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 .

ID3 Renamer

Able to rename tens of thousands of files by reading your ID3 tags to whichever naming convention you choose with only a few mouse clicks.

  • Useful if you need to rename a large number of files in a directory accordingly to their ID3 description and a given "formula" (e.g. (%Track) %Artist - %Title). Such a function is pretty "smart", as it lets you assembly the filename as you wish and use the variables from the ID3 tag in the filename. It is required you mark them with a "%" at the beginning, followed by an ID3 section label (literally - i.e. the first letter is capital, exactly as it is referred to in the roll-down menu).
  • Do you have loads of MP3 files in a directory and need to write a single common piece of information into them (e.g. the interpret or the album name)? You can type it in there manually, but this won't make you very cheerful if the amount of files is large. Using ID3 renamer, everything is a matter of a few mouse clicks.
  • Do you need to clean some portion of the ID3 tag? Use ID3 renamer and don't erase like every single line.
  • Do you need to remove the diacritics? Choose the advanced options and it's already done.
  • ID3 renamer can also create a new tag if there is none in the file yet; it lets you easily write into new files too.
  • You can also fill the tag with information from the filename (alike the renaming process). Just type in the pattern, definition of information layout in the filename and ID3 tag version - and ID3 renamer will store everything. The pattern is given in the form of a regular expression.

Windows, Freeware,

Monday, 29 October 2007

Coquette / Coquet

Coquette (noun) A woman who habitually trifles with the affections of men; a flirt.

Coquette is the feminine form of French coquet, "flirtatious man," diminutive of coq, "rooster, cock." The adjective form is coquettish. The verb coquet (also coquette) means "to flirt or trifle with."

The male version is a coquet (pronounced the same as the female version). However, this word has fallen into disuse and is now considered obsolete.

Bessemer Process

The first cheap method of making steel, invented by Henry Bessemer in England in 1856. It has since been superseded by more efficient steel-making processes, such as the basic–oxygen process. In the Bessemer process compressed air is blown into the bottom of a converter, a furnace shaped like a cement mixer, containing molten pig iron. The excess carbon in the iron burns out, other impurities form a slag, and the furnace is emptied by tilting.


Sunday, 28 October 2007

doubtable / redoubtable


1. Capable of being doubted; questionable.

2. Worthy of being feared; redoubtable.


1. that is to be feared; formidable.  

2. commanding or evoking respect, reverence, or the like.  


Only in Britain ... (more)

3 Brits die each year testing if a 9v battery works on their tongue.

142 Brits were injured in 1999 by not removing all pins from new shirts.

58 Brits are injured each year by using sharp knives instead of screwdrivers.

31 Brits have died since 1996 by watering their Christmas tree while the fairy lights were plugged in.

19 Brits have died in the last 3 years believing that Christmas decorations were chocolate.

British Hospitals reported 4 broken arms last year after cracker pulling accidents.

101 people since 1999 have had broken parts of plastic toys pulled out of the soles of their feet.

18 Brits had serious burns in 2000 trying on a new jumper with a lit cigarette in their mouth.

A massive 543 Brits were admitted to A&E in the last two years after opening bottles of beer with their teeth.

5 Brits were injured last year in accidents involving out of control scalextric cars.

In 2000 eight Brits cracked their skull whilst throwing up into the toilet.


A freeware web page update monitoring program

WebMon is a freeware web page update monitoring program - it saves you time and keeps you updated by automatically checking web pages to see if they have changed.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Interesting Questions

- When an agnostic dies, does he go to the "great perhaps"?

- Why is the time of day with the slowest traffic called rush hour?

- Do you think Houdini ever locked his keys in his car?

- Can atheists get insurance for acts of God?

- If the #2 pencil is the most popular, why is it still #2?

- Isn't it strange that the same people who laugh at fortune tellers take economists seriously?

- If practice makes perfect, and nobody's perfect, why practice?

- Why is there always one in every crowd?

- If all the world is a stage, where does the audience sit?

- Is it possible to have déjà vu and amnesia at the same time?

- How do you know when it's time to tune your bagpipes?

Other Interesting Questions -

Jimmy Edwards' Shows

1947 - The Handle Bar
1951 - The Cream - As Seen By The Clot
1956 - Whack-O!
1957 - These Are The Shows
1961 - Faces Of Jim
1963 - Bold As Brass
1963 - Who Is Secombe?
1966 - Jim And The Night And The Music
1966 - Mr John Jorrocks
1967 - Heirs On A Shoestring
1969 - Don't Dilly Dally On The Way
1969 - The Fossett Saga
1973 - Sir Yellow
1977 - Eric Sykes Shows A Few Of Our Favourite Things
1977 - The Eric Sykes Show
1978 - The Glums
1979 - The Plank
1980 - Rhubarb Rhubarb
1982 - It's Your Move
1988 - Mr H Is Late

Round The Horne

With her husband, the late Barry Took, Lyn attended every recording including the fourth and what turned out to be the final series of Round the Horne. A  fifth series had been planned but tragically never came to fruition as Kenneth Horne died only ten days before recording was due to commence.

