Sunday, 5 May 2013

Entertainment stuff from the week 29/4-5/5/13

Hi, World-Wide-Webbers

13.82 billion years of Universe. 20 years of world-wide-web. I can barely believe we ever lived without it!

'CERN celebrates 20 years of a free, open web'

Since Tim Berners-Lee and his colleagues developed the WWW, and made it free for all to access, we have become able to learn more in one day than many could learn in their entire lifetimes.

The Web was, of course, invented for Science - to transmit vast quantities of data with relative ease - whether that be evidence relating to the efficacy and hazards of herbal 'medicines', or just downloading 'Big Saucy Mommas 7'.

(I'm not saying the latter's Science, but there is a whole heap of mechanics in there!)

The 20th anniversary of the WWW isn't the only milestone met:

"This year is the 60th anniversary of the discovery of the structure of DNA by James Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins, aided by Rosalind Franklin."

And earlier, in March, we had the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the first quasar - black holes that become excessively bright, as the material they draw towards themselves impacts.

You can hear an interview with Maarten Schmidt - their discoverer - on 5-Live by Rhod and Dr Chris Smith of the Naked Scientists, here:

Oh - and seeing as the Hubble Space Telescope's winding down (due to be replaced by the James Webb Space Telsecope in a few years) here's a 23rd anniversary shot of the Horsehead Nebula, in glorious infrared:

And here's a wider shot of the same scene:

Here's a quizzle for you: How do you make a tree scream?

Dry it out.

Under drought conditions, cavitation occurs inside trees' xylem (the tubes through which water flows up to the leaves).

This means the formation and collapse of little bubbles, which produces really high 'popping' sounds - too high for us to hear.

So trees kind-of scream when you dry them out - but you'll never hear their fear, because our ears can't hear that high!

------------------------------------------------------ contemporary stuff

'THAT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE (Jonathan Hurley & Whitney Avalon)'
Well-meaning parents try to teach their daughter about Religion (in song), so that she can make up her mind, only... they're the ones who get taught :-D

'The Unbelievable Truth - Series 11 - Episode 4'
Graeme Garden's bit's very funny, in this episode :-)

'New Girl Remixed' - melodysheep
This is better than the program itself's ever been!

'"The Walking (And Talking) Dead" — A Bad Lip Reading of The Walking Dead'


'Caro Emerald - Completely (live - release)'

'Caro Emerald - The wonderful in you (live - release)'

'Caro Emerald - Black Valentine (Royal Albert Hall)'

What you're seeing, here, is Barack Obama, playing Daniel Day-Lewis, playing Barack Obama... i think :-/

'Knitted illusion!' via Richard Wiseman. It's 'The Girl With The Purl Earring'... get it? :-P

'Robbie Williams: Draw My Life // Bad Teeth'

------------------------------------------------------ of the weeks

Un-quotes Of The Week:

Goldilocks: "Mmm... those bears were tasty"

BT Broadband Customer Support: "Glad to hear you're pleased with our service"

Noel Coward: "Oh... piss off!"

Fact Of The Week: The largest foreign investment into Russia comes from Cyprus; the largest foreign investment into China comes from The British Virgin Islands; and the largest foreign investment into India comes from Mauritius. The reason? These places are 'tax havens'. When businesses 'do' their business 'in' these places, they don't have to pay tax.

Word Of The Week: gusset -- a triangle of cloth, used to aid flexibility in clothing

Expression Of The Week: "the whole kit and kaboodle" -- one of many expressions that allude to completeness - an entirety. kaboodle (caboodle) derives from 'kit' and 'boodle', meaning 'kit', so "kit and kaboodle" means "kit, kit, and kit"

Quote Of The Week: "If anyone at my funeral has a long face, i'll never speak to him again" - Stan Laurel

------------------------------------------------------ non-contemporary stuff

An interactive map of the Smithsonian Museum Of Natural History. It's impossible to read the exhibits, but boy - what good images!

Out of the mouths of babes?

The wonders of Physics :-D

Translation software. Frequently great fun :-D

"The Doctor, wearing Han Solo clothes, in the DeLorean. He is *trying* to break the internet."

Carl Sagan on 'The Sky At Night' - i had no idea he'd been on TSAN!

Calm down, Daffy, calm down!

'Researchers use Moore's Law to calculate that life began before Earth existed'
LOL, yes - use a metric that vaguely works under very specific conditions, but in a situation that doesn't at all comply with those conditions - and you'll get a valueless claim that you could have just pulled out of your arse :-D

This is what happens when you're a Hack, and you tell someone to pretend to type, and your colleague goes for a nice close-up of your pretend typing :-D

'Messi's Solid Gold Foot'
$5.25 million for the big'un, $42000 for a mini-foot, or $90000 for a footprint. Bargain!

'Red Dwarf-style talking head's emotions 'easier to read' than our own'
I don't know about you, but i quite like this Holly-head...

New Scientist extracts:

READER Sarah Longrigg was interested to come across hyper-dimensional cake decorators in the Betterware catalogue.
A page on Daisy Plunger Cutters in the Cake Decoration section of the online catalogue asserts that we can "create stunning sugarcraft flowers and daisies in minutes with these sugar paste cutters".
"Why buy?" the page asks, rhetorically, and gives its answers, such as the product being "safe for children to use". It gives the cutters' measurements, which are given as "4 × 1.5 × 2 × 3 × 3.5cm." So they are 5-dimensional, which is quite unusual, and may provide extra-dimensional crannies in which children can get irretrievably lost.
30 Mar

"EIGHTY-THREE per cent of Europeans believe food contains chemicals," according to an article on that summarised the results of a Eurobarometer survey commissioned by the EU last autumn. "What do the other 17 per cent think food is made of?" asks Philip Crichton.
30 Mar

"WHO would have thought that?" was Galen Ives's reaction to the label on the lamb hotpot he bought from a Cross Country Trains buffet bar. It warned: "Caution: Once heated the contents will be hot."
30 Mar

One colour too many? John Doran reports seeing an advertisement on Sky Gold TV for "Krave, white chocolate brownies"
6 Apr

FROM the depths of our piling system we unearth an article published in Science News on 15 December 2012 entitled "Telomere length linked to risk of dying" ( The article notes that telomeres – caps on the ends of chromosomes – shorten with age. It discusses ways in which this might relate to mortality figures.
Reader Pat Zura says: "About halfway through the article this line jumped out: 'The researchers don't yet know the health status of the people who died'."
6 Apr

Thanks, possibly, to Ian Napier for alerting us to Wikipedia's comments on a male condition known as ejaculatory duct obstruction. We read that one method used to treat this "is transurethral resection of the ejaculatory ducts. This operative procedure... has some severe complications and led to natural pregnancies in approx. 20 per cent of affected men."
"I'd say that was a pretty severe complication," says Ian.
6 Apr

A front-page advertising feature in Brian Whitehead's local paper boasted: "New invisible hearing aid has to be seen to be believed"
13 Apr

SEARCHING for research on an antenna design, Stephen Murray stumbled across a very puzzling conference session. Among the topics of discussion were "Marchitime Radar", "SMarcht Antenna Systems" and "Marchkovian Channel Modeling".
It was a reference to "Queen Marchy" college at the University of London that made everything clear: someone's search-and-replace tool had gone marching out of control.
13 Apr

NEW ZEALAND reader Gary Bedford sends us a photo of a tray of zucchini (courgette) seedlings, supplied by Awapuni Nurseries, that was labelled: "Contains 4 plants – 50% more than most competitors".
"By my calculations," Gary notes, "most competitors apparently sell punnets containing only two and two-thirds plants. But good news: Awapuni adds one and one-third plants. And not a sign of grafting."
20 Apr

DID whoever drafted the "Contact e-mail verification" sent to Ian Sanderson by the Australian Securities Exchange really think it could work as intended?
"This e-mail serves as a verification of the e-mail address that you have provided to the ASX. If this is not correct please advise via return e-mail."
20 Apr

CONCERN to protect the public from tampered goods, or manufacturers from liability, may not always be compatible with our mental – or indeed dental – well-being. John Fussell points to the instructions on the packaging of the Aquafresh toothpaste he bought: "The ends of this carton have been glued down. Do not use if the carton is open."
He wonders whether readers have any ideas to help him gain access to a carton that mustn't be used if opened. "My breath is starting to lose me friends," he writes, "as I wait for quantum mechanics to deliver the goods."
Feedback thinks that this may reflect the effectiveness of fear-based advertising, of the "Use this product or your friends will shun you..." variety. We have heard, John, that plain salt is as effective as toothpaste – if you can get into the salt cellar.
20 Apr

The safety booklet with Melissa Hards's new phone warns: "Do not insert phone or supplied accessories into mouth, ears or eyes." So how do we use the in-ear headphones?
27 Apr
{And how the hell would you insert a phone into your eyes?!?}

NICE to see some concern for users' well-being from the purveyors of fringe "health" products. Take wheatgrass juice. Feedback makes an informed guess that it's not as magic as many claim: it is probably about as good for you as celery, albeit with a nastier taste, taken by mouth.
Ken McLeod alerts us to a site called that wants to sell us a little "syringe" – in truth, from the picture, more like the air-puffer bulb of the photographic darkrooms of yore – to administer the green gunk internally.
This, the site says, "may be used for vagina or rectum, but not both".
27 Apr
{But NOT both????}

BACK in 2011 we noted the emerging art form of the Amazon customer review (29 January and 26 February 2011). Certain products, we discovered, had garnered huge numbers of ironic customer reviews on Amazon: examples included "Tuscan Whole Milk", with 1242 reviews at that time, and "The Mountain Three Wolf Short Sleeve Tee", with 1896 reviews.
We are delighted to discover that this art form lives on. Ralph Finch draws our attention to the Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer (, which at the time we went to press had garnered 3995 customer reviews on Amazon. Typical is the enthusiasm shown by Mrs Toledo who, in her review entitled "Saved my marriage", begins: "What can I say about the 571B Banana Slicer that hasn't already been said about the wheel, penicillin, or the iPhone..." and who finishes: "AND we've even incorporated it into our lovemaking. THANKS, 571B BANANA SLICER!"
Meanwhile, Iain Adams alerts us to another Amazon product, a book entitled How to Avoid Huge Ships ( Although it has yet to achieve the numerical success of the banana slicer, its 447 reviews still make interesting reading. Take the one from Noel Hill which begins: "As the father of two teenagers, I found this book invaluable. I'm sure other parents here can empathize when I say I shudder at the thought of the increasing influence and presence of huge ships in the lives of my children."
4 May

FINALLY, mixed marketing messages seem to be at work on the chalkboard Perry Bebbington saw outside a shop called Nowt-Added in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire: "No calorie lemon meringue soap".
Trying to imagine whether this was merely a spelling mistake, Feedback came up with "lemon meringue soup", which put us right off our lunch and therefore qualifies as a slimming aid.
27 Apr

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