Tuesday, November 30, 2021




Continuing a look at the events and people in Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start the Fire.

Each two lines represent a year.

Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac
Sputnik, Chou En-Lai, "Bridge on the River Kwai"
Lebanon, Charles de Gaulle, California baseball
Starkweather, homicide, children of thalidomide
Buddy Holly, "Ben Hur", space monkey, Mafia
Hula hoops, Castro, Edsel is a no-go
U-2, Syngman Rhee, payola and Kennedy
Chubby Checker, "Psycho", Belgians in the Congo

Little Rock:
  • By 1957 the US Supreme Court decision of Brown v Board of Education that declared “separate but equal” in America’s public schools unconstitutional had been in force for 3 years. Nonetheless hostility remained strong in the South.
  • Following enrolment in the summer of 1957, nine black students attended at Little Rock Central High School to commence classes. Their enrolment was a challenge to segregation.
  • The students had been warned by the Little Rock board of education not to attend the first day of school. They arrived on the second da,y accompanied by a small interracial group of minister, and encountered a large white mob in front of the school, who began shouting, throwing stones, and threatening to kill the students.
  • About 270 soldiers of the Arkansas National Guard, sent by Arkansas Governor Orval Eugene Faubus, blocked the school’s entrance. Faubus had declared his opposition to integration and his intention to defy a federal court order requiring desegregation.
  • The confrontation in Little Rock drew international attention to racism and civil rights in the United States as well as to the battle between federal and state power. Television and newspaper reporters devoted substantial coverage to the “Little Rock Nine,” as the African American students were called.
  • Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Governor Faubus, and Little Rock’s mayor, Woodrow Mann, discussed the situation over the course of 18 days, during which time the nine students stayed home. The students returned to the high school on September 23, entering through a side door to avoid the protesters’ attention and wrath.
  • They were eventually discovered, however, and white protesters became violent, attacking African American bystanders as well as reporters for northern newspapers.
  • The students were sent home, but they returned on September 25, protected by U.S. soldiers. Despite Eisenhower’s publicly stated reluctance to use federal troops to enforce desegregation, he recognized the potential for violence and state insubordination. He thus sent the elite 101st Airborne Division, called the “Screaming Eagles,” to Little Rock and placed the Arkansas National Guard under federal command.
  • The Little Rock Nine continued to face physical and verbal attacks from white students throughout their studies at Central High.
  • Melba Pattillo had acid thrown into her eyes and also recalled in her book, Warriors Don't Cry, an incident in which a group of white girls trapped her in a stall in the girls' washroom and attempted to burn her by dropping pieces of flaming paper on her from above.
  • Another one of the students, Minnijean Brown, was verbally confronted and abused. She said
I was one of the kids 'approved' by the school officials. We were told we would have to take a lot and were warned not to fight back if anything happened. One girl ran up to me and said, 'I'm so glad you're here. Won't you go to lunch with me today?' I never saw her again.
  • Minnijean Brown was also taunted by members of a group of white male students in December 1957 in the school cafeteria during lunch. She dropped her lunch, a bowl of chili, onto the boys and was suspended for six days. Two months later, after more confrontation, Brown was suspended for the rest of the school year. She transferred to the New Lincoln School in New York City. White students were punished only when their offense was "both egregious and witnessed by an adult".
  • The remaining eight students, however, attended the school for the rest of the academic year. At the end of the year, in 1958, senior Ernest Green became the first African American to graduate from Little Rock Central High School.
  • Governor Faubus was re-elected in 1958, and, rather than permit desegregation, he closed all of Little Rock’s schools.
  • Many school districts in the South followed Little Rock’s example, closing schools or implementing “school-choice” programs that subsidized white students’ attendance at private segregated academies, which were not covered by the Supreme Court’s decision.
  • Little Rock Central High School did not reopen with a desegregated student body until 1960, and efforts to integrate schools and other public areas throughout the country continued through the 1960s.
  • In 1996, seven of the Little Rock Nine appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show. They came face to face with a few of the white students who had tormented them as well as one student who had befriended them.
  • In February 1999, members created the Little Rock Nine Foundation which established a scholarship program which had funded, by 2013, 60 university students. In 2013, the foundation decided to exclusively fund students attending the Clinton School of Public Service at the University of Arkansas.
  • President Bill Clinton honoured the Little Rock Nine in November 1999 when he presented them each with a Congressional Gold Medal. The medal is the highest civilian award bestowed by Congress. It is given to those who have provided outstanding service to the country. To receive the Congressional Gold Medal, recipients must be co-sponsored by two-thirds of both the House and Senate.
  • In 2007, the United States Mint made available a commemorative silver dollar to "recognize and pay tribute to the strength, the determination and the courage displayed by African-American high school students in the fall of 1957." The obverse depicts students accompanied by a soldier, with nine stars symbolizing the Little Rock Nine. The reverse depicts an image of Little Rock Central High School, c. 1957.
  • On December 9, 2008, the Little Rock Nine were invited to attend the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama, the first African-American to be elected President of the United States.

