Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Over £400 million lost

Over £400 million is lost in homes across the UK and Coinstar wants to find the UK equivalent to Edmond Knowles who cashed in 1,308,459 pennies (or $13,084.59) at his local Coinstar machine.If you think you are one of the UK’s greatest hoarders send us your story and we will contact you to learn more.

Coinstar, Inc. customer, Edmond Knowles, today broke the world’s record for the largest ever personal penny collection with a cash-in of 1,308,459 pennies (or $13,084.59) at Escambia County Bank’s Coinstar machine in Flomaton, Alabama.

The pennies, which Knowles stored in four 55-gallon and three 20-gallon oil barrels in his garage, weighed more than 4.5 tons. The collection set a new world record as well as broke Coinstar’s existing record for the most pennies cashed-in by a customer. The previous Coinstar record was 1,048,013 pennies (or $10,480.13) set in November 2004 in Barberton, Ohio.


Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Greedy Coins

A system of coins is called "nice" if it can represent any amount of money and the greedy algorithm -- repeatedly take the largest coin that will fit -- for making change always uses the smallest number of coins possible. The American system of coins -- 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 -- is nice since, for any number of cents A, the greedy algorithm for breaking A into a combination of coins will use the minimal number of coins. For example, a greedy breakdown of $1.38 is 2 half-dollars, a quarter, a dime, and then 3 pennies, and $1.38 cannot be obtained in fewer than 7 coins. Any total can be made by using only pennies.

The old British coin system is another matter. It consisted of a halfpenny, a penny, threepence, sixpence, a shilling (12 pence), a florin (24 pence), a half-crown (30 pence), a crown (60 pence), and a pound (240 pence). We ignore here the guinea, worth 252 pence. And let us take the indivisible unit as the halfpenny. This system is not nice: a greedy approach to 48 pence would use three coins (half-crown + shilling + sixpence), while it can be done using just two florins.


Monday, 29 December 2008

Standard time zones

Originally, time zones based their time on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT, also called UT1), the mean solar time at longitude 0° (the Prime Meridian). But as a mean solar time, GMT is defined by the rotation of the Earth, which is not constant in rate. So, the rate of atomic clocks was annually changed or steered to closely match GMT.

But on January 1, 1972 it became fixed, using predefined leap seconds instead of rate changes. This new time system is Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Leap seconds are inserted to keep UTC within 0.9 seconds of UT1. In this way, local times continue to correspond approximately to mean solar time, while the effects of variations in Earth's rotation rate are confined to simple step changes that can be easily subtracted if a uniform time scale ( International Atomic Time or TAI) is desired. With the implementation of UTC, nations began to use it in the definition of their time zones instead of GMT.

As of 2005, most but not all nations have altered the definition of local time in this way (though many media outlets fail to make a distinction between GMT and UTC). Further change to the basis of time zones may occur if proposals to abandon leap seconds succeed.

Due to daylight saving time, UTC is local time at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich only between 01:00 UTC on the last Sunday in October and 01:00 UTC on the last Sunday in March. For the rest of the year, local time there is UTC+1, known in the United Kingdom as British Summer Time (BST). Similar circumstances apply in many places.

The definition for time zones can be written in short form as UTC±n (or GMT±n), where n is the offset in hours. These examples give the local time at various locations at 12:00 UTC when daylight saving time (or summer time, etc.) is not in effect:

San Francisco, California, United States: UTC-8; 04:00

Toronto, Ontario, Canada: UTC-5; 07:00

Stockholm, Sweden: UTC+1; 13:00

Cape Town, South Africa: UTC+2; 14:00

Mumbai, India: UTC+5:30; 17:30

Tokyo, Japan: UTC+9; 21:00

From Pocket Wikipedia,

Sunday, 28 December 2008

The Tang Dynasty

The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China that lasted from 618 to 907. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire.

The Tang Dynasty, with its capital at Chang'an, the most populous city in the world at the time, is regarded by historians as a high point in Chinese civilization—equal to or surpassing that of the earlier Han Dynasty—as well as a golden age of cosmopolitan culture.

