The Mysterious Death Of A UN Secretary General

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld

Not quite up there with the Kennedy assassination conspiracy, but still a mystery, is the death of UN General Secretary Dag Hammarskjold who was killed in an airplane crash – some say assassinated – on September 17, 1961.

On that fateful day, a Douglas DC-6 transport aircraft with Hammarskjöld on board crashed in the British-administered territory of Northern Rhodesia (now called Zambia). Not only Hammarskjold, but everyone on board was killed in the crash.

Three investigations into the crash were held, conducted by the Rhodesian Board of Investigation, the Rhodesian Commission of Inquiry, and the United Nations Commission of Investigation.

Dag Hammarskjöld plane shot down

As usual in these non-investigation investigations, “pilot error” was noted as the most likely cause of the tragedy.

But the UN Commission of Investigation held in 1962 said that deliberate sabotage could not be ruled out as a likely cause of the tragedy, which of course set the conspiracy theorists on over drive.

Since then many academics and independent investigators, such as Swedish development expert Göran Björkdahl and British academic Susan Williams, have raised the possibility that the plane carrying Secretary General Hammarskjöld may have been “shot down by an unidentified second plane”.

Just after the tragedy the eagerness shown by British colonial administrators in Northern Rhodesia to obscure the details of the incident has also been highlighted and has provided further impetus for those pointing to foul play.

Like many others who have met similar fates, Hammarskjöld probably contributed to his own downfall because he was an independent thinker, not content to remain in the pockets of the powers that be. He was, for example, a fierce supporter of anti-colonial movements that were sweeping the African continent, many of which were not in the interests of their colonial masters at the time.

Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba

This is borne out by the fact that on the day of his death, Hammarskjöld was flying to the Congo’s mineral-rich Katanga region to meet European-supported chieftains who in 1960 had seceded from the Marxist government of Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba.

Lumumba had been assassinated in a Western-backed coup exactly eight months before Hammarskjöld’s own death. The person said to have arranged his assassination was Daphne Park, one of MI6’s top female intelligence agents and known by some as the “Queen of Spies”.

Moving on in time to three years ago, in 2012, the independently funded Hammarskjöld Inquiry Trust appointed an international team of jurists, called the Hammarskjöld Commission, to study all available evidence on the plane crash. The team was composed of a diplomat and three judges from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Sweden.

The Commission reported in 2013 that “significant new evidence” had emerged, which suggested that American intelligence agencies, notably the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency, had “crucial evidence” that could help clarify the causes of the crash.

UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon

This led to the current UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, appointing a UN-sponsored panel of experts to examine the new evidence and present it before the UN General Assembly. The three-member panel traveled to several countries, including Zambia, the US, Britain and Belgium, to access government, as well as private archives.

That ‘new evidence’ is said to include written testimony by a Belgian pilot who says he shot down the plane carrying Hammarskjöld by error while trying to divert it on orders by a government entity, and a statement by a former intelligence officer with the US National Security Agency, admitting he listened to a recording of a pilot who said he shot down the UN Secretary General’s plane.

Damning stuff – if true.

Is it really possible that more than half a century later the truth about  “one of the enduring mysteries of the 20th century” is finally going to be heard?

Don’t hold your breath on that one. It all depends if those who ordered the assassination think they can get away with it after all these years.

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So who really did kill JKF, more importantly, why, and how long are we going to have to wait to find out?

JFK assassination headline

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Education About Education

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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education

Today a little education about education.

First I’ll crunch some numbers, as I like to do.

4,726 = the number of colleges and universities United States.

$589 billion =  the amount spent by students annually.

Of that figure,

$393 billion = tuition fees, and

$196 billion = expenses like travel and housing.

538% = the percentage increase of the cost of a college education over the past three decades.

4.5 = the number times more expensive it is to go to college today than it was back in 1985, even allowing for inflation.

So is the cost worth it?

Does the education system make sense?

The vast majority of Americans never even consider these important questions. They are fixated on their kids going to college – end of debate.

Whether they have the ability or not, or whether it is the right career path for them or not, if the parents can afford it and/or the kids can get a student loan (which they usually can) then they go to college.

