Wednesday, 31 July 2013

C & H

Calvin and Hobbes

That's It

Trying to eke out the the meagre remains of our data allowance to give us a final crack tomorrow, the start of yet another new month.  Laters.

The High Life

Have you ever wondered where the world’s most affluent people stay when they go on vacation? It’s no secret that an unlimited budget can take you anywhere in the world, but what are some of the world’s most exclusive accommodations  The following are 5 of the most luxurious places to stay in the world:
Villa Bellissima VI, Tuscany
This 800- year old farming village sits on a rural hillside in the province of Siena in Tuscany. Although newly restored, many structures in this villa have been left untouched to signify prior ownership by the powerful Sienese family. This villa has 22 suites in the manor house and 4 Tuscan farmhouses. Guests will enjoy a formal dining room and outdoor dining terrace, grand piano in the living room, theatre room, library, bar, wine tasting room, professional kitchen, arcaded courtyard and various benches and gazebos in an extensive garden space. There is also a 60 ft oval swimming pool, state of the art gym, spa, and basketball and tennis courts.
Villa Bellissima VI, Tuscany
Price: $19,570 per night
Frequently visited by guest such as Kanye West and T-Pain, this two- story 9000 sq.ft suite modeled after the Playboy Mansion features three bedrooms, an eight-foot rotating bed, terrace with outdoor pool and sunbathing area, private spa room, butler service, poker table, full wet bar, Indoor water features, private glass elevator, $700,000 Jacuzzi and a spectacular view of the strip!
Hugh Hefner Sky Villa
Price: $40,000 per night
Nygard Cay, Bahamas
This stunning private island features 10 bedrooms, 2 pools, multiple waterslides, human aquarium, 5 Jacuzzi’s, 85 ft yacht with 2 state rooms, tennis courts, volleyball courts, 24 seat movie theatre, 32,000 sq. Ft grand- hall, 100,000 pound glass ceiling, 2 Hummers and a 48ft fishing vessel. Nagard Cay is located at the end of Lyford Cay in Nassau. Former guests at this 6 acre dreamland have included Oprah Winfrey, Sean Connery, Robert DeNiro and former President George H.W. Bush. If you are interested in visiting The Cay, Peter Nygard’s own private Boeing 727 may be available to pick your group up from anywhere around the world!
Nygard Cay Bahamas
Price: $47,000 per night
Built by Sir Richard Branson, this 74 acre island located just north of Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands. The island operates like a resort with 60 staff members, and accommodation for up to 28 guests. Accommodation is split between six Bali Houses (1 bedroom each), and the Temple House, which is Richard Branson’s home that consists of a master bedroom and a separate house called the Love Temple. All eight rooms have private en-suite bathrooms. Features on this island include virtually every water sport you can think of, infinity pools, hiking, fancy dress parties, casino nights, bbq’s on the beach, and over 200 flamingos!
Necker Island
Price: $52,000 per night
The Royal Penthouse Suite is one of the world’s most exclusive and expensive hotels rooms. This elegant 18,000 sq. ft suite occupies the entire eighth floor of the hotel and is truly fit for royalty. The suite comprises of 12 bedrooms, 12 bathrooms, 26 seat dining room, private elevator, billiard room, salon, library, guard room and access to a helipad. Nearly every room in this suite has views of Lake Geneva and the Alps, even the bathrooms. Safety and privacy is no concern in this penthouse. Safety features include bulletproof widows, panic buttons, human-sized safe and armored doors, which make this a perfect place to stay for celebrities, government officials and anyone seeking privacy. You can’t find a more luxurious suite in the world!
Royal Penthouse Suite
Price: $81,000 per night
A Luxury Travel Blog


American test set at the turn of last century for twelve year olds.  Reckon you'd pass?

Ageing Hangovers

New research reveals hangovers hit hardest at the age of 29, so while you may think you can still drink with the best of them, if you’re on the cusp of your 30s the comedown will last ten hours and 24 minutes- nearly an hour longer than the average.

The average is said to last nine hours and 45 minutes, with the discomfort reaching its peak at 09:45 the morning after.

Glaswegians were found to be able to shake off a sore head the fastest, in just six hours, while those from Bristol took the longest.  The research also found Britons take an average of six sick days a year because of hangovers.

In the Pink Corner

Pope Francis not judging Gays
Pope Francis has clarified his comments on homosexuals, insisting he is happy to judge them when they perform on stage before him.
After being forced to clarify his comments by angry Vatican officials, the Pope said he would be delighted to be mean and bitchy to any homosexual who sang or performed in front of him.
Pope Francis went on, “Look, I’m a Catholic at the end of the day, so if I didn’t have the chance to look down my nose at a few homosexuals every now and again I’d probably explode.”
“Can you get me one with a dancing dog? They’re always really bad – so I could give them a proper piece of my mind.”
“I bet they’d put the dog in sequins, too. Ridiculous behaviour. Sinful, definitely.”

Pope on homosexuals

The Vatican this morning also sought to reassure Catholics everywhere that they can continue thinking of homosexuals as evil sinners, unless they decide to not give in to their urges.
An official explained, “What we’re saying to our followers is that if these gay men happen to take a vow of chastity, and then choose to spend their lives surrounded by other men in garish frocks and funny hats – but somehow stop themselves touching those other men, then that’s just fine.”
“Maybe they could stay in God’s good graces by finding some other release for those sinful urges?”
“Maybe a release that’s not explicitly mentioned in the Bible so is almost certainly OK in the eyes of the Lord?”
“And no, before you ask, there is no mention of altar boys in the Bible.”

So What Are They?

Ten new legal highs were identified last year by a specialist team set up to monitor sales of drugs on-line, in shops and at music festivals, it has emerged.  Samples of them were collected and tested under the Home Office’s forensic early warning system, which involves police, border officials and scientists.

The initiative has led to drugs such as Benzofury being temporarily outlawed and methoxetamine becoming a class B drug.

