Doofus Of The Day #6

This is not a good way to get away. It seems Mr. Mthandani Nqetho stole various bits and pieces from the stalls of ‘informal traders’ in Cathedral Street, Durban, South Africa yesterday. When he’d finished he wanted to leave as quickly as possible, so he jumped over a palisade fence. Er . . . let me rephrase that. He tried to jump over a palisade fence. He didn’t succeed. Instead, he impaled both feet on the fence posts. Police found him hanging from the fence this morning. He’d managed to free one foot, but the other was still firmly attached

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Ever heard of ‘glamping’?

I hadn’t either until I read this article. The word means ‘glamorous camping’. Essentially one has all the comforts of a five-star-plus hotel – under canvas. Personally, I don’t see the point. I remember many years of camping, as a child, a teenager and an adult. I’ve been snowed into a mountain cave in the Cedarberg in South Africa; spent stifling nights under canvas in the African bush (where one’s principle concern was what might come sniffing around the tent at oh-dark-thirty, looking for a midnight snack); camped beside rushing rivers where one could reach an arm outside the tent

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When people forget to be human beings

There’s a terribly sad, hard-to-read post up on My Own Woman’s blog. She describes a mother whose only interest is in her present relationship, at the expense of her son. I’ve had to deal with so many cases of parental neglect like this . . . the children usually grow up with no sense of right or wrong, no understanding of morality or ethics, no idea of how to behave. Many of them end up in trouble with the law: it’s after that became irrevocable that I met many of them behind prison bars. Trouble is, by that time they’re

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Now that’s what I call dedication!

You’re a scientist. You want to collect samples of hippopotamus sweat for study in your laboratory. However, there’s one slight difficulty. The average hippopotamus will stomp you into a mudhole (and fill it in after you) if you try to get near him. Solution? You get into an artificial hippopotamus suit, built strong enough to withstand the impact of an angry (or amorous?) hippo. You smear the whole thing with hippo dung to hide your scent. (No word of how it smells to you inside the darn thing.) Then you creep up on your hippopotamus. So far, so good .

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A musician with a mission

If you’ve never paid much attention to classical music, there’s a treat in store for you – and it’s free! British violinist Tasmin Little has recorded a new album, The Naked Violin – and she’s making the entire album available for download, free of charge. You’ll find it at her Web site. In an interview with the London Times newspaper, she says that she wants to break down the prejudice expressed by many against classical music. During a private recital, she says: “Some people there thought that they hated solo-violin music, until they actually experienced it. That made me think

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Lest we forget: Auschwitz, 1945

On this date, January 27, 1945, the Nazi extermination camp at Auschwitz in Poland was liberated by the forces of the Soviet Union. In the preceding three years, something over a million people (the exact total will never be known) had been murdered there on an assembly-line basis. They were part of approximately six million ‘enemies’ murdered by the Nazi regime in concentration and extermination camps, plus another six million or more (again, the real total will never be known) killed in prisoner-of-war camps (particularly Soviet prisoners) or starved to death or shot or otherwise murdered in German-occupied areas. There

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Weekend Wings #4: The Last Stand Of The Biplane

Following my last Weekend Wings post, which looked at the line of descent between the Sopwith Pup biplane fighter of World War I and the Lockheed F-35B STOVL variant of the Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, I had a few queries from readers asking when the last biplanes saw combat. The answer might surprise you. You see, biplanes served in several theaters of combat all the way through World War II and in the Korean War. Indeed, a biplane is still in military service in at least three nations, including two current major powers! During the 1930’s most military aircraft

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A little more humor

I offer this morning another British comedy duo for your enjoyment: Mitchell and Webb. Their zany, offbeat humor can sometimes leave me cold, and at other times have me splitting my sides. You’ll have to judge for yourself. I’ve included two of my favorite clips. Being a writer myself, the first, an interview between an author and his agent, has a certain appeal to me. The second is a short advertisement they did for Apple Computer in England. There are many clips of their show on YouTube if you’d like to see more of them. Peter

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The Last Mutiny Against Captain Bligh

Two hundred years ago today Captain (later Vice-Admiral) William Bligh suffered the last of four rebellions or mutinies against his authority that he was to experience during his extraordinary career. The so-called ‘Rum Rebellion‘ (which had nothing whatsoever to do with rum) is celebrated, by coincidence, on the same date as Australia Day – fitting, really, since the rebellion took place on that continent. Bligh, of ‘Mutiny On The Bounty’ fame, was a skilled, efficient, professional naval officer cursed with a difficult personality. Despite his competence, he appears to have been one of those people who simply can’t suffer fools

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When “the law is an ass”.

The title of this post is, of course, a quotation from Charles Dickens’ well-known novel Oliver Twist. Would that it could remain as a novelist’s turn of phrase . . . but very sadly, it proves true time and again in this sick, twisted world of ours. In England, five pre-teen and teenage thugs tortured a twelve-year-old girl. They “kicked their victim, set off fireworks near her legs and ripped off her underwear during an hour long ordeal – even recording it on mobile phones”. One of them then “took a running kick at her as she lay on the

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