Friday, 30 November 2012

British Imperial Measures

Imperial measures are still being used in Britain, even though there's no empire any more. European legislation is slicing the official use of these awkward measures away bit by bit, but speed and distance are still measured in miles and beer in pints. A road sign saying "Wickhill 1m" doesn't mean that you'll find Wickhill 1 metre ahead of you, but 1 mile. Angry readers have complained to newspapers for years about the ongoing conversion to the more practical metric system. The official use of the Imperial measures may go away, but try changing it in the heads of the British.

Obviously, if Imperial measures were to disappear completely, daily language might suffer a bit. Instead of saying "the cat was inching its way across the lawn", one would have to say "the cat was centimetering its way across the lawn", which sounds a bit awkward. Also, "yardstick" would have to be "metrestick", you'd have to order 568 millilitres of beer instead of a pint at the pub, and airmiles would become air1.6kilometres. Car mileage would become 1.6kilometreage and a milestone a 1.6kilometrestone. The English language might end up taking up as much space as French, so many Britons might wonder if the metrification is just another French plot meant to reduce British competitiveness.

The real problem that the British have with the metric system is that it was invented by the French and so by definition must be suspicious. While trying to figure out where the catch is, the British prefer playing it safe and stick with their Imperial measures that have served the Empire so well for centuries.

See full article at

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

A stand-up made wise guy

Made guy: an indoctrinated member of the Family. Essentially, you pledge your allegiance to the boss and the family for life. To even qualify, your mother has to be Italian.

Stand-up guy: someone who refuses to rat out the Family no matter what the pressure, offer, or threat.

Wiseguy: a made guy.

See more Mobspeak: The Language of the Mafia at

Saturday, 24 November 2012

coup de grâce

Late 17th century, from French coup de grâce (“finishing blow”). Originally referring to a merciful stroke putting a fatally wounded person out of misery or to the shot delivered to the head of a prisoner after facing a firing squad.


Friday, 23 November 2012

Top Ten Most Dangerous Jobs

#1 - Fishing

#2 - Logging Workers

#3 - Aircraft Pilots and Flight Engineers

#4 - Refuse and Recyclable Material Collectors

#5 - Roofers

#6 …

See full list at

Sunday, 18 November 2012

The longest combined vehicle-railroad tunnel in North America

Between the city of Whittier and Alaska's interior looms Maynard Mountain, known for subzero, 150-mph winds, but, thanks to engineers, the port has vital highway access to the other side.

Rather than go over, around, or blast a way through, they modified a railroad tunnel for use by motor vehicles.

At 2.5 mi., the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel is North America's longest dual-use tunnel.

Because it's only one-lane wide, computers control the direction of traffic and prevent vehicles from being inside at the same time as a train. Jet engine fans help clean the tunnel's air, and the entryways are specially built to withstand avalanches.


Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Baconer or Porker?

Baconer. A finished pig sold for bacon. Older and larger than a porker.

Porker. A finished pig sold for pork. The youngest grade of adult pigmeat.


Sunday, 11 November 2012

The most terrifying ultimatum a working man can get ...

No, not withdrawal of my conjugal rights.

It was far worse than that, “Breakfast or Beer”; your choice…one or the other!

See full article at

Thursday, 8 November 2012

City and South London Railway

The City and South London Railway (C&SLR) was the first deep-level underground "tube" railway in the world, and the first major railway to use electric traction. The railway was originally intended for cable-hauled trains, but owing to the bankruptcy of the cable contractor during construction, a system of electric traction – an experimental technology at the time – was chosen instead.

Today, its tunnels and stations form the Bank branch and Kennington to Morden section of the London Underground's Northern line.


Saturday, 3 November 2012

The Bic Biro

Invented by Ladislao Biro

Patented and marketed by Marcel Bich

First produced 1950 and still going strong

The Bic Biro is a ballpoint pen approximately 145mm long and diameter of 9mm.

The transparent barrel is hexagonal.

It is made from polystyrene (transparent barrel), polypropylene (lid), tungsten carbide (ball) and brass/nickel silver (tip).

It comes in a choice of 4 ink colours: blue, black, red and green.

The colour of the lid and the end cap indicate the colour of the ink.

The point size of the Bic Cristal is one millimetre and it will write for a distance of between two to three kilometres.