Older blog entries for marnanel (starting at number 974)


Kit has given me an early Christmas present. It is called THE STAFF HROTHGAR. It is a stout branch about five feet long, polished up with a ferrule on the end and my initials carved into it. It is at least seven kinds of wonderful, and very good for walking with. I intend to lacquer over a small RFID tag on it somewhere so I can hold it up to a door and make the door open.

Syndicated 2012-11-29 17:31:15 from Monument

Hereditary peerages

Since 1965 there have only been three hereditary peerages created for non-royals. Two of these are already extinct.

In 1983, Willie Whitelaw was created Viscount Whitelaw. He had no sons (although he did have four daughters) and so the peerage became extinct upon his death.
Also in 1983, George Thomas was created Viscount Tonypandy. The title was a bit of a joke: it had been his nickname since his youth. He had no children (he was gay, although he fought a losing battle to keep it secret all his life) and the title also became extinct upon his death.
And in 1984 Harold Macmillan was made Earl of Stockton and Viscount Macmillan. His titles were inherited by his grandson, who now holds them.

Syndicated 2012-11-29 16:41:19 from Monument

It's all in Plato, bless me, all in Plato

I was talking to my four-year-old niece.

Me: "And there was a man called Plato who told a story about a cave. You could sit in the cave and watch what the people next door were doing, but all you could ever see was shadows of them. And you had to guess what they were doing. Were they dancing, or eating, or sleeping, or jumping up and down? You had to tell from their shadows."

Niece: "Yes. Well. *I'm* going on holiday to that cave soon."

Me: "You're going on holiday to Plato's cave? COOL!"

Syndicated 2012-11-26 10:37:03 from Monument


"If a person gave your body to any stranger he met on his way, you would certainly be angry. And do you feel no shame in handing over your own mind to be confused and mystified by anyone who happens to verbally attack you?"

-- Epictetus, Enchiridion, 28

Syndicated 2012-11-24 21:50:41 from Monument

"not the least resemblance to a Woman."

Elizabeth Carter (1717-1806), English poet, classicist, writer and translator, was described by Lord Napier as "a fine old Slut, though bearing not the least resemblance to a Woman. She had more the appearance of a fat Priest of the Church of Rome than an English Gentlewoman." I mention this to demonstrate that the likes of A.A. Gill who evaluate scholarly women solely by disparaging their physical appearance are nothing new.

Syndicated 2012-11-24 20:04:56 from Monument

God in check

I was asked for a poem for the newsletter the churches here send out to all the houses in the town. This is what I gave them and they printed. I think it's reasonably good, though it could probably still be improved here and there.

I think I see defences start to crack;
this world shall hear, and see that I am right.
The pawns pass round to right the rook's attack
advancing under cover of the knight
to trap the piece of God, where he shall lose,
and all his plans shall prove themselves in vain.
You, God, who never walked in human shoes!
How can you think to judge a world of pain?
Then all is changed. He takes my form. His flesh
lies screaming on a filthy farmyard floor,
grows up, is murdered, builds the world afresh--
a king triumphant, out of check once more--
counters my every effort to disprove
and asks: what will you do with Christ? Your move.

Syndicated 2012-11-18 15:50:30 from Monument

In a supermarket

In the supermarket, I passed an old lady in discussion with a young security guard.

Old lady: And they rearrange the shelves all the time.
Guard: They do it on purpose. To see if you're awake.
Old lady: Well, I can never find anything.
Me: You know, it's to the supermarket's advantage to have you wandering around looking at the shelves.
Old lady: Well, it doesn't work with me. I just say (lowers voice) sod it, I'm leaving, I'll do without.
Me: And the world needs more people like you.
Guard: Yeah, everyone buys too much stuff, more than they need. And then they throw it away instead of giving it to the homeless.

I left them discussing practical socialism.

Syndicated 2012-11-17 14:28:09 from Monument

Shipping expertise needed

A friend in Maryland is sending me a parcel whose contents are valuable enough to attract duty. HMRC put a sticker on the parcel saying the duty needed to be paid, and then (as far as we can tell) sent it back "return to sender" without actually asking me to pay the duty. What now, wise people?

Syndicated 2012-11-13 22:16:56 from Monument


End7.org wants to get rid of seven tropical diseases (roundworm, hookworm, elephantiasis, river blindness, schistosomiasis, trachoma, and trichuriasis) by 2020.

Syndicated 2012-11-09 22:33:45 from Monument


Wondering why I had an earworm of "Two Lovely Black Eyes" in the supermarket, I looked around and saw I'd just passed a sign saying, "12 Mini Mince Pies". This happens to me all the time.

Syndicated 2012-11-09 20:36:00 from Monument

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