Posts Tagged ‘Blogs’

Many Happy Returns Webby!

Posted: May 10, 2014 in bankers, Business, Computers, Current Events
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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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World-Wide-Web

The World Wide Web, created by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, turned 25 years old this year, 2014.

There has never been anything like it before, certainly not as regards the impact it has made on society and the way we live our lives. Many of those changes are good, many are not so good and a few are downright annoying.

Here’s my take on some of them.

To concentrate on the good parts first, the one thing the www has done, for those who can use it effectively, is to give access to information that was previously only available to the elite few who managed to claw their way into the lofty heights of academia, or who worked in places where information was readily available. Now the same information is accessible at the touch of a button to anyone and everyone with a smart phone, tablet or computer.

Another benefit, in my view anyway, is that is has sent a massive wake-up call to telephone providers world wide, many of whom were fast asleep, content to rake in healthy profits from antiquated systems. No longer do we have to settle for slow and temperamental data transfer lines. Nowadays, particularly in the last few years, people are demanding systems that can cope with download streams in the gigabyte range. If you are old enough to remember the first modems you will know you wasted too much of your life trying to download at 12Kb/sec., sometimes less.

Freedom is also a welcome by-product of the World Wide Web.

The freedom to work in any country in the world, from virtually any country in the world is one big plus – it is for me anyhow. Another one I particularly like is the freedom to watch TV programs that I like, when I like, no longer tied to the schedules of some brainless bean-counter working for a broadcasting company. And the freedom to have your say on things as and when the mood takes you – they call that blogging don’t you know! – is also a great advantage to the ordinary person.

www words

As is the freedom to disseminate information across the globe instantly, as Mr Snowden ably demonstrated, although I would hazard a guess that the powers that be would not agree with me on that one.

Indeed, this is the one aspect of the www that really bothers big brother.

China for example is one country where access is controlled by the state. Coincidentally this year also marks the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, you’ll find articles about that if you do a search, but probably not in China. They get away with it because they are not a democracy and do not pretend to be one.

In other countries, like the good old Land Of The (Not So) Free (Anymore)), the powers still like to con their people into believing that they are living in a democratic nation and that the people have the power to vote for this or that. But think for a moment, when was the last time you got to vote on whether to start a war, or whether to give $billions of your money to the greedy banksters to pay themselves huge bonuses and gamble away the rest?

It is because they need to keep the pretence of democracy going, that they do not yet have the confidence to start overtly censoring the internet. But they do all they can to snoop on what people are reading, or writing, or looking at.

This is where the freedom the www and associated technology provides can also be a negative, when it is used by governments to surveil us and record every piece of data they can. If they were doing this selectively and targeting terrorists and criminals no one would be too worried. But they are doing it to all of us, guilty and innocent alike.

big brother is watching

They are also doing everything they can think of to impose taxes on internet commerce – of course they have to coz they’re stoney broke.

The www has revolutionized business practices and created all sorts of new commerce opportunities, Amazon perhaps being the best example of a company that has gone from nothing to a multi-billion dollar business in just a few years.

Communication and social interaction are also areas where the www has liberated the ordinary person – first with email and more recently with social media. In the near future expect to see social media expanding to become much more than individual platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. We are already seeing many new applications that are allowing people to communicate more widely, more easily and more often.

social media

Another negative is that the World Wide Web has unwittingly facilitated the proliferation of pornography and violence, and is teaching a generation of morons all the wrong things. Things that will ensure they become a burden on society, not an asset.

And it has also opened a whole new environment in which criminals can operate. Millions of dollars are being stolen every day through scams, confidence tricks and outright theft.

You could say (and I frequently do) that people dumb enough to fall for these scams deserve all they get, or all they lose, is perhaps a better way of putting it. You know, the idiots who believe they really have won a lottery they didn’t buy a ticket for, or who think that Dr Umbungo Watanga from Nigeria is being truthful when he tells them that someone they never heard of has left them $25 million and all they need to do is send all their personal details and a few thousand dollars to unlock the fortune that awaits them. There really is one born every minute it seems!

All that said, and twenty-five years on, the www is still in its infancy. We have come a long way in the past 25 years, but we have really only scratched the surface as regards what the web has the potential to do to further improve our daily lives.

Where the vision to develop the www will come from in anyone’s guess. The only thing we know for sure is that the initiative won’t come from governments or their bureaucratic servants, simply because the people we elect to those positions do not have the required intelligence.

So its up to you. If you have any great ideas you want to share, send me an email.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man who created the World Wide Web.

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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100000 page views

I missed marking my first year anniversary of this blog with an appropriate post and then not to be outdone by that, I also managed to miss the second year anniversary too. I guess I had other things on my mind at the time.

However this post marks another significant milestone in my blogging career, if I can call it that, because earlier today the fasab blog managed to push its way through the 100,000 page views threshold. Certainly a lot more than the humble beginnings when literally only a handful of people turned up!

I know it’s not a world shaking internet statistic, not even in the blogsphere either, but for me and this blog I think it is remarkable. Even more so since I have a tendency to sometimes write about people I know, so I can’t really publicize my blog via the usual “friends and family” route.  

Before I started my blog I’d obviously heard about them, but I’d never even read one. I had a bit of time on my hands and I thought I would give it a go. As I’ve probably said before, I wasn’t really into social networking sites like “Myface” or “Spacebook” or whatever, not that there’s anything wrong with them if you like that sort of thing and many people I know do.

But I thought blogging might be my thing.

So I read blogs and I read about blogging and I created my own little niche of “Fighting Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”, which I found I was doing every day anyway, and mixed it with a bit of humor, politics and so forth – and here we are 100,000 views later, and counting.

It has been an interesting time.

Apart from a handful of hopefuls who think they’ll make a fortune out of it, I think most people are like me, blogging for themselves. But it is also very nice and very rewarding when other people stop by to read the posts and even better when they acknowledge them with a “like”, a “follow”, or a “comment”.

I am delighted to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has visited the fasab blog and particularly those who have decided to follow whether on WordPress, Tumblr, Pinterest, Twitter, or whatever. Some bloggers and readers, who I like to call my “blog-friends” have become regulars here. I very much appreciate your support. I have tried to reciprocate by visiting your blogs too when time permits.

One or two others  –  who I have no doubt are thoroughly ashamed of themselves :)  -  have fallen by the wayside, but most visitors I do not even know. Which brings me to another thing that I wasn’t expecting, and that was the variety of countries visitors come from. The bulk are from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and India – which is more or less what you could expect for an English language blog. But interestingly there have also been visitors from many other parts of Europe, South and Central America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa too. And all are very welcome.

So what does the future hold for the fasab blog?

I don’t exactly know the answer to that. Probably more puns, and factoids. Maybe a few more quizzes. Definitely the odd rant about things that annoy me (that’s a lot of things, the list grows every day!). But hopefully a lot of humor too.

A smile never does any harm  -  unless some big stupid bloke thinks you’re laughing at him  -  so prepare yourself for more.

My sincere thanks to everyone who has visited and who reads this.

And don’t forget the “Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy!”

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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George Carlin Never underestimate

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I read a sign recently that said “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”

I knew exactly what it meant.

I’ve said it before on this blog – stupid people are dangerous. Sure they are amusing some of the time, and annoying all of the time, but they are also dangerous a lot of the time too.