The Little Rock Nine –

Melba Pattillo, Ernest Green, Elizabeth Eckford, Minnijean Brown, Terrence Roberts, Carlotta Walls, Jefferson Thomas, Gloria Ray, and Thelma Mothershed

The Little Rock Nine being escorted by the National Guard to Little Rock Central High School, Arkansas, 1957.

African American students walking onto the campus of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, escorted by the National Guard, September 1957.

Young U.S. Army paratrooper in battle gear outside Central High School, on the cover of Time magazine (October 7, 1957)

A white student slugs an effigy of a black student outside Central High.

Hazel Massery nee Bryan, a student at Little Rock Central High School, depicted in an iconic photograph made by photojournalist Will Counts showing her shouting at Elizabeth Eckford, one of the Little Rock Nine, during the school integration crisis. In 1963, having changed her mind on integration and feeling guilt for her treatment of Eckford, Bryan contacted Eckford to apologize. They went their separate ways after this first meeting but later became friends. The friendship came to an end as a result of Bryan severing ties as she felt an irreconcilable tension between them.

Memorial at Arkansas State Capitol

The Little Rock Nine: Thelma Mothershed Wair, Minnijean Brown Trickey, Jefferson Thomas, Terrence Roberts, Carlotta Walls LaNier, Gloria Ray Karlmark, Ernest Green, Elizabeth Eckford and Melba Pattillo Beals on the steps of Little Rock’s Central High with Bill Clinton.

Sunday, November 28, 2021





Laurie Kilmartin is an American comedian and writer who is a single mother with a son born in 2006.

In a recent stand up gig on The Late Late Show with James Corden she spoke about children today losing the ability to use books. A transcript follows, see the actual clip at:


Laurie Kilmartin:

I am a strict Mom, I don’t let my son have a smart phone, obviously for porn . . but also, kids don’t know how to use reference books. They just google stuff and I think that’s really bade for their brains, you know. I was raised on encyclopedias, anyone else?

(Applause and cheering).

Yeah, that’s right.

Here’s my point.

I still have all my childhood encyclopedias for nostalgia purposes, so I took my son to the storage unit and I said “If you can use these books to tell me who was the Prime Minister of Great Britain in World War 2, I will get you a brand new $1,200 iPhone right now.” And he goes right to the W encyclopedia and I was like oh no, I’ve underestimated him, he’s gonna look up World War 2. But instead he tried to look up “Who was the Prime Minister of Great Britain . . . “

(Applause and cheering).

What an incredible victory for me. I’m still high off of it.


Some thoughts:
  • Who would not prefer a google check to looking into an aged set of encyclopedias?
  • We still have a set of Brittanica obtained when my daughter was a baby. for her future use. It has never been used except sometimes by me early on.
  • I prefer paper books to electronic.
  • I use only a paper diary.
  • Handwriting, I have been told, is also a disappearing skill.
  • Likewise the ability to carry out maths.

Saturday, November 27, 2021



Peter O’Toole (1932 – 2013) was a renowned drinker.

Some stories . . 


In an interview on Letterman in 2010, Letterman had the following exchange with O’Toole, which can be viewed at:

LETTERMAN: You are of the school and perhaps the heritage and the time where drinking was just something you did when you weren’t doing anything else. Is that a fair way to express it?

O’TOOLE: And when you were doing something else.

LETTERMAN: And when you would go out for an evening, anything ever untoward happen, like, would you the next day would you wake up in a , , , I mean, how did that work?

O’TOOLE: Many, many . . . Well, there’s one in particular which I’m fond of. It’s, my friend the late Peter Finch, and we were in Dublin together, on the lash.


