Friday, 29 February 2008

Chicxulub Crater

The Chicxulub Crater is an ancient impact crater buried underneath the Yucatán Peninsula, with its center located near the town of Chicxulub, Yucatán, Mexico.

The crater is over 180 kilometers (110 mi) in diameter, making the feature one of the largest confirmed impact structures in the world; the asteroid or comet whose impact formed the crater was at least 10 km (6 mi) in diameter.

See the full article at

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Phytophthora infestans de Bary

The importance of the genus Phytophthora, both to humanity and to the development of the science of plant pathology, has been obvious ever since P. infestans devastated the potato crop in Western Europe in 1845.

Its greatest impact was the potato blight epidemic in Ireland. In 1845 and again in 1848 a third of the potato crop was destroyed by blight, losses at the extremes of previous European experience. Even more disastrously, three-quarters of the crop failed in 1846. In all, one million people died of famine-related diseases and up to 1.5 million more emigrated.

After the initial outbreak of the disease there was a major search for the underlying cause which led to a controversy with one group attributing it to natural causes, such as the weather, and the other group saying it was caused by a fungus. Charles Montagne, a retired French army doctor, first described the fungus to a meeting of theSociety Philomatique in Paris on August 30th, 1945, naming it Botrytis infestans.

The German scientist Anton de Bary first coined the name Phytophthora (ôplant destroyerö) in 1876, when he described the potato late blight fungus, Phytophthora infestans, as the type species for the new genus. He unveiled the full life cycle of the fungus and was the first person to conduct extensive, controlled experiments with the fungus in potato. The science of plant pathology was born and the fungus got its final title of Phytophthora infestans de Bary.


Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Hofstadter's Law

It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008


The original redbricks were the imposing civic universities established by the Victorians in the great industrial and commercial cities of England in the 19th Century: Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield, Bristol, and Leeds. They were established largely as technical universities aimed at driving the industrial revolution by producing engineers and other professionals, and thus contrasted with the classical "knowledge fr its own sake" position of the Oxbridge institutions. In contrast with the "concrete and glass" universities that followed 100 years later, however, in the first attempt to open up university education to wider participation, the term redbrick itself becomes a term of elitism, as the redbricks constitute the core of the UK's 'elite' Russell Group of research intensive universities.


Monday, 25 February 2008


In the wake of the famine, English landlordism reigned supreme in Ireland. In 1879, Michael Davitt founded the Irish national Land League with Charles Stewart Parnell -- a constitutional nationalist -- as its president.

The objects of the Land League were:

1] To put an end to rank-renting, evictions and landlord oppression;

2] To effect such a radical change in the land system as would put it in the power of every Irish farmer to become the owner, in fair terms, of the land he tilled.

In the course of the land war a new word was coined--Boycott--when the land of a Captain Boycott, a rack-renting landlord who refused to accept the fair rents, was shunned by all the people in the surrounding areas.

In 1881, under unrelenting pressure, a land act had guaranteed the three "Fs" as they were known: fair rent, free sale, and fixity of tenure.

The land war changed the face of rural Ireland by putting an end to the old system of landlordism, although British political rule still remained as imperious as ever.


Sunday, 24 February 2008

British v. American English

For example the American for 'pram' is 'carriage' (an old-fashioned word to British ears), a 'conker' is a 'chestnut' and a 'plaster' is a 'bandage' (something a British hospital would only use for serious wounds, not just a scratch or bruise).

George Bernard Shaw was perhaps right when he observed that England and America were 'two countries separated by the same language'.


Saturday, 23 February 2008


The word "Ambrosia" means sweet smelling or delicious. Ambrosia was also the magical substance eaten by the Gods of Greek mythology who lived on Mount Olympus. The God's kept their immortality by eating Ambrosia and without this substance, they became weak. A human being who took Ambrosia became strong and immortal. Sometimes the Gods mixed Ambrosia with Nectar as a drink and they also used it for bathing. The Gods were served Ambrosia and Nectar by Hebe, the daughter of Zeus and Hera. One day she tripped and fell so Zeus dismissed her and in the shape of an eagle, he went to earth to seize Ganymede, the son of the Tros, King of Troy, to served the Gods.


