Friday, September 27, 2013

Bad joke of the day

Two Mexicans are stuck in the desert after crossing into the United States, wandering aimlessly and starving. They are just about to lie down and wait for death when suddenly Luis says,
"Hey Pepe, do you smell what I smell? Ees bacon,  I theenk!"
"Si Luis, eet sure smells like bacon!"
With renewed hope they struggle up the next sand dune and there in the distance see a tree loaded with bacon: raw bacon, fried bacon, back bacon, every kind of bacon.
"Pepe, Pepe, we ees saved: eet's a bacon tree!"
"Luis, maybe ees a meerage. We ees in the desert don't forget."
"Pepe, when deed you ever hear of a meerage that smell like bacon? Ees no meerage, ees a bacon tree!"
And with that, Luis staggers towards the tree. He gets to within 5 metres, Pepe crawling behind him, when suddenly a machine gun opens fire and Luis drops like a wet sock. Mortally wounded, he warns Pepe with his dying breath,
"Pepe..go back man, you was right, ees not a bacon tree!"
"Luis, Luis, mi amigo, what ees eet?"
"Pepe...ees not a bacon tree. Ees, ees, ees, ees,
Ees a ham bush!"

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Verse of the day

I saw old Autumn in the misty morn
Stand shadowless, like silence, listening
To silence, for no lonely bird would sing
Into his hollow ear from woods forlorn,
Nor lowly hedge nor solitary thorn;—        5
Shaking his languid locks all dewy bright
With tangled gossamer that fell by night,
  Pearling his coronet of golden corn.

Thomas Hood (1799-1845) Ode - Autumn

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Robert Hooke

Robert Hooke (1635-1702) was a remarkable man, known in particular for his scientific work in the fields of mechanics and microscopy. Hooke’s Law defines the relationship between the force applied to an elastic object and its extension. However, his research also extended to microscopy, with many of his contributions being made in “Micrographia” published in 1665. It was the first such work to be devoted to the study, and included illustrations of his observations, highlighting what the microscope could do for biological research. Through his work he discovered the cell, by his examination of cork. 
"....I could exceedingly plainly perceive it to be all perforated and porous, much like a Honey-comb, but that the pores of it were not regular….these pores, or cells,…were indeed the first microscopical pores I ever saw, and perhaps, that were ever seen, for I had not met with any Writer or Person, that had made any mention of them before this…
Hooke is thought to have chosen the word because the units he observed reminded him of the cells of a monastery. 

Monday, September 23, 2013


We had a reunion party in Cambridge at the weekend which seemed an appropriate occasion to open the Methuselah of Chateau Nozieres which I'd bought in Cahors in 1989. It was well received and a friend asked if she could give the bottle to her son. Here it is in his bedroom.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Letter of the day

This letter was received in response to an investigation into US disability allowance fraud:

Hi Mish
I have a niece and nephew in their early thirties. Both are perfectly healthy. They have a son with a slight learning disability. The mom got him on disability and then applied for funds to take care of him and got it. Her husband an Afghanistan vet in supply never saw a moment's action. He worked at a desk. When he came home he applied for disability claiming Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and got on disability. His wife then applied for money to take care of him. She got it. They are also on a long list of other entitlements like welfare.
They bought a new house a year ago and a month ago they both went out and bought two brand new cars! She actually brags about playing the system.
I have no doubt there are hundreds of thousands or millions doing the same thing. Needless to say it boils my blood!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Inside Wagner's Head

I recommend Simon Callow's 90 minute one man performance at the Linbury Theatre about the life and thoughts of Richard Wagner. It's a fascinating to hear about Wagner's striving to redefine German culture and the extreme highs and lows of his life. When he was young, he was an avid gambler and lost all his money. Convinced that he would win at some point, he asked his mother for her savings and he won big time, repaying her with interest and able to fund musical training for himself. His other lucky break was in 1864 when he was 51. King Ludwig II (who built the castle) ascended to the throne of Bavaria, aged 18. He was a huge fan of Wagner's and sent a messenger to find him with a diamond ring to prove the King's identity (Wagner thought it was some kind of joke). The King settled his debts, gave him a house and supported his composing. It was not a smooth ride but in the end Wagner achieved his dream: a new opera house at Bayreuth for his new kind of music. The first production there, the premiere of Das Rheingold had a hitch as well: some of the scenery,which had been made in Wandsworth, had been shipped to Beirut my mistake.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Cold feet?

Belated congratulations

to the Iron Lady, Erna Solberg, who will be Prime Minister in Norway. (Apologies, I haven't been able to get into my blog for days!)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Bad joke of the day

After living in the wilderness of Kentucky for many years, an old hillbilly decided it was time to visit the big city. In one of the stores he looked into a big mirror and, thinking that it was a portrait which looked very much like his father, he decided to buy it. One the way home he remembered that his wife Lizzy hadn't liked his father so he thought he'd hang it up in the barn.
Every morning before he went to the fields, he'd go into the barn and look at the picture. His wife became very suspicious of his visits to the barn and one day she made up her mind to go in there.she found the mirror and fumed, " So that's the ugly witch he's runnin' around with!"

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The death of Philip

The death of Philip of Macedon (383-336 BC) was described by one of the greatest actors of the era as the most dramatic event he'd ever witnessed on stage. Philip had been hosting a huge wedding for his daughter to the King of Epirus. Hundreds of guests  were sitting in the theatre at Aegae, the capital of Macedon. Twelve statues of gods were carried into the theatre in a procession, followed by a thirteenth statue: one of King Philip. Philip himself then walked onto the stage, dressed in white with no bodyguards. At that moment, an assassin, Pausanias, rushed out from the crowd and killed him.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Why it pays to be political Down Under

If Tony Abbott wins the forthcoming election in Australia, his salary will rise from A$360,990 to over A$500,000. Prime Minister Keven Rudd earns more than President Obama and more than double David Cameron's salary. Federal backbenchers in Australia take home $195,130, almost double the income of British MPs and nearly three times the national average wage in Australia. Australian parliamentarians' salaries are beaten by only one country: Italy!

Thursday, September 05, 2013

L'Etat, c'est moi!

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Interview technique

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

The siege of Syracuse

An architect discussing yesterday's melting of a Jaguar by sun's rays reflected by the "Walkie Talkie" building at 20 Fenchurch Street, reminded listeners of the siege of Syracuse. In 214-212 BC Syracuse was besieged by sea and land by the Roman Republic. The great mathematician and inventor, Archimedes, was called to help the city. One of his weapons of mass destruction, known as the Claw of Archimedes, was a great hook which lifted ships out of the sea and then dropped them back in from a great height. Another of his successful ideas was to build a huge mirror and reflect the sun's rays onto the wooden ships of the Romans, thereby setting them on fire. The Romans eventually managed to breach the city's defences while the people of Syracuse were partying at the Festival of Artemis. The Roman General Marcus Claudius Marcellus gave orders that Archimedes, then 78, should not be killed. He continued his mathematical studies under the Roman occupation but not long after the siege a Roman soldier burst into his house, annoying Archimedes who in no uncertain terms told him to leave. The soldier killed him on the spot.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Obama putts while Syria burns

Do you think Obama is following David Cameron's lead? Do you think he's nervous of going alone with the flaky French? Or do you think he wanted to make the most of his Labor Day holiday?