Monthly Archives: May 2006

Political Compass

Why not have a go on the political compass? All you have to do is fill in a questionnaire and they place you on a political graph. I’m apparently a left-leaning libertarian. I was placed next to the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela.

Wiggintons Pub

Thank you to Hertfordshire Life magazine for informing us all that Wiggintons, round the corner from my house, is in fact a pub. The ‘Wigginton & Son public house’ appears on page 57 of the June issue. I ought to be more observant. I always thought it was a shop.

Keeping an eye on me in the office

Relaxing in the living room

Pin-Up Of The Week

This week’s pin-up is Dostoyevsky the hamster from Waltham Abbey in Essex. He’s quite old and short-sighted, but very active. His hobbies include eating grapes and running on his wheel.

Eet Pinguin Poep

It probably hasn’t escaped your notice, even if you’re a broadsheet reader and Radio 3 listener, that this year’s Big Brother cast includes a boy with Tourette Syndrome. And of course the press have claimed it’s exploitation and focussed on the fact that he swears a lot.
In fact, fewer than 15% of people with Tourettes have coprolalia (compulsive use of taboo words or phrases). But what about the ones within this 15% who live sheltered lives and have never encountered swear words?
I’ve yet to find out exactly what they do, but I did see a programme about Tourettes in which a compulsive swearer adapted his words and phrases to the culture he was in. So, on a visit to the USA, he kept shouting ‘Twin Towers!’ at bemused passers by. And I did find one entry on a Tourettes site which backed up the idea of ‘contextual swearing’:
I choose the ones that would be most offensive to whoever is nearby. And no matter how sheltered your life is you will pick up some doozies. I’ve even found that I will make up new swear words if none of the ones I know are ‘appropriate’. Then of course, when I’ve relaxed a bit, the memory of what I’ve said haunts me for ages.
This then led me to some international swearing phrasebooks. Did you know, for instance, that ‘pumpkins!’ is a swear word in Macedonia? ‘Stubby legs!’ is also highly offensive in Japan.
And here are some phrases guaranteed to offend people in the Netherlands:
Je hebt het niveau van een poffertje!
(you’re equipped with the intellect of a small pancake)
Je moeder heeft een snor en een baard!
(your mother has a moustache and a beard)
Eet pinguin poep!
(I won’t bother translating this)
As for Tourette Syndrome, it’s a neurological disorder, possibly caused by irregular levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine. It was first described by Dr Georges Albert

Going Blackberrying

I had occasion to google the word ‘blackberry’ the other day as I’m thinking of getting one to collect my emails.
Naturally, I expected to find lots of entries about actual blackberries first. (For young people – a berry is a juicy thing that grows on a bush). But I was shocked to the core. The first 17 entries were for handheld wireless devices. Even on Google Image Search. It was like something from Dr Who. Fruit possessed by technology. I was apopleptic and stormed out of the room.
The blackberry (berry version) is also, by the way, known as the bramble, cloudberry, dewberry, thimbleberry, and bumble-kite. And it was associated with Pagan gods such as Brigit.
In fact, if you scald yourself, you can invoke Brigit using a blackberry and cure yourself by dipping nine blackberry leaves in spring water and then laying them against the burn gently, while saying the following chant three times to each leaf (27 times in total):
Three ladies came from the east.
One with fire and two with frost.
Out with fire, in with frost.

Porch Dog

I get a daily word or phrase delivered from the Urban Dictionary. Today’s phrase is ‘porch dog.’
A porch dog is:
A person who frequently attacks others in speech or writing, but who poses no intellectual threat whatsoever. The motivation of this type of person can usually be accurately construed as a desire to be obnoxious and offensive. The phrase ‘porch dog’ is used to refer to dogs that sit on front porches and bark at passers by, but pose no physical threat.

Satoru Tsuda Catpix

It’s good to see the cat photos of Satoru Tsuda are in fashion in the UK. And it’s difficult to avoid comparisons between his models and the highly photogenic Bollinger.
Tsuda took up cat photography in 1980 when he found an abandoned kitten at the dry cleaners next to his home in Nagoya. He named it Matakichi after the dry cleaners and adopted it, despite not liking cats much at the time.
The kitten joined his large collection of pets, including dogs, rabbits, ducks, sparrows and marmots. More cute cats followed, resulting in more photos and a craze for collecting his catpix in Japan.
Tsuda loves animals and he’s very careful not to harm or upset them when they pose for him.