There were many notable innovations during the dynasty, including the development of woodblock printing, the escapement mechanism in horology, the government compilations of materia medicas, and improvements in cartography.

See full article at

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Township and Range

Fly across the heartland of the United States today and you will see below a vast checkerboard, with fields and roads and cities laid out in a precise north-south, east-west arrangement. Practically the only features that don't run by the compass are the ridges and valleys and streams.

Following the Louisiana Purchase and the exploration of the western United States "frontier," the federal government decided to sell as much of the land as possible to the public. In order to make the distribution as equitable as possible among a generally uncharted and very diverse two and a quarter million square miles, they decided to divide up the west with squares.

The General Land Office (later known as the Bureau of Land Management) started surveying west from Ohio. They established 34 sets of survey meridians and base lines which were the starting points for each region of townships. Thirty-one sets are in the western and southern contiguous United States and and three pairs are in Alaska. Originally surveyors named the earliest pairs by number (the first through sixth principal meridians); the rest are named for geographic features. Names include the Boise Meridian, Gila and Salt River Meridian, and the Mount Diablo Meridian.

A township is both a square six miles long on each side as well as the method to locate the north-south (horizontal) row from the base line where the township lies. In the graphic below, the township is located at Township 1 North because it is in the first row north of the base line. Ranges are rows of townships east or west of the meridian (vertical). In the graphic, the township is located at Range 1 East because it is in the first row to the east of the principal meridian.

Each 36 square mile township is divided up into 36 single-square-mile "sections." These sections are numbered sequentially from the northeast corner to the southeast corner.

The United States Public Lands Survey is known as a cadastral survey. Cadastral surveys are those which establish boundaries for land ownership. Since the primary purpose of the USPLS was to sell land, it was important for defining land boundaries.

Not all townships are exactly square. Due to the curvature of the earth, every few rows of townships there is a slight "jog" in the meridians to compensate. There are also portions of the survey where land was already owned and surveyed by different methods. California's Spanish land grants are a notable example. The grants were based on naturally occurring features such as streams so they are irregularly shaped islands among the squares of the survey.

Throughout the west, one can commonly find roads one mile apart and running in straight lines for dozens of miles. We can thank the USPLS for the "checkerboard" pattern which stands out on maps of the U.S. today.


Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Types of Screwdrivers

Quality screwdrivers are judged by the kind of metal in the blade, finish and amount of grinding on the tip. Material used in the handle and bar attachment to the handle are other quality indicators.

If blade metal is poor quality, it will chip and crumble under pressure. If the tip is improperly ground and flares too much, it will rise out of the screw slot. If the blade is not attached firmly to the handle, it will eventually loosen and slip in the handle.


Several types of screwdriver tips are available-regular, cabinet, Phillips, Frearson, Torx, clutch- head, hex, Bristol multi-spline and square-tipped.

Regular tips are used with large, heavy screws. Tip is flared so it is wider than the driver bar. Quality drivers with regular tips should be accurately ground for uniformity. Blades should not taper too sharply from the tip, because an improperly tapered tip has a tendency to rise out of the screw slot.

Cabinet tips are similar to regular tips, but have no flare. They are straight for use with small screws and countersinking screws where regular tips with a flare would mar the wood or material on the side.

Phillips-head drivers are used on cross-slotted screw heads with modified U-shaped slots of uniform width. Screws of this type are often found on automobile trim and electric appliances. Sizes range from 0 to 4, with 0 being the smallest.

Frearson screw heads are similar to Phillips. They have cross-slots, but they are V-shaped slots with tapered sides. While a cross-slotted driver will fit many sizes of the type of screw for which it is intended, it is best to use drivers of the proper sizes.

Torx drive system provides six lobular drive surfaces mated from lobes of the driving and driven elements. Drive surfaces have vertical sides that permit the maximum torque application to assure reliable clamping force. All driving torque is transmitted as a perpendicular force to the driven element so there is no cam-out.

Clutch-head tips have four points of contact. They lock into the screw head when turned counterclockwise. The driver is unlocked by turning it in the opposite direction. Because of the many contact points, the tip will not damage the screw head.

