Friday, 30 November 2007

Emo Philips Quotes

I was the kid next door's imaginary friend.

Some mornings, it's just not worth chewing through the leather straps.

You don't appreciate a lot of stuff in school until you get older. Little things like being spanked every day by a middle-aged woman: Stuff you pay good money for in later life.

The way I understand it, the Russians are sort of a combination of evil and incompetence... sort of like the Post Office with tanks.

Actually, my cd was released in 1985, in return for two German missionaries and a Dutch urologist.

People always ask me, "Where were you when Kennedy was shot?" Well, I don't have an alibi.

Emo Philips

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Rare sea species discovered off W. Scotland

In 2007 one of the world's rarest coral-like structures, which in Scotland was previously thought to exist in only one sea loch, was discovered in Loch Teacuis in Morvern. Beyond Scotland it is only recorded growing sparsely in three other places in the world - in coastal lagoons near Taranto in Italy and in Ardbear Lough and Killary Harbour in Ireland.

The structures, which house colonies of vibrantly coloured red, orange and pink worms, were found on the seabed during a recent marine survey for Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). Further investigations indicated their presence in a narrow band most of the way around the upper basin of the loch, where the water is shallow. They also extend deeper in places where there is a suitable hard substrate on which to grow.

The structures are built by the tubeworm Serpula vermicularis, which is widespread around Britain in its solitary form, depositing the white tubes often seen on rocks and shells on the beach. Each tube houses a single worm that emerges to feed on passing plankton. In certain conditions, which are not yet understood, the worm tubes can grow up off the seabed, twisting around each other and branching to form coral-like structures. In the right environment these can become very dense and form reefs, known as serpulid reefs. Such reefs provide living space and food for many other marine organisms such as hermit crabs, feather stars and starfish, but had previously only been recorded at one location in Scotland, at Loch Creran in Argyll. In Loch Creran, individual worm colonies are up to 75cm high and 1m in width, merging in places to form reef-like structures up to 200m wide, covering in total around 108ha of the seabed. Though the structures in Loch Teacuis are not as dense, the clusters of tubes are still remarkably well developed, reaching 45cm in height and up to 47cm in width.

Jane Dodd, Marine Project Officer for SNH in Argyll and Stirling, said: ‘It's really exciting that we've found another example of this remarkable habitat. Serpulid reefs are very rare in international terms.

On this day – or was it tomorrow...

It occurs to me that when I do a blog about things that happened on this day in years gone by those visitors who live in Australia and New Zealand may already be in tomorrow. Usually I do my posting in the early hours of the morning in which case it is mid afternoon ‘Down Under’. But if I am later than that the sun has already set and my brother and his friends may be fast asleep dreaming the dreams of the righteous.

One of the objectives of the ‘On this day’ type blog is to provide folk with the occasional talking point. One can drop into the conversation the fact that it is so many years since such and such happened... Somehow saying “Did you know that 44 years ago yesterday....” lacks impact. So I’m, thinking of posting that sort of entry a day early in future.

Monday, 26 November 2007


Tutankhamun was a Pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty (ruled 1333 BC – 1322 BC in the conventional chronology). On this day in 1922 Howard Carter first peered into his tomb. Tutankhamun was only 8 years old when he became pharaoh. He died 11 years later, at age 19. In historical terms, Tutankhamun is of only moderate significance, and most of his modern popularity stems from the fact that his tomb in the Valley of the Kings was discovered almost completely intact. If Tutankhamun is the world's best known pharaoh, it is mainly because his tomb is among the best preserved, and his image and associated artifacts the most-exhibited.

Tutankhamun seems to have faded from public consciousness in Ancient Egypt within a short time after his death, and he remained virtually unknown until the early twentieth century. His tomb was robbed at least twice in antiquity, but based on the items taken (including perishable oils and perfumes) and the evidence of restoration of the tomb after the intrusions, it seems clear that these robberies took place within several months at most of the initial burial. Eventually the location of the tomb was lost because it had come to be buried by stone chips from subsequent tombs, either dumped there or washed there by floods.

On 4 November 1922, after 15 years of searching and being funded, Carter found the steps leading to Tutankhamun's tomb (subsequently designated KV62). He wired his sponsor Lord Carnarvon to come, and on 26 November 1922, with Lord Carnarvon, Carnarvon's daughter, and others in attendance, Carter made the famous "tiny breach in the top left hand corner" of the doorway, and was able to peer in by the light of a candle and see that many of the gold and ebony treasures were still in place. He did not yet know at that point whether it was "a tomb or merely a cache", but he did see a promising sealed doorway between two sentinel statues. When Carnarvon asked him if he saw anything, Carter replied: "Yes, wonderful things".