More at Metro

Keep Away

The major downside of a society that promotes free speech is that most people are essentially despicable shits, according to social network Twitter.
With a large rise in the number of abusive messages sent via the micro-messaging platform, many have asked Twitter to step in and take steps to prevent it.
Twitter Chief Executive Dick Costolo told reporters, “Before we start looking at the technology, how about we do something as a society about people being reprehensible bastards, all of the bloody time?”
“No technology on the planet is capable of stopping someone being a complete dick.”
“And unfortunately there’s an awful lot of them out there. The chances are you know at least one complete prick online, and if you don’t, then it’s probably you.”

Twitter abuse

Technologists have suggested that steps could be taken to prevent online abuse by sticking a penis to the profile picture of anyone found to have abused another user online.
Tech Analyst Simon Williams told us, “It might be the staple of every primary school playground, but no-one likes a picture of a penis stuck to them. Particularly not on the Internet where everyone can see it.”
“Maybe Twitter could have a specialist Photoshop team dedicated to turning online abusers into cock-suckers? You know, as a deterrent?”
“Yes it’s very juvenile, but since we’re dealing with morons we might just have to sink to their level.”

Simple Options

Government go home immigration ads
The government has admitted it is much cheaper to spend money on adverts on the side of buses than it is to educate people about the reality of immigration.
The Government has spoken of the success of its bus-based campaign aimed at people who think this sort of thing has any effect at all on immigration.
A Whitehall source told us, “None of these people want to know about policy changes, or the stark realities of complex familial cases around immigration.  They just want to know that we want them to go home.”
“Let’s be clear, these ads aren’t for the immigrants – they’re for the simple-minded voter to show them that we’re doing something.”
“Even if that something is just convincing simple-minded voters that we’re doing something.”
“I think the recent success of UKIP shows this is a winning strategy.”

Illegal immigrants targeted with ads

Illegal immigrant Shane Williams told us, “Admittedly some of us live in fear of the immigration services breaking down our doors in the middle of the night.”
“What we don’t live in fear of is the number 66 bus driving past with a message most of us can’t read.”
“But if it makes a few morons happy then who are we to mind?”

World Happiness Index 2012

Let's hear it for Scandinavia...

1. Denmark
2. Finland
3. Switzerland
4. Norway
5. Sweden
Source: The Earth Institute, Columbia University


The Official Dilbert Website featuring Scott Adams Dilbert strips, animations and more

In the Dock

German prosecutors have charged Uli Hoeness, president of European football champions Bayern Munich, with tax evasion after a lengthy inquiry.  Lawyers for Hoeness have one month to respond to the charges before a court in Munich decides whether the case should go to trial.

Good for Him

Former Newcastle goalkeeper Steve Harper is "honoured" an AC Milan legends team will face a Magpies all-star side in his 20 year charity game.  Alan Shearer, Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini are among the players confirmed for the match on 11 September.

Proceeds from the game will benefit The Great North Children's Hospital, Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and Newcastle United Foundation.

More at the Beeb

Fag Addiction

When someone says a substance is addictive, they can mean two separate things. Physically addictive, more accurately physically dependent, is when your body begins to depend on the presence of a particular substance for its physical well being. It’s begun compensating its normal processes to adjust for the new artificial normal. The sudden absence of that substance won’t allow enough time for the body to compensate without the substance. The result will be withdrawal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, chest pains, head and body aches, seizures, uncontrolled body sweats, and shortness of breath.

Alcohol is a great example. If you don’t normally consume it, and then all of a sudden decide to drink like a college student on spring break, your body would be unable to compensate for the sudden influx of booze and you will get nauseated, most likely puke, could have seizures, become unconscious and potentially stop breathing. The same thing happens when you decide to go on a two-year-long spring break bender and then suddenly stop. The body, once again, is unable to compensate for what it considers abnormal.

Substances that are considered to be addictive, yet do not cause the physical withdrawal symptoms when suddenly stopped, tend to be classified as being psychologically addictive, not physically dependent. Meaning the person might still crave the substance, like a stereotypical fat cop does doughnuts, but won’t have to deal with the physical withdrawals that go along with other substances.

Gambling, high risk behaviors like bungee jumping and skydiving, or anything considered psychologically addictive, and yet doesn’t cause physical dependence, tend to stimulate the reward centers of the brain and cause the person to crave whatever action will cause further stimulation. Just try and ring a bell around Pavlov’s dogs and see if they don’t go a little crazy for the reward to come.

Nicotine, like other substances such as heroin, and alcohol, has been shown to cause some level of physical dependence as well as causing the cravings associated with being psychologically addicted. To understand why, let’s talk about what affects nicotine has on the body.

Nicotine is a natural substance produced by a family of plants known as Solanaceae or Nightshade. Dried tobacco leaves contain between .6-3% nicotine. The drug acts on what are known as nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (NCR’s) and affects two main areas of the body- one called the adrenal medulla, and the other affects the central nervous system (CNS).

Inside of the CNS, nicotine binds to those NCR’s and causes the release of several “feel-good” neurotransmitters like dopamine.

Tobacco smoke also contains several substances known as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAO). MAO’s enzymes are responsible for breaking down “feel-good” neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. The result is more of these neurotransmitters circulating than would otherwise be. When you smoke tobacco, nicotine is able to begin acting on these receptors within about 7 seconds and has a half life of around 2 hours. This sudden reward pathway is one of the reasons some people think nicotine cravings are so intense.

Inside of your adrenal medulla (and several other areas of the body) by binding to NCR’s, nicotine will cause an increase in the amount of calcium that is infused into your cells. The result is a release of the hormone epinephrine (adrenaline). This will cause an increase in your blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood sugar levels. The stuff “adrenaline-junkie” dreams are made of!

One of the under-talked about problems with nicotine is it’s toxicity. NCR’s will increase the amount of neurotransmitter released in response to the amount of nicotine present. The more nicotine in your system, the more toxic the reaction. The average amount of absorbed nicotine in a cigarette is about 1mg. At those levels, all the feel good centers of the brain are working like a charm. The higher the dose, the more unwanted the reaction. Things like nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, headaches, muscle spasms will progress into seizures, low blood pressures, respiratory failure, and finally around 40-60 milligrams, it will kill you.