O’TOOLE: Lash usually means having a drop of something cheerful and then doing a lot of leaping and shrieking and saying why not.

And Finchie was living a few miles out of Dublin and I went back with him to his house where we were going to spend the night and it was not too late, about four-ish . . .


O’TOOLE: Yeah; and there was a tiny little hole in the wall bar, and we thought we’d just drop in for a last one. Well, we went in and we had a couple of drinks, and the barman, it was a tiny little dirty little place, and he said “Boys, you had enough. You’re having no more.” So Finchie and I said “No No No No No. We’re having much more!” “No No No No” says he, “You’re out!”

So we bought the bar!

LETTERMAN: There you go. Problem solved.

O’TOOLE: The following morning I woke up and Finchie said “You know what we did last night, mate?”

I said “No.”

He said “We bought a (pause) bar.”

I said “What?”

So immediately we telephoned to cancel cheques but they’d not been cashed. So we went to the bar and there was the man with the two cheques and he said “Now you two boys gotta behave yourselves.” And we fell for him. I mean he was such a sweet guy and he hadn’t bothered cashing . . . he gave us the cheques back and we tore them up. About a year later – we used to pop in there every night on the way back to Finchie’s place – about a year later he died, so Finchie and I went over to Ireland for the funeral, because we’d gotten to know him a little bit, and his family, went to the cemetery and there was this group around the grace, the family, sobbing noisily, and Finchie and I joined them. On our knees (makes hands clasped in prayer gesture), and a woman came up and tapped me on the shoulder, and we were at the wrong grave.

LETTERMAN: It all counts. At any time during your life, speaking of that, have you thought what you might like as a final message on your tombstone?

Oh yes, Oh yes. This arrived in the sixties. I had an old leather jacket of which I was inordinately fond and it was covered in Guinness and blood and muck, the usual, and I sent it off to the cleaner, or my wife sent it off to the cleaner and it came back and pinner on it was a large note saying “Sycamore Cleaners. It distresses us to return work which is not perfect.” So I’m having that on my tombstone.


Rising with a new generation of actors, O'Toole's drinking buddies included men who would go on to become acting legends in their own right. Michael Caine was his understudy for the 1959 play The Long and the Short and the Tall at the Royal Court Theatre. One night after the show O'Toole invited the then unknown actor out for dinner.

"Was there a wildest weekend that you remember?" chat show host Jay Leno once asked Caine. "There was a wildest weekend that I don't remember," Caine replied, referring to what followed.

Caine said that after the dinner he had woken up in a strange flat. The last thing he remembered was eating a plate of eggs and chips. "What time is it?" asked Caine. "Never mind what time it is," said O'Toole. "What fucking day is it?" It turned out that it was five o'clock in the afternoon two days later.

Back at the theatre, the stage manager informed the pair they had been banned from the restaurant for life. Caine wondered what they had done. "Never ask what you did. It's better not to know," said O'Toole.



On a night out drinking with Omar Sharif in Beirut whilst filming Lawrence of Arabia, they drunkenly ended up in a brothel and tried to pay for sex They couldn’t work out why the women were so unresponsive, it turned out that they were in a nunnery.

From The Definitive Biography, by Robert Sellers, reviewed at:


Friday, November 26, 2021





Son Thomas and wife Jess had a baby a few days ago, their first and our first grandchild. A beautiful bonny boy.

So there is some baby humour thrown in the mix in today’s Bytes, none of the scenarios applying to them, I hasten to add.

Caution: risque humour ahead.




I think, I'm going to lose my drivers licence and all just because of a stupid police officer...

The conversation went like this, when I got pulled over in my car:

Officer: "Licence and registration, please, I think you’re drunk!"

Me: "I assure you, I did not drink anything."

Officer: "Ok, let's do a little test! Imagine driving in the dark on a highway at night, when you see two lights in the distance. What is this?"

Me: "A car."

Officer: "Of course! But which one? A Mercedes, an Audi or a Ford?"

Me:" I have no idea!"

Officer: "So, you're drunk."

Me: "But I didn't drink anything."

Officer: "Okay, one more test -- Imagine, you drive in the dark on a highway at night, and there is one light coming at you. What is it?”

Me: "A motorcycle."

Officer: "Of course! But which one? A Honda, a Kawasaki or a Harley?"

Me: "I have no idea!"

Officer: "As I suspected, you're drunk!"

