Saturday, 31 January 2009

The 9 Best Organized Crime Movies

  1. The Italian Job
  2. Reservoir Dogs
  3. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
  4. The Godfather Trilogy
  5. Get Shorty
  6. Untouchables
  7. LA Confidential
  8. El Mariachi
  9. Goodfellas


Friday, 30 January 2009

Types of Toilets

The kind of toilet used in one region depends on the cultural norms and taboos associated with personal hygiene in that region. Most Western toilets use paper for cleaning, while Asian countries have squat toilets.

Pit toilets are very primitive and basic, used in campgrounds and poor countries without proper drainage system.

Composting toilets are a variant of the pit toilets and offer an eco-friendly mode of waste disposal.

Heads are toilets located on boats and yachts; heads use water pumped in from the sea to flush out waste.

Flush toilets are most common in Western households.

The tippler toilet is used in England and is cleaned by a flush of water from above that carries the waste into gutters.

Residential areas use gravity tank toilets, where a separate cistern holds water for flushing the toilet bowl. Commercial areas also use them. Gravity tank toilets are the least expensive and easier to use and maintain.

As opposed to gravity tank toilets, the tank and bowls of single piece toilets are within the same structure. These toilets are preferred for their aesthetic appeal, though they are not that easy to maintain or flush.

Pressure line toilets have more water pressure when flushed. The water is released under high pressure when flushed, cleaning out the toilets. These toilets are expensive and cost more than $250 per piece.

Flush Valve Operated Toilets do not have a separate tank to store water; instead, water is tapped directly from the water supply pipes. The flush valve regulates the flow of water, ensuring that too much water is not used during flushing. Apart from their high price, another factor working against these kinds of toilets is the need to work with differing water pressures in the supply line.


Thursday, 29 January 2009

Bronx cheer

A sign of contempt, usually when you stick your tongue between your lips, and you blow though them, resulting in a loud, blubbering, and flatulent noise. Also called a raspberry

My coworker from my old job was such a loser. I said to my friend online that he deserves a loud, rousing good cheer...


Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Things to do while bored in class

Warning: Do not do all of them in one class.

1. Try to develop psychic powers, then use 'em.
2. Inflate a beachball and throw it around the room.
3. Sing Show Tunes.
4. Make loud animal noises then deny doing it.
5. Think of new pick lines. See if they work.
6. Pretend you're flying a jet fighter in the Gulf War.
7. Churn some butter.
8. Conceive a brand new language.
9. Walls are made of brick. Count 'em.
10. Plot revenge against someone.
11. Think of nicknames for everyone you know.
12. See how long you can hold your breath.
13. Take your pants off and give them to the professor.
14. Chew on your arm until someone notices.
15. Change seats every three minutes.
16. Think of ways to cheat at Trivial Pursuit.
17. Shave.
18. Run across the room, tag someone and say "You're it.".
19. Announce to the class that you are God and that you're angry.
20. Think of five new ways to use your shoes.
21. Start a wave.
22. Walk around the room begging for spare change.
23. Roast marshmellows.
24. Practice phrasing your answers in the form of a question.
25. Crawl around the room humming the music from Mission Impossible.
26. Take apart your desk.
27. Pretend to communicate with your home planet.
28. Play rock-paper-scissors with yourself. Accuse your left hand of cheating.
29. Do a quick tapdance routine.
30. Try bird-watching.
31. Walk up the aisle yelling, "Popcorn! Hot popcorn here!".
32. Throw your backpack at someone.
33. Run to the window, then say, "Sorry, I thought I saw the Bat-signal".
34. Ask the person in front of you to marry you.
35. Start laughing really hard and say, "Oh, now I get it.".
36. Make a sundial.
37. Give yourself a new identity.
38. Write a screenplay about a diabetic Swedish girl who can't swim.
39. Dig an escape tunnel.
40. Announce your candidacy for President.


Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Prime Meridian

The Prime Meridian is the meridian (line of longitude) at which longitude is defined to be 0°.

The Prime Meridian and the opposite 180th meridian (at 180° longitude), which the International Date Line generally follows, form a great circle that divides the Earth into the Eastern and Western Hemispheres.

Unlike the parallels of latitude, which are defined by the rotational axis of the Earth (the poles being 90° and the Equator 0°), the Prime Meridian is arbitrary. By international convention, the modern Prime Meridian is one passing through Greenwich, London, United Kingdom, known as the International Meridian or Greenwich Meridian. Historically, various meridians have been used, including four different ones through Greenwich.