For many years, rumors of a "Curse of the Pharaohs" (probably fueled by newspapers seeking sales at the time of the discovery) persisted, emphasizing the early death of some of those who had first entered the tomb. However, a recent study of journals and death records indicates no statistical difference between the age of death of those who entered the tomb and those on the expedition who did not. Indeed, most lived past seventy.

On September 24, 2007, it was announced that a team of Egyptian archaeologists led by Zahi Hawass, discovered eight baskets of 3,000 year old doum fruit in the treasury of Tutankhamun's tomb. Doum comes from a type of palm tree native to the Nile Valley. The doum fruit are traditionally offered at funerals. Twenty clay pots bearing Tutankhamun's official seal were also discovered. According to Dr Hawass, the containers probably contain provisions that were destined to travel with the pharaoh to the afterlife. He said the containers will be opened soon. The objects were originally discovered, but not opened or removed from the tomb, by Howard Carter.

King Tutankhamun still resides in his tomb in the Valley of the Kings, in a temperature-controlled glass case. On November 4, 2007, 85 years to the day since Howard Carter's discovery, the actual face of the 19-year-old monarch was put on view in his underground tomb at Luxor, when the linen-wrapped mummy was removed from its stone sarcophagus for display in a climate-controlled glass box. This was done to prevent the heightened rate of decomposition caused by the humidity and heat from tourists visiting the tomb.

On this Day

1731 - English poet William Cowper was born. He is best known for "The Poplar Trees" and "The Task." He's still well known but does anyone ever read his work now?

1922 - In Egypt, Howard Carter peered into the tomb of King Tutankhamen - about which more in next blog.

1940 - The Nazis forced 500,000 Jews of Warsaw, Poland to live within a walled ghetto. Man's inhumanity to man continued as it does today...

1942 - The motion picture "Casablanca" had its world premiere at the Hollywood Theater in New York City. Bring back Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains...

1943 - The HMS Rohna became the first ship to be sunk by a guided missile. The German missile attack led to the death of 1,015 U.S. troops. Every day of the year has its wars.

1949 - India's Constituent Assembly adopted the country's constitution The country became a republic within the British Commonwealth two months later.

1950 - China entered the Korean conflict forcing UN forces to retreat.

1962 - Fab Four have their 1st recording session for EMI under the name The Beatles. And sucks to Decca who had turned down the group saying "Guitar groups are on the way out, Mr. Epstein."

1979 - International Olympic Committee voted to readmit China

1983 - A Brinks Mat Ltd. vault at London's Heathrow Airport was robbed by gunmen. The men made off with 6,800 gold bars worth nearly $40 million. Only a fraction of the gold has ever been recovered and only two men have been convicted in the heist.

1992 - The British government announced that Queen Elizabeth II had volunteered to start paying taxes on her personal income. She also took her children off the public payroll.

1998 - British Prime Minister Tony Blair made a speech to the Irish Parliament. It was a first time event for a British Prime Minister.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Taiwan's recycle logo

This is Taiwan's brilliant recycle log. The negative space from the four inward black arrows creates four outward white arrows.


Saturday, 24 November 2007

Pseuds Corner

Does Private Eye still have a Pseud’s Corner (is there still a Private Eye?). If so can I suggest the following from The Poetry archive –

Ted Hughes (1930-1998) is a brooding presence in the landscape of 20th Century poetry, not unlike the six hundred feet-high Scout Rock which overshadowed his Yorkshire childhood. Hughes' early experience of the moors and his industrially-scarred surroundings were the keynotes of his later poetic imagination: an unflinching observation of the natural world and the shaping, often damaging, presence of man.

The Glasswing

Greta oto is a brush-footed butterfly, and is a member of the clearwing clade; its wings are transparent. Its most common English name is glasswing, and its Spanish name is espejitos, which means "little mirrors." Indeed, the tissue between the veins of its wings looks like glass. It is one of the more abundant clearwing species in its home range, which extends throughout Central America into Mexico. The opaque borders of its wings are dark brown sometimes tinted with red or orange, and its body is dark in color. Its wingspan is between 5.5 and 6 cm. Sadly I have never seen one - the photo is from the web.

As delicate as finely blown glass, the presence of this rare tropical gem is used by rain forest ecologists as an indication of high habitat quality and its demise alerts them to inappropriate change.

Rivalling the refined beauty of a stained glass window, the translucent wings of the Glasswing butterfly shimmer in the sunlight. All things beautiful do not have to be full of colour to be noticed; in life that which is unnoticed often has the most depth.

Friday, 23 November 2007

A Staircase and a half !

