Monday, 31 December 2007

Cape Cod

Cape Cod (or simply the Cape) is an arm-shaped peninsula nearly coextensive with Barnstable County, Massachusetts and forming the easternmost portion of the state of Massachusetts, in the Northeastern United States.

Although the Cape was originally connected to the mainland, the Cape Cod Canal, which opened in 1914, effectively transformed Cape Cod into a large island (though it is not normally referred to as such). Three bridges span the canal from the Massachusetts mainland to the Cape. Vehicles can cross onto the Cape via the Sagamore Bridge and the Bourne Bridge; the other is a railroad bridge.

Go to source web page: Cape Cod - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Sunday, 30 December 2007

The Immortal Memory

Toasting the Greatest Naval Hero in the United Kingdom

The Immortal Memory Toast for Lord Admiral Nelson occurs every year on the Royal Navy Trafalgar Night. Trafalgar Night is celebrated around the anniversary of Nelson's death on October 21, 1805.

The toast has been proposed in memory of Admiral Lord Nelson since his death in 1805, for over 200 years.

In 2006 Trafalgar Night was held on October 17.

Earlier Version
The Toast to Admiral Nelson has always been short, but earlier versions were a few words longer. Captain John Pasco proposed a toast to

  • The immortal memory of Nelson and those who fell with him.

Another early versions of the toast is recalled as:

  • The Immortal Memory of Lord Nelson and then of those whom 'England expected (not in vain) that they would do their duty.'

Current Version
Those who fell with Nelson have not done too well with the later version.

The current version of the toast has been shortened further to just:

  • The Immortal Memory

The Immortal Memory Toast is drunk in total silence, out of respect to the memory of the Admiral.


Saturday, 29 December 2007

Words with alternating vowels and consonants

honorificabilitudinitatibus, overimaginative, parasitological and verisimilitudes

Friday, 28 December 2007

Peg or Dowel?

Q: Could someone explain me, just simply, the difference between words "peg" and "dowel"?

A: In the usages which I'm familiar with, a dowel is a uniform-diameter rod, and it fits closely into its hole along all its length. Pegs fit into their holes loosely, or partly, or are tapered, or do not fit at all but just protrude to hang things on.

But in carpentry, a "pegged joint" is one which is made stronger by a perforation through both parts of the joint, into which there is put a close-fitting peg. Maybe that was originally tapered, but modern ones are straight, and they still call it a peg, not a dowel.

from alt.usage.english

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Librarians Top 30 Books

To Kill A Mockingbird was published over 40 years ago and its American author has lived as a virtual recluse ever since, but according to Britain's librarians, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mocking Bird is the book that everyone should read. The Pulitzer prize-winning classic has topped a World Book Day poll conducted by the Museum, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), in which librarians around the country were asked the question, "Which book should every adult read before they die?" The book, which has been a staple of schoolroom reading lists for many years, also came second in another poll released today on our favourite happy endings. It explores issues of race and class in 1930s deep south America, through the dramatic court case of a black man charged with the rape of white girl.

The list in full
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Bible
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien
1984 by George Orwell
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
All Quite on the Western Front by E M Remarque
His Dark Materials Trilogy by Phillip Pullman
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
Tess of the D'urbevilles by Thomas Hardy
Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Middlemarch by George Eliot
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzenhitsyn


Wednesday, 26 December 2007

More on isograms

isogram - a word in which the letters turn up an equal number of times.

first-order isogram

  • each letter appears just once
  • as in dialogue, lexicography, ambidextrously and uncopyrightable.

second-order isogram

  • each letter appears twice only
  • as in deed, Vivienne, Caucasus and intestines

third-order isogram

  • each letter appears three times only
  • as in deeded and geggee

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Monday, 24 December 2007

The top 10 IT disasters of all time

1. Faulty Soviet early warning system nearly causes WWIII (1983)

2. The AT&T network collapse (1990)

3. The explosion of the Ariane 5 (1996)

4. Airbus A380 suffers from incompatible software issues (2006)

5. Mars Climate Observer metric problem (1998)

6. EDS and the Child Support Agency (2004)

7. The two-digit year-2000 problem (1999/2000)

8. When the laptops exploded (2006)

9. Siemens and the passport system (1999)

10. LA Airport flights grounded (2007)

See full story at

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Disktective 5.0.1

Freeware disk-space reporting tool for Windows

Running out of disk space? Don't know what's eaten it? Then run Disktective, our award-winning disk-reporting tool, to trace used-up space on your system.

With Disktective you can find out the real size of your directories and distribution of used space inside them. Each directory may contain hundreds of subdirectories each containing many files. Simply run Disktective and let Disktective create a complete report displaying the real sizes of all directories and their containing subdirectories.


Nick's Canal Route Planner

Canalplan AC is a comprehensive guide to the UK's inland waterways, it plans journeys, calculates the length (distance, number of locks, time taken etc) of your trip and shows gazetteer information on places along the way (pubs, shops and museums). Canalside events you might pass are listed.

See CANALPLAN AC - Canal Route Planner at

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Fork handles script makes £48,500

The original script for the classic Two Ronnies Fork Handles sketch has been sold at auction for £48,500.

The sketch, written by the late Ronnie Barker, sees the comedian trying to buy fork handles and being offered four candles by shopkeeper Ronnie Corbett.


The Doors

In 1954, Aldous Huxley wrote a book on the mind-expanding effects of mescaline, titling it "The Doors of Perception."  Slightly more than a decade later, in 1965, Jim Morrison was studying film and poetry at UCLA when he and a keyboard-playing friend named Ray Manzerek formed a friendship fueled by their love of rock music and fascination with hallucinogenic drugs.  After reading Huxley’s book, they decided to call their newly-formed band "The Doors."

From Dr. Mardy Grothe,

Friday, 21 December 2007


An "eggcorn" is a word or phrase that has been incorrectly used because the speaker or writer originally misheard the word or phrase he wanted to use and came up with something wrong that he thought was right.

"Eggcorn" is a fabricated term to describe this. A person who had heard the word "acorn" might have misheard it and then repeated the word as "eggcorn". Other terms might have been used, but "eggcorn" was the term that the linguists came up with.

Sometimes an eggcorn is a word formation that does not really exist. "Fortable", for "formidable", is an example. (Warning: "fortable" may exist somewhere with some obscure meaning, but work with me here.) Sometimes it is a real word used incorrectly: "I am internally grateful for..." is an example used in one of the cites below. There are no rules about eggcorn sightings, but it's generally accepted that the misuse has to be genuine and not the result of a typo, spellchecker substitution, or mindfart. The person uttering it has to have been under the impression that the usage was correct.


from alt. usage. english

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Difference between "try and ..." and "try to ..."


I'm not a native English speaker. Watching American TV series, I often hear phrases like "I'll try and find him" where the verb try is followed by the conjunction "and" and another verb. Less often I also her "I'll try to find him" which is more natural to me. I guess that both are correct. But are there any differences ?


The only people who think there is a difference between them are pedants like me who believe that language and logic ought to walk hand-in-hand as much as possible. I see the "try and" structure as logically incorrect in most instances. For me, the only logical and aesthetically pleasing way of saying this is "I'll try to find him".

The "try and" structure is fine for an exchange like this one:

A: Please try to convince John to come to the party.

B: Okay, I'll try and let you know what he says.

Arguing the point is a lost cause. Native anglophones don't care, so they say whichever of the two they wish to say and insist that because they say it, it's "natural" (a meaningless descriptor because it is contradictory) and "acceptable" (another meaningless descriptor because it too is contradictory) and "idiomatic" (well, what isn't these days?) and even "Standard English" (English has no real standards, so this is merely the perpetuation of a myth).

from alt. usage. english

Wednesday, 19 December 2007


All articles that coruscate with resplendence are not truly auriferous.

= All that glitters is not Gold.


Sorting on the part of mendicants must be interdicted.

= Beggars cannot be choosers.


Male cadavers are incapable of rendering any testimony.

= Dead men tell no tales.


Neophite's serendipity.

= Beginner's luck


A revolving lithic conglomerate accumulates no congeries of small, green, biophytic plant.

= A Rolling Stone gathers no Moss.


Members of an avian species of identical plumage tend to congregate.

= Birds of a feather flock together.


Pulchritude possesses solely cutaneous profundity.

= Beauty is only skin-deep.


Freedom from incrustations of crime is contiguous to rectitude.

= Cleanliness is next to Godliness.


It is fruitless to become lachrymose of precipitately departed lacteal fluid.

= Don't cry over Spilt Milk.


Eschew the implement of correction and vitiate the scion.

= Spare the Rod and Spoil the Child.


Francium is a chemical element that has the symbol Fr and atomic number 87. It has the lowest known electronegativity and is the second rarest naturally occurring element on Earth (after astatine)<!-- Cf and others occur naturally in supernovae; Universe-wide abundance is difficult to ascertain --. Francium is a highly radioactive metal that decays into astatine, radium, and radon. As an alkali metal, it has one valence electron. Marguerite Perey discovered francium in

1939. Francium was the last element discovered in nature, rather than synthesized. Outside the laboratory, francium is extremely rare, with trace amounts found in uranium and thorium ores, where the isotope francium-223 is continually formed and continually decays. Perhaps an ounce (30 g) exists at any given time throughout the Earth's crust; the other isotopes are entirely synthetic. The largest amount ever collected of any isotope was a cluster of 10,000 atoms (of francium-210) created as an ultracold gas at Stony Brook in 1996.

Read the rest of this article:

Tuesday, 18 December 2007


Among 19th century philosophers, Arthur Schopenhauer was among the first to contend that at its core, the universe is not a rational place. Inspired by Plato and Kant, both of whom regarded the world as being more amenable to reason, Schopenhauer developed their philosophies into an instinct-recognizing and ultimately ascetic outlook, emphasizing that in the face of a world filled with endless strife, we ought to minimize our natural desires to achieve a more tranquil frame of mind and a disposition towards universal beneficence. Often considered to be a thoroughgoing pessimist, Schopenhauer in fact advocated ways — via artistic, moral and ascetic forms of awareness — to overcome a frustration-filled and fundamentally painful human condition. Since his death in 1860, his philosophy has had a special attraction for those who wonder about life's meaning, along with those engaged in music, literature, and the visual arts.

