Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Idler, Friday, April 5, 2013

Plum pudding breakthrough?


SCIENTISTS believe they could be close to discovering what the mysterious "dark matter" is that makes up more than a quarter of the universe but has never been seen.

Members of an international team have picked up what might be the physical trace left by dark matter while studying cosmic rays recorded on the International Space Station. In coming months they expect the particle detector on the space station to be able to tell them whether the "positrons" discovered are a signal for dark matter or whether they have some other source.

Is dark matter something like plum pudding? Or is it the intangible gateway to parallel universes and other wonders?

Professor Samuel Ting, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who heads the team, describes dark matter as "one of the most important mysteries of physics today".

Yes, exciting developments. Any day now they'll be telling us how many angels can balance on the point of a needle.


Licence needed?


IS IT TRUE that you now need a licence to keep more than 150 litres of wine in your own home? Reader Werner Winz says he's heard this rumour and finds the idea ridiculous. What about wine collectors