The physical and psychological addictive properties of nicotine revolve around your body compensating for these increases in neurotransmitters and hormones. When you stop taking in nicotine the body begins compensating by either increasing or decreasing their release. The end result is the body trying to continue adjusting for nicotine in your system. AKA, withdrawals.

Physical withdrawals with nicotine are considered to be much more mild than withdrawals from other drugs like heroin, alcohol, and methamphetamine’s. Depending on the length of time and amount of nicotine used, the symptoms will vary in intensity and length. They usually begin around 2-3 hours after the last nicotine ingestion and peak at around 2-3 days. The symptoms include anxiety, depression, trouble sleeping, drowsiness, headaches, increased appetite, problems concentrating and feelings of restlessness and frustration. Once the body is able to begin secreting the correct amount of neurotransmitters and hormones to deal with your nicotine-free existence, the remaining addiction tends to be psychological and revolves around cravings.

The psychologically mediated factors around nicotine addiction are thought to be more responsible than the physical factors in the difficulty in becoming nicotine-free. In several withdrawal symptom studies, participants quitting smoking continually listed cravings as the thing having the most negative affects when trying to quit. While most listed physical side effects as an issue, it was the cravings that had more of an impact on them relapsing. Curse you Pavlov! So the physical side effects in this case are typically gone within several days after one’s last nicotine ingestion, but cravings can sometimes last for years.

So, in the end, the higher the dose, the greater the chance of toxic side effects. The more you use it, the greater chance you have of getting cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. If you do get these diseases and you continue smoking, the greater chance you will have of dying from them. So, needless to say, if you’re a smoker, there are probably few things you can do for yourself that will benefit your long term well-being, and the happiness of those who love you, more than quitting smoking or using other tobacco products, as difficult as that stopping can be. If you happen to also be overweight and a smoker, then whew, you’ve got your work cutout for you. But in the end, fixing both of those problems, hopefully including a healthy dose of regular exercise and eating lots of veggies and fruit with the fix, will be well worth it for your quality and length of life, and will even save you a boatload of money with fewer medical bills and saving the cost of cigarettes and the like.


Letters of Note

In March of 1970, having been shown an advertisement for the newly-published book in the New York Times, Coca-Cola brand manager Ira C. Herbert wrote to Grove Press and asked that they stop using the quote "it's the real thing"—a slogan associated with the soft-drink since the 1940s—when promoting Diary of a Harlem SchoolteacherJim Haskins' classic first-hand account of life as an African-American teacher in 1960s Harlem, New York. A few days later, Grove Press's Richard Seaver responded defiantly with a letter that was both hugely entertaining and instantly effective, as it resulted in silence from the beverage behemoth from that point on. The full exchange can be read below.

(Letters very kindly submitted by Robert Wood, Sammamish High School; Image: Richard Seaver (left) at work at Grove Press, via Reality Studio.)

March 25, 1970

Mr. R. W. Seaver
Executive Vice President
Grove Press, Inc.
214 Mercer Street
New York, New York 10012

Dear Mr. Seaver:

Several people have called to our attention your advertisement for Diary of a Harlem Schoolteacher by Jim Haskins, which appeared in the New York Times March 3, 1970. The theme of the ad is "This book is like a's the real thing."

Since our company has made use of "It's the Real Thing" to advertise Coca-Cola long prior to the publication of the book, we are writing to ask you to stop using this theme or slogan in connection with the book.

We believe you will agree that it is undesirable for our companies to make simultaneous use of "the real thing" in connection with our respective products. There will always be likelihood of confusion as to the source or sponsorship of the goods, and the use by such prominent companies would dilute the distinctiveness of the trade slogan and diminish its effectiveness and value as an advertising and merchandising tool.

"It's the Real Thing" was first used in advertising for Coca-Cola over twenty-seven years ago to refer to our product. We first used it in print advertising in 1942 and extended it to outdoor advertising, including painted walls—some of which are still displayed throughout the country. The line has appeared in advertising for Coca-Cola during succeeding years. For example, in 1954 we used "There's this about Coke—You Can't Beat the Real Thing" in national advertising. We resumed national use of "It's the Real Thing" in the summer of 1969 and it is our main thrust for 1970.

Please excuse my writing so fully, but I wanted to explain why we feel it necessary to ask you and your associates to use another line to advertise Mr. Haskins' book.

We appreciate your cooperation and your assurance that you will discontinue the use of "It's the real thing."

Ira C. Herbert


March 31, 1970

Mr. Ira C. Herbert
Coca-Cola USA
P.O. Drawer 1734
Atlanta, Georgia 30301

Dear Mr. Herbert:

Thank you for your letter of March 25th, which has just reached me, doubtless because of the mail strike.

We note with sympathy your feeling that you have a proprietary interest in the phrase "It's the real thing," and I can fully understand that the public might be confused by our use of the expression, and mistake a book by a Harlem schoolteacher for a six-pack of Coca-Cola. Accordingly, we have instructed all our salesmen to notify bookstores that whenever a customer comes in and asks for a copy of Diary of a Harlem Schoolteacher they should request the sales personnel to make sure that what the customer wants is the book, rather than a Coke. This, we think, should protect your interest and in no way harm ours.

We would certainly not want to dilute the distinctiveness of your trade slogan nor diminish its effectiveness as an advertising and merchandising tool, but it did occur to us that since the slogan is so closely identified with your product, those who read our ad may well tend to go out and buy a Coke rather than our book. We have discussed this problem in an executive committee meeting, and by a vote of seven to six decided that, even if this were the case, we would be happy to give Coke the residual benefit of our advertising.