See more at

Monday, 17 December 2007

Snooker Balls

A standard set of balls for the snooker table consists of 15 reds, 6 colours and 1 white / cue ball.The standard measurement of each ball is 2 1/16 inch in diameter.

Historically, snooker balls were made exclusively from heavy ivory. Thankfully, these quickly became a thing of the past and were replaced before the Second World War by lighter Crystalate balls made from the crushed shin bones of cows.

Crystalate balls were subsequently replaced by Super Crystalate balls, made from entirely synthetic material. These were then replaced by the Aramith balls utilised in today's game.

Aramith balls are ideally suited to the demands of the modern game, as they are more reactive to spin and power shots, thereby presenting greater opportunities for enhanced cue ball control.


Sunday, 16 December 2007

"This tape will self-destruct in five seconds..."

"This tape will self-destruct in five seconds..." - Warning heard on a tape recorded message secretly given to agent Daniel Briggs (Steven Hill) and later James Phelps (Peter Graves) on the espionage adventure MISSION IMPOSSIBLE/CBS/1966-73/ABC/1988-90. When the series was revived in 1988, the old reel-to-reel and cassette audio-tape recording were replaced by a more modern laser disc. The voice on the taped message was Bob Johnson.


What's the best way to kill a vampire?

Dear Cecil:

I have a question to which I need an immediate reply, which I hope you publish, as others on the community may feel the need to know this information. Please list in order the most preferred ways to kill a vampire. --J. Pasquale, Baltimore

Dear J.:

I'll admit I've heard some horror stories about crime in Baltimore, J., but vampires--land o' Goshen, honey, things are really getting out of hand. Grab your pencil.

To kill a vampire it is first necessary to determine its ethnic origin. I regret that I cannot offer much useful information on how this might be accomplished, but I'm sure you'll think of something.

Next, locate the vampire's daytime whereabouts, i. e., its grave. My vampire manual recommends placing "a young lad who is innocent of girls," such as Richard Simmons, atop a black virgin stallion, and leading the two through a likely graveyard. If the horse refuses to pass a certain grave, you've hit paydirt, so to speak. The telltale signs of a vampirous corpse are fluidity of the blood, lack of putrefaction, and flexibility of the limbs (we're talking about corpses now, mind you).

Finally, administer treatment as prescribed below:


  • Sampiro - Albania - Stake through heart

  • Nachtzehrer - Bavaria - Place coin in mouth, decapitate with ax

  • Ogoljen - Bohemia - Bury at crossroads

  • Krvoijac - Bulgaria - Chain to grave with wild roses

  • Kathakano - Crete - Boil head in vinegar

  • Brukalaco - Greece - Cut off and burn head

  • Vampir - Hungary - Stake through heart, nail through temples

  • Dearg-dul - Ireland - Pile stones on grave

  • Vryolakas - Macedonia - Pour boiling oil on, drive nail through navel

  • Upier - Poland - Bury face downwards

  • Gierach - Prussia - Put poppy seeds in grave

  • Strigoiul - Rumania - Remove heart, cut in two; garlic in mouth, nail in head

  • Vlkoslak - Serbia - Cut off toes, drive nail through neck

  • Neuntoter - Saxony - Lemon in mouth

  • Vampiro - Spain - No known remedy

I realize the above will not be much use in the case of a Third World vampire, but you can't have everything. Incidentally, we'll have none of this "preferred ways" business. There's a right way and a wrong way to do everything. Take some pride in your work.

from [the Straight Dope]

Saturday, 15 December 2007


Hessian cloth or Burlap (chiefly US) is a coarse woven fabric usually made from jute or hemp and allied vegetable fibers. The name 'hessian' is attributed to the use of the fabric, initially, as part of the uniform of soldiers from the German state of Hesse. The name 'burlap' appears to be of unknown origin.

German soldiers loyal to King George III who fought for Britain in the Revolutionary War. King George was from Hanover, an area in Germany, and called in a favor to his homeland, asking for soldiers willing to fight in the New World. The Hessians numbered almost 30,000, and they fought mostly in the Northern Campaign. They are most famous, however, for being surprised and defeated at Trenton by American forces under General George Washington, whose army had just crossed the Delaware River in the dead of night on Dec. 25, 1776.

The Hessian binary web service protocol makes web services usable without requiring a large framework, and without learning yet another alphabet soup of protocols. Because it is a binary protocol, it is well-suited to sending binary data without any need to extend the protocol with attachments.

Friday, 14 December 2007

More words with 3 consecutive identical letters

brasssmith, goddessship, bulllike


There's a rumour that the word Stovies comes from the French "étouffée", to steam, but we think that's a load of old leftovers. Truth is that's exactly what stovies is - something to do on Monday with all that delicious meat and veg, fat and gravy, left over on the stove from the Sunday roast.


Thursday, 13 December 2007

English is Such a Wacky Language, Part 2

English is Such a Wacky Language, by Peter Heinlein

If you WROTE a letter - perhaps you BOTE your tongue? (BIT, BITE, BOTE?)

Sometimes I think all English speakers should be committed to any asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite a play - and play at a recital? SHIP by truck - and send cargo by SHIP?

Have NOSES that run - and FEET that smell?

How can a SLIM CHANCE and a FAT CHANCE - be the same?

Why are a WISE MAN - and WISE GUY - opposites?

How can OVERLOOK and OVERSEE be opposites? While QUITE A LOT and QUITE A FEW - are alike?

How can the weather be HOT AS HELL one day, and COLD AS HELL the next?

Have you ever noticed that we can talk about certain things only when they are absent? Have you ever seen a HORSEFUL CARRIAGE? Or a STRAPFUL GOWN?

Met a SUNG HERO? - Or experienced REQUITED LOVE?

Have you ever run into someone who was COMBOBULATED? - GRUNTLED? RULY? - or PECCABLE?

And where are all those people who ARE Spring chickens - or who WOULD hurt a fly?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can BURN UP - as it BURNS DOWN. In which you FILL IN a form by FILLING IT OUT. And in which an alarm clock GOES OFF by GOING ON.

English was invented by people, not computers - and it reflects the creativity of the human race, (which of course isn't a RACE at all).

That is why, when the STARS ARE OUT, they are VISIBLE - but when the LIGHTS ARE OUT, they are INVISIBLE.

And why - when I wind up my watch - I START IT, but when I wind up this essay, I END IT!!!

35 Fun things to do while driving

  1. Have a friend ride in the back seat. Gagged.
  2. Roll down your windows and blast talk radio. Headbang.
  3. Wear snorkel gear and hang fish around from the ceiling.
  4. Two words: Chicken suit.
  5. Write the words "Help me" on your back window in red paint. The more it looks like blood, the better.
  6. Pay the toll for the car behind you. Watch in rearview mirror as toll collector tries to explain to next driver.
  7. Laugh. Laugh a lot. A whooooole lot.
  8. Stop at the green lights.
  9. Go at the red ones.
  10. Occasionally wave a stuffed animal/troll doll/Barbie out your window or sunroof. Feel free to make it dance.
  11. Eat food that requires silverware.
  12. Put your arms down the legs of an extra pair of trousers, put sneakers on your hands, and lean the seat back as you drive.
  13. At stop lights, eye the person in the next car suspiciously. With a look of fear, suddenly lock your doors.
  14. Honk frequently without motivation.
  15. Wave at people often. If they wave back, offer an offended and angry look as if they gave you an obscene gesture.
  16. At stop lights, ask people if they have any Grey Poupon.
  17. Let pedestrians know who's boss.
  18. Look behind you frequently, with a very paranoid look.
  19. Restart your car at every stop light.
  20. Hang numerous car-fresheners in the rear-view mirror. Talk to them, stroking them lovingly.
  21. Lob burning things in the windows of smokers who throw their butts out the window.
  22. Keep at least five cats in the car.
  23. Squeegee your windshield at every stop.
  24. If a firetruck comes up behind you, pull over, get on the roof of your car, and do a cheer for them as they pass!
  25. Compliment other drivers on their skill and finesse.
  26. Have conversations, looking periodically at the passenger seat, when driving alone.
  27. Stop and collect roadkill.
  28. Stop and pray for roadkill.
  29. Stop and cook roadkill. (If in Tennessee.)
  30. Throw Spam. Tape signs on windows protesting email abuse.
  31. Get in the fast lane and gradually... slow... down... to... a stop. Then get out and watch the cars.
  32. Vary your vehicle's speed inversely with the speed limit.
  33. Drive off an exit ramp, ask for directions to the town you're in. When they tell you you're there, look confused, glance at your map, laugh, and exclaim, "Oh! Wrong state!"
  34. Sing without having the radio on.
  35. At stop lights, run out of your car, place pylons around you, then gather them back up as the light changes and drive off

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

The Great Train Robbery, 1963

The Great Train Robbery was the name given to a £2.3 million train robbery committed on 8 August 1963 at Bridego Railway Bridge, Ledburn near Mentmore in Buckinghamshire, England.

The Royal Mail's Glasgow to London travelling post office train was stopped by tampered signals. A 15-member gang, led by Bruce Reynolds and including Ronnie Biggs, Charlie Wilson, Jimmy Hussey, John Wheater, Brian Field, Jimmy White, Tommy Wisbey, Gordon Goody and Buster Edwards, stole £2.3 million in used £1, £5 and £10 notes — the equivalent of £40 million in 2006.

Although no guns were used in the robbery, the train driver, Jack Mills, was hit on the head with an iron bar, causing a black eye and facial bruising. The assailant was one of three members of the gang never to be arrested or identified. Frank Williams (at the time a Detective Inspector) claims to have traced the man, but he could not be charged because of lack of evidence. Mills recovered fully from the attack and died in 1970 from leukemia.

