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Richard Walker

Nominative determinism

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Edited by Richard Walker, Monday, 4 Sept 2023, 12:35

Nominative determinism is the idea that a person's name might somehow influence their career choice. 

The term was popularised in New Scientist magazine in 1994, and was intended humorously. It attracted many examples, such the book The Imperial Animal by Lionel Tiger and Robin Fox and Pole Positions—The Polar Regions and the Future of the Planet, by Daniel Snowman. You can find lots of similar examples in the Wikipedia article here.

There is even an intriguing possibility that is it more than a series on coincidences, that these is really something in it, and it has been seriously discussed by a number of psychologists, although it would be hard I think to0 establish any real effect.

Be that as it may, I have just been reading the history of Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire and in the Wikipedia article about it I came across this advertisement from 1926. Bidwell and Sons auctioneers, eh?



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Richard Walker

My Awesome Sunflower

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Richard Walker

Autumn Haiku

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Edited by Richard Walker, Friday, 1 Sept 2023, 20:40

Autumn's arrived—
Just hearing that
I'm cold already.

Issa

See https://learn1.open.ac.uk/mod/oublog/viewpost.php?post=169786b
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Richard Walker

What is the the title of this post?

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 With apologies to Raymond Smullyan.

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Richard Walker

No grapes suffered in the making of this joke

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When you tread on grapes,

They let out a little whine.

But don’t worry,

It’s only sham pain.

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Richard Walker

Haiku

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Nobody told me

The warp drive was not reversible

Now I’m kinda stuck.

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Richard Walker

A Scarlet Tiger

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My brother photographed this beautiful moth.


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Richard Walker

Why acorn?

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Old English for oak was ek, I think (German is Eiche) but that has mutated into oak in Modern English. The “corn” bit presumably means seed, and so why don’t we call it an Oakcorn?

Try saying it at normal voice level, Oakcorn. 

Try whispering it. Is that different?

Why?

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Richard Walker

At Sandilands

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Edited by Richard Walker, Sunday, 27 Aug 2023, 00:00


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Richard Walker

Tim's weakness

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Richard Walker

Panniers

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A few months ago, I bought a mobility scooter designed to go on the road, rather than the pavement. It’s a bit like an electric motorbike except of course it doesn’t go as fast, there’s a limit of 8 mph.

Like many motorbikes, it has a back box, but its capacity is limited. Having literally just bought a baguette I wondered how I could fit my bread and other groceries in. 

What I need is panniers I thought; storage baskets that hang on either side of a donkey or a bike; and then it occurred to me, that’s exactly why they are called panniers. It must be connected with French pain = bread. Aha! 

So I looked it up in the OED and sure enough, a pannier was a bread basket in old French, and we borrowed the word, into Middle English or maybe before.

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Richard Walker

The Jersey Tiger

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This striking moth has a wide range outside Britain, but historically it was rare here and only found in the Channel Isles (thus the name) and one location in Devon.

However like many species it has been expanding its territory and has now spread north as far as Cambridgeshire, where it popped up in my garden.

This picture of the resting insect doesn't begin to show how spectacular it is in flight; sadly it didn't stay around long enough for us to video it.

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Richard Walker

Susan

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Richard Walker

Squirrel Brains

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I love squirrels, seeing them often in my garden, and was fascinated to hear recently that their brains may grow in autumn and shrink again in spring. 

The reason for this might be that the task of storing a winter food supply in a way that's easy to find again takes a lot of mental effort, to organise and memorise the cache locations.

Other mammals adapt for winter in significant ways; stoats and mountain hare change the colour of their coats; hedgehogs and bears hibernate. There is also evidence that shrews shrink both body and brain, to survive with shrunken resources.

So the idea about squirrels is plausible, and it's supported by research findings, but of course it's hard to be sure and there is still debate.

There's a good article here about a leading researcher and her liking and fascination with these clever little beasts.

Studies of squirrel brain regeneration may reveal clues about how to slow Alzheimer's disease, because in at least one form, the cells squirrels seem to regenerate are the ones that sufferers appear to be losing? Could mental activity, such as doing puzzles, help? It's often been suggested and there is some evidence in favour, I recall. It's an alluring possibility but no more at this stage.

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Richard Walker

One Liner à la Tim Vine

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Edited by Richard Walker, Saturday, 12 Aug 2023, 23:30

The vegetable show was won by an 85-pound swede. I thought, “That’s a turnip for the books.”

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Richard Walker

The church at Stackpole

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Richard Walker

A Cambridge Sunset

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Richard Walker

This beautiful rose

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I have had this rambling rose since 2021, and it is gorgeous. If only I could post the scent.



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Richard Walker

When I die

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When I died

Four princesses sat on my grave and cried.


The first was Princess Autumn, whose red tears

Were gentle in their falling.


Next was Princess Winter

Her tears heart-broken white crystal.

Third came Princess Spring

 Each flowing blue-skied raindrop a song.


And last Princess Summer

And her tears each a sunbeam, so they were golden on my tomb.

When these four princesses had visited and wept their fill.

My bones at last were put at peace and rest there still.

Red, white, blue and gold

So is eternity foretold.


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Richard Walker

One Liner Down Under

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How do Australians share their disapproval of meringues? Boo.

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Richard Walker

Unusual cloud formation

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A friend spotted these unusual clouds. They seem to be cirrus but they look so distinctive that I wondered if they had a special name.


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Richard Walker

Dinner for two

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Richard Walker

Levels of Teaching

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The slur ‘Those who can, do; those who can’t teach' seems to have been originated with George Bernard Shaw in his play Man and Superman. Personally I’ve done lots of jobs and I learned something from them all.

Hospital porter
Postman
Off licence
Menswear shop
Die cast foundry
Computer (originally computers were people who did calculations)
Clerical worker (Inland Revenue, motor insurance)
Factory odd jobs
Building materials research

Anyway I digress. At the pub tonight a wiseacre came up with the old ‘Those that can etc.’ and that reminded me that back when IT was first making its way into schools I once had a job where I was teaching people who were going off to teach teachers how to teach IT. 

This reminded me of a little verse:

No teacher I of kids, or smaller fry,
No teacher I of teachers, no, not I.
Mine was the distant aim, the longer reach,
To teach folk how to teach folk how to teach.

(Adapted from A B Ramsay)
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Richard Walker

Disappointment

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I clutched the icy handrail, 

but when I reach the top,

no one was there.


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Richard Walker

What’s the difference between a stoat and a weasel?

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The Woodland Trust says:

“The easiest and most reliable way to tell a stoat (Mustela erminea) from a weasel (Mustela nivalis) is the tail.”

But my dad had a different answer:

A weasel is weasely distinguished,

But a stoat is stoatally different,


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