Yet-another Oopsies, Quickies, Semi-CIDUs, Mysteries, and flops? (9th Series)

Okay, many a few people still say they use “tin foil” or may even think they use “tin foil”. (And probably a larger number say “tin cans”.) But is this — stating flatly that they use “tin foil” — an acceptable way of putting it? I wouldn’t think so.

To make matters worse, apparently you can still get actual tin foil, as an expensive alternative or as a novelty. (I’m looking at an E-Bay listing of a roll or sheet of 150mm x 300mm for $18.) No, no no no, that does not justify the caption!

Okay, that seems to be a bad answer. Is there a reason he suggests it, apart from being dimwitted? And can we say what a good answer might have been?

The sender of this Rhymes With Orange points out “a minor, but annoying mistake,” that the central pips on the two of hearts should not be both facing the same way. Ooops! And we might add that Ace here doesn’t look much like a playing-card ace, either — they’ve become more just a business card. Heck, they don’t even have a suit!

Okay, I do get the joke. But can’t stop making a face at the degree to which cartoon physics had to stretch to set this up. Unless someone sees an explanation for the saucer’s crash other than it getting hit by a golf ball.

This looks more like our world than Oz. But if that was an Oz-witch then I guess the susceptibility to dissolving by water came here with her. And if amniotic fluid counts as water (as in saying “her water broke”) then it would be dangerous to her. But … but … but … then how have witches ever survived giving birth?

Hmmm, this may be flipping the sense of the Oopsies category …. I don’t see it as even near funny, but really want to give the cartoonist points for mathematical accuracy. That’s a good rendering of a regular dodecahedron, one of the five Platonic solids. (Though some may have preferred to see the -hedra plural.)


  1. I think writing “use” instead of the more correct “say” is a minor issue that would be ignored by most of the geezers who read “Pluggers”.

    P.S. I was not able to find an American source for actual “tin” foil (all my searches produced only aluminum), but in German I was more successful. However, the “Zinnfolie” that I discovered was not intended for novelty or household use: it was some sort of construction material.

    P.P.S. I think the reference in “Crock” is to the handprints in the sand, indicating that their creator was “walking” on all fours, which is a common “mime” act. However, there still should have been footprints, too.

    P.P.P.S. Can anyone explain what “Venmo” is supposed to be?

  2. I think the tinfoil reference is actually a regionalism. Some people still say tinfoil instead of aluminum foil and it has nothing to do with age, it has to do with what part of the English-speaking world they come from.

    And Kilby, presumably the golfer is Venmoing money to the alien to pay for the damage to his ship. Venmo is an app for transferring funds.

  3. @Kilbie, I speculate that actual tin foil is used as an anode for corrosion prevention, but that is 100% speculative. I haven’t even looked up the electronegativity.

    What is the significance of “You know how to reach me”? Is the business card entity referring to the fact that its phone number is stamped on its face?

  4. The Pluggers caption says “use tin foil” because that is the phrasing a Plugger would use. “Say” doesn’t convey the same meaning — the Plugger in the illustration isn’t talking about tin foil; he’s using a roll of it. The point is that as far as he’s concerned he’s using “tin foil”.

  5. @ Powers – If the hypothesis is that the golfer managed to hit the flying saucer with the golf ball, then that would indeed require an unreasonable amount of “suspended disbelief”. A golf ball can easily be hit fast enough to cause serious injury to any (unprotected) person on the course, but it is highly unlikely that it would be able to catch up with and damage a typical flying saucer, which normally possess magical power supplies and travel at unbelievable speed (nevertheless virtually never causing a sonic boom). It’s simply amazing, how little scriptwriters and movie directors understand about fundamental physics.

    However, the intended situation in this comic is probably exactly the opposite. Judging from the extreme physical prowess (meaning “waistline”) exhibited by these golfers, the most likely scenario is that the guy with the wallet has just hit a “skyball” with his driver, undercutting the ball to shoot it straight up in the air, at which point the innocent space alien just happened to fly into it. At the speed at which those things fly, it’s perfectly plausible that the impact might have perforated the transparent canopy. Even bulletproof windows are surprisingly vulnerable, when hit with the right kind of ball.