Whether it be the stupid idiot who gets drunk and thinks it makes him a better driver, or someone in a company who has been promoted well beyond his or her level of ability just because the number of years of service he or she has accrued, or one of those despicable ‘jobs-worth’ morons you inevitably find in bureaucratic government non-jobs, their stupidity poses a danger to the rest of us.

stupid-people

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If you were a real optimist you might be forgiven for hoping that where you put two stupid people together there would be a chance that the stupidity would halve, but in fact quite the reverse is true, it doubles – and then some!  

And where stupid people accumulate in even larger groups the danger they pose is even greater.

I have witnessed mob violence and believe me it’s a scary thing, always dangerous and often lethal. That’s bad enough.

But what if the large groups of stupid people are given the power to dictate to the rest of us?

That’s an even scarier prospect because it isn’t just spontaneous and fleeting, it is planned and long term.

It’s something that you would think the rest of us would be smart enough not to let happen. Yet that’s exactly what we have allowed to happen.

In the modern world, whether it be the western democracies or the eastern dictatorships, for one reason or another smart people have abdicated their responsibility to ensure that we are governed sensibly and have instead allowed a bunch of morons to take charge.

A lot of the time the idiots get away with it without anyone noticing much. The smart people get on with their lives and quietly accept the interference of the stupid.

But recently the idiots have been steadily encroaching on our private lives, into things that are clearly none of their business and things that pose no danger to society at large or to any individual within it.

The idiots want power. They don’t know what to do with it when they get it. But they want it, and more and more of it.

My own theory is that at heart, although they try to appear superior, the idiots know they are idiots and actually feel inferior to normal people. Thus their mania to have control over those they know are better than they are.

never argue with stupid people. 

We know that when they get control they try to dumb down society to their level. The most talented individuals are frowned upon and made to develop at the same speed as the dumbest.

We’ve been through the NSA fiasco when they were outed by a former employee. We know they look at our emails, listen to our telephone conversations, probably even snoop in our mail or scrutinize our blogs (gosh!) and that they have built a humungous new data storage center to keep information on everyone.

We know they start wars and cause the needless deaths of many people sometimes for no other good reason than to distract from the obvious shortcomings at home.

And we are currently in the midst of one of the most idiotic standoffs in Washington with Obama, the Senate and the House of Representatives seeing who can balance on one leg the longest while the country becomes the laughing stock of the rest of the world.

Yes folks, never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups to destroy society and drag the rest of us down along with them.

no stupid people beyond this point

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Some blogs meander along trying to be very politically correct. But not here at fasab. Controversial or not, the philosophy here is to tell it as it is.

So to repeat the question in the title…. 

Should we get rid of homos?

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Of course, I’m talking about homographs and homophones – I don’t know what YOU were thinking of?

If you are a regular visitor to this blog you will know that quite often we have a look at amusing misprints or mistakes on signs, classified ads, newspaper headlines, or wherever else they can be found.

Nearly always the problem is peoples’ failure to grasp the intricacies of the English language.

If you are born and bred in an English speaking country then it is relatively easy to grasp the basics of the language, although there is a steady deterioration in some of these, like speleling for example. (That was a deliberate mistake for comic affect by the way.)

So what about the homos then?

For those who haven’t made up their mind yet, a homograph – (also known as a heteronym, but where would have been the fun in that title?) – is a word of the same written form as another but of different meaning and usually different origin.

Sometimes it is pronounced the same as the other word, in which case it is known as a homograph.

homograph definition

Sometimes they are pronounced differently, in which case they are called homophones.

homophone definition

An example of the former is the word “letter” which is pronounced the same whether the meaning is a message written to someone, or to describe a particular member of the alphabet such as ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’, etc.

An example of the latter could be the word “lead” which is pronounced differently if it means a metal (“the lead was very heavy”), or to be the front runner of a group of people (“he was in the lead”).

There are a lot more homos around than you might at first think. Here are just a few examples I saw recently. I hope you find them interesting and maybe even begin to realize what a nightmare learning the English language must be for those not immersed in it from a very young age.

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1) The bandage was “wound” around the “wound”.

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2) The farm was used to “produce” “produce”.

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3) The dump was so full that it had to “refuse” more “refuse”.

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4) We must “polish” the “Polish” furniture.

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5) He could “lead” if he would get the “lead” out.

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6) The soldier decided to “desert”  his “dessert” in the “desert”.

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7) Since there is no time like the “present”, he thought it was time to “present” the “present”.

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8) A “bass” was painted on the head of the “bass” drum.

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9) When shot at the “dove”  “dove” into the bushes.

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10) I did not “object” to the “object”.

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11) The insurance was “invalid” for the “invalid”.

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12) There was a “row” among the oarsmen about how to “row”.

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13) They were too “close” to the door to “close” it.

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14) The buck “does” funny things when the “does” are present.

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15) A seamstress and a “sewer” fell down into a “sewer” line.

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16) The farmer used a “sow” to help him “sow” the crop.

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17) The “wind” was too strong to “wind” the sail.

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18) Upon seeing the “tear” in the painting I shed a “tear”.

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19) I had to “subject” the “subject” to a series of tests.

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20) How can I “intimate” this to my most “intimate” friend?

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Let’s face it – English is a crazy language. 

For example, there are no “eggs” in “eggplant”, nor “ham” in “hamburger”.  

There is neither “pine” nor “apple” in “pineapple”.

“English” muffins weren’t invented in “England” nor “French” fries in “France”.

“Sweetmeats” are “sweet” but are candies and not “meats”, whereas “sweetbreads” are neither “sweet” nor “bread”, but in fact meat.

Boxing “rings” are “square” and a “guinea pig” is neither from “Guinea” nor is it a “pig”.

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And why is it that “writers” “write”, but “fingers” don’t “fing”, “grocers” don’t “groce” and “hammers” don’t “ham”?

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If the plural of “tooth” is “teeth”, why isn’t the plural of “booth”, “beeth”? Why one “index”, but two or more “indices”?  Or why do you have one “goose” and two “geese”, and one “moose” but never two “meese”?

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You can make “amends” but what do you do if you have just one thing to amend? Or if you have a bunch of “odds and ends” and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call what’s left?

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If teachers “taught”, why didn’t preachers “praught”?

And if a “vegetarian” eats vegetables, what does a “humanitarian” eat?

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In what other language would people “recite at a play” and “play at a recital”; have “noses” that “run” and “feet” that “smell”; or send a “shipment” by “car” and “cargo” by “ship”?

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How can a “slim chance” and a “fat chance” be the same, while a “wise man” and a “wise guy” are opposites?

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Or why can people like the Amish “raise” a barn, meaning to “erect” a building, whereas everywhere else when we “raise” a building to the ground we mean we “demolish” it?

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You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn “up” as it burns “down”; in which you “fill in” a form by “filling it out”; and in which an alarm goes “off” by going “on”.

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Even when you are standing still you can be part of the human “race” and you can look at the stars which are visible when they are “out”, unlike a light which is invisible when it is “out”.

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Finally, there is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is “UP”.

It’s easy to understand “UP”, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we “wake UP”? At a meeting, why does a topic “come UP”? Why do we “speak UP”?

Or do what I am going to do now, which is to “shut UP”.

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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It’s time for a Sunday Sermon!

cartoon-illustration-of-a-spy-wearing-a-hat-and-trenchcoat

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Whether we realize it or like it, the advent of the internet has changed all our lives. From power users like myself to just casual users, things are a lot different from how they used to be.

There are, of course, negatives like the increase of spam, fraud, pornography and so forth, but by and large the impact of the internet has been a positive one.

It has made finding information much quicker and easier.

It has given us better and cheaper communication possibilities such as Skype.

