing them (among other places, in our back yard). Even if they are popular in children’s literature (besides Christopher’s “The Guardians”, and Carroll’s “Alice”, I also remember running into them in T.H. White’s “The Once and Future King”, and Kipling’s “Just So Stories”), but none of these references helps a kid who has never seen one of these creatures in action.

  18. P.S. @ “hummingbirds” – My dad has a couple feeders in his back yard, which generate plenty of activity in summer. I thought it would be really neat to have some in our back yard here. After I was unable to locate a feeder, I felt pretty silly when I discovered that they are found only in the Americas.

  19. An online friend in Canada has a hedgehog and from what she has written I figured they were in Canada which is part of North America. I thinks she has had other ones also.

  20. The special thing hyenas had, in my youthful learning experience, was a firmly attached adjective. They were always “laughing hyenas”. Just like “praying mantis”.

  21. Mitch4 – Yes, when I was quite young and before I had actually seen a live shot of a hyena, I figured they must be adorable things if they’re always “laughing”. Not so much. And then The Lion King made sure they were always to be cast in a negative light.

  22. “After I was unable to locate a feeder, I felt pretty silly when I discovered that they are found only in the Americas.”

    That must have been very disappointing. I remembering being surprised when I found out they were strictly in the Americas. I was also surprised when I discovered racoons were strictly in the americas pre-columbus.

    Hmm…. I feel bad in that I interpreted your comment of americans and hedgehogs as a (residential) European predicting what an American knows rather than as a personal anecdote that as a child you didn’t know. I’m not sure how but I was the opposite in I knew exactly what the looked like and didn’t learn until I was an adult they are not found in America and therefore i must never have seen one.

    Similarly my sister assumed watching the Rocky and Bullwinkle show that flying squirrels were mythical creatures like unicorns.

  23. We know hummingbirds so well, on this side of the pond, that we have two names for them: “colibri” and “oiseau-mouche”.

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