Random musings from the front line (well, more like the support trench, or perhaps the castle 10 miles away, supping Chateau Lafite with the General Staff) in the battle for curiosity, inertia, grammar and a Dachshund called Colin.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Average Age of Facebook Users?

Do you constantly have to explain your Facebook usage to people your own age? How many times have you heard people in their early 30s bore others about how they're not on Facebook as it's "childish". As I silently suspected, these Luddites are actually not representative of their peers, as according to this website, the average age of Facebook users is .... 38. As the people at Pingdom state:
  • Bebo appeals to a much younger audience than the other sites with 44% of its users being aged 17 or less. For MySpace (who the hell still uses Myspace?), this number is also large; 33%.
  • Classmates.com has the largest share of users being aged 65 or more, 8%, and 78% are 35 or older.
  • 64% of Twitter’s users are aged 35 or older.
  • 61% of Facebook’s users are aged 35 or older.
It all goes to show - these youngsters are late adopters of even everyday tech stuff - or maybe they're too busy having neverending sex (the bastards). In a similar article, Pingdom reveal that, not entirely surprisingly, geek-orientated sites (such as Slashdot.com) are male dominated, whereas twee kiddie sites (Bebo) are female-dominated. Who knew?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Gingervitis Strikes

Millions afflicted by Gingervitis

Gingervitis is a serious hereditary disease caused by a recessive gene. It can lay dormant for years and two perfectly healthy parents can have Ginger Babies. Gingervitis affects millions of people world wide. The symptoms of gingervitis include: Red hair, pale skin, and freckles, a “Soulless” feeling. This International Gingervitis Foundation is dedicated to awareness about the red headed defect.

1) What is Gingervitis?
Gingervitis is a serious hereditary disease caused by a recessive gene. It can lay dormant for years and two perfectly healthy parents can have Ginger Babies. Gingervitis affects millions of people world wide. The symptoms of gingervitis include: Red hair, pale skin, and freckles, a “Soulless” feeling. Some Ginger Kids may show symptoms such as violence and depression. Although Gingervitis is not a life threatening disease it can be very serious. There is currently no known cure and very little treatment for Gingervitis.

2) Is Gingervitis contagious?
No, Ginger Kids are born with Gingervitis. It is hereditary and cannot be contracted in any other way.

3) Are Ginger Kids dangerous?
Although some Ginger Kids may be dangerous, many others are not. Ginger Kids do have a genetic predisposition towards anger and depression, but this is caused by there appearance and often times amplified by taunting and harassment. Contrary to popular belief, many Ginger Kids live healthy, happy lives.

4) Do Ginger Kids have Souls?
Unfortunately no, Ginger Kids are born without souls. A common misconception is that you need a soul to survive. This is completely false. Ginger Kids are people just like everyone else, even if they don’t have souls. Many Ginger Kids live happy, healthy, productive lives devoid of any sort of soul.

5) If a Ginger Kid bites me what should I do?
If you have been bitten by a Ginger Kid immediately wash the wound with soap and water. If you have alcohol or peroxide apply it to the wound

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Bit of QI and House

I'm always slightly surprised that the sketches of Fry and Laurie aren't repeated on TV and quoted ad nauseam by knowing middle class types, in the same way that Blackadder, Monty Python or similar programmes are. After all, both actors are superbly talented creative genii, and unlike actors/hosts of similar sketch shows of the 1980s, both have proceeded onto greater and better-rewarded "things". But perhaps that is the nub of the matter - would the award winning portrayer of Gregory House MD appreciate his televisual juvenilia being aired on the CBS equivalent of "Before They Were Famous"? Mind you, I'm sure I have seen footage of a young gangly Hugh Laurie climbing into the Cambridge boat at an early 1980s Oxford Cambridge Boat Race...

Anyway, here is one of my favourite Fry and Laurie sketches, the script of which I found at http://www.geocities.com/mmemym/bits1/fal0016.htm:

Prize Poem

 Typical comprehensive school office. Stephen is a
headmaster. He looks worried. There is a knock at the
door. He looks up.