In this last series there were several changes. Hollywood had beckoned Marty Feldman, so Barry co-wrote the series with Brian Cooke and Johnnie Mortimer. Due to BBC cuts, Bill Pertwee was not re-contracted and neither were the Fraser Hayes Four nor Edwin Braden and the Hornblowers. The musical interludes were provided by the Max Harris Group.  The first programme in the final series of what has become a true radio classic was originally broadcast on 25th February 1968.

from the BBC

Friday, 26 October 2007

Long Place Names


In Wales. It means "The church of St. Mary in the hollow of white hazel trees near the rapid whirlpool by St. Tysilio's of the red cave."


In Central Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. It means "The place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed, and swallowed mountains, known as land eater, played his flute to his loved one."

Eric and Ernie

Ernie 'Have you got the maracas?'

Eric 'No, it's the way I walk'


ZuluPad is a notepad on crack. It's a place to jot down class notes, appointments, to-do lists, favorite websites, pretty much anything you can think of. The great thing about ZuluPad is that it combines the best parts of a notepad with the best parts of a wiki, a concept made popular by Wikipedia . The basic idea has been called a personal wiki or a desktop wiki. Say for instance, you're a music major, and you're studying Bach. You've taken notes on Bach in ZuluPad, and after a long 16 weeks have finally completed the semester. Sometime after the summer break, you're taking notes on Beethoven, and your teacher mentions a way in which Beethoven was influenced by Bach. As soon as you type "Bach" into your notes, it's underlined as a hyperlink. You think to yourself, "oh yeah, I know a few things about Bach". So you click the link, and you can read all of your Bach notes. While you're reading your Bach notes, you happen to notice a link to a page about Henry Purcell, and you can refresh your memory about him, too.

Windows, freeware,

Thursday, 25 October 2007


baldrick - a wide (ornamented) belt worn over the right shoulder to support a sword or bugle by the left hip.

baldric - alternative spelling.

As worn by Boromir in Lord of the Rings - "On a baldric he wore a great horn tipped with silver that now was laid upon his knees." LOTR, FOTR, Book II, Chapter 2, The Council of Elrond.


Also a character in the TV series Blackadder.

"Your brain's so minute, Baldrick, that if a hungry cannibal cracked your head open, there wouldn't be enough to cover a small water biscuit."

"I've a horrid suspicion that Baldrick's plan will be the stupidest thing we've heard since Lord Nelson's famous signal at the Battle of the Nile: 'England knows Lady Hamilton's a virgin, poke my eye out and cut off my arm if I'm wrong'."


How often have you carefully selected some text from a Web page and copied it to an email message? Snippy makes this a snap! Simply click on the little Snippy icon in the taskbar notification area, and mark out the region of the screen that you want to copy — that's it, you're done! The cut-out image will now be in your clipboard, and you can paste it in another application.

If you are cutting out a portion of an Internet Explorer window, the URL will also be copied to the clipboard; this makes it very convenient to select something interesting on a Web site and send it out in an email message.

Windows, freeware,

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Oliver Hardy

Babe died 7 Aug 1957. Even though he was born in Harlem, Georgia, his mother was Scottish. He was born Norvell Hardy, but took on his dad's name, Oliver when he turned 18. Norvell was his mother's maiden name. His dad died when he was very young.

He got the name Babe through an Italian hairdresser who kept commenting on his baby like face (this is when he was at college!) The name stuck for the rest of his life.

Co-incidentally, one of his golfing partners was George Herman 'Babe' Ruth!

Big Full Moon

This week's full Moon (Oct. 25-26) is the biggest full Moon of 2007. It's no illusion. Some full Moons are genuinely larger than others and Thursday night's will be as much as 14% wider and 30% brighter than lesser full Moons we've seen earlier this year.

Check for the reasons why.

Virtual Folders / Smart folders

Vista has a feature which allows you to have a search and then have a virtual folder containing the results of that search.

When that folder is accessed the search is run and the results are presented as if a folder is being shown, with its contents being aliases to the actual files

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Crime in the US

This just goes to show the quality of our criminals has definitely taken a nose-dive!


Wearing a ski mask and carrying a gun, a thief burst into the bank one day. Aiming his gun at the guard, the thief yelled, "FREEZE, MOTHER-STICKERS, THIS IS A ****-UP!" For a moment, everyone was silent. Then the snickers started. The guard completely lost it and doubled over laughing. It probably saved his life, because he'd been about to draw his gun. He couldn't have drawn and fired before the thief got him. The would-be thief ran away and is still at large.


A man successfully broke into a bank after hours and stole the bank's video camera. While it was recording. Remotely. (That is, the videotape recorder was located elsewhere in the bank, so he didn't get the videotape of himself stealing the camera.)


A man walked into a Circle-K, put a $20 bill on the counter and asked for change. When the clerk opened the cash drawer, the man pulled out a gun and asked for all the cash in the register, which the clerk promptly provided. The man took the cash from the clerk and fled, leaving the $20 bill on the counter. The total amount of cash he got from the drawer? Fifteen dollars. If someone points a gun at you and gives you money, was a crime committed?


