Saturday, March 31, 2018

Miscellany and Trivia


Caution: slightly risque items included.

Those dam goats: 

This is the Cingino dam in the Italian Alps. Nothing remarkable, I hear you say, nice dam, but there are other dams more impressive. The difference is that those other dams don’t have Alpine Ibex goats wandering across the face of the near-vertical dam. Those specks you see on the face of the dam in the photograph above are mountain goats. They walk on the near vertical walls to lick the stones for their salts and to eat the lichens growing in the joins. 

Some pics: 



In the earliest times Greek gods were worshiped by way of piles of stones by the sides of roads, especially at their crossings. The custom was that each passer-by would throw a stone onto the heap or anoint it with oil. Later these piles of stones gave way to 4 sided columns. The number 4 was sacred to the god Hermes, a phallic god associated with fertility, luck, roads and borders. He later also became the protector of merchants and travellers. These columns became known as herma, probably from the 4 sides. Later still, the columns became adorned with heads of gods at the top, not just of Hermes but also of other gods, and male genitalia on the column itself at the appropriate height. The statues were thought to ward off harm or evil and were placed at crossings, country borders and boundaries as protection, in front of temples, near to tombs, in the gymnasia, palaestrae, libraries, porticoes, and public places, at the corners of streets, on high roads as sign-posts, with distances inscribed upon them. 

Herma of Demosthenes from the Athenian Agora, work by Polyeuktos, c. 280 BC 

Herma with the head of Herakles (Hermherakles). Museum of Ancient Messene, Greece. 

See more pics at:


In “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” Darth Vader and the Death Star destroy Princess Leia’s adopted planet Alderaan. In early Star wars scripts, Alderaan was home to a Sith prison where Princess Leia was held. To cut the expense of filming in Alderaan, George Lucas cut those scenes and blew up the planet instead. 

One writer in the Washington Post has argued that in reality Alderaan was a legitimate military target as being a major and strategic rebel base, its destruction being the equivalent of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, see: 

Nonetheless I have always had a problem with Darth Vader being regarded as a good guy at the end of Star wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi . . . 

. . . conveniently forgetting Obi Wan Kenobi’s words aboard the Millenium Falcon when Alderaan was destroyed: "I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced." 

Susan’s party: 

Back in 2012, Susan Boyle’s recording company was anxious to capitalise on her fame as the surprise winner of 2009’s Britain’s Got Talent. A simple, middle aged unsophisticated Scottish lady who lived on her own and sang in her church choir, the 2012 album was called “Standing Ovation: The Greatest Songs from the Stage”. 

The promoters had a great idea: as a PR stunt, the album was released with a hashtag site #susanalbumparty, inviting people to Susan’s Album Party. However, that is not how most people read it, seeing it instead as an invitation to Su’s Anal Bum Party. 

Red faces all round.


Immortal Bridge, China: 

Mount Tai in the Shandon Province, China has had cultural and religious significance for thousands of years. It is one of the five sacred mountains of China and is associated with the dawn, birth and renaissance. Higher up on the mountain is The Immortal Bridge, composed of three huge rocks and several smaller ones. Below it is a valley and to the south is a seemingly bottomless abyss. No one knows quite when these enormous rocks fell in to their current place but it is quite likely they have been like this since the last ice age . . . 


Koroit Opal: 

The Koroit opal field is an opal mining area in Paroo Shire in South West Queensland, Australia.   The opal field is known for the very distinctive type of boulder opal that is found in its mines. In Queensland boulder opal is found within a 300 km wide belt of sedimentary rocks in the Winton Formation. Here opal is found as a kernel in small concretions. Koroit opals are famous for their deep, strong ironstone with stunning patterns and inclusions of colour. They are also generally larger-sized opals and are considered the best value for money opal available. 

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