Then I started to get annoyed and asked a counter question.

Me: "So..., counter question -- You're driving in the dark on a highway at night and see a woman on the roadside. She wears a mini skirt, fishnet stockings, high heeled shoes and only a bra as a top. What is this?"

Officer: "A prostitute of course."

Me: "Yes, but which one? Your daughter, your wife or your mother?"

Things went downhill from there and now I have a court date to attend...


Woman chatting over the backyard fence in England (this is better if you imagine this in English accents) to her pregnant neighbour . . .

Woman: “So is your husband going to be there at the birth?”

Neighbour: “Ooh, I don't know why he should, he wasn’t there at the conception.”


Why do anti-vaxxers not lock their bikes?

Because they know someone whose locked bike was still stolen.


A pharmacist walks back into his shop after taking a break.

He finds a man leaning against a wall and asks his assistant “What’s wrong with him?”

“He came in for some cough syrup”, explains the assistant, “but I couldn’t find any so I gave him laxatives instead.”

“What!” exclaims the pharmacist, horrified. “You can’t treat a cough with laxatives!”

“Of course you can.”, the assistant says. “Look at him, he’s far too scared to cough.”


A mother in law said to her son's wife when their baby was born:

"I don't mean to be rude but he doesn't look anything like my son."

The daughter-in-law lifted her skirt and said: "I don't mean to be rude either, but this is a pussy, not a fucking photocopier."


Observing the baby one night a wife found her husband standing over their baby's crib. Silently she watched him. As he stood looking down at the sleeping infant, she saw on his face a mixture of emotions: disbelief, doubt, delight, amazement, enchantment, scepticism.

Touched by this unusual display and the deep emotions it aroused, with eyes glistening she slipped her arm around her husband. "A penny for your thoughts," she said.

"It's amazing!" he replied. "I just can't see how anybody can make a crib like that for only $46.50."


Two men are arguing and shouting while a crowd gathered to watch. A by-stander asked a small boy, "What's going on here?"

The boy replied, "My father and our neighbour are arguing."

The by-stander asked, "Which one is your father?"

The boy answered, "That's what they're arguing about. "


It was many years ago since the embarrassing day when a young woman, with a baby in her arms, entered his butcher shop. She confronted him with the news that the baby was his and asked what was he going to do about it..???

Finally he offered to provide her with free meat until the boy was 16. She agreed.

He had been counting the years off on his calendar and, one day. the teenager, who had been collecting the meat each week, came into the shop and said. "I'll be 16 tomorrow."

"I know," said the butcher with a smile.

"I've been counting too, tell your mother, when you take this parcel of meat home, that it is the last free meat she'll get and watch the expression on her face."

When the boy arrived home he told his mother.

The woman nodded and said "Son, go back to the butcher and tell him I have also had free bread, free milk, and free groceries for the last 16 years and watch the expression on his face"


From the vault . . .

A young and busy Melbourne barrister had been taking his summer holidays at a remote Tasmanian holiday resort. Last year he was finally successful in seducing the resort owner’s beautiful 19 year old daughter. He was thus anticipating with excitement coming back to the resort.

When he got of his car he noticed, to his surprise, his lover with a small baby on her lap.

“Kim, why didn’t you write or phone me when you found out you were pregnant? I would have rearranged my court schedule and would have flown here as soon as possible. You know I care for you and we could have got married, and the baby would have my name.”

Kim replied: “Well, when I told my parents that I was pregnant and that you were the father, we had a thorough discussion about what I should do. We all came to the conclusion that it would be far better to have a bastard in the family than a lawyer.”



On a maiden a man once begat
Triplets named Nat, Tat and Pat.
‘Twas fun in the breeding
But hell in the feeding:
She hadn’t a spare tit for Tat.



The three wise men were visiting the little baby Jesus.

As Melchior leans over to get a closer look at the infant he bumps his head on the roof of the manger and shouts, "Jesus Christ!"

Mary looks up and says, "I like it, I was going to call him Irving".



Some funnies from Leo . . . 




Two cows . . . .

Interviewer: How much milk do these cows give?

Farmer: Which one? The black one or the brown one?

Interviewer: Brown one.

Farmer: A couple of litres per day.

Interviewer: And the black one?

Farmer: A couple of litres per day.

Interviewer (naturally a bit flummoxed): I see. What do you give them to eat?

