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Joe's Cafe

Curiosities

What’s this guy got to do with English?

This guy is “Guy Fawkes”, and English was his mother tongue. His death is gruesomely celebrated in England every 5th November when ordinary people mindlessly burn effigies of him on bonfires.

Guy Fawkes

What did Guy Fawkes do to deserve such venom? He plotted with others to assassinate the king of England (and of Scotland) by blowing up Parliament during its state opening in 1605. Their motives were politico-religious… But they failed. Their plans were leaked and Guy Fawkes was the one conspirator found guarding the gunpowder under the (more…)

Organic or Conventional? WT*?

I was intrigued to read about research into what fruit flies think of organic food. Apparently they like it:

“By nearly every measure, including fertility, stress resistance and longevity, flies that fed on organic bananas and potatoes fared better than those who dined on conventionally raised produce.”

(more…)

The three rings of marriage

“There are three rings involved with marriage. The engagement ring, the wedding ring, and the suffering.”

Woody Allen (1935-) American actor, comedian and director

Wordchecker
ring (noun): a small, round, metal band that you wear on your finger
involved with: connected to
engagement ring (noun): a ring that a man gives to a woman when they decide to marry
wedding ring (noun): a ring that a married person wears
suffering (noun): a bad and painful feeling

The chain of marriage

“Marriage is a chain so heavy that it takes two people to carry it – sometimes three.”

Variously attributed to Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870) French writer and Alexandre Dumas (son) (1824-1879) French writer

Original: Les chaînes du mariage sont si lourdes qu’il faut être deux pour les porter; quelquefois trois.

Wordchecker
chain (noun): a series of connected metal links (used, for example, for pulling heavy objects or confining prisoners)

Better to have loved and lost?

I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

(By Alfred Lord Tennyson 1809–1892)

What do YOU think? Is it better to have loved and lost? Or is it better never to have loved at all?

Wordchecker
to hold something true: to consider/believe something to be true
whate’er*: whatever
to befall* (verb): to happen
whate’er befall*: whatever happens
to sorrow* (verb): to feel deep distress; to be very unhappy/sad (“sorrow” is not normally used as a verb in English today)
’tis*: it is

*this language is typical of romantic poetry but is not normal in everyday English

How long is a question?

Today I was asked a question that at first sight seems very much like the famous “How long is a piece of string?” question. “How long is a piece of string?” is something that people say when asked a question and they want to answer “It depends”, “It depends on the situation”, “It depends on the circumstances”, “How can I possibly answer that question without more information?” In other words, “You’re asking a pretty stupid question which is impossible to answer.” Here’s the question that someone asked me: “How long is a question?”

Mmmm. Let’s see. Let’s just take two hypothetical questions and measure them: (more…)

The Very Unnaughty Noughties

In previous centuries each decade has generally had a label based on its numerical value:

  • 1950-1959: The Fifties
  • 1960-1969: The Sixties
  • 1970-1979: The Seventies
  • 1980-1989: The Eighties
  • 1990-1999: The Nineties (more…)

End of a decade?

A decade? You guessed it – something to do with 10. Several words with “dec” relate to 10, coming from the Greek “deka” for “ten”. A decapod is an animal with 10 legs. A decahedron is a solid with 10 surfaces. A decathlon is an athletic contests with 10 events. Even December – it’s the 10th month (of the ancient Roman year, before they interfered with it). Decimal – no explanation needed. The verb decimate, which popularly means to kill or destroy a large quantity, also has the original meaning: “to kill one person in 10”. And (more…)

World’s largest English-speaking country?

USA? Think again 🙂

Smiling Moon

What can it mean? The Moon is smiling over Thailand. Here are two pictures I took tonight 1st December around 7pm in Bangkok.

Smiling Moon over Bangkok

Smiling Moon

Have YOU have seen a smiling moon? What do YOU think it means?!