Hex (hexagonal) tips are used in repair work in the electronics field, particularly in radio and television repair. They are used to tighten socket-set screws and usually come in sets. Some sets are attached to and fold into a metal carrying case. Other variations include T-shaped hex tools with vinyl grips and L-shaped keys for greater torque power.

Bristol multi-spline tips are the least common, with six points of contact. They allow torque to be applied evenly with minimum danger of damaging the screw head.

Square-tipped (Robertson type) screwdrivers come in five tip sizes for recess screws found in recreational vehicles and in furniture.

Multi-bit screwdrivers allow the user to have a number of different types of tips in one tool. Some products keep the interchangeable bits in a self-contained unit.

Offset screwdrivers are designed for removing and inserting screws in places where it is impossible to use a straight-shank screwdriver. They are available in many combinations of slotted and Phillips-head tips and with ratchet-type mechanisms.

Many screwdrivers have magnetized tips, convenient when guiding screws to holes or otherwise inaccessible areas. They also retrieve dropped screws and nuts. Others have split points that can be expanded in width to fill the screw slot and hold screws when guiding into inaccessible areas. A spring clamp that fits over the screw head, holding the bit in the slot, serves a similar purpose.


Handles are made of wood or plastic. Top-quality wooden handles have a bolster on the screwdriver bar which helps hold the bar to the handle. The one piece bars in heavy-duty wooden handles extend through the handle and are headed over on the end with a metal cap. Plastic handles should be made of fire and heat-resistant materials. If properly designed, they give excellent grip. Rubber or vinyl is often used as a non-slip or insulating cover on plastic handles.


This group includes offset screwdrivers, used in places impossible to reach with ordinary drivers; screwdrivers with external screw-gripper or screw-holder blades to start screws in hard-to-reach spots; and offset screwdrivers with ratchets.


Hex-nut drivers are similar to screwdrivers, but have tips more like wrench sockets than screw tips. They are used mainly on small nuts and in confined areas such as electronic equipment, instruments and car ignitions. They come in several sizes and styles, with a fixed-size or variable-size "socket" at the end to adjust to various nut sizes.


A spiral-ratchet screwdriver uses a mechanism similar to a push-pull drill. It has an adjustable chuck to permit interchanging different size driver tips and drill points. Ratchets are designed to drill and remove screws. Driving action is provided by pushing straight down on the handle.


These screwdrivers feature a 360° ball as a handle with a ratchet mechanism that eliminates the need to grip and re-grip during the driving process. The wider gripping surface generates more torque than conventional screwdrivers. The amount of additional torque varies with the model. These high-torque ratchet screwdrivers come with interchangeable blades.


Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Some foreign words and phrases

Pax in bello: peace in war.

Per centum: by the hundred.

Post meridiem: after midday.

Post mortem: after death.

Prima-facie: at first sight.

Quondam: former.

See more at

Monday, 22 December 2008


"Salmon" seems to be another example of the work of meddlesome scholars.

The Latin source was "salmon", but it became "saumon" in Old French and from there became "sa(u)moun" in Anglo_Norman.

The long-absent "l" was apparently retrieved from Latin, though never pronounced in English, by the meddlesome scholars.

from alt.usage.english

Sunday, 21 December 2008

The Top 10 Stolen Books

Scotland has had £223,000 gone missing from their libraries, largely from people not returning them. In the past, sterly-worded letters were about all the culprits would get, but the libraries are beginning to turn people over to collections agencies.

The Top 10 List of Books Stolen:

  1. Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets
  2. Lovers And Players
  3. The Diamond Girls
  4. All Rebus novels
  5. DSA Theory Test For Car Drivers
  6. Street Child
  7. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory
  8. Discworld books
  9. The Stand
  10. And Then There Were None


Saturday, 20 December 2008

Vote Early and Often

The cynical phrases "Vote early -- and often" and "Vote early -- and vote often" are variously attributed to three different Chicagoans:

  • Al Capone, the famous gangster;
  • Richard J. Daley, mayor from 1955 to 1976; and
  • William Hale Thompson, mayor from 1915-1923 and 1931-1935.

