30 September 2010

Quotes of the Week

Here, in random order, is this week's rather rich helping of amusing and insightful quotes.

The first two are from Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert; right on the money as always:
A CEO has something called a "vision." That is a view of the future that is not supported by evidence.
[Scott Adams at The Scott Adams Blog]

The primary function of a CEO is hurting other people, specifically the stockholders and employees of competing companies. He wants to take their market share, their wealth, and their happiness. And a CEO isn't too affectionate with his vendors and employees either.
[Scott Adams at The Scott Adams Blog]

I can think of many who won't like the next, but again it is so true:
Morality is doing what is right regardless of what you are told.
Religion is doing what you are told regardless of what is right.
[Found on Tumblr]

And this was from a video clip of an interview with a couple of gays; it cracked me up!
Love at first innuendo.
[Dan Savage]

This one is for Katy ...
Eat cake. Change lives.
[Macmillan Cancer Support advertisement]

I couldn't resist this wonderful critical put-down on a paragraph of absolute scientific mumbo-jumbo:
That paragraph reads like he authors were cobbling together a braille sentence using the random distribution of acne on someone's back.
[Jesse Bering at www.scientificamerican.com/blog/, 22/09/2010]

If only I'd been told this next many years ago!
The only disability in life is a bad attitude
[Quoted by Kittypinkstars at Flickr]

How the other half live:
Glamour model Katie Price has been found guilty of not being in proper control of her pink horsebox after veering into another lane in Sussex.
[BBC News]

Needless to say it was the very idea of a pink horsebox which got me! And so finally an interesting "off the wall" take which again contains a huge element of truth:
I have heard many times that atheists know more about religion than religious people. Atheism is an effect of that knowledge, not a lack of knowledge. I gave a Bible to my daughter. That's how you make atheists.
[Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists]

That's all for this week.

29 September 2010

The Millipede Brothers

It always surprises me what the brain does and the associations it makes.

Like many here I have been extremely bored recently by the charade the Labour Pain Party have been going through to elect a new leader – well at least it didn't provide the expected result for once, which is perhaps one advantage of a transferable vote system – and the follow-on shenanigans.

My boredom has however been in part alleviated by the fact that I can't help but think of the two main protagonists as The Millipede Brothers.  A somewhat amusing, if slightly droll, piece of mental gymnastics.

But of course The Millipede Brothers do sound rather like an act from some Victorian Circus. Perhaps they were a star turn promoted by Barnum and Bailey. Or more likely they were part of Pablo Fanque's Fair, featuring Mr Kite, a poster for which so inspired John Lennon and the Beatles to produce Sgt Peppers.

I wasn't even sure Pablo Fanque was real – he was! Fanque, born plain William Darby in Norwich as early as 1796, was not just a circus performer but, more importantly, Britain's first black circus impresario.

Pablo Fanque, began as a famous circus performer in his youth but became the proprietor of his own circus company. His earliest known appearance in the sawdust ring was in Norwich on 26 December 1821, as ‘Young Darby’, with William Batty’s company. His circus acts included horsemanship, rope walking, leaping and rope vaulting. In 1841, aged forty-five and living in Oxford, he left William Batty to begin business on his own account, with just two horses. The towns of Lancashire, Yorkshire and adjacent counties became Fanque’s favourite venues and it was his visit to Rochdale on 14 February 1843 which produced the poster (above) that inspired John Lennon’s lyric For the Benefit of Mr Kite. Fanque died in Stockport in 1871 and is buried in Woodhouse Cemetery, Leeds next to his first wife Susannah Darby.

Much more interesting than Labour Party politics!

27 September 2010

Auction Amusements

Is it the recession, have they improved, or is it me getting inured to their style, but our local auctioneers seem to have produced far fewer odd and amusing catalogue descriptions recently. But here is the best from their next sale. [My comments in italic.]