Farmer: Which one? Black or brown?

Interviewer: Black.

Farmer: It eats grass.

Interviewer: And the other one?

Farmer: Grass.

Interviewer (now annoyed): Why do you keep asking which one when the answers are the same?!

Farmer: Because the black one's mine.

Interviewer: Oh, and the brown one?

Farmer: It's also mine


Last month, I gave half of my salary to charity.

That's probably why my wife found out about her.


My wife said to put a baby monitor in the crib with our son...

but I don't think lizards make very good pets for babies.


Thursday, November 25, 2021


“No one . . . nobody shot me.”

- Frank Gusenberg,
the only survivor of the Saint Valentine’s Day massacre 
on February 14, 1929, when seven men were murdered 
at a garage in Chicago. 

Al Capone was widely assumed to have been responsible for ordering the massacre, an attempt to eliminate Bugs Moran, head of the North Side Gang,

When police arrived at the scene, Gusenberg was the only victim still alive despite having been shot fourteen times. Among the police was Sergeant Clarence Sweeny who had grown up in the same neighbourhood as the Gusenberg brothers (Frank Gusenberg's brother was one of the dead) and immediately recognised Frank. Sweeney asked Gusenberg, "Who shot you?" Gusenberg replied, "No one....nobody shot me."

At the hospital he was once again asked by Sweeny who shot him. He again refused to answer.

He died of his wounds three hours after being shot.

Frank Gusenberg


Tough lessons to learn . . . 


Wednesday, November 24, 2021





Byter Peter B sent me the email below which sets out predictions and assessments for the future. Unlike Nostradamus and crystal ball gazers, these predictions are projections of current trends, technology, IT and the continuing development of same.

If it seems fantastic, remember that the Wright Brothers made the world’s first controlled, sustained flight of a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft in 1903. Only sixty three years later astronauts walked on the moon and returned safely home.

Invention, developments, progress happen exponentially.

There's food for thought in what follows . . . 


Peter’s item, thanks Peter . . .

Welcome to Tomorrow..........digest this


This is extremely interesting.

If you think the virus is going to make changes read this!

Guess we'll have to come back in-person to see if this forecast comes true. All of the following will likely become reality in the next 10-20 years. Many of us won’t see the changes, but our kids and grandkids probably will. A major concern is what will happen to the disused batteroes and solar panels? There will be millions of them!

1- Basic auto repair shops will disappear. Read on to know why.

2- A gas/diesel engine has 20,000 individual parts. An electrical motor has only 20 parts. Electric cars are sold with lifetime guarantees and are repaired only by dealers. It takes only 10 minutes to remove and replace an electric motor.

3- Faulty electric motors are not repaired in the dealership but are sent to a regional repair shop that repairs them with robots

4- Your electric motor malfunction light goes on, and so you drive up to what looks like a car wash, and your car is towed through while you have a cup of coffee and out comes your car with a new electric motor!

5- Gas pumps will go away.

6- Street corners will have meters that dispense electricity. Companies will install electrical recharging stations; in fact, they’ve already started in the developed world.

7- Smart major auto manufacturers have already designated money to start building new plants that build only electric cars.

8-Coal industries will go away. Gasoline/oil companies will go away. Drilling for oil will stop. Say goodbye to OPEC! The middle east is in trouble.

9- Homes will produce and store more electrical energy during the day than they use, and will sell it back to the grid. The grid stores it and dispenses it to industries that are high electricity users. Has anybody seen the Tesla roof?

10- A baby of today will see personal cars only in museums. The FUTURE is approaching faster than most of us can handle.

11- In 1998, Kodak had 170,000 employees and sold 85% of all photo paper worldwide. Within just a few years, their business model disappeared and they went bankrupt. Who would have thought of that ever happening?

12- What happened to Kodak and Polaroid will happen in a lot of industries in the next 5-10 years ... and most of us don't see it coming.

13- Did you think in 1998 that 3 years later you'd NEVER take pictures on film again? With today’s smart phones, who even has a camera these days?

14- Yet digital cameras were invented in 1975. The first ones only had 10,000 pixels, but followed Moore's law – that technological capacity will DOUBLE every year. So as with all exponential technologies, it was a disappointment for a time, before it became 'way superior' and became mainstream in only a few short years.

15- It will now happen again (but much faster) with Artificial Intelligence (AI), health, autonomous and electric cars, education, 3D printing, agriculture and jobs.