Friday, 22 February 2008

Covering of the Senne

The covering of the Senne was one of the defining events in the history of Brussels. The Senne was historically the main waterway of Brussels, though it became more polluted and less navigable as the city grew. By the second half of the 19th century, it had become a serious health hazard and was filled with pollution, garbage and decaying organic matter. It flooded frequently, inundating the lower town and the working class neighbourhoods which surrounded it.

Numerous proposals were made to remedy this problem, and in 1865, the mayor of Brussels, Jules Anspach, selected a design by architect Leon Suys to cover over the river and build a series of grand boulevards and public buildings. The project faced fierce opposition and controversy, mostly due to cost and the expropriation and demolition of working class neighbourhoods. The construction was contracted to a British company, but control was returned to the government following an embezzlement scandal; this delayed the project, but it was still completed in 1871. The project's completion allowed urban renewal and the construction of the modern buildings and the boulevards which are central to downtown Brussels today.

In the 1930s, plans were made to cover the Senne along its entire course within the greater Brussels area, which had grown significantly since the covering of the 19th century. The course of the Senne was changed to the downtown's peripheral boulevards. In 1976, the disused tunnels were converted into the north-south axis of Brussels' underground tram system, the premetro. Actual purification of the waste water from the Brussels-Capital Region was not completed until March of 2007, when two purification stations were built, thus finally cleaning the Senne after centuries of problems.


Thursday, 21 February 2008

Brinsworth House

Brinsworth House is a retirement home especially for members of the acting and entertainment professions, in Twickenham, Middlesex, England. The house, opened in 1911, is provided and maintained by the Entertainment Artistes Benevolent Fund, founded in 1908 to care for members of what was at that time the variety and music hall profession. The EABF and the house are funded largely by the Royal Variety Performance.

Recent celebrity residents of Brinsworth House have included:

  • Dame Thora Hird (died 2003)
  • Charlie Drake (died 2006)
  • Alan Freeman CBE (died 2006)
  • Emily Perry (died 2008)

Current residents include:

  • Richard O'Sullivan


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Bunker Holidays

The Daily Telegraph weekend colour supplement carried a two page article describing a bunker in the Yorkshire Dales...... see also

Purchased via Ebay for £11,300 in 2003 by Ged and Sandra Dodd (ex ROC) it will take a while to recover the investment based on the holiday rental quoted.

Convenient for Dent station on the Settle Carlisle Railway.

"Visitors can pick their own night to stay over - providing no one else has already booked that night. PLEASE NOTE THERE ARE ONLY FOUR VISITS PER YEAR."

from uk. rec. subterranea

Tuesday, 19 February 2008


"I can't resist giving you a little story of my all-time favourite brand name: When we were teenagers, everywhere in French canteens, there were glasses supposed to be unbreakable whose brand was engraved underneath. Because of their reputed hardness to break, they were called : Duralex, referring to the well-known Latin proverb "Dura Lex sed Lex" (The Law is Hard but it's the Law). Someone in a glass factory had had the idea of creating a very humorous brand after a Latin proverb. That was so pleasant and witty, and it still is, even many years later."

From a thread on brand Names at

Monday, 18 February 2008

The disintegrator

Forget the rubber band Gatling gun. The DISINTEGRATOR is the most incredible rubberband gun ever built, capable of firing more than 40 rounds per second (2400 rounds per minute) from its 24 revolving barrels. This is the twin Vulcan cannon of the elastic band gun world!

More at

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Duplicate pictures program

Looking for a program to list all duplicate pictures and optionally delete them?

To find exact matches, I use DeDuper:

Lightning fast and spot on accurate. You can let it do its thing automatically, or, as I like to do, watch it pop up the duplicates and click to confirm one at a time. It's really amazing.

Another one that comes highly recommended is Dup Detector:

You sacrifice a bit of speed, but it is more flexible in that it can find "close" matches too, where the .jpg isn't quite an exact match, but is close enough.

from alt.comp.freeware

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Top 10 English language oddities

1. “Bookkeeper” is the only word that has three consecutive doubled letters.

2. The two longest words with only one of the six vowels including y are the 15-letter defenselessness and respectlessness.

3. “Forty” is the only number which has its letters in alphabetical order. “One” is the only number with its letters in reverse alphabetical order.

4. The superlatively long word honorificabilitudinitatibus (27 letters) alternates consonants and vowels.

5. Antidisestablishmentarianism listed in the Oxford English Dictionary, was considered the longest English word for quite a long time, but today the medical term pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is usually considered to have the title, despite the fact that it was coined to provide an answer to the question ‘What is the longest English word?’.