A watercolour of an officer retrieving his fallen helmet, with his horse, after Edouard Detaille.
[Why is he using his horse to pick it up? And why is he waiting for ED to do so first?]

A blue lined leather box containing six silver buttons
[And the point is?]

A pair of antique continental silver-gilt scissors, as a youth in short skirt standing on two hoops, his raised arms forming the blades
[I feel sure we should tell either Benny Hill or Frankie Howerd]

A fine late Victorian cased set of fish eaters for twelve, with matching servers, with engraved plated blades to the knobbly ivory handles, Virginia walnut case.
[I know what fish knives are, but WTF are fish eaters?  Presumably they devour the fish for you?]  

An old Elswick, Barton-on-Humber butcher’s bike.

Three army ammunition boxes and a belt of ammunition shells.
[It's the belt that worries me!]

A box containing 4 wool-kit rugs

A charming wooden model of an antique shop and contents - working chandelier, till, wall clock, grandfather clock, radio, camera, warming pan, sewing machine, etc.
[The model warming pan works?  How?]

A pair of Buffalo horns and three wild west prints and another.

A chemist’s scales, in brass on mahogany box fitted with a drawer, with weights, etc., a postal scales and five spring balances.

A pair of Continental porcelain groups of frolicking cherubs, a figure of a Golden Oriole, 3 other birds, and 2 vases with Sevres marks

A Victorian display of exotic birds on a mossy branch under glass dome on a mahogany base retaining trade label of Ashdown and Son

An art deco Shorter wall pocket, scale moulded

Two boxes of old wooden pegs, old cutlery, old buckets, a quantity of garden tools, and a box including a paraffin can, a satsuma vase, shoe lasts, an old iron, sewing implements in an old tobacco tin, etc.
[An interesting collection of old toot]

25 September 2010


Anyone who wants this lot (sight unseen, of course) is invited to submit bids on a £10 note.  (I was going to say a £20 note, but we need to clear the hoards of stuff sooner rather than later.)  :-)

23 September 2010

Quotes of the Week

I'll spare everyone another picture of Rye or the Romney Marsh today and instead I offer this week's crop of amusing and/or thought-provoking quotes.
Plan B and Arcade Fire get Q nods
[BBC News website headline]

We have reason to believe that man first walked upright to free his hands for masturbation.
[Lily Tomlin]

Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.
[Antoine de Saint-Exupery]

Balnea, vina, Venus corrumpunt corpora nostra; sed vitam faciunt balnea, vina, Venus.
Baths, wine and sex spoil our bodies; but baths, wine and sex make up life.
[Epitaph of Tiberius Claudius Secundus]

Inside every old person is a younger person wondering what the fuck happened.

Come, bring hither quick a flagon of wine, that I may soak my brain and get an ingenious idea.
[Aristophanes, The Knights]

Leadership is a form of mental illness.
[Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert]

Oh and I thought I'd spare you more from the Dalai Lama on Compassion – that's all he seems to talk about at the moment, although I do see why as that is largely, at rock bottom, what Buddhism is all about.

20 September 2010

Edith Nesbit Grave

Edith Nesbit Grave, originally uploaded by kcm76.

Another snap from our recent break in Rye.

Children's author Edith Nesbit is buried at St Mary-in-the-Marsh and the grave marked by this simple wooden marker. Actually this isn't the original - that fell apart some years ago and was replaced by Edith Nesbit's family. The remains of the original are in the church along with a memorial plaque.

St Mary-in-the-Marsh is a lovely little country church, almost in the middle of nowhere and surrounded by the fields of the Romney Marsh.  As well as the memorial to Edith Nesbit it contains a memorial plaque to Anne Roper, one of the earliest and still foremost historians of the Romney Marsh. The village itself, just a few miles inland from New Romney, is little more than a dozen houses, the church and a pub. It really is in the middle of the country and still filled with summer birdsong - a delightful place for a quiet half hour or so.