The Greenwich Meridian, based at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, was established by Sir George Airy in 1851. By 1884, over two-thirds of all ships and tonnage used it as the reference meridian on their maps. In October of that year, at the behest of U.S. President Chester A. Arthur, 41 delegates from 25 nations met in Washington, D.C., USA, for the International Meridian Conference. This conference selected the Greenwich Meridian as the official Prime Meridian due to its popularity. However, France abstained from the vote and French maps continued to use the Paris Meridian for several decades. The Greenwich Meridian is now marked at night by a laser beam emitted from the observatory.


Monday, 26 January 2009

Derinkuyu, the mysterious underground city of Turkey

In 1963, an inhabitant of Derinkuyu (in the region of Cappadocia, central Anatolia, Turkey), knocking down a wall of his house cave, discovered amazed that behind it was a mysterious room that he had never seen, and this led him room to another and another and another to it ... By chance he had discovered the underground city of Derinkuyu, whose first level could be excavated by the Hittites around 1400 BC

Archaeologists began to explore this fascinating underground city abandoned. It managed to forty meters deep, but is believed to have a fund of up to 85 meters. At present 20 levels have been discovered underground. Only eight can be visited at the highest levels; others are partially blocked or restricted to archaeologists and anthropologists who study Derinkuyu.


Sunday, 25 January 2009

Walter Raleigh executed

Walter Raleigh (c.1552 - 1618)

James VI of Scotland disliked Raleigh and in 1603 he was accused of plotting against the king and sentenced to death. This was reduced to life imprisonment and Raleigh spent the next 12 years in the Tower of London, where he wrote the first volume of his 'History of the World' (1614).

In 1616, Raleigh was released to lead a second expedition to search for El-Dorado. The expedition was a failure, and Raleigh also defied the king's instructions by attacking the Spanish. On his return to England, the death sentence was reinstated and Raleigh's execution took place on 29 October 1618.


Saturday, 24 January 2009

Lake Superior State University 2009 List of Banished Words

"It's that time of year again!"

Lake Superior State University "maverick" word-watchers, fresh from the holiday "staycation" but without an economic "bailout" even after a "desperate search," have issued their 34th annual List of Words to Be Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness. This year's list may be more "green" than any of the previous lists and includes words and phrases that people from "Wall Street to Main Street" say they love "not so much" and wish to have erased from their "carbon footprint."

Environmental buzzwords are getting the axe this year. "Green" and "going green" received the most nominations. 

GREEN – The ubiquitous 'Green' and all of its variables, such as 'going green,' 'building green,' 'greening,' 'green technology,' 'green solutions' and more, drew the most attention from those who sent in nominations this year.

CARBON FOOTPRINT or CARBON OFFSETTING – "It is now considered fashionable for everyone, tree hugger or lumberjack alike, to pay money to questionable companies to 'offset' their own 'carbon footprint.

MAVERICK – "The constant repetition of this word for months before the US election diluted whatever meaning it previously had. Even the comic offshoot 'mavericky' was terribly overused.

FIRST DUDE – "Skateboard English is not an appropriate way to refer to the spouse of a high-ranking public official." Paul Ruschmann, Canton, Mich.

BAILOUT – "Use of emergency funds to remove toxic assets from banks' balance sheets is not a bailout. When your cousin calls you from jail in the middle of the night, he wants a bailout." Ben Green, State College, Penn.

WALL STREET/MAIN STREET – "When this little dyad first came into use at the start of the financial crisis, I thought it was a clever use of parallelism. But it's simply over-used.

ICON or ICONIC –  Overused, especially among entertainers and in entertainment news, according to Robyn Yates of Dallas, who says that "every actor, actress and entertainment magazine show overuses this." One of the most-nominated words of the year.

GAME CHANGER Р"It's game OVER for this clich̩, which gets overused in the news media, political arenas and in business." Cynthia, Mt. Pleasant, Mich.

STAYCATION – "Occurrences of this word are going up with gas prices.'Vacation' does not mean 'travel,' nor does travel always involve vacation. Let's send this word on a slow boat to nowhere." Dan Muldoon, Omaha, Neb.