But there is a heavy cost to pay, as we have just seen above. By the time they graduate 70% of students are lumbered with a loan balance averaging $28,400. Nationwide in the US, student loan debt now sits at a staggering $1.2 trillion, which is nearly 50% higher than all the outstanding auto-loan debt, and almost double credit card debt.

student loan debt

While it is true that college graduates have more opportunities to earn more than those without a degree, the number of those good paying jobs is limited. Most college graduates have to settle for a lot less that they were planning for when they started that expensive college education.

What is often forgotten is that there are many other opportunities out there in the workplace for someone who spends their time and money learning a trade or a skill. A friend of mine who is a plumber earns many times more than many of his contemporaries with college degrees and office jobs.

In fact, since more and more young Americans are turning their noses up at manual type jobs and opting for expensive colleges, there will soon be a shortage of essential trades such as plumbers, electricians and so forth, making those jobs even more lucrative than they are now.

Food for thought for the future perhaps.

FoodForThought

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People, Places And Probably More – Quiz Day!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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People and places feature a lot in today’s quiz so if you’re good at those then you are in with a good chance of scoring well.

You will also find out what the CIA has been up to with your tax dollars. Makes you proud!

As usual, if you get stuck, you can find the answers waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down below, but please NO cheating!

Enjoy and good luck.

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quiz confused1

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Q.  1.  A ‘Beluga’ is a type of what?

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Q.  2. In what country did the game of ‘Chess’ originate?

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Q.  3.  In 1983 the District of Columbia petitioned to become a state, if the petition had been successful what was the new state to be called?

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Q.  4.  The popular ‘Volkswagen Beetle’ car was developed under whose direction?

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Q.  5.  What drug did the CIA hand out in order to bribe warlords in Afghanistan?

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Q.  6.  What began as a winter resort for the British aristocracy in the late 1700s and now hosts 50% of the world’s super yachts every year?

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Q.  7.  What two men wrote the first and the final drafts of the American Declaration of Independence? (A point for each correct answer.)

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Q.  8.  What percentage of the water on Earth is saltwater?

            a)  17%          b) 37%          c) 57%          d)  77%          e) 97%

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Q.  9.  What mountain range is sometimes known as “The Backbone Of England” ?

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Q. 10.  What was the last major landmass on earth to be populated by humans?

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Q. 11.  What is the name given to a young female cow that has not given birth?

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Q. 12.  What famous gourmet insured his taste buds for £250,000 in 1993?

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Q. 13.  ‘Duplicatus’, ‘intortus’ and ‘perlucidus’ are among the varieties of what?

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Q. 14.  What well known city in Australia used to be known as ‘Batmania’ ?

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Q. 15.  What King of England was famous for having six wives?

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Q. 16.  And how many of his six wives did this King have executed? (A bonus point for each one you can name correctly.)

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Q. 17.  What is the more common name for the fictional character ‘Kal-El’ and where is he supposed to be from? (A point for each correct answer.)

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Q. 18.  What is the famous steeplechase horse race run at Aintreee in Liverpool, England every year?

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Q. 19.  What well known classical music composer has the initials ‘W.A.M.’ ?

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Q. 20.  And finally for today another name. Columbo is one of the most famous ever detectives to appear on television but what is his first name?

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ANSWERS

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Q.  1.  A ‘Beluga’ is a type of what?

A.  1.  Whale.

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Q.  2. In what country did the game of ‘Chess’ originate?

A.  2. Chess originated in India during the Gupta Empire (almost 1,400 years ago)

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Q.  3.  In 1983 the District of Columbia petitioned to become a state, if the petition had been successful what was the new state to be called?

A.  3.  New Columbia.

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Q.  4.  The popular ‘Volkswagen Beetle’ car was developed under whose direction?

A.  4.  Volkswagen Beetles were developed by Hitler because he wanted to manufacture a cheap, affordable car for his roadways.

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Q.  5.  What drug did the CIA hand out in order to bribe warlords in Afghanistan?

A.  5.  Viagra.

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Q.  6.  What began as a winter resort for the British aristocracy in the late 1700s and now hosts 50% of the world’s super yachts every year?