Seems this guy wanted some beer pretty badly. He decided that he'd just throw a cinder block through a liquor store window, grab some booze, and run. So he lifted the cinder block and heaved it over his head at the window. The cinder block bounced back and hit the would-be thief on the head, knocking him unconscious. Seems the liquor store window was made of Plexi-Glass. The whole event was caught on videotape.

New York:

As a female shopper exited a convenience store, a man grabbed her purse and ran. The clerk called 911 immediately, and the woman was able to give the police a detailed description of the snatcher. Within minutes, the police had apprehended the snatcher. They put him in the cruiser and drove back to the store. The thief was then taken out of the car and told, "Stand there for a positive ID." To this instruction the man replied, "Yes Officer, that's her. That's the lady I stole the purse from."


When a man attempted to siphon gasoline from a motorhome parked on a Seattle street, he got much more than he had bargained for. Police arrived at the scene to find an ill man curled up next to a motorhome near spilled sewage. A police spokesperson said that the man admitted to trying to steal gasoline and plugged his hose into the motorhome's sewage tank by mistake. The owner of the vehicle declined to press charges, saying that it was the best laugh he'd ever had.

New Jersey:

A Newark woman reporting her car as stolen mentioned that there was a car phone in it. The policeman taking the report called the phone and told the guy that answered that he had read the ad in the newspaper and wanted to buy the car. They arranged to meet, and the thief was arrested.


The Ann Arbor News crime column reported that a man walked into a Burger King in Ypsilanti, Michigan, at 7:50 a. m., flashed a gun, and demanded cash. The clerk turned him down because he said he couldn't open the cash register without a food order. When the man ordered onion rings, the clerk said they weren't available for breakfast. The man, frustrated, walked away.


Two men tried to pull the front off an ATM by running a chain from the machine to the bumper of their pickup truck. Instead of pulling the front panel off the machine, though, they pulled the bumper off their truck. Scared, they left the scene and drove home--. with the chain still attached to the machine-- with their bumper still attached to the chain-- with their vehicle's license plate still attached to the bumper.

Stan Laurel on horses

You can lead a horse to water, but a pencil must be lead.
--Stan Laurel

Monday, 22 October 2007

Hi O Silver ...

The Lone Ranger was an American, long-running, early radio and television show. He would famously say "Hi-yo Silver, away!" to get the horse to gallop. See

"Hi Ho Silver Lining" is a still-popular 1960s rock song, written by Scott English and Larry Weiss, first released as a single in March 1967 by The Attack and a few days later by Jeff Beck. See

Hi O Silver, by Roald Hoffmann. The utility of oxidation states dovetailed with the logic of oxidizing and reducing agents—molecules and ions that with ease removed or added electrons to other molecules ... leads to quite incredible compounds ... See

Churchill on editorial nonsense

Washington Post, Sep. 30, 1946, p. 12, "Town Talk," by Eva Hinton

Latest Churchill story going the rounds has to do with a stuffy young Foreign Office secretary who had the job of "vetting" the then Prime Minister's magnificent speeches. The young man disliked the P.M.'s habit of ending sentences with prepositions and corrected such sentences whenever he found them.

Finally, Mr. Churchill had enough of this! So he recorrected his own speech and sent it back to the Foreign Office with a notation in red ink, "This is the kind of pedantic nonsense up with which I will not put!"

Go to source: Language Log: Churchill vs. editorial nonsense

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Throttling Back to the Moon

Accelerating from 0 to 60, then slowing down for a stop light is no problem for an ordinary automobile. But if you were piloting a rocketship, it wouldn't be so easy. Most rocket engines are designed to burn full-on (liftoff!) or full-off (coasting through space) with no in-between. And that can be a problem--namely, how do you land this thing? In today's story we learn how engineers are developing technology for throttling next-generation lunar landers.

Full story at

Billingham anhydrite mines re-opened

The anhydrite mines in Billingham have been opened for the first time in almost 30 years. Inspectors have explored the cavernous mines in a bid to assess whether they are in a suitable condition for use as a long-term disposal facility for low-hazard waste.

The mines were worked from 1927 until 1971, and closed when the mine shaft was capped off in 1978. The tunnels are 11 million cubic metres - roughly the size of 4,400 Olympic swimming pools - and two thirds lie under Billingham, while the other third lies under the Cowpen Industrial Estate.

Oct 17 2007 by James Johnston, Evening Gazette,

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Leonardo da Vinci on Tricks

Many are those who trade in tricks and simulated miracles, duping the foolish multitude, and if nobody unmasked their subterfuges, they would impose them on everyone.

--Leonardo da Vinci

Odd Signs

Spotted in a toilet of a London office: TOILET OUT OF ORDER. PLEASE USE FLOOR BELOW.


In a London department store: BARGAIN BASEMENT UPSTAIRS




Notice in health food shop window: CLOSED DUE TO ILLNESS

Spotted in a safari park: ELEPHANTS PLEASE STAY IN YOUR CAR





Sign on many newspaper vending machines: USE ANY COIN COMBINATION - DON'T USE PENNIES.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Oft confused words

Each business was a discrete entity, so we had to be discreet.

