Archive for February, 2007

A canard

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Son, my father once said to me*, one day ducks are going to discover how to bake bread for themselves. Then we’re done for.

Free of their dependence on humans for sustenance, they will rise up in an anatine revolution.

Duck, available under Creative Commons licence. Original photograph taken by Mondoagogo (Flickr name).

The same goes for farmyard animals and tennis.


Everybody walk that dinosaur

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

As a child I entertained, for a time, the notion that dinosaurs became extinct because they had no bottoms, and thus exploded when they became too full.

There was a logic to it. No dinosaur toy features a dinosaur bottom. I checked. It’s important to be thorough about these things. If I had delivered a lecture at the Natural History Museum and someone had piped up: “Have you looked at the underside?”… well, I would have been a laughingstock.

Adults scoffed at me then, but I’m increasingly convinced that I was right and that there is a paleontological conspiracy to obscure the truth. After all, no paleontologist has ever discovered a fossilised dinosaur bottom, and it’s a lot better than the lump-of-rock-from-outer-space theory, which smacks, frankly, of deus ex machina.


Furry boots are comfy?

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The husband of one of my colleagues went to live in Aberdeen a few years ago. He is English, but reasoned that there would be no language barrier in the north of Scotland. On his first day at work his boss greeted him with the words: “Furry boots are comfy?”

“Yes,” the Englishman replied, hesitantly. “Yes. They are.”

It eventually transpired that he was being asked: “Where do you come from?” For reasons beyond my understanding, the accent in Aberdeen requires that the “wh” sound be pronounced “f”. Presumably this is an attempt to forge a communal identity beyond biscuit tins with pictures of terriers on them, cheap and breakable tartan umbrellas, and tam o’ shanters with fake ginger hair stapled to the inside.

Ronald McDonald, a typical Scot, wearing a tam o’ shanter. Picture taken by “Janet is really cool” (Flickr name) and used under Creative Commons licence.

(a typical Scot)

Title title

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Why are pandas always given repetitive names, like Ching Ching or Tao Tao? And is this the reason they’re so bad at breeding?

Imagine the situation: you’re a panda trying to meet a mate. You sidle up. “Can I offer you some bamboo?” you say.

“Why thanks,” she replies. “What’s your name?”

“Erm. Bao Bao.”

She falls over laughing. “What kind of name is that? Ho ho ho.”

You slink off, unrequited and muttering. “Not again.”

Panda rejection

I’m not a liberal, but…

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Why is it that racists, immediately before making a euphemistic racist statment, feel obliged to say: “I’m not racist, but…”?

Or rather, why don’t people who aren’t racist say “I am racist, but…” before advocating multiculturalism?

viz, “I am racist, but immigrant labour is vital to Britain’s economy and any correlation between race and crime could more accurately be interpreted as a link between poverty and crime.”


Moe town

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

There’s nothing to being a theatrical producer. Just remember to buy a pot of geraniums for the leading lady on the opening night and a cactus for the leading man. (If you ever meet a theatrical producer, be sure to repeat this opinion. They will react with their traditional bonhomie.)

But what if you’re casting a production of Five Guys Named Moe in America? The following screenshot, from, should say it all. Bloody nightmare.

No Guys Named Moe

(click to enlarge)

If I did it

Thursday, February 8, 2007

O J Simpson – the former sports star who is only a killer on the balance of probabilities and not beyond reasonable doubt – may have had his how-to murder manual, If I Did It, dropped by HarperCollins on the grounds that it was staggeringly tasteless, but other publishers are circling (according to a report I read but, alas, can no longer find).

I am clearly missing a trick. After all, I didn’t do it either. If I had done it, though, I would certainly have arranged for a friend to drive me for 60 miles at the head of a convoy of police cars while I sat next to him holding a gun to my head. That is indispensable.

But anyway, I like to think that Simpson’s tome is merely the first of a series. If I Did It – The Murder of Airey Neave Outside the Houses of Parliament in 1979, for instance, would make a good sequel. Or If I Did It – The Nanking Massacre in 1937. There is no shortage of deaths for which Simpson was not responsible. In this context, it seems unfortunate that his first book happened to be about the one person who, in the eyes of a California court, he probably did kill.