Monday, January 31, 2005

Baited breath or bated breath?

I never can remember which one it is, but now that I know it's a contraction of 'abated breath', it makes it a bit easier to remember how to spell it properly. Apparently it was first used by Ol' Dickie Wigglestaff in The Merchant of Venice:

Shall I bend low and, in a bondman's key
With bated breath and whisp'ring humbleness
Say this ...

More on WorldWideWords.

Sunday, January 30, 2005


romanesco broccoli is a vegitable expression of fractals. It looks man-engineered but is apparently quite natural which confirms what I've always said about everything being connected. [via bookofjoe]

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Look 'Sideways'

Sideways has various wierd similarities with the 80s film Electric Dreams.

  • Virginia Madsen's character name in the new film is Maya which has the same name origins as Madeline a character she played in the older film.
  • Both characters romance a man called Miles.
  • In both films love breaks down because of a lie introduced by a third party.
  • In both films the couples get bored with an official tour and disappear off on their own -- in Electric Dreams it's Alcatraz.
  • There is also a scene in which Madsen's character describes why she's passionate about something in the former film it's music.

    Also but unrelated ...

    Sandra Oh (Stephanie) is married to the director Alexander Payne, and both Oh and Paul Giamatti (Miles) have worked together before on the kids film Big Fat Liar.
  • Perfect cure for headaches

    Actually, this is common knowledge but it's a snippet I'm fond of so I'll repeat it anyway. The best cure for a headache is sex. Apparently it's a good cure for insomnia too. And there's evidence it's good for your immune system and cardiovascular health.

    I'll stop there, lest you all think I'm obsessed.

    Another use for bananas

    As well as helping cure cramp, bananas encourage the release of a sleep-inducing hormone, so if you're having a restless night, eat a banana.

    Friday, January 28, 2005

    Penny Drop

    The colour in red wine comes from the skins. Yes, I know. Guess which film I saw tonight.

    Ricky Gervais does have a use after all

    Oh, how meta is this. Ricky Gervais is on TV, doing his Animals stand-up thing, complaining about people filling websites with useless facts... including:

    The peanut is not a nut but a legume.
    You can lead a cow upstairs but not down.
    When a crab's pissed it walks forwards instead of sideways.
    The daddy longlegs as the strongest poison known to man, but it can't administer it as it has no teeth.

    One of those may not be true.

    Mass murder

    Tasmania holds the record for the world's single biggest mass shooting - 35 people were shot dead in Port Arthur on 28 April 1996 and Martin Bryant was convicted (some believe wrongly) of the massacre.

    Bad insulator

    Blow-up mattresses make for really bad insulators - if you're sleeping on one in a cold environment, make sure to put a quilt or duvet underneath yourself as well as having bedding on top, otherwise all your body heat will leach out through the mattress and you will freeze your butt off all night.

    (Not so much heard said, this one, but learnt through bitter experience.)

    Thursday, January 27, 2005

    No Sunset in Paris

    One of the most critically acclaimed films of last year (#5 on the Metafilter list of Best Reviewed of 2004), "Before Sunset" is yet to be released in France - the country where it is set.

    It has already seen release in the U.S., Germany, Switzerland, Austria, South Africa, the Czech Republic, the UK, New Zealand, Denmark, Australia, Israel, Panama, the Netherlands, Chile, Finland, Switzerland, Norway, Greece, Spain, Poland, Hong Kong, Portugal, Sweden, Argentinia, Finland, Mexico, South Korea, Brazil, the Phillipines, Italy and Belgium... but not the birthplace of cinema.

    Pudding Lane

    Pudding Lane in London, where the great fire of London started was supposedly named, not for any cookery based reason, but because of the prostitutes who used to work there. Apparently 'Pudding' used to be a slang term for a prostitute in the 17th century.

    Lost - One Van

    The police have never managed to find the van full of Phosgene and Methyl Bromide that went missing in London last year.

    Phosgene was used as a chemical agent during the first world war.

    ID? No Thanks, I'm famous

    I've heard a rumour, that when the government brings in it's National ID Card and Database scheme, 130,000 V.I.Ps won't be registered on the database. Presumably because of security worries.

    Wednesday, January 26, 2005

    Virtual economy

    Virtual economies of the massively multiplayer online role-playing game industry are beginning to have real world implications. Apart from the fact that avatars are being bought and sold on ebay, one academic believes after totting up the going rate for virtual credits in the real world that collectively they have the same economic value as Bulgaria, and that it would be even more if Everquest didn't ban sales of its 'assets' in auctions. Even more startlingly, considering the implications of this, there are currently no tax rules, so anyone earning through this technique would not necessarily be compelled to declare.


    An governmental education officer told my brother (the teacher) that the line connecting the dots on a graph of grades cannot be called a "Regression curve" anymore, as it is too negative. Instead it shall be called a "Progression curve" - a much more positive name, and guaranteed to make teachers of mathematics cry into their beer.

    Paedohunter General

    A policeman told me that the London borough of Newham has the highest concentration of paedophiles in the U.K.

    Monday, January 24, 2005

    I could do That

    Well, when I was a kid, I wanted to be a binman (garbage disposal operative) when I grew up as, it seemed to me, they only worked one day a week!

    Sunday, January 23, 2005

    A 99 please, mate

    When i was a kid I used to love getting a 99 from the ice-cream van. That crispy cone with the scoop of vanilla ice-cream and the 99 Flake. Yum.

    By the way, the 99 Flake is called that because it's 99mm long.

