Category Archives: Pedantic

Once again

Here is a response received today from one of our field agents following an automated email showing a list of open cases.

INSTRUCTION REFERENCE: XXX/XXX/XXXXXX
13/01/2009: Transferred to Agent  SEE SEPERATE MESSAGE

I have a strong desire to reply with this message:

The word you are looking for is spelt “separate”. There is no such word as “seperate”.  If you need a mnemonic to help you with this common misspelling then “pare” is what you do to fruit when you cut it in half.  In fact “pare” and “separate” come from the same route Latin word “parare” meaning “make ready”.

The question is: Am I that pedantic?

I’ll put the kettle on while I think about it.

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Every. Single. Time.

We have a chap in “someone else’s company” who orders envelopes, pens, and other office supplies.  He places orders on an irregular ad hoc basis as the need arises.  Every time he prepares to make the order he sends this email around:

Stationary request what is it you would like me to order

Every time he sends this I reply with “Something that doesn’t move”.  Not because I want him to order something that doesn’t move but because “stationary” refers to things that are unmoving.  The word he should be using is “stationery” and I am a pedantic git.

In the unfortunate likelihood that you work somewhere with a pedantic git and need to know the difference between stationary and stationery you can use a handy mnemonic.  Remember the E in Envelope or the A in pArked cArs.

You can have a sweetie if you can point out all the errors in the previous text.

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Prophecy

It started the other night when I was walking home with Cake Worm.  We started talking about how witches always seem to be portrayed as wizened old hags and never as beautiful women.  Inevitably we ended up talking about MacBeth and the witches prophecy:

First Witch 
All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane of Glamis!

Second Witch 
All hail, Macbeth, hail to thee, thane of Cawdor!

Third Witch 
All hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter!

Also the comment from Deb

Mr. Frog…I hope u’ll hop over and give me your explanation on how things that were written thousands of years ago have come to pass, are coming to pass and will come to pass…I’m sure there is a logical explanation

got me thinking about the nature of prophecy.  Actually it goes back to Greta’s post on predictions from earlier in the year. 

Is it that they that come true because we make them come true or because they would come true anyway?

Now, before anyone leaps up and yells “Hey Mr Frog.  You don’t believe in the supernatural.  How can you believe in prophecy?” let me explain.   A prophecy that does not come true isn’t a prophecy.  It just doesn’t count,  That’s why so called psychics throw scores of predictions out and then grandly announce the fact when they get one right.  It is prophecy because it becomes true, before that it is simply a statement.

I have some tips for people who wish to write their own prophecies.  As a gamer since I before I was a teenager (and that was a while ago) I have enjoyed writing and being subjected to prophecy in a game (or The Game as we often call it) environment. 

Multiple meanings: Come up with three meanings for every element in a prophecy, so that if one thing is prevented, the others can step in.  Daniel 9 26 “After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.”  Suitably vague.  Sixty two ‘sevens’ could mean weeks or loaves of bread or anything else that you get lots of.  The Anointed One could be the Jesus figure, a holy pilgrim or someone who got rained on.  It doesn’t matter as long as you leave the answer open to interpretation.

The Wizard’s Bluff: Find ways to make avoiding a problem, cause the problem.  An unfair technique but useful if you need something to happen or to explain something that can’t go another way.  For instance, say you need to prophecy one person being in Ankh Morpork but they refuse to go there.  In avoiding the problem they try to escape and end up getting lost and going to the very place that they wanted to avoid.  A simpler method is a lever that either opens a trap door or prevents it opening.  If you need someone to fall through the trap door then it doesn’t matter if you pull the lever or not because it’s going to happen the way it has been foretold.  This is very much a “heads I win, tails you lose” gambit.

What’s your name?: Don’t give names but use vague references instead.  When you want Bill the plasterer to be your focus of the prophecy never use his name.  Use “the third son with hands of clay”or “the dark eyed laughing one”.  If you want to prophecy a death don’t say that “only a man who was born by Cesarean section can kill you”.  Turn it round to the positive and mysterious.  Say instead “None of woman born shall harm MacBeth”.  It’s suitably vague and leaves unsaid the key point.