  6. Ah, I hadn’t seen that there were only handprint and no footprints. Then how about “acrobat” instead of “mime”?

  7. Mitch4: The handprints are in “mime mode”, sort of “jazz hands”. I get it, just don’t find it grin-worthy.

    Kilby: As Targuman noted, Venmo is one of the person-to-person payment apps, like Zelle or CashApp (or even PayPal). Like many of the newish such things, it’s designed to work around the limitations of credit cards/checks/bank transfers to reduce friction in such transactions. Also like many of the newish such things, it’s less regulated and thus riskier for use with unknown quantities.

    I’ve used Zelle with friends, and it IS super-easy. The risk comes when someone you don’t know wants to sell you something and says “Let’s just use [Zelle|Venmo|Cashapp]”. If they rip you off, there’s no recourse. Think of it as cash, don’t use it with someone you wouldn’t send cash to.

    The fun part is this works both ways, sometimes: there are a bunch of BNPL (Buy Now Pay Later) apps, some/most/all of which will let folks get advances. Surprise: these are unreglated too, which means you can get an advance and not pay it back and there’s nothing they can do other than block you from using them until you pay it back. Of course these are aimed at the underbanked, who perhaps cannot afford to cut themselves off from too many such platforms, but in a pinch…

  8. @ Targuman & PS3 – I have no idea how common the newer payment apps are, but wouldn’t it have made the comic easier to understand if he had used the most widespread application? (I think that would have been PayPal.) Perhaps Venmo was willing to cough up more for the prominent placement.

    P.S. Another route would have been to antiquate the golfer by putting a pen in his hand and having him ask “Are you willing to take a check?

  9. P.S. @ Carl Fink – I think you have it: the “throwaway” title panel joke just means that since he’s such a card, she should already have his number and can call him any time.

  10. Kilby: Venmo is pretty mainstream now. PayPal would be less clear, since it gets used for a lot of other payment streams, including retail.

    Google Trends showing searches for the term: , although I confess I don’t know what the scale is supposed to mean–I haven’t dug into Google Trends much. But It’s been around since 2009 (and owned by PayPal since 2012, go figure), an eternity in Internet years.

    I first heard about Venmo when I started researching the Payments ecosystem in 2012 or so.

  11. @ Targuman

    I believe you are correct that there is some regional preference to the use of the anachronistic “tin foil” versus “aluminum foil”, though I suspect there is an age-related element as well, otherwise it would not have been submitted to Pluggers. I can say anecdotally that I heard “tin foil” used somewhat commonly to refer to aluminum foil when I was growing up but very rarely hear it today, suggesting that its usage began to fade as those who were middle-aged adults when I was a kid became much older and were largely replaced by folks who use “aluminum foil”.

    Similarly, “taping” is an anachronistic term that remains in use for video recording today. I wonder if its use will similarly weaken as those who grew up when the term had become anachronistic become adults and gradually substitute a more modern word…

  12. I didn’t hesitate even a moment over “Venmo”. But I suppose I might have if I hadn’t run into it. I was thrown for a minute when someone asked me to send them a payment by Zelle instead, as I had never heard of it.

  13. Sorry, Kilby, only pluggers use PayPal.

    Now I’ve never used Venmo, and I don’t know exactly how it works. But my impression is that it is all the rage among the younger folk. I have used Zelle, which is actually a bank-to-bank transfer, my account to your account.

  14. I’d call aluminium foil tin foil if, for instance, I was asking someone to go and buy some for me, but on inspection of my own roll of tin foil I see it is labelled kitchen foil.

    I think conspiracists wear tinfoil hats, not aluminium foil hats. But anyway, it’s just a more economical use of breath, especially for us Brits, who have to stick an extra i in there. And I suppose also for pluggers, who as a class are no doubt shorter of breath than the youths.

  15. I’m with narmitage – it’s always aluminium foil, unless it’s for hats – hats are always tinfoil.

    I have no idea why.

    Nor why I’d never even thought about it before.

  16. We use actual tin foil in the lab, and we also use aluminium foil(and I’m surprised it took so many comments before someone mentioned the British spelling/pronunciation). You can also get many other foils, including gold foil and platinum foil (at a significantly higher price, obviously). But I definitely still hear people say tin foil when they mean aluminium, and their intended meaning is understood.

