Sunday, 24 August 2014


A game in which trinkets are set upon sticks, to be thrown at by the players; -- so called from an ancient popular sport which consisted in shying or throwing cudgels at live cocks.


Friday, 22 August 2014

Uptalk, the upward inflection

You know how it sounds.  That upward inflection makes every sentence sound like a question, whether you wanted to ask a question or were striving for something else.



The high rising terminal (HRT), also known as Uptalk, upspeak, rising inflection, or high rising intonation (HRI), is a feature of some accents of English where ostensibly declarative statements are uttered on a rising note of apology or inquiry.



Whether it's called the upward inflection, high-rising terminal or simply "uptalk", the habit of making statements sound like questions is a genuine linguistic mystery


Tuesday, 19 August 2014

George Carlin on stupidity

Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.


Friday, 15 August 2014

Events, dear boy, events.

Harold Macmillan’s response to a journalist when asked what is most likely to blow governments off course.

The quote is also given as "Events, my dear boy, events", with the word "my", but it may never have been uttered at all.


Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Up the ante

Upping the ante comes from betting games.

The ante is the amount that all players must commit to the "pot" before the game begins.

The pot is what is won in the game, and will be the total of the ante plus all bets during the game.

Because a player must at minimum "ante up," or pay the ante, in order to be allowed to play the game, upping the ante can quickly demonstrate how serious, committed, and solvent a player is.

The significance of "upping the ante" is that it increases the overall cost of the game, hence the idiomatic meaning of "increasing the cost or risk of something."


Thursday, 7 August 2014

Deaver on outrunning a bear

"You know how fast you have to be to outrun a bear, Corte?"

"How fast?"

"Just a little faster than the guy with you."

From Edge, by Jeffery Deaver

Wednesday, 6 August 2014


Geneviève Guitel was a female French mathematician. She is mostly remembered for the introduction of the terms échelle longue and échelle courte (long scale and short scale) to refer to two of the main numbering systems used around the world.

See more at

Friday, 1 August 2014

The world's deepest lock

In December 2005's Waterways World, we looked for the world's deepest lock - and found it at Oskemen, in Kazakhstan. Here's how we described it:

Oskemen is on a resurgent river route from northern China to Russia. Its rise of 40m-42m (around 138ft) is seven times the deepest on the British canal system.

See full article at