A judge should be disinterested, but never uninterested.

After floundering about, he foundered beneath the waves.

The school principal is a woman of few principles.

The complimentary wine complemented the fish perfectly.

There was an ordinance against firing any ordnance.


The word pool generally refers to pocket billiard games such as 8-ball, 9-ball, or Straight pool. The word pool comes from pool rooms, where people gambled off track on horse races. They were called poolrooms as money was "pooled" to determine the odds. These rooms commonly provided billiard tables, and by association pool became synonymous with billiards. The terms pool and pocket billiards are synonymous.

All billiards games are generally regarded to have evolved into indoor games from outdoor stick and ball games.

The word billiard may have evolved from the French word 'billart' which means mace, the forerunner to the modern cue.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

The Five Second Rule, and Corollary

The five-second rule is a popular urban legend, and common rule among many people today, regarding the eating of food that has been dropped on the ground. The origins of the tale are unknown. It claims that if food falls on the ground, it may be safely eaten as long as it is picked up within 5 seconds.



There's also the interesting "Line of Sight Corollary to the Five Second Rule" which allows you to extend the Five Second Rule as long as you held the dropped object in your line of sight the entire time.


Organise your downloads, Method #1

Get your downloaded programs organized

If you’re like most people, you store downloaded programs in a variety of locations-on the desktop, in the My Documents folder, or wherever the Save As dialog box happens to be pointing when you download a file. I recommend that you look for these downloaded program files on your hard disk and pull all of them together into one well-organized Downloads folder. You can then transfer the whole collection to your new PC by copying that folder, and when you’re ready to reinstall that software, you can do so quickly and efficiently by working through all the items stored there. Spending a few extra minutes getting organized now can save you hours later.

Start by looking at the list of programs you use most often. For each of those programs that you acquired by downloading, your goal is to find the original Setup files (compressed Zip files, executable programs, or Windows Installer files) and organize them in a common location. If you can’t find the files for a favorite program, or if your downloaded copy is more than a year old, find the software maker’s Web site and download a fresh copy. (A program’s Help menu often includes the software maker’s Web address; if not, use your favorite search engine to track it down.)

Finally, go through your old e-mail, printed receipts, and other sources to find serial numbers, product keys, and other important information you might need to reinstall the software. This information is especially important when you’ve downloaded a trial version of a program and then paid to upgrade it to the registered version. You’ll need to supply your proof of purchase to unlock the program’s full set of features when you install it on a new PC (or reinstall it after a disk crash or other disaster).

Here’s how you can mirror the system I use to keep downloads organized:

  1. In the My Documents folder, create a subfolder called Downloads.
  2. Within the Downloads folder, create a subfolder for each downloaded program you’ll want on your new PC. I’ve got subfolders for WinZip, Nero, Adobe Reader, and dozens of other downloaded programs.
  3. Download fresh copies of any programs on your list that you can’t find or that need updates. Now place the file or files for each downloaded program on your list into its related subfolder. Create a shortcut to the Web site from which you downloaded the program and place it in this subfolder as well, along with any notes about installing or registering the program. If a serial number or product key is required for installation, save that information in a text file along with the program files in the subfolder.

Every few months, I go through the Downloads folder and click the Web shortcut for each program I use regularly to see if a newer version is available. If I find an upgrade, I replace the existing file with the new one and upgrade the currently installed version. Then, I burn the contents of my Downloads folder to a CD or DVD, label it with the current date, and store it with the rest of my disks and documents.

Getting organized this way takes some extra time initially, but once your Downloads directory is created, it takes only a few extra seconds to create a new folder to store a new downloaded program. And you’ll save plenty of time if you ever need to reinstall a program.

This material has been adapted from Ed Bott’s Your New PC: Seven Easy Steps to Help You Get Started!, at

Published May 11, 2005 by Ed Bott, at

Wednesday, 17 October 2007


For those of you who don't have kids or are far too young to remember the splendid children's TV programme "Rainbow", this may be a little lost on you...... but it must have been a great episode to watch! Almost too ridiculous to believe... These are taken from original Rainbow scripts and there's no way these could have been done by accident. Innuendo all the way....

The sketch opens with Zippy peeling a banana...

Zippy: "One skin, two skin, three skin, four.... "

George: "Zippy, where is Bungle?"

Zippy: "I think Geoffrey is trying to get him up"

We see a view of the door and hear Bungle moaning from behind it.

Bungle: "Geoffrey, I can't get it in"

Geoffrey: "You managed it last night"

Bungle: "I know, let's try it round the other way around. Ooooooh, I've got it in"

Bungle and Geoffrey enter the studio with Bungle carrying a hammer and peg kit

Bungle: "Would you stick this on the shelf, George"

George: "I can't reach, you'll have to stick it up yourself,

Geoffrey (to camera) " Hello everyone, today we are talking about playing"

Bungle: "Playing with each other, Geoffrey?"

Geoffrey: "Yes Bungle, do you have a special friend that you like to play with?"

George: "Yesterday we played with our balls. Are we going to play with our friend's balls today?"