Thought to be the world’s only internal log staircase, this beauty has been carved from one giant 140 ton kauri log. It took a total of 500 man hours to carve and finish and can be found at ‘Ancient Kauri Kingdom’ in New Zealand.
The ancient wood is found in swamps in the North of New Zealand. Ancient Kauri wood is carbon dated at more than 45,000 years old. It predates the migration of Neanderthal man and was already buried in swamps more than 25,000 years before the onset of the last Ice Age. Ancient Kauri is the oldest workable wood in the world.
Ancient Kauri is considered worldwide a valued heirloom connecting us by its beauty and ancient history. Ancient Kauri Kingdom have been pioneers for everything Ancient Kauri since 1992 and are situated at Awanui, Northland..

"What Do Women Want?"

"What Do Women Want?"
by Kim Addonizio

I want a red dress.
I want it flimsy and cheap,
I want it too tight, I want to wear it
until someone tears it off me.
I want it sleeveless and backless,
this dress, so no one has to guess
what's underneath. I want to walk down
the street past Thrifty's and the hardware store
with all those keys glittering in the window,
past Mr. and Mrs. Wong selling day-old
donuts in their café.
I want to walk like I'm the only
woman on earth and I can have my pick.
I want that red dress bad.
I want it to confirm
your worst fears about me,
to show you how little I care about you
or anything except what
I want. When I find it, I'll pull that garment
from its hanger like I'm choosing a body
to carry me into this world, through
the birth-cries and the love-cries too,
and I'll wear it like bones, like skin,
it'll be the goddamned
dress they bury me in.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

November 22nd 1963

JFK on 21st November 1963

Folk of my age group can all recall exactly what they were doing on this day, 22nd November, in 1963 in the early evening as the news came through that President John F Kennedy had been shot. He died at 7.00 pm GMT, 35 minutes after being shot, and there were special news bulletins the whole evening. The modern equivalent of this event is the attack on the Twin Towers on September 11th 2001 (3pm BST). Other events of significance which you may be able to recall where you were when you first heard include the death of Princess Diana (31st August 1997 – circa 1am. BST); Hillsborough Disaster (April 15th 1989 - 3pm); the ‘One small step for Man’ moonwalk (21st July 1969 – 2.56 UTC {3.56 BST}); the Lockerbiie Disaster (21st December 1988 c 7 pm GMT); and the invasion of the Falklands Islands by Argentina (2nd April 1982 – 4.30 am Falklands time; 9.30 pm 1st April GMT).

Not that it is of any significance to you but I was doing the following. When Kennedy was shot I was upstairs at Mum and Dad’s doing homework and they called up for me to come down and watch the television. I saw the Twin Towers on Sky and actually saw the second plane hit live. I had put the TV on when I heard the initial news on ClassicFM. Later that afternoon I took Mum to visit Dad in his nursing home and everyone there was glued to the TV.

I slept through the moonwalk and watched it the next day on television. Most people stayed up to watch but I didn’t – I had worked late and was in work the next day so I didn’t bother. I was naive enough to think that there would be plenty more moonwalks in my lifetime. The Lockerbie disaster involved me personally as one of my roles was Emergency Planning Officer and there was potential for nationwide involvement. I cannot recall what I was doing when Argentina invaded the Falklands. When the Hillsborough news broke I was at the till of ASDA and at first it just seemed like a crowd disturbance but then the horror grew and we heard more news on the car radio. When we got home I had to phone our Social Services people to make sure they had heard and were setting up necessary support. By then they were already sending staff and mini-buses over to Sheffield.

Most memorable after Kennedy, in terms of where I was, is Princess Diana. Jo, Richard and I were in a Travel Lodge in Hereford and I couldn’t sleep so I had the TV on low. By the time the world woke up I had been out around the streets of Hereford, chatted to people on the streets, got the morning papers and had all the detail for Jo. I had tried to wake her during the night but to no avail.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Piltdown Man

Smith Woodward (centre) and Dawson (right) digging at the Piltdown site c 1912.

On this day in 1953 The British Museum authorities announced that "Piltdown Man" was a hoax, over 40 years after its discovery. Tests by a BM geologist and a South African anthropologist showed the specimen to be a fraud.

"Piltdown Man" consisted of fragments of a skull and jawbone collected in 1912 from a gravel pit at Piltdown, a village near Uckfield in East Sussex.. The fragments were thought by many experts of the day to be the fossilised remains of a hitherto unknown form of early human. The scientific name Eoanthropus dawsoni (Dawson's dawn-man) was given to the specimen in recognition of its finder Charles Dawson.

