Sunday Round-up

My round-up of news, events and stuff and nonsense from the last seven days.
If it’s news to me, it must be news to you!

Mother of all flowers: Scientists have produced an image of what they think the ancestor of all flowers might have looked like 140 million years ago.

Belated anniversary: I overlooked to mention that it was the 60th anniversary of Test Match Special last which was remiss of me. To make up for that, here is poet Murray Lachlan Young’s excellent Ode to TMS with the epilogue below.

I’m just a poor boy: If you have an iPhone here’s something you might want to try. Open Siri and say ‘I see a little silhouetto of a man’ and your assistant will burst into song. Well sort of.

But if you don’t own an iPhone, you might prefer this Donald Trump version of Bohemian Rhapsody.

Are we there yet: Are you someone who needs to keep small children entertained on long journeys? Why not try the Colouring-in Car from Hertz on the right.

Go green: The problem with kitchen food waste bins is that they can be a little smelly especially in summer. A Loughborough University graduate has invented a bin that is not only odour free but also turns your waste into compost and liquid fertiliser.

Cartoon of the week: Icelandic cartoonist Hugleikur Dagsson’s work can be pretty dark but I particularly like the one on the left.

Can all news sites do this: The Norwegian public broadcaster NRKbeta has had the brilliant idea of making readers take a quiz to prove that they understand what the story is about before they are allowed to comment. I doubt it will catch on in Trump’s ‘real news’ America.

Something fishy: Women from around the country donned their fish tails last weekend as they competed to be crowned Miss Mermaid UK. Congratulations to the overall winner Laura Siddall.

Quote of the week: ‘Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.’ – George Carlin.

Using their head: One for the chocoholics amongst you – a life-size chocolate skull handmade from a mould of the real thing available for £68 in milk, dark and chilli chocolate.

A job for life: American diplomat Matthew Nimetz has spent the last 23 years trying to get an internationally agreed name for the country of Macedonia.

Some corner of a foreign field: The UK may be leaving Europe but one tiny part will remain in the shape of  The Unbrexit, a very British pub in the heart of Ahaus in Germany.

Brief lives: Actor and playwright Sam Shepard; French actress Jeanne Moreau who turned down the role of Mrs Robinson in The Graduate; Holocaust survivor and champion high-jumper Gretel Bergmann; Judith Jones, the editor who brought us the Diary of Anne Frank; Shelley actor Hywel Bennet and; veteran actor Robert Hardy who was also an expert on the longbow.

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17 comments… Add yours
  • Yorkshire Pudding 6th August 2017

    Another somewhat bizarre collection of news items cleverly put together. This week my favourite concerned “The Unbrexit” pub in Ahaus, Germany. Boris Johnson and Odious Gove should be made to work there as glass collectors. Farage could be the toilet cleaner. The more the tangled story goes on the more I wish we could indeed “unbrexit”.

    • Mr Parrot 7th August 2017

      I with Alan Sugar when he says that Johnson and Gove should be in prison over their Brexit campaign.

      • Trevor Rowley 7th August 2017

        It’s going to happen, gentlemen, whether you are in favour of it or not. The British people have spoken (albeit through the ballot box). We’ve had twelve months to get used to it but it seems there are still those amongst us who can’t believe it has happened. The nation’s champion, Churchill, unexpectedly lost in the first General Election after WW2 and the Conservatives had to accept their defeat with good grace. The same still applies in the Brexit scenario.

        As for that UnBrexit pub, God help us. Den and Angie behind the bar and everyone talking “Cockernee” – where’s the exit?

        • Mr Parrot 8th August 2017

          I may have to accept it but I don’t have to like it, Trevor. As for Churchill and the Conservatives, they may have accepted defeat with good grace but at least they knew they would get another chance in five years or less. Brexit is for keeps.

          • Trevor Rowley 8th August 2017

            Isn’t that the point of a referendum, Mr P – the people get to have their say and it’s a “one off?” There’s still agitation in Scotland after the independence referendum decided that they would remain within the UK. Nicola Sturgeon was adamant that the country (Scotland) would have another go at it then backed down when she could see that it was better for her to leave it (at least for the next few years).

            • Mr Parrot 8th August 2017

              I’m afraid you’re wrong Trevor for the very reasons you give. As we have seen in Scotland, a ‘no vote’ to leaving the EU would have left the door open to a future referendum on the same question, but a ‘yes vote’ is effectively irrevocable. Yes, we might want a referendum to re-enter the EU at a later date if we decided that it hadn’t been such a good idea to leave after all, but that decision would be out of our hands since it would be down to the EU member states. Similarly, were Scotland to vote to leave the union, it would be for England, Wales and NI to allow them to rejoin.

              That was always the problem with both referenda – they were both effectively a change in the constitution and shouldn’t have been down to a simple majority. In America, for example, constitutional change requires a 60% majority in both houses of Congress. (Lots of other countries operate similar systems of putting a high bar for such permanent change to clear)

              In both cases, the referenda could only ever be a ‘one-off’ if the vote was to leave and not vice versa. David Cameron in his hubris got it totally wrong. For the sake of my children, I hope that Brexit works out, but if it doesn’t then I’m afraid we and they will be stuck with it.

