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Category archive: Comedy

Friday March 09 2018

As a Blackadder fan, I have long known about the use of pigeons during World War 1, to send messages.  Pigeons like the one in this photo:


Twitter caption:

War Pigeons were very effectively deployed in the First World War. For instance, they carried messages, like the one being attached to a pigeon by Austro-Hungarian soldiers on the Isonzo Front, which can be seen in this picture.

Quite so.  But what made me decide to post the above photo here was this exchange, in the comments.


Were they normally encrypted?

Wayne Meyer:

They used WEP. Wartime Encryption for Pigeons. It was a very early wireless standard.

Blog and learn.  Not only did I just discover that pigeon messages were – of course, they’d have to have been – encrypted.  I also learned that you can link directly to individual Twitter comments.

And what better way could there to learn about the activities of birds than via Twitter?

Thursday March 01 2018

A tweet reminded me about this wonderful rant from Louis CK:


That’s the version of it, with dots inserted by him, that Steven Pinker quotes in his new book about the Enlightenment.

Pinker is concerned to explain why increasing affluence doesn’t seem to make everyone ecstatically happy.  Deidre McCloskey, in her Bourgeois trilogy, is fond of talking about how the Great Enrichment has made regular people as of now nearly three thousand percent richer.  So, why aren’t we three thousand percent happier?  Because we don’t seem to be.

Lots of reasons.  First, you are happy not according to your absolute level of affluence, but rather according to how affluent you get to be and how meaningful your life gets to be compared to what you were expecting, and compared to how well everyone else seems to be doing, because that tells you how well you could reasonably have expected to do.  You may well have been raised to expect quite a lot.  Second, although technology hurtles along, for most this hurtling is both pleasing and rather unsettling, the less of the former and the more of the latter as time goes by.  We don’t experience, in our one little life, how much better things like Twitter are than is looking after cows, out of doors, all year round, with not enough food or heating.  What we experience, as we get older, is how confusing things like Twitter are, or alternatively, if we ignore something like Twitter, how demoralising it is that it has defeated us and denied us its benefits.  Or how tedious air travel is, compared to what we’d hoped for rather than compared to a horse drawn wagon in a desert.  Yes, I live three thousand percent better than that wretched cowherd three hundred years ago, and if a time machine took away my life and gave me his life, I’d be three thousand percent more miserable.  But that’s not the same as me being three thousand percent happier than he was.  Happier, yes, definitely.  But not by that much.

It’s because we don’t feel that much happier that Louis CK has to rant, to remind us of how lucky we are.  And that Steven Pinker has to write his book, to make the same point.

But what if progress continues to hurtle forwards?  What if someone reads this posting, centuries from now, and he says: Good grief, those Twenty First Centurions were very easily satisfied.  Five hours to get from New York to California?

It must have been hell.

Saturday February 17 2018

I still get cheques through the post, and then I insert these cheques into my bank account by going physically to my local physical branch of my unlocal bank and by handing the cheques over to a cashier.  My bank, however, doesn’t like this.  Just like Tesco, they want me to do the work.  In Tesco’s case they now demand that I become my own check-out person and operate their computers for them.  So, it’s Sainsbury’s and Waitrose for me, from now on.  Bye bye Tesco.  In the bank’s case, they want me to do their work for them while I sit at home.  But, I like the exercise.  In the huge bank queue, I get to read a book concentratedly, because there is nothing else to do.  Good.

All of which is a preamble to the fact that when I came across this, I LedOL:

“Are you aware that you can now do all of this online?”


Genius.  K. J. Lamb, well done.

One of the many techniques they use to put you off actually going to the physical local branch of your Big Bank is to keep changing the people behind the bars.  And these total strangers are constantly, and insultingly, asking you to prove that you are who you are.  Well, madam, I’ve been banking with your bank for the last half century.  Who the hell are you?  Please could you give me proof that you actually do work here?