Thirteen of the gang members were caught after police discovered their fingerprints at their hideout at Leatherslade Farm, near Oakley, Buckinghamshire. The robbers were tried, sentenced and imprisoned. Ronnie Biggs escaped from prison 15 months into his sentence, settling in Melbourne Australia, and later moving to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, when police found out his Melbourne address. Charlie Wilson escaped and was living outside Montreal, Canada on Rigaud Mountain. In the upper-middle-class neighbourhood where the large, secluded properties are surrounded by trees, Wilson was just another resident who enjoyed his privacy. Only when his wife made the mistake of telephoning his parents in England was Scotland Yard able to track him down.

See the 10 Greatest Robberies of all time at

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

English is Such a Wacky Language, Part 1

English is Such a Wacky Language, by Peter Heinlein

There's no EGG in eggplant, nor HAM in hamburger, neither APPLE nor  PINE in pineapple.

English muffins weren't invented in England, or French fries in France.

SWEETMEATS are candies, while SWEETBREADS - which aren't sweet - are MEAT.

We take English for granted. But - if we explore its paradoxes - we find that QUICKSAND can work slowly - BOXING RINGS are square - and a GUINEA PIG is neither from Guinea - nor is it a pig.

And why is it that WRITERS WRITE - but FINGERS don't FING. GROCERS don't GROCE? And HAMMERS don't HAM.

If the plural of TOOTH is TEETH - why isn't the plural of BOOTH - BEETH?

If the plural of MOUSE is MICE - why isn't the plural of HOUSE - HICE?

One GOOSE, two GEESE. So - one MOOSE - why not two MEESE?

Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make AMENDS - but not one AMEND.

That you can comb through the ANNALS of history, but not through a single ANNAL.

If you have a bunch of ODDS AND ENDS - and you get rid of all but one of them - what do you call IT?

If teachers taught - why didn't preachers PRAUGHT?


from alt.usage.english

Dead Parrot?

It's not pining, it's passed on. This parrot is no more! It has ceased to be. It's expired and gone to meet its maker.This is a late parrot. It's a stiff. Bereft of life, it rests in peace. If you hadn't nailed it to the perch it would be pushing up the daisies. It's rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. This is an ex-parrot.

from Monty Python's Flying Circus: Just the Words, at

Monday, 10 December 2007

They Really Said That?

"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons."
Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."
Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

"I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year."
The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957

"But what ... is it good for?"
Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."
Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp.,1977

"640K ought to be enough for anybody."
Bill Gates, 1981, commenting on size of RAM in computers


Sunday, 9 December 2007

Horatio Nelson

Lord Admiral Nelson (1758 - 1805)

Horatio Nelson, or the 1st Viscount Nelson, is considered to be the greatest naval hero in the history of the United Kingdom, because of his participation in the Napoleonic Wars.

He lost his life on October 21, 1805 during the Battle of Trafalgar, after receiving a mortal bullet wound shot from the French ship, Redoutable.

Lord Nelson was famous during his lifetime, but since his death has been lionized like no other military figure in British history. He is commemorated in Trafalgar square in London with a triple-life-sized column, commemorating the admiral who died defeating Napoleon at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.


Saturday, 8 December 2007


Anchorage, Alaska is a consolidated city-borough (officially called the Municipality of Anchorage) in the U.S. state of Alaska. It is the largest city in the state of Alaska, with 278,700 residents, comprising more than two-fifths (with its metropolitan area, over 50%) of the state's total population


Friday, 7 December 2007

19 Fun things to do in the bathroom stall

  1. Stick your palm open under the stall wall and ask your neighbour, "May I borrow a high lighter?"
  2. Say "Uh oh, I knew I shouldn't put my lips on that."
  3. Cheer and clap loudly every time somebody breaks the silence with a bodily function noise.
  4. Say, "Hmmm, I've never seen that colour before."
  5. Drop a marble and say, "Oh shoot!! My glass eye!!"
  6. Say, "Darn, this water is cold."
  7. Grunt and strain real loud for 30 seconds and then drop a cantaloupe into the toilet bowl from a high place and sigh. Eight to 6 feet. Sigh relaxingly.
  8. Say, "Now how did that get there?"
  9. Say, "Humus. Reminds me of humus."
  10. Fill up a large flask with Mountain Dew. Squirt it erratically under the stall walls of your neighbours while yelling, "Whoa! Easy boy!"
  11. Say," Interesting.... More sinkers than floaters"
  12. Using a small squeeze tube, spread peanut butter on a wad of toilet paper and drop under the stall wall of your neighbour. Then say, "Whoops, could you kick that back over here, please?
  13. Say, "C'mon Mr. Happy! Don't fall asleep on me!!
  14. Say, "Boy, that sure looks like a maggot"
  15. Say, "Darn, I knew that drain hole was a little too small. Now what am I gonna do?"
  16. Play a well-known drum cadence over and over again on your butt cheeks.
  17. Before you unroll toilet paper, consciously lay down your "Cross-dressers Anonymous" newsletter on the floor visible to the adjacent stall.
  18. Lower a small mirror underneath the stall wall and adjust it so you can see your neighbour and say, "Peek-a-boo!"
  19. Drop a D-cup bra on the floor under the stall wall and sing "Born Free"

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Had had ...

Smith, where Jones had had "had," had had "had had." "Had had" had had been the correct answer.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

More Questions

Can you cry under water?

How important does a person have to be before they are considered assassinated instead of just murdered?

Why do you have to "put your two cents in".. but it's only a "penny for your thoughts"? Where's that extra penny going to?

Once you're in heaven, do you get stuck wearing the clothes you were buried in for eternity?

Why does a round pizza come in a square box?

What disease did cured ham actually have?

How is it that we put man on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage?

Why is it that people say they "slept like a baby" when babies wake up every two hours?

Why are you IN a movie, but you're ON TV?

Why do doctors leave the room while you change? They're going to see you naked anyway.

Why is "bra" singular and "panties" plural?

Why do toasters always have a setting that burns the toast to a horrible crisp, which no decent human being would eat?

If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why is there a stupid song about him?

If the professor on Gilligan's Island can make a radio out of a coconut, why can't he fix a hole in a boat?

Why does Goofy stand erect while Pluto remains on all fours? They're both dogs!

If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME crap, why didn't he just buy dinner?

If corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable oil is made from vegetables, what is baby oil made from?

If electricity comes from electrons, does morality come from morons?

Do the Alphabet song and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star have the same tune?

Why did you just try singing the two songs above?

Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog's face, he gets mad at you, but when you take him for a car ride, he sticks his head out the window?

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Popes Hat Dorito sold for $1,209, the eBay-happy Internet casino most famous for their purchase of the Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Sandwich, has raised the stakes with an even cheesier purchase - $1,209 for a Nacho Cheese Doritos chip that resembles the Pope's Mitre, otherwise known as a really tall hat. After seeing the chip in his bag of Doritos, the seller decided that it would be unfair to not share it with the world. Following the recent trends of auctioning religious memorabilia, the chip was immediately ushered to a late-night photo session and then posted on eBay.


Sinatra on drinking

I feel sorry for people who don't drink.

When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day.

--Frank Sinatra

Monday, 3 December 2007

Highway Patrol

A police show which featured Broderick Crawford as Captain Dan Matthews.

For an officer of his rank, he spent a lot of time in patrol car barking "10-4."

Highway Patrol had a great appeal for young guys as it had great car chases.

Broadcast 1955-1959, in black & white, 156 total episodes


Sunday, 2 December 2007

Is Happy Birthday Copyrighted?


The melody for Happy Birthday was first penned by two sisters from Kentucky, Mildred J. Hill and Patty Smith Hill. The song was called Good Morning to All, but bore the recognizable melody. The tune was first published in 1893 in the book Song Stories for the Kindergarten. The melody has since passed into the public domain, and is safe to hum in public without permission.

While it is not entirely clear who first wrote down the words for Happy Birthday, it showed up in a few places before Jessica Hill (another Hill sister) was able to demonstrate undeniable similarities between Good Morning to All and Happy Birthday and to secure the copyright to the song.

Working with the Clayton F. Summy Publishing Company, Jessica Hill published and copyrighted Happy Birthday in 1935. While the copyright should have expired in 1991, copyright has been extended repeatedly over the last quarter of the twentieth century and the copyright for Happy Birthday is now not due to expire until at least 2030.

The Clayton F. Summy Company is no longer independent, but, through a chain of purchases, the copyright for Happy Birthday To You lies securely in the hands of the Time Warner company. Happy Birthday's copyright is licensed and enforced by ASCAP, and the simple little ditty brings in more than USD $2 million in annual royalties.

For more information on the history of the tune, lyrics, and copyright status, check out these resources:

Saturday, 1 December 2007

This is a Hoax - or is it?

The Museum of Hoaxes was established in 1997 in order to promote knowledge about the phenomenon of hoaxes. Why do we (the staff at the museum) care about hoaxes, and why do we think other people should care also? One reason is that we live in an era in which reality and unreality are becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish, and the only reliable way to sort out what is real from what is unreal is to have some knowledge about what unreality looks like and how it manages to slip past our defenses. But the real reason we care about hoaxes is simply because we’re endlessly fascinated by the bizarre things that people have been talked into believing over the years.


Thursday, 29 November 2007

Euro English

The European Commission has just announced that English will be the official language of the European Union. German, which was the other possibility, narrowly missed out.

During negotiations, the British Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and accepted a 5- year phase-in plan that would become known as "Euro-English".

In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c". Sertainly this will make sivil servants jump with joy. The hard "c" will be dropped in favour of "k". This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter. There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced with "f". This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter.

In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible.

Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling.

Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent "e" in the languag is disgrasful and it should go away.

By the 4th yer pepl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" with "z" and "w" with "v".