19 September 2010

Why I like Dance

As many of you know I'm a devotee of Anthony Powell's 12 volume novel sequence A Dance to the Music of Time (thanks, Jilly, for the total restructuring of my life almost 30 years ago!) and you may also recall that Audible have recently released a complete audiobook of Dance.

Recently therefore I have been listening, here and there, to the audiobooks and it was yesterday I spent some time on The Military Philosophers (book nine of the sequence) which covers the second half of WWII. As well as longer sections of beautiful prose it is full of entertaining little snippets, for example:
'Hullo, Nicholas. I hope my dear old Finn is not still cross with me about Szymanski ?'
'There may still be some disgruntlement, sir.'
‘Disgruntlement', one was told, was a word that could be used of all ranks without loss of discipline.

Our billet was a VIP one, a requisitioned hotel presided over by a brisk little cock-sparrow of a captain, who evidently knew his job.
'We had the hell of a party here the other night,' he said. 'A crowd of senior officers as drunk as monkeys, brigadiers rooting the palms out of the pots.'

Finn pushed back his chair. He spoke slowly.
'Borrit told me when he was serving on the Gold Coast, one of the Africans said to him: "What is it white men write at their desks all day?"'

' Look at this,' he said.
He spoke indignantly. I leant forward to examine the exhibit, which was in Pennistone's handwriting. Blackhead had written, in all, three and a half pages on the theory and practice of soap issues for military personnel, with especial reference to the Polish Women's Corps. Turning from his spidery scrawl to Pennistone's neat hand, two words only were inscribed. They stood out on the file:
Please amplify. D. Pennistone. Maj. GS.

Our billet was a VIP one, a requisitioned hotel presided over by a brisk little cock-sparrow of a captain [...]
'We had the hell of a party here the other night,' he said. 'A crowd of senior officers as drunk as monkeys, brigadiers rooting the palms out of the pots.'

Not long before the Victory Service [...] Prasad's Embassy gave a party on their National Day [...] Gauthier de Graef, ethnically confused, had been anxious to know whether there were eunuchs in the ladies' apartments above the rooms where we were being entertained.

'Not all the fruits of Victory are appetising to the palate,' said Pennistone. 'An issue of gall and wormwood has been laid on.'

It is these small amusements, just as much as the excellent prose, which makes Powell so wonderful to read.

17 September 2010

Shakespeare's Globe

Shakespeare's Globe, originally uploaded by kcm76.
On Tuesday evening we took a group of Anthony Powell Society members and friends to see Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor at the Globe Theatre in Southwark. Fortunately we had seats under cover for it was a horrible wet evening - it tipped it down with rain throughout the first half and everyone standing in the Yard got well and truly soaked, as did some of the actors.

Notwithstanding the play was excellent, as one expected of the much acclaimed 2008 production by Christopher Luscombe. It was a most excellent romp and the cast gave every impression of thoroughly enjoying themselves too.

Not having been to the Globe before, I was surprised at how attractive a theatre space it is and it certainly works well for the dramatic sweeps of Shakespeare. I had been warned that the seating was just traditional wooden benches and to take a cushion. However I didn't find the benches uncomfortable even without a cushion, although I did hire a back-rest which was for me more uncomfortable than not having one - the angles were all wrong for me and I discarded it in the interval.

The only thing which was slightly irritating were the students continually wandering in and out of the Yard - however authentically Elizabethan that may be. And a couple of roast chestnut sellers in the Yard would have made the experience complete!

The Globe is not a cheap evening out (what theatre is!) unless one chooses to stand in the Yard, but it is well worth going to as it does work pretty well for Shakespeare and is an experience worth having at least once. Despite not being a great theatre-goer I'm certainly glad I went.

The photo is a panorama of several shots I took during the interval from our seats.

