Friday, September 30, 2005

Did You Know That...?

1. The average Japanese woman can expect to live to be 84. The average Botswanan will reach just 39.
2. A third of the world's obese people live in the developing world.
3. The US and Britain have the highest teen pregnancy rates in the developed world.
4. China has 44 million missing women.
5. Brazil has more Avon ladies than member of its armed services.
6. Eighty-one per cent of the world's executions in 2002 took place in just three countries: China, Iran and the USA.
7. British supermarkets know more about their customers than the British government does.
8. Every cow in the European Union is subsidised by $2.50 a day. That's more than what 75% of Africans have to live on.
9. In more than 70 countries, same-sex relationship are illegal. In nine countries, the penalty is dead.
10. One in five of the world's people lives on less than $1 a day.

More next time...

(*) From "50 Facts That Should Change The World" by Jessica Williams. Icon Books.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Literary Quirks

5 authors with unusual names

1. Wystan Hugh Auden

"Wystan" is an Anglo-Saxon name. The poet's father was born in Repton, Derbyshire, where the bones of St Wystan, a ninth-century Mercian prince and Christian martyr, once lay.

2. Rudyard Kipling

The author of "The Jungle Book" was given his unusual first name because his parents had met at picnic at Rudyard Lake in Staffordshire. They loved the place so much they named their first-born son after it.

3. Aphra Behn

Supposedly the first woman in England to earn a living from writing, Aphra Behn was named afetr a Hebrew town in the Old Testament. In Hebrew, the word means "house of dust".

4. Ngaio Marsh

The crime novelist, creator of the upper-crust detective Roderick Alleyn, was born in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 1899 and her name derives from a Maori word meaning "reflections on the water".

5. Aldous Huxley

"Aldous" derives from an old German word meaning "old" or "wise". Used as a name in the Middle Ages, it had become very rare by 1894, when editor and critic Leonard Huxley chose it for his youngest son.

Monday, September 26, 2005

The National Anthem of Aotearoa

E ihowa atua o
nga iwi matuoura
me aroha noa
kia hua ko te pai
kia tau to
manaakitia mai

In Gold We Trust

The funniest joke

I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump. I ran over and said: "Stop. Don't do it."
"Why shouldn't I?" he asked.
"Well, there's so much to live for!"
"Like what?"
"Are you religious?"
He said: "Yes."
I said: "Me too. Are you Christian or Buddhist?"
"Me too. Are you Catholic or Protestant?"
"Me too. Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?"
"Wow. Me too. Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?"
"Baptist Church of God."
"Me too. Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?"
"Reformed Baptist Church of God."
"Me too. Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915?"
He said: "Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915."
I said: "Die, heretic scum," and pushed him off.

If you didn't know this good joke you don't read enough Guardian! (You, heretic scum)

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Saturday Poem

The House

Come and live, they said,
In the house of science
With its solid floor of sense,
Its tiled and timbered roof,
Its foursquare walls of proof.

But I chose instead
The house of poetry
Under its rowan tree,
Half ruin and half grave
With green grass like a wave,

Nettles and moss for bed,
And its people coming and
Like seeds the wind might
Like words in the wind's song,
Their tenancy not long.

by David Sutton