It has revolutionized shopping for millions of people.

And it has spawned new social interaction platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and not forgetting blogging sites such as WordPress, allowing people to find groups and individuals all over the world with similar interests to their own.

But perhaps the greatest thing that the internet has achieved is to give freedom for ordinary people to say what they want to say and have that reach a much bigger audience than would have hitherto been possible without having to spend vast sums of money trying to do it.

Unfortunately, however, that freedom is the one thing that governments cannot tolerate. Hell bent on control, they see the freedom that the internet provides as a threat to their power. And slowly but relentlessly they are chipping away at that freedom.

In China there is no pretense or deceit. The government there controls the internet and that’s just how it is.

However in the West, as they always do, governments create smokescreens to hide their real objectives. They read our private emails and listen to our private phone calls in secret, only reluctantly admitting to it when they are exposed by a whistleblower such as Edward Snowden, last seen leaving Hong Kong and heading for Moscow.

edward-snowden

And even when they are exposed they can’t tell the truth about what they are doing and why they are doing it. Invariably the excuse trotted out is “security issues”, in other words, they are doing what we don’t want them to do and invading our privacy, for our own good! 

If governments expect the people to have confidence in them, then they in turn should show confidence in the people. That means doing their job properly and targeting people and groups that are a possible threat without treating everyone as a potential terrorist.

And it means being honest with their people. 

Will that happen?

Not a chance!

As I said earlier the game isn’t about what is good for the people, the game is about control of the people. And a big part of that control is ensuring that the herd shall not be heard – if they have anything important to say that the government doesn’t want us to know!

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aFrankAngle’s A-to-Z Challenge On Fasab

Posted: May 3, 2013 in Factoids, Humour, Uncategorized, Unusual
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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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My blog friend Frank over at A Frank Angle came up with the idea of doing a post based on an alphabetical listing of a selection of his previous posts. An interesting idea and a good way to introduce more recent readers to some of the things they might otherwise have missed.

Of course, Frank couldn’t leave it at that, so he threw out a challenge for others to try to do the same for their blogs. And guess who couldn’t resist the challenge!

So here you are, for new and long term readers of this blog, a alphabetical journey through some of the files of Fasab!

Enjoy.

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afaa2zbadge

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A is for….

Awkward Moments, (Part One, Part Two and Part Three), a short series of amusing anecdotes of times when things didn’t go quite right.

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B is for….

Banksters, one of my perpetual hate figures and the subject of numerous rants such as this one

Are The Banksters Guilty Of Treason Against The Nation?

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C is for….

Classifieds, a long running series of funny classified ads that turned out rather differently to the original intent, for example Part Three and Part Fourteen

And also for factoids about Chocolate and Coffee which people seemed to enjoy

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D is for….

Dogs. I make no secret of the fact that I am very fond of dogs, and German Shepherds in particular. You won’t get a better or more loyal companion and friend. I’ve done several doggie posts, this one has been the most popular,

Sometimes Dogs Know More Than We Give Them Credit For

And for Dear Abbey, no blog like this would be complete without a few letters from Joe Public seeking advice for some of their most disturbing problems.

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E is for….

Education, the lack of, as evidenced by these student exam answers, Part One and Part Two

And also for Emergency Room, some amusing anecdotes from the medical world.

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F is for….

Facebook, in particular the disastrous launch of the company on to the stock market which inspired the longest alliterated blog post title so far

Furious Flabbergasted Facebook Fools Face Frightening Falls From Fanciful Flagging Financial Flotation Farce

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G is for….

The Great Escape, a short story aout an intrepid group of construction workers held hostage by Saddam Hussein before the outbreak of the first war with Iraq

And also for a Glass Of Milk being raised in tribute to Samuel J Porcello, the man who made Oreos what they are today.

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H is for….

Has to be for The Late Great Mr Harry Meadows, an old fellow whose efforts to spice up life in an English nursing home didn’t quite work out as intended.

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I is for….

I Miss Him, and I Miss Him Two, a nostalgic look back at some of the wonderful statements of President George W Bush.

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J is for….

The Journey, an eight part story of an eventful and amusing journey from Dublin, Ireland to the Caribbean, by way of Miami, Florida. This was one of the first things I wrote for this blog and published before there was much viewing traffic

Dublin Airport,  -   Reconfigured And Stuck,  -   The Three Hour Stopover,  -   What Color Was It?   -  Just A Trip To The Mall,   –  Miami Twice, Lost In That Is,   –  Bags And Bags And Bags Of Bother,  and  Finally, I Made It!

K is for….

Korea, my take on the current posturing and politics concerning North and South Korea,

Is Obama Making A Bad Korea Move?

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L is for….

A Long Love Affair, a short story about my own geeky love affair with computers during the past few decades.

And for Lost In The Fog, a short story about Tommy who managed to get completely lost in the field beside his house.

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M is for….

The MilPost Blog Award, another thing inspired by Frank who was the first blogger to receive this prestigious award only given to those few bloggers who have posted 1,000 times or more on their blog. If you know of anyone who is eligible to receive it please let me know.

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N is for….

Numbers, an on going series of factoids about numbers and their meanings and associations, that has surprised me in the numbers of people viewing them. So far the most popular number is Twenty-Three 23.

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O is for….

One Small Step For Man, a tribute on hearing of the death of Neil Armstrong the first man to set foot on the Moon. There are differing views on how Mr Gorsky fared, but I hope he did okay!

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P is for….

No, you’re all wrong. P is for my loving tribute to the wonderful invention knows as Peanut Butter.

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Q is for….

Quiz Show Answers, a very funny and long running series about the dumb answers given by contestants on various TV and radio quizzes over the years. Like this for example,

It’s Monday And That Means Some More Quiz Show Answers

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R is for….

Revenge Of The First Graders, part of a short series of guess the logo quizzes, apparently kids can recognize about 200 of these by the time they are ready for the first grade!

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S is for….

Stupidity, one of the foundation stones of this blog. No one is immune, especially not politicians and lawyers.

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T is for….

Tarzan and Travel Agents, both of whom made an appearance on the fasab blog.

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U is for….

US Politics And Foreign Policy For Dummies, sometimes it takes a kid to show us how absurd the world of adults really is!

And ‘U’ is for Up, as in People Hardly Ever Look Up, Sometimes They Should!

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V is for….

Versatile Blogger Award. Actually that should be ‘awards’ the first nomination from Alex way back when this blog was barely two months old, and subsequently from Sunny and Wendy. The Fasab blog has also been nominated for the Illuminating Blogger Award (Kenton), Sunshine Award (Wendy again) and the Kreative Blogger Award (Nabdip). My sincere thanks to everyone who though this blog worthy of nomination and I will get round to doing a proper awards page I promise.

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W is for….

Word Play. Yes, you were right, just in the wrong place. I like puns and they feature almost every week somewhere in my blog. So like them, or hate them, or like to hate them, or even hate to like them, you’re sure to find some here.

Why Are Puns So Popular?

Word Play, Bad Jokes, Whatever You Call Them They’re Still Pun To Me

It’s Thursday And That Means Another Excuse For A Few More Bad Jokes

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X is for….

X-rated, a steamy tension filled post about My Morning In Bed With Derek. Read it if you dare!

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Y is for….

Your Country Needs You, a story about a friend’s unusual introduction to the military world.

And You’re Too Stupid To Own A Computer, about pc owners and technical helplines!

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Z is for….

Zero, there are no ‘Z’ posts on this blog, unless the ones that put you to sleep reading them!