16 September 2010

Quotes of the Week

A rich crop of thought-provoking and amusing quotes from which to pick this week, so here's my selection:
The difference between school and life? In school, you're taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you're given a test that teaches you a lesson.
[Tom Bodett]

Neglect of mathematics works injury to all knowledge, since one who is ignorant of it cannot know the other sciences, or the things of this world. And what is worst, those who are thus ignorant are unable to perceive their own ignorance, and so do not seek a remedy.
[Roger Bacon]

We apprehend time only when we have marked motion … not only do we measure movement by time, but also time by movement because they define each other.

Fermentation and civilization are inseparable.
[John Ciardi, poet]

To familiarize ourselves with the virtue of patience, it is very helpful to think of adversity not so much as a threat to our peace of mind but rather as the very means by which patience is attained. From this perspective, we see that those who would harm us are, in a sense, teachers of patience. Such people teach us what we could never learn merely from hearing someone speak, be they ever so wise or holy.
[Dalai Lama]

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.
[Herm Albright]

13 September 2010

Prospect Cottage Garden

Prospect Cottage Garden Detail, originally uploaded by kcm76.

Another images from our recent visit to Rye.

This is a detail from the garden at Prospect Cottage, the late Derek Jarman's home at Dungeness. The stone circle is probably just under 3 feet across and is built on the natural gravel surface.

More images on Flickr.

12 September 2010

State Religion

Islam (various sects), Christian (various sects), Buddhism

Razib Khan over at Gene Expression indirectly makes an interesting point, which I'd not previously realised and which is illustrated by the map: How few countries actually have an official state religion. And how many we would think have an official religion (eg. USA, Brazil, Spain) actually don't.

OK if you follow the link behind the map some of the data are a bit debatable, but however one cuts the numbers it means that somewhere around 90% of the world's population live in countries with no official state religion. And many of the countries which do have a state religion are tiny (eg. Lichtenstein, Yemen, Bhutan).

Another interesting thing is that over 50% of the countries with a state religion are Islamic. Does this say something about Islam or about the underlying mindset of the peoples of these countries?

It also demonstrates how far behind the game we English are in clinging to our official state religion. Time to wake up and smell the coffee?

11 September 2010

Quote: Significance

If you think you are too small or insignificant to make a difference, then you have never been in bed with a mosquito

[Dalai Lama]

Squashed Buttered Nuts

Noreen bought a book yesterday.  I stole it.  I stole it because it contains such twinkly brilliant gems as:
Bottled at Source. Abbey Well, Highland Spring, Glenpatrick, Ty Nant Welsh Spring, Pennine (bottled at source in Huddersfield) … Apparently, you can't walk more than a hundred yards in the UK without falling into a natural spring, an Ice Age glacier, a gushing source of healing, sparkling spring water or a 400-year-old magical fairytale wishing well with purifying pixies, adjacent sandstone filter, bottling plant and market-research department.

Mozzarella. Mozzarella cheese comes in Silly Putty-shaped shiny balls … It tastes of nothing. Mozzarella is stored in those unsettling little water-filled tubs - displayed like some sort of soft-cheese Petri-dish specimen …

Muffins. Since when did it become acceptable to eat fairy cakes for breakfast? … You can keep the modern breakfast muffin. I'll take the fairy cake any day. Not one of those chi-chi chain coffee shop cupcakes; a proper fairy cake, one with icing and those edible rice-paper cake-toppers in the shape of Mickey Mouse's face, that crab thing from The Little Mermaid, the Wuzzles or the Popples.

Pacific-Rim Cooking. More fucking mangoes.

At several chuckles, sniggers or snorts a page Sausage in a Basket: The Great British Book of How Not to Eat by Martin Lampen is a must. If, like me, you loathe false food or if you just desire an amusement for that transatlantic flight, then this book will not disappoint.

10 September 2010

Pavement Liverwort

Liverwort, originally uploaded by kcm76.