DESPERATE SEARCH – "Every time the news can't find something intelligent to report, they start on a 'desperate search' for someone, somewhere." Rick A. Hyatt, Saratoga, Wyo.

NOT SO MUCH – "I wish that the phrase was used not so much," says Tom Benson of Milwaukee, who notes that it is used widely in news media, especially in sports, i.e. 'The Gophers have a shot at the playoffs; the Chipmunks, not so much.'  

WINNER OF FIVE NOMINATIONS – "It hasn't won an Academy Award yet. It has only been NOMINATED!" John Bohenek, Abilene, Tex.

IT'S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN – Nominated by Kathleen Brosemer of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., for "general overuse and meaninglessness. When is it not 'that time of year again?' From Valentine's sales to year-end charity letters, invitations to summer picnics and Christmas parties, it's 'that time' of year again. Just get to the point of the solicitation, invitation, and newsletter and cut out six useless and annoying words." 

© 2008 Lake Superior State University. 650 W. Easterday Ave., Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783 / (906) 632-6841


Friday, 23 January 2009

World's Most Strangest Phobias

Trichophobia: Fear of loose hairs

Papaphobia: Fear of the Pope

Arachibutyrophobia: Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth

Nomophobia: Fear of being out of mobile phone contact

Ephebiphobia: Fear of teenagers

Scopophobia: Fear of being looked at

Spectrophobia: Fear of mirrors

Phagophobia: Fear of swallowing

Vomitophobia: Fear of vomiting

Triskaidekaphobia: Fear of the number 13

See full article at

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Tom Dooley

"Tom Dooley" is an old North Carolina folk song based on the 1866 murder of a woman named Laura Foster in Wilkes County, North Carolina. It is best known today because of a hit version recorded in 1958 by The Kingston Trio.


Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Soup to nuts / Ab ova ad malum

Q: Have you ever heard the expression "soup to nuts" and what does it mean?

A1: I tend to think about it as "a full course eating experience". You start out with soup or salad and then you end up with a dessert that could consist of something like nuts. When I visit a buffet table, it's a similar thing... I can start out with appetizer and finish with a dessert item. 

A2: Origin of the phrase is from formal dinners that started with a soup course and ended with the last course being a plate of mixed nuts.

They're the courses in a (Victorian?) formal banquet. Soup is the first course, and the nuts are served with the brandy and cigars as the gentlemen retire to the billiards room.

A3: "ab ova ad malum" (Latin) which means from eggs to apples - much the same idea of a complete dinner from appetizers to desserts. 

A4: It means from the very beginning to the very end, including everything in between.


Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Types of Sails

Sails Course · Crab claw · Driver · Extra · Genoa · Gennaker · Jib · Lateen · Mainsail · Moonsail · Royal · Skysail · Spanker · Spinnaker · Spritsail · Staysail · Studding · Topgallant · Topsail · Trysail


Monday, 19 January 2009

Swinging and Dodgy

Swinging and Dodgy were the two catch-phrases popularised by Norman Vaughan as the compere of Sunday Night at the London Palladium in the 1960s. Swinging was accompanied by a thumbs-up, meaning satisfactory. Dodgy was accompanied by a thumbs-down, meaning the opposite.


Sunday, 18 January 2009

Fowlers Editions

The first edition went through several reprints. A reprint whose copyright page mentions "1954" as the most recent reprint notes that reprints in 1930 and 1937 were "with corrections ..."

  • Fowler, Henry Watson (1926). A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, 1st edition, Great Britain: Oxford University Press

The second edition, published in 1965, involved a light revision by Sir Ernest Gowers. Gowers updated and contributed to the existing text, while removing articles "no longer relevant to [current] literary fashions."

  • Fowler, Henry Watson (1965). Fowler's Modern English Usage, edited by Sir Ernest Gowers, 2nd edition, Great Britain: Oxford University Press.

Robert Burchfield edited the third edition. Its preface explains that while "Fowler's name remains on the title-page, ... his book has been largely rewritten." Whereas the first edition was a style guide, i.e. an opinionated view on how to write clearly and expressively, the third edition is a guide to usage, describing how English is spoken and written in practice. This difference in aim perhaps explains why the third edition is so often disliked by admirers of the first.

  • Burchfield, Robert William (1996). The New Fowler's Modern English Usage, 3rd edition, Oxford University Press. 