During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou" and after zis fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensibl riten styl.

Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru.

Und after zis fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German; lik zey vunted in ze forst plas.

If zis mad you smil, pleas pas on to oza pepl.

Hav a nis lif.

from uk.rec.humour

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Weather or climate?

Here's what W3NID has to say about "climate": [quote]

3 a : the average course or condition of the weather at a particular place over a period of many years as exhibited in absolute extremes, means, and frequencies of given departures from these means, of temperature, wind velocity, precipitation, and other weather elements b : the prevailing set of conditions (as of temperature, humidity, or freshness of atmosphere) in any place *the climate maintained inside our houses-- E. L. Ullman* *the climate in the vault has to be carefully controlled-- Joseph Wechsberg* [/quote]

Here's what W3NID has to say about "weather": [quote]

1 : state of the atmosphere at a definite time and place with respect to heat or cold, wetness or dryness, calm or storm, clearness or cloudiness : meteorological condition [/quote]

I'd ask about the weather if I wanted to know whether it was a hot place:

"What kind of weather does it have?" or "Does it have hot weather?"

I'd ask whether it's far enough south to have a tropical climate or an equatorial desert climate. That includes a lot more than just the weather.

The two words are related, but they aren't synonyms for me. The weather can be clear, but the climate can't. The climate is much more inclusive than the weather. A place can have a brief spell of tropical weather without having a tropical climate.

from alt.usage.english

Touch wood

Why do we touch or knock on wood? Most of us also have the feeling that if things are going well, too well, something is wrong or is bound to go wrong, and it is to guard against this change in fortune, that we use the phrase ‘touch wood’. Today ‘touch wood’ is a Standard English idiomatic expression, and its American equivalent is ‘Knock on wood’.

Although it is certain that the belief is connected to a religious belief of superstition, its exact origin is uncertain and various theories abound, although most of them revolve around either the power of trees to drive away bad luck or as a sign of respect to the Gods who are said to have blessed the trees with these powers. Thus wood has since ancient times been associated with the Gods, magic, good fortune and even safety.



Touchwood was also the name of Catweazle's familar in the TV series Catweazle.

Catweazle featured Geoffrey Bayldon as the title character, an eccentric, incompetent, dishevelled and smelly (but lovable) old 11th Century wizard who accidentally travels through time to the year 1970 and befriends a young red-headed boy, nicknamed Carrot (Robin Davies), who spends most of the rest of the series attempting to hide Catweazle from his father and farmhand Sam. Meanwhile Catweazle searches for a way to return to his own time whilst hiding out in 'Castle Saburac', a disused water tower, with his 'Familiar', a toad called Touchwood.

Catweazle mistakes all modern technology for powerful magic, particularly 'electrickery' (electricity) and the 'telling bone' (telephone).


Tuesday, 27 November 2007

The History of the Middle Finger

Well, now ... here's something I never knew before, and now that I know it, I feel compelled to send it on to my more intelligent friends in the hope that they, too, will feel edified. Isn't history more fun when you know something about it?

Before the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, the French, anticipating victory over the English, proposed to cut off the middle finger of all captured English soldiers. Without the middle finger it would be impossible to draw the renowned English longbow and therefore they would be incapable of fighting in the future. This famous English longbow was made of the native English Yew tree, and the act of drawing the longbow was known as "plucking the yew" (or "pluck yew").

Much to the bewilderment of the French, the English won a major upset and began mocking the French by waving their middle fingers at the defeated French, saying, See, we can still pluck yew! Since 'pluck yew' is rather difficult to say, the difficult consonant cluster at the beginning has gradually changed to a labiodentals fricative F', and thus the words often used in conjunction with the one-finger-salute! It is also because of the pheasant feathers on the arrows used with the longbow that the symbolic gesture is known as "giving the bird."

from uk.rec.humour

Monday, 26 November 2007

Screen Capture Utility

SnagIt is the premier application to use for all of your screen capturing needs. Whatever you can see on your screen, SnagIt will easily capture for your immediate use. Once you've taken your capture, SnagIt lets you edit, enhance, save, and use the capture for numerous tasks.

The registration process requires a valid email address for free registration key to be sent to.

Download SnagIt 7.25,

Register SnagIt 7.25 for free,


Palindrome comes from the Greek word palindromos, literally "running back (again)," from palin, "back, again" + dromos, "running."

Sunday, 25 November 2007


Sir John Frederick William Herschel, 1st Baronet KH (March 7, 1792–May 11, 1871) was an English mathematician, astronomer, chemist, and experimental photographer/inventor. He was the son of astronomer Sir William Herschel and the father of 12 children.

Herschel originated the use of the Julian day system in astronomy. He named seven moons of Saturn and four moons of Uranus. He made many contributions to the science of photography, and investigated colour blindness and the chemical power of ultraviolet rays.



Fun, fashion & science in this quirky site about shoelaces. Whether you want to learn to lace shoes, tie shoelaces, stop shoelaces from coming undone, calculate shoelace lengths or even repair aglets, Ian's Shoelace Site has the answer!

Go to Ian's Shoelace Site at

Saturday, 24 November 2007

For Sale On eBay: Titan 1 Missile Site In Washington

California real estate man says he's got a great deal for buyers in Eastern Washington.
Bari Hotchkiss bought a Titan 1 missile site some five years ago. Now he's got it on the market for $3.95 million.


Grubbed up

Q: Why are hedges grubbed up rather than dug up?

A: Digging up implies use of a shovel or spade. Grubbing up would use a grubbing hoe.

I've never grubbed up a hedge, but I do own a grubbing hoe, and I can well believe that it would be more effective than a shovel in removing the tangle of roots that I would expect to find with a hedge.

A grubbing hoe is like a pick, with the difference that it has a wide blade on one of its ends. A shovel is normally used by pushing it into the ground with your foot. A grubbing hoe is swung like a pick.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Beef, Ham & Steak


Why do we have words like beef, ham, and steak when words like cow, pig, and bull could easily do the job?


Because names of food were taken from the French after the Norman invasion. The rulers, who spoke French, talked about the food; the peasants, who spoke the version of English then current, talked about the animals.

Yes, in French today, 'porc' means BOTH pig (the animal) and pork (the food item); 'boeuf' means BOTH ox (the animal) and beef (the food item). Also, 'veau' is BOTH calf (the animal) and veal (the food item) and 'mouton' can be mutton (food item), or sheep (animal) or even sheepskin.

from alt.usage.english

48 Fun things to do at K-Mart

  1. Take shopping carts for the express purpose of filling them and stranding them at strategic locations.
  2. Ride those little electronic cars at the front of the store.
  3. Set all the alarm clocks to go off at ten minute intervals throughout the day.
  4. Start playing Calvinball; see how many people you can get to join in.
  5. Contaminate the entire auto department by sampling all the spray air fresheners.
  6. Challenge other customers to duels with tubes of gift wrap.
  7. Leave cryptic messages on the typewriters.
  8. Re-dress the mannequins as you see fit.
  9. When there are people behind you, walk REALLY SLOW, especially thin narrow aisles.
  10. Walk up to an employee and tell him in an official tone, "I think we've got a Code 3 in Housewares," and  see what happens.
  11. Tune all the radios to a polka station; then turn them all off and turn the volumes to "10".
  12. Play with the automatic doors.
  13. Walk up to complete strangers and say, "Hi! I haven't seen you in so long!..." etc. See if they play along to avoid embarrassment.
  14. While walking through the clothing department, ask yourself loud enough for all to hear, "Who BUYS this junk, anyway?"
  15. Repeat Number 14 in the jewelry department.
  16. Ride a display bicycle through the store; claim you're taking it for a "test drive."
  17. Follow people through the aisles, always staying about five feet away. Continue to do this until they leave the department.
  18. Play soccer with a group of friend, using the entire store as your playing field.
  19. As the cashier runs your purchases over the scanner, look mesmerized and say, "Wow. Magic!"
  20. Put M&M's on layaway.
  21. Move "Caution: Wet Floor" signs to carpeted areas.
  22. Set up a tent in the camping department; tell others you'll only invite them in if they bring pillows from Bed and Bath.
  23. Test the fishing rods and see what you can "catch" from the other aisles.
  24. Ask other customers if they have any Grey Poupon.
  25. Drape a blanket around your shoulders and run around saying, "...I'm Batman. Come, Robin--to the Batcave!"
  26. TP as much of the store as possible.
  27. Randomly throw things over into neighboring aisles.
  28. Play with the calculators so that they all spell "hello" upside down.
  29. When someone asks if you need help, begin to cry and ask, "Why won't you people just leave me alone?"
  30. When two or three people are walking ahead of you, run between them, yelling, "Red Rover!"
  31. Make up nonsense products and ask newly hired employees if there are any in stock, i.e., "Do you have any Shnerples here?"
  32. Take up an entire aisle in Toys by setting up a full scale battlefield with G.I. Joes vs. the X-Men.
  33. Take bets on the battle described above.
  34. Nonchalantly "test" the brushes and combs in Cosmetics.
  35. Hold indoor shopping cart races.
  36. Dart around suspiciously while humming the theme from "Mission: Impossible."
  37. Attempt to fit into very large gym bags.
  38. Attempt to fit others into very large gym bags.
  39. Say things like, "Would you be so kind as to direct me to your Twinkies?"
  40. Set up a "Valet Parking" sign in front of the store.
  41. Two words: "Marco Polo."
  42. Leave Cheerios in Lawn and Garden, pillows in the pet food aisle, etc.
  43. "Re-alphabetize" the CD's in Electronics.
  44. When someone steps away from their cart to look at something, quickly make off with it without saying a word.
  45. Relax in the patio furniture until you get kicked out.
  46. When an announcement comes over the loudspeaker, assume the fetal position and scream, "No, no! It's those voices again!"
  47. Pay off layaways fifty cents at a time.
  48. Drag a lounge chair on display over to the magazines and relax. If the store has a food court, buy a soft drink; explain that you don't get out much, and ask if they can put a little umbrella in it.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

The Lost Wax Process

  1. The "lost wax" method of casting dates back thousands of years to ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. It is still the best method for capturing exquisite detail in brass and bronze.
  2. The first step, and most important, is to create a clay original model of the sculpture to be made into brass. All the detail and features that the artist wants in the finished piece must appear on the clay model. Care must be taken to capture the smallest of detail. Depending on the size of the sculpture, the mold is then cut into sections for casting.
  3. Molten wax is then poured into the rigid mold. It is poured in layers to the thickeness desired in the finished piece. This wax model is an exact duplicate of the original casting. "Gates" or channels, made up of wax rods, are added to the model to insure an evenly distributed casting of the metal. The plaster mold is then placed in a pit of sand or similar material to hold it in place for the pour.
  4. When molten brass is poured into the mold, the liquid metal burns out and replaces the wax model; thus, the lost wax part of the process. The metal then cools and hardens, forming an identical sculpture in brass.
  5. The piece is then finished by hand. The gates must be cut off. The parts are welded together and much grinding, polishing and buffing must be done.
  6. Many of the finished pieces are then given a rich verdigris patina to help protect the brass and add to its appeal.