When was that again?:  Don’t give dates of events at all if you can help it or use an odd method of calculating dates like an ancient language or a vague unit like age or season.  For example say “In the season of darkness” when you mean winter.  You can always reveal later that this meant a time of lunar eclipse or night time or even a very overcast day.  Avoid specifics.  Daniel 9 26s sixty-two ‘sevens’ is another example.

Where was I?:  Don’t use place names.  Use a description instead.  Instead of saying Rome, for example, say The City of Seven Hills.  That way you can use another city that happens to have seven hills (or mounds, or piles of rubbish even) if your first choice lets you down.

Retroactive Prophecy:  One of my favourites.  Have a figure of importance make some off hand comment that is open to interpretation.  Write it down.  Later some event could occur and people will point at that comment and say “Wow, that was spot on.  Amazing!”.  My example is another biblical one Matthew 24 1-2 Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings.  “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

The key to prophecy is to be vague and to get others to look for meaning.  Never be explicit, never clarify.  When you get close to the mark make sure that you shout out that you got it right.  Only then should you explain that you meant this or that all along.  If anyone doubts you then all you need to do is accuse them of lacking faith and demand that they explain how you could be so accurate with your prophecy.

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Filed under Pedantic, Religion, You decide

A bit of fun

This is just for discussion. I would love to hear some comments from people. Here’s the issue:

Someone approaches you and states that yesterday never existed. In fact everything has only existed since 6am this morning.  When everything came into existence, it was already “pre-programmed” with the appearance of age and we were installed with our memories of non-existent past days.

Your goal is to attempt to prove them wrong.  How would you?  What would you say?

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Filed under Debate, Pedantic

Cake

The phrase is “You can’t eat your cake and have it” not “You can’t have your cake and eat it”.  Clearly if you have a cake then you can eat it but if you eat a cake you no longer have it. 

You can have two cakes but if you eat one you’ll only have one left.  So you can eat one cake and have another but but it won’t be the same cake.

If you tell me that I can’t have my cake and eat it I will point out your error and insist that you purchase or make an eccles cake for me.

Make your own Eccles Cakes

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Pre-heat oven to 220°C

Ingredients:

  • 500g flaky pastry
  • 25g melted butter
  • Nutmeg
  • 50g candied peel
  • 100g sugar
  • 200g currants

Method:

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and butter and cook over a medium heat until melted
  2. Off the heat, add currants, candied peel, nutmeg and allspice
  3. On a lightly-floured surface, roll the pastry thinly and cut into rounds of about 0.5cm thickness and 10cm diameter
  4. Place a small spoonful of filling onto centre of each pastry circle
  5. Dampen the edges of the pastry and draw the edges together over the fruit and pinch to seal
  6. Turn over, then press gently with a rolling pin to flatten the cakes
  7. Flatten and snip a V in the top with scissors. Place on a baking tray
  8. Brush with water and sprinkle with a little extra sugar
  9. Bake in a hot oven for 20 minutes (220°C) or until lightly browned round the edges
  10. Place on a wire rack and allow to cool.
  11. Try not to eat them all at once!

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Filed under Pedantic, Recipe for disaster

Spam but this time it’s against my friends

DEADLY SODA CANSVERY IMPORTANT PLEASE READThis incident happened recently in north Texas. We need to be even more careful everywhere.A woman went boating one Sunday, taking with her some cans of coke which she put in the refrigerator of the boat. On Monday she was taken into Intensive Care Unit and on Wednesday she died.The autopsy revealed a certain Leptospirose caused by the can of coke from which she had drunk, not using a glass. A test showed that the can was infected by dried rat urine and hence the disease Leptospirosis.Rat urine contains toxic and deathly substances. It is highly recommended to wash thoroughly the upper part of soda cans before drinking out of them as they have been stocked in warehouses and transported straight to the shops without being cleaned.

