A fascinating conundrum, born in the fertile imaginations of many E2 residents. A question of combat between two noted figures is a meme that has deep roots in our modern society, likely an offshoot of living in a Post-Cold War environment, lacking a clearly defined outside enemy. We crave an "other" by which to define ourselves. Add to this the grand American tradition of backing the underdog, and the twist of an unknown environment that skews all previously held notions in a fantastic way, and you have one quality exhibition of speculative combat. We live to puzzle out "Who is faster: Superman or the Flash", or the outcomes of "Ninjas Vs. Pirates" or "Astronauts Vs. Cavemen", or even "Can my Dad beat up your Dad" (which is silly, because my Dad would totally beat up your Dad). Webby V. Vulgar-T is our own special E2 flavor of this eternal puzzle. Mmm... Cherry! Let's see what we have to work with here...

A word about the combatants:

Webster 1913 and Vulgar Tongue 1811 are, in fact, three separate entities unto themselves. While others may shrink from the challenge of defining the qualities and flaws of each fighter across this spectrum, I really don't know any better and am going to plow through it. It's what I do! Webby and Vulgar-T are both men, dictionaries, and noders.

The Lion: Webster 1913

The Man:
Noah Webster, noted American literary figure, was a nerd. A native of West Hartford, Connecticut, Webby focused his life's effort towards forcing people to spell words correctly. A noble purpose, to be sure, but I would put dollars to donuts that he was a dry bit of toast at a dinner party. His contemporaries describe him as a "careful man, who sought simplicity and clear boundaries". Others called him "cheerless and arrogant" as well as labeling him "the world's most successful plagiarist". Like the kid in preschool that organized the crayons according to color. Henry Louis Mencken, on the other hand, offers up a less glossy opinion of Mr. Webster: "not only a pedagogue, but... a foe of democracy". What every one agrees upon is this: Webby had a real stick up his ass about vulgarity. It was his kryptonite. He was adamant, to the point of bursting into fits of rage, that no vulgar words be added to his dictionary, including those in common use at the time. His Puritanism was so pronounced that he published a censored Bible, with a particular focus on removing references to sex. Now that's a commitment to purity!

Noah Webster, never a rich man, had a good run, 1758 - 1843, and his name has become synonymous with dictionaries, which, I am sure, would have put at least a passing smile on his crabby little face.

The Dictionary:
Fun Fact: The 1913 Webster's Unabridged Dictionary was never actually reviewed by Noah Webster, seeing as he died 70 years before it was published. In fact, the prefix "Webster's" has become a generalized trademark for dictionaries in North America. Merriam-Webster dictionaries are technically the holders of the proper crown, having been published by the original printers of Noah Webster's work. Why does E2 have the 1913 version? The dictionary's 1913 update of the 1909 New International version had a miraculous thing happen to it: its copyright lapsed and it became public domain. Whammo! Free Domain plus the Internet = free dictionary on the Web. Our particular version found its way here from Project Gutenberg.

The Noder:
Webby the noder is a fascinating fellow. According to the Chatterbox Archive, he has had a limited number of things to say (135 utterances on record), and he delights in offering corrections and definitions to words. Webby the web entity retains his earthy predecessor's lack of humor, but seems to have developed a razor wit. Often described as a bot, Webby communicates freely with other legendary pseudo-noders, namely EDB and Cool Man Eddie. It seems to pain Webby that some many of today's authors have lost touch with the fundamentals of the English language, and his annoyance is often given voice in his utterances.

Webster 1913 has been a user since December 18th, 1999. He has noded a staggering 98681 write-ups, which has lead to several interesting concessions being made on his behalf. An E2 FAQ has been written about him, you cannot do a user search on his nodes, and no voting is allowed on his entries. He has accumulated 134307 XP, which brings him up to Level 13. Not surprisingly, Webster 1913 is included in the Editors usergroup.

Webby has only ever spent one C!, which was given to Webster_1897's Webster 1913 is a fake (person). I leave it to the reader to draw their own conclusions.

Because user searches on Webster's nodes are not allowed, a bit of detective work was needed. As far as I can tell, Webbys' most popular node is Ralph, which has 50C!s.

The Shark: Vulgar Tongue 1811

The Man:
Captain Francis Grose, of His Majesties Army, was a prolific author, most notably an antiquarian, famous for numerous works on the histories of England and Scotland. He met his untimely end in Dublin, Ireland, while working on a similar work documenting that country's history. Captain Grose was a particularly gregarious fellow, who enjoyed the more basic things in life, primarily, wine, women and song. He grew to be a particular friend of famed Scottish poet Robert Burns, also a noted partier. Burns had met him while he was in Scotland collecting material for his Scottish work.

Burns, for his part, was quite pleased to have met Grose. Said Burns of Grose: "if you discover a cheerful looking grig of an old, fat fellow, the precise figure of Dr Slop, wheeling about your avenue in his own carriage with a pencil and paper in his hand, you may conclude: 'Thou art the man!'". Grose was, by all accounts, a big man who enjoyed his drink. Often noted for his intelligence, skilled poetic speech, skill in story telling and bawdy sense of humor, Grose was surely the life of most parties. After retiring from the Army proper, Grose took a position as Paymaster and Adjutant of the Surrey Militia, for which he had no calling. Because of his utter lack of skill with bureaucracy, he more often than not paid for discrepancies in the accounts with his own fortune. Grose lived from 1730 until 1791, when he died of an "apoplectic fit", likely a heart attack, and was buried in Dublin.