A fiery horse ...

The usual opening announcement for The Lone Ranger was:

A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust, and a hearty 'Hi-yo Silver!' The Lone Ranger!

In later episodes the opening narration ended with the catch phrase

Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear.... The Lone Ranger Rides Again!


Wednesday, 21 November 2007

The Ten Most Dangerous Things Users Do Online

This article at Dr. Dobb’s Portal that lists the 10 most dangerous things that users do online.

The list of Dangerous things includes:

  • Clicking on Unknown Email Attachments
  • Installing Unauthorized Applications
  • Turning Off or Disabling Automated Security Tools
  • Opening Messages from Unknown Senders
  • Surfing Legally-risky Sites
  • Giving Out Passwords
  • Random Surfing the Unknown
  • Attaching to Unknown WiFi Networks
  • Filling Out Web Scripts, Forms
  • Participating in Chat Rooms or Social Networking Sites

See full article at

W.C.Fields on drinking

A man's got to believe in something.

I believe I'll have another drink.


Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Words with repeated consecutive dots





50 Fun things to do in an elevator

  1. Make race car noises when anyone gets on or off.
  2. Blow your nose and offer to show the contents of your Kleenex to other passengers.
  3. Grimace painfully while smacking your forehead and muttering: "Shut up, dammit, all of you just shut UP!"
  4. Whistle the first seven notes of "It's a Small World" incessantly.
  5. Sell Girl Scout cookies.
  6. On a long ride, sway side to side at the natural frequency of the elevator.
  7. Shave.
  8. Crack open your briefcase or purse, and while peering inside ask: "Got enough air in there?"
  9. Offer name tags to everyone getting on the elevator. Wear yours upside-down.
  10. Stand silent and motionless in the corner, facing the wall, without getting off.
  11. When arriving at your floor, grunt and strain to yank the doors open, then act embarrassed when they open by themselves.
  12. Lean over to another passenger and whisper: "Noogie patrol coming!"
  13. Greet everyone getting on the elevator with a warm handshake and ask them to call you Admiral.
  14. One word: Flatulence!
  15. On the highest floor, hold the door open and demand that it stay open until you hear the penny you dropped down the shaft go "plink" at the bottom.
  16. Do Tai Chi exercises.
  17. Stare, grinning, at another passenger for a while, and then announce: "I've got new socks on!"
  18. When at least 8 people have boarded, moan from the back: "Oh, not now, damn motion sickness!"
  19. Give religious tracts to each passenger.
  20. Meow occasionally.
  21. Bet the other passengers you can fit a quarter in your nose.
  22. Frown and mutter "gotta go, gotta go" then sigh and say "oops!"
  23. Show other passengers a wound and ask if it looks infected.
  24. Sing "Mary had a little lamb" while continually pushing buttons.
  25. Holler "Chutes away!" whenever the elevator descends.
  26. Walk on with a cooler that says "human head" on the side.
  27. Stare at another passenger for a while, then announce "You're one of THEM!" and move to the far corner of the elevator.
  28. Burp, and then say "mmmm...tasty!"
  29. Leave a box between the doors.
  30. Ask each passenger getting on if you can push the button for them.
  31. Wear a puppet on your hand and talk to other passengers "through" it.
  32. Start a sing-along.
  33. When the elevator is silent, look around and ask "is that your beeper?"
  34. Play the harmonica.
  35. Shadow box.
  36. Say "Ding!" at each floor.
  37. Lean against the button panel.
  38. Say "I wonder what all these do" and push the red buttons.
  39. Listen to the elevator walls with a stethoscope.
  40. Draw a little square in the floor with chalk and announce to the other passengers that this is your "personal space."
  41. Bring a chair along.
  42. Take a bite of a sandwich and ask another passenger: "Wanna see wha in muh mouf?"
  43. Blow spit bubbles.
  44. Pull your gum out of your mouth in long strings.
  45. Announce in a demonic voice: "I must find a more suitable host body."
  46. Carry a blanket and clutch it protectively.
  47. Make explosion noises when anyone presses a button.
  48. Wear "X-Ray Specs" and leer suggestively at other passengers.
  49. Stare at your thumb and say "I think it's getting larger."
  50. If anyone brushes against you, recoil and holler "Bad touch!"

Monday, 19 November 2007


CamelCase is a form of markup for phrases, in which all the spaces are removed, and all the words are capitalised, SortOfLikeThis. The name comes from the "bumpy" look of CamelCase words, where the taller capital letters are like humps on a camel.

In UpperCamelCase, the first letter of the new word is upper case, allowing it to be easily distinguished from a lowerCamelCase name, in which the first letter of the first name is lower case.

See and,,sid26_gci824384,00.html

Magic square of primes

Rudolf Ondrejka (1928-2001) discovered the following 3x3 magic square of primes, in this case nine Chen primes:

17     89    71

113   59    5

47    29     101


Sunday, 18 November 2007

Oak Trees

Oak trees are a type of deciduous tree.

The oak tree is a member of the Beech family and its scientific name is Quercus or Lithocarpus.

Oak trees can live 200 or more years.

The largest oak tree of record is the Wye oak in the community of Wye Mills in Talbot County on Maryland's eastern shore in the U.S.A. It is believed to be more than 400 years old, and it measures 9 meters in circumference, it is 31 meters tall with a crown spread of 48.1 meters



The metre or meter (symbol: m) is the fundamental unit of length in the International System of Units (SI).

The metre was originally defined by a prototype object meant to represent 1⁄10,000,000 the distance between the poles and the Equator.

Today, it is defined as 1⁄299,792,458 of a light-second.


Saturday, 17 November 2007

There are 3 kinds of people ...

... those who can count, and those who can't.


WARNING - Do not try any of these.


Prank : barley sugars in the shower head. Barley sugars are sugary lollys , probably any sugary sweets (boiled lollys etc....) will do.

Effect : Target gets out of the shower , feeling wet and clean , but after about 2 seconds drying target gets all sticky. so target jumps back in the shower. repeat ad nauseum :)


Prank : Freeze some cans of shaving foam , pierce cans, then put in targets car.

Effect : as the cans unfreeze the shaving foam will expand. three or four cans should fill a small car quite nicely :) good in summer ....


Prank : baking soda/salt in top of targets toothpaste. Just a little bit.

Effect: worst tasting toothpaste ever :)


Bicycle Inner Tubes - Cut out the valve stems so you have long, hollow rubber bands. Tie one end to the doorknob of a door, then tie the other end to the doorknob of the door across the hall.. Make sure you stretch them very tight.


We came up with a great one before.... you know paper shredders... well classified waste uses extra thin cuts so the pieces are all 5 mm square or so... anyways back to the point... tape the guys door frame with a good few inches of space between the door and tape, then fill the entire space between the tape and door with classified waste.... :) I've heard its an interesting wakeup


WARNING - Do not try any of these.


More at

Friday, 16 November 2007

US buys Alaska

America bought Alaska from Russia on March 30, 1867. President Andrew Johnson's Secretary of State, William H. Seward, was responsible for negotiating the purchase of Alaska from Russia. The USA paid Russia $7.2 million for Alaska. This came to 12.5 cents per acre for a plot of land twice the size of Texas.

When the agreement to purchase the Alaska territory from Russia was struck in 1867 by Secretary of State William H. Seward, there were many in the lower 48 states who were critical of the secrecy that had surrounded it and of the high price tag. Critics of Seward's agreement to purchase the Alaska territory from Russia referred to the plan as "Seward's Folly." They mocked his willingness to spend so much on "Seward's icebox" and Andrew Johnson's "polar bear garden."

Gold was discovered in 1896 at Bonanza Creek, setting off the great Klondike Gold Rush.

See &

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Eliminate the impossible

How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?

--Sherlock Holmes



To quote Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of famous Sherlock Holmes stories published between 1887 and 1927:

"in solving a problem of this sort, the grand thing is to be able to reason backwards. That is a very useful accomplishment, and a very easy one, but people do not practise it much. In the everyday affairs of life it is more useful to reason forward, and so the other comes to be neglected. There are fifty who can reason synthetically for one who can reason analytically."


Thermite Process

Method used in incendiary devices and welding operations. It uses a powdered mixture of aluminium and (usually) iron oxide, which, when ignited, gives out enormous heat. The oxide is reduced to iron, which is molten at the high temperatures produced. This can be used to make a weld. The process was discovered in 1895 by German chemist Hans Goldschmidt (1861–1923).


Wednesday, 14 November 2007


Worsted is the name of a yarn, the cloth made from this yarn, as well as a yarn weight category. The name derives from the village of Worstead in the English county of Norfolk. This village became, along with North Walsham and Aylsham, a centre for the manufacture of yarn and cloth after weavers from Flanders arrived in Norfolk in the 12th century.[1]

The essential feature of a worsted yarn is straightness of fibre, in that the fibres lie parallel to each other. Traditionally, long, fine staple wool was spun to create worsted yarn, but other long fibres are also used today.