Problems not unsimilar to the ones you raise in your letter have occurred to us in the past. You may recall that we published Games People Play which became one of the biggest nonfiction best-sellers of all time, and spawned conscious imitations (Games Children PlayGames Psychiatrists PlayGames Ministers Play, etc.). I am sure you will agree that this posed a far more direct and deadly threat to both the author and ourselves than our use of "It's the real thing." Further, Games People Play has become part of our language, and one sees it constantly in advertising, as a newspaper headline, etc. The same is true of another book which we published six or seven years ago, One Hundred Dollar Misunderstanding.

Given our strong sentiments concerning the First Amendment, we will defend to the death your right to use "It's the real thing" in any advertising you care to. We would hope you would do the same for us, especially when no one here or in our advertising agency, I am sorry to say, realized that you owned the phrase. We were merely quoting in our ads Peter S. Prescott's review of Diary of a Harlem Schoolteacher in Look which begins "Diary of a Harlem Schoolteacher is the real thing, a short, spare, honest book which will, I suspect, be read a generation hence as a classic..."

With all best wishes,

Sincerely yours,
Richard Seaver


Raindrops are not tear shaped, they more resemble the shape of a tiny hamburger bun.


If you speak one language, you’re a normal, functioning human being. If you speak two, you’re bilingual. If you speak three, you’re trilingual- four and you’re quadrilingual. But what about if you speak 10? Or 20? Or 30? Well, then you’re considered a polyglot or a hyperpolyglot depending on how awesome a word you think you deserve to describe your mastery of the spoken word. (*Note: technically a polyglot is usually used to describe someone who speaks more than 6 languages whereas a hyper-polyglot is used to describe someone who speaks over 12.)

Like many of our words, the term, polyglot is Greek in origin, coming from the Greek word, polyglōttos, which roughly translates to “many tongued”. Now you’d think that discovering the person who spoke the most languages would be as simple as searching for it on the Guinness Book of World Records site, but alas, even the almighty Guinness doesn’t know, or at least despite our sincerest efforts, we couldn’t find such a record in their catalog, which is perhaps why you posed the question to us in the first place.

The problem seems to lie in the fact that the definition of what it takes to be able to “speak” a language varies greatly from source to source and person to person. Is a person who can hold basic conversation in 100 languages more impressive than a person who has mastered reading and writing in 50? Is being able to speak in 10 different regional dialects the same as being able to speak 10 completely different languages? It’s questions like these that make it very unlikely that we’ll ever truly know the identity of the most gifted polyglot in history, but we have a fairly good idea on a few people who should at least be considered.

In terms of living people, a candidate for the record holder is Ziad Fazah, who reportedly claims to speak around 60 languages, the exact number isn’t clear. However, in one television appearance, Ziad was stumped by basic questions in several languages he’d previously claimed to be fluent in. That’s not to detract from the fact that Ziad has proven he’s able to speak a pretty ridiculous number of languages and he may have studied and once been fluent in the languages he was stumped in, and simply forgotten them; but it throws into question his claim of being able to currently speak 60 or more.

A more verifiable living polyglot is one Alexander Arguelles, who has a working understanding of around 50. Again, the number isn’t clear, even in interviews, Alexander very rarely puts a hard figure on the number of languages he can speak and understand, stating only that “Now, I can read about three dozen languages and speak most of them fluently, and I’ve studied many more“.

In Alexander’s case, he puts his amazing gift for language down to thousands of hours of study and work. A sentiment that is echoed by other living hyper-polyglots, for example, Richard Donner, who speaks and understands 20 different languages. In Richard’s case, though, he’s still a teenager, so he has the potential to speak and understand as many, if not more languages than Alexander some day. It should be noted that Richard also refuses to bother learning “easy” languages like Spanish, in lieu of learning more difficult ones like Urdu and Russian.

If you’re wondering why everyone listed so far has been male, there may or may not be a reason for that. In the book, Babel No More: The Search for the World’s Most Extraordinary Language Learners, it’s noted that polyglotism is almost universally found in males, though no one yet knows whether there is a concrete reason for this, or if it’s just a bizarre coincidence. Some have put forward the idea that the most extreme cases of polyglotism are linked to autism, using the work of professor Simon Baron-Cohen, a leading expert on autism, as the basis for their theory. According to professor Baron-Cohen, people with autism tend to have an “extreme male brain”- his words, not mine- which leads them to feel compelled to master certain systems, such as language. And, in case you’re wondering, yes, Simon Baron-Cohen is related to Borat star, Sacha Baron-Cohen. They’re cousins.

In the book noted above, the 18th and 19th century Cardinal Giuseppe Caspar Mezzofanti is used as an example of a true polyglot, reportedly being able to speak or understand 72 languages. Again, no one is sure of the exact figures, some place it as high 72, whereas others say it was around 30. Regardless, Cardinal Mezzofanti’s skills with language were legendary in his time. The reason for the vast difference in the number of languages Mezzofanti was reported to have spoken stems from the fact he spoke many different dialects, which some scholars argue were so different in nature that they should technically count as entirely separate languages. Even discounting his dialects, Mezzofanti was known to be able to speak Turkish, Arabic, German, Chinese, Russian and around two dozen other languages with “rare excellence”. Considering he lived in 19th century, the fact he even came into contact with this many languages and found adequate books on the subjects to study, let alone learned to speak the languages fluently enough to converse with people in them, is hugely impressive.

A more recent example of a hyper-polyglot is one Emil Krebs, who spoke a reported 65 different languages. Fun fact, Krebs took great enjoyment in the fact that he could translate the phrase “kiss my ass” into 40 different languages. When told that it’d be impossible to learn every language on Earth, Krebs asked which language would be the hardest to learn and mastered the hell out of that on principle. If you’re curious, the language Krebs eventually settled on as the hardest was Chinese. Krebs affinity for language was so great that when he died in 1930, his brain was sent off for scientific study where it presumably exploded into a cloud of foreign expletives the second a researcher cut into it.

But perhaps the greatest number of languages claimed to be spoken by a single person is over 100. Yes, 100, with two zeroes. This claim was made by one, Sir John Bowring, the 4th governor of Hong Kong. In his life, Bowring was reportedly familiar with 200 languages, and was supposedly able to commune with others in 100 of them. However, other than the fact that he and others close to him claimed he could speak this many languages, little else has ever been recorded about how proficient he was in any of them. Although, seeing as he lived his entire life as an obsessive student of language, many historians think this claim may not completely far fetched.