I suppose I could have used some of the quiz or puzzle posts, but that’s a bit of a cop out.

I hope this means that Fasab has yet to reach its zenith.

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So that’s it, the Fasab A – Z. Feel free to click any or all of the links that take your fancy, and, as always, enjoy!

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Frank has asked me to remind everyone that no nominations are required to take part in the A2Z challenge, so why not have a go. It’s a bit of work, but fun too, and it gives you the excuse to look over some of your old posts.
The details are on Frank’s blog. To go there, click here!

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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The original title of this post was “Farting On Airplanes” because it is really about farting on airplanes, but I thought it might be better just to call it “It’s An Ill Wind”.

No, come on, now you know don’t turn your noses up, or pretend this is something that (a) you’ve never thought about, or (b) never done. Farting on airplanes is an international phenomenon that transcends all nationalities, religions, ages, creeds, classes and colors.

It is in fact the common bond of all the world’s travelers.

Whether it can ever bring us closer together, however, is another thing (Phew!)

longer larger fart plane

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This is a quite embarrassing story. Not something one would normally admit to, but people write unusual things on blogs.

It concerns one of the first long haul flights that I was ever on.

Nowadays, as a seasoned flyer, I always have a good meal before the flight. I don’t suffer from air sickness of any kind and I don’t care for the stuff they call airline food. Back then, however, I was a novice and ended up on board without any breakfast other than a cup of coffee. My stomach was empty – of food anyhow.

All was well for about twenty or thirty minutes and then it started.

The obvious solution would have been to get up and go to the toilet. But easy options aren’t the way I have gone through life so far.

Also it was a big plane, a 747, and the toilets were quite a bit away from my seat. I would face a long walk down the narrow aisle.

Not that the walk itself was the problem. It was just that whoever designs airline seats has arranged things so that the nose and ears of the person sitting down is just about at the same height as the bottom of the person walking casually past.

You see the predicament?

In any case, I found myself in a window seat with two other seats to negotiate before I got to the aisle. Such was the pressure building up that I feared the exertion of hopping over the additional seats would make the whole purpose of the journey somewhat redundant.

There was nothing for it but to stay where I was, with the unfortunate choice being either bursting or releasing some of the pressure. Not unnaturally I chose to do the latter option.

As these things go it was a substantial outcome. But the drone of the plane engines (they were a lot louder in those days, I think, I hope, weren’t they?) seemed to drown out any other background noises.

I didn’t hear a thing.

I double checked by having a quick look at the person unfortunate enough to be sitting beside me, but there was no sign in the expression on his face that anything untoward had happened. Either that or he was a professional poker player with a practiced deadpan expression – or in a state of semi consciousness as a result of the concussive force emanating from the seat beside him.

My confidence grew. I thought of the famous campfire scene from Blazing Saddles and let a few more go in tribute.

Farting Mid Flight

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I was so happy at the relief and at the fact that all was undetected that I allowed myself a triumphant smile, and then even a laugh. The movie I was watching was a comedy so my laughter didn’t look out of place either.

It was all good.

Hang on a minute.

All was not as good as it seemed.

Cut the laughter and cue serious worried face.

I suddenly realized that all this time I had been wearing the headphones the flight attendant had given us for the movies they were showing. No wonder I had heard nothing!

Oh dear me! What had I done?

Well, I knew what I had done, of course. The big question now was, did anyone else know? Had they heard me doing it?

I looked again at the man in the seat beside me. Again no perceivable reaction on his face that indicated that anything out of the ordinary had happened, although now I was aware of them I saw that he too was wearing the headphones.   

I was relieved a bit, but still very curious. And when I get curious about something I have to try to find an answer.

So there was nothing for it but let rip again, this time with my headphones off.

And that’s what I did.

Thankfully, in the interests of the scientific experiment now under way, the quality of the offending item had not diminished in force. A guy knows about these things even without any audio feedback.

To my great relief, in every meaning of the word, I still didn’t hear a thing. The drone of the airplane engines had indeed drowned out any other sounds.

It was a magnificently liberating experience and from that day on I have never looked back, as it were.

Further experimentation revealed that the same undetectable result could be achieved even on much smaller airplanes. Commercial jets I’m talking about, of course, this is not a sport to indulge in on a single engined Cesna or something like that.

I also found out that it is possible I have been saving the airlines lucky enough to win my custom a small fortune. As you know the air in airplanes these days is all re-circulated and, as the methane content of a fart is lighter than air, the captured gas therefore contributes to keeping the airplane airborne with a consequent saving on fuel. That’s my story anyhow.

farting in airplanes

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And the good news just keeps on coming.

Independent research confirms that a person’s sense of smell is greatly suppressed in the reduced cabin air pressure, which incidentally is also why airplane food tastes so bad. 

So now if you are on an airplane and sitting beside someone who is chuckling to himself – or herself, yes ladies your secret is out – you’ll know the real reason why!

One day it might even be me!!!

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The Mayans Were Just Ten Days Out – 2012, The End

Posted: December 31, 2012 in Factoids, Uncategorized, Unusual
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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Yes folks we all gave the Mayans some stick when their prediction didn’t come true (including me, click here if you missed it) but they were just ten days out, not too bad in a few thousand years!

Today IS the end. The end of 2012. It has been a difficult and frustrating year business-wise because of the continued mess created by the stupid and greedy banksters, so I for one won’t be sorry to see the end of it.

However that gripe aside, it is the last day of 2012 so I thought we should do something a little different today.

So, before we start to look forward to a new, and hopefully better, year, here is a selective look back at some of the events of this year.

There are a couple of ways you could do a post like this. You could link to other sites, particularly newspaper sites because they all seem to do lists of one kind or another at the close of the year. The other way is to compile a more personal one, with the things you remember personally. Both are equally valid, but this being a blog I’ve chosen to go the more personal route and compile a list of the things I remember so, although it is quite long, it is selective and by no means covers everything that happened in 2012. 

I have also included a list of some of the personalities that passed during 2012, you probably heard about them all at the time, but memories being what they are I am sure one or two of them will come as a surprise.

So let’s get started.

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Spectacles 

  • I don’t know whether to class this as the biggest event or the biggest non event of the year, but November 2012 saw the Presidential election campaign and the successful return of President Obama to the Oval Office. Look forward to increasing taxes in 2013!
  • Although on the face of it a national event, because of the power and influence of America, the US Presidential Election has now become an International spectacle watched by several billion people worldwide. What they made of it all I don’t know, but they watched it anyway.

.presidential campaign cartoon 

  • The other big international spectacle of the 2012 that drew large viewing audiences were the Olympic and Paralympic Games held in London in July, August and September. Approximately 10,500 athletes participated in 302 events in 26 sports.
  • In the Olympics the top six gold medal places went to USA (46), China (38), Great Britain (29), Russia (24), and South Korea (13), with Germany and France tying for sixth place with 11 gold medals each. The overall medal table was slightly different, USA (104), China (88), Russia (82), Great Britain (65), Germany (44), and Japan (38).
  • In the Paralympics the top six gold medal places went to China (95), Russia (36), Great Britain (34), Ukraine (32), Australia (32), and USA (31). In the overall medal results the order was China (231), Great Britain (120), Russia (102), USA (98), Australia (85), and Ukraine (84).

London Olympics 2012.

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Weather

  • The weather, at its extremes, was another major talking point of 2012. Starting with the last and worst, ‘Super Storm Sandy’ took most of the headlines and did the most damage, particularly to north east coast areas of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The cost is estimated to be in the tens of billions of dollars.