Smith Woodward's reconstruction

The specimen remained the subject of controversy until it was exposed in 1953 as a forgery, consisting of the lower jawbone of an orangutan with filed down teeth, combined with the skull of a fully developed, medieval man, chemically treated to age them. Piltdown Man went from being a “missing link” in the evolutionary chain to the most famous archaeological hoax in history.

The finding of the Piltdown skull was poorly documented, but at a meeting of the Geological Society of London in 1912, Dawson claimed to have been given a fragment of the skull four years earlier by a workman at the Piltdown gravel pit. According to Dawson, workmen at the site had discovered the skull shortly before his visit and had broken it up. Revisiting the site on several occasions, Dawson found further fragments of the skull and took them to Arthur Smith Woodward, keeper of the geological department at the British Museum. Greatly interested by the finds, Woodward accompanied Dawson to the site, where between June and September 1912 they together recovered more fragments of the skull and half of the lower jaw bone. From the British Museum's reconstruction of the skull, Woodward proposed that Piltdown man represented a missing link between ape and man, since the combination of a human-like cranium with an ape-like jaw tended to support the notion then prevailing in England that human evolution was brain-led.

A sketch of the supposed Piltdown Man

The Piltdown man fraud had a significant impact on early research on human evolution. Notably, it led scientists down a blind alley in the belief that the human brain expanded in size before the jaw adapted to new types of food. Discoveries of Australopithecine fossils found in South Africa in the 1920s in were ignored due to Piltdown Man, and the reconstruction of human evolution was thrown off track for decades.

The Piltdown gravel trench became a protected national site in the mid 1930s, and in 1938 Sir Arthur Keith unveiled a monument commemorating this acclaimed spot.

The identity of the Piltdown forger remains unknown, but suspects have included Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. However, the most likely suspect is Dawson himself as he has been shown to have perpetrated other hoaxes over the years. Ironically the name of the ‘bad scientist’ Dawson will live as long as Piltdown is remembered whereas those of geologist Kenneth Oakley and anthropologist Joseph Weiner (the ‘good scientists’ who exposed the fraud) are already fading into oblivion.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Patricia F.

I have come across a few brilliant photographers on the Fotocommunity site. This is a photo by Patricia F. - just one from a tremendous gallery by this Swiss photographer from Davos Platz.

More Useless Information

Donald Duck’s middle name is Fauntleroy.
Al Capone’s business card said he was a used furniture dealer.
The muzzle of a lion is like a fingerprint - no two lions have the same pattern of whiskers.
A pregnant goldfish is called a twit.
The Ramses brand condom is named after the great phaoroh Ramses II who fathered over 160 children.
There is a seven letter word in the English language that contains ten words without rearranging any of its letters, “therein” the, there, he, in, rein, her, here, ere, therein, herein.
Duelling is legal in Paraguay as long as both parties are registered blood donors.
A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.
The longest place-name still in use is said to be Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwenuakitanatahu, a hill in New Zealand.
“Underground” is the only word in the English language that begins and ends with the letters “und.”


This is an interesting site. You type in one of your favourite authors and it produces a map of ‘related’ authors. The theory is that with your favourite author at the centre of the map those nearest to it will be other authors whose works you may enjoy. Usually those in the immediate vicinity have proved to be others I like. I find it quiet useful for producing new names that I have yet to try. The couple I have explored so far have been to my taste so it appears to work.

Sunday, 18 November 2007


Photographer Feng Jiang holds a Ph.D from the University of York. These are some of the best pictures of China I have come across.

Are you human?

Two things I really dislike about Google blogging and similar sites. Firstly, the automatic fill-in on the tags. Sometimes I fail to notice that the tag has been changed from what I wrote to what it thinks I wanted to put in (on its past experience) – e.g. If I had a previous entry ‘Holiday Weather’ and then went to put in ‘Holiday’ it would automatically add the ‘weather’. If I notice it I can go back to edit and change it but only by backspace deleting – straightforward typing in ‘Holiday’ will always produce ‘Holiday weather. That’s all extra hassle. Even worse is its refusal to accept that I can make a mistake. So I typed in ‘SumMER WEther’ as a tag by mistake and when i went back to edit it every time I put in ‘Summer Weather’ it automatically changed it to SumMER WEther.’ In the end I just gave up trying to use that tag.

My second pet hate is those letters that one sometimes comes across to defeat computerised entries. You know, the sort that say ‘If you are a human fill in these letters’ –

So what letters are these. I had one very like this the other day and I had no idea whether it was sjhn; sjfin; sjhr; sjfir..... Knowing I was bound to get it wrong I copied it onto a piece of paper out of interest. When I typed in sjhn it produced another one for me so obviously it was not that! And this site didn’t even have the option to go to the trouble of switching on the sound and the speakers and getting a spoken version. Fortunately i got the second set of letters correct so it concluded I was not a machine – merely a stupid human!

