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Non-Smoking Flight

Non-Smoking Flight

Emancipated Marionette

emancipated marionette

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

Marionette (from the French meaning little Mary): We all function sometimes like marionettes—under the control of a marionettist. Depicted: emancipated marionette—free from control, free from bondage, free from any influence—just free—on its own…

marionette (noun): puppet controlled by strings
function (verb): work, operate
marionettist (noun): a puppeteer who controls a marionette
emancipate (verb): set free
emancipated (adjective): free from legal, social or political restrictions; liberated
bondage (noun): the state of being a slave; the state of no freedom
influence (noun): the power to change someone’s character or behaviour

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…)

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?!

New dollar bill

To support the bailout of AIG, Lehman, Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac the US Treasury Department has issued a new one dollar bill…

New dollar bill

Willful panic

Watching CNN (or one of the other cable channels endlessly broadcasting the end of the world as capitalism knows it) I heard one of the “expert commentators” describe last Thursday’s sell-off on the London Stock Exchange as “a bloodbath – sheer, unadulterated, willful panic”.

What’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with “willful panic”? Please add your answers and comments.

(“When words lose their meaning, people lose their freedom.” Confucius)

College Entrance Exam

Time allowed: 1 minute

College Entrance Exam

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Answers to College Entrance Exam

That’s OK, I didn’t pass either 🙁

Morality Test

This test only has one question, but it’s a very important one. By giving an honest answer, you will discover where you stand morally. The test features an unlikely, completely fictional situation in which you will have to make a decision.

Remember that your answer needs to be honest, yet spontaneous.

Please scroll down slowly and give due consideration to each line.

THE SITUATION

You are in England, York to be precise.

There is chaos all around you caused by a hurricane with severe flooding.

This is a flood of biblical proportions.

You are a photo-journalist working for a major newspaper, and you’re caught in the middle of this epic disaster. The situation is nearly hopeless.

You’re trying to shoot career-making photos.

There are houses and people swirling around you, some disappearing into the water.

Nature is unleashing all its destructive fury.

THE TEST

Suddenly, you see a man in the water.

He is fighting for his life, trying not to be taken down with the debris.

You move closer… Somehow, the man looks familiar…
You suddenly realize who it is… It’s Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister of the UK! You notice that the raging waters are about to take him under forever. You have two options:

You can save the life of Gordon Brown or you can shoot a dramatic Pulitzer Prize-winning photo, documenting the death of one of the country’s most powerful men!

THE QUESTION

Here’s the question, and please give an honest answer…

Would you select high contrast colour film, or would you go with the classic simplicity of black and white?

April Fool’s Day

April 1st is called April Fool’s Day in English, and it’s a day when people play jokes on other people. They can be small, personal jokes or tricks, or big “industrial-size” hoaxes by newspapers or television channels like the BBC. (more…)

Swiss Spaghetti Harvest Hoax

Below is probably the most classic April Fool’s Day hoax of all time. On April 1st, 1957 the BBC ran a short programme about a bumper spaghetti harvest in southern Switzerland, showing spaghetti growing on trees. Many people believed the programme and phoned in to ask how they could grow their own “spaghetti tree”.

(more…)

How many words in Shakespeare?

Several sources claim that Shakespeare used nearly 30,000 different words in his works. However, we need to ask what we mean by “different words”. Is it reasonable to count go and going and gone as three different words? If we count go and going and gone as one word (GO), then Shakespeare used fewer than 20,000 “different words”.

What is it?

Riddles are short poems or texts that ask a question that seems difficult to answer. The following famous riddle by Catherine Fanshawe is talking about something, but what is it? (more…)

7 That’s in a row

What’s the most times you can repeat the same word consecutively in a sentence and still retain meaning? Here’s a sentence with 7 words in a row. (more…)