1. Whenever I notice the firecracker / dynamite, I check the fuse and wonder how close it is to going off.

  2. The lamp on the bedside table has a burning fuse. I’m not sure what it’s leading to, but the lamp’s vertical dowell may actually be a stick of dynamite or at least a firecracker — these being one of the “secret symbols” that appear in Bizarro.

  3. I don’t think Bill meant the firecracker: the “secret” symbols are irrelevant nonsense, and should be treated (meaning ignored) just like any bit of trash. The real issue is the amount of heat generated by most laptops, which is often concentrated near the battery, and would (in this case) be in direct contact with an extremely sensitive portion of this character’s anatomy. Some models even have an exhaust fan on the underside if the case, which could conceivably irritate or even ravel up any (short) hairs that might be extending into their openings.

  4. Mark, I haven’t done this personally, but I have it on good authority that laptops can run a bit hot to rest them on your naked… lap.

  5. @ Bill – I’m curious: which comic do you mean that was published “last week”? The “casual canines” panel is dated January 3rd.

  6. Ha…I guess I was misdirected by the cup of (presumably) hot coffee in his other hand. That could be trouble as well!

  7. Even with pants on, my laptop has made me insert a thick magazine under it (pants on me, not the laptop).

  8. Kilby, the other comic was dated 1/3, which I read as July 3 because my mind is gone.

    The last I heard, in fact, my mind was having a coffee down the street with Gogol’s nose.

  9. For purposes of the comic, I believe the laptop is just strategically placed, as something would be in The Strategic Nudity Bar and Grill from a few days ago.

    Regarding the actual risk, I found a relevant link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3853603/
    I recall news reports from the 90s, prompting warnings to users that “It’s just called a laptop; don’t actually do that.”

  10. My 2004 Compaq notebook was a surprise central lap burner as well as creating quite the impression into my legs (when shorts were shorter).
    Nowadays the air is often drawn *IN* from the bottom (making my Antec notebook cooler obsolete),
    but those models are even more dependent on the little feet staying attached and my aging Lenovo ThinkPad workstation notebook is missing 2 adjacent ones. (still a very sweet Craigslist bargain buy)

  11. I have never been entirely sure if “laptop computer” and “notebook computer” were just different names for the completely same category, or if they could be differentiated by different specs somehow.

  12. @ Mitch4 – Back when the term was new, I believe that “notebook” was used for an even smaller PC the could be folded up and tucked away like a book. More recently, I’ve seen “Laptop”=“Notebook” used as an example of a perfect synonym, but this was in a German context, in which both words are “foreign” terms, and “Notebook” is used only for computers, not for paper in a binder.

  13. In the mid to late 80s there were “portable” computers (real computers that folded up for carrying; the earliest ones were like suitcases, later ones a bit better) and “notebook” computers (size of an extra-fat spiral notebook or so) that due to limitations of what was possible were very limited in capacity. As I recall (though I feel like I’m forgetting some details) “laptop” computers, which were still real computers but close to the size of notebooks, obsoleted both the prior categories.

  14. Yeah, Dave, my first computer was a KayPro, of the suitcase type which came to be called “luggable”. Another at that time was Compaq, which unlike KayPro went on to be a regular brand for desktops and I think laptops / notebooks. I was in Linguistics at the time, and recall conversations about computers with other students, where we had fun pronouncing Compaq with a very big pharyngeal pop ate the end!

    I appreciate the comments on notebook vs laptop. (Have we ever mentioned that there are some people who say and write “labtop”?) Kilby, I think the paper-cardboard-and-wire notebook you describe, though I of course am all too familiar with them, was not what I associated with notebook computers — more something like the older three-ring-binders.

    Anyhow, one difference in language at least is that there are (as we have just been discussing) real things known as “notebooks” that are not “notebook computers” , but there is nothing that is a “laptop” other than short for “laptop computer”. (No, not even the top of a person’s lap. Only jocularly is that ever referred to as a “laptop”.) I was wondering if that might correspond to some difference in their history or how they are understood. But it looks like not.

    This morning I heard a podcast/interview with a public health researcher (about racial group differences in trust of medical personnel) and in describing one study he said something about “We would hand the patient a tablet..” and I was taken by surprise when it turned out to mean an electronic tablet device and not a small round lump of compressed powder medication to be swallowed.

  15. Our first computer was also one of those KayPro “suitcases.” My wife (who used to be staff at the Magic Cellar in San Francisco, where they performed) was given it by the Flying Karamazov Brothers, whom she knew back in the day and who one day in a cleaning-up mood apparently thought “Hey, who do we know who doesn’t have a computer yet and could use this big hulky bulky one?”

    As far as I know, even the Flying Karamazovs couldn’t have juggled it (too heavy), so we said sure. And in fact it worked for us, ponderously but somehow charmingly, for several years.

    After which came the desktops, and (only as of a few weeks ago) our first laptop. We’re not early adaptors. (Come over sometime and see our cave paintings.)

  16. @ Shrug – By the time I was able to see a performance of The Flying Karamazov Brothers, they had already imposed minimum and maximum weight limits for their “challenge” number, in which the audience was invited to provide (and select by an applause vote) three objects to be juggled. Apparently some people kept bringing small anvils, or 16-pound bowling balls. At the other end of the spectrum, feathers and helium balloons were equally problematic.

  17. I remember seeing the Flying Karamazov Brothers include a bowling ball. I suppose it might have been hollowed out, but it looked like the real thing.

    And do you remember “palmtops”? I had a Poqet PC, which would fit in a coat pocket. Clumsy little thing, with tiny keys, but useful on a long plane flight. I recall wowing a stewardess with it once.

  18. @ Boise Ed – It probably was the real thing. Using a fake would have blown their reputation if it were discovered. Sixteen pounds is the standard weight for professionals, but I have seen standard-sized bowling balls for amateurs (and children) that were as light as seven pounds. I think the upper limit for the challenge was ten pounds.

  19. I brought an old fragile 78-rpm record to a Flying Karamazov Brothers challenge. Wisely, one of the brothers dropped it before it could be voted on. I don’t know if even the Karamazovs could juggle it without breaking it. One of the three items they DID juggle was a quart of ice cream that the contributor had considerately taken out of the container.

  20. The most infamous Flying K juggling challenge rumor was “juggling cats.” My wife assures me that, after a big buildup, said act consisted of one brother carefully lifting up their cat, handing it to another brother, who handed it carefully back, etc., after which they bowed and went back to *real* juggling.

    (Yes, skill is skill, but cats are cats, and it’s only polite to get their approval.)

  21. I realize that I am female and therefore missing the certain part of anatomy being discussed as the laptop getting too hot to be touching, but when we are traveling in our RV I sit with the laptop balanced against my stomach and the screen against my legs to use it (I am typing with my hands straight down when I do this). I am dressed while doing this. And I have never found the computer to get hot enough that if I did not have clothes on, it would burn me. This has been true with 3 different laptops varying from an early 2000s model to the 2018 one I am using now.

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