Someone should make a movie about a twenty first century bank robbery, where the robbers, who are disgruntled ex-employees of the Big Bank that owns the bank branch they bust into, bust into the bank branch, overpower the witless bunch of newbies who happen to be running the place that day, and park them all in a back room for the day with tape over their months, and then the robbers run the bank all day long, while one of their number hacks into the mainframe computer of the Big Bank that owns everything, and sucks all the money out of it.  The point is: none of the customers who visit the branch while all this is happening would find it in the slightest bit odd to be confronted by a bunch of total strangers.  That would ring no alarm bells at all, because this happens all the time.

Friday February 16 2018

You wait nearly thirteen years at BMdotcom for a giant penis photo, and then, out of the blue, two come along.  That one, in the post before last yesterday, and this one:


Crikey, blimey, etc..  Or as we Brits also used to say: Well I’m blowed.

Fox News, so also “other creatures”.

You Had One Job calls this an “unfortunate helicopter shot”.  But I bet the photoer could hardly believe his extreme good fortune.

Thursday February 15 2018



The best comment I can think of is another photo, one of the many that I took in the Churchill Dungeon, this one being an item for sale in the gift shop:


I love words.  I sometimes I fail to think of the right ones, but they never fail me.  It just that I am sometimes not worthy of them.

But I found some good ones this time, I think,

Saturday February 10 2018

You Had One Job (a current Twitter favourite of mine) calls this “Brilliant”:



At a site called Idiot Toys they also do lots of gadgets with faces.  Or, they did, because (I just looked) things seem to have slowed down there lately.  But I can’t recall anything nearly as dramatic as the above image.

LATER: this.

Friday February 09 2018

Those little chinese cats, the ones that slowly wave their paws in the air, are often to be seen in gift shops.  But I never thought I’d see one of these pretend cats being copied by a real cat.

Dogs will copy, including copying their humans, like in this bit of video at the same Twitter feed, but I never knew that any cats were also this way inclined.  I didn’t know that there were actual copycats.

I guess my surprise comes from me not having known any cats who were growing up in the company of other cats, and hence still at the stage of learning how to be a cat, by copying those other cats.

Wednesday January 31 2018

I’ve often wondered about words like these, but Susie Dent explains:

You can be gruntled (satisfied), kempt (combed), couth (polite), ruthful (full of compassion), whelmed (capsized), and gorm-like (have an intelligent look about you). And, for a while in the 1600s, you could be shevelled too.

A commenter adds the words “chalant” and “consolate”, which were apparently first used in a New Yorker piece.

Also in that piece: “wieldy”, “descript”, “gainly”, “cognito”, “make bones about it”, “beknownst”, “it would be skin off my nose”, “both hide and hair”, “toward and heard-of behaviour”, “maculate”, “peccable”, “new hat”, “terminable”, “promptu”, “petuous”, “nomer”, “choate, “defatigable”, “committal”, and quite a few that I surely missed.

Immaculate and impeccable are odd ones.  Does im at the front mean not?  It’s not clear.  Pressive?  Pact?  Mitate?  Agination?  Immiserate sounds the same as miserate.  This can get very intricate.  Although, you may think it to be not very tricate.  Also, I hope you are being ritated rather than the more common negative of that.

“Indefatigable” could be shortened twice.  Defatigable.  Fatigable.  Which means something very similar to indefatigable.

Timidate.  Timate.  Genious.  Sipid.  Cest.  Ert and Ept, I’ve heard before.  Nuendo.  Finitesimal.  Juriours,

For “over”, you could just put “der”.

I hope this posting has interested you.  My apologies if, instead, you have been terested.

Monday January 29 2018

I like my photo:


But I also like what 6k has done with it:


So, which is better?  There’s only one way to find out!

Compare the two by looking first at one, then the other, and back again, and so, until you are able to decide.

Did you think I was going to say they should fight each other?  That would be ridiculous.  Photos can’t fight other photos.  (Nor is it wise to fight fire with fire.  Just found out about that one.)