Sandy Yellow Cabs

  • Almost forgotten because of the ferocity of Sandy was Hurricane Isaac that slowly lumbered ashore near the mouth of the Mississippi River on August 28 as a Category 1 Hurricane with 80 mph winds. Isaac’s large size and slow motion caused a storm surge of up to eleven feet, more characteristic of a Category 2 hurricane. Thankfully, however, New Orleans’ new $14.5 billion levee upgrade held against Isaac’s surge, although further up the Mississippi River in Plaquemines Parish near Port Sulphur, it did cause major flooding of homes. In total Isaac still managed to do about $2 billion worth of damage.

Hurricane-Isaac

  • Early March also saw a massive and violent tornado outbreak on an exceptional scale and including two deadly EF-4 tornadoes. In all, seventy tornadoes touched down in eleven states, from southern Ohio to southern Georgia, killing 41 people, with Kentucky and Southern Indiana being hardest hit and suffering 22 and 13 dead, respectively. At one point, 31 separate tornado warnings were in effect during the outbreak covering an area of more than 80,000 square miles. Tornado watches were posted for mpre than 300,000 square miles, an area larger than Texas. Total damage was estimated at $4 billion.

Tornado

  • Also on June 29 a violent line of severe thunderstorms called a derecho swept across the U.S. from Illinois to Virginia, damaging houses, toppling trees, and bringing down power lines. Twenty-two people were killed, and power cuts affected at least 3.4 million people. The derecho was unusually intense due to extreme heat that set all-time records at ten major cities on its south side, helping to create an unstable atmosphere with plenty of energy to fuel severe thunderstorms. At least 38 thunderstorms in the derecho generated wind gusts in excess of hurricane force, making it one of the most severe derechoes on record. Total damage was estimated at $3.75 billion.

derecho storm blackout June 201200 

  • Contrarily, 2012 was the warmest year on record, with July being the warmest month of any month in the 1,400+ months of the U.S. data record, going back to 1895. The spring temperature departure from average was also the largest on record for any season, and March temperatures had the second largest warm departure from average of any month in U.S. history. All-time hottest temperature records were set over approximately 7% of the area of the contiguous U.S., according to a database of 298 major U.S. cities maintained by wunderground’s weather historian, Christopher C. Burt.
  • This, despite all this rainfall and flooding caused by the severe storms, also saw a ‘Great Drought’ in 2012, the full consequences of which we have not yet seen and which may well prove to be the biggest weather story of the year. The area of the contiguous U.S. in moderate or greater drought peaked at 61.8% in July–the largest such area since the Dust Bowl drought of December 1939. The heat and dryness resulted in record or near-record evaporation rates, causing major impact on corn, soybean and wheat belts in addition to livestock production. Drought upstream of the Lower Mississippi River caused record and near-record low stream flows along the river in Mississippi and Louisiana, resulting in limited river transportation and commerce. Crop damages alone from the great drought are estimated at $35 billion. As the total scope of losses is realized across all lines of business in coming moths, this number will climb significantly.

US drought monitor

  • Add to this 2012 as the 3rd worst wildfire year in U.S. history, with 9.2 million acres burned–an area larger than the state of Maryland.

.wildfire

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Scandal

On a completely different subject 2012 will also be remembered as the year of the high profile celebrity paedophiles.

  • Penn State University’s former defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, was convicted of 45 counts of sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years. He was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison. The scandal sparked a national debate over child sex abuse, embarrassed the university and implicated a number of its top officials including legendary football head coach, the late Joe Paterno.
  • In Britain there was a major, and still ongoing, scandal within the BBC because of the actions and subsequent cover-up of the actions of paedophile disc jockey Jimmy Savile (now deceased). This has already led to the resignations of several high-ranking BBC employees, including its Director General.
  • The Roman Catholic Church also continued to suffer from the fallout from decades of child abuse and cover-ups by its priests and hierarchy.

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Technology

In the Techie World 2012 saw a number of milestone events.

  • There was the introduction of  the all new WIndows 8 operating system by Microsoft.
  • Then there was the continuation of the big bust up between Apple and Samsung which in its second year seemed even stronger than ever.
  • The thought police closed down Megaupload and stopped Americans using Intrade.
  • Members of Congress also sponsored the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, and related bills to make it easier to shut down websites that illegally share music, movies and other content. But opponents (which included just about everybody who used the internet) argued it went too far and could end up shutting down legitimate sites while stifling free expression in the process. Unfortunately for backers of SOPA, Web heavyweights such as Google, Facebook, Reddit and Wikipedia joined the fight against the bill. Sites went black on January 18 to raise awareness. Members of communities such as Reddit put intense pressure on lawmakers (including soon-to-be GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan) until they dropped their support or went on record opposing the bill. The unprecedented backlash eventually caused supporters to shelve SOPA, and quite possibly ushered in a new age of Web activism.
  • Facebook flopped producing one of the longest alliterated titles in the blogsphere during 2012 (Furious Flabbergasted Facebook Fools Face Frightening Falls From Fanciful Flagging Financial Flotation Farce ).
  • Meanwhile Twitter went from strength to strength with even the President of the United States and the Pope tweeting their little hearts out.
  • Speaking of flops, Carol Bartz flopped at Yahoo and was sacked being replaced by Scott Thompson. Yahoo continues to be troubled since its idiotic refusal of a $40 billion plus offer from Microsoft.
  • Google got itself some tablets and started to take on greedy Apple in the iPad market selling its Android versions for substantially less.
  • Along with the rollout of the much anticipated iPhone 5 in September, Apple overhauled iOS, the operating system that runs the phone, its iPad and other mobile devices. A much-hyped feature of the change was Apple’s first effort at its own mapping app – after dumping rival Google’s map software. The result was so bad that a few days later Apple’s CEO was essentially telling customers to use Google Maps.

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Departures

2012 also the passing of many well known personalities and celebrities. For example,

 

In space

Neil Armstrong

  • Neil Armstrong, aged 82 (8/5/1930 to 8/25/2012), astronaut who flew on the Gemini 8 mission (as commander) in 1966 and the Apollo 11 mission (as commander) in 1969, becoming the first of twelve men to walk on the moon.

Sally Ride

  • Sally Ride, aged 61 (5/26/1951 to 7/23/2012), astronaut and the first American woman in space, who flew on Shuttle flights STS-7 (1983) and STS 41-G (1984).

Sir Patrick Moore

  • Patrick Moore, aged 89 (3/4/1923 to 12/9/2012), British astronomer, writer, researcher, radio commentator and television presenter. Moore was a former president of the British Astronomical Association, co-founder and former president of the Society for Popular Astronomy (SPA), author of over 70 books on astronomy, and presenter of the world’s longest-running television series with the same original presenter, the BBC’s The Sky at Night. He was also a self-taught xylophone, glockenspiel player and pianist, as well as an accomplished composer. He was a former amateur cricketer, golfer and chess player. In addition to many popular science books, he wrote numerous works of fiction. Moore served in the Royal Air Force during World War II; his fiancée was killed by a bomb during the war and he never married.

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In politics

Chuck Colson

  • Chuck Colson, aged 80 (10/16/1931 to 4/21/2012), White House counsel under Nixon (1969-72), and imprisoned for obstruction of justice in Watergate scandal (1973). While in prison he underwent Christian conversion and founded Prison Fellowship Ministries.

robert-bork

  • Robert Bork, aged 85 (3/1/1927 to 12/19/2012, U.S. solicitor general under Nixon. As acting Attorney General, he fired Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox on Nixon’s orders, after Elliot Richardson and then William Ruckelshaus refused and resigned. He was subsequently Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (1982-88) and Nominated to the Supreme Court by Reagan in 1987 and rejected by the Senate.

