All 29 entries tagged Diversions

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June 25, 2006

Bizarre wine bottles

On a recent holiday to Italy, stopped in a motorway service station which sold a lovely range of local wines. Bizarrely, the labels on the bottles featured famous individuals, mainly from the world of politics (in its broadest sense). Amongst those pictured:

  • Bob Marley
  • The Pope
  • Antonio Gramsci

Bizarre wine bottles

But the oddest thing was that the most popular depiction was of Il Duce himself. There were at least four different representations of Mussolini, mainly in military garb, including one particularly attractive shot of him sharing a platform with Hitler.

On wine bottles!!

June 21, 2006

Graduation – Harvard Style

Writing about web page,,1800674,00.html

It seems that our Graduation ceremonies actually have a lot going for them – better than this description of Harvard in any case.


The morning graduation exercises were held in a steady drizzle, with hundreds of umbrellas making it impossible for those stranded in the back to see anything. Then, that afternoon, when outgoing (purged) president Larry Summers and venerable newsman Jim Lehrer took the stage for the big Ciceronian round–up, the powers–that–be decided to hold the event indoors to keep the alumni from catching a chill, again condemning a sea of graduates and their waterlogged parents to tread water in the rain. There, those not being treated for pneumonia or hypothermia could watch the speeches on TV monitors.

June 08, 2006

Signs of the times

Two signs spotted recently.

The first on a van dropping off at University House:


Nice try but, objectively, driver would have found it difficult to match the claim.

The second at a lovely hand car wash venue. No hint of menace in the environment. Definitely no hint at all in the notice…


Only one spelling mistake though – and a nice cheery 'thank you' at the end!

May 29, 2006

"Guy lit": books for the 'Top Gear' generation?

Writing about web page

High Fidelity cover

Difficult not to agree with the thesis here about the gap between The Catcher in the Rye and much contemporary literature. However, apart from the Hornbys, both of which I've read and enjoyed (although High Fidelity is a much better read than About a Boy), I've never even heard of the books and authors mentioned which do rather sound like poor McInerney/Easton Ellis imitations.

Mind you, anything actually branded as 'guy lit', just really isn't going anywhere – who on earth will buy it? Literature for the 'Top Gear' generation?

Actually, now you look at it, this new cover for High Fidelity seems to have a touch of the Wendy Holdens about it rather than the classy feel of the original.

Scientists shouldn't get married?

Writing about web page

Scientific Success: What's Love Got to Do With It?

So, case proven: getting married (for men) is bad for your scientific research. There does seem to be something of a male orientation in this work

Action Einstein

"The productivity of male scientists tends to drop right after marriage," says Kanazawa. "Scientists tend to 'desist' from scientific research upon marriage, just like criminals desist from crime upon marriage. Kanazawa's perhaps controversial perspective is that of an evolutionary psychologist. "Men conduct scientific research (or do anything else) in order to attract women and get married (albeit unconsciously)," he says. "What’s the point of doing science (or anything else) if one is already married? Marriage (or, more accurately reproductive success, which men can usually attain only through marriage) is the goal; science or anything else men do is but a means.

Darwinism rules, it seems!

May 28, 2006

Just how many universities are there in the UK?

Most amused by the entry on universities in the recently issued Indypedia (free inaccurate information from the Independent). The error about universities does rather undermine confidence in the accuracy of the other data on this page.

indypedia on universities

Anyway, this week, there are about 117 universities in the UK, since you ask.

May 27, 2006

David and Benny

Of all the choices for Desert Island Discs!

Benny Hill - still not funny

If honest, then it's frightening. If not, and is intended to be some kind of ironic statement, then it's even more scary.

Self help scamming

Writing about web page

A nice wee piece this on one of my bugbears:

SHAM Scam: The Self–Help and Actualization Movement has become an $8.5–billion–a–year business. Does it work?

The key paradox in all of this is: if you need to pay for someone's help, why is it called "self–help"?

Surrounding SHAM is a bulletproof shield: if your life does not get better, it is your fault—your thoughts were not positive enough. The solution? More of the same self–help—or at least the same message repackaged into new products. Consider the multiple permutations of John Gray's Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus—Mars and Venus Together Forever, Mars and Venus in the Bedroom, The Mars and Venus Diet and Exercise Solution—not to mention the Mars and Venus board game, Broadway play and Club Med getaway.
SHAM takes advantage by cleverly marketing the dualism of victimization and empowerment. Like a religion that defines people as inherently sinful so that they require forgiveness (provided exclusively by that religion), SHAM gurus insist that we are all victims of our demonic "inner children" who are produced by traumatic pasts that create negative "tapes" that replay over and over in our minds. Redemption comes through empowering yourself with new "life scripts," supplied by the masters themselves, for prices that range from $500 one–day workshops to Robbins's $5,995 "Date with Destiny" seminar.

Chin up!

May 16, 2006

The all new Shipping Forecast

The all new Shipping Forecast seems rather different now in the early hours with Weather Forecasters reading it instead of newsreaders.

Something of the poetry of it has been lost and have been trying to work out why this might be:

  • Is it inexperience, ie they are yet to get used to doing it?

  • Do the Forecasters simply have too much professional interest? Is the news from North Utsira just too darned interesting for them to read it dispassionately?

  • Or is it that they are all much more used to winging it rather than reading from a carefully written and very precise script?

While we are on the broad subject of early morning radio, do I miss the Radio 4 UK theme? Not really, but once a week might be good.

May 13, 2006

Ice cream 'meltdown' leading to illicit 99s?

Writing about web page,,1-2-2170199-2,00.html

Ah well, another fond childhood memory bites the dust. And it seems that, for once, it's not being pinned on European legislation.


FOR 60 years the tinny jingle of Greensleeves that announced the arrival of the ice–cream van has been an indelible memory of childhood, but that sound may soon be removed from suburban streets. Health lobbyists have decided that ice–creams are too much of a danger to children’s health. MPs and health officials are planning a series of measures across the country that are already forcing Mr Whippy and his helpers into meltdown.

Anyway, whoever Mr Whippy's 'helpers' are, it is questionable whether a few parking restrictions next to schools are really going to make much of a difference. I like the suggestion in the article though that ice cream sales to kids will be forced underground – they will naturally be lured towards the harder stuff like Fabs, Twisters and Magnums.

Just as entertainingly you have to ask how was the following particular 'fact' arrived at? OK, it is quite possibly true but I just cannot believe that there is actually a body of evidence to support it:

The two most popular ice cream van jingles today are O Solo Mio by Eduardo Di Capua popularly known as the Cornetto theme and Greensleeves

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