16- Forget the book, “Future Shock”; welcome to the 4th Industrial Revolution.

17- Software has disrupted and will continue to disrupt most traditional industries in the next 5-10 years.

18- UBER is just a software tool; it doesn't own any cars, and is now the biggest taxi company in the world! Ask any taxi drivers if they saw that coming.

19- Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don't own any properties. Ask Hilton Hotels if they saw that coming.

20- Artificial Intelligence: Computers become exponentially better in understanding the world. This year, a computer beat the best Go player in the world, 10 years earlier than expected.

21- In the USA, young lawyers already don't get jobs Because of computers, you can get legal advice (so far for right now, the basic stuff) within seconds, with 90% accuracy – compared with 70% accuracy when done by humans. So, if you study law, stop immediately. There will be 90% fewer lawyers in the future, (what a thought!). Only omniscient specialists will remain.

22- Computer programs already help nurses diagnosing cancer, and the programs are 4 times more accurate than human nurses.

23- Facebook now has pattern recognition software that can recognise faces better than humans. In 2030, computers will become more intelligent than humans...COMPUTERS CAN BE UNPLUGGED... OR SHOT!!!!!

24- Autonomous cars: In 2018 the first self-driving cars are already here. In the next 2 years, the entire industry will start to be disrupted. You won’t WANT to own a car anymore as you will call a car with your phone; it will show up at your location and drive you to your destination.

25- You will not need to park it. You will pay only for the driven distance and you can be productive while driving. The very young children of today will never get a driver's license and will never own a car.

26- This will change our cities because we will need 90-95% fewer cars. We can transform former parking lots into green parks.

27- About 1.2 million people die each year in car accidents worldwide including distracted or drunk driving. We now have one accident every 60,000 miles. With autonomous driving that will drop to 1 accident in 6 million miles. That will save more than a million lives worldwide each year.

28- Some traditional car companies will doubtless go bankrupt. They will try the evolutionary approach and just build a better car, while tech companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) will do the revolutionary approach and build a computer on wheels.

29- Look at what Volvo is doing right now; no more internal combustion engines in their vehicles starting this year – with the 2019 models using all-electric or hybrid only, with the intent of phasing out the hybrid models.

30- Many engineers from Volkswagen and Audi are completely terrified of Tesla – and they should be. Look at all the companies offering all-electric vehicles. That was unheard of only a few years ago.

31- Insurance companies will have massive trouble because, without accidents, the costs will become cheaper. Their auto insurance business model will disappear.

32- Real estate will change. If you can work from home (or from literally anywhere), people will abandon their towers to move far away to more beautiful affordable locations.

33- Electric cars will become mainstream about 2030. Cities will be less noisy because all new cars will run on electricity.

34- Cities will have much cleaner air as well.

35- Electricity will become incredibly cheap and clean.

36- Solar production has been on an exponential curve for 30 years, but you can now see the burgeoning impact. And it’s just getting ramped up

37- Fossil energy companies are desperately trying to limit access to the grid to prevent competition from home solar installations; but that simply cannot continue - technology will take care of that strategy.

38- Health: "Tricorder X" will be announced this year. There are companies which will build a medical device (called the Tricorder from Star Trek) that works with your phone – taking your retina scan, your blood sample, and you breathe into it. It then analyses 54 bio-markers that will identify nearly any disease. There are dozens of phone apps out right now for health.

WELCOME TO TOMORROW! – some of it actually arrived a few years ago.


Tuesday, November 23, 2021




 From the Vault: December 22, 2016

Some Christmas word origins


The word "Christmas" is a shortened form of "Christ's mass". It comes from the Middle English Cristemasse, which in turn comes from the Old English Crīstesmæsse. “Crist” derives from the Greek “Khrīstos”, a translation of the Hebrew word for "Messiah", meaning "anointed". “Mæsse” is from the Latin missa, the celebration of the Eucharist.

Xmas is an abbreviation of Christmas based on the initial letter chi (Χ) in Greek, Khrīstos meaning “Christ".



The word “carol” derives from the Old French word “carole”, a circle dance accompanied by singers Carols were very popular as dance songs from the 1150's to the 1350's, after which their use expanded as processional songs sung during festivals. Others were written to accompany religious mystery plays (such as the Coventry Carol, written before 1534).