A study at NYCU showed that the tops of soda cans are more contaminated than public toilets i.e.. full of germs and bacteria. So wash them with water before putting them to the mouth to avoid any kind of fatal accident.

My ratty friends would be very offended by such falsehoods.

  • Rat urine is the same as human urine in that it contains toxic waste fluids like urea and some bacteria but is virtually sterile.  At least when processes by healthy kidneys.
  • Leptospirosis can be contracted by exposure to the disease that is typically excreted by infected animals (including rats).  The most common source is river water in rural areas.
  • There is no actual verifiable media source for these stories.  You’d think that the media would love to sell more papers by reporting a health scare but none exist.

My ratty friends thank you for not perpetrating such terrible lies against them.  They can now take a rest.

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Filed under Modern Etiquette, Pedantic, Rats

Change as much as you damn well like!

Have you seen this advert for the Boots: Change one thing campaign?

I hate it.  It’s condescending.  It assumes that we are weak willed fools who are unable of concentrating on more than one thing at a time.  It assumes that we are set for failure if we set our targets higher than they tell us to.  It turns us into sheep simply because it gives no option but failure or Change One Thing.  I hate it even more that the Special K advert that tells you to lose weight by eating their cereal rather than … oh I don’t know …. a grapefruit for breakfast.

In 2008 I want to clear some of my debts, exercise more, drink less alcohol, read more and learn another language.  Is there any reason why 2008 should be the year that I do all these things?  No, but I may as well start somewhere and 1st January is as good a time as any.

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Filed under Modern Etiquette, Pedantic, You decide

Christmas Day Spam

It seems that Spam bots don’t take time off for Christmas.  Come the Robot Uprising we won’t get time off either. 

Our anti-spam software stats show that of 41,501 emails processed 41,025 were automatically deleted as Spam.  It’s the 476 that weren’t that concern me.  Presumably most were automated messages from server to person but someone out there actually got up on Crimbo Day and did something work related enough to email someone here.

I find that a little sad.

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Filed under Pedantic, Reasons to be cheerful, Shitbiscuits, Zombie shelter

Some Christmas facts or there’s no Christ in Christmas.

In 596, St. Augustine undertook a mission to bring Christianity to the Anglo Saxons. He and his monks introduced the Christian calendar to Britain, including the Christmas date. The Christian church decreed Christ’s birthday be celebrated on December 25, a decision made by the Pope in 336. As Christianity spread across Britain, pagan celebrations were mainly engulfed by or assimilated in to Christmas ritual.

The word Christmas comes from Cristes maesse, or “Christ’s Mass.” There is no set date for his birth in scripture and it wasn’t celebrated on any particular day. However Christmas was first celebrated on the 25th of December in Rome in 336AD with an aim to replacing the popular pagan winter solstice celebrations

The first Christmas card was designed in 1843 by J.C. Horsley

The twelve days of Christmas are the days between Christmas Day and Epiphany (6th of January) and represent the length of time it took for the wise men from the East to visit the manger of Jesus after his birth. Popular belief holds that 3 wise men visited Bethlehem from the east bearing gifts. However there is no mention in the bible about the number of wise men who visited. Three gifts were brought – gold, frankincense and myrrh, but names commonly attributed to the wise men – Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar were added some 500 years later.

The 26th of December is traditionally known as St Stephen’s Day, but is more commonly known as Boxing Day. The reason it was called this is either alms boxes in church were opened and the money distributed to the poor, or alternatively it was named from the practice of servants receiving boxes of gifts from their employers on this day. Boxing day is NOT named after the practice of throwing out large numbers of boxes after Christmas!

English Puritan leader Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas between 1647 and 1660 because he believed such celebrations were immoral for the holiest day of the year.  Miserable git!

The first postage stamp to commemorate Christmas was issued in Austria in 1937

Why decorate fir trees?