Worsted cloth, archaically also known as "stuff", is lightweight and has a coarse texture. The weave is usually twill or plain. Twilled fabrics such as whipcord, gabardine and serge are often made from worsted yarn. Worsted fabric made from wool has a natural recovery, meaning that it is resilient and quickly returns to its natural shape, but non-glossy worsted will shine with use or abrasion. Worsteds differs from woolens, in that the natural crimp of the wool fibre is removed in the process of spinning the yarn. In Tropical Worsteds, this use of tightly-spun straightened wool, combined with a looser weave, permits the free flow of air through the fabric.


Scott on deceiving

Oh what a tangled web we weave,

When first we practise to deceive!

--Sir Walter Scott

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Genghis Khan

Genghis Khan was a Mongolian warlord and a highly respected figure in Mongolian history. He is currently regarded as the father of the Mongol nation. During his rule, he quickly became known for his aggressive military practices, and his highly successful battle tactics against larger and more advanced foes such as China and Middle East. This formidable status, along with his military success, forged one of the largest and most feared empires in history, an empire that spanned thousands of miles with a reputation that eventually encircled the globe.



AudioShell is a freeware MS Windows Explorer shell extension plugin which allows you to view and edit music file tags directly in Windows Explorer. AudioShell supports MP3 (all ID3v2 tag versions), WMA, ASF, WMV, Apple iTunes AAC (M4A and M4P), MP4, OGG, FLAC (vorbis comment tags), MPC, MP+, monkey's audio, WAV pack, optim frog (APE and APEv2 tags). AudioShell features include full Unicode support.

Monday, 12 November 2007

40 Sure-fire ways to annoy people

1. Leave the office copy machine set to reduce 200%, extra dark, 17 inch paper, 999 copies.

2. In the memo field of all your checks, write “for sensual massage.”

3. Specify that your drive-through order is “to go”

4. If you have a glass eye, tap on it occasionally with your pen while talking to others.

5. Stomp on little plastic ketchup packets in McDonald’s parking lot.

6. Insist on keeping your car windshield wipers running in all weather conditions, “to keep them tuned up”.

7. Reply to everything someone says with: “Yeah, that’s what YOU think!”

8. Practice making faxmodem noises.

9. Highlight irrelevant information in scientific papers and “CC” them to your boss.

10. Make beeping noises when a large person backs up.

11. Finish all your sentences with the words: “in accordance with prophesy”.

12. Signal that a conversation is over by clamping your hands over your ears.

13. Disassemble your pen, and “accidentally” flip the ink cartridge across the room.

14. Holler random numbers whenever someone is counting.

15. Adjust the tint on your TV so that all the people are green, and insist to others that you like it that way.

16. Staple papers in the middle of the page.

17. Publicly investigate just how slowly you can make a “croaking” noise.

18. Honk, wave, and smile “hello” to strangers.

19. Decline to be seated at a restaurant, and simply eat their complimentary mints by the cash register.


21. type only in lowercase.

22. dont use any punctuation either

23. Buy a large quantity of orange traffic cones, and reroute whole streets.

24. Repeat the following conversation a dozen times: “Do you hear that? What? Never mind.”

25. As much as possible, skip rather than walk.

26. Try playing the William Tell Overture by tapping on the bottom of your chin. When nearly done, announce, “No, wait, I messed it up,” and repeat.

27. Ask people what gender they are.

28. While making presentations, occasionally bob your head like a parakeet.

29. Sit in your front yard pointing a hair dryer at passing cars, to see if they slow down.

30. Sing along at the opera.

31. Go to a poetry recital, and ask why the poems don’t rhyme.

32. Ask your co-workers mysterious questions, and then scribble their answers in a notebook.

33. Tell your friends, four days prior to their party, that you can’t attend because you’re not in the mood.

34. Send this list to everyone in your e-mail address book even if they sent it to you, or ask you not to send things like this.

35. Spike the office coffee with Listerine. An hour later, walk around asking “Who made the coffee today?; it’s great!”

36. Hum “Can’t Buy Me Love” to yourself all day.

37. Stick blank Post-Its all over your office cubicle.

38. Smile, point at, and say “Hey” to everyone you pass in the hallways.

39. Put “Out of Order” signs on every stall in the bathroom.

40. Call in sick, then show up.

Jackass of all trades

A person who is exceptionally bad at everything.


Sunday, 11 November 2007


To be very successful without trying. Basically to be a lucky ****.

When someone flukes a pot in a game of pool the phrase 'you spawny wassock' would be appropriate.


Odd Place Names

Arsoli (Lazio, Italy)

Bastard (Norway)

Beaver (Oklahoma, USA)

Beaver Head (Idaho, USA)

Brown Willy (every schoolboy's favourite, Cornwall,UK)

Chinaman's Knob (Australia)

Climax (Colorado, USA)

Dikshit (India)

Dildo (Newfoundland, Canada)

Dong Rack (Thailand-Cambodia border)

Dongo (Congo - Democratic Republic)

Donk (Belgium)

Fuku (Shensi, China)

Fukum (Yemen)

Gobbler's Knob (Kentucky, USA)

Hold With Hope (Greenland)

Intercourse (Pennsylvania, USA)

Lickey End (West Midlands, UK)

Lord Berkeley's Knob (Sutherland, Scotland)

Middle Intercourse Island (Australia)

Muff (Northern Ireland)

Nobber (Donegal, Ireland)

Pis Pis River (Nicaragua)

Sexmoan (Luzon, Philippines)

Shafter (California, USA)

Shag Island (Indian Ocean)

Stains (Near Paris,France)

Tittybong (Australia)

Turdo (Romania)

Twatt (Shetland, UK)

Wankendorf (Schleswig-Holstein, Germany)

Wankie (Zimbabwe)

Wanks River (Nicaragua)

Wet Beaver Creek (Australia)

Saturday, 10 November 2007


Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116 was a name intended for a Swedish child who was born in 1991.

The boy's parents had planned never to legally name him at all, as a protest to the naming law of Sweden (Namnlag (1982:670)), which reads:

“First names shall not be approved if they can cause offense or can be supposed to cause discomfort for the one using it, or names which for some obvious reason are not suitable as a first name.”

Because the parents (Elisabeth Hallin and Lasse Diding) failed to register a name by the boy's fifth birthday, a district court in Halmstad, southern Sweden, fined the parents 5,000 kronor (US$682 at the time). Responding to the fine, the parents submitted the 43-character name in May 1996, claiming that it was "a pregnant, expressionistic development that we see as an artistic creation." The parents suggested the name be understood in the spirit of 'pataphysics. The court rejected the name and upheld the fine.

The parents then tried to change the spelling of the name to A instead. Once again, the court did not approve of the name, this time because of a prohibition on one-letter naming.



It seems that almost everyone pronounces "anemone" -- whether it be the flower or the sea creature -- as "anenome".

Even people who really should know (for example, TV gardening show presenters).

Is this pronunciation now so commonplace that it's de facto correct?

Do people realise that they're pronouncing it differently to how it's spelled?

from alt.usage.english

The Klondike Gold Rush

On August 16, 1896 Yukon-area Indians Skookum Jim Mason and Tagish Charlie, along with Seattleite George Carmack found gold in Rabbit Creek, near Dawson, in the Yukon region of Canada. The creek was promptly renamed Bonanza Creek, and many of the locals started staking claims. Gold was literally found all over the place, and most of these early stakeholders (who became known as the "Klondike Kings") became wealthy.


Friday, 9 November 2007


Mp3tag is a powerful and yet easy-to-use tool to edit ID3-tags, APE-tags and Vorbis Comments of audio files.

Main featues: Write ID3v1.1-, ID3v2-, APEv2-Tags and Vorbis Comments to multiple files at once; Automatically create playlists; Recursive subfolders support; Remove parts or the entire tag of multiple files; Rename files based on the tag information; Import tags from filenames; Format tags and filenames; Replace characters or words from tags and filenames; Export tag information to user-defined formats (like html, rtf, csv, xml); Import tag information from an online database (also by text-search); Import tag information from a local database and much more ... Mp3tag supports the following audio formats: Advanced Audio Coding (aac), Free Lossless Audio Codec (flac), Monkey's Audio (ape), Mpeg Layer 3 (mp3), MPEG-4 (mp4 / m4a), Musepack (mpc), Ogg Vorbis (ogg), Speex (spx), Windows Media Audio (wma), WavPack (wv)

Windows, freeware,

Cult British TV series "Champions" coming to film

"Pan's Labyrinth" director Guillermo del Toro is bringing the cult British science fiction TV series "The Champions" to the big screen.

Del Toro will write and direct the adaptation for United Artists, the studio recently revived by Tom Cruise and his business partner Paula Wagner.

The series, which ran for 30 episodes in 1968-69, revolved around the adventures of a trio of secret government agents whose lives were saved when their plane crashed in the Himalayas and they were rescued by an advanced civilization. The civilization also bestowed them with superhuman abilities. It was produced by ITC, the company behind such British shows as "The Saint," "The Prisoner" and "Thunderbirds."

Del Toro is in production on "Hellboy 2: The Golden Army." A horror thriller produced by del Toro, "The Orphanage," is set for a December 28 release from Picturehouse.

By Carly Mayberry, Reuters/Hollywood Reporter,

Organise your downloads, Method #2

Tips on Handling Internet Downloads

Do you download files only to find two days later you have no idea what they are? The filename doesn't help and you don't really want to run the installer just to find out. So you delete it. Or you are checking for the latest driver for your printer; problem is, the filename for the new driver is the same as the old one so which one do you use? If you're like me you just download the file again. Then there's the problem of where you stored the file on your system. You'd search for it--if you could remember the name--which brings us back to where we started. Sound familiar? If so, here is a simple system to put some sanity and time back in your life.