Saturday, 17 January 2009


The original meaning of the word average is "damage sustained at sea": the same word is found in Arabic as awar, in Italian as avaria and in French as avarie. Hence an average adjuster is a person who assesses an insurable loss.

Marine damage is either particular average, which is borne only by the owner of the damaged property, or general average, where the owner can claim a proportional contribution from all the parties to the marine venture. The type of calculations used in adjusting general average gave rise to the use of "average" to mean "arithmetic mean".


Friday, 16 January 2009


A word introduced because an existing term has become inadequate

"Nobody ever heard of analog clocks until digital clocks became common, so 'analog clock' is a retronym"

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Alternate meanings for common words

The Washington Post has published the winning submissions to its yearly contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words.

And the winners are:

  1. Coffee , n. The person upon whom one coughs.
  2. Flabbergasted , adj Appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.
  3. Abdicate , v. To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
  4. esplanade , v. To attempt an explanation while drunk.
  5. Willy-nilly , adj. Impotent.
  6. Negligent , adj. Absentmindedly answering the door when wearing only a nightgown.
  7. Lymph , v. To walk with a lisp.
  8. Gargoyle , n. Olive-flavored mouthwash.
  9. Flatulence , n. Emergency vehicle that picks up someone who has been run over by a steamroller.
  10. Balderdash , n. A rapidly receding hairline..
  11. Testicle , n. A humorous question on an exam.
  12. Rectitude , n. The formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
  13. Pokemon , n.. A Rastafarian proctologist.
  14. Oyster , n. A person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.
  15. Frisbeetarianism , n. The belief that, after death, the soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.
  16. Circumvent , n. An opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men

from alt.usage.english

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Bennie Railplane

George Bennie was born at Pollokshaws, Glasgow, in 1892, the son of an engineer. In his youth he began to show signs of his ability as an inventor and several patents were registered in his name.

During the 1920s, he turned his attention to a revolutionary new concept of public transport. His idea was to get railways off of the ground and into the air. Bennie believed that fast passenger traffic should be separated from the slower heavy goods trains.

Essentially a monorail, the 'railplane' would be built above the existing railway system as a passenger-only service, while the slower freight trains would travel below. Bennie hoped that his invention would regain revenue which had been lost because of rail inefficiency.

During 1929-30 Bennie built a test track at Burnbrae, Milngavie, above an existing railway branch line. The result was like a scene from a Jules Verne novel. The strange looking contraption was more like a giant cigar than the latest mode of transport. The car was suspended from a 130-metre girder, while wheels underneath ran on a stabilizer rail to prevent the car from oscillating from side to side. The car was powered by a large propeller at either end. It was said to be capable of travelling at 120mph.

The railplane was built by Beardmores, the firm that created the R34 airship. It was fitted out in contemporary style, with carpeted flooring and panelled ceilings.

The official launch, on July 8th 1930, received a great deal of publicity. During succeeding weeks many visitors came to admire and travel on the revolutionary new invention. It looked as if the Bennie Transport System couldn't fail. The railway companies were interested because of the lower cost of the railplane as compared to an ordinary railway.

Sadly, George Bennie was never able to find financial backing for further development of the system. He had invested large amounts of his own money in the construction of the test track and by 1937 was said to be bankrupt. He died in obscurity in 1957. The railplane and track remained in position at Burnbrae until 1956, when it was sold for scrap.


Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Wrench or Spanner?

A wrench or spanner is a tool used to provide a mechanical advantage in applying torque to turn bolts, nuts or other hard-to-turn items.

In American English, wrench is the standard term, while spanner refers to a specialized wrench with a series of pins or tabs around the circumference. (These pins or tabs fit into the holes or notches cut into the object to be turned.)

In British English, spanner is the standard term. Hinged tools, such as pliers or tongs, are not generally considered wrenches.

From Pocket Wikipedia,

Monday, 12 January 2009

Magnetic Portals Connect Earth to the Sun

Researchers have discovered 'magnetic portals' forming high above Earth that can briefly connect our planet to the Sun. Not only are the portals common, one space physicist contends they form twice as often as anyone had previously imagined.

See full story at

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Next of Kin

The issue of whether or not you would be recognised as your partner’s next of kin in the event of an emergency is something that worries many cohabiting couples. Would you be given information about your partner’s condition? And would you even be allowed to see them in hospital? Might your family even argue about who was your next of kin?