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Birds suffered in 2007

A Blue Tit at the caravan a couple of years ago.

UK birds have suffered a major decline after dreadful summer weather
The seven biggest losers in 2007 (all with their worst ever productivity) were:
Blue Tit (48% below the long-term average)
Great Tit (33% below normal)
Reed Warbler (27% below normal)
Whitethroat (25% below normal)
Willow Warbler (19% below normal)
Treecreepers and Willow Tits were also at their lowest levels (55% and 63% below average) but, as only small numbers are caught, these figures may be unrepresentative.

A juvenile Blue Tit.
The Blue Tit was one of the worst hit; during the summer, bird ringers were catching only half the number of juvenile Blue Tits that would have been expected in an average year, the appalling weather of May, June and July having taken its toll. Most resident species are expected to be able to bounce back but migratory species which suffer from shooting on migration may have greater difficulty.

There is one positive story though: Long-tailed Tits had their highest ever productivity this year, showing an increase of 48% on the long-term average. They are early nesters – building nests in February and March – and may well have taken full advantage of the great April weather.

A maritime Pompeii

The San Rossore train station on the edge of Pisa, Italy, is a lonely stop. Tourists who visit this city to see its famous leaning tower generally use the central station across town. But San Rossore is about to be recognized as one of the country's most significant archaeological digs. For nearly a decade archaeologists have been working near and under the tracks to unearth what is nothing short of a maritime Pompeii.

So far the excavation has turned up 39 ancient shipwrecks buried under nine centuries of silt, which preserved extraordinary artifacts. The copper nails and ancient wood are still intact, and in many cases cargo is still sealed in the original terra cotta amphorae, the jars used for shipment in the ancient world. They have also found a cask of the ancient Roman fish condiment known as garum and many mariners' skeletons—one crushed under the weight of a capsized ship. One ship carried scores of pork shoulder hams; another carried a live lion, likely en route from Africa to the gladiator fights in Rome.

What's most dramatic about the discovery of this maritime graveyard is that the ships date from different centuries both before and after the advent of the Christian era, meaning the shipwrecks did not happen simultaneously but over time in the same area. Researchers say that starting around the 6th century B.C. the cargo docks of the port of Pisa were accessed by a canal that made a loop connecting the harbor to the open sea. Every hundred years or so over the course of nearly a thousand years, tsunami-like waves violently flooded the waterway and capsized and buried ships, their cargo and their passengers and crew, alongside uprooted trees and even tiny birds and animals. The 39 shipwrecks, of which 16 have been age-dated and partially or fully excavated so far, date from around the fifth century B.C. to the fourth century A.D.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Northern Lights,

For the most perfect photos of the Northern Lights please visit Norio Matsumoto’s galleries. There are also brilliant pictures of Alaskan mountains and forests and whales,
You can order copies of his prints by contacting him - - and if I can collect together a few more pennies I would love to get a set of three and frame them for my stairs. Considering how many pohotos I come across on the web and have never thought of doing that with shows how impressed I am by Norio's work.

Some more stickers

Some more of my home-made (or “homade” as one of our market trader advertised on pie stall the other day) stickers – with apologies to the creator of the cartoon figure I adapted for ‘Hello’ sticker – I cannot recall where I borrowed it from.

Thursday, 15 November 2007


I came across this the other day. I still haven’t worked out whether it is one of those spoofs that circulate around the Internet or whether it is a real T-mobile advert. If it isn’t the latter it should be – it’s memorable.

Accident. New fragrance for women. Fragrance strip: The unique fusion of burnt rubber, brake fluid and excrement. If you don't want to experience it again, don't drive and call. Message brought to you by T-Mobile.

Tales from an English Coffee Drinker

My son-in-law-to-be, Mark, has a Blog which. like my Rambles from a Chair wanders across the whole spectrum of things that interest us. Well worth a visit in my view –
P.S. The Dodo is from one of his recent blogs and is not a picture of Mark!

P.P.S. A mention in my blog to the person who invents the most plausible sounding word which might be used as a substitute for “son-in-law-to-be”. Come on Thesaurus Rex or WordImp – I know you can do it.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Grus grus

In 2007, the Common Crane (Grus grus) bred in the Fens for the first time in 400 years. With a seven-foot wingspan and a loud bugling call, the common crane is a true wildlife spectacle. Persecution and the large-scale drainage of the Fens for agriculture, led to its disappearance as a breeding bird in Britain by about 1600. A small number returned to the Norfolk Broads in 1979 but while they have bred there successfully, the population has remained isolated and vulnerable.
Once a familiar sight across Britain’s wetlands, the only connection many people now have with cranes is through dozens of place names like Cranfield and Cranbrook. There is a long history of cranes in Britain; they feature on illuminated manuscripts, and crane appeared on the menu for Henry III’s feast at York in 1251. They occur widely in Europe, where populations have suffered historically from wetland loss. Small numbers of crane visit eastern and southern England each year on migration.