This can be traced back to Roman times but was thought to be first introduced into this country in 1841 by Prince Albert. The custom of hanging fruit and baubles is both pagan and Christian. The decorations were originally used to symbolise the fruits of the earth and the fiery sun. Today seen in the form of tinsel and baubles.

Why a “kiss under the Mistletoe”?

Mistletoe has a magical reputation of conferring fertility. The berries grow in pairs on the stem and their milky, translucent appearance suggests male sexuality! A kissing bough would be suspended from a hook at the beginning of the Christmas season and young men were permitted to kiss any girl they managed to draw under the bough. These unsuitable associations led to many churches banning it and this still exists today in numerous parishes.

Why crackers and paper hats?

The earliest crackers were introduced in the 1850’s in order to copy the Parisian fashion of gift-wrapping bon bons. They contained novelties and mottos but did not crack – the chemically treated paper that cracks was a later addition. Paper hats were introduced at a similar time but the tradition of wearing a hat to look foolish dates back to the Christmas plays of the middle ages.

Saturnalia, a very popular Roman festival, was held in mid-December. It was celebrated in countries across the Empire, including Britain which was occupied by the Romans from 43 to the early part of the fifth century. The week long party was held in honour of the Roman God Saturn. Revellers enjoyed feasting, visiting family and sharing gifts. The festival offered temporary social freedom for slaves who were excused from work and allowed privileges, such as the right to gamble.

Father Christmas – was apparently born in Turkey in the fourth century, but no-one is sure when he moved to the North Pole.

Christmas stockings – When Santa lived in Turkey, he secretly gave money to three daughters by dropping it down the chimney. It landed in their stockings which were drying by the fire.

Mince pies – You should eat mince pies in silence, and make a wish with each one.

Christmas pudding – This was originally a type of porridge called frumenty, but more and more ingredients got added through the years.

There will be more lazy blogging later.

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Filed under Atheist, Lazy Blogging, Pedantic

Santa statistics

No known species of reindeer can fly. But there are roughly 300,000 species of living organisms yet to be classified. While most of these are insects and germs, this does not rule out flying reindeer – though Santa and my uncle Ralph, in his drinking days, are the only people who’ve ever seen one. 

There are two billion children (small people under the age of 18) in the world. But since Santa doesn’t (appear to) handle most non-Christian children, that reduces the workload to about 15 per cent of the total (roughly 378 million according to the Population Reference Bureau). At a rate of say, 3.5 children per household, that’s 91.8 million homes. One presumes there’s at least one good kid in each.

Santa has 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west.  That’s 822.6 visits per second. For each eligible household, Santa has 1/1000th of a second to park the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, put presents under the tree, eat any snacks, kiss mommy when available, get back up the chimney, hop in the sleigh and move on.

Assuming each of these 91.8 million stops are evenly distributed around the earth, we’re now talking about 0.78 miles per household – a total trip of 75.5 million miles, not counting stops to let Santa and the reindeer do what most of us must do at least once every 31 hours.

This means Santa’s sleigh moves at 650 miles per second, or 3,000 times the speed of sound. The fastest man-made vehicle, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles a second (a conventional reindeer, by the way, can run 15 miles per hour, tops).

Assuming each child gets nothing more that a medium-sized Lego set (two pounds), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons, not counting overweight Santa. Conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting flying reindeer could pull 10 times the normal amount, Santa would need 214,200 reindeer. This increases the payload (not counting the sleigh) to 353,430 tons, or four times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth II.

353,000 tons travelling at 650 miles a second creates enormous air resistance, which would heat the reindeer to incandescence in the same fashion as spacecraft or meteors entering the earth’s atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer will absorb 14.3 quintillion joules of energy. Per second.  Each. In short, they will burst into flame almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them and creating deafening sonic booms. The entire team will be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second. 

Santa, meanwhile, will be subjected to centrifugal forces of 17,500.06 gravities. A 250-pound Santa (a wee bit of an underestimate) would be pinned to the back of his sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force.

If Santa ever did deliver presents on Christmas Eve, he’s dead now.

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Filed under Lazy Blogging, Pedantic