Daniel Inouye

  • Daniel Inouye, aged 88 (9/7/1924 to 12/17/2012), U.S. Representative (D-HI, 1959-63), U.S. Senator (D-HI, 1963-2012).

William Rees Mogg

  • William Rees-Mogg, Baron Rees-Mogg, aged 84 (14 July 1928 – 29 December 2012), British journalist and life peer, Editor of The Times (1967–1981).  

George McGovern

  • George McGovern, aged 90 (7/19/1922 to 10/21/2012), U.S. Rep., D-SD (1957-61); U.S. Senator, D-SD (1963-81); Democratic presidential nominee (1972).

Arlen Specter

  • Arlen Specter, aged 82 (2/12/1930 to 10/14/2012), U.S. Senator (R-PA, 1981-2009; D-PA, 2009-11). Specter was a member of the Warren Commission that investigated the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and co-author of the ‘magic bullet’ theory that Kennedy and Gov. John Connally were shot by the same single bullet.

Norman Schwarzkopf

  • Norman Schwarzkopf, aged 78 (8/22/1934 to 12/27/2012), U.S. Army general. Commanded the U.S. and allied forces in the Persian Gulf War (1991).

Yitzhak Shamir

  • Yitzhak Shamir, aged 96 (10/15/1915 to 6/30/2012), Israeli prime minister (Likud party, 1983-84, 1986-92).

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In TV & movies

Gerry Anderson

  • Gerry Anderson, aged 83 (14 April 1929 – 26 December 2012) publisher, producer, director and writer, famous for futuristic television programs, using ‘supermarionation’, working with modified marionettes, such as Thunderbirds, and Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. He was also responsible for the real-life sci-fi tv series Space 1999.

Ernest Borgnine

  • Ernest Borgnine, aged 95 (1/24/1917 to 7/8/2012), actor, From Here to Eternity (1953), “McHale’s Navy” (Lt. Quinton McHale, 1962-66), The Poseidon Adventure (1972), Code Name: Wild Geese (1984). Won an Academy award for Marty (Best actor, 1956). Husband of singer Ethel Merman for 32 days in 1964.

Phyllis Diller

  • Phyllis Diller, aged 95 (7/17/1917 to 8/20/2012), comedienne/actress who appeared frequently on talk shows, game shows, and variety shows in the 1960s and 70s.

Charles Durning

  • Charles Durning, aged 89 (2/28/1923 to 12/24/2012), actor, The Sting (1973), The Muppet Movie (1979), The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982), “Evening Shade” (Dr. Harlan Eldridge, 1990-94).

Larry Hagman

  • Larry Hagman, aged 81 (9/21/1931 to 11/23/2012), actor, “I Dream of Jeannie” (Maj. Anthony Nelson, 1965-70), “Dallas” (J.R. Ewing, 1978-91) and reprised the role of J.R. Ewing in the 2012 tv series “Dallas”. Son of actress Mary Martin.

Jack Klugman

  • Jack Klugman, aged 90 (4/27/1922 to 12/24/2012), actor, 12 Angry Men (1957), “The Odd Couple” (Oscar Madison, 1970-75), “Quincy, M.E.” (Dr. R. Quincy, 1976-83). Husband of actress/game show panelist Brett Somers (1953-74). Won two Emmy Awards for “The Odd Couple” (1971, 1973).

Sylvia Kristel

  • Sylvia Kristel, aged 60 (9/28/1952 to 10/17/2012), actress, the controversial Emmanuelle (1974) and three sequels (1975-84), Private Lessons (1981).

Herbert Lom

  • Herbert Lom, aged 95 (1/9/1917 to 9/27/2012), most famous for his portrayal of Chief Inspector Dreyfus in The Return of the Pink Panther (1974) and five more films in the “Pink Panther” series from 1976 to 1993.

William Asher

  • William Asher, aged 90 (8/8/1921 to 7/16/2012), was a TV and film director whose work included “I Love Lucy” (1952-57), Beach Party (1963), “Bewitched” (1964-72), “Alice” (1977-79). Husband of actress Elizabeth Montgomery (1963-73).

Turhan Bey

  • Turhan Bey, aged 90 (3/30/1922 to 9/30/2012), actor who starred in Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (1944), The Amazing Mr. X (1948).

Peter Breck

  • Peter Breck, aged 82 (3/13/1929 to 2/6/2012), actor,  “Maverick” (Doc Holliday, 1960-62), “The Big Valley” (Nick Barkley, 1965-69).

Frank Cady

  • Frank Cady, aged 96 (9/8/1915 to 6/9/2012), actor,  “Petticoat Junction” (1963-70), “Green Acres” (Sam Drucker, 1965-71).

Harry Carey Jr.

  • Harry Carey, Jr., aged 91 (May 16, 1921 – December 27, 2012), actor, appeared in over 90 movies including Gremplins and Tombstone and several John Ford Westerns such as The Searchers, as well as numerous television series.

Dick Clark

  • Dick Clark, aged 82 (11/30/1929 to 4/18/2012), a TV host on shows “American Bandstand” (1957-87), “The $10,000 Pyramid” (1973-88), “TV’s Bloopers & Practical Jokes” (1984-88), “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” (1972-2012). He was also the producer of a variety of TV game shows, talk shows, entertainment shows, and movies.

Gary Collins

  • Gary Collins, aged 74 (4/30/1938 to 10/13/2012), actor, Iron Horse (Dave Tarrant, 1966-68), “The Sixth Sense” (Dr. Michael Rhodes, 1972). TV host for “Hour Magazine” (1980-88), Miss America Pageant (1982-90). Husband of Miss America 1959 Mary Ann Mobley (1967-2012).

Don Cornelius

  • Don Cornelius, aged 75 (9/27/1936 to 2/1/2012), host (1971-2007) and producer (1971-88) of “Soul Train”. Producer of the “Soul Train Music Awards” (1987-2007).

Richard Dawson

  • Richard Dawson, aged 79 (11/20/1932 to 6/2/2012), actor and game show host, starred in “Hogan’s Heroes” (Cpl. Peter Newkirk, 1965-71), “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” (regular performer, 1971-73), “Match Game” (panelist, 1973-79), “Family Feud” (host, 1975-88, 94-95), The Running Man (1987).

Michael Clarke Duncan

  • Michael Clarke Duncan, aged 54 (12/10/1957 to 9/3/2012), actor, Armageddon (1998), The Green Mile (1999).

Nora Ephron

  • Nora Ephron, aged 71 (5/19/1941 to 6/26/2012), filmmaker responsible for Silkwood (writer, 1983), When Hary Met Sally (writer, 1989), Sleepless in Seattle (writer, director, 1993), You’ve Got Mail (writer, director, producer, 1998), Julie & Julia (writer, director, producer, 2009).

Chad Everett

  • Chad Everett, aged 76 (6/11/1936 to 7/24/2012), actor, “Medical Center” (Dr. Joe Gannon, 1969-76), Airplane II: The Sequel (1982).

Jonathan Frid

  • Jonathan Frid, aged 87 (12/2/1924 to 4/13/2012), actor, “Dark Shadows” (Barnabas Collins, 1967-71).

Don Grady

  • Don Grady, aged 68 (6/8/1944 to 6/27/2012), cast member, “The Mickey Mouse Club” (1957-58). Actor, “My Three Sons” (Robbie Douglas, 1960-71).