In May 2007 cranes were found breeding in the Fens of East Anglia for the first time in 400 years. The huge birds are nesting at the RSPB’s Lakenheath Fen nature reserve in Suffolk – a site that was a carrot field until the Society bought it 11 years ago and began its transformation into a square mile of marsh and fen.

Class "52 Locomotive

Trains don't interest me any more than they do the average man. In other words, if a steam locomotive comes along I'll look at it and maybe even photograph it but I don't drool and slobber about it! I stumbled across this one on the web and thought "That's an interesting paint job - presumably wartime camouflage". Then I realised it was a 1/6th model. Now that is impressive. I didn't drool but I certainly looked twice. Isn't the background well done.

The modeller was Peter Shaw and it is a Class "52 Locomotive.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Jeanny Müller

I have spent many (or should that be many, many) years admiring photographs and the art of photography. Every now and then I come across one particular photographer whose work makes me want to give up everything else in life and go out with my camera from dawn to dusk seeking to capture that occasional shot which satisfies one’s self.

Such a photographer is Jeanny Müller from Mechernich, Deutschland
Her equipment includes
Canon EOS 20D
Tokina 12 - 24 / 4.0
Tamron 28 - 75 / 2.8
Canon 100 - 400 L IS / 4.5 - 5.6
Tamron 180 / 3.5 Makro
Stativ Manfrotto

and she makes brilliant use of them all as you can see by viewing some of her pictures at

Rare jellyfish

(Photo by David Luquet)
A rare type of jellyfish has been photographed for the first time off the South West coast. Called Apolemia uvaria, the orange-pink creatures are also known as "pearl strings" have been seen off Plymouth and the Cornish coast. But people have been warned not to touch them as they have a nasty sting. Rory Goodall, a wildlife trip operator in Penzance said: "I have seen thousands of them attracted to our waters because of plankton." The jellyfish can be seen in colonies of tiny hydroids which can form strings up to 100ft (30.48m) long. The creatures' sting, although not life-threatening to humans, is enough to kill a large fish.

Monday, 12 November 2007

For the cat people in my life


I mentioned yesterday that in the last sixty years nearly 16,000 British service personnel had lost their lives on active service. To suggest that those lives were lost in vain is to denigrate the tremendous job that has been done in peace-keeping and saving lives around the world. From the point of view of their families very few of those men and women had lives that were wasted. Nevertheless, in broad terms most people would acknowledge that wars are a terrible waste of young and promising lives.

Having introduced the subject of wars and the loss of lives may I now recount the tale of the Battle of Omdurman which took place in 1898 . Omdurman is the largest city in Sudan and lies on the Western banks of the Nile opposite the capital Khartoum. In the 1890s the British and Egyptians were battling in the Sudan against the forces of the Mahdi, Muhammad Ahmad, who had chosen Omdurman as his headquarters. He was killed in 1895 in the siege of Khartoum and his successor, Khalifa Abdullah al-Taashi, kept Omdurman as his centre of operations. The battle, which took place on September 2nd, was a decisive point in the conflict and established British dominance in the Sudan.

The followers of al-Taashi, known as Ansar and sometimes referred to as Dervishes numbered around 50,000, including some 3,000 cavalry. They faced a highly disciplined army of British and Egyptian troops commanded by General Sir Horatio Herbert Kitchener and equipped with modern rifles and artillery. In five and a half hours of fighting the Ansar lost 10,000 men with a further 13,000 wounded and 5,000 taken prisoner. The British lost 48 men in the battle itself with a further five officers, 65 men and 120 horses of the 21st Lancers in the push on towards Khartoum. A total of 382 British troops were wounded.

The devastating damage done by the British guns is summed up by those simple statistics – 10,000 dead on one side and 48 on the other. Even Kitchener acknowledged that it was a waste. In calling for the men to stop firing the maxim guns he shouted “Cease Fire! Please! Cease Fire! What a dreadful waste of ammunition!

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Fractal art?

It takes a minute to work out what this is - it looks like a piece of fractal art at first glance.