    I agree that the mime one is a stretch to make sense.

  17. jajizi: Zelle is bank-to-bank; Venmo has Venmo as the third-party transferring the funds, more like PayPal.

  18. I have on occasion been known to say tin foil, even recently, but I usually correct myself. Of course, I can remember making little flags out of it to hang on the TV’s rabbit ears to improve reception. (There’s your geezer reference for the day.)

  19. For me, “tin foil hat” is a set phrase, which I would use even though I call the kitchen product “aluminum foil” exclusively.

  20. Well, “tin foil” is easier to say than “aluminum foil” even if it’s not accurate. You don’t have to be a plugger to say “lead pencil” when you should technically say “graphite pencil.” How about “dial the phone?”

  21. For me aluminum foil is and always has been aluminum foil. Tin foil was a shiny silver-colored foil that most commonly was used for the inner wrapping of, e.g., chocolate bars. sticks of chewing gum and maybe the inner lining of cigarette packs. If I recall correctly, during WW II we collected it along with tin cans, newspapers, fat, etc. for the “war effort.” Kids used to collect it and make large balls of the stuff. I have a vague memory that Ripley’s Believe it or Not once featured the world’s largest ball of tin foil.

  22. Huh. And 99 times out of a hundred I’d say tinfoil – and I think I see it in recipes (online) as well. Huh again – nope, I looked up roasted garlic (as a recipe that would definitely use foil) and I see “foil” and “aluminum foil”, no tinfoil in five different recipes/sites. Fascinating – my brain is tricking me.

  23. Phil Smith III –

    It amazes me that people still put cash in an envelope and mail it – never mind trusting the recipient saying that it was received – what if it gets lost in the mail?

    I found out that people do still actually put cash in an envelope. Robert’s sister did this when mailing him a birthday gift. He gave her a lecture on never mailing cash as it can get lost. (She is/was at the time in her 50s.) So the next year she mailed him a check instead – payable to cash!

    Now she is in general a flake and does live in the same world as the rest of us, so I figured it was her general crazy thinking. But, I just had someone mail cash to me to pay their dues for our reenactment unit!

    Since I was a child I knew that one NEVER mails cash. It never ceases to amaze me how some people do not have common sense and will put cash in an envelope and mail it – or write a check to cash and mail it when told not to mail cash.

  24. @ Meryl A – I am perfectly aware that it is not “safe” to mail cash, and I would never do so with any significant amount of money, but on several occasions I have dropped a low-denomination Euro note (€5 or €10 = $6 – $12) into the mail. In most cases it was just the simplest method(†) to make a one-time payment (for an online purchase from a private individual). For lower amounts (like €2), I have sent postage stamps. It is precisely because “nobody ever does it” that nobody expects it, and thus the letters always arrive unscathed. I’ve never had anything stolen.

    P.S. (†) – I refuse to attach my own account (or e-mail address) with that loop- and phishing-hole PayPal.

  25. Meryl: You can’t be too afraid of the world and its evils — sometimes doing the “wrong” thing is the best possible thing you could do, and it can change someone’s life.
    I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives by Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda documents how one naive girl sending a dollar bill in the mail to Africa (!) helped meaningfully change the life of her pen-pal — direct action, where all the hand-wringing things the adults would have her do served no purpose.

  26. What Lark said.

    Frankly, I’m far less afraid of sending money in a well-sealed envelope than I am of sending my credit card information out on the internet, no matter how “secured” the immediate transaction supposedly is. Though mostly when I do send cash through the mail it’s to a friend in the UK who then gets British stuff for me. For US purchases, I’d use a check, and the supplier is someone who doesn’t want to accept checks, I can almost always convince myself that I didn’t really want the whateveritwas anyway.

  27. Shrug: What is it that you think is going to happen if your card gets breached? It’s far more likely to get breached locally or at a store’s back-end than because you used it from your computer, and in any case, you’ll be out a bit of hassle at most. Cash or checks are far more likely to be gone, gone gone.

  28. Phil Smith: I don’t use credit cards “in person” either, as I thought I implied, unless I have no choice. (My ISP has the data, as does a medical supply house I’ve had to use numerous times, but I can’t remember that anyone else does. Between those two, I get about ten charges total my credit card all year.)