The Andy Griffith Show

  • Andy Griffith, aged 86 (6/1/1926 to 7/3/2012), cast member, “The Mickey Mouse Club” (1957-58). Gained prominence in the starring role in A Face in the Crowd (1957) before becoming better known for his television roles, playing the lead characters in the 1960–1968 situation comedy The Andy Griffith Show and in the 1986–1995 legal drama Matlock.

Robert Hegyes

  • Robert Hegyes, aged 60 (5/7/1951 to 1/26/2012), actor, “Welcome Back, Kotter” (Juan Epstein, 1975-79).

Sherman Hemsley

  • Sherman Hemsley, aged 74 (2/1/1938 to 7/24/2012), actor, “All in the Family” (George Jefferson, 1973-75), “The Jeffersons” (George Jefferson, 1975-85), “Amen” (Deacon Ernest Frye, 1986-91).

Celeste Holm

  • Celeste Holm, aged 95 (4/29/1917 to 7/15/2012), actress, All About Eve (1950). Won an Academy award for Gentleman’s Agreement (Best supporting actress, 1948).

George_Lindsey

  • George Lindsey, aged 83 (12/17/1928 to 5/6/2012), actor, “The Andy Griffith Show” (Goober Pyle, 1965-68), “Mayberry R.F.D.” (Goober Pyle, 1968-71), “Hee Haw” (Goober, 1972-92).

Ron Palillo

  • Ron Palillo, aged 63 (4/2/1949 to 8/14/2012), actor, “Welcome Back, Kotter” (Arnold Horshack, 1975-79).

victor spinetti

  • Victor Spinetti, aged 82 (9/2/1929 to 6/18/2012), actor, The Beatles movies A Hard Day’s Night (1964), Help! (1965), “Magical Mystery Tour” (1967).

mike_wallace

  • Mike Wallace, aged 93 (5/9/1918 to 4/7/2012), TV news correspondent famous for his adversarial style. Programs include “Mike Wallace Interview (1957-60)”, “60 Minutes” (1968-2006).

Richard D. Zanuck

  • Richard D. Zanuck, aged 77 (12/13/1934 to 7/13/2012), film producer for movies like Jaws (1975), Neighbors (1981), Cocoon (1985), Driving Miss Daisy (1989), Deep Impact (1998), Planet of the Apes (2001). Son of producer Darryl F. Zanuck.

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In Music

Robin Gibb

  • Robin Gibb, aged 62 (12/22/1949 to 5/20/2012), member of the Bee Gees with older brother Barry and twin brother Maurice (1958-69, 1970-2003). Hits include “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” (1970), “Jive Talkin’” (1975), “Stayin’ Alive” (1977), and “Too Much Heaven” (1979). Older brother of Andy Gibb.

Marvin Hamlisch

  • Marvin Hamlisch, aged 68 (6/2/1944 to 8/6/2012), songwriter. Hits include “Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows” (1965), “The Way We Were” (1973), “The Entertainer” (1974), “What I Did For Love” (1975), and “Nobody Does It Better” (1977).

whitney-houston

  • Whitney Houston, aged 48 (8/9/1963 to 2/11/2012), pop singer. Hits include “Saving All My Love for You” (1985), “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” (1987), and “I Will Always Love You” (1992). Wife of singer Bobby Brown (1992-2007). Cousin of singer Dionne Warwick.

Andy Williams

  • Andy Williams, aged 84 (12/3/1927 to 9/25/2012), TV host, “The Andy Williams Show” (1962-71) and singer, “Butterfly” (1957), “Moon River” (1962), “Love Story (Where Do I Begin)” (1971).

Donna Summer

  • Donna Summer, aged 63 (12/31/1948 to 5/17/2012), pop/disco singer. Hits include “Love to Love You Baby” (1975), “Last Dance” (1978) “Bad Girls” (1979), and “She Works Hard for the Money” (1983).

Ravi Shankar

  • Ravi Shankar, aged 92 (4/7/1920 to 12/11/2012), sitar player. Mentored rock musician George Harrison (1966), played in the Concert for Bangladesh (1971). Father of jazz musician Norah Jones (1979).

dave-brubeck

  • Dave Brubeck, aged 91 (12/6/1920 to 12/5/2012), jazz pianist. Hits include “Take Five” (1959).

Hal David

  • Hal David, aged 91 (5/25/1921 to 9/1/2012), lyricist and  songwriting partner of Burt Bacharach (1957-1972). Hits include “Walk on By”, “What the World Needs Now Is Love”, “What’s New Pussycat?”, “The Look of Love”, “This Guy’s In Love With You”, “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head”, “Close to You”, and “One Less Bell to Answer”. Inducted to the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Levon Helm

  • Levon Helm, aged 71 (5/26/1940 to 4/19/2012), rock vocalist and drummer, member of The Band (1968-1976, 1983-1999). Sang lead on “The Weight” (1968), “Up on Cripple Creek” (1969), and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” (1969).

Etta James

  • Etta James, aged 73 (1/25/1938 to 1/20/2012), blues singer. Hits include “The Wallflower” (1955), “At Last” (1961), “I Just Want to Make Love to You” (1996). Won four Grammy awards (1994-2004). Inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (1993).

Davy Jones

  • Davy Jones, aged 66 (12/30/1945 to 2/29/2012), actor/singer, “The Monkees” (1966-68). Sang lead on “Daydream Believer” (1967).

Tony Martin

  • Tony Martin, aged 98 (12/25/1913 to 7/27/2012), singer. Hits include “There’s No Tomorrow” (1949), “I Get Ideas” (1951), “Walk Hand In Hand” (1956). Actor; Casbah (1948), Here Come the Girls (1953), Hit the Deck (1955). Husband of actress Cyd Charisse (1948-2008).

Earl Scruggs

  • Earl Scruggs, aged 88 (1/6/1924 to 3/28/2012), bluegrass banjo player, teamed with Lester Flatt (1948-69). Hits include “The Ballad of Jed Clampett” (1963).

Kitty Wells

  • Kitty Wells, aged 92 (8/30/1919 to 7/16/2012), country singer. Hits include “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” (1952), “I Can’t Stop Loving You” (1958), “Heartbreak U.S.A.” (1961). Inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame (1974). Received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (1991). Wife of country singer Johnnie Wright (1937-2011).

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In Sport

Gary Carter catcher

  • Gary Carter, aged 57 (4/5/1954 to 2/16/2012), catcher for Montreal Expos (1974-84, 1992), New York Mets (1985-89), and two other teams (1990-91). 11-time All-Star (1975, 1979-88) and 3-time Gold Glove Award winner (1980-82). Inducted into the Hall of Fame (2003).

Lee MacPhail

  • Lee MacPhail, aged 95 (10/25/1917 to 11/8/2012), major-league baseball executive, general manager of the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees, American League President (1974-83) and President of the Players Relations Committee. Elected to the MLB Hall of Fame (1998). Son of baseball executive Larry MacPhail and father of baseball executive Andy MacPhail (1953).

Marvin Miller

  • Marvin Miller, aged 95 (4/14/1917 to 11/27/2012), executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association (1966-82), negotiated collective bargaining, arbitration, and free agency with the baseball owners.