I was in Pinner today to see my hypnotherapist. When I left I was surprised to spot this this roughly 150mm across patch of liverwort growing among the the paving slabs and general detritus. I'm no expert on liverworts although I think this is a common one, but still a nice surprise find.

Rye Photos

Old Hospital, Mermaid Street, Rye, originally uploaded by kcm76.
More photos of our trip to Rye on my Flickr Photostream.

Absolute Tits

Thanks to Bystander at The Magistrate's Blog, I just have to share this from the Daily Telegraph without comment .  I'm not sure whether to laugh, cry or despair!

09 September 2010

Quotes of the Week

This week's crop of the profound and amusing.
When we remember that we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.
[Mark Twain]

Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep insights can be winnowed from deep nonsense.
[Carl Sagan]

As an atheist I do not believe that there is a God in fact, but the fact of the beliefs of others that God is is highly consequential. It is less important what the real Islam or Christianity is, than what Islam or Christianity is for the people at any specific place and time.
[Razib Khan at http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2010/09/in-the-lands-of-the-living-god/]

Science has nothing to do with common sense. I believe it was Einstein who said that common sense is a set of prejudices we form by the age of 18. Inject somebody with some viruses and that's going to keep you from getting sick? That's not common sense. We evolved from single-cell organisms? That's not common sense. By driving my car I'm going to cook Earth? None of this is common sense. The common sense view is what we're fighting against. So somehow you've got to move people away from that with these quite complicated scientific arguments based on even more complicated research. That's why it's such an uphill battle. People start off with a belief and a prejudice--we all do. And the job of science is to set that aside to get to the truth.
[Simon Singh in an interview with Wired at http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/08/mf_qa_singh/]

Q: How can you tell if it's been raining cats and dogs?
A: You step in a poodle!
[Misty at Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/misty69/4969353334/]

07 September 2010

Capital Cures

Browsing Shakespeare's London on 5 Groats a Day by Richard Tames the other day I came across the following remedies.
Loss of hair. Try doves' dung, burnt, failing that the ashes of a small frog

Nits in the hair. Comb with mercury ointment and pig fat
Yep that should see off the nits, if it doesn't see you off first

Head colds. A sliver of turnip in the nostril

Tinnitus. Oil of hempseed in the afflicted ear, followed by hopping on that side

Retention of urine. Three large lice inserted in the penis
Hmm, I can imagine that might work too; not sure I fancy the side effects though

Asthma. The lungs of a fox washed in wine, herb and liquorice

Tuberculosis. Incurable, but for relief try asses' milk and snails in their shells

I think on balance I'm glad I live in the 21st century!

05 September 2010

Quotes of the Week

Not much by way of amusing or thought provoking quotes this week as we've been away, but here are what has passed by me...
What we're suggesting is that something that doesn't really interact with anything is changing something that can't be changed.
[Dr Jere Jenkins quoted on Discover Blogs, 80Beats in trying to explain the theory that neutrinos are affecting radioactive decay half-lives]

Yet more proof I could not possibly handle even the most glorious of small children … unless they came with pause and mute buttons.
[Comment at Whoopee]

Our ham is formed from cured RSPCA Freedom Food assured pork leg
[Tea shop menu, Rye]
WTF is an "assured pork leg" and how do you cure an RSPCA?

04 September 2010

Hut, Rye Harbour

Hut, Rye Harbour, originally uploaded by kcm76.
We're just back from spending a week in Rye, East Sussex with a friend and her three children.  The children were a delight: great fun and very amusing if a bit noisy at times. Everyone seems to have had a good time. Amongst other things we got in: the late Derek Jarman's cottage at Dungeness; several Romney Marsh churches; Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway; some bookshops; a couple of trips to the beach; as well as lots of Rye itself and too little sleep because we sat up talking until late. We could easily have stayed another two weeks and still not run out of interesting things to do. Many thanks to Katy, Tilly, Tallulah and Oscar!

More photos on Flickr as I get time to do post-processing.