Give Generously

This Christmas, spare a thought for those less fortunate than ourselves...

Read More · 23 December 2006

I’m Alright, Jack

Alright, it’s time for some more fun with words. Specifically, that one—alright, a word that sets some people’s teeth on edge. Which is why I don’t use it much any more: I use all right for the same reason I avoid split infinitives in formal writing—because alright and split infinitives annoy some people, not because they annoy me.

Read More · 27 September 2006 ·

As Aussie As

A couple of weeks ago I was trying to find the definitive spelling of strewth (for here), which turns out to have the edge over struth and my preferred streuth. In the process, I came across a 2004 article by Bruce Elder on the decline of the Aussie vernacular, and by cripes it had me spitting chips. (In a mellow kind of way.)

Read More · 24 September 2006 ·


Around the darkened stone of his exterior
Erect a scaffold made of pipe and wood

Clean the shell that shelters his interior
Until his golden surfaces come good

Steam the grime of each benighted era
Off, and leave unblemished skin behind

Each blast of scalding water brings him nearer
What his architect once had in mind

Remove the soot that renders him inferior
And scrape the grit that’s gripping at his soul

From high upon your scaffolding, it’s clearer
Just how much is rock, and how much coal.


2 September 2006 ·

My Very Earnest Man

Apparently the International Astronomical Union is soon to vote on a proposed definition of the term “planet” to solve the is-Pluto-or-isn’t-it problem—one that includes not just Pluto but Ceres (the largest asteroid), Pluto’s moon Charon, the recently discovered 2003 UB313 (unofficially called “Xena”), and whatever else we find out there in years to come... probably many, many more. [Via Graham’s LJ, which I can’t leave comments on because I don’t have an account. I suppose I could always sign up, but then I’d feel this moral pressure to start posting about my deepest feelings and how my mood is (frowny-face) petulant. Don’t want to, don’t WANT to.]

A commenter at Bad Astronomy Blog left an open challenge to come up with a new mnemonic to remember all the names in the correct order. You know I’d never be able to leave that one alone.

Read More · 16 August 2006 ·

Coining It

It doesn’t happen often, but it’s always fun to get an update on some obscure page or post lurking in the archives of your website, newly discovered by some random surfer via the good offices of Google. Today’s heads-up concerned this 2001 rant about coin reform. Turns out that New Zealand has taken the initiative (while Australia takes its sweet bloody time) by shrinking its 10, 20 and 50 cent pieces and waving goodbye to the 5 altogether. Choice, cuzzes.

Read More · 9 August 2006 ·

Spotted on the way home: a white van from “BS Removals”. It didn’t look big enough.

19 July 2006


Ed posted about these Mentos and Diet Coke videos on 3 June after spotting them at Mefi. My timestamps on the downloaded files are 12.07 and 12.13 p.m. GMT the next day.

Read More · 16 June 2006 ·

Quote Unquote

I always meant to post these. For my first few years of email use, way back in the paleolithic era, I was one of those people whose signatures sported amusing quotations, jokes, and other snippets. It was a way of saying a bit about yourself, your likes and dislikes and your sense of humour, in the days before we had websites to do all of that. Sometime around the end of 1998 this must have started seeming a bit naff, because I stopped doing it. (I also used to mail around stories and links to my circle of friends, and stopped doing that around the same time.)

Fortunately, we now have blogs to hold all that guff, where our circle of friends can safely ignore it. (Last November one of my old friends—old, old, since-Grade-5 old—said he never looked at my site these days, because I seemed to be writing for other people. I was sorry to hear that. I just write about whatever’s on my mind at any one moment, in the hope that different bits of it will appeal to different people because all of it appeals to at least one person. That makes me the “other people”, I guess. But the same guy he knew for all those years is still in there somewhere. Maybe if I waxed a bit more nostalgic a bit more often I wouldn’t seem so “other”, but I don’t want to seem like an old man trapped in the past when I’m barely halfway there. Onward, ever onward.)

Where was I? Oh yeah, about to dredge up some stuff from the past. Here they are, then: all my email sigs from 1994 to 1998, in order of appearance. Yes, I kept the whole lot in a text file, because I knew that one day I’d be looking for an extra post to pad out my six-year-old weblog. Also, because I liked them.

Read More · 11 June 2006 ·

Beastly Numbers


The number to phone in a fix?
999, here in Britain. Don’t mix
Up your up and your down,
Or the upright will frown:
You’ll be calling the Beast, 666.

Read More · 6 June 2006 ·

Relighting the Glowing Splint

The housekeeping continues. Hope James won’t mind me dragging these out of the bottom drawer, given that their intended home is now defunct. FutureScientific was going to be the next Onion, except more sciencey and futuristic. (You can still enjoy the words, if not his attractive design, at

Read More · 10 April 2006 ·

A Paper Bag Saved My Life

Radiohead Paper Bag

Read More · 2 April 2006 ·

Some people argue that a familiar nursery rhyme was the prototypical limerick. Which inspired what I call...

Winston’s Rhyme

When I first saw Room 101’s clock,
It was striking thirteen, to my shock.
Now the clock has struck one,
And the rats have begun
Singing Hickory Dickory Dock.

29 March 2006 ·

Aussie Birds

For too long I’ve been resisting the obvious way to drive traffic to this site so that I can plaster it with flashing banners and Visa logos. So here’s a first instalment of hot new pix from my trip down under. Click now while they’re free, because birds like these won’t be for long! Phwoar!

9 March 2006 ·

So how come when I saw the newspaper headline “Revealed: The Best Places in Scotland to Raise Children” I got this instant mental picture of the mushroom farm we used to have in our bathroom?

6 March 2006 ·

American Drains

It’s not all breathtaking cityscapes. Take a quick spin around New York’s pipes and Boston’s sewers. (That’s right, I’m asking you to load 60k jpegs of manholes. It doesn’t get any better than this, baby.)

20 February 2006 ·

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