Portmanteaus: carpoon

In the latest issue of Funny Times (for June 2011), a hilarious piece (“Road Warrior Specials”) by Dave Barry on the car harpoon, or carpoon, which turns out to be a reprint of a column from December 1, 1996 (copies can be found on many sites).

Carpoon is a fine portmanteau, and there’s some entertaining material on carpoons (of several types).

From Barry’s column:

… I found out about the car harpoon from an Associated Press item, sent to me by many alert readers, concerning the police in the town of Oulu, Finland.

… the Oulu police have a problem with speeders and drunken drivers who refuse to stop. That’s why police Sgt. Markku Limingoja invented the car harpoon. This is a missile-shaped object, equipped with hydraulically activated barbs, that sticks several feet out from the front bumper of the police car. The idea is that if the police are chasing somebody, they ram the harpoon into the fleeing car’s trunk, activate the barbs to keep the two cars stuck together, then use their brakes to stop both vehicles.

… The civilian model car harpoon – which I assume would be marketed under the name “Carpoon” – would contain additional features, including a powerful public-address system…

There’s a YouTube video showing a carpoon in action; still image from it here:

Apparently, the idea of such a carpoon has occurred to many people over the years. Here’s a version by E. C. Mendenhall, on his blog on 12/28/05:

Mendenhall’s description:

If only there was a way to send a clear — but nonlethal — message to drivers whom I, in my infinite wisdom, deem to be complete idiots. A message that would provide both a polite reminder not to cut me off again, and a reminder that everyone except for me is a terrible driver. And lo, the Carpoon was born.

In an effort to establish some prior art, lest the immense power of the Carpoon is allowed to fall into the wrong hands, I have drafted several diagrams of my invention. The Carpoon is comprised of the following:

• One standard-model whaling harpoon gun
• 200 yards of steel tow cable
• Several bolts

It’s a very simple endeavor. The Carpoon is mounted atop any common automobile with the included bolts. Once installed, it can be operated by a passenger standing in the backseat, manipulating the Carpoon through the sunroof.

With proper aim, the Carpoon will easily lodge itself in the front or rear bumper of a nearby vehicle. However, improper aim is oftentimes more fun. In addition to launching a massive steel projectile into the bumper or windshield of other vehicles, the Carpoon provides an easy solution to improving your gas mileage — simply freeload on the car in front of you by grabbing a quick tow. Plus, the Carpoon adds a much-needed nautical flair to any vehicle. And as you know, nautical flair improves everything. I anticipate that the Carpoon would have a particularly powerful deterrent effect, but if road rage ever strikes, it’s easily relieved. Patent pending.

The towing idea has been taken up by others. Here, for instance, on the Rock the Bike site:

Posted by JuanLesCarr

This is a stunt video, not an education video. The idea was to recreate a tool I read about in the book “Snowcrash”. The device is called the carpoon and it costs $5. The Carpoon: Designed to attach to large slow moving vehicles and allow a bike to quietly skitch behind it.

(Snow Crash is Neal Stephenson’s third novel, published in 1992.)

And now for something completely different: the Carpoon ‘carp harpoon’. From the Plainwell & Otsego (MI) Union Enterprise of 11/24/10, an article by Daniel Pepper:

Most people seem to hear about Asian carp invading the Great Lakes ecosystem and think it’s a problem.
 Some look at it as something they want the state or federal government to solve and others listen, but don’t know what to do.
 An elementary student in Plainwell took things further than most when he sat down and tried to design a machine that would help.
 Jacob Markle drew up plans for this Carpoon last year and it has been chosen as an honorable mention in a national young inventors contest held by Popular Science magazine. He was one of two runners up in the nation in the elementary school category. The contest required a schematic drawing and explanation of how the device would work. 

Markle, who attends Starr Elementary School, is in fifth-grade this year, teacher Lisa Wininger said.
“Last year he was in my fourth-grade science class and we talked about invasive species,” Wininger said. “He went home and invented something.”

The Carpoon design is for a robotic machine that would seek out Asian carp through the use of a video camera and facial recognition-type software. It would be able to tell an Asian carp from another fish. When it recognizes an Asian carp, it attacks with a harpoon.

[Markle was a runner-up in a national invention contest hosted by Popular Science.]

Finally, what’s surely a bit of pure playful invention, an Urban Dictionary entry for  carpoon:

A portmanteau of “Cartoon” and “Poon” (or poontang)
Used to refer to the genitalia of a female cartoon character
(by Afro-duck Feb 16, 2007)

Somebody was bound to find a way to work sex into the word.

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