All three were notorious for their corruption and their manipulation of the democratic process. It is most likely that Thompson invented the phrase, and Capone and Daley later repeated it.


Friday, 19 December 2008

Memetic phrases

A catch phrase (or catchphrase) is a phrase or expression recognized by its repeated utterance. Such memetic phrases often originate in popular culture and in the arts, and typically spread through a variety of mass media (such as literature and publishing, motion pictures, television and radio), as well as word of mouth. Some catch phrases become the de facto "trademark" of the person or character with whom they originated, and can be instrumental in the typecasting (beneficially or otherwise) of that actor. This is especially the case with comedy actors.


Thursday, 18 December 2008

Magic, our Maurice!

Oh No, It's Selwyn Froggitt! was a popular ITV situation comedy which ran from 1974 to 1977. It starred Bill Maynard and was created and mostly written by Alan Plater. It was made for the ITV network by Yorkshire Television

The show was centred around the bungling exploits of Selwyn Froggitt, a burly, balding, good-natured council labourer (Maynard) usually clad in a donkey jacket, with pretensions to intellectual competence (he carried the Times rolled up in the pocket of his donkey jacket, although was hardly ever seen reading it, preferring to tell people that "There was an article about it in the Times") and an urge to improve his life and that of everyone around him. Froggitt was on the committee of his local working men's club, serving as concert secretary in charge of booking 'turns'.

Froggitt was fundamentally and spectacularly incompetent at everything he turned his hand to, being equally inept at his day job (digging holes and/or filling them in!), Do-it-yourself at home, and booking acts for the club.

The show was notable for a number of catchphrases: Maynard's Magic, our Maurice! accompanied by two thumbs up, his mother's (Megs Jenkins) Don't open that cupboard, our Selwyn, things fall out! and almost everyone at the club's A pint of cooking and a bag of nuts, Raymond. Raymond the barman (Ray Mort) was fond of answering the telephone with a number of highly fictitious and fanciful addresses.


Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Tuna Sandwich Stolen

A Heartland woman reported to police a strange burglary at her home. The place was ransacked, but the only things taken were a tuna sandwich and four beers.

The 52-year old woman lives in the Levi Carter Neighborhood, near 16th and Ames Avenue. She told Omaha Police when she returned home on Saturday, December 6th she noticed a window was broken, and when she went inside the home was trashed.

The thieves had searched high and low, apparently for something of value to steal, but settled for the sandwich and beer.


Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Jones and and and and and ...

A signwriter was asked to produce a sign "Jones and Son".

His client complained, "There is not enough space between Jones and and and and and Son".

Monday, 15 December 2008

World's Biggest Coin

Canada has seized bragging rights for the largest legal tender piece of money in the world, thereby eclipsing the old European record.

The coin in question, with a face value of $1 million Canadian, was issued in 2007, and three people have already grabbed one of their own, although it's doubtful they ambled off with it in hand without help, or at least a sturdy wheelbarrow.

This monetary item, issued by the Royal Canadian Mint, is twenty inches in diameter and one inch thick. It's made of 99.999 percent gold bullion and weighs 220 pounds (100 kilograms). One side of the hefty coin has the face of Queen Elizabeth and the reverse shows a cluster of maple leaves, one of Canada's most well-known symbols.

Its scalloped edge is reminiscent of the country's old-style nickels. The side with the maple leaves has the English words "Fine gold", then "100 KG", followed by the French words "Or pur", which translates as "Pure gold". One of these coins takes six weeks to make.

The editor of Canadian Coin News, Bret Evans, said, "They're (the Canadian Mint) not doing this because there is a huge demand for 100-kilo gold coins. They're doing it because it gives them some bragging rights in having the largest pure gold coin in the world. They'll kick the Austrians out of the Guinness World Book of Records".

Canada's mint will get a higher international image because of this coin, it's believed. The previous record holder for large coins was the seventy pound 100,000 euro piece from Austria with a fifteen inch diameter. One interesting note about the new coin is that it can't be bought for face value. Getting one for yourself, because of the rising cost of gold, currently means you have to shell out roughly $2.7 million Canadian. Of course, if the price of gold should tumble, your coin may be worth less than face value by weight, although it will always be redeemable for that million dollar value.


