16 Comments

  1. Appears to be a play on words. One of them is solvent, meaning it can dissolve other materials. The other is insolvent, meaning having many debts.

  2. Not just richer than the other. A fast food worker making minimum wage is solvent if she can manage her limited resources and pay her bills on time. A wealthy heir is insolvent if his mansion is mortgaged and he can’t keep up with the payments on the Rolls-Royce.

    The joke is a play on the two meanings of insolvent, which can mean either capable of dissolving another substance or capable of meeting financial obligations, and the one meaning of solvent, which means unable to pay one’s bills generally as they come due. (Well, insolvent can also mean having a negative net worth, but that’s still a financial meaning, not one used in chemistry.) The reader thinks that the bottles are all chemical solvents until reaching the fourth bottle, who is more in the nature of a precipitate.

  3. I just noticed that I wrote “The joke is a play on the two meanings of insolvent, which can mean either capable of dissolving another substance or capable of meeting financial obligations, and the one meaning of solvent, which means unable to pay one’s bills generally as they come due.”

    Obviously, it’s “solvent” that can mean either capable of dissolving another substance or capable of meeting financial obligations, and “insolvent” that only means unable to pay one’s bills generally as they come due.

  4. I also read it the way Brian in STL does. They’re trying to fairly gently check if their offspring and her/his partner have had the important conversations they need to work out before getting bonded — like plans for offspring of their own, and (as in the moment captured here) understandings about money issues.

  5. Usual John, your mention of “precipitate” reminded me of that saying from the 60s/70s: If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the precipitate.

  6. Usual John (6:04 PM): Your 3:25 PM post called the fourth bottle “a precipitate,” so I was just riffing on that. And now I’m chuckling at Mitch4’s response.

  7. Yes, I did have in mind the line Mitch4 quotes.

    I was trying to think of what the opposite of a solvent would be. My first thought was that it would be a liquid that doesn’t dissolve anything, but I don’t know what the word for that is. Some people think that the opposite of a solvent is the solute, the thing that is dissolved, but that didn’t seem very funny. I went with precipitate because its suggestion of sinking to the bottom seems like what an insolvent person does.

  8. There are two problems with the chemistry in this strip. First, the term “solvent” can refer to virtually any liquid, because it is virtually impossible to find one that will not dissolve at least some sort of another substance(*). Second, “insolvent” is not a noun, it is an adjective that is applied to the substance to be dissolved, not to the liquid that is (or is not) going to do the dissolving (for example, “salt is insolvent in benzene”).
    P.S. (*) – The only possibility that comes to mind would be a supersaturated solution (containing so much solute that it cannot accept any more), but even then it would be possible to find some other substance that would dissolve, replacing the first solute, and causing it to precipitate out.

  9. As to the conversation with parents and young couple on solvency –

    When we were getting married we had to go for counseling with a priest as Robert is Roman Catholic and we were having the ceremony at a interfaith chapel, and he was required to have us go for counseling. Robert was has his bachelor’s degree in Psychology and his masters in a related field. I have my bachelors degree in accounting and graduate work in law school.

    We asked the priest why the church required the pre marital counseling – in special groups for same and what it would cover. He explained ( I am greatly paraphrasing) that couples had to understand the finances of being married ( I pointed at me) and have some marital counseling (forget exact term) before they are married (I pointed at Robert.) He then said that he would meet with again and deal with all of the requirements then and we did not have to sign up and take the course.

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