I think I prefer the 6k version.  Which is why I shamelessly stole borrowed it for here.  That big 2, bottom right, is much clearer.  But, not sure about the greeny-yellowy colour.  You decide.

Ain’t the internet amazing?

Thursday December 28 2017

For years now, I’ve wanted nail down a particularly choice Terry Pratchett quote, concerning the limits of the idea of equality, which is that for there to be equality, someone has or some people have to insist upon it, and if that insistence is to count for anything, then there goes your equality.  My problem was that I didn’t have the name of the character that the quote was about.

But today, I described the quote as best I could to my friend Adriana, and she told me at once that the name of the lady in question was Granny Weatherwax.  And once I had the name, the rest was easy.

The quote I was looking for is the second from the bottom of these Quotes About Granny Weatherwax:

“Mistress Weatherwax is the head witch, then, is she?’

‘Oh no!’ said Miss Level, looking shocked. ‘Witches are all equal. We don’t have things like head witches. That’s quite against the spirit of witchcraft.’

‘Oh, I see,’ said Tiffany.

‘Besides,’ Miss Level added, ‘Mistress Weatherwax would never allow that sort of thing.”

That is to be found in A Hat Full of Sky.

Saturday December 23 2017

According to Legend, Bette Davis, on hearing that Joan Crawford had died, said this:

“You should never say bad things about the dead, you should only say good … Joan Crawford is dead.  Good.”

Legend may have made this up.  But if so, I say: Well done Legend.  Terrific stuff.  Keep it coming.

I learned of this while watching an episode of the TV series Talking Pictures, devoted to Davis and Crawford.  Shown to coincide with the showing of Feud.

Friday December 22 2017

Not long ago, Perry de Havilland told me what sounds like an old, old joke, about the difference between dogs and cats.

We feed and pamper and love and look after dogs, and from this, dogs conclude that we are gods.  We feed and pamper and love and look after cats, and from this, cats conclude that they are gods.

As I say, it sounded old, but I liked it.  And I remembered that joke when, this evening, searching for quota cats or quota other creatures, I encountered these photos, of books, in the British Museum. Including a book about a cat …:


… and of that same cat, celebrated on a clutch of mugs:


I took these Gayer-Anderson Cat photos in Feb 2010, but I doubt it’s moved since then.

Read about the Gayer-Anderson Cat, which actually was a god, here.  Gayer-Anderson wasn’t two people.  He was just the one, a certain Major Robert Grenville Gayer-Anderson.

Get your own Gayer-Anderson Cat, for £450.  (£405 to members.) Or, you could 3D print your Gayer-Anderson Cat.

When I took these photos, I was in point-shoot-forget mode, and have given them no further thought until now.

I love the internet.

Sunday November 26 2017

Earlier today I was at a party, and sitting in on the party was Alexa, the cylindrical robot from Amazon.  So, one of us asked Alexa to tell us a Dirty Joke.  Alexa replied: “Why do you call a chicken covered in dirt crossing the road?” Answer, although I didn’t hear if Alexa actually said this or merely assumed that we’d get it: a dirty joke.

Not bad.  And funny because, although a joke involving dirt, it is not a dirty joke in the sense of there being any sexual innuendo involved.

But, was Alexa trying to tell a joke?  Or merely trying to do as she was told, without in any way understanding what the thing she was being told to do actually meant?  I know, Alexa never “understands” anything.  She’s a machine, with no consciousness.  But, you surely know what I mean.

Another rather perfunctory posting.  But, I spent quite a lot of my day going to a party, partying, and getting back from the party.  I may, although I promise nothing, do better tomorrow.

Wednesday October 04 2017

Words make for entertaining photos.  The words in signs.  The “words” in graffiti.

I was out and about today, and here are a couple of the more amusing photos I took.