Sunday, 14 December 2008


Khartoum is one of three sister cities, built at the convergence of the Blue and White Niles: Omdurman to the north-west across the White Nile, North Khartoum, and Khartoum itself on the southern bank of the Blue Nile.

Khartoum has a relatively short history. It was first established as a military outpost in 1821, and is said to derive its name from the thin spit of land at the convergence of the rivers, which resembles an elephant's trunk (khurtum).

Khartoum grew rapidly in prosperity during the boom years of the slave trade, between 1825 and 1880. In 1834 it became the capital of the Sudan, and many explorers from Europe used it as a base for their African expeditions.

Khartoum was sacked twice during the latter half of the 19th century -- once by the Mahdi and once by Kitchener when the Mahdi was ousted. In 1898, Kitchener began to rebuild the city, and designed the streets in the shape of the British flag, the Union Jack, which he hoped would make it easier to defend.


Saturday, 13 December 2008

A List of Stupidities

'Whenever I watch TV and see those poor starving kids all over the world, I can't help but cry. I mean I'd love to be skinny like that, but not with all those flies and death and stuff.'

--Mariah Carey


'Smoking kills. If you're killed, you've lost a very important part of your life,'

--Brooke Shields, during an interview to become spokesperson for federal anti-smoking campaign.


'I've never had major knee surgery on any other part of my body,'

--Winston Bennett, University of Kentucky basketball forward.


'Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country,'

--Mayor Marion Barry, Washington , DC .


'That lowdown scoundrel deserves to be kicked to death by a jackass, and I'm just the one to do it,'

--A congressional candidate in Texas


'It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.'

--Al Gore, Vice President


'I love California . I practically grew up in Phoenix '

--Dan Quayle


'We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need ?'

--Lee Iacocca


'The word 'genius' isn't applicable in football. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein.'

--Joe Theisman, NFL football quarterback & sports analyst.


'We don't necessarily discriminate. We simply exclude certain types of people.'

--Colonel Gerald Wellman, ROTC Instructor.


'Your food stamps will be stopped effective March 1992 because we received notice that you passed away. May God bless you. You may reapply if there is a change in your circumstances.'

--Department of Social Services, Greenville , South Carolina


'Traditionally, most of Australia 's imports come from overseas.'

--Keppel Enderbery


'If somebody has a bad heart, they can plug this jack in at night as they go to bed and it will monitor their heart throughout the night. And the next morning, when they wake up dead, there'll be a record.'

--Mark S. Fowler, FCC Chairman


from uk.rec.humour

Friday, 12 December 2008

A scissor, scissors and shears

The noun "scissors" is treated as a plural noun, and therefore takes a plural verb ("these scissors are"). Alternatively, people refer to this tool as "a pair of scissors", in which case it (a pair) is singular and therefore takes a singular verb ("this pair of scissors is"). (In theory each of the two blades of the tool is a "scissor" in its own right, although in practice such usage is seldom heard.)

The word shears is used to describe larger instruments of similar kind. As a general rule:

  • scissors have blades less than 6 in (15 cm) long and usually have handles with finger holes of the same size.
  • shears have blades longer than 6 in (15 cm) and often have one small handle with a hole that fits the thumb and one large handle with a hole that will fit two or more fingers.


Thursday, 11 December 2008

The Numero sign

The Numero sign or Number sign is used in many languages to indicate ordinal numeration, especially in names and titles, for example, instead of writing the long

   "Number 4 Privet Drive"

one would write the numero sign so:

   "№ 4 Privet Drive",

and spoken as if written out in full.

The numero symbol combines the upper-case Latin letter "N" with a superscript lower-case letter "o", sometimes underlined, resembling the masculine ordinal indicator.

According to the OED, the term is from the Latin numero, which is the ablative form of the word numerus (NVMERVS in inscriptions, meaning "number", with the ablative meaning "to/by/with the number").

Similar forms exist as the word for "number" in Latin-derived languages: numero in Italian, numéro in French, and número in Spanish and Portuguese.


Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Walking and talking backwards

Tennent's Pilsner - Famous Dog Advert

Original Transmission Date : 1994

Why I like this advert : One of two very clever adverts where they had to learn to speak backwards in order to achieve the effects you see here.

Video clip at about 2/3rd down the page at

Tuesday, 9 December 2008


The Feudal System was introduced to England following the invasion and conquest of the country by William I (The Conqueror).

The system had been used in France by the Normans from the time they first settled there in about 900AD. It was a simple, but effective system, where all land was owned by the King. One quarter was kept by the King as his personal property, some was given to the church and the rest was leased out under strict controls.

The King

The King was in complete control under the Feudal System. He owned all the land in the country and decided who he would lease land to. He therefore only allowed those men he could trust to lease land from him. However, before they were given any land they had to swear an oath to remain faithful to the King at all times. The men who leased land from the King were known as Barons, they were wealthy, powerful and had complete control of the land they leased from the King.   


Barons leased land from the King which was known as a manor. They were known as the Lord of the Manor and were in complete control of this land. They established their own system of justice, minted their own money and set their own taxes. In return for the land they had been given by the King, the Barons had to serve on the royal council, pay rent and provide the King with Knights for military service when he demanded it. They also had to provide lodging and food for the King and his court when they travelled around the country. The Barons kept as much of their land as they wished for their own use, then divided the rest among their Knights. Barons were very rich.


Knights were given land by a Baron in return for military service when demanded by the King. They also had to protect the Baron and his family, as well as the Manor, from attack. The Knights kept as much of the land as they wished for their own personal use and distributed the rest to villeins (serfs). Although not as rich as the Barons, Knights were quite wealthy.


Villeins, sometimes known as serfs, were given land by Knights. They had to provide the Knight with free labour, food and service whenever it was demanded. Villeins had no rights. They were not allowed to leave the Manor and had to ask their Lord's permission before they could marry. Villeins were poor. 


Thursday, 4 December 2008


Q: The broadcast media seem to have decided that "Ralph" should be pronounced "rafe". I've known of, for example, Ralph Richardson and Ralph Vaughan Williams for most of my life, but suddenly and fairly recently they've become "rafes". Any justification for this?

A: "Rafe" is the traditional English pronunciation. "Ralph" is a modern spelling-pronunciation, and hence associated with the newly literate in an age of general literacy. The Norman "Radulf" (Radulphus) became "Raulf" - and "Raoul" in France

from alt.usage.english

The 20 most hated cliches

According to an online survey, cliches like "at the end of the day", "24/7" and "literally" are among the most reviled. Here are 20 more that particularly irk Magazine readers.

1. My vote for most irritating cliche has to be "basically". I even manage to irritate myself by using it, although I do try not to.

2. A few minutes ago I said "basically" was the most irritating cliche. I've changed my mind: "To be fair" is the most awful thing anybody can ever say, particularly since it is invariably followed by a biased and utterly unfair comment.

3. My most hated expression has to be "to be honest". What does it mean? Are you normally dishonest then? To my shame you might even catch me saying it.

4. It has to be "going forward", used by business people/politicians, as in: "Going forward, we need to do...X." Since time is irreversible, it's totally unnecessary. No one experiences life "going backward".

5. As far as irritating cliches go, the phrase "the fact of the matter is" must top the list. The fact of the matter is, that it rarely is the actual fact of the matter. It is usually just the speaker's own opinion.

6. Overused cliches I dislike are "let's face it" and "let's be honest".

7. The worse cliche I hear is "touch base". If anyone knows where that came from please let me know so I can go back in a time machine and stop it from ever being said. I have a feeling it was a 1980s invention.

8. I was looking at your well-worn phrases and although "at the end of the day" is a bad one, I absolutely detest anyone saying "110%" or "150%" or any other variant. It is 100% and nothing more. You can't get more than a whole. I'm glad I got that off my chest...

9. My old boss used to tell us that everything was "in the pipeline". One disgruntled staff member commented that this pipeline seemed to be a very long and very clogged-up sewer.