So the next time you think someone is impressive for speaking two languages, remember that there are quite a few people who can speak dozens, and there may have been a guy who spoke over a hundred.



Fred Tate seemed destined for a life of near-obscurity.

He had been trundling away in county cricket for more than a decade, steadily taking wickets for Sussex.

But 1902 was different. Appalling weather spiced up pitches to allow this moustachioed, corpulent off-spinner to become a menace to all who faced him.

At the same time, England and Australia were engaged in one of the greatest Ashes series in history - up there with 1981 and 2005.
With Australia 1-0 up, England had to triumph in the penultimate game at Old Trafford to have a chance of winning the series.

So the selectors, to the surprise of many, plumped for Tate, at the expense of the legendary all-rounder George Hirst.

Tate made his debut in the Old Trafford game, which started on his 35th birthday.

On the first day, the peerless Australia opener Victor Trumper scored a century before lunch, but the tourists were bowled out for 299. Tate bowled tightly without taking a wicket.

England, in reply, conceded a slight lead before Australia, amid rainy weather, collapsed to 10-3 in their second innings.

Shortly afterwards, Tate committed the error for which he has been damned for more than a century.

With Joe Darling on just 17, Tate was moved out to deep square leg for the last ball of an over.

He never fielded in the deep for Sussex, but reluctantly did the bidding of England skipper Archie MacLaren.

To Tate's horror, Darling sent the ball sailing in his direction. Tate nervously put out his left hand - and dropped an easy catch.

In what was becoming a tight game, Darling hit 20 more priceless runs. Yet Australia managed just 86, leaving England 124 to win.

Despite the small target, England batted poorly, prodding and slogging to 116 for nine.

With just eight required, Tate came in at number 11. Almost straightaway it rained, meaning he and partner Wilfred Rhodes had to go back to the pavilion to ponder their fate.

A nerve-fraying 45 minutes later, they came out again. Some of the crowd shouted, helpfully: "Two fours and we have won."

Facing his first ball, Tate edged left-armer Jack Saunders for four. England were only four runs from winning the Test and levelling the series.

Tate kept out two more balls but was bowled playing a loose shot at the next. Australia had won the Ashes.

As Tate walked off, some spectators booed. The Australians danced in celebration.

Tate sat in the changing room and cried. He did the same again in the waiting room at the train station.

His companion on the southward journey, England team-mate Len Braund - off whose bowling Tate had dropped the catch - tried to cheer him up, to no avail.

Knowing his reputation was in tatters after his failure in the field and with the bat, Tate reportedly said these words: "I've got a little boy who'll make this up for me."

That boy was seven-year-old Maurice Tate, who was, a couple of decades later, to do just that, helping England to win the Ashes twice.

Maurice, who also played for Sussex, was the best bowler in the world for several years, breaking the record for the number of wickets in an Ashes series in 1924-5.

And, in a tight game in Adelaide in 1928-9, he held on to a stunning catch in close to help England win.

The eminent journalist Denzil Batchelor wrote: "Surely, oh army of ghosts who watch the well-loved game from the balcony of Elysium, this is the catch to remember till the end of time - not the one Joe Darling sent up to poor old Fred so many years ago?"

In a cricketing sense, Maurice had more than made up for Fred's errors, but his father never found inner peace.

Three years after the 1902 Old Trafford Ashes Test, Tate left the sport, travelling around doing coaching jobs and ending up as a publican in Derby. He frequently regaled customers with the story of what became known as "poor Fred's" match.

Despite this star attraction, business did not go well. By 1937 Tate had sold the pub and was living in poverty. In December that year, he went before magistrates, accused of stealing a bottle of milk.

Tate was acquitted but he was in dire need of money. A series of letters to the wealthy collector George Wolfe shows he was hunting for any memorabilia he could get his hands on.

He begged Wolfe to help him with a "few shillings", an act most unbecoming of a former England cricketer.

There were echoes in all this of Fred's ignominious start to life. He had been born illegitimately in the Brighton workhouse in 1867.

From humble origins he had reached the pinnacle of the game, albeit briefly. The grandest stage had chewed him up, spat him out and, arguably, ruined him.

Steven Finn's dropped catch during thenerve-jangling run-chase in the first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge this month must have given a little taste of Tate's predicament.

Luckily for Finn, England won. Tate did not have the same luxury.

When he died in 1943, the Times newspaper gave him the unusual honour of a mention in its leader column. It expressed the hope that he had "remained sturdily indifferent to the tricks of fame". It was wrong.

At least Tate, one of only 655 men to play for England, was not forgotten. Not many workhouse boys could say the same.


Word of the Day

  • benedict
  • audio pronunciation
  • \BEN-ih-dikt\
: a newly married man who has long been a bachelor
There were several benedicts at our most recent high school reunion, but I was most surprised by Denny, who had vowed he'd never marry.

"The late Joseph W. Sienkiewicz, who served on the town board from 1953 to 1957, was the last bachelor selectman to become abenedict. Mr. Sienkiewicz and Wanda Janton were married April 16, 1955." — From an article by Ed Patenaude in the Telegram & Gazette (Massachusetts), August 23, 2001
"Benedick" is the chief male character in Shakespeare’s play Much Ado About Nothing. Throughout the play, both Benedick and his female counterpart Beatrice exchange barbed comments and profess to detest the very idea of marriage, but the story eventually culminates in their marriage to each other. As a result, Benedick's name came to be applied to men who marry later in life. The spelling was changed to "benedict," possibly by association with a use of "benedict" meaning "bachelor" (although the evidence for this use is scant). Some early 20th-century usage commentators regarded the respelling as incorrect with regard to the etymology, but "benedict" has become the established spelling nevertheless. These days "benedict" is fairly uncommon and most typically encountered in historical sources and references.



"The Bible tells us to love our neighbours, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people."