Stephen Come.

Enter Hugh.

Ah, Terry, come in, come in.

Hugh Thank you sir.

Stephen Well now, do you know why I sent for you?

Hugh Not really.

Stephen Not really? Not really? Well, let me see. Firstly,
let me congratulate you on winning the School
Poetry Prize.

Hugh Thank you sir.

Stephen Mr Drip tells me that it was the most mature and
exciting poem that he has ever received from a
pupil. Don't suck your thumb boy.

Hugh I'm not, sir.

Stephen No, no. It was just a piece of general advice for
the future.

Hugh Oh I see.

Stephen Now Terry. Terry, Terry, Terence. I've read your
poem, Terry. I can't pretend to be much of a
judge of poetry, I'm an English teacher, not a
homosexual. But I have to say it worried me.

Hugh Oh?

Stephen Yes, worried me. I have it here, um: "Inked Ravens
of Despair Claw Holes In The Arse Of The
World's Mind", I mean what kind of a title is that?

Hugh It's my title sir.

Stephen "Arse Of The World's Mind"? What does that
mean? Are you unhappy about something?

Hugh Well I think that's what the poem explores.

Stephen Explores? Explores! Oh it explores does it? I see.
"Scrotal threats unhorse a question of flowers", I
mean, what's the matter boy? Are you sickening
for something? Or is it a girl? Is that the root of it?

Hugh Well, it's not something I can explain, sir, it's all in
the poem.

Stephen It certainly is all in the poem. "I asked for answers
and got a headful of heroin in return." Now.
Terry. Look at me. Who gave you this heroin? You
must tell me: if this is the problem we must do
something about it. Don't be afraid to speak out.

Hugh Well no one.

Stephen Terry. I'm going to ask you again. It's here. "I
asked for answers and got a headful of heroin."
Now Terry, this is a police matter. Speak out.

Hugh Sir, no one has given me heroin.

Stephen So this poem is a lie, is it? A fiction, a fantasy?
What's happening?

Hugh No, it's all true, it's autobiographical.

Stephen Then, Terry, I must insist. Who has been giving
you heroin? Another boy?

Hugh Well, sir, you have.

Stephen I have. I have? What are you talking about, you
diseased boy? This is rank, standing impertinence.
I haven't given anyone heroin. How dare you?

Hugh No, it's a metaphor.

Stephen Metaphor, how metaphor?

Hugh It means I came to school to learn, but I just get
junk instead of answers.

Stephen Junk? What do you mean, the GCSE syllabus is
rigidly adh -

Hugh It's just an opinion.

Stephen Oh is it? And is this an opinion too? "When time
fell wanking to the floor, they kicked his teeth".
Time fell wanking to the floor? Is this just put in
to shock or is there something personal you wish
to discuss with me? Time fell wanking to the floor?
What does that mean?

Hugh It's a quotation.

Stephen A quotation? What from? It isn't Milton and I'm
pretty sure it can't be Wordsworth.

Hugh It's Bowie.

Stephen Bowie? Bowie?

Hugh David Bowie.

Stephen Oh. And is this David Bowie too: "My body
disgusts, damp grease wafts sweat balls from sweat
balls and thigh fungus", I mean do you wash?

Hugh Of course.

Stephen Then why does your body disgust you? It seems
alright to me. I mean, why can't you write about
meadows or something?

Hugh I've never seen a meadow.

Stephen Well, what do you think the imagination is for? "A
girl strips in my mind, squeezes my last pumping
drop of hope and rolls me over to sleep alone."
You are fifteen, Terry, what is going on inside you?

Hugh That's what -

Stephen That's what the poem explores, don't tell me. I
can't understand you, I can't understand you.

Hugh Well you were young once.

Stephen Yes, in a sense, of course.

Hugh Didn't you ever feel like that?

Stephen You mean did I ever want to "fireball the dead
cities of the mind and watch the skin peel and
warp"? Then, no, thankfully, I can say I did not. I
may have been unhappy from time to time, if I lost
my stamp album or broke a penknife, but I didn't
write it all down like this and show it to people.