A.  6.  The French Riviera.

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Q.  7.  What two men wrote the first and the final drafts of the American Declaration of Independence? (A point for each correct answer.)

A.  7.  Benjamin Franklin actually wrote the first Declaration of Independence. Eventually, however, Thomas Jefferson was chosen to write the final draft.

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Q.  8.  What percentage of the water on Earth is saltwater?

            a)  17%          b) 37%          c) 57%          d)  77%          e) 97%

A.  8.  The correct answer is e) 97%.

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Q.  9.  What mountain range is sometimes known as “The Backbone Of England” ?

A.  9.  The Pennines.

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Q. 10.  What was the last major landmass on earth to be populated by humans?

A. 10.  New Zealand.

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Q. 11.  What is the name given to a young female cow that has not given birth?

A. 11.  It is known as a heifer.

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Q. 12.  What famous gourmet insured his taste buds for £250,000 in 1993?

A. 12.  Egon Ronay.

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Q. 13.  ‘Duplicatus’, ‘intortus’ and ‘perlucidus’ are among the varieties of what?

A. 13.  They are all the names of clouds (cirrus duplicatus, cirrus intortus and altocumulus perlucidus to be more precise.)

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Q. 14.  What well known city in Australia used to be known as ‘Batmania’ ?

A. 14.  The city of Melbourne used to be called ‘Batmania’.

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Q. 15.  What King of England was famous for having six wives?

A. 15.  Henry VIII.

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Q. 16.  And how many of his six wives did this King have executed? (A bonus point for each one you can name correctly.)

A. 16.  Henry VIII had two of his wives executed, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard.

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Q. 17.  What is the more common name for the fictional character ‘Kal-El’ and where is he supposed to be from? (A point for each correct answer.)

A. 17.  His more common name is Superman and hs home planet is Krypton.

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Q. 18.  What is the famous steeplechase horse race run at Aintreee in Liverpool, England every year?

A. 18.  It is called the ‘Grand National’.

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Q. 19.  What well known classical music composer has the initials ‘W.A.M.’

A. 19.  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

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Q. 20.  And finally for today another name. Columbo is one of the most famous ever detectives to appear on television but what is his first name?

A. 20.  His first name is “Frank”. It can be seen on his police ID, for example, in the 1971 episode “Dead Weight”, when Columbo introduces himself to General Hollister. So now you know!

Columbo-Signature2-bright

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Twitter Treasure

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Twitter logo transparent

Twitter is a good invention. It’s easy and fun. Much less demanding and intrusive than Facebook. So much so that many millions of people, from the famous to ordinary people like you and I, use it every day.

On the back of that success the Twitter company is doing very well. But recently it did even better when its shares jumped four per cent in a matter of minutes.

It all happened after a buyout story appeared on the internet that claimed that Twitter had received a significant offer. It started off, “Twitter is working closely with bankers after receiving an offer to be bought out for $31 billion…”

fake-twitter-story

Investors piled in. And not just the amateurs, lots of the ‘professional’ Wall Street guys too.

The trouble was, however, that the internet story was on a bogus web site and was completely fake. The site was called “bloomberg.market”. It was not “Bloomberg.com” the official name of the web presence for the Bloomberg financial organization.

“Bloomberg.market” was what they call a ‘mirror’ of the genuine “Bloomberg.com” website. Whoever designed “bloomberg.market” set it up to look like “Bloomberg.com”. They copied real headlines and linked them back to the real dot-com website. With one exception: the fake Twitter story, which was dressed up to look like a legitimate webpage.

The spike in the Twitter share price only lasted about 15 minutes before Bloomberg denounced the story as fake and the share price dropped back to its previous level. But 15 minutes is a long time in the world of finance and plenty of time for someone to profit substantially from the scam.

spike in the Twitter share price

No one yet knows who owns the dot-market domain – except the people who own it, of course –  but it was registered just days before the scam message, using a proxy service called “WhoisGuard”, based in Panama, that protects registrant details by offering its own address and contact numbers. But the details of “WhoisGuard” on its own website at “WhoisGuard.com” also appear to be fake, listing a telephone number that is disconnected. Emails to their contact address have not received a response either.