-- G K Chesterton


The primary reason for growing rice in flooded paddies is to drown the weeds surrounding the young seedlings- rice can grow just as easily in well drained areas.

Bathroom Fan Sorted

A jolly friendly chap called around yesterday morning to sort out the dodgy fan and did a fist class job.  He replaced the unit and after I mentioned a few concerns, set the timer up to our specifications.  No more auto on until about four minutes and the over run is now a more sensible ten minutes.

Fine work, fellah.

Day Out in Sunderland

Easy to find, about a 40 mile round trip, the car ran well and the sun shined; for most of the time.  We'll be doing that more often but still have Newcastle, Hartlepool, South Shields and many more places to check out yet.

Touch & Go

Mobile data MB786
New monthly allowance starts in 2 day(s).

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

C & H

Calvin and Hobbes

Not Today

It's not only the data allowance that is hindering us, it's also the speed of download.  Hanging, freezing and pausing are causing much grievance and so we'll leave you with C & H and be back later/tomorrow.



Only 4% of Americans know how to tie more than two knots.

Word of the Day

  • pinchbeck
  • audio pronunciation
  • \PINCH-bek\
: made of an alloy of copper and zinc used especially to imitate gold in jewelry
: counterfeit or spurious
Though our hosts were not outwardly unfriendly, we suspected that their kindness to us was pinchbeck.

"Presently, your uncommon brooch will interest folks who collect scarab or Victorian jewelry, pinchbeck pieces or antique Egyptian items. If the pin has a strong, working clasp and no damage, it is valued at $75 to $125." — From an article by Alyce Hand Benham inThe Press of Atlantic City, May 18, 2013
On November 27, 1732, an advertisement ran in a British newspaper announcing that "the toys made of the late ingenious Mr. Pinchbeck's curious metal ... are now sold only by his son." The Mr. Pinchbeck in question was Christopher Pinchbeck, a London watchmaker who invented the alloy that would be posthumously named for him. Although the metal is used as a substitute for gold, the word "pinchbeck," which can also be used as a noun, didn't acquire its "counterfeit" sense until the 1790s, over 50 years after Pinchbeck's death.


Letters of Note

In a 1997 letter to Manhattan-based radio station WNYC, author Kurt Vonnegut pitches his idea for a series of fictional interviews with the deceased. In fact the idea came to fruition and numerous 90-second segments — one of which can be heard here — were subsequently broadcast, with interviewees ranging from the non-famous through to names such as Isaac Asimov and William Shakespeare. These interviews were also compiled in the book, God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian

Transcript follows. Image courtesy of WNYC. Huge thanks toMatthias Rascher for bringing it to my attention. 

Image: WNYC

Mar 25 97

Dear Marty --

I have indeed noodled around some with your most recent flattering proposition. I came up with this:

"This is Kurt Vonnegut, your NPR reporter, thanks to controlled near-death experiences, from the afterlife. NPR thanks the people of Texas for my use of their lethal execution chamber at their adult correctional facilities at Huntsville, which has made possible my now more than one hundred visits to Heaven, and my returning to life to tell the tale."

What would follow would be my account of how people now dead, names taken from the NYT obituaries or the Enquirer or whatever, feel about what happened to them when they were among the living.

I don't have a million ideas. That's my only one.

There is no hell, but since the O.J. Simpson trial there is serious talk of constructing one. It would be modeled after the Atlanta Airport.

Cheers --

Kurt Vonnegut


8.5 million tons of water evaporates from the Dead Sea every day.


"Setting a good example for children takes all the fun out of middle age."

-- William Feather

Looking Forward to the Weekend

Not wanting to wish time away, but we have Ross coming down to visit on Friday and he'll be staying a couple of days.  He's a pal from Bangkok who has been working back in the UK recently and he's on a job nearby.

Can't wait to catch up with him and see how he's been doing.  He must also be due back in Thailand soon too, as he's another huge fan of this beautiful country.

Brighter Start

The rain has left us in peace and we've been greeted with lazy sunshine and a slightly cooler start to the day.  We're off to Sunderland today having postponed it from the weekend as they had the air show on and traffic/parking would have been a nightmare.

It will make a pleasant change and at some point we'll have to venture into Newcastle proper too, perhaps next week?

Good Deal With 3

I'm not quite sure how wifey managed it (the wi-fi dongle is on her account and so she had to deal with 3 directly) but she managed to not only double our monthly limit to the maximum available, so now 10 Gb, but she also got us a price reduction.

OK, a pound a month is hardly a huge discount, but it was brilliant bargaining and reflects how well she has adapted to life in Bangkok.  10 Gb for £15/month on a rolling 30 day contract is bloody excellent.

Thin Ice

Having discovered that our internet data allowance is close to expiring with over a fortnight to run, we've managed to upgrade our contract and double our limit.

That's the good news.  The bad is that it doesn't kick in until the 2nd August, which is still three days away and the limit is slowly ticking down.  This means that our offering on the Blog will be curtailed until we get our upgraded limits, so bear with us until then.

Ta.  :o)

Monday, 29 July 2013

C & H

Calvin and Hobbes

That's That Then

After July’s heatwave “changeable” weather is expected for much of August, with rain likely and only average temperatures for the time of year.

While the mercury reached as high as 33 C during the hot, dry weather of this month, average temperatures for even in the South East in August are predicted to be around 21 C, the Met Office said.  The North West of the UK is likely to see the wetter of the weather in the month ahead, with average temperatures only around 15 C.

Oh, goody...
8.5 million tons of water evaporates from the Dead Sea every day.

Too Much, Too Soon

A Spanish man has died after he downed 13 pints in 20 minutes during an annual beer drinking competition in Murcia, Spain.  He took part in the annual beer drinking competition during a festival in the Gea y Truyols district, which sees contestants down as much beer as possible within a 20 minute time frame.

According to local reports he drank around six litres of beer and won the competition, but then started vomiting, and did not stop.  He was put into a chair and appeared to sleep while the emergency services were called but by they arrived he was in cardiac arrest and was rushed to hospital.  He died shortly after being admitted to hospital.

