## Word Of The Day

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Edited by Richard Walker, Sunday, 26 Sep 2021, 02:02

A grimoire is a book of magic spells, from French, from Latin, and I think related to Ancient Greek grammata = letters.

Those who can read and write may cast spells. They may be glamorous, glammar being a Scots variant. And so we see those who can read, write, spell, may bewitch and fascinate. Letters are dangerous.

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## Hairpiece

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I bought a wig for five thousand pounds. That’s a lot toupee.

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## Word of the day

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Edited by Richard Walker, Friday, 24 Sep 2021, 01:55

A German one today.

verschlimmbesserung

This beautiful word means an attempt at making things better that ends up making them worse.

Pointing no fingers, you can probably think of many examples.

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What did the talking dog say when it climbed on the house?

Roof!

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We’ve been deliberating what we should put in the hanging baskets to flower through the winter. Winter pansies are a hot favourite but what other plants should we look at; any other ideas welcome.

Permalink 4 comments (latest comment by Richard Walker, Wednesday, 22 Sep 2021, 22:33)
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## Vitamin D

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My doctor tested me and said my Vitamin D was low. “Get out in the sun more”, she advised, “And wear shorts, get some sun on those legs!”

I did what she said, and when I went back, after just a few weeks, my Vitamin D was way up. My doctor was so pleased she awarded me some brown knee points.

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## Autumn Encounter

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Edited by Richard Walker, Sunday, 19 Sep 2021, 02:08

Tending my tomatoes

Little damage done, and the spider ran off safely.

Still I apologised.

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Richard Walker, Monday, 20 Sep 2021, 01:25)
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## Duxford Air Show

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As the sun rose today, classic WWII era aircraft lined up at Duxford Aerodrome in Cambridgeshire. The planes to the right are Buchons, those at left Spitfires.

Picture credit Mark Williams of Classic Wings

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## The Guessing Games

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Edited by Richard Walker, Saturday, 18 Sep 2021, 00:27

A friend tells you she has chosen a number from 1 to 100, and challenges you to guess what it is. To help you a little, she says you can ask exactly one question about the number and she will answer it honestly. Armed with the extra information her answer provides, you can then proceed to guess what number she picked.

[Adapted from a puzzle by Alex Besos.]

Permalink 6 comments (latest comment by Joseph McDonnell, Tuesday, 28 Sep 2021, 21:54)
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## Aphorism

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Edited by Richard Walker, Thursday, 16 Sep 2021, 03:49
All people are unique but some are more unique than others.
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## Earth and Venus

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Edited by Richard Walker, Wednesday, 15 Sep 2021, 01:10

This remarkable animation is from a lovely blog post by Guy Ottewell. I only offer it as a taster and strongly recommentd visiting https://www.universalworkshop.com/2016/06/07/five-petals-of-venus/ for the full story.

So what's going on? Well, we see a slightly simplified version of the motions of the Sun and Venus as seen from Earth (centre stage). It's simplified by making the objects move at uniform speed, and the orbits circular, but these are not wildy out; for exampleif you plotted the Earth's orbit on paper, it would to the human eye be industinguishable from a circle. The Earth is at the centre, the yellow circle represents the Sun and Venus is the smaller, white, circle.

Watching the animation you will see that it gradually unfolds as a pattern with five-fold symmetry. This reflects the fact that the length of a Venus year to an Earth is close to 5:13 and 13 - 8 = 5.

We are nowadays familiar with idea that both Venus and Earth, and all the other planets, revolve about the Sun, but for at least 2,000 years the world view was that the Earth stood still and everything else moved round it. This is not unreasonable, or even wrong, but it just makes the motion of the planet appear arbitrary and hard to account for, as we see from the motion of Venus in the animation.To describe it we need circles within circles within circles, 'epicycles', and although it utimately works, it gets extemely complicated, and the epicycles are like pulling a rabbit out of a hat.

Once we make that shift, to placing the Sun at the centre, it all becomes much simpler to describe. There is much still to explain; such as, the orbits are not actually circulr but ellipses, the speeds not the same all the way round the orbit, the reason for the different orbital periods is not understood; and Kepler wondered what make the planets move at all. But the heliocentric viewpoint is much simpler to deal with, and it paves the way for a better understanding of the Solar system, and then of the motion of celestial objects more widely.

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## Nominative Determinism

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The notion that some people have, unconsciously, or perhaps by fate or destiny, fallen into professions that align with their name is an old one. See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nominative_determinismere for a wealth of information on the topic.

It’s been a meme in New Scientist for over two decades. It’s meant humorously as a rule, but some writers have mused whether there is a real effect. Of course many names are occupational in origin, and in about 1300 a Richard Miller probable was a miller, and his father may have had the same name and occupation, but their descendants are unlikely to be steered by such a distant connection.

I’m inclined to believe that it’s merely a result of our tendency to observe coincidences, which are memorable and leap out from a background  of unremarkable data which we don’t notice.

All the same I was struck to find there genuinely is an eminent barrister named Stephanie Barwise, which is was what sent me thinking about the topic.

For more ND examples check out this great blog post.

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## One Liner

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Edited by Richard Walker, Monday, 13 Sep 2021, 17:26

Someone offered me a free trip on a steam train. I was really chuffed.

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## Heard Down The Pub

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“Conversation makes people.”

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## University Challenge

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“Starter for one, name a bird that lives on the wing”.

Tom was forced to think swiftly.

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Richard Walker, Sunday, 12 Sep 2021, 21:01)
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Why can a flea jump higher than the Eiffel Tower?

Because the Eiffel Tower can’t jump!

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## Word Of The Day

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Sedevacantism

An opinion holding that the Pope is not in valid succession and hence not a Catholic, undermining a well known retort.

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## Improvement

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Edited by Richard Walker, Thursday, 9 Sep 2021, 01:11

A switch clicked in my head

“I’m better”, I said.

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## Christina Rossetti’s Best Poem

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Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you planned:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

Permalink 3 comments (latest comment by Joseph McDonnell, Thursday, 9 Sep 2021, 17:12)
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## Word Of The Day

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Routerlessness: a feeling of disorientation caused by losing WiFi connectivity.

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## I Want To Go Out In A Burst Of Flame

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I want to go out in a burst of flame

Like a firestorm passing by

Or a small but energetic volcano.

I want people sitting at home to say

“What was that”?

Then carry on as normal.

Permalink 3 comments (latest comment by Gill Burrell, Saturday, 11 Sep 2021, 15:47)
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## One Liner

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I tried sleeping on a sledge, but I went downhill overnight.

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Richard Walker, Tuesday, 7 Sep 2021, 23:27)
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## Who Owns That Swan?

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Technically almost all unmarked mute swans on open water in Britain belong to the monarch. There’s a terrific blog post here that goes into the fascinating legal history of this prerogative.

However there is an exception; ownership of unmarked swans on the reaches of the Medway around Maidstone was granted to the borough by Elizabeth l (or maybe James I). So the swan I photographed on Wednesday is the responsibility of the Mayor of Maidstone.

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## Mikis Theodorakis

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Mikis Theodorakis has just died. He was a big hero of mine, a great composer and a lifelong fighter for social justice.

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## River Cruise

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On Wednesday four of us took an excursion on the River Medway (more to come on this). Just before we left Maidenhead I spotted this swan squaring up to its own image in a car door.  I have a crow living in my garden that pecks its own reflection in the window of the back bedroom, the same thing I suppose.

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Richard Walker, Monday, 6 Sep 2021, 01:19)
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