    “Cash or checks” are more likely to be “gone”? I’m not seeing how paying with cash for inperson transactions, say, at a grocery store is risking being “gone” — if the money gets stolen will they ask me to bring back the food? (I suppose paying with a check has the risk of a rogue cashier stealing the check and changing the payee from “Cub Foods” to his/her name of “Cobb Boodson” but that seems a long shot.)

    And I’ve got lots of hassles, some of them major, in my daily life, and don’t think adding “a bit of a hassle” would be trivial. (Had to replace all of my wife’s ID stuff when her wallet went missing two years ago, and though there was no credit card and almost no money in it, I’d happily have lost a lot of money to not have to jumped through the hoops.)

    Frankly, if I lost fifty dollars in a scam of any sort, I’d be more inclined to let it go than to “deal with” the hassle to retrieve it. (Yes, I’d have made a different decision forty years ago, but these days I’m more willing to throw money at problems than cope with stress (or perceived possible stress.)

  29. In the United States, the maximum loss from a stolen card is $50. Not much of a risk.

    And that’s only for in-person use with your physical card. Having your CC information stolen online or through a skimmer doesn’t incur that. Credit cards are some of the safest way to pay because (in the US) the protections are built into the laws.

    In the case of the cash at the store, you could lose it on the way.

    I also get between 1% and 5.25% cash back from my cards.

  30. And that $50 loss is, in reality, (almost?) never actually realized. I’ve been presenting on Payments to varied audiences for a decade, always ask, and nobody has ever said “Yes, I was out the $50”. That’s such a small amount to the issuer that they just eat it. (Old numbers, but from 2015, total U.S. credit card charges: $3B; industry revenues: $300B (yes, 10%); fraud: $7B. Fiffy bucks is noise.)

    By “lost” I meant that there is risk of losing cash, or of having checks stolen in the mail (or just lost, resulting in lat charges), which online payments avoid.

    As Brian points out, You’re also losing the cashback, which is not insignificant (well over $1K/year for me).And te inverse: You may or may not recall that grocery stores typically operate on VERY thin margins of 1 percent or two. Once they started taking credit cards, this meant that they had to increase that margin to cover the interchange fees. So if you pay cash/check at a grocery store now, you’re actually kind of overpaying, since they avoid those fees.

    And if you have a smartphone, Google Pay et al. are even safer, as they remove the actual card number from the merchant systems. Sure, Google/Apple could get hacked–but they know they’re a ripe target, have a strong incentive to be secure. Yep, Target/Home Depot/Nieman Marcus/et al. all got hacked. But things are getting better there (we’re in that end of the security biz).

    Your business, your call, of course; my point was just that your concerns about security/risk are basically exactly backwards. The risk of actual monetary loss is far greater with cash/check than credit cards.

    A periodic card# breach is a cost of doing business in the modren world, and for most folks, the benefits–cashback, convenience, time saved on monthly bills (I almost NEVER do anything other than shrug and go “Yep, that’s not crazy” for such charges), risk reduction–far outweigh the cost of occasional changes. The issuers are also getting better about recognizing recurring charges and NOT requiring that you change the card after a breach–it’s not like they forget the number, after all.

  31. I had a card replaced after a definite stolen number and fraud purchases (Which I did not lose anything on, once reported). The issuer was, as you pint out, smart about legit recurring payments, so I did not need to notify all those payers and they kept using the old number.

    But I probably should have tracked them all down. The replacement was maybe five years ago, and just last week my dental insurance notified me of quarterly premium past due! Astonishingly bad website for Met Life Takealong Dental insurance, but I eventually found Payment History and saw they were using the old number. Why was it suddenly not honored? I don’t know, maybe original expiration date on file, or the issuer stopped honoring after five years.

    At the insurance site I was also able to put in the new card number. But I could not find a place to put thru a payment, nor a place to manage autopayments or schedule. And this was a weekend and their telephone customer service number was M-F 9-5, Sheeesh. So for a couple days I kept watching the Payment History listing, and after a couple days the new quarterly payment was shown. They must have rebilled on their own accord, as I was hoping.