Bungle: "Yes, and we can play with our twangers as well."

Geoffrey (to camera): Have you seen Bungles twanger?

Zippy: "Oh I have, I showed him how to pluck with it."

Bungle: "It's my plucking instrument."

Geoffrey asks the audience if they can pluck like Bungle

Zippy: "I can, I'm the best plucker here."

George: "And I'm good at banging. My peg's hard isn't it Zippy?"

Zippy: "Well of course it is, Your peg wouldn't go in if it was soft."

Geoffrey: "Let's get back to Bungle's twanger."

Bungle (excited): "Oooooh Geoffrey, we could all paint our twangers couldn't we?"

George: "Let's sing that plucking song."

Bungle: "Rod and Roger can get their instruments out and Jane has got two lovely Maracas."

Singers Rod, Roger and Jane enter.

Rod: "We could hear you all banging away."

Roger: "Banging can be fun."

Jane: "Ooooh yes, and I was banging away all last night with Rod and Roger."

Roger (looking sad): "Yes, but it broke my plucking instrument."

Geoffrey: "Never mind Roger, let sing the plucking song, come on everybody get your instruments out."

Rod (to Jane): "Do you want to blow on my pipe while I'm twanging away?"

Jane: "Oh no Rod, I was blowing a lot with Roger last night. But would you like to play with my maracas?"

Zippy: "No, let's just pluck away with our twangers."

Bungle: "Yes, it doesn't matter what size your twanger is."

Zippy: "I've got a big red one."

George: "I've only got a tiny twanger. But it works well and I like to play with it."

Geoffrey (to viewers): "Well, have you got your twangers out? And remember, you can bounce your balls at the same time. If you haven't got any balls, ask a friend if you can play with his. Now, let's all sing the plucking song."

Everyone in studio:

"Pluck, pluck, pluck away, we're going to pluck all day today."

"Pluck, pluck, pluck away, we're going to pluck all day."

Geoffrey (to viewers): " It's time for us all to go now, but don't forget to get your twangers out and play with your balls. See you soon. Bye."

You can also watch it here:


The Raffia palms (Raphia) are a genus of 20 species of palms, native to tropical regions of Africa, Madagascar, with one species (R. taedigera) also occurring in Central and South America. They grow up to 16 m tall, and are remarkable for their compound pinnate leaves, the longest in the plant kingdom; leaves of R. regalis up to 19.81 m long [1] and 3m wide are known. The plants are either monocarpic, flowering once and then dying after the seeds are mature, or hapaxanthic, with individual stems dying after fruiting but the root system remaining alive and sending up new stems.

Raffia fibres have many uses, especially in the area of textiles and in construction. In their local environments, they are used for ropes, sticks, supporting beams and various roof coverings are made out of its fibrous branches and leaves. The membrane on the underside of each individual frond leaf is taken off to create a long thin fibre which can be dyed and woven as a textile into products ranging from hats to shoes to decorative mats. Plain raffia fibres are exported and used as garden ties or as a "natural" string in many countries.

extracted from

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Plain English Campaign on Donald Rumsfeld

The US defence secretary scooped the Plain English Campaign's premier Foot In Mouth trophy for his 62-word attempt to clarify a point to a defence department meeting: "Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know".

"We think we know what he means", said John Lister, a Plain English campaign spokesman, "but we don't know if we really know".


Two old professors are sitting on a hotel balcony.

One says to the other 'Have you read Marx?'

The other replies 'Yes, I think its the wicker chairs.'

Monday, 15 October 2007


Anaxagoras of Clazomenae (a major Greek city of Ionian Asia Minor), a Greek philosopher of the 5th century B.C.E. (born ca. 500-480), was the first of the Presocratic philosophers to live in Athens. He propounded a physical theory of “everything-in-everything,” and claimed that nous (mind or intellect) was the motive cause of the cosmos. He was the first to give the correct explanation of eclipses, and was both famous and notorious for his scientific theories, including the claims that the sun is a mass of red-hot metal, that the moon is earthy, and that the stars are fiery stones.

See the full article at

Rumsfeld on the unknown

As we know, there are known knowns.

      There are things we know we know.

We also know there are known unknowns.

      That is to say we know there are some things we do not know.

But there are also unknown unknowns.

      The ones we don't know we don't know.

--Donald Rumsfeld, 12 Feb 2002, Department of Defense news briefing

Positive and Negative Liberty

Negative liberty is the absence of obstacles, barriers or constraints. One has negative liberty to the extent that actions are available to one in this negative sense. Positive liberty is the possibility of acting — or the fact of acting — in such a way as to take control of one's life and realize one's fundamental purposes. While negative liberty is usually attributed to individual agents, positive liberty is sometimes attributed to collectivities, or to individuals considered primarily as members of given collectivities.

The idea of distinguishing between a negative and a positive sense of the term ‘liberty' goes back at least to Kant ...