Hugh Perhaps it might have been better for you if
you had.

Stephen Oh might it, young Terence? I suppose I am one
of the "unhappy bubbles of anal wind popping and
winking in the mortal bath" am I?

Hugh Well -

Stephen Your silence tells me everything. I am. I'm an
unhappy bubble of anal wind.

Hugh That's just how I see it. That's valid.

Stephen Valid? Valid? You're not talking about a banknote,
you're calling your headmaster an unhappy bubble
of anal wind.

Hugh Well, I'm one too.

Stephen Oh well, as long as we're all unhappy bubbles of
anal wind popping and winking in the mortal bath
then of course there's no problem. But I don't
propose to advertise the fact to parents. If this
is poetry then every lavatory wall in Britain is
an anthology. What about The Oxford Book Of English Verse,
where's that gone?

Hugh Perhaps that's the lavatory paper.

Stephen Is that clever?

Hugh I don't know.

Stephen I suppose it's another quotation from Derek
Bowie is it? I don't understand any more, I don't

Hugh Never mind, sir. You're a bit frustrated perhaps,
it's a lonely job.

Stephen I am frustrated, yes. It is a lonely job. So lonely. I
am assailed by doubts, wracked by fear.

Hugh Write it down.

Stephen Eh?

Hugh Write it down, get it out of your system. "Assailed
by doubts, wracked by fear."

Stephen Yes, yes - you think? "Assailed by doubts and
wracked by fear, tossed in a wrecked mucus foam
of ... of ..."

Hugh Hatred?

Stephen Good, good. What about "steamed loathing"?

Hugh Better, you're a natural.

Hugh slips away.

Stephen "... wrecked mucus foam of steamed loathing.
Snot trails of lust perforate the bowels of my
intent. Put on your red shoes, Major Tom, funk to
flunky ... etc ...

Fade out

Monday, April 21, 2008

Miss Joan Hunter Dunn

Having just read Friday's Guardian, I was intrigued to see that Miss Joan Hunter Dunn (whose married name was the slightly less mellifluous Mrs Joan Jackson) had passed away. I had no idea that she was a real person, but I miss her already. My grandmother (83 not out!), who is a reasonably successful poet herself, adores this poem because of the memories it provokes. I love this poem in the same way I love Vitai Lampada - because it just works. When my brain cells return, I intend to memorise it....

A Subaltern's Love Song

Miss J. Hunter Dunn, Miss J. Hunter Dunn,
Furnish'd and burnish'd by Aldershot sun,
What strenuous singles we played after tea,
We in the tournament - you against me!

Love-thirty, love-forty, oh! weakness of joy,
The speed of a swallow, the grace of a boy,
With carefullest carelessness, gaily you won,
I am weak from your loveliness, Joan Hunter Dunn.

Miss Joan Hunter Dunn, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn,
How mad I am, sad I am, glad that you won,
The warm-handled racket is back in its press,
But my shock-headed victor, she loves me no less.

Her father's euonymus shines as we walk,
And swing past the summer-house, buried in talk,
And cool the verandah that welcomes us in
To the six-o'clock news and a lime-juice and gin.

The scent of the conifers, sound of the bath,
The view from my bedroom of moss-dappled path,
As I struggle with double-end evening tie,
For we dance at the Golf Club, my victor and I.

On the floor of her bedroom lie blazer and shorts,
And the cream-coloured walls are be-trophied with sports,
And westering, questioning settles the sun,
On your low-leaded window, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn.

The Hillman is waiting, the light's in the hall,
The pictures of Egypt are bright on the wall,
My sweet, I am standing beside the oak stair
And there on the landing's the light on your hair.

By roads "not adopted", by woodlanded ways,
She drove to the club in the late summer haze,
Into nine-o'clock Camberley, heavy with bells
And mushroomy, pine-woody, evergreen smells.