The beer drinking competition has been part of the area’s festival for 15 years, but in light of man’s death, this year’s festivities have now been suspended.

Going Down

A Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) poll of 7,500 children, aged 11-15, in England found that in 2012, only two fifths had ever drunk alcohol, compared to 61% in 2002.

Researchers found that the proportion of high school pupils who have tried drinking or smoking is highest in the north-east of England. But the proportion of youngsters who had tried drugs was highest in southern regions and lower in the north.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “We’re pleased that fewer young people are drinking, smoking and taking drugs.

“Despite clear progress, we know there’s more that can be done to support healthy behaviours in young people, including our plans to challenge alcohol manufacturers and retailers to increase their efforts through the Responsibility Deal.”

The survey also showed that 10% of pupils had drunk alcohol in the last week. The prevalence of recent drinking has reduced significantly since 2003, when 26% of pupils had drunk in the last week, and is lower than in 2011 (12%).

A spokesman for the Portman Group said: “It is encouraging to see that the number of children drinking continues to fall and that fewer children consider it acceptable to drink. However, there are still those who continue to drink, and do so to harmful levels. The industry will continue to work in partnership with both local and central government to ensure targeted and effective measures are in place to deal with under-age sales and binge-drinking where they are most prevalent.”

Progress has also been made in the number of times that children drink, with the number of pupils that drank at least once a week falling to 6% in 2012 down from 19% in 2003.

WSTA Chief Executive, Miles Beale said: “This report shows that good progress is continuing to be made in tackling underage drinking. The number of young people that have never drunk alcohol has increased and those that do drink are drinking less frequently.

“The combination of education and responsible drinking messages is reaching young people. That is why our members continue to invest millions of pounds in campaigns to change attitudes to alcohol misuse.”

That's Different

San Francisco-based model and designer Bad Aby of has created the “Sharkini,” a one piece shark bite swimsuit “with side cut out, leatherette "teeth" trim and one chain strap.”  It is available to purchase at Storenvy.

images via Bad Aby Designs

The Written Word

What Does Your Handwriting Say About You?

Explore more infographics like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.

Who Needs Water?


Today I found out how the French flag came to be as it is today.

As with several other countries, the original flag of France was that of a saint—in this case, the oriflamme, the flag of St. Denis. The original banner had three to five pointed ends, more like our idea of a pennant than a flag, and was likely made of red silk without any decoration. It later morphed into oriflammes that had yellow stars or sunbursts with a red background, which was symbolic of the blood of the beheaded St. Denis. Charlemagne supposedly carried it to the Holy Land and the flag was considered his personal banner, but most likely the flag’s first use as a symbol of the royal house was in the reign of Louis VI, around 1124.

In 1328, the House of Valois rose unexpectedly to the throne after the Capetian line died out—Philip IV’s three sons all died leaving only female heirs behind, who could not inherit the throne. The House of Valois’ coat of arms consisted of three fleurs-de-lis on a blue field bordered in red. The coat of arms was the basis for a new French flag. When the Bourbons took over the crown, the background of the flag changed to white in honour of their family colours, but the fleurs-de-lis remained.

The current French flag is called the tricolore. It consists of three equal vertical stripes of blue, white, and red. It was initially established as the flag of France after the French Revolution of 1789. The revolution called for liberty and equality, and the simple flag went against the traditional, more extravagant flags used by members of the nobility.

There are several theories regarding the symbolism and position of the colours of the French Flag. The colours are believed to have been inspired by a rosette that appeared during the revolution. Red and blue were the colours of Paris and appeared on the Parisian coat of arms—blue was associated with Saint Martin, while red was associated with Saint Denis. White had turned into the colour of royalty. With the white sandwiched between the red and blue, it supposedly symbolized the control of the people over the monarchy. However, others said that it was inspired by the American revolutionaries, and another theory is that the tricolore was inspired by the design of the Dutch flag.

The tricolore was first used as a canton in the French navy in 1790. A “canton” refers to a quarter of the flag, likely the top left hand corner, like the stars of the American flag and the Union Jack on various flags in the British Commonwealth.

In 1794, the French National Convention named the tricolore the national flag of France, but this act wasn’t met with resounding approval. The navy, for one, resisted using the full flag—they still wanted to sail under the white flag of the monarchy. During the revolution, the national flag was rarely used, and people favoured the red flag of the Jacobin Club instead because it symbolized defiance and national emergency. The tricolore wasn’t used by the army until 1812, which had until that point been using a flag with a white cross on a red and blue field.

The use of the tricolore initially was relatively short-lived. In 1815, Napoleon was overthrown and the Bourbon monarchy was restored, and with it the white and fleurs-de-lis flag. Fifteen years later, in 1830, the July Revolution took place. It saw the placement of the “citizen king” Louis-Phillipe on the throne. Louis-Phillipe was a distant cousin of the Bourbon king and had agreed to rule as a constitutional monarch (though he, too, would one day be overthrown). He agreed to restore the tricolore as the national flag of France, and it has been in use ever since.

Today, the colours are said to mean “liberty, equality, fraternity”—ideals associated with the revolution that still resound in the hearts of many French citizens. Another theory is that the flag colours have come to represent “the blue of their history, the white of their hopes, and the red of the blood of their ancestors.”

Bonus Facts:

“Oriflamme” now refers to a “banner with pointed ends” in French.
The Dutch flag, with three horizontal stripes, is considered the first tricolour.

In addition to the canton, other parts of the flag include the “hoist” or the half closest to the flagpole, and the “fly” or the half furthest from the pole.
An interest in various countries’ flags makes someone a “vexillologist.” Vexillology is defined as “the scientific study of the history, symbolism, and usage of flags or, by extension, any interest in flags in general.”

The use of the French flag is a lot steadier than the French monarchy. The “citizen king” was overthrown in 1848 following yet another revolution. He was the last king of France, though Napoleon III is considered to be the last monarch. In a sad twist of events, Louis-Philipe’s father was beheaded during the Reign of Terror despite supporting the Revolution of 1789.