The Dictionary:
Fun Fact: Most of The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue was written by Captain Grose himself. The 1811 version of his work, which was first published in 1785, is a reprint of the author's "Lexicon balatronicum". It was slightly revised and expanded by members of a London social club before its second printing. Rather than gloss over the rough bits of the English Language, Grose et al. pick up where Webster feared to tread. The dictionary was generally regarded as both a "treasure-trove of late eighteenth-century/early nineteenth-century English slang" and an "enjoyable taboo reader". The over 100 year old copyright lapsed and it became public domain, much like the 1913 Webster's Dictionary. Our particular version has also found its way here from Project Gutenberg, but in a more piecemeal and un-automated fashion.

The Noder:
Vulgar Tongue 1811 is a mysterious fellow, who according to the Chatterbox Archive, has said nothing at all in the catbox. The nature of the noder is also not clear, as it seems that they have appeared in a completely different way than the "state sanctioned" Webster 1913. Many of Vulgar's nodes have appeared in the New Writeups section of the website, a peculiarity not shared by Webster's nodes. Strange indeed.

Vulgar Tongue 1811 has been a user since May 3rd, 2005. He has noded a respectable 483 write-ups, upon which he has collected a measly 381 XP, just enough to crack Level 3. However, Vulgar Tongue does not share the voting restrictions imposed on Websters nodes.

Vulgar Tongue 1811 has never spent a single C!. His contradictory motto of "Vice to be haten needs but to be seen" is confusing at first, but is likely meant in jest. Vulgar's most popular node is "twiddle poop" which has a single C!. Not too bad for a new noder.

The Moon

Ah, the favored battleground of fictional fights! What about the Moon, kid brother to Good Ole Terra Firma, would muddy the waters in our fight?

Well, The Moon is huge for one. Proportional to the Earth, the Moon is one of the larger satellites in the Solar System (Pluto has a whopper too). That equates to plenty of hiding places. About 14,600,000 square miles of them. With gravity at 1/6th that of the Earth, a more acrobatic type of combat may be possible. Various types of craters and regolith would make for a varied arena for our fight, with respective "low ground, high ground" strategies in place. A lack of vegetation, water and atmosphere would limit various traditional Earthbound combat tactics, and the lack of a magnetic field may have some effect on the metal in the knives, as well as acting a poor shield against murderous solar radiation.

The Knife Fight

Ah, the creamy nougat of our node! Blood sport! While compelling, I have limited the fights to equally matched opponents. While I am sure that Francis Grose could easily rip up a copy of a dictionary on the moon, it would make for a poor pay-per-view.

Man Vs. Man

This match-up seems rather one sided. Noah Webster was decidedly bookish, while Captain Grose was a infantryman in the Royal Army. Add to that the fact that Grose likely had 100 pounds over Webster, and was likely well practiced in all manner of bar fights, I would put my money on the good Captain. Complicating factors including an utter lack of oxygen and the potential for Grose to have a heart attack from physical exertion do somewhat even the odds.

Psychologically, Grose would be well equipped to drive Webster to the edge of sanity with a litany of vulgarity that few people in the world could master. The resultant rage could either greatly help or hinder Webster. The persnickety correction of the Captain's grammar would probably have limited affect.

A variation of this taking place with the combatants today may be compelling if their respective zombies could be raised. Given the period of time involved, it would probably see two handfuls of dust intermixing. This would again favor Grose, seeing as he had a larger mass.

Prediction: Captain Grose

Book Vs. Book

This tussle is a bit harder to suss out. The 1913 Webster's Dictionary would definitely have a greater mass, a higher word count, have sold more copies and have a higher market share, as well as greater name recognition. Of the two books, it is marginally more modern, having been published 102 years after the 1811 volume. 124 separate their respective first printings of 1785 and 1909. The esoterics of how much input did the original author have (Grose wins here) as well as the really unquantifiable "coolness" factor (this is Grose's as well) would have a negligible impact on this more metaphoric combat. If anything, the 1913 Webster's Dictionary would make a larger impact crater on the moon, especially when considering the added mass of a knife.

Prediction: 1913 Webster's Dictionary

Noder Vs. Noder

Another strange battle to consider, seeing as a "noder knife fight" can be interpreted in many ways. Assuming equal Internet access is available to each combatant at their respective lunar workstation, the fighting remains lopsided at best. Webby has an obscene node count, an editorship and the personal cellphone numbers of dem bones, Cool Man Eddie and most importantly, Klaproth. Even factoring in the potential robotic nature of the forces behind Webby, he still holds a commanding lead over the silent workmanship of Vulgar Tongue 1811. In Ching count, general name recognition, even term of service, Webby rules the roust.

Prediction: Webster 1913

There you have it. As far as lunar knife fighting is concerned, Webby is your man 2 times out of 3. Now, we move on to more puzzling questions. For instance: Who would win in a fight between a shark and a lion on the moon?

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