Miss Joan Hunter Dunn, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn,
I can hear from the car park the dance has begun,
Oh! Surrey twilight! importunate band!
Oh! strongly adorable tennis-girl's hand!

Around us are Rovers and Austins afar,
Above us the intimate roof of the car,
And here on my right is the girl of my choice,
With the tilt of her nose and the chime of her voice.

And the scent of her wrap, and the words never said,
And the ominous, ominous dancing ahead.
We sat in the car park till twenty to one
And now I'm engaged to Miss Joan Hunter Dunn.

-- John Betjeman

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Tragic Tony Bliar

Tony Blair was visiting a school and was asked by a teacher if he would like to lead the discussion on what constituted a "tragedy". So the Prime Minister asked the class for an example of a "tragedy".

One little boy stood up and offered, "If my best friend, who lives on a farm, is playing in the field and a tractor runs him over and kills him, that would be a tragedy".

"No," said Blair, "that would be an accident".

A little girl raised her hand: "If a school bus carrying 50 children drove over a cliff, killing everyone inside, that would be a tragedy".

"I'm afraid not." explained the Prime Minister. "That's what we would call a great loss."

The room went silent. No other children volunteered. Blair searched the room. "Isn't there someone here who can give me an example of tragedy?"

Finally, at the back of the room a small boy raised his hand. In a quiet voice he said: "If an aircraft carrying you, Mr. Blair, was struck by a "friendly fire" missile and blown to smithereens that would be a tragedy."

"Fantastic!" exclaimed Blair. "That's right. And can you tell my why that would be a tragedy?"

"Well," says the boy, "it has to be a tragedy, because it certainly wouldn't be a great loss and it probably wouldn't be an accident."

Life in Brighton, and How to Get There

Although not anything to do with Brighton, other than the propensity for back door action that occurs there - this photo made me laugh. Well done Nokia cameraphone!

Anyway, onto a loosely related matter - a train journey to ... er ... Brighton. As revealed on the B3TA newsletter this week, the fairly hackneyed concept on rapid footage of a train ride from the driver's perspective has been redone and updated by Robbie Allen of Lobster Pictures - see it here in QuickTime:


I can't remember the name of the Black and White version from London to Glasgow (?) that was a cinema release in (I think) the 1950s, but either way, it almost makes you want to be a train driver. Almost.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Code Duello

The Code Duello, covering the practice of dueling and points of honor, was "adopted at the Clonmel Summer Assizes, 1777, for the government of duellists, by the gentlemen of Tipperary, Galway, Mayo, Sligo and Roscommon, and prescribed for general adoption throughout Ireland" . The Code became popular in England and on the Continent with some slight variations (usually where Heidelburg rules took precedence). In America, the principal rules were followed though often with glaring deviations.

The Code Duello



I. The first offence requires the first apology, though the retort may have been more offensive than the insult. Example: A tells B he is impertinent, etc. B retorts that he lies; yet A must make the first apology, because he gave the first offence, and (after one fire) B may explain away the retort by subsequent apology.

II. But if the parties would rather fight on, then, after two shots each (but in no case before), B may explain first and A apologize afterwards.

N.B. The above rules apply to all cases of offences in retort not of a stronger class than the example.

III. If a doubt exists who gave the first offence, the decision rests with the seconds. If they will not decide or cannot agree, the matter must proceed to two shots, or to a hit if the challenger requires it.

IV. When the lie direct is the first offence, the agressor must either beg pardon in express terms, exchange two shots previous to apology, or three shots followied by explanation, or fire on till a severe hit be received by one party or the other.

V. As a blow is strictly prohibited under any circumstances among gentlemen, no verbal apology can be received for such an insult. The alternatives, therefore, are: The offender handing a cane to the injured party to be used on his back, at the same time begging pardon, firing until one or both are disabled; or exchanging three shots and then begging pardon without the proffer of the cane.

N.B. If swords are used, the parties engage until one is well blooded, disabled, or disarmed, or until, after receiving a wound and blood being drawn, the aggressor begs pardon.