Carols were traditionally sung in Latin by clergy of the Catholic church. Following the Protestant Reformation, reformers believed that carols were for everyone to sing, and aimed at bringing music "back to the people". To enable the common person to sing church music, great efforts were made to translate musical texts from Latin into the native languages that people spoke. At the same time, the Protestant church fought to reduce Catholic church’s stranglehold on sacred music. Composers such as William Byrd composed works for Christmas that they termed carols. This spread and eventually a large body of Christmas songs with religious themes came to be regarded as Christmas carols.

The following item is dedicated to fellow trivia team member Carol B:
Three men died on Christmas Eve and were met by Saint Peter at the pearly gates.

"In honour of this holy season," Saint Peter said, "You must each possess something that symbolises Christmas to get into Heaven."

The first man fumbled through his pockets and pulled out a lighter. He flicked it on. "It represents a candle," he said. "You may pass through the pearly gates," Saint Peter said.

The second man reached into his pocket and pulled out a set of keys. He shook them and said, "They're bells." Saint Peter said, "You may pass through the pearly gates."

The third man started searching desperately through his pockets and finally pulled out a pair of women's panties.

St. Peter looked at the man with a raised eyebrow and asked, "And just what do those symbolise?"

The man replied, "They're Carol's."


The “–toe” of mistletoe is an Old English word for “twig”.

The “mistle–“ part is more puzzling.

Originally, the mistletoe plant was just called “mistel”, which in Old English was also used as a word for birdlime, a sticky substance pasted onto the branches of trees to trap birds.

How these two meanings came together in mistletoe is unclear, but one idea is that because birds would eat mistletoe berries and then excrete the seeds elsewhere (with their waste acting as a fertilizer), mistel might originally have meant bird droppings, in the related sense of a sticky, unpleasant substance.

Mistletoe is a plant that grows on range of trees. The tradition of hanging it in the house goes back to the times of the ancient Druids. It is supposed to possess mystical powers which bring good luck to the household and wards off evil spirits. It was also used as a sign of love and friendship in Norse mythology, hence the origin of the custom of kissing under mistletoe comes from. The original custom was that a berry was picked from the sprig of mistletoe before the person could be kissed and when all the berries had gone, there could be no more kissing!

The early Christian church sought to ban mistletoe because of its association with Druids.

Holly became a Christian substitute for mistletoe, which is why we 'deck the halls' with it. The sharply pointed leaves in holly were supposed to symbolise the thorns in Christ's crown and the red berries were to symbolise his blood.



Monday, November 22, 2021




A poem utilising a limerick format for its stanzas . . .

Confessions Of A Serial Plant Killer

- Cynthia C. Naspinski

Oh, I wish that I had a green thumb.
All my houseplants are looking quite glum.
I never can tell
Why they're looking unwell
Or why so many succumb.

Have I failed to give enough water?
Have I watered them more than I oughta?
Are they getting too hot?
Is this not the right spot?
It's like sending poor lambs to the slaughter.

The hard, undeniable fact is
Many succulents, ferns and a cactus,
A begonia, a fig,
Many palms, small and big,
Have been victims of my malpractice.

I confess I'm a serial killer.
Many end up as mulch or land filler.
I kill far more plants
Than snails, thrips or ants.
Or an army of green caterpillar!

Though houseplants are deemed beneficial,
Should these perish, then it is official:
I'll waste no more dough
Just to watch 'em die slow,
For my next plants will be artificial!

So here is my version the same theme:

It’s been one of my lifetime regrets,
My plants dying causes upsets,
But an idea fantastic -
They’ll now be of plastic
And so will all of my pets.

Sunday, November 21, 2021






I received an email from Graham E:

Another day, another photo competition winner announced:

Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards - Conservation through Competition



Mr G

Thanks Graham.

Graham’s email included some of the winning pics.

Rather than post the ones sent by Graham, I will post the winning ones and the highly commended from the above website, together with the photograph/photographer details and photographer captions.


From the above website:
Born from a passion for wildlife, and decades of experience living & working in East Africa, The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards began its life modestly in 2015 as a photographic competition.

Since then, steered by its founders, Paul Joynson-Hicks MBE and Tom Sullam, it has grown into a globally renowned competition seen by millions of people every year, and always with wildlife conservation at its heart.