The significance of this incident is not that some greedy and stupid people lost money rushing to buy Twitter shares on the back of this fake announcement.

The problem is that so many new dot word domains have recently been allowed – hundreds of them in fact – that the whole internet is becoming bloated and confusing. And expensive.

If you are a company that wants to protect your online identity and integrity it could now cost you tens of thousands of dollars to cover all the permutations. Not many companies, even huge affairs like Bloomberg, will choose to do that.

That leaves the way wide open for cyber criminals to take advantage of gullible internet users.

I am certain they will.

Like the Twitter announcement, it’s just too good a deal to refuse.

online-scam_gullible-investor-cartoon

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I’ve Heard Of A Plane Going Missing – But An Entire Airport???

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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lost

Bureaucrats lose things because they are incompetent and stupid.

We all know that.

My posts on the debacle at the US government’s Office of Personnel Management, where they lost over 21 million records of government employees and those who had applied for government jobs, was a good example.

I though at the time I read about this and did my blog posts that this would be a tough one to beat as regards stupidity and incompetence.

I was wrong.

Shannon-airport-building-2008

 

Enter the Irish.

Irish bureaucrats have lost an entire airport.

And it only cost them €27 million  to do it.

A bargain one might think in terms of bureaucratic faux pas.

Up until last week you could find Ireland’s Shannon Airport, in Shannon, County Clare.

Sounds logical enough. If I was looking for Shannon Airport, Shannon is the first place I would look for it. They have had an airport there for over seventy years.

Now, however, after the introduction of Ireland’s new €27 million postcode system, the ‘Eircode’, you can now find Shannon Airport in – wait for it – a different county, County Limerick.

mapofcountiesofireland

If that isn’t funny enough, the system also has a ‘mapping’ option which the bureaucrats say can identify the exact latitude and longitude of 2.2 million individual addresses. They’ll most likely be in the wrong latitude and longitude, but at least you know exactly how wrong the location is.

Naturally there are other problems with the ‘Eircode’ postcode system, ranging from other incorrect addresses to data protection concerns, but the airport one is the star of the show.

In typical bureaucratic fashion, despite the fact that the whole thing is an almighty mess, Communications Minister Alex White defended the new national system.

He even claimed it would make postal deliveries much easier in the long run – the ‘long run’ presumably referring to the distance traveled by your mail going to the wrong delivery address and confused users of the system going to all the wrong places.

Communications Minister Alex White

Not only do the bewildered Irish users of this new system get wrong addresses for their €27 million, but they are only allowed a miserable fifteen searches per day, meaning you would need to persevere with it for more than a week if you were organizing a big event, like a wedding or anniversary do.

There is an option to search for more wrong addresses but the fee for that dubious privilege is between €60 and €180 a year, depending on the number of searches performed.

Good luck with selling that too!

Now where did I put the milk for my coffee?

Ah yes, in the garage next door.

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America Just Can’t Make It Anymore.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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USA industrial economy

The statement in the title is not true, except that it is.

If you are a little confused stay with me and let me clarify.

The United States used to be the industrial power house of the world. Its industries generated unprecedented wealth for the country, creating the world’s first self-made billionaires and productive wealth creating jobs galore for everyone. The whole country prospered.

Today, however, the United States has become the world’s second biggest importer of goods. Worse than that, even though America still exports billions of dollars’ worth in oil, consumer goods and automotive products, it imports even more. This creates a trade deficit ($471 billion according to recent figures).

US Trade Deficit

So what are all these imports into the US?

Well, they include industrial machinery and equipment ($681 billion), automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($309 billion), miscellaneous private services, primarily financial services ($201 billion), cell phones ($90 billion), travel passenger services ($86 billion), pharmaceuticals ($84 billion), computers ($65 billion), chemicals ($61 billion), other transportation services ($59 billion), computer accessories ($57 billion), telecommunications equipment ($54 billion), royalties and license fees services ($42 billion), apparel ($49 billion), petroleum products ($48 billion), fuel oil ($44 billion), industrial supplies ($29 billion), U.S. Government service imports primarily defense ($25 billion), fish ($18 billion), fruit ($13 billion), and vegetables ($11 billion).