VI. If A gives B the lie and B retorts by a blow (being the two greatest offences), no reconciliation can take place till after two discharges each or a severe hit, after which B may beg A's pardon for the blow, and then A may explain simply for the lie, because a blow is never allowable, and the offence of the lie, therefore, merges in it. (See preceding rule.)

N.B. Challenges for undivulged causes may be conciliated on the ground after one shot. An explanation or the slightest hit should be sufficient in such cases, because no personal offence transpired.

VII. But no apology can be received in any case after the parties have actually taken their ground without exchange of shots.

VIII. In the above case no challenger is obliged to divulge his cause of challenge (if private) unless required by the challenged so to do before their meeting.

IX. All imputations of cheating at play, races, etc., to be considered equivalent to a blow, but may be reconciled after one shot, on admitting their falsehood and begging pardon publicly.

X. Any insult to a lady under a gentleman's care or protection to be considered as by one degree a greater offence than if given to the gentleman personally, and to be regarded accordingly.

XI. Offences originating or accruing from the support of ladies' reputations to be considered as less unjustifiable than any others of the same class, and as admitting of slighter apologies by the aggressor. This is to be determined by the circumstances of the case, but always favourably to the lady.

XII. No dumb firing or firing in the air is admissable in any case. The challenger ought not to have challenged without receiving offence, and the challenged ought, if he gave offence, to have made an apology before he came on the ground; therefore children's play must be dishonourable on one side or the other, and is accordingly prohibited.

XIII. Seconds to be of equal rank in society with the principals they attend, inasmuch as a second may either choose or chance to become a principal and equality is indispensable.

XIV. Challenges are never to be delivered at night, unless the party to be challenged intends leaving the place of offence before morning; for it is desirable to avoid all hot-headed proceedings.

XV. The challenged has the right to choose his own weapons unless the challenger gives his honour he is no swordsman, after which, however, he cannot decline any second species of weapon proposed by the challenged.

XVI. The challenged chooses his ground, the challnger chooses his distance, the seconds fix the time and terms of firing.

XVII. The seconds load in presence of each other, unless they give their mutual honours that they have charged smooth and single, which shall be held sufficient.

XVIII. Firing may be regulated, first, by signal; secondly by word of command; or, thirdly at pleasure, as may be agreeable to the parties. In the latter case, the parties may fire at their reasonable leisure, but second presents and rests are strictly prohibited.

XIX. In all cases a misfire is equivalent to a shot, and a snap or a non-cock is to be considered a misfire.

XX. Seconds are bound to attempt a reconciliation before the meeting takes place or after sufficieint firing or hits as specified.

XXI. Any wound sufficient to agitate the nerves and necessarily make the hand shake must end the business for that day.

XXII. If the cause of meeting be of such a nature that no apology or explanation can or will be received, the challenged takes his ground and calls on the challenger to proceed as he chooses. In such cases firing at pleasure is the usual practice, but may be varied by agreement.

XXIII. In slight cases the second hands his principal but one pistol, but in gross cases two, holding another case ready charged in reserve.

XXIV. When the second disagree and resolve to exchange shots themselves, it must be at the same time and at right angles with their principals. If with swords, side by side, with five paces' interval.

XXV. No party can be allowed to bend his knee or cover his side with his left hand, but may present at any level from the hip to the eye.

XXVI. None can either advance or retreat if the ground is measured. If no ground be measured, either party may advance at his pleasure, even to the touch of muzzles, but neither can advance on his adversary after the fire, unless the adversary steps forward on him.

N.B. The seconds on both sides stand responsible for this last rule being strictly observed, bad cases having occurred from neglecting it.

N.B. All matters and doubts not herein mentioned will be explained and cleared up by application to the Committee, who meet alternately at Clonmel and Galway at the quarter sessions for that purpose.

CROW RYAN, President.


--from The Duel: A History of Duelling, Robert Baldick, Chapman and Hall Ltd., London, 1965; Hamlyn Publishing Group Ltd., London, 1970. ISBN 0 600 32837 6