29 May 2009

A less than ideal royal wedding

'[Princess] Alice [the daughter of Queen Victoria, married Prince Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse and] gave birth to seven children in fairly quick succession. Her first, born in 1863, married thirty-year-old Prince Louis of Battenburg, then serving in the British Navy and described by the Kaiser as the 'most handsome man in Europe'. [Battenburg was] later given the more English-sounding title of Milford Haven. Their children included Earl Mountbatten of Burma and Princess Alice of Greece, who was Prince Phillip's mother. But the marriage in 1884 very nearly did not take place, because the night before the wedding the 21-year-old Princess had eaten shellfish. An hour and a half before the wedding, which was due to start at 4.30pm, the execrable lobster had its revenge and she became violently ill. As if that were not enough, the unfortunate bride had to hobble up the aisle because she had hurt her ankle falling over a coal scuttle'

- Ann Morrow, Cousins Divided, 2006

[Princess Alice was the mother of Alexandra, the last Tsarina of Russia, who was brought up at Queen Victoria's court after the untimely death of her mother in 1878 when Alexandra was only six years old]

28 May 2009

Jailors & derailleurs

NANTES, France (Reuters) - Close to 200 prisoners will cycle around France next month, watched by scores of guards on bicycles, in the first penal version of the Tour de France, authorities said Monday.

The 196 prisoners will cycle in a pack and breakaway sprints will not be allowed. They will be accompanied by 124 guards and prison sports instructors. There will be no ranking, the idea being to foster values like teamwork and effort.

"It's a kind of escape for us, a chance to break away from the daily reality of prison," said Daniel, a 48-year-old prisoner in the western city of Nantes, at the official launch of the event.

- Reuters, 25 May 2009

Joey the Swampthing

From Czech TV circa 1978:

[Via Clopinettes on B3ta]

21 May 2009

Definitely too much information

Shoaib ruled out of Twenty20 with genital warts

'Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has been ruled out of the World Twenty20 tournament in England due to genital warts, a Pakistan Cricket Board spokesman said overnight.

"We have pulled him out of the World Twenty20 on the basis of a medical report given by our doctor which said that Akhtar needs 10 days to recover from groin wounds," the PCB said.

"The medical board has reported that Akhtar was suffering from genital viral warts."'

- Stuff.co.nz, 22 May 2009

PNG's new national sport

[In Papua New Guinea] '...children throw pairs of worn-out shoes up into the power cables in Goroka, capital of PNG's Eastern Highlands province. They dangle aloft as the weather rots them. The prank is designed to cause power outages so that when repairmen come they can be bribed to lay illegal lines to houses. Trapping footwear in the overhead lines has become a sport, with champions able to hurl trainers so that they spin by their laces around the lines and stick fast'

- Economist, 20 May 2009

20 May 2009

The irritability of Wellingtonians

'Party spirit has always run high in this settlement, but it is generally acknowledged that this is chiefly owing to the high winds, which render the minds of the settlers so irritable, that, were it not for the politics, which act as the safety valve of the place, there is no saying what would be the result. It has been remarked that those living in the most exposed positions suffer most, and become the bitterest politicians, whilst others who have selected more sheltered localities, are the least acted upon by these barometrical changes'

- The missionary Richard Taylor in 1855, on the character of Wellington and its climate. Quoted in Philip Temple, Presenting New Zealand, Auckland, 2008

19 May 2009

Better late than never?

'A council has admitted workers painted a warning sign outside a nursery school despite it closing 10 years ago.

The yellow zig-zag "school keep clear" sign has been painted in Aberdeen at St Peter's Nursery in The Spital.

The work - costing about £200 - was carried out despite the building being boarded up.

An Aberdeen City Council spokeswoman said: "Staff have been instructed to check orders for all outstanding works to ensure they are still required."'

- BBC News, 19 May 2009


For those early adopters who've run out of apps to trick out their iPhones, here's a new one. Ever wanted to simulate snorting cocaine from the screen of a well-known Apple multimedia device? Well now's your chance.


15 May 2009

Australians cheer demise of metrosexual man

According to leading Australian demographer Bernard Salt, 'during the [economimc] downturn the theory is that women are concerned about safety, security, food supply and so their taste in men will shift from the androgynous hairless metrosexual towards the more muscular primal hairy male'.

WA Today quotes Salt at length:

Analysing competitors in the Cleo Bachelor of the Year competition, Salt, who is also author of the book Man Drought, said he believed the type of men in favour could change next year.

"You might find a very subtle shift in the type of celebrity male or desired male body shape might shift from hairless, sleek, a bit wimpy to the more muscular," he said.

On a global stage, he said actors like Leonardo DiCaprio and Zac Efron may become less popular with female fans, while Tom Selleck lookalikes would be back at the top.

And he believed tradesmen would start being very popular.

"There's a bit of brawn, muscular, a bit of honest sweat. I'm sure that's quite appealing to some women and the market for that will expand," he said.

"Many tradies are actually making an absolute fortune.

"If you look at a man as an investment after 20 years they've established their own business they can be quite successful - so I think tradies for ladies should not be underestimated."

- WAToday.com.au, 3 April 2009

Renting in Tokyo

How much will 50,000 yen (NZ$879, US$521, UK£342) per month rental get you in Tokyo? Answer: plenty of space as long as you don't have any actual possessions.

[Via FEER]

08 May 2009

A new word for terrorists

From a report in the Times, 6 May 1887:

The Dynamitards in America

The New York Times says there are many indications that the extreme Irish Nationalists in the United States are making preparations to perpetrate another series of dynamite outrages in England during the celebration of the Queen's jubilee.

Perhaps they were in some fiendish league with the Vitrioleuses and the Pistoleers. Oh, alright, I made that last one up.

- Times Archive blog, 8 May 2009

07 May 2009

A slight detour

A postcard sent from the Netherlands to Timau in Kenya accidentally ended up in Timaru, New Zealand - a small misdelivery of 13,250km. So, Miggy Looy of Kenya, if you're expecting some mail, it may be a while in arriving. (Although if you're in a hurry you could always just read the message from the newspaper's photograph - tut tut...)

- Timaru Herald, 7 May 2009

05 May 2009

Song for epileptic dogs

"C'mon, make a donation and save a shaky Dalmatian". From Flight of the Conchords, series 2, episode 6.

Economics for gun owners

Concerned that President Obama may raise taxes on ammunition, US gun owners are buying up bullets wherever they can find them... thereby creating ammo shortages, which has meant that ammunition is harder to find. A lesson in supply and demand?

"In the last two months it's gotten very, very difficult to find ammunition," says Richard Taylor, manager of The Firing Line, a gun shop and shooting range in the Denver, Colorado, suburbs.

"There are a lot of rumors floating around that the present government would like to increase taxes on ammunition. I think [there is] just a lot of panicked buying going on."

While campaigning for the White House, Obama supported re-enacting the now-expired ban on assault weapons. But there is no indication that the administration will take up that measure -- or any other gun-control initiative --anytime soon.

- CNN, 4 May 2009

[Via Fark]

04 May 2009

Dogfight 2

A simple browser game set in the skies of WW1, ideally designed to keep you occupied for a few minutes. Keep your eye out for the Hun in the sun, mind.

Dogfight 2