Here are twelve examples of twelve different prefixes that invert the meaning of the original word:

  • Typical -> Atypical
  • Normal -> Abnormal
  • Climactic -> Anticlimactic
  • Intuitive -> Counterintuitive
  • Mystify -> Demystify
  • Similar -> Dissimilar
  • Logical -> Illogical
  • Possible -> Impossible
  • Conceivable -> Inconceivable
  • Align -> Misalign
  • Conformist -> Nonconformist
  • Sustainable -> Unsustainable

Here are twelve examples of twelve different cases where an inverting prefix doesn’t invert the original word:

  • Alive -> Live
  • Aboriginal -> Original
  • Antibody -> Body
  • Countermeasure -> Measure
  • Deliver -> Liver
  • Dismantle -> Mantle
  • Illustrate -> Lustrate
  • Imposter -> Poster
  • Informed -> Formed
  • Mistake -> Take
  • Nonchalant -> Chalant
  • Uneasy -> Easy

Boiling Acid

Most of us remember the 1995 movie Batman Forever for its wacky villains and cheesy dialogue, but there’s one scene that stands out from the rest.

Early on in the film, Batman attempts to foil an evil plot by his nemesis, Two-Face, to rob a bank. Of course, it turns out that the robbery is merely a ploy to kill Batman. Our hero is lured into a vault in an attempt to save an unlucky security guard, but they become trapped when the door suddenly swings shut.

The vault is then snatched from the building by a chain connected to a helicopter, leaving Batman and the hapless guard inside the vault, now precariously dangling high above the streets of Gotham City. Then, as if things couldn’t get any worse, safe deposit boxes burst open, spewing forth a suspicious, steaming fluid. The frightened security guard then screams, “Oh, no! It’s boiling acid!”

Wait a minute. Forget about the vault, the helicopter, the terrible acting and the source of the acid. Why is Two-Face filling the vault with boiling acid?

First of all, a criminal mastermind like Two-Face would know that a human body dissolves much more quickly in a base than an acid. This is why both Mexican drug cartels and medical institutions use them to dispose of unwanted cadavers.

Second, there is no apparent reason to boil the acid. Sure, it speeds up the process a little, but it would still take several hours to dissolve our hero, assuming that his suit isn’t acid-resistant, which it probably is. In addition, the liquid in question was likely sulfuric acid, since it is both powerful and easy to obtain, and sulfuric acid boils at 648 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s an awful lot of planning, equipment and energy spent just to make Batman melt slightly faster.

Perhaps Two-Face had something else in mind other than dissolving the Caped Crusader. Boiling the acid would cause Batman to inhale its toxic fumes. But though he would likely suffer severe and long-lasting respiratory damage, it takes significant time – hours or even days – for someone to feel the effects of exposure.

It’s also worth mentioning that submerging someone in boiling water, which is only a fraction of the temperature of boiling acid, results in sudden, instant and even immediate death. Since Batman would die just as quickly in boiling water as in boiling acid, there’s seems to be no rational reason to boil it.

Finally, filling the vault with any liquid, regardless of its temperature or corrosive properties, would certainly drown our hero in a few short minutes. Batman is courageous and resilient, but he still needs to breathe.

So what possible explanation could there be for using boiling acid? What sinister objective was Two-Face trying to achieve? As a well-educated former district attorney, how could he possibly fail to realize the glaring impracticality and absurdity of such an elaborate plan? Apart from producing a suspenseful and memorable scene in the film, there’s really only one conclusion we can make, and it’s explained by the origin story of Two-Face.

Harvey Dent became Two-Face after being driven insane by his hideous facial disfigurement – a disfigurement that he received as a result of contact with sulfuric acid. Like Batman, Dent was a crime fighter, and he paid the price for his cause in the form of a courtroom attack in which he was deliberately splashed in the face with the corrosive substance. This explains why he would use acid as part of his plot against Batman. He wanted to remind our hero of what was done to him and make Batman feel what he felt. Perhaps he expected, and maybe even hoped, that Batman would ultimately survive, but only after being burned and disfigured like himself. This theory is supported by the fact that the bank heist took place on the anniversary of Two-Face’s capture at the hands of Batman.

If this was indeed the case, then this would also explain why he boiled the acid. Two-Face could have suspected that Batman might keep a small oxygen tank hidden in his utility belt, so he likely couldn’t drown him. And maybe, just maybe, he considered that Batman might wear an acid-resistant suit in preparation for just such a scheme, so he likely couldn’t dissolve him. And so Two-Face boiled the acid, ensuring that Batman would certainly and immediately succumb to its unbearable heat.

Unfortunately we still don’t know why the attacker in the courtroom used acid to attack Dent or, more importantly, whether or not it was boiling.

In Memoriam

We make them always, all the time,
and out of every thing.

We make them out of friends and facts,
and out of songs we sing.

Locked inside the cells within,
they’re with us all the time.

Shaping and defining us,
both awful and sublime.

They can’t be killed or stolen,
but most are changed or gone.

And some are hidden deep,
so we can carry on.

They follow, charm and haunt us,
no matter what we do.

Until one day they slip away,
and we become one too.

A Mother’s Care

Kitten, kid, calf or child,
there’s one drink they desire.
A gift that only mothers give,
pale, rich and required.

When flowing out of cattle’s teat,
no prefix you will find.
But from a goat, we always note,
to keep the source in mind.

Yet when one of our Ernest young,
longs for a mother’s care,
we don’t recall from whom it came,
but we do recall from where.


cleave. [kleev] -verb.

1. to join together or integrate as a whole. A man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife.

2. to divide apart or separate into pieces. The lumberjack used his hatchet to cleave the branch in two. 

Laugh Track

Now listen close and hear the tale,
of how our humor died.
For once we laughed when actors laughed,
and when they cried, we cried.

When film was new and no one knew
quite how to summon laughter,
the audience would take the lead,
our laughs would follow after.

But every now and then a quip,
would not seem as clever.
Without the crowing crowd to cue,
no laughter whatsoever.

And so they sought the aid of one,
who captured that glad sound,
the cheerful noise that lifts us up,
copied, cut and bound.

He used a secret magic box,
then took what wasn’t funny,
sweetened it just to our taste,
and made a ton of money.

So now we sit and watch and wait,
for a machine to tell us when,
to react according to the prompt,
then quiet and wait again.

Thanks be to Charley Douglass,
for now we can’t be sure,
of whether what we feel is real,
and if our joy is pure.

The World’s Hardest Multiple Choice Question: Part II

If each question in the following series does not share the same answer as its counterpart in part I, which other question in this series has the same answer as question D?

A. If the answer to this question isn’t B, which other choices are also incorrect?

  • C and D.
  • C and D.
  • A and D.
  • A and B.

B. What is the answer to question C?

  • B.
  • C.
  • D.
  • A.

C. What is the answer to question B?

  • D.
  • C.
  • B.
  • D.

D. Which of the following questions is correctly answered, “There is no correct answer?”

  • What answer would make this question answerable?
  • What answer would make this question unanswerable?
  • If there is a correct answer to this question, what could it be?
  • If there is an incorrect answer to this question, what could it be?
Test your skills further in part III.