In a nutshell:

* Create special folders to hold your downloaded files.

* Use a special naming convention as you download files.

Here is exactly how I do this on my computer. First I use two special folders. The first folder is named "Install Files." It will hold install files, program updates, and driver updates for existing programs on my system. Some of you will subdivide the "Install Files" folder into folders for drivers, updates, programs, etc. I just drop all the files in one folder. For me it's faster to look through one folder when I need to reinstall something. The key is to use what works for you.

The second folder is called "Interesting Stuff". The "Interesting Stuff" folder holds everything else I download. This could be ebooks, Web pages, saved search engine searches, or programs to investigate.

Name your folders with a name that will catch your eye later. Also make sure you create your folders on a drive with plenty of free space. For quick access you may want to create a shortcut on your Desktop to these two folders.

Now you are good to go. Next time you download a file choose the proper folder then give the file a meaningful name. Here is the naming convention I use. The program I'm downloading is Graph Paper Printer. The file name is gpaper. exe. So the name I gave it is:


Notice the full name tells me exactly what program this is and the version number. The parenthesis contains the original file name. So when naming files just ask yourself two questions:

* What does the file do?

* What is the original file name?

Often I need to reinstall an update with deadlines looming. When that happens it's so much quicker to find my files than slogging through a support site to find the file and download, losing my train of thought in the process. The time this simple system saves is wonderful. More importantly, someone not familiar with your computer can still understand what each file does.

A couple of notes on renaming the files. Many downloads will ask where to download the file. That's the time to rename the file. Otherwise wait for the download to finish, pick the file, and rename it. Either press F2 or right-click on file and choose "Rename" from the popup menu. Press "Enter" when you are done.

by Dan Butler (originally published in TNPC - 26 October 2000), at

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Heraldic Poses

Animals can be described in a huge variety of poses, including

- rampant (the typical heraldic pose, on one leg),

- salient (springing from two legs),

- passant (standing on three legs, front one raised),

- statant (on four legs),

- sejant (seated),

- couchant (lying on all fours with head up, like a sphinx), or

- dormant (sleeping).


Birds are drawn

- erect (similar to rampant, standing upright facing right with both wings on left side) or

- displayed ('spread-eagled').

Heads look towards the right, unless they are

- guardant (looking out at the viewer).



Lottery Confusion

A LOTTERY scratchcard has been withdrawn from sale by Camelot - because players couldn't understand it.

The Cool Cash game - launched on Monday - was taken out of shops yesterday after some players failed to grasp whether or not they had won.

To qualify for a prize, users had to scratch away a window to reveal a temperature lower than the figure displayed on each card. As the game had a winter theme, the temperature was usually below freezing.

But the concept of comparing negative numbers proved too difficult for some Camelot received dozens of complaints on the first day from players who could not understand how, for example, -5 is higher than -6.

Tina Farrell, from Levenshulme, called Camelot after failing to win with several cards.

The 23-year-old, who said she had left school without a maths GCSE, said: "On one of my cards it said I had to find temperatures lower than -8. The numbers I uncovered were -6 and -7 so I thought I had won, and so did the woman in the shop. But when she scanned the card the machine said I hadn't.

"I phoned Camelot and they fobbed me off with some story that -6 is higher - not lower - than -8 but I'm not having it.

"I think Camelot are giving people the wrong impression - the card doesn't say to look for a colder or warmer temperature, it says to look for a higher or lower number. Six is a lower number than 8. Imagine how many people have been misled."

A Camelot spokeswoman said the game was withdrawn after reports that some players had not understood the concept.

She said: "The instructions for playing the Cool Cash scratchcard are clear - and are printed on each individual card and in the game procedures available at each retailer. However, because of the potential for player confusion we have decided to withdraw the game."

More than 15m adults in Britain have poor numeracy - the equivalent of a G or below at GCSE maths

Almost three times as many UK adults (15.1m) have poor numeracy - the equivalent of a G or below at GCSE maths - than with poor literacy skills, according to the government's Skills for Life survey.

Peter Hall, of the Association of Teachers of Mathematics, said: "The concept of minus numbers is something we would cover with 11 or 12 year olds, and we would expect them to have come across it before.

"The concept of smaller numbers is something that some people do seem to struggle with. Seven is clearly smaller than eight, so they focus on that and don't really see the minus sign. There is also a subtle difference in language between smaller - or lower - and colder. The number zero feels lower.

"There have always been some people who find numbers and basic mathematics difficult. Maybe in the past it was less noticeable because people could find jobs they could excel in without having qualifications in maths."


The Prisoner's Dilemma

Tanya and Cinque have been arrested for robbing the Hibernia Savings Bank and placed in separate isolation cells. Both care much more about their personal freedom than about the welfare of their accomplice. A clever prosecutor makes the following offer to each. “You may choose to confess or remain silent. If you confess and your accomplice remains silent I will drop all charges against you and use your testimony to ensure that your accomplice does serious time. Likewise, if your accomplice confesses while you remain silent, they will go free while you do the time. If you both confess I get two convictions, but I'll see to it that you both get early parole. If you both remain silent, I'll have to settle for token sentences on firearms possession charges. If you wish to confess, you must leave a note with the jailer before my return tomorrow morning.”

Puzzles with the structure of the prisoner's dilemma were devised and discussed by Merrill Flood and Melvin Dresher in 1950, as part of the Rand Corporation's investigations into game theory. The title “prisoner's dilemma” and the version with prison sentences as payoffs are due to Albert Tucker, who wanted to make Flood and Dresher's ideas more accessible to an audience of Stanford psychologists.

See the full article at

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

How to Tie a Tie

We begin with the Windsor Knot, one of the easiest tie knots to learn, before trying the Half Windsor Knot, the Four in Hand Knot and the Pratt Knot -- each and everyone being the best-suited knot for a certain type of shirt collar.

More at


Chunder means to be sick, it originates from old seafareing days when sailers would get seasick and stick their head out of the porthole in their cabin. As they did this they would shout "Watch Under" to warn people in lower cabins of the forthcoming puke. Over the years this has evolved in Chunder.


Tuesday, 6 November 2007

The Less you Know, the More you Make?

Engineers and scientists will never make as much money as business executives.

Now a rigorous mathematical proof that explains why this is true:

Postulate 1:  Knowledge is Power.

Postulate 2:  Time is Money.

As every engineer knows: Power =  Work / Time

Since Knowledge = Power, and Time = Money, we have: Knowledge =  Work / Money

Solving for Money, we get: Money =  Work / Knowledge

Thus, as Knowledge approaches zero, Money approaches infinity regardless of the Work done.

Conclusion:  The Less you Know, the More you Make.

Writers and real sentences

Writers benefit from self-editing (writing, then re-reading what was just inscribed) and editors (who aren't watching for content as much as mechanics) to make sure their sentences are accurate.

Real sentences are full of misplaced contractions, invalid suffixes and prefixes, ums, and restarted sentences.

See full article at

Monday, 5 November 2007

A quiz for people who know everything


  1. There's one sport in which neither the spectators nor the participants know the score or the leader until the contest ends. What is it?
  2. What famous North American landmark is constantly moving backward?
  3. Of all vegetables, only two can live to produce on their own for several growing seasons. All other vegetables must be replanted every year. What are the only two perennial vegetables?
  4. Name the only sport in America in which the ball is always in possession of the team on defense, and the offensive team can score without touching the ball.
  5. What fruit has its seeds on the outside?
  6. In many liquor stores, you can buy pear brandy, with a real pear inside the bottle. The pear is whole and ripe, and the bottle is genuine; it hasn't been cut in any way. How did the pear get inside the bottle?
  7. Only three words in Standard English begin with the letters "dw". They are all common. Name two of them.
  8. There are fourteen punctuation marks in English grammar. Can you name half of them?
  9. Where are the lakes that are referred to in the "Los Angeles Lakers"?
  10. There are eight ways a baseball player can legally reach first base without getting a hit. Name them.
  11. It's the only vegetable or fruit that is never sold frozen, canned, processed, cooked, or in any other form but fresh. What is it?
  12. Name ten or more things that you can wear on your feet that begin with the letter "s".


  1. Boxing.
  2. Niagara Falls. The rim is worn down about 2 and a half feet each year because of the millions of gallons of water that rush over it every minute.
  3. Asparagus and rhubarb.
  4. Baseball (in other countries, the answer could also be cricket).
  5. Strawberry.
  6. The pear grew inside the bottle. The bottles are placed over pear buds when they are small, and are wired in place on the tree. The bottle is left in place for the whole growing season. When the pears are ripe, they are snipped off at the stems.
  7. "Dwarf", "dwell", and "dwindle".
  8. Period, comma, colon, semicolon, dash, hyphen, apostrophe, question mark, exclamation point, quotation marks, brackets parenthesis, braces, and ellipses.
  9. In Minnesota. The team was originally known as the Minneapolis Lakers and kept the name when they moved west.
  10. 1. balk (although a player cannot automatically advance to first on a balk, a balked pitch is automatically a ball, and a runner could walk to first base if the balk is the fourth "ball"); 2. walk; 3. hit-by-pitch; 4. defensive interference; 5. fielders choice; 6. dropped third strike; 7. being designated as a pinch runner; and 8. error.
  11. Lettuce.
  12. Shoes, socks, sandals, sneakers, slippers, skis, skates, snowshoes, stockings, stilettos, and stilts!


The Chinglish Files have been featured in the U.K. newspaper "The Telegraph" and on the BBC radio program "The World Today."

Chinglish: The humorous version of English that appears (often in instructions for assembling or using products) after a translation from the original Chinese (or any other language) fails to come across in "normal" English.

The term Chinglish is a fusion of the "Chin" from Chinese and the "glish" from English. Chinglish is not a racist or bigoted term and should not be taken as such. If anything, The Chinglish Files are a way of poking fun at how difficult our flawed English language can be to translate at times. It is not intended as a dig at the intelligence or linguistic capabilities of other nations.