There was this, involving two glamorous women:


And this, involving another quite glamorous woman:


The first photo was taken through a shop window in Lower Marsh.  That quote about Hell seems to be generic, so presumably that’s a generic woman.  I had supposed it to be somebody in particular, in the way that Marilyn Monroe is somebody in particular.  But, it seems not.

The second photo was taken at the southern entrance of the Peake Street graffiti tunnel.  An entrance that now looks like this:


The graffiti in the tunnel, which goes under Waterloo Station, is constantly changing.  Here is how some of it was looking today:


Apart from recognising a couple of Hulks there, the incredible one and Homwer Simpson, this is all a mystery to me.  As I think I’ve said here before, graffiti like this has in common with Modern Art of the more usual sort in being incomprehensible to outsiders.

At the other end of the Peake Street graffiti tunnel, there is a big notice which tells everyone what the graffiti rules are.

I know what you’re thinking.  Good luck with that.  And if you are thinking that, you are not wrong:


Life is Beautiful!!  Hm.  Not so sure.  But then, I am in two minds about graffiti.  It’s threatening, but stylish.  One moment I like how it looks.  At other moments, it feels like visual bullying.

If anyone knows what this notice now says (I’m talking about the big purple “word” there), please leave a comment.

I prefer standard English.

Monday July 31 2017

Today I followed England beating South Africa at the Oval, and listened to some of the BBC live radio commentary.  Today they did a prank on Boycott, telling him that the ICC was going to mess about with the classification of certain cricket matches in the past, declaring them no longer to have been first class, meaning that Boycott’s famous Headingley hundredth first class hundred was now only his ninety ninth first class hundred. Apartheid, etc.  Boycott believed it all, as did I, and was not a happy man, as was not I.  But they made it up.  Ha ha.  Boycs had to just shrug it off, but I bet he wasn’t best pleased.  As wasn’t I.

I don’t tune into Test Match Special to be told deliberate lies.  This kind of thing is only excusable if it’s the morning of April 1st.  There’s far too much of these kinds of lies maskerading as jokes on the telly.  Now, it seems to be spreading to the radio.  I mean, what next?  Made up cricket scores?  Anouncing that England have won when actually they lost?  Only kidding!  Gotcha!  Bollocks to that.

Coincidentally, later this evening I watched a rerun of Room 101, where one of the guests urged the oblivionising of the excuse of saying only joking.  The claim is that saying “only joking” makes everything that preceded this excuse, no matter what, alright.  I agreed with the Room 101 guest.  No, it doesn’t.  One of these days someone is going to have his head bashed in with a nearby implement following such behaviour, and it is going to be well-deserved.  Also, I trust, recorded for radio or better, television.

A much funnier bit of cricket radio, I thought, was yesterday, when they had father and son Surrey legends Micky and Alec Stewart on.  They’ve just named the Oval pavilion after Micky.  Plus, Micky Stewart recalled his days in the triumphant Surrey team of the nineteen fifties, which I recall vividly as a kid.  They prepared spinning pitches especially for Laker and Lock, apparently.  All the counties had pitches to suit their own bowlers, in those far off days.

Anyway, when the now distinctly elderly Micky was about to leave the commentary box, one of the commentators said: “You won’t be with us much longer.” i.e. much longer with them, in the box.  The commentator had in mind that the answer to the final question he was about to ask needed to be brief.  But before the commentator could clarify his rather unfortunate way of saying what he had been trying to say, and quick as a flash, Micky said: “I feel okay.” Much mirth, including in my kitchen.

“I feel okay” was certainly the meaning of what Micky Stewart said, but maybe those weren’t his exact words.  There are lots of other recordings of BBC cricket stuff, but I couldn’t find any recording of this exquisite exchange at the BBC cricket website.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t there, merely that I couldn’t find it.  I hope that such a recording does exist because this exchange deserves to outlive the man who supplied its lightning quick punch line.  Micky Stewart was making a joke about his own imminent death, not inflicting any cruelties or lies on anyone else.