The free competition, open to wildlife photography experts and novices, celebrates the hilarity of our natural world and highlights what we need to do to protect it. From a surprised otter to a swearing turtle, Comedy Wildlife’s photographs transcend cultures and ages to bring a smile to everyone’s face.

How It Works:

The deluge of images of animals and habitats in peril can be hard to digest. The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards’ content accesses our empathy by showing how alike we really are. You don’t need to cover your eyes or look away. We want our viewers to share our enjoyment of nature and take the time to recognise its value.

The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards has become a fixture on photographer’s competition calendar. Every year, we accept thousands of images from around the world for each category and receive global media coverage.

Novice and expert photographers can enter up to 10 images: 4 portfolio entries and an additional 6 entries for the different categories every year. Entry is free.

“Through the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards, we aim to widen understanding and engagement with global conservation - for the preservation of biodiversity and the health and enrichment of everyone on Earth.”

This is our mission. Yup, it is certainly ballsy, a bit grandiose, but isn’t that what a mission should be? Aspirational, otherwise what’s the point. We want to educate and enlighten, and we want to do this by earning people’s attention by showing them things they don't expect.

Once we have opened their eyes, we can expand their understanding of the natural world and encourage them to share our enjoyment of nature and its value

Fundraising is not our primary purpose but, each year, we will choose a small grass-roots conservation organisation to support.

Every year our reach grows bigger and our conservation message gets a little louder. We are so proud to be a part of it and happy that we can put a smile on your face!




Ken Jensen with their picture Ouch!

“A golden silk monkey in Yunnan China - this is actually a show of aggression however in the position that the monkey is in it looks quite painful!”




Creatures on the Land Award:

Arthur Trevino with their picture Ninja Prairie Dog!

“When this Bald Eagle missed on its attempt to grab this prairie dog, the prairie dog jumped towards the eagle and startled it long enough to escape to a nearby burrow. A real David vs Goliath story!.”


Creatures in the Air Award:

John Speirs with their picture I guess summer's over:

“I was taking pics of pigeons in flight when this leaf landed on the bird's face.”


Creatures Under the Sea Award:

Chee Kee Teo with their picture Time for school:

“A smooth-coated otter "bit" its baby otter to bring it back to and fro for swimming lesson.”


People's Choice Award:

John Speirs with their picture I guess summer's over:


Amazing Internet Portfolio Award:

Vicki Jauron with their picture The Joy of a Mud Bath:

“An elephant expresses his joy in taking a mud bath against the dead trees on the shores of Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe on a hot afternoon.”




Andy Parkinson with their picture Let's dance:

“Two Kamchatka bear cubs square up for a celebratory play fight having successfully navigated a raging torrent (small stream!)”


Chu han lin with their picture See who jumps high:

Mudskipper, Taiwan


David Eppley with their picture Majestic and Graceful Bald Eagle:

“Bald Eagles will use the same nest for years, even decades, adding new material to it at the beginning and throughout the nesting season. Normally, they are highly skilled at snapping branches off of trees while in flight. Possibly tired from working nonstop all morning on a new nest, this particular Bald Eagle wasn't showing its best form. Yes, sometimes they miss. Although this looks painful, and it might very well be, the eagle recovers with just a few sweeping wing strokes, and choses to rest a bit before making another lumber run.”


Jakub Hodan with their picture Treehugger:

“This Proboscis monkey could be just scratching its nose on the rough bark, or it could be kissing it. Trees play a big role in the lives of monkeys. Who are we to judge...”


Jan Piecha with their picture 'Secrets':

“The little raccoon cubs are telling secrets to each other”


Lea Scaddan with their picture “Missed”:

“Two Western Grey Kangaroos were fighting and one missed kicking him in the stomach.”


Nicolas de Vaulx with their picture How do you get that damn window open?

“This raccoon spends his time trying to get into houses out of curiosity and perhaps also to steal food.”


Pal Marchhart with their picture Peekaboo”

“ A young bear descending from a tree looks like he/she is playing hide and seek.”


Roland Kranitz with their picture I got you:

“I spent my days in my usual "gopher place" and yet again, these funny little animals haven't belied their true nature.”





Mark Fitzpatrick with their picture Terry the Turtle flipping the bird:

"I was swimming with this turtle at Lady Elliot Island on the Great Barrier Reef when he flipped me the bird!"



Sarah Skinner with her picture Grab life by the .....



Mary McGowan with her picture Caught In The Act: