Sunday, 10 November 2013

Entertainment stuff from the week 4-10/11/13

Hi bangers,

The solution to last week's Hallowe'en spooky quiz:

'Solution: Halloween Mystery - Ghost Flame'

The key is that the area of combustion (where you see the flame) can be disconnected from the fuel source.

With a match, the combustion can only occur where the match is, and so immersing it in the CO2 also extinguishes the flame.

Butane from the lighter, however, can flow through the CO2, and combust as it reaches already-combusting butane, at the flame.

Notice that, if the flame were ever allowed to go out, the experimenter would have to start over, by withdrawing and hitting the sparker again.

Combusting butane emits enough energy to ignite more butane, as it comes through the CO2 fog, but warm butane is not.

Also notice that the distance of the flame from the lighter is inversely correlated with the size of the flame (it's smaller).

This is because the butane disperses as it travels away from the lighter nozzle, and so there is less available for combustion in the specific spot where the flame is.

Cool experiment. Spooky science!

And this week's quiz: Which trees are helping us to fight cancer?

{Hint: It's not Willow - aspirin is derived from Willow}

There have, unfortunately, been at least two disasters, this week:

'YouTube comment changes ruined my life'

...and seriously:
{Even more seriously than Greg's grass}

'One of strongest typhoons in history hits Philippines'

Due to lack of data available, atm, it's difficult to tell where has been worst affected, and how many people are involved.

'The Unbelievable Truth' now has a book:

Written by Graeme Garden and Jon Naismith, with a foreword by David Mitchell


The 8th of November marks the 48th anniversary of The Race Relations Act coming into effect, banning racial discrimination in public places in Britain. Half a century later, and it's pretty much only quacks and religionists who consider this advancement to not apply to them.

The 10th of November marks the 220th anniversary of the The French Republic's abolishment of worship of the Christian god, establishing a 'cult of reason' in its place. I know - a cult of non-cultiness - we'd never make that mistake, in the 21st century! [coughs: "Atheism+"]

And in contrast, the 15th of November marks the 72nd anniversary of the Nazi movement in Germany's declaration that homosexual members of the SS and police shall be executed.

What nice people.

Here, in the UK, the beginning of November is most strongly associated with bonfires and fireworks (see 'How they do fireworks in Scotland' in 'contemporary stuff'), to celebrate the time a bunch of Catholics tried to kill a bunch of politicians, by blowing up the Houses of Parliament.

For British Protestants, that pretty much seems a win-win situation. I'm still not sure exactly what we celebrate - their attempt to kill pollies, or their failure and subsequent executions?!

I expect people do it just for the bangs, nowadays... I hope :-/


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

'Miss Ping Debunk'

'ATP Tennis: Top 10 Hot Shots Of The Year'*/Tennis/Media/Videos/Uploaded/2013/11/6/Holding-Court-Live-Presented-By-Barclays-Top-10-Hot-Shots.aspx

'Barclays ATP World Tour Finals 2013 Thursday Highlights: Federer and Gasquet'*/Tennis/Media/Videos/Uploaded/2013/11/7/Barclays-ATP-World-Tour-Finals-2013-Thursday-Highlights.aspx

'Snoopybabe: Flat-Faced Feline Sensation'

'Macro photographs of Nikon Small World contest 2013'

The British monarchy welcome a new 'little soldier' to their ranks:

'How they do fireworks in Scotland'
I dearly hope this isn't fake. But it probably is. Captain Disillusion - you have a new mission, almost immediately :-D

More cock-related humour :-P
'Sexy "Orthodox Priests" calendar features men of the cloth sans cloth' via Johann Hari on Facebook
Actually, none of the models are priests, or even clergy - just affiliates of the RC Church - but don't let that stop them. It's blasphemous enough for me :-D

Does this count as topical? It does? Here you go, then:
'11 terrifying kids from vintage adverts who will freeze the very marrow in your bones' via Sunday Driver
{"Eating out gives life a lift!" ...but you should still ask her permission, first :-P }
{{Sunday Driver is a steampunk band that features Kat Arney, of the Naked Scientists}}

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

Word Of The Week: labile -- liable to change, easily changed; sometimes used in the context of emotional state

Expression Of The Week: "no holds barred" -- from wrestling, meaning no holds... barred. It now means 'free from limitations' in any context

Misplaced Metaphor Of The Week: "A good book should do exactly what it says on the tin" - Judy Finnigan, on The One Show

Science Article Of The Week: 'University physicists study urine splash-back and offer best tactics for men'

Sporting Event Of The Week: The 'Man versus Horse Marathon' run in Llanwrtyd Wells. In 33 events, a man has won only twice!

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


'Inspiration Night - Animation'

'The Delectable Spaghetti Trees of Switzerland'
Ripley's looks back to BBC Panorama's April Fools' Day hoax, back in 1957. I'm not sure why. It's six months 'til April Fools' Day. Is the Ripley's calendar hanging back to front?

Feline sleeping places - then and now

'3D Latte Art by Kazuki Yamamoto'

Modern... um... art? :-P

Don't laugh! I find it difficult to get proportions right, too :-D

Minecraft: what can you do with just blocks? Well...

'The best of Ken M'

'Self checkout'

A compilation from

'Russians on facebook'
Loving the girl with the fish :-D

What the hell are "fushing" and "dinking"?

Feedback updates:

Jim Jobe was intrigued by an offer in Morrisons supermarket for "Mini Man-Sized Tissues": "These were for mini-men, no doubt... and of course they were offered at a reduced price."
28 Sep

HOPING to go for a walk along the coast of Northumberland in north-east England, Alan Robinson checked out the "Walking Britain" website. The description of the scenic Dunstanburgh Castle walk there gives the starting point of the walk as "OS grid reference NU256197 Lat 55.4704199170077 + Long -1.59455186840724 Postcode NE 66 3TW".
Alan reckons this corresponds to a precision of something like ±0.1 micrometres – but the site adds that this is the "approx. location only". Alan wants to know: "What would they regard as sufficiently precise?"
28 Sep

SEVERAL Australian readers have gleefully told us about what Neil Speirs calls "a major attempt to boost your catalogue of unusual units". A press release from the country's Clean Energy Council on 3 September celebrates record levels of energy produced by wind farms in four Australian states. It tells us: "Australia's wind farms generated 1024 gigawatt-hours in August, enough to make more than 6 billion (6,144,000,000) toasted sandwiches using an average sandwich press."
A stack of these sandwiches, the press release goes on, "would go around the Earth more than three times". What's that in blue whales?
28 Sep

Rachel Burton sends us a screenshot of a BBC weather page during the first week of August. The forecast for the night ahead on the first day of the week reads: "UK overnight. Very warm and sunny for many. Cloudier in northern Scotland."
"Do they know something we don't?" asks Rachel.
28 Sep

AMERICAN fondness for guns never ceases to amaze. Barry Cash alerts us to a report in USA Today at stating that blind people in the state of Iowa are being granted permits that allow them to purchase guns and carry them in public.
The report explains: "State law does not allow sheriffs to deny an Iowan the right to carry a weapon based on physical ability."
According to the article, officials in Iowa's Polk County say they have already issued weapons permits "to at least three people who can't legally drive and were unable to read the application forms or had difficulty doing so because of visual impairments".
"No one [in Iowa] questions the legality of the permits," USA Today says, "but some officials worry about public safety." Indeed.
Meanwhile, officials in Deer Trail, Colorado, have received 983 applications, each with a cheque worth $25, for a licence to shoot down any government drones that fly over the town.
No such licences exist at present, but thanks to a Deer Trail citizen's initiative, a citywide referendum on the idea is to take place on 8 October. Enthusiastic would-be drone hunters are putting in their orders early – see

5 Oct
{I feel compelled to point out, in the context of Iowan law that refuses to deny access to lethal weaponry on the grounds of ability, the congruence with laws around the world, that do not deny anyone the right to run a country, on the grounds of mental ability. At least in this respect, the USA is not so out of touch!}

FEEDBACK'S eye was caught recently by a report in the Süddeutsche Zeitung that fluoride compounds exported from Germany to Syria were declared as being destined for toothpaste manufacture – not for chemical weapons, oh no. It was the amount that struck us: "more than 97 tonnes" of various fluoride compounds during 2005 and 2006.
We reached for a calculator and headed for the bathroom. Its cabinet reveals toothpastes with fluoride doses of 1450 and 1100 parts per million by weight. We don't have a breakdown of the exact quantities of the different compounds that were shipped from Germany, but the one containing least fluoride is sodium fluoride at 45 per cent fluoride by weight – so in round numbers we can say that the compounds contained around 25 tonnes of fluoride per year (roughly half of 45 per cent of 97 tonnes). That's enough for 25,000 tonnes of toothpaste.
The CIA estimates Syria's population at 22.5 million and does not report toothpaste as one of the country's major exports. So every child, woman and man in the country could be supplied with 1.1 kilograms of fluoride-containing toothpaste per year; maybe more.
Surely Germany's reputedly meticulous bureaucrats could have spotted how unlikely these amounts were?
5 Oct
{I get through a few hundred grams per year. Syrians must have beautiful teeth!}

[While] searching for other peoples' translations of the Süddeutsche Zeitung story [] above, Feedback was saddened but not surprised to find that fruitloops were instantly on the case. First up was a YouTube video with the description "Fluoride is used to make Sarin gas, yet they say it is okay for your drinking water and toothpaste?"
Yes, yes, but both of these contain much more of the notoriously dangerous substance "dihydrogen monoxide" (chemical name H2O), the vicious trade in which Feedback has oft exposed since 18 May 1996.
2 Nov

AUCTION site ebay now lists its fees to the nearest 0.000001 penny. Martyn Ellis sends a screenshot showing a charge of £1.878252 to include a photo of the item he's selling.
5 Oct
{I smell exchange rates..... :D }

Jeff Dickens was provoked by our proposition that a written notice apparently intended to be read by rabbits and hares – "Rabbits and Hares this gate must be kept shut" – indicates that these furry animals must be very intelligent (7 September).
Jeff responds with scorn: "These rabbits and hares can't be that intelligent if they need signs to remind them not to leave gates open in sheep country. Tsk!"
5 Oct

Stephen Stent sends us a photo of a sign by the road in Whangarei, New Zealand, offering "DRY T-TREE FIREWOOD $100 CM2". What can that possibly mean?
12 Oct

Des Mahon was struck by a notice to drivers in the bus station in the UK city of Dundee: "Engines must be switched off at all times"
19 Oct

ELEPHANTS, says Steve Carper, are "fast becoming the premier unit of all work. Not only are they used for mass, they are also a unit of volume."
Steve cites an article from the 12 August issue of The New Yorker, in which Ben McGrath writes about the construction of the new Second Avenue Subway in New York. He quotes Michael Horodniceanu of MTA Capital Construction, who was standing about 30 metres below Eighty-fourth Street, "in a cavern so vast that he said it could hold fifty-five thousand elephants".
"Maybe," says Steve, "we should redefine density in terms of elephants per elephant."
19 Oct

READER David Curl had to go to the vet to get some Indigo, an anti-inflammatory medication needed by his daughter's guinea pig. The receptionist handed him the bottle and, repeating the printed instructions, told him to "give Indigo 3 kilograms once a day".
"Shouldn't that be 3 grams or 3 millilitres or something?" David asked. "Three kilograms sounds like rather a lot."
"Oh, that's OK," replied the receptionist. "Guinea pigs have very fast metabolisms."
19 Oct

The Domino's Pizza leaflet that dropped through Charlie Wartnaby's letter box defies logic by promising "Savings of up to and over £350"
26 Oct

WHAT on earth could an "alcohol shot gun" be?
Richard Lucas sends us a scan of an ad he saw in the CPC catalogue promoting the "Shootndrink" gun, describing it as a "high speed spirit delivery system" to "take drinking games to another level".
The gun comes with a cartridge – you "fill the cartridge with the spirit of your choice", which is then "shot out at high speed into the drinker's mouth". It is, says the ad, "ideal for stag and hen nights".

Feedback was greatly taken by the whistle-in-the-wind statement concluding the promotion: "NB. Please enjoy Alcohol Shot Gun by drinking responsibly."
26 Oct

THE photo of a charming little hedgehog sniffing a bowl of food in Rachel Cave's recent CJ Wildlife catalogue carries a caption stating that the bowl contains "Organic Paté for Hedgehogs".
"This easily digestible food is akin to their natural diet, so our prickly friends are sure to enjoy this meaty feast," the brochure explains. It continues with the product's composition, starting with "meat and animal derivatives from organic chicken and turkey".
Rachel says she is now afraid to go into the garden at night for fear of encountering hedgehogs that snack on chickens and turkeys – considering how large they would have to be.
26 Oct


"Tapioca must be a hitherto unknown superfood," says Terjei Jensen. According to, a 28-gram serving provides 728 grams of carbohydrates and 3033 calories – a day-and-a-half's worth
2 Nov
{A handy rule of thumb: dietitians are the ones who know what they're doing; nutritionists are just quacks}

From New Zealand, Rosemary Fineman sends a document awarding a Pressure Sewerage Equipment Supply contract to Ecoflow Ltd of Auckland – giving as contact person at Ecoflow one Karl Stench.
2 Nov
{I thought nominative determinism had been abolished from Feedback's inches? They do seem to be creeping back in...}

FINALLY, the International Journal of Latest Research in Science and Technology told Andrew Kirk in an email soliciting papers that it is an "academic Online Open 'Right to Use' Pear Reviewed International Journal".
Andrew wonders how the pear review process is conducted – and whether it makes the journal more likely to accept fruitloopery.
26 Oct
{Haha - someone give that man a medal :-D }
{On a more serious note, though -- i do hope this isn't indicative of some nefarious body-shape-ism, where people with figures other than 'pear-shaped' are subjugated by the Journal, and condemned to live in self-loathing, shame and ignominy! I do hope not.... :-P }

And the answer to this week's quiz is:

It's Yew trees that are helping us to fight cancer. Docetaxel is from the needles of the European Yew, and paclitaxel is from the bark of the Pacific Yew.

'Yew clippings to make chemotherapy'

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