The World's Strangest Laws


  1. It is illegal for a cab in the City of London to carry rabid dogs or corpses.
  2. It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament.
  3. It is an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing the British monarch upside down.
  4. In France, it is forbidden to call a pig Napoleon.
  5. Under the UK's Tax Avoidance Schemes Regulations 2006, it is illegal not to tell the taxman anything you don't want him to know, though you don't have to tell him anything you don't mind him knowing.
  6. In Alabama, it is illegal for a driver to be blindfolded while driving a vehicle.
  7. In Ohio, it is against state law to get a fish drunk.
  8. Royal Navy ships that enter the Port of London must provide a barrel of rum to the Constable of the Tower of London.
  9. In the UK, a pregnant woman can legally relieve herself anywhere she wants - even, if she so requests, in a policeman's helmet.
  10. In Lancashire, no person is permitted after being asked to stop by a constable on the seashore to incite a dog to bark.
  11. In Miami, Florida, it is illegal to skateboard in a police station.
  12. In Indonesia, the penalty for masturbation is decapitation.
  13. In England, all men over the age of 14 must carry out two hours of longbow practice a day.
  14. In London, Freemen are allowed to take a flock of sheep across London Bridge without being charged a toll; they are also allowed to drive geese down Cheapside.
  15. In San Salvador, drunk drivers can be punished by death before a firing squad.
  16. In the UK, a man who feels compelled to urinate in public can do so only if he aims for his rear wheel and keeps his right hand on his vehicle.
  17. In Florida, unmarried women who parachute on Sundays can be jailed.
  18. In Kentucky, it is illegal to carry a concealed weapon more than six-feet long.
  19. In Chester, Welshmen are banned from entering the city before sunrise and from staying after sunset.
  20. In the city of York, it is legal to murder a Scotsman within the ancient city walls, but only if he is carrying a bow and arrow.
  21. In Boulder, Colorado, it is illegal to kill a bird within the city limits and also to "own" a pet - the town's citizens, legally speaking, are merely "pet minders".
  22. In Vermont, women must obtain written permission from their husbands to wear false teeth.
  23. In London, it is illegal to flag down a taxi if you have the plague.
  24. In Bahrain, a male doctor may legally examine a woman's genitals but is forbidden from looking directly at them during the examination; he may only see their reflection in a mirror.
  25. The head of any dead whale found on the British coast is legally the property of the King; the tail, on the other hand, belongs to the Queen - in case she needs the bones for her corset.

Thursday, 11 October 2007


A self-referencing sentence is a sentence that describes itself. For example,

"This sentence has five words," or "This sentence contains nine syllables."

A more interesting example is,

"In this sentence the word 'and' occurs twice, the word 'eight' occurs twice, the word 'four' occurs twice, the word 'fourteen' occurs four times, the word 'in' occurs twice, the word 'occurs' occurs fourteen times, the word 'sentence' occurs twice, the word 'seven' occurs twice, the word 'the' occurs fourteen times, the word 'this' occurs twice, the word 'times' occurs seven times, the word 'twice' occurs eight times, and the word 'word' occurs fourteen times."


It was cold enough to freeze the balls of a brass monkey

It was necessary to keep a good supply of canon balls near the cannon on war ships. But how to prevent them from rolling about the deck was the problem. The best storage method devised was to stack them as a square based pyramid, with one ball on top, resting on four, resting on nine, which rested on sixteen. Thus, a supply of 30 cannon balls could be stacked in a small area right next to the cannon.

There was only one problem -- how to prevent the bottom layer from sliding/rolling from under the others. The solution was a metal plate with 16 round indentations, called a Monkey. But if this plate was made of iron, the iron balls would quickly rust to it. The solution to the rusting problem was to make Brass Monkeys.

Few landlubbers realize that brass contracts much more and much faster than iron when chilled. Consequently, when the temperature dropped too far, the brass indentations would shrink so much that the iron cannon balls would come right off the monkey. Thus, it was quite literally, cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey. And all this time, you thought that was a vulgar expression, didn't you?

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Was Einstein Wrong about Space Travel?

Consider a pair of brothers, identical twins. One gets a job as an astronaut and rockets into deep space. The other stays on Earth. When the traveling twin returns home, he discovers he's younger than his brother.

This is Einstein's Twin Paradox, and although it sounds strange, it is absolutely true. The theory of relativity tells us that the faster you travel through space, the slower you travel through time. Rocketing to Alpha Centauri—warp 9, please—is a good way to stay young.

Or is it?

Some researchers are beginning to believe that space travel could have the opposite effect. It could make you prematurely old.


A fatuous vulgarism

Fowler's Modern English Usage, 2nd Edn., describes the insertion of an apostrophe in the plural of an noun as "a fatuous vulgarism".

The example given in Fowler of the use of an apostrophe to denote plurality is "dot your i's and cross your t's". However, Fowler sees no use for an apostrophe to avoid confusion in the following examples: "M. P. s, A. D. C. s, N. C. O. s, the 1920s".

Likewise, there would be little alternative than to state there are four s's in sassafras.


Captain Pugwash

At, someone asked about the TV show " Captain Pugwash" and it's characters names such as Master Bates, Seaman Staines, Pirate Willy and Roger the Cabin Boy.