6. “The sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick” is said to be the toughest tongue twister in English.

7. There is only one common word in English that has five vowels in a row: queueing.

8. The two longest words with only one of the six vowels including y are the 15-letter defenselessness and respectlessness.

9. “Asthma” and “isthmi” are the only six-letter words that begin and end with a vowel and have no other vowels between.

10 “Rhythms” is the longest English word without the normal vowels, a, e, i, o, or u.


Friday, 15 February 2008

Disraeli on complaining

Never complain, never explain

--Benjamin Disraeli

Thursday, 14 February 2008

The 10 Commandments of Meetings

You've been sitting in the meeting for 93 minutes. It feels like 93 days. It was supposed to last an hour, max, but the Senior VP is in the room, and the point of the session was to discuss his pet project, and no one wants to be the first to crack. Everyone else is busy making gratuitous points designed to flatter Mr. Big. You're entertaining fantasies about throwing a cream pie, or worse, at the blowhard who just won't stop talking about how successful the project will be. You know it's doomed to fail; it's the high-tech equivalent of selling ice to the Inuit.

You're asking yourself, who's in charge here? How did all these reasonably well-intentioned people get so far out of whack? And, more to the point, how can this juggernaut be stopped?  

Since mass laryngitis is not an option, you need the Ten Commandments of Meetings. Moreover, you need to post them prominently in meeting rooms so that everyone can begin to follow them – especially the leader. Remember that even Moses had trouble with his unruly flock from time to time, so be prepared for the occasional outburst of the modern corporate version of Baal worship.

  1. Thou Shalt Always Know What Time It Is
  2. Thou Shalt Not Forget the Main Reason for Meetings
  3. Thou Shalt Remember the Golden Rule of Meetings: Praise in Public, Criticize in Private
  4. Thou Shalt Not Convene Meetings Outside of Normal Business Hours
  5. Thou Shalt Not Use Group Pressure to Logroll Conclusions
  6. Thou Shalt Not Use Meetings to Destroy Others' Careers
  7. Thou Shalt Keep the Personal and the Corporate Distinct
  8. Thou Shalt Remember that the Best Model for Meetings Is Democracy, Not Monarchy
  9. Thou Shalt Always Prepare a Clear Agenda and Circulate It Beforehand
  10. Thou Shalt Terminate a Regularly Scheduled Meeting When Its Purpose for Being No Longer Exists

See full article at

Wednesday, 13 February 2008


Stickies is a PC utility to replace Post-It® notes stuck to a monitor.

The design goal behind Stickies is that the program is small and simple. Stickies will not mess with your system files, or write to the registry. Stickies stores all information in a single text-based ini file.

Windows freeware at

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

A frog goes into a bank ...

A frog goes into a bank and approaches the teller. He can see from her nameplate that her name is Patricia Whack.

'Miss Whack, I'd like to get a £30,000 loan to take a holiday.'

She looks at the frog in disbelief and asks his name. The frog says his name is Kermit Jagger, his dad is Mick Jagger, and that it's okay, he knows the bank manager.

She then explains that he will need to secure the loan with some collateral.

The frog says, 'Sure. I have this,' and produces a tiny porcelain elephant, about an inch tall, bright pink and perfectly formed.

Very confused, Patty explains that she'll have to consult with the bank manager and disappears into a back office.

She finds the manager and says, ' There's a frog called Kermit Jagger out there who claims to know you and wants to borrow £30,000, and he wants to use this as collateral.'

She holds up the tiny pink elephant. 'I mean, what in the world is this?'

The bank manager looks back at her and says...

(you're gonna love this)

'It's a knickknack, Patty Whack. Give the frog a loan, His old man's a Rolling Stone.'

from uk.rec.humour

Monday, 11 February 2008

Why do we say "30 years old" but "a 30-year-old man"?

This pattern goes all the way back to Old English (alias Anglo-Saxon).

It's the same reason many of us say that someone is "5 foot 2" rather than "5 feet 2". The source of the idiom is the old genitive plural, which did not end in -s, and did not contain a high front vowel to trigger umlaut ("foot" -v- "feet").