              • Trevor Rowley 8th August 2017

                David Cameron may have got it wrong (as in your opinion) but he did what he had offered before the first, of the two, general elections (ie he promised a referendum on our continuing membership of the EU). I am no supporter of David Cameron but I’ll give him credit for sticking to his promise. Whether the whole thing is a success, or not, remains to be seen.

                The 60% majority (as in America) is an interesting proposition – but you’d need constitutional change to get there.

                • Mr Parrot 8th August 2017

                  Apologies, I got it wrong on America. It’s actually a two-thirds majority required to bring about constitutional change, not 60%.

                  And constitutional change is the point. If you look at the other countries I linked to, it’s could and should be a hard thing to achieve, ie if there is an overwhelming support which there wasn’t for Brexit.

                  Then there is the complexity of the issue. I have said all along that I didn’t feel competent to vote one way or the other because it isn’t just a question of yes or no. The ramifications are unknowable.

                  Will Brexit prevent illegal immigration? No, simply
                  because such immigration is illegal and whatever can be done could have done. It will prevent legal immigration and I haven’t heard a single sensible argument against such.

                  Will it free us to have a new trading relationship with the world? Who knows – we haven’t got there yet.

                  Will we be safer? By distancing ourselves from our closest allies?

                  Will we be richer? Well, it already costs you a lot more to buy your holiday Euros and the cost of imports are rising.

                  Will there be more justice if we detach ourselves from the ECJ? That’s about as clear as mud based on what Lord Neuberger had to say today.

                  Of course, we can say goodbye to French and German doctors, Polish nurses and get back the blue cover on our passports and maybe even be able to buy sweets in pounds and ounces, but is that what this was really all about?

                  I can almost, but not quite, go along with the idea of a plebiscite when the matter is simple, say banning fox hunting or even the death penalty. I have views on both, but they are things we could reverse if we wanted to. On Brexit we can’t.

                  It feels like we’ve jumped out of a plane, feeling the exhilaration of the wind in our hair and the thrill of the fall with the nagging doubt as to whether the parachute will open or even if we’re wearing one at all.

  • rhymeswithplague 7th August 2017

    She was Anne Frank, Ian, not Anne Franks. Doing my part for accuracy in blogging.

    • Mr Parrot 7th August 2017

      Thank you Mr Plague – your observation duly noted and corrected.

  • Steve 8th August 2017

    I for one am glad that Jeanne Moreau turned down “Mrs. Robinson.” Because Anne Bancroft is the best thing about that movie — and there are a LOT of very good things about that movie!

    I love the Carlin quote. And holy cow, can you imagine the controversy if news sites in the states started doing what NRK is doing?! “Who are you, Mr. Smarty-Pants Intellectual Liberal, to tell me I can’t speak my mind?!”

  • Trevor Rowley 9th August 2017

    You make some good points, Mr P, not that I can necessarily agree with them all, but they are well put, nonetheless. I was struck by your use of the word “hubris” – not one that my father and I would use in our early morning chats over the breakfast table (him with his regular jam butty and pot of tea and me already asking mum what she’s planning for our evening tea). It’s a cracking little word and certainly one which would slip in easy into converstaion next time I’m in the queue down at the local chippy.

    Our best exponent of odd little words is of course old “Dapper Dan” himself, George Galloway. I lose track of how often he incorporates the word “traduce” into his lectures to the public- and “thrice”, I ask you, when was that one last heard in general conversation.

    On a football website forum I was once accused of using hyperbole. I was a bit miffed at first, then went to the dictionary to check it out. My accuser was quite right of course but it didn’t alter the quality of the piece I had written. Hyperbole? Shmyperbole!

    • Mr Parrot 9th August 2017

      I’ve waited an age to slip ‘hubris’ into political debate then along comes Cameron, Farage, Johnson. Gove and Trump like the proverbial No 17 bus.

      Traduce is a splendid and I’m sure that Gorgeous George believes himself defamed so many times that the word comes easily to him. I have to admit that I actually do use ‘thrice’ in general conversation – much pithier than ‘three times’ don’t you think?

  • Trevor Rowley 10th August 2017

    Heretofore and thereafter I shall be watchful. But, hark, that must be the long awaited stage to Bodmin. Now, sirrah, I’ll bid you good day until the morrow.

  • Yorkshire Pudding 10th August 2017

    Regarding the debate above, not enough has been said about Russian involvement in the EU referendum. In the weeks immediately after the referendum, several respected journalists and commentators showed awareness of the interference. It tipped the balance and that is one of the main reasons why I cannot accept “the will of the people” in this instance. Democracy was polluted.

  • Roger O Green 10th August 2017

    The change in the US is even tougher. Not only 2/3s in each house of Congress but the 3/4 of the state legislatures.

    • Mr Parrot 13th August 2017

      Thanks for making my point, Roger. For me, it confirms our mistake in the UK of not having a written constitution.


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