See examples at

See definition at

Sunday, 4 November 2007

What is "ain't" short for?

In the sentence "It ain't over", it is short for "is not".

But it can also be used as in "You ain't seen nothing yet" as a shortened form of 'haven't'.

In "Things ain't what they used to be", it is short for aren't.

James Hargreaves and the Spinning Jenny

James Hargreaves was a weaver living in the village of Stanhill, near Blackburn, in Lancashire. It is claimed that one day his daughter Jenny, accidentally knocked over over the family spinning wheel. The spindle continued to revolve and it gave Hargreaves the idea that a whole line of spindles could be worked off one wheel.

In 1764 Hargreaves built what became known as the Spinning-Jenny. The machine used eight spindles onto which the thread was spun from a corresponding set of rovings. By turning a single wheel, the operator could now spin eight threads at once. Later, improvements were made that enabled the number to be increased to eighty. The thread that the machine produced was coarse and lacked strength, making it suitable only for the filling of weft, the threads woven across the warp.

Hargreaves did not apply for a patent for his Spinning Jenny until 1770 and therefore others copied his ideas without paying him any money. It is estimated that by the time James Hargreaves died in 1778, over 20,000 Spinning-Jenny machines were being used in Britain.


Saturday, 3 November 2007

Admiral Byng

Admiral John Byng was tried and executed in 1757 after his failure to defeat a French fleet and then relieve Port Mahon at the beginning of the Seven Years War.

This prompted a line in Voltaire's Candide "Dans ce pays-ci, il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres", or "In this country [England] it is good to execute an admiral occasionally, to encourage the others".

2002: A Palindrome Story, by Nick Montfort and William Gillespie

2002 is a collaboratively-authored narrative palindrome, exactly 2002 words in length.

2002 was first published in a limited edition of 202 inscribed copies on New Years Day, 2002.

On February 20th, 2002 (20-02-2002) 2002 was published on the Web.

On November 11, 2002 (11-11-2002) 2002 was published as an illustrated book.

Read it at

Urban Legends and Hoaxes

Is the government or AOL planning to implement an email tax? Does your lipstick contain dangerous levels of lead? Will Microsoft send you money for forwarding an email? Do you need to add your cell phone number to a "Do Not Call" directory? Should you boycott Pepsi because their new cans are offensive?

No, Nyet, Nein, Non, and Nope!

All of the above are FALSE. Some of the rumors, urban legends and hoaxes you receive in your email inbox may have a ring of truth, but how can you be sure? Learn how to avoid a knee "jerk" reaction -- get the scoop on these hoaxes and tips for debunking on your own:


Friday, 2 November 2007


Orion was a great huntsman of Greek mythology who was placed among the stars as the constellation of Orion.

The most important recorded episodes are his birth somewhere in Boeotia, his visit to Chios where he met Merope and was blinded by her father, Oenopion, the recovery of his sight at Lemnos, his hunting with Artemis on Crete, his death by the blow of Artemis or of the giant scorpion which became Scorpio, and his elevation to the heavens.

Read the full article at


IMAP stands for Internet Message Access Protocol. It is a method of accessing electronic mail or bulletin board messages that are kept on a (possibly shared) mail server. In other words, it permits a "client" email program to access remote message stores as if they were local. For example, email stored on an IMAP server can be manipulated from a desktop computer at home, a workstation at the office, and a notebook computer while traveling, without the need to transfer messages or files back and forth between these computers.

IMAP's ability to access messages (both new and saved) from more than one computer has become extremely important as reliance on electronic messaging and use of multiple computers increase, but this functionality cannot be taken for granted: the widely used Post Office Protocol (POP) works best when one has only a single computer, since it was designed to support "offline" message access, wherein messages are downloaded and then deleted from the mail server. This mode of access is not compatible with access from multiple computers since it tends to sprinkle messages across all of the computers used for mail access. Thus, unless all of those machines share a common file system, the offline mode of access that POP was designed to support effectively ties the user to one computer for message storage and manipulation.

More at

Thursday, 1 November 2007


The ancient Celts who lived some 2,000 years ago, started their calendar on November 1st. To celebrate their new year's eve, they would disguise themselves in animal skins and attempt to predict each other's future, believing that the ghosts returning from the dead provided a conduit for allowing accurate fortune telling. While the tradition of reading tea leaves and peering into crystal balls has faded into obscurity in many western cultures, UK & the US included, most still celebrate October 31st. by donning disguises. Now this holiday is called Halloween, a reference to it falling on the eve or "een" of the Christian holiday of All Saints Day or All Hallows Day.

Plain English Campaign / Foot in Mouth

This award, which we first gave in 1993, is for a baffling comment by a public figure. The current holder of the award is the British supermodel, Naomi Campbell, who reportedly made the following quote in June of 2006.

"I love England, especially the food. There's nothing I like more than a lovely bowl of pasta."


I've recently been watching episodes of a famous 1970s ITV police series called The Sweeney, whose name is rhyming slang: Sweeney Todd (the demon barber of Fleet Street) = Flying Squad, the Metropolitan Police elite quick-response major-crime squad, now officially named the Central Robbery Squad. The term "blag" is used in episodes to mean a violent robbery or raid, a slang term that dates from the 1880s. But there were then - still are - two senses of "blag" in British English, the other meaning to lie or to use clever talk to obtain something, a verb recorded from the 1930s. Both senses are variations on the idea of theft, though they have separate origins. The first may derive from an abbreviation of the word "blackguard" (often pronounced "blaggard"); it's more than likely that the second is from French "blaguer", to tell lies, as the word has at times been spelled "blague". A version of the second sense has been appearing in the British media recently. It refers to what is sardonically called "social engineering": getting passwords, personal details and confidential information over the phone from unsuspecting workers in a government department or business through a persuasive manner coupled with inside knowledge. The trick has long been used by private investigators working for debt collectors, national newspapers and criminals. A man was imprisoned recently for blagging civil servants into giving him the home addresses of 250 people.

World Wide Words is copyright (c) Michael Quinion 2007. All rights reserved. The Words Web site is at .

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Planet Neptune Discovered

Neptune was the first planet discovered not with a telescope, but rather with pen and paper. After the discovery of Uranus in 1781, astronomers noticed that the planet’s orbit was slightly off. Based on this aberration, John Couch Adams and Urbain Jean Joseph Leverrier used math to hypthosize that the gravity from another planet was affecting Uranus’ orbit. With pen and paper, they figured out not only where Neptune should be, but also how large it must be. It was not until 1846, however, that Neptune's existence was verified when Johann Gottfried Galle saw the planet for the first time.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007


Q. I've been told that the man who gave rise to the term Spoonerism never said one. Can this possibly be true? [James MacNaughton]

A. The legends, mischievous inventions and simple errors that have accreted around the term obscure the truth. But there is evidence to suggest that the Reverend William Archibald Spooner rarely if ever uttered a Spoonerism.

Spooner spent all his adult life at New College, Oxford, joining it as a scholar in 1862 and retiring as Warden (head of college) in

1924. The term "Spoonerism" began to appear in print around 1900, though the Oxford English Dictionary records that it had been known in Oxford colloquially since about 1885.

A classic Spoonerism is the swapping of the initial sounds of two words: "young man, you have hissed my mystery lectures and tasted your worm and you must leave Oxford by the town drain"; "let us raise our glasses to the queer old Dean"; and "which of us has not felt in his heart a half-warmed fish?". When Teddy Roosevelt came to Britain in 1910, the heads of four Oxford colleges - Spooner among them - gave receptions in his honour. A US newspaper took the opportunity to retell some further examples:

He is said to have asked his neighbor [at lunch] to have "some of this stink puff", pointing to an ornamental dish of pink jelly. In chapel it is recorded that he has read out the first line of the well-known hymn which starts "From Greenland's icy mountains" as "From Iceland's greasy mountains", and has spoken of the wicked man whose words were "as ears and sparrows".

Virtually every example on record, including all the famous ones, is an invention by ingenious members of the university who, as one undergraduate remembers, used to spend hours making them up.

Spooner did transpose items, but not like this - his inversions were more often of whole words or of ideas rather than sounds. A reliable witness records him repeatedly referring to a friend of a Dr Child as "Dr Friend's child". One day he passed a woman who was dressed in black and told his companion that her late husband was a very sad case, poor man, "eaten by missionaries". He did things backwards sometimes. One story - well attested - recounts how he spilled some salt during a college dinner and carefully poured some claret on it to mop it up, a reversal of the usual process. He is also said to have remarked on the poor lighting of some stairs and then to have turned off the lights and attempted to lead his party downstairs in the dark.

Wordplay of the type we now call Spoonerisms was rife among Oxford undergraduates from about the middle of the nineteenth century. It appears in The Adventures of Mr Verdant Green (1854-7) by Cuthbert Bede, the pseudonym of another Oxford don, the Reverend Edward Bradley ("'Will you poke a smipe, Pet?' asked Mr. Bouncer, rather enigmatically.")

Spooner was very well known in the small community of Oxford. He was instantly recognisable, since he was an albino, with the pale face, pink eyes, poor eyesight, white hair and small stature that is characteristic of his type. (Some writers have suggested his verbal and physical quirks may have been linked with his albinism, perhaps a form of what is now called dyspraxia.) Spooner later became famous for his verbal and conceptual inversions, so it's easy to see how his name could have become linked to products of undergraduate wordplay. This seems to have been from affection rather than malice, since Spooner (known as the Spoo) was kindly and well-liked.

Spooner was an excellent lecturer, speaker and administrator who did much to transform New College into a modern institution. But he was no great scholar, and it's a cruel twist of fate that he is now only remembered for a concept he largely had foisted upon him.

World Wide Words is copyright (c) Michael Quinion 2007. All rights reserved. The Words Web site is at .