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Curiosities

The Laughing English Teacher

I’ve got an English teacher, he always takes our class
A fat old jolly red-faced man, he gives us all a pass
He’s too kind for a teacher, he never has a rule
And everybody says he is the happiest man in school.

He laughs when giving homework, he laughs and doesn’t teach
He laughs at everybody when they struggle with their speech
He never can stop laughing, he says he’s never tried
But once he did expel a guy, and laughed until he cried

His jolly face it wrinkled and then he shut his eyes
He opened his great mouth, it was a wondrous size
He said “I must expel you”, but he didn’t know what for
And then he started laughing until he hurt his jaw

So, if you chance to meet him, when walking round the school
Just shake him by his fat old hand and tell him he’s so cool
His eyes will beam and sparkle, he’ll gurgle with delight
And then you’ll start his laughing with all his blessed might.

Adapted from The Laughing Policeman, a 1920s song by Charles Jolly

Autophagy of a Black Hole

Autophagy of a Black Hole by Univ. Prof. Dr. Peter Heilig

Autophagy of a Black Hole by Univ. Prof. Dr. Peter Heilig

Picture by my Viennese cousin Univ. Prof. Dr. Peter Heilig, who writes:

“The story goes back to the days, when the experts proclaimed: ‘Nothing escapes from a black hole’. So I put this statement in question. In a thought experiment a blacke hole might engulf itself – like the legendary ourobouros – of course it can not hold the %&$§’.. My experts – (CERN, Astronomy, Physics) had their fun. The drawing was dedicated to Felicitas Pauss (Austrian expert at CERN). Latin: Autophagia foraminis nigris”

Wierd! Or is it Weird? What do you make of that?!!

New Mural Celebrates Amazing Leicester City’s Thai Links

The surprise winners of the 2015–16 Premier League in the UK were Leicester City Football Club. A surprise, that is, to all except Buddhist monk Phra Prommangkalachan who predicted it, despite Leicester City’s 5000-1 odds of winning at the start of the season.

Buddhist monk mural celebrating football team Leicester City's Premier League title triumph

Buddhist monk mural in Leicester, UK, celebrating football team Leicester City’s Premier League title triumph. Did Phra Prommangkalachan’s blessings play a role in Leicester’s shock victory?

Leicester City’s Thai owner is Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who invited Phra Prommangkalachan — the prior at Wat Traimit Withayaram Woraviharn (Golden Buddha) Temple in Bangkok’s Chinatown district — to offer spiritual support.

mural (noun): a painting on a wall
predict (verb): say in advance; foretell; prophesy
5000-1 odds: chances of winning (in betting, with a bet of £1 you would win £5000 if you bet right)
prior (noun): assistant abbott

Trumpxit

With the election of Donald Trump as the next US president, the term Trumpxit is added to the Brexit lexicon, sharing as the US election and British referendum do the same misreading of the electorate by an establishment of media personnel, government officials, experts and data-driven pollsters.

Trumpxit

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…)