Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Thought for the Day

Television, Roald Dahl

One wonders what Roald Dahl would have made of today's television, with its endless reality shows and cooking programs and, more importantly, what he would have made of the fascination of the young with social media, texting and playing Candy Crush endlessly on cell phones . . .

By Roald Dahl

The most important thing we've learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set --
Or better still, just don't install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we've been,
We've watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone's place we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they're hypnotised by it,
Until they're absolutely drunk
With all that shocking ghastly junk.
Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don't climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink --
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?
'All right!' you'll cry. 'All right!' you'll say,
'But if we take the set away,
What shall we do to entertain
Our darling children? Please explain!'
We'll answer this by asking you,
'What used the darling ones to do?
'How used they keep themselves contented
Before this monster was invented?'
Have you forgotten? Don't you know?
We'll say it very loud and slow:
THEY ... USED ... TO ... READ! They'd READ and READ,
AND READ and READ, and then proceed
To READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!
One half their lives was reading books!
The nursery shelves held books galore!
Books cluttered up the nursery floor!
And in the bedroom, by the bed,
More books were waiting to be read!
Such wondrous, fine, fantastic tales
Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and whales
And treasure isles, and distant shores
Where smugglers rowed with muffled oars,
And pirates wearing purple pants,
And sailing ships and elephants,
And cannibals crouching 'round the pot,
Stirring away at something hot.
(It smells so good, what can it be?
Good gracious, it's Penelope.)
The younger ones had Beatrix Potter
With Mr. Tod, the dirty rotter,
And Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland,
And Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and-
Just How The Camel Got His Hump,
And How the Monkey Lost His Rump,
And Mr. Toad, and bless my soul,
There's Mr. Rat and Mr. Mole-
Oh, books, what books they used to know,
Those children living long ago!
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books,
Ignoring all the dirty looks,
The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,
And children hitting you with sticks-
Fear not, because we promise you
That, in about a week or two
Of having nothing else to do,
They'll now begin to feel the need
Of having something to read.
And once they start -- oh boy, oh boy!
You watch the slowly growing joy
That fills their hearts. They'll grow so keen
They'll wonder what they'd ever seen
In that ridiculous machine,
That nauseating, foul, unclean,
Repulsive television screen!
And later, each and every kid
Will love you more for what you did. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Spectrum of Thoughts

Some origins


Sports bras are not as modern as one might think. Ancient female Greek athletes used a tight band of cloth known as an apodesmos over the breasts to restrict movement, making athletics a little easier. Another piece of cloth known as a strophion could be worn over the clothes, providing the same type of support as an apodesmos. Both garments were normally made of wool or linen, and they were usually tied or pinned in the back. Various statues have been found depicting the goddess Aphrodite wearing an apodesmos, leading some to believe that thinner versions may have had an erotic connotation.

A brass statue of Aphrodite applying a apodesmos.


Popcorn is another item that goes way back.

Corn was first domesticated 9,000 years ago in what is now Mexico, with evidence showing that the popping of corn goes back thousands of years. In Mexico, for example, remnants of popcorn have been found that date to around 3600 BC.

During the Great Depression, popcorn was fairly inexpensive at 5–10 cents a bag and became popular. Thus, while other businesses failed, the popcorn business thrived and became a source of income for many struggling farmers.

An early popcorn machine in a street cart, invented in the 1880s by Charles Cretors in Chicago.


The first modern flight recorder, called "Mata Hari", was created in 1942 by Finnish aviation engineer Veijo Hietala. This black high-tech mechanical box was able to record all important aviation details during test flights of World War II fighter aircraft that the Finnish army repaired or built in their main aviation factory in Tampere, Finland. The "Mata Hari" black box is displayed in the Vapriikki Museum in Tampere, Finland.

Mata Hari flight recorder

In 1953, Australian engineer David Warren conceived a device that would record not only the instruments reading, but also the cockpit voices, when working with the Australian Research Laboratories. He built the first prototype in 1958. Local interest was nonexistent but the Poms liked it and funded developing the prototype to the airborne stage, which included a fire and shockproof case, a reliable system for encoding and recording aircraft instrument readings and voice on one wire, and a ground-based decoding device. In 1965 the units were redesigned and moved to the rear of airplanes to improve the probability of successful data retrieval after a crash.

Dr. Warren never patented his idea and received little financial reward for his invention, preferring to leave his device for airline safety throughout the world.

Dr Warren with his Black Box Flight Recorder

The term "black box" is almost never used within the flight safety industry or aviation, which prefers the term "flight recorder". The recorders are not permitted to be black in color, and must be bright orange, as they are intended to be spotted and recovered after incidents. The term "black box" has been popularised by the media in general.

Some possible explanations for the term “Black Box”:
  • That it comes from the early film-based design of flight data recorders, which required the inside of the recorder to be perfectly dark to prevent light leaks from corrupting the record, as in a photographer's darkroom.
  • That a journalist told Warren: "This is a wonderful black box." 
  • That it comes from World War II RAF jargon. Prior to the end of the war in 1945, new electronic innovations were added to planes. The prototypes were roughly covered in hand-made metal boxes, painted black to prevent reflections. After a time any piece of "new" electronics was referred to as the "box-of-tricks" (as illusionist box) or the "black box".

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Thought for the Day

- George Orwell, Animal Farm

Original commandment
Revised commandment
Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy
As the pigs become more human, they start walking on 2 legs.
Four legs good, two legs better.
Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
The pigs end up thinking any animal who walks on four legs or has wings is inferior. Two legs better.

No animal shall wear clothes.
The animals notice the pigs wearing human clothes. Napoleon is wearing a cloak.

No animal shall sleep in a bed.
The pigs break one of the 7 Commandments by sleeping in the bed in the farm house. They say they need to do this because their brains need more rest due to them being smarter.  Muriel checked the sign, to find it altered.
No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets.
No animal shall drink alcohol.
The Pigs starts drinking alcohol
No animal shall drink alcohol to excess.
No animal shall kill any other animal.
When some of the animals admit to helping or being in touch with Snowball, who was exiled from Animal Farm, they were promptly slaughtered by the dogs who guarded Napoleon. The animals again thought the pigs disobeyed the Commandments but when Muriel checked them, it now read . . .
No animal shall kill any other animal without cause.
All animals are equal.
Ultimately, the 7 Commandments are abridged to one single phrase . . .
All animals are equal but some are more equal than others.

Walingford Signs

There is a convenience store in Seattle’s Walingford neighbourhood that has become known for its weekly signs.

This is from its website, Seattle Propane at Walingford Chevron, at:

Once per week. 4 lines. 17 characters per line.

In October of 2005 we converted our auto repair shop into an ExtraMile convenience store and suddenly we had a problem. It had always been easy to think of useful messages to put on the sign for things like service promotions and store specials and the like. But with the ExtraMile, there were no more cars to fix and the place was plastered with store specials.

So we decided to do something different.

That something different is to post signs that are witty, cheeky, flippant, philosophical and, above all, entertaining.

Following is a selection.