When the ending was lost because of regular phonetic developments, the pattern remained the same, and it now seemed that the singular rather than the plural was in use.

from alt.usage.english / Mini-FAQ on Grammar, Usage and Punctuation

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Unusual word endings

-mt; as in dreamt

-gry; as in angry, hungry

-shion; as in cushion, fashion


Saturday, 9 February 2008


Yo is an American English slang interjection. It was highly popularized after being commonly used among Italian Americans and African Americans in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Although often used as a greeting, like the word "hey", it has a wide range of other meanings that depend on the tone, context, and situation.

  • "Yo" is often used in the Southern United States as a substitute for the response "Here" to acknowledge one's presence during a roll call.
  • "Yo" has also come to be used as an exclamation at the end of a sentence, either to direct focus onto a particular individual or group ("That girl is hot, yo"), or to strengthen meaning to a particular point e.g.: "This hot dog bun is kickin', yo!".


Friday, 8 February 2008

Top 10 Tips for writing effective e-mail

Summary: This document offers 10 tips to help you write effective professional e-mails. The informal notes you exchange with your friends don't have to meet any particular standards, of course, but if you want to be taken seriously by professionals, you should know formal e-mail etiquette.

  1. Write a meaningful subject line.
  2. Keep the message focused and readable.  
  3. Avoid attachments.  
  4. Identify yourself clearly.  
  5. Be kind -- don't flame.
  6. Proofread.  
  7. Don't assume privacy.
  8. Distinguish between formal and informal situations.  
  9. Respond Promptly.
  10. Show Respect and Restraint.

See the full article at

Thursday, 7 February 2008

History Test

The following were answers provided by 6th graders during a history test. Watch the spelling!

1. Ancient Egypt was inhabited by mummies and they all wrote in hydraulics. They lived in the Sarah Dessert. The climate of the Sarah is such that all the inhabitants have to live elsewhere.

2. Moses led the Hebrew slaves to the Red Sea where they made unleavened bread, which is bread made without any ingredients. Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the ten commandments. He died before he ever reached Canada.

3. Solomon had three hundred wives and seven hundred porcupines.

4. The Greeks were a highly sculptured people, and without them we wouldn't have history. The Greeks also had myths. A myth is a female moth.

5. Socrates was a famous Greek teacher who went around giving people advice. They killed him. Socrates died from an overdose of wedlock. After his death, his career suffered a dramatic decline.

6. In the Olympic games, Greeks ran races, jumped, hurled biscuits, and threw the java.

7. Julius Caesar extinguished himself on the battlefields of Gaul . The Ides of March murdered him because they thought he was going to be made king. Dying, he gasped out: "Tee hee, Brutus."

8. Joan of Arc was burnt to a steak and was canonized by Bernard Shaw.

9. Queen Elizabeth was the "Virgin Queen." As a queen she was a success. When she exposed herself before her troops they all shouted "hurrah."

10. It was an age of great inventions and discoveries. Gutenberg invented removable type and the Bible. Another important invention was the circulation of blood. Sir Walter Raleigh is a historical figure because he invented cigarettes and started smoking. Sir Francis Drake circumsized the world with a 100-foot clipper.

11. The greatest writer of the Renaissance was William Shakespeare. He was born in the year 1564, supposedly on his birthday. He never made much money and is famous only because of his plays. He wrote tragedies, comedies, and hysterectomies, all in Islamic pentameter. Romeo and Juliet are an example of a heroic couple. Romeo's last wish was to be laid by Juliet.

12. Writing at the same time as Shakespeare was Miguel Cervantes. He wrote Donkey Hote. The next great author was John Milton. Milton wrote Paradise Lost. Then his wife died and he wrote Paradise Regained.

13. Delegates from the original 13 states formed the Contented Congress. Thomas Jefferson, a Virgin, and Benjamin Franklin were two singers of the Declaration of Independence . Franklin discovered electricity by rubbing two cats backward and declared, "A horse divided against itself cannot stand." Franklin died in
1790 and is still dead.

14. Abraham Lincoln became America 's greatest Precedent. Lincoln's mother died in infancy, and he was born in a log cabin which he built with his own hands. Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves by signing the Emasculation Proclamation. On the night of April 14, 1865 , Lincoln went to the theater and got shot in his seat by one of the actors in a moving picture show. They believe the assinator was John Wilkes Booth, a supposingly insane actor. This ruined Booth's career.