Turned on its side it could be trees in a snowy landscape. In fact it is a satellite image of Greenland’s Eastern Coast in August 2003 from

Remembrance Day

"They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them
Laurence Binyon

Today is Remembrance Day, at one time known as Armistice Day. The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month marks the signing of the Armistice, to signal the end of World War One. At 11 am on 11 November 1918 the guns of the Western Front fell silent after more than four years continuous warfare.
Remembrance Day is a special day set aside to remember all those men and women who were killed during the two World Wars and other conflicts. Remembrance Sunday is held on the second Sunday in November, which is usually the Sunday nearest to 11 November. This year it is 11th November itself. Special services are held at war memorials and churches all over Britain. A national ceremony takes place at the cenotaph in Whitehall, London.

Last month, Her Majesty the Queen opened a new National Armed Forces Memorial to commemorate the deaths of the 16,000 British service men and women who have lost their lives in armed conflict, accidents, terrorism, peace-keeping or humanitarian efforts since the end of the Second World War. Situated in the Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire it is a massive construction of Portland stone. It was designed by Liam O’Connor. The giant 100 metre circle which is its basis is a 6 metre high grassy mound in acres of quiet woodland in Staffordshire. One the mound a circle of 43 metre curved walls and two straight walls enclose the bronzes by Ian Rank-Broadley, At exactly 11am on November 11 - just as the country falls silent - a carefully-placed slit in one wall will allow a beam of sunlight to shine across a central plaque.

The list of the fallen currently ends with the crew of the Nimrod killed over Afghanistan in 2006. The names of more than 80 Service Personnel killed since then will be engraved on the memorial in 2008. Names will continue to be added in this way for future years.

The courage and sacrifice of the family and friends of personnel who have lost their lives serving their country is also remembered for the first time, with a centrepiece of evocative bronze sculptures.

The number of names already on it is terrible but even more awesome is the amount of blank stone awaiting new names. Not a year has gone by since the end of the Second World War without some loss of British service personnel. Let us hope the first year is not too far away.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

BBC News 23 and a quarter

Agreement was finally reached at midnight last night in the long-running dispute between the Football Association (FA) and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).

Historically, it has the been the prerogative of RADA to control the employment of actors in professional public performances. Actors performing for more than a certain number of hours are supposed to either hold the relevant Diploma or to have attended a minimum number of technical courses. The prestigious drama school had been threatening legal action against the FA for using non-actors on the football pitch, most notably immigrant workers from Spain and Italy.

It has now been agreed that all professional footballers will attend a minimum of two RADA courses a year. Included in the first round of technical courses will be ‘General rules of Simulation’; ‘Limping after a tackle’; ‘Rolling over without being touched’; ‘The indignant “I’ve been wronged” look; ‘Pulling your own shirt’; and the award winning ‘ Timing your Dive’.

Christiano Ronaldo, unofficial spokesperson for the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), said he thought the decision was ridiculous. “There is nothing that RADA can teach us about diving. We are the experts.“ But Brian Barwick, Chief Executive of the FA was pleased at the outcome. “Ever since the days of Franny Lee there has been this antagonism between RADA and the FA and I am pleased that it has been resolved.”

Bumper Stickers

As I change my bumper sticker each day and not everyone visits that frequently I thought I'd list the ones I have used to date -
So many stupid people, and so few asteroids
Your body would look good in my trunk.
Say "NO" to drugs. That will bring the prices down.
Life is short. So buy the shoes!
Money is the root of all evil. For more information, send me £10.00.
Without geometry, life is pointless
The winner of the rat race is still a rat
Don't believe everything you think.
Well, at least the war on the environment is going well.
Squirrels - nature's speed bumps
National Spellling Bee Runer-Up
I didn't climb to the top of the food chain to become a vegetarian!
Help your local Search & Rescue. Get lost!
The generation of random numbers is too important to leave to chance.

Tales from an English Coffee Drinker

My son-in-law-to-be, Mark, has a Blog which. like my Rambles from a Chair wanders across the whole spectrum of things that interest us. Well worth a visit in my view –

P.S. The Dodo is from one of his recent blogs and is not a picture of Mark!

P.P.S. A free mention in my blog to the person who invents the most plausible sounding word which might be used as a substitute for “son-in-law-to-be”. Come on Thesaurus Rex or WordImp – I know you can do it.

Friday, 9 November 2007

The Galactalites – No, that’s not a spelling error

Do you remember the Galactalites. They were a comic strip in one of the better newspapers in the early 1970s – either the Guardian or Observer, I think. I came across a couple of them the other day among my archives of trivia (otherwise known as junk). A search on Google revealed that they were not a figment of my imagination because there was one lonely entry – in Michigan State University Library - Reading Room Index to the Comic Art Collection. But even that was only to an index entry in a Shire Publications booklet - “Stap Me! The British Newspaper Strip”, by Denis Gifford.
No other search engine helped so I tried for the cartoonist ‘Edward’ but whilst that took me interesting places it didn’t yield the creator of the Galactalites.
I found a vaguely similar creature called the Sillcone by J Edward Oliver but the Galactalites were not his work.
It seems that not only their worst fears – as shown below – were realised but the memory of them was also wiped out!