    So the smart courtesy extension of honoring the canceled number has some downside after effects.

  32. I always thought that the $50 liabilty limit applies only to activity on the card after the theft has been reported. It is therefore essential to report the loss immediately.

  33. Mitch4: Thanks! I will note this in the Payments pitch (if I have room–I keep adding stuff and then having to remove other stuff to keep it under a week-long event).

    Kilby: I have never heard about it being after it’s reported. And what would that even mean–that BEFORE it’s reported, you’re 100% liable? Nah. Federal law says $50 MAX. And having it start after you report it would make no sense, since that gives you less incentive to report it, and encourage more fraud–“Yes, it looks like I was hacked, and they bought a bunch of stuff, including a flatscreen TV–just a second, let me turn the volume down”…

  34. Problem is sending cash in mail depends on who one is sending it to. A family member as a gift is one thing. But I have had people pay dues to organizations of which I am treasurer or pay for something they ordered from our craft business. One is depending on the honesty of the person who receives the cash also – especially if mailed to a large business. I remember as a child wanting to order something with a cereal box lid and something like 50 cents and my parents insisted on writing a check for the fifty cents as one “should not mail cash – it’s not safe”.

    His sister will mail $100 bills.

  35. We don’t often buy anything online – or otherwise order things unless it is something we absolutely need and there is no other way to get it (which includes food in May 2020 when we DID NOT want to go out food shopping as we always seem to have problems with the orders (including with the food).

    When we do have to buy something online or by phone or by mail and use a credit card we have one account which has a US$500 line and we told them to authorize over same. We had the credit line cut down to same decades ago for just this purpose. (The employee when I called to do this informed me that we would lose our “Gold” status if we did this – big deal. We figure if anyone pulls anything at least they should not get more than $500.

    in the normal times before Covid we used two other credit cards for normal use – depending on what and where we shopping we used one or the other for the highest cash back on the purchase.

    And yes – I match all the slips to the statements.

  36. Re posting cash – there was once a spoof letter-writer, nom-de-plume Henry Root, who would often enclose cash with his letters, as a way to ensure a reply. If you write to a High Court judge with comments, suggestions and advice on a current case, and enclose a payment “for your good self”, they have to reply (and return the money) – they cannot ignore the letter and keep the cash.

  37. MikeP – Robert just called a business our reenactment unit had to pay by bank check, money order, or certified check to make sure that bank check mailed about a month ago had arrived since I could not check our account to see if it had been cashed. Why payment in this manner? It is a for black powder to make cartridges to fire the muskets (and fowlers and rifles) and the cannon. We have to trust them based on past purchases and the fact that they are one of the few companies which sell it. They do have the check, but have not deposited as they are still waiting for delivery to them so they can ship to us. (Yes, even this industry is having delays due to the pandemic – and no, it is NOT being shipped to our house – another unit member is taking delivery on it for us.) When it comes in there will be a cartridge making party.

  38. Hopefully a party with no strong drink taken – lack of attention to loads can have interesting results.

    But why wait? All you need is sulphur, carbon & saltpetre. What could go wrong? 😀

  39. MikeP – No strong drink even at any of the (even normal type) parties. The place we rent for our annual party (in normal years) does not allow alcoholic drinks and when fire and firing is around – no alcohol either. As far as I know we never used either of our insurance policies and I hope we never do.

    I am the “Paymaster General” I make such payments and order items as the board tells me to. In this case husband (the Assistant Commander) dealt with the order – I wrote a check and took it to the bank (with him along) to get a bank check to send as payment. A different board member (no cute title for him) is going to accept delivery of the powder. It is due to come into the country in May and we will get our order when the company gets their order.

    And – our cartridges are made in paper. Commander is looking to start having meetings again at our headquarters (an 18th century weavers’ cottage known as “The Arsenal” – it served as same for a very brief period during the American Revolution as the community served as the headquarters of the British army for the non-NYC part of Long Island. The plan is to have the meeting outside of the headquarters (due to it’s small size) and make the cartridges then. Per the general meeting last night on Zoom members are suppose to make the paper cartridges and bring them to the meeting to fill – use a piece of 5/8 inch dowel to set the size.

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