Despite the widespread use of the phrase, ‘next of kin’ is not defined by the law. Therefore, there is no reason that your partner shouldn’t be treated as your ‘next of kin’ despite the fact that you are not married. However, in practice hospitals have generally recognised spouses and close blood relatives as next of kin and have sometimes excluded cohabiting partners. This has been more common with same-sex partners, but has also happened to male-female partners.

As attitudes have changed and families have become more diverse, most hospitals are more flexible. The policy in most NHS trusts is to ask you to nominate your next of kin formally on your admission to hospital.

However, if you are unable to say, because, for example, you are unconscious, they will try to work out who is the person closest to you. They may get this wrong, particularly if your personal circumstances are confusing or "unusual" (for example, if you consider your best friend to be your next of kin, rather than your dad).


Thursday, 8 January 2009

Councils ban use of Latin terms

A number of local councils in Britain have banned their staff from using Latin words, because they say they might confuse people.

Several local authorities have ruled that phrases like "vice versa", "pro rata", and even "via" should not be used, in speech or in writing.

See full story at

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

I and Me

Picture this: Jesse Kasserman, a high school senior with a strong academic record and high hopes, walks into the office of Dr. James, an admission representative of XYZ University. “Thank you for inviting my mom and I to see the campus,” he says. The college representative cringes.

Jesse might have blown the interview already. Why? Jesse should have said “my mom and me.” Smart people everywhere agonize over the misuse of “I” and “me.” It’s one of the  most common mistakes in word usage.

People seem to fear the word “me.” Why? Maybe the word “me” reminds us of baby talk, and that makes us nervous. You would never say “Me want a sandwich,” after all. That would be very embarrassing.

But to many people, it sounds just as wrong to hear “The secret is just between you and I.” It’s just wrong.

The official explanation is, “I” is a nominative pronoun and is used as a subject of a sentence or clause, while “me” is an objective pronoun and used as an object.

Sound too technical? Then think of this:

The trouble with “me” usually begins when speakers are stringing together two or more objects in a sentence. “I” is not an objective case word, but people try to plug it in as an object because it just sounds smarter.

All you have to do is leave out the second object. Look over these examples, and you’ll see it’s really simple.

You might be tempted to say:

WRONG: “Would you explain that to John and I?”

But then, when you omit the other object, you’ll have:

WRONG: “Would you explain that to I?”

Now that just sounds silly.

Try this:

RIGHT: “Would you explain that to John and me?”

RIGHT: “Would you explain that to me?”


Tuesday, 6 January 2009


Woman's fishy-smelling mystery solved

A WOMAN who spent four decades puzzled by a pungent body odour resembling rotting fish has finally had the smell explained by Australian doctors.  The woman has been diagnosed with an incurable genetic condition called trimethylaminuria, or fish malodour syndrome, which affects the smell of sweat, breath and urine ...

By Tamara McLean, October 19, 2008, at,23599,24520524-13762,00.html

Monday, 5 January 2009

Swimming in treacle?

On 15 January, 1919, a huge tank of molasses collapsed in Boston, Massachusetts, causing a gigantic wave of the black, sticky liquid to rush through the city - leaving trains and houses in its wake. 21 people died in the disaster, and it took months to clean up the mess.


Sunday, 4 January 2009

The Philological Society

The Philological Society is the oldest learned society in Great Britain dedicated to the study of language. The society was established in 1842 to "investigate and promote the study and knowledge of the structure, the affinities, and the history of languages".


Saturday, 3 January 2009

Britain's most irritating expressions

Researchers at Oxford University have compiled a top ten of the most irritating expressions.

  1. At the end of the day
  2. Fairly unique
  3. I personally
  4. At this moment in time
  5. With all due respect
  6. Absolutely
  7. It's a nightmare
  8. Shouldn't of
  9. 24/7
  10. It's not rocket science


Friday, 2 January 2009

What, me worry?

Alfred E. Neuman is the fictional mascot of Mad Magazine.

Neuman's famous catch phrase is the intellectually uncurious "What, me worry?" This was changed for one issue to "Yes, me worry!" after the Three Mile Island nuclear meltdown in 1979. On the cover of current printings of the paperback The Ides of Mad, as rendered by long-time cover artist Norman Mingo, Alfred is portrayed as a Roman bust with his catch phrase engraved on the base, translated, of course, into Latin-- Quid, Me Vexari?