Many French colonies during the colonialism period used a full tricolore with an additional symbol, or placed the tricolore in the canton on their flags. Today, the flag of Quebec—a French-Canadian province—more closely resembles a pre-revolutionary flag than the tricolore, with a blue background, four white fleurs-de-lis, and a white cross.



The first drug that was sold as a water soluble tablet was aspirin in 1900.


Two goals from Marco Reus inspired Borussia Dortmund to beat the Champions League holders Bayern Munich 4 - 2 on Saturday in the German Super Cup final, consigning Pep Guardiola to defeat in his first competitive game in charge.

In a hugely entertaining encounter between the teams who contested the Champions League final in May, Dortmund looked to have lost none of their sharpness while Bayern were badly missing their injured winger Franck Ribéry and the goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

Dortmund, who played second fiddle to the treble winners in all competitions last season, had a perfect start when Reus headed in after sixth minutes when Bayern's Tom Starke failed to hold on to a Sven Bender header.

The Bavarians levelled eight minutes after the restart when Philipp Lahm floated a perfect cross from the right and Arjen Robben headed in at the far post.

Dortmund then struck twice in two minutes with Daniel van Buyten heading in an own goal in the 55th minute from an Ilkay Guendogan cross. The Germany international then gave the hosts a two-goal cushion with a fine solo effort and well-struck curled shot from the edge of the box.

Robben cut the deficit seven minutes later, picking up yet another Lahm assist to turn and drill in for his second goal, but the new Dortmund signing Emerick Aubameyang set up Reus for his second in the 86th minute to complete a successful start to the season.


Coffee Culture

What Your Coffee Says About You

Explore more infographics like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.

Back with Ashley

Sports Direct's entire 20,000 part-time workforce are employed on zero-hour contracts at a time when 2,000 full-time staff are about to cash in bonuses of up to £100,000.
The contracts, handed to 90% of the company's 23,000 employees, leave staff not knowing how many hours they will work from one week to the next, with no sick pay or holiday pay, and no guarantee of regular work.
Bosses at Sports Direct, the UK's biggest sports retailer, were this month hailing their bonus policy for full-time staff as that of a model employer.
The Guardian has also discovered that the bonus scheme rules give managers the power to exclude a member of staff if they are considered an "unsatisfactory performer", although they do not precisely define this term and it could be subject to abuse, according to employment lawyers.
About 20 current staff are known to have been excluded from the scheme already, while others who had been excluded have since left, according to the Unite union.
The four biggest supermarkets in Britain, Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons, said they do not use zero-hour contracts. Other retailers to confirm that they do not employ staff on these terms include Argos, B&Q, Homebase, John Lewis and Marks & Spencer.
Politicians have been campaigning to ban the contracts and have called on Mike Ashley, the billionaire owner of Sports Direct, to consider introducing part-time contracts with guaranteed hours.
Former and current part-time staff have also spoken out against zero hours, stressing the uncertainty created by the contracts, under which work can be cut with less than a day's notice. Others said regional managers may reduce staff hours if targets are not met.
Meanwhile, some staff still entitled to the bonus – which pays out in the form of shares next month – have suggested it has created a culture of fear that they may lose out if they are deemed to be "unsatisfactory".
Andy Sawford, the Labour MP for Corby, who has submitted a private member's bill to try to ban the use of zero-hour contracts, said: "It would be much better for Sports Direct to instead of offering bonus gimmicks, they should offer their staff the security of proper contracts.
"The zero-hours contracts are highly exploitative and suit the company because it keeps people in a fragile state where they are at the beck and call of their employers."
Alison McGovern, the Labour MP for Wirral South, is also campaigning for businesses to offer fewer such contracts.
She said: "It seems quite bizarre that a company would on the one hand be awarding bonuses in this way, and treating other staff in a completely different way.
"I would want Sports Direct to see if there is a possibility of more fixed term contracts. It appears this has been imposed across the board and is inappropriate. How can there be any investment in employees, or training or progression?
"Lots of workers in retail start off part-time on the shop floor and rise to the top, but with zero-hour contracts there is no incentive at all."
Some 2,000 permanent full-time staff who have been with Sports Direct since 2008 are to get a bonus paid in shares worth about £75,000 each for hitting profit targets. A similar payout, of shares worth about £17,500, was awarded last year.
Sports Direct's chief executive, Dave Forsey, told the Guardian at the time: "The share scheme glues this company together. These schemes are typically only for the executives, but this goes deep into the company. I'm surprised more businesses haven't adopted something like this sooner."
The Guardian has seen a copy of the share scheme rules, stating it is "intended to drive group performance and to motivate and retain permanent employees at all levels of the group, and to align the interests of those employees with those of shareholders".
However, the document adds that employees can be excluded from the scheme.
It says that any "participant who is determined to be an unsatisfactory performer" will not get the shares.
"For the purposes of the scheme, an unsatisfactory performer means a participant who at any time during the period between the grand date of his award and any relevant vesting date has been (a) notified in writing that his performance is unsatisfactory, or he has been given a written warning or other sanction under the company's disciplinary policy in place from time to time, or (b) suspended from his employment by reason of suspected gross misconduct."
By comparison, John Lewis, which runs one of the best-known employee bonus schemes in the country as part of its partnership structure, pays all employees a bonus regardless of disciplinary warnings against them.
Employment lawyers have said the wording is too vague and could be abused.
David Cohen, consultant solicitor at Keystone Law, said: "It is unusual under an all-employee share scheme for the directors to have the power to deprive continuing employees, as opposed to 'bad leavers', of their share awards.
"If workers generally became aware that the scheme was being operated in a capricious and arbitrary way, the company would risk frittering away the reputational and motivational advantages of putting in place such a generous scheme."
Sports Direct declined to comment.

My Photo
Just bought a heavier jacket from there- the company is very big in the north east, but had no idea of the working circumstances.  May explain the sales staff attitude, mind.