15. Johann Bach wrote a great many musical compositions and had a large number of children. In between he practiced on an old spinster which he kept up in his attic. Bach died from 1750 to the present. Bach was the most famous composer in the world and so was Handel. Handel was half German, half Italian, and half English. He was very large.

16. Beethoven wrote music even though he was deaf. He was so deaf he wrote loud music. He took long walks in the forest even when everyone was calling for him. Beethoven expired in 1827 and later died for this.

17. The nineteenth century was a time of a great many thoughts and inventions. People stopped reproducing by hand and started reproducing by machine. The invention of the steamboat caused a network of rivers to spring up. Cyrus McCormick invented the McCormick raper, which did the work of a hundred men. Louis Pasteur discovered a cure for rabbits. Charles Darwin was a naturalist who wrote the Organ of the Species. Madman Curie discovered the radio. And Karl Marx became one of the Marx Brothers

from uk.rec.humour

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Currency and Units Converter

Just use Google Search

eg 8 Euro in GBP

eg 250grams in ounces

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

DzSoft Favorites Search

Windows Freeware, at

For Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 and higher.

Allows searching Internet Explorer's Favorites much the same way as you search the Internet Explorer's History.

How To Use

To show DzSoft Favorites Search, in an Internet Explorer window click the View - Explorer Bar - DzSoft Favorites Search menu.

You can also use a toolbar button to show DzSoft Favorites Search. If you don't see the button, please right-click on the Internet Explorer toolbar and choose Customize... to add the DzSoft Favorites Search button to your toolbar. The button may also be hidden under a "chevron" if all buttons of the toolbar don't fit inside the window.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Old nuclear bunker a hobbit's ideal home

A former government nuclear bunker is sparking interest after auctioneers gave it a £300,000 starting price.

The bunker, near Twyford, Hants, is protected by 2ft thick concrete walls and six-inch deep steel doors.

The building was decommissioned in 1997 and was used by a computer security company who installed a kitchen and office space.

It is set into the hillside, two miles from the nearest shop.

Despite having no glass windows the auctioneers say it has stunning views to the north of the Hampshire Downs.

Rob Marchant, of Clive Emson auctioneers, said: "It would be an unbelievable home if you took the bank out and put in glass.

"The views are fantastic but you would have to convince local planners."

The interior has a musty smell and what was once a brick-barrelled reservoir has been converted into storage space.

It was originally built as a Victorian reservoir in 1905 before being closed in 1962 and transformed into a nuclear bunker in 1990.


Sunday, 3 February 2008

A murderer is condemned ...

Q: A murderer is condemned to death. He has to choose between three rooms. The first is full of raging fires, the second is full of assassins with loaded guns, and the third is full of lions that haven't eaten in 3 years. Which room is safest for him?

A: At first it would appear to be the lions who starved to death 3 years ago, however as he is sentenced to death it's unlikely that the intention is that this room would be somewhere to live long and prosper, more like he will starve to death, a quite unappealing slow one IMHO. The assassins may offer a quicker, less painful death.

from uk.rec.humour

Saturday, 2 February 2008

An unusual paragraph

This is an unusual paragraph. I'm curious as to just how quickly you can find out what is so unusual about it. It looks so ordinary and plain that you would think nothing was wrong with it. In fact, nothing is wrong with it! It is highly unusual though. Study it and think about it, but you still may not find anything odd. But if you work at it a bit, you might find out. Try to do so without any coaching!

from alt.usage.english

Friday, 1 February 2008

William Safire

On December 17, 1929, William Safire was born in New York City. After working as a speechwriter and public relations staffer for Richard Nixon, he became a Washington-based columnist for the New York Times (in 1978, he won a Pulitzer Prize for his political commentary). In the 1980s, he became "America's Language Maven" with his weekly "On Language" column in the Sunday New York Times Magazine. On the subject of political commentary, he once found a clever chiastic way of saying that he'd rather be seen as a dirty fighter than a rigid ideologue:

  • "Better to be a jerk that knees than a knee that jerks."

He also demonstrated a penchant for oxymoronic wit, writing:

  • "I think we all have a need to know what we do not need to know."
  • "If I’ve told you once,  I’ve told you a thousand times: resist hyperbole."

He also offered two very neat metaphorical observations:

  • "English is a stretch language; one size fits all."
  • "A dependent clause is like a dependent child: incapable of standing on its own but able to cause a lot of trouble."

from Dr. Mardy's at