Egmont National Park, New Zealand

With GB being in New Zealand I tend to notice things about those islands which I would not normally have done. This super image is from probably came originally from the NASA site.
Mt. Egmont volcano last erupted in 1755 and is now situated at the centre of Egmont National Park. Park regulations have ensured the survival of a forest which extends at a 9.5 km radius from the summit of the volcano, the result of which can be seen from space in the form of huge dark green disc. This photo was taken during the sts-110 mission, April 2002.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

On this day

Having extolled the virtues of the Scope Systems daily events site a few times in this Blog they have now removed it. So can I point anyone who has a similar interest in such trivia to two other sites which have good lists of daily events.

The Three Gorges Dam

On this day ten years ago, 8th November 1997, Chinese engineers diverted the Yangtze River to make way for the Three Gorges Dam - a Chinese hydroelectric river dam which spans the Yangtze River in Sandouping, Yichang, Hubei, China. The last concrete was poured in May 2006 but several generators still have to be installed, and the dam is not expected to become fully operational until about 2010. When the reservoir is filled in 2012, water will rise to a height of 175 meters, and extend 600 kilometers. The reservoir will submerge two of the three world-famous gorges. As with many dams, there is a debate over the costs and benefits of the Three Gorges Dam. Although there are economic benefits such as flood control and hydroelectric power, there are also concerns about the future of over 4 million people who will be displaced by the rising waters, in addition to concerns over the loss of many valuable archaeological and cultural sites, as well as the effects on the environment.

A boat sails at the Kuimen Gate of Qutang Gorge, one of the Three Gorges along the Yangtze River on July 13, 2007 in Fengjie County of Chongqing Municipality, China. Three Gorges have attracted over 20 million tourists in 2006.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Liverpool won 8-0

Liverpool F. C. beat Besiktas from Turkey 8-0 last night. The highest ever score by any team in a European Champions League match. Not Liverpool’s highest score against European opposition though. Back in 1974 they won 11-0 against Stromgodset Drammen with nine different players scoring.

William Henry Harrison

I have mentioned the Scope Any-day-in-history site before but they are revising thre saite and this morning it seems to have disappeared for good! Quite often its American bias left me floundering as to the significance of particular events (and the relative importance of baseball!). Today's entry, 7th November, for example, used to include the following:-
1775 Lord Dunmore, promises freedom to male slaves who join British army
1805 Lewis & Clark 1st sight Pacific Ocean
1811 Battle of Tippecanoe, gave Harrison a presidential slogan

I understood the significance of the first two but where was Tippecanoe and who was Harrison? Upon investigation, it seems that William Henry Harrison was the ninth President of the USA. I hadn’t heard of him but then he died in office after only a month so he didn’t have enough time to do much except make one of the longest inaugural addresses in history (a slightly ironic claim to fame in the circumstances).

Prior to his political career he was in the army and was cited for bravery whilst fighting Native Americans at the Battle of Fallen timbers in 1794. He became Governor of Indiana and was involved in the Battle of Tippecanoe which allegedly saw the defeat of the Shawnee Indians. In practice he had negotiated treaties which opened up millions of acres of Indian land for settlement and then broke the treaties by encroaching on their hunting grounds. When a confederation of Indian tribes rebelled Harrison’s force of 800 was surprised and badly mauled at Tippecanoe but he rallied them and went on to burn out a Shawnee village, claiming it was a great victory for the army.

This led to him acquiring the nickname ‘Old Tip’. Later, when running for the Presidency in 1839 the Whig Convention voted for Harrison as President and John Tyler as Vice-President. The delegates left the convention chanting ‘Tippecanoe and Tyler Too’ and this slogan was to become "one of the great slogans of American politics". They obviously didn't have marketing companies in those days!

I don’t have a voting facility on this site but if I did I would vote for this as the most boring blog entry I have done...

Jo’s site

I have been revising Jo’s site lately and yesterday I added a page - The
Rules for Being Human.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007


Feeling bored? Procrastinating? Vacillating between which jobs not to do today? Then why not visit my ‘new’ blog of slightly longer articles. It is called Redactori (Latin of a sort for ‘Of the Editor’ because someone had pinched the title ‘Editorials’).
If you don’t feel like visiting it, that’s fine. But if you are using the excuse that you are too busy you need to do one of the following:-

Be grateful you have such a purposeful life;

Relax a bit.

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