Art Modell

  • Art Modell, aged87 (6/23/1925 to 9/6/2012), owner of the NFL Cleveland Browns (1961-95) and Baltimore Ravens (1996-2004). President of the National Football League (1967-69). Was the principal force in having NFL games televised on Monday nights (1970).

joe-paterno

  • Joe Paterno, aged 85 (12/21/1926 to 1/22/2012), college football coach (Penn State 1966-2011). Won 24 bowl games and 3 Big Ten championships. Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame (2006). Fired for not doing more about allegations of child molestation taking place in his facilities.

Darrell Royal

  • Darrell Royal, aged 88 (7/9/1924 to 11/7/2012), college football head coach for Mississippi State University (1954-55), University of Washington (1956), and University of Texas (1957-76). Won three national championships (1963, 1969, 1970). Had 23 consecutive winning seasons.

Alex Karras

  • Alex Karras, aged 77 (7/15/1935 to 10/10/2012), NFL football player; Detroit Lions (tackle, 1958-71). Actor, Blazing Saddles (1974), “Webster” (George Papadapolis, 1983-89).

Junior Seau

  • Junior Seau, aged 43 (1/19/1969 to 5/2/2012), NFL linebacker for San Diego Chargers (1990-2002), Miami Dolphins (2003-05), and New England Patriots (2006-09). Was on the Pro Bowl team 12 consecutive years (1991-2002).

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In Publishing & Books

Ray Bradbury

  • Ray Bradbury, aged 91 (8/22/1920 to 6/5/2012), science fiction writer whose works include The Martian Chronicles (1950), and Farenheit 451 (1953).

Andrew Breitbart

  • Andrew Breitbart, aged 43 (2/1/1969 to 3/1/2012), web publisher, editor for The Drudge Report, and founder of Brietbart.com and BigGovernment.com (2009). Facilitated an undercover video purporting to expose fraud in ACORN (2009).

Helen Gurley Brown

  • Helen Gurley Brown, aged 90 (2/18/1922 to 8/13/2012), author of Sex and the Single Girl (1962) and editor of Cosmopolitan (1965-1997).

Jim Unger

  • Jim Unger, aged 75 (1/21/1937 to 5/29/2012), cartoonist of “Herman” (1974-92).

Gore Vidal

  • Gore Vidal, aged 86 (10/3/1925 to 7/31/2012), novelist whose works include Myra Breckinridge (1968) and Lincoln (1984).

Maurice Sendak

  • Maurice Sendak, aged 83 (6/10/1928 to 5/8/2012), children’s writer whose works include Little Bear (1957) and Where the Wild Things Are (1963).

James Q. Wilson

  • James Q. Wilson, aged 80 (5/27/1931 to 3/2/2012), sociologist/criminologist professor at Harvard (1961-87). Rejected prevailing theories that most/all criminal behavior is the product of societal factors. Wrote Varieties of Police Behavior (1968) and Thinking About Crime (1975).

Zig Ziglar

  • Zig Ziglar, aged 86 (11/6/1926 to 11/28/2012), motivational speaker and author (See You at the Top, 1975).

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Miscellaneous

Henry Hill

  • Henry Hill, aged 69 (6/11/1943 to 6/12/2012), organized crime figure with the Luchesse crime family of New York, participated in a hesit of Lufthansa Air (1978), became an FBI informant, expelled from the U.S. Witness Protection Program (1982). Subject of the film Goodfellas (1990).

Sun Myung Moon

  • Sun Myung Moon, aged 92 (2/25/1920 to 9/2/2012), founder of the Unification Church (1954), also known as “Moonies”. Convicted of willfully filing false US income tax returns (1982); imprisoned for 13 months (1984-85).

Vidal-Sassoon

  • Vidal Sassoon, aged 84 (1/17/1928 to 5/9/2012), hairdresser to the rich and famous.

Rodney King

  • Rodney King, aged 47 (4/2/1965 to 6/17/2012), victim of a videotaped beating involving seven Los Angeles police officers on 3 March 1991 that made him a symbol of police brutality and led to racially charged riots in Los Angeles. Four officers were tried; three were acquitted and the jury failed to reach a verdict on the fourth. Their acquittals on 29 April 1992 prompted a riot in which 54 people died. Two officers were subsequently found guilty of civil rights violations in federal court, and King was paid $3.8 million by the city of Los Angeles.

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Manmade Tragedies

2012 also had its share of manmade tragedies.  

  • In Aurora, Colorado a crazed gunman opened fire on an unsuspecting audience during a midnight screening of the Batman new movie “The Dark Knight Rises”, killing 12 people and wounding 58 others. The killer was former neuroscience graduate student James Holmes.
  • In Benghazi , Libya Islamic militants stormed the U.S. mission on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, killing U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. The attack was the first to kill a U.S. ambassador in the line of duty since 1979 and sparked severe criticism of the Obama administration. An official inquiry found widespread failures in both security planning and internal management.
  • In a Wisconsin Sikh temple a gunman killed six people and critically wounded three others, before he was himself shot dead by police.
  • At the Empire State Building in New York City, an out-of-work fashion designer fatally shot a former co-worker before being killed in a blaze of gunshots by police, stunning tourists and commuters outside of one of New York’s most popular landmarks.
  • Finally, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, Adam Lanza shot dead 20 children and six staff members, before killing himself. He had also killed his mother.

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Other notables

  • Lance Armstrong, the disgraced cycling champion had his seven Tour de France victories scratched from the records and was banned from cycling for life after the International Cycling Union (UCI) ratified the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s (USADA) sanctions against him. A USADA report said Armstrong had been involved in the “most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”
  • Record-setting skydiver. Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner leapt into the stratosphere from a balloon near the edge of space 24 miles above Earth and safely landed, setting a record for the highest skydive and breaking the sound barrier in the process.
  • CIA Director, David Petraeus, who had formerly played a key role in the Iraq war, and led the U.S. Central Command and commanded U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, stepped down after admitting he had engaged in an extramarital affair.

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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A slightly different Friday post this holiday week. It reads a bit like a tongue-twister, but it’s actually more of a number twister.  

Instead of the usual Friday Factoid for those interested in numbers, how about a magic equation from an unlikely source?

The unlikely source was ‘Scripta Mathematica’, a quarterly journal published by Yeshiva University from 1932 until 1973, and devoted to the philosophy, history, and expository treatment of mathematics. It was said to be, “the only mathematical magazine in the world edited by specialists for laymen.”

Never destined to be a best seller, it did however produce a few interesting tidbits for laypersons interested in, or fascinated by, mathematics or numbers.

One of these was in its March 1955 edition, when it published an article from someone named, Pedro A. Pisa who had picked a pack of peculiar numbers and formed them into a most curious equation.

The equation was simply this,  

 

123,789  +  561,945  +  642,864  =  242,868  +  323,787  +  761,943

 

On the face of it there is nothing spectacular here. This just an ordinary looking and fairly simple arithmetic equation.

Ordinary, except for the fact that you could remove many of the terms, from either end of this equation, and it still worked.

For example,

Pedro A. Pisa equation

 

Ordinary, except you could remove the two center digits from each term, and it still balanced.

For example

 

1289  +  5645  +  6464  =  2468  +  3287  +  7643

 

You could even repeat this process and it still worked:

 

19  +  55  +  64  =  28  +  37  +  73

 

 

And ordinary but perhaps most amazing of all, you could square every term above, in every equation, and they will still all remain true.

 

And it was all figured out by a someone called Pedro A Pisa. 

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No blog post today,

but I would like to take this opportunity

to wish everyone who visits the fasab blog

a very merry Christmas.

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Thank you for your support over the past ten months of blogging 

and especially to all those who follow and comment,

your contributions are very much appreciated. 

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