    Friday, January 21, 2005

    Oh Homer

    The debates about whether Shakespeare wrote the canon have a historic precedent. Many centuries before, people began questioning the authorship of Greek poet Homer's work. Over the years a belief has developed in some quarters that the classic Iliad and the epic Odyssey do not have a claim to single author status and that 'Homer' may instead be a blanket title to a group of creatives working over a number of years, a catch all term for a style of poetry.

    Wednesday, January 19, 2005

    Well we would ask for Jack but ...

    Here is how Jack Daniels died. He arrived at work early one morning and realised he needed to open the safe in his office. When he tried to open the door, he couldn't actually remember the combination. He kicked the safe in frustration and broke his toe. An infection set in and he slowly became increasingly ill. He eventually died from blood poisoning in 1911.

    The Most Depressing Day of the Year...

    ... is January 24th apparently.
    Here's the formula

    1/8W+(D-d) 3/8xTQ MxNA.
    W: Weather
    D: Debt
    d: Money due in January pay
    T: Time since Christmas
    Q: Time since failed quit attempt
    M: General motivational levels
    NA: The need to take action

    I'm safe coz my money comes in on the 21st. Phew!


    Monday, January 17, 2005

    Penny Drop

    Lucy Davies, star of Shaun of the Dead and The Office is the daughter of comedian Jasper Carrot. His real name is Robert Davies. He got the nickname Jasper at school and added his new surname Carrott when he started doing the clubs.

    Friday, January 14, 2005

    The red or the blue pill? Sir Sean chooses no pill.

    Sir Sean Connery declined the role of Morpheus in Matrix after he failed to understand the script after reading it three times.

    Wednesday, January 12, 2005

    Where did they get a name like Lynyrd Skynyrd?

    Far from being a fantasy reference, Lynyrd Skynyrd was named after their physical education teacher Leonard Skinner, said to be a great influence on the band.

    Sunday, January 09, 2005

    'Oh Belgium'

    When Douglas Adams' book Life, The Universe and Everything came to be published in the US first time around, the publishers weren't happy with the swearing. In that case the fuck word was replaced with 'Belgium' with some extra dialogue and a new guide entry included by way of explanation. The new material (which can be seen here) is arguably funnier than what went before.

    Now this could be confusing

    Dutch is spoken in both the Netherlands and Belgium, but for some strange reason, in the Netherlands the word for 'shit' is the same as the Belgian word for 'fuck' - poepen. In order to prevent what could be a catastrophic misunderstanding, I urge you to stick to the Anglo-Saxon instead.

    Saturday, January 08, 2005

    Juggling History

    The first recorded jugglers in history were in ancient Eygpt, evidence of which was found in the tomb of an unknown prince dating from the early 2000s B.C. The real question is how did it start? Someone was probably playing catch one day and wondered what would happen when he tried throwing two around and then he was showing off to his friends who bet him he couldn't do three.

    Call and response

    The correct response to the greeting "Top o' the mornin' to you!" is "And the rest of the day to yourself!". (Thanks laszlo.)

    How the kangeroo got its name

    European explorer: Oh heavens preserve us, can you see that big hoppy thing? (to Aborigine) What the devil is that called, good man?
    Aborigine: (in his native tongue) I don't understand.
    European explorer: What's that you say, my good fellow? Kangeroo?

    Oooh! Déjà vu!

    Apparently, déjà vu is caused by a slight delay in the transfer of data between the two hemispheres of your brain. The feeling that you've 'done this before' is because effectively you have, but one side of your brain experiences it a fraction before the other.

    Thursday, January 06, 2005

    120-year-old tortoise adopts baby hippo

    Mark Frauenfelder at Boing Boing reports: "Some people in Kenya rescued a dehydrated baby hippo that had been separated from its herd. The released it into an enclosure in a sanctuary, and it ran over to a giant tortoise, and is now "inseparable" say officials."

    Saturday, January 01, 2005

    The Seven Deadly Sins of Willy Gilligan

    Apparently, characters in the 1960's CBS TV Comedy series Gilligan's Island are based on the seven deadly sins.

    Lust - Ginger
    Greed - Thurston Howell, III
    Sloth - Mrs Howell
    Envy - Maryanne
    Anger - Skipper
    Pride - Professor
    Gluttony - Gilligan

    The last two seem like stretches until you think about it (if you're still with me at all ;-) Certainly a lot of what motivated Gilligan was food - he wanted Ginger but he wanted Maryanne's Coconut cream pies more! And the Professor was so full of pride for his work (making stuff out of coconuts) he was completely oblivious to the fact he couldn't even fix a three foot hole in the Minnow!

    ' Should old acquaintances be forgot,?'

    The true meaning of Auld Lang Syne, and the startling discovery (for me) that my ancestor Robbie Burns didn't write it. [via Metafilter]

    I'd do it for you...

    Although I can't imagine anyone but Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio playing Maid Marion in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves according to Kevin Reynolds on the audio commentary to the dvd the part was originally going to be filled by Robin Wright Penn, but she became pregnant and was unable to do it, so Mastrantonio stepped into the breach (so to speak). If you want to see how the Wright version might have turned out she previously played Princess Buttercup in The Princess Bride. On reflection it might have been confusing to have two Robins on the set, even if one of them might have been fictional.

    2005, A Year of...

    According to the Wikipedia, 2005 is the World Year of Physics, the International Year of Microcredit, the International Year for Sport and Physical Education and the United States' Year for Foreign Languages (which bodes well for "The House of Flying Daggers" and "The Sea Inside" at this years' Academy Awards... Ha!)

    Happy International Year of Microcredit, everyone!