10. The phrase I hate is "the reason being". Particularly when used by people who are trying to sound educated. They invariably show off their lack of education with the next phrase.

11 and 12. "I'm not being funny but..." is one of THE most annoying things that a person can say, and is usually followed by a highly irritating and officious remark. Beginning a sentence with "You know" is another one, especially popular with sportsmen such as David Beckham. Please make these and other irritating cliches illegal.

13 and 14. I hate, hate, hate it when people invite me to "touch base" with them at a later date. Or how about when someone announces that they'll have made a decision "by the end of play today"? However, possibly the most annoying of all cliches must be when those misguided amongst us declare the importance of "singing from the same hymn sheet". "Go do one", I say...

15. "Can't get my head round it" - a ridiculous thing to say!

16 and 17. Cliches to hate: 1) Basically 2) A raft of proposals 3) To roll out (new initiatives etc).

18. "Don't just talk the talk, you got to walk the talk". How annoying is that?

19. "Lessons will be learned". Most pointless and annoying cliche ever.

20. The use of the word "actually". I find it so annoying when listening to reports on the Today programme that I end up "actually" counting the times the word is used.


Tuesday, 2 December 2008

HP Sauce Early Day Motion

"That this House deplores the retention of the picture of the House of Commons on HP Sauce labels following the decision by new owners Heinz plc to remove production from the historic Aston site to Holland, making the 125 employees redundant; believes that Heinz should not exploit this symbol of Britishness to sell a product no longer made in the United Kingdom; and calls upon the Administration Committee to remove HP sauce from all House dining areas until the jobs are reinstated or the House of Commons picture is removed from the label."

- Early Day Motion 2728, House of Commons, 12 October, 2006.

See full HP Sauce sory at

The Hawthornden Prize

The oldest of the major British literary prizes was founded in 1919 by Miss Alice Warrender. It is awarded annually to an English writer for "the best work of imaginative literature," which is liberally interpreted and thus may include biography, travel, art history, etc, as well as fiction and drama. There is no competition; books do not have to be, and in fact cannot be, submitted. A panel of judges decides the winner. Young authors are particularly encouraged. The current value of the prize is £10,000.

Some winners

1919 Edward Shanks - The Queen of China

1927 Henry Williamson - Tarka the Otter

1935 Robert Graves - I, Claudius

1960 Alan Sillitoe - The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

1989 Alan Bennett - Talking Heads

1999 Antony Beevor - Stalingrad

2006 Alexander Masters - Stuart: A Life Backwards 

See the full list at

Monday, 1 December 2008


  • Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are almost dead?
  • Why do banks charge a fee on 'insufficient funds' when they already know there is not enough money?
  • Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars; but have to check when you say the paint is still wet?
  • Why doesn't Tarzan have a beard?
  • Why does Superman stop bullets with his chest, but ducks when you throw a revolver at him?
  • Why do Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?
  • Whose idea was it to put an 'S' in the word 'lisp'?
  • If people evolved from apes, Why are there still apes?
  • Why is it that no matter what colour bubble bath you use the bubbles are always white?
  • Is there ever a day that mattresses are not in a sale?
  • Why do people constantly return to the fridge with hopes that something new to eat will have materialized?
  • Why do people keep running over a piece of cotton a dozen times with their vacuum cleaner, then reach down, pick it up, examine it, then put it down to give the vacuum one more chance?
  • Why is it that no plastic bag will open from the end on your first try?
  • How do those dead insects get into those enclosed light fittings?
  • When we are in the supermarket and someone rams our ankle with a shopping trolley then apologizes for doing so, why do we say, 'It's all right?'  Well, it isn't all right, so why don't we say, 'That really hurt, why don't you watch where you're going?'
  • Why is it that whenever you attempt to catch something that's falling off the table you always manage to knock something else over?
  • In winter why do we try to keep the house as warm as it was in summer when we complained about the heat?
  • How come you never hear father-in-law jokes?
  • And my FAVOURITE...... The statistics on sanity is that one out of every four persons is suffering from some sort of mental illness. Think of your three best friends -- if they're ok, then it's you.

from uk.rec.humour