Cartoon imports

If you are a bit shell-shocked by all those figures let me phrase it a bit differently using as examples the types of goods you would tend to buy.

  • 100% (almost) of the shoes bought in the U.S. come from China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Mexico;
  • 90% of white goods (washers, fridges, etc.) and consumer electronics are imported;
  • 85% of household furniture is imported;
  • 80% of cars on U.S. roads come from Canada (31%), Japan (24%), Germany (16%) and Mexico (12%); and,
  • 65% of U.S. clothing is imported from China (37%), Vietnam (9.4%), Indonesia (7.2%) and Bangladesh (6.7%).

Probably the saddest part is that even things you thought were “American” are now actually made overseas and imported.

I remember while on a business trip to the US many, many years ago I bought a gift for the young son of a friend of mine. He was a big sports enthusiast so I reckoned that one of the most iconic symbols of sport from America would be a baseball. I bought one in Wal-Mart. It was marked with all the different holding positions for the various ways to throw a baseball (fast ball, curve ball and all that). The perfect gift.

I gave it to him on my return feeling ever so pleased with myself. The kid opened it, showed momentary delight, then looked up at me accusingly. “It says ‘Made in China'” he told me.

Baseball made in China

But it’s not only baseballs. Similar types of product that you would think are all-American, like Converse All Stars, Levi’s, Huffy bicycles, televisions, Monopoly, Etch-a-Sketch, Radio Flyer wagons, Barbie dolls, and last but by no means least, most of those American flags just ain’t American no more.

modern monopoly board

It really doesn’t have to be this way. Apple, for example, doesn’t have to become the richest company in the world by manufacturing its products in China and storing its vast hoards of cash overseas.

Or does it?

Everything on the lists above could still be made in the US and surpluses exported to other countries. But the US government and its moronic bureaucrats are spending their time and our money thinking up new ways, not to help American businesses, but to add ever-increasing amounts of rules, regulations and bureaucracy on to American companies.

American businesses can no longer compete, because their own government has ensured that the deck is stacked against them.

In the mind of a bureaucrat losing a million productive wealth creating jobs, for example, in the automotive industry, and replacing them with a million more administrative jobs that cost the country money evens things out.

It doesn’t. Simple math will tell you that. Every time it happens things get worse and America gets poorer.

So America just can’t make it anymore, but not because China has stolen the jobs. It’s because the US government bureaucrats gave them away.

Put the blame where it should be.

StimulusBureaucrats

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A Simile Is Like A Metaphor – Literally!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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I was going to introduce today’s post by saying some like “I hope you are having a pun-tastic week”, but I thought I would sound like a demented DJ from the 1970s.

So I’ll just say hello and welcome and let you get on with the puns.

Enjoy or endure!!

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rofl

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Lite:

the new way to spell “Light,”

now with 20% fewer letters!

Lite

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I was asked to man the phones

at work the other day.

So I went round and drew a

little mustache on all of them.

phone with moustache

 

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Spelling…

It’s not brian surgery.

medical_brain-surgery

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Hamlet:

A small pig.

small pig with guitar

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According to my Spanish doctor

I have Hepatitis Yes

si

 

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My doctor told me to quit my helium addiction

before I got carried away.

helium addiction

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2B or not 2B?

I don’t think I’ve ever put this much thought

into which shade of pencil to use before.

2b or not 2b [encils

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‘UK Man has first hand transplant.’

Surely that’s a second hand transplant.

hand transplant

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I was taking a short cut across a field the other day,

I was halfway across when the farmer approached me and said,

“Did you leave that small wooden step at the edge of my field?”

I replied, “No, it wasn’t me, that’s not my stile”

stile

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Someone told me if you

smack a fish before frying it,

the meat will taste fresher.

What a load of codswallop.

cod

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I’ve just accidentally superglued my fingers

to a copy of my autobiography.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

super glue

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Me and my limbo dancing team

go way back

limbo dancing

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