In fact, the crew of the famous Black Pig ship included sailors with no such names: present on board were Master Mate, Tom the Cabin Boy, and Pirates Barnabas and Willy.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Immanual Kant ...

Immanual Kant was a real pissant

Who was very rarely stable


Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar

Who could think you under the table


David Hume could out consume

Schopenhauer and Hegel


And Wittgenstein was a beery swine

Who was just as schloshed as Schlegel


There's nothing Nietzche couldn't teach ya 'Bout the raising of the wrist

Socrates, himself, was permanently pissed


John Stuart Mill, of his own free will

On half a pint of shandy was particularly ill


Plato they say, could stick it away

Half a crate of whiskey every day


Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle

Hobbes was fond of his dram


And Rene' Descartes was a drunken fart

"I drink, therefore I am"


Yes, Socrates, himself, is particularly missed

A lovely little thinker But a bugger when he's pissed


© Monty Python

Dangerous New Virus

There is a dangerous virus being passed around electronically, orally, and by hand.

This virus is called Worm Overload Recreational Killer (WORK). If you receive WORK from any of your colleagues, your boss, or anyone else via any means DO NOT TOUCH IT. This virus will wipe out your private life completely.

If you should come into contact with WORK, put your jacket on and take two good friends to the nearest grocery store. Purchase the antidote known as Work Isolating Neutralizer Extract (WINE) or Bothersome Employer Elimination Rebooter (BEER). Take the antidote repeatedly until WORK has been completely eliminated from your system.

You should forward this warning to your friends. If you do not have any friends, you have already been infected and WORK is controlling your life.

from uk.rec.humour


Zugzwang (German for "compulsion to move", IPA: [ˈtsuːk.tsvaŋ]) is a term used in combinatorial game theory and in other types of games (particularly in chess). Zugzwang means that one player is put at a disadvantage because he has to make a move—the player would like to pass and make no move. The fact that the player must make a move means that his position will be significantly weaker than the hypothetical one in which it is his opponent's turn to move. In combinatorial game theory, it means that it directly changes the outcome of the game from a win to a loss. The term is used less precisely in other games. Game theory does not apply directly to chess (Berlekamp, et al. 1982:16) (Elkies 1996:136).


Monday, 8 October 2007

You can't ...

... have your cake and eat it

... shake hands with a clenched fist

... tell which way the train went, by looking at the track

... win arguments by interrupting speakers

... pick up two melons with one hand

Life would be better backwards...

Life would be much better lived backwards. You'd start out dead and get it out of the way.

Then, wake up in an old people's home feeling better every day.

You get kicked out for being too healthy; go collect your pension, and then when you start work, you get a gold watch on your first day.

You work 40 years until you're young enough to enjoy your retirement. You drink alcohol, you party, you're generally promiscuous and you get ready to start school.

You go to primary school, you become a kid, you play, you have no responsibilities, you become a baby, and then..................... You spend your last 9 months floating peacefully in luxury, in spa-like conditions; central heating, room service on tap, larger quarters every day, and then, you finish off as an orgasm.

English phrases using all letters of the alphabet

The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog. (33 letters)

Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs. (32 letters)

Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz. (31 letters)

The five boxing wizards jump quickly. (31 letters)

How quickly daft jumping zebras vex. (30 letters)

Quick zephyrs blow, vexing daft Jim. (29 letters)

Sphinx of black quartz, judge my vow. (29 letters)

Mr. Jock, TV quiz Ph.D., bags few lynx. (26 letters)

See more at

Sunday, 7 October 2007


A pangram is a text using every letter of the alphabet. Any book is likely to contain the entire alphabet, so a pangram needs to be small in order to be remarkable. Every text is either a pangram or a lipogram. An isogram is a text that does not repeat a letter. An isogrammatic pangram is a perfect pangram. My favorite isogrammatic pangram (by Clement Woods)—a grammatically complete sentence using every letter of the alphabet exactly and only once is - Mr. Jock, TV quiz Ph.D., bags few lynx.



Backup and restore icons position on desktop separately for every screen resolution

In the event that a computer crashes, if automatic desktop icons placement is selected or if the screen resolution is changed there is the possibility that the icons shortcuts position on the Windows desktop becomes scrambled; IconRestorer has been designed to remember the icon setup to avoid the boring job of manual restoring for the right icons position on desktop after these events.

IconRestorer can be used to place the icons back to their original location on the Windows screen when needed, or even to manage two profiles of icon position.

The icons position on desktop (layout) can be saved manually when wanted (every screen resolution will be saved separately) and can be restored at any time.

Windows, Freeware

Is Halloween the same as Xmas?


Oct 31 = Dec 25

Saturday, 6 October 2007

ITV steps in to save The Prisoner

A remake of cult 1960s drama The Prisoner looks to be back on track with ITV stepping in after Sky backed out of the production.

More at,,2001320029-2007460215,00.html

Einstein on dangerous places

The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.

--Albert Einstein

Friday, 5 October 2007


Polari (also seen as 'Palare') is a gay slang language, which has now almost died out. It was more common in the 1960's when gays had more need of a private slang.

Polari featured heavily in the "Julian and Sandy" sketches on the BBC radio program "Round the Horne" in the late 60s, and this is how a lot of people first heard of Polari. A few words like 'bona' can still be seen in gay publications, used for camp effect.

Some Words

  • ajax - nearby (from adjacent?)
  • bona - good
  • butch - masculine; masculine lesbian
  • camp - effeminate (origin: KAMP = Known As Male Prostitute)
  • drag - clothes, esp. women's clothes
  • ecaf - face (backslang)
  • khazi - toilet, also spelt carsey
  • mince - walk (affectedly)

See more at

"Thank goodness!" said Bilbo laughing, and handed him the tobacco-jar.

The last line of The Hobbit, by J R R Tolkien

Ninety-Ninety Rule

"The first 90% of the code accounts for the first 90% of the development time. The remaining 10% of the code accounts for the other 90% of the development time.” Attributed to Tom Cargill of Bell Labs, and popularized by Jon Bentley's September 1985 Bumper-Sticker Computer Science column in Communications of the ACM. It was there called the “Rule of Credibility”, a name which seems not to have stuck. Other maxims in the same vein include the law attributed to the early British computer scientist Douglas Hartree: “The time from now until the completion of the project tends to become constant.”

How to Cure Writer's Block

#2. Lower your standards (every piece of writing doesn't need to be award-winning. The bell curve says a small percentage will be that way; you have to create a majority of mediocrity to produce art.)

See the full list at

The Delphic Oracle

Delphi is best known as the home of the Delphic Oracle or the Pythia, a priestess of Apollo. The traditional picture is of the Pythia, in an altered state, muttering words inspired by the god, which male priests transcribed. The Pythia sat on a great bronze tripod in a spot above a crevice in rocks from which vapors rose.

Before sitting, she burned laurel leaves and barley meal on the altar. She also wore a laurel wreath and carried a sprig.

The oracle closed down for 3 months a year at which time Apollo wintered in the land of the Hyperboreans. The Delphic Oracle was not in constant communion with the god, but produced prophecies only on the 7th day after the new moon, for 9 months of the year.

See more at

Tuesday, 2 October 2007


Litmus is a water-soluble mixture of different dyes extracted from lichens, specially Roccella tinctoria. The mixture has CAS number 1393-92-6. It is often absorbed on to filter paper. The resulting piece of paper or solution with water becomes a pH indicator (one of the oldest), used to test materials for acidity. Blue litmus paper turns red under acidic conditions and red litmus paper turns blue under basic (i.e. alkaline) conditions, the colour change occurring over the pH range 4.5-8.3 (at 25°C). Neutral litmus paper is purple in colour. The mixture contains 10 to 15 different dyes (Erythrolein (or Erythrolitmin), Azolitmin, Spaniolitmin, Leucoorcein and Leucazolitmin). Pure Azolitmin does show nearly the same effect as litmus.

She Literally Exploded ...

What phrase enrages you most? "How are you spelling that?" perhaps, or, "issues around"? When the question came up in the Letters page of "The Daily Telegraph", hundreds of readers nominated the ones they loathed, and thousands more were posted on line. Provoked beyond endurance, Christopher Howse and Richard Preston compiled "The Infuriating Phrasebook", drawing on written and spoken insults to the intelligence from television, radio and the press.

All right - You all right there? A patronising enquiry made by nurses to old ladies already humiliated by being addressed by their Christian names. It is also used by shop assistants to customers who have been waiting a long time for service.
Blue-sky thinking - Species of daydreaming for which businesses are usually billed by the hour. It can lead to thinking the unthinkable or saying the unsayable.
Enjoy! - An order issued by waiters or baristas after they have delivered yours.
First invented by - The second inventor is deservedly less well known.
I'll let you go now - But you'll buttonhole me later.
Inappropriate - Used by officials who want to blame people for behaviour that is not illegal or forbidden. The patient used an inappropriate tone when raising issues around ward cleanliness.
Jus - gravy.
Pan-fried - instead of being fried in an old dustbin-lid.
Serving suggestion - On the label of a prepared meal, a warning that the plate, tablecloth, and accompanying boar's head shown in the picture are not included in the small plastic container.
Spiral out of control - Residents feared that costs for the leisure complex would spiral out of control. When aeroplanes spiral out of control they go downwards. Spiralling costs seldom do the same.
From She Literally Exploded: The "Daily Telegraph" Infuriating Phrasebook: Books: Christopher Howse,Richard Preston,

Gaius Petronius on reorganising

We trained very hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form into teams we would be reorganised. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganising, and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress, while producing confusion, inefficiency and demoralisation.
--Gaius Petronius

Monday, 1 October 2007

5 and 6 letter words ending in lude

Allude - Make a more or less disguised reference to.

Delude - Be false to; be dishonest with.

Elude - Avoid or try to avoid fulfilling, answering, or performing (duties, questions, or issues).


"Netiquette" is network etiquette, the do's and don'ts of online communication. Netiquette covers both common courtesy online and the informal "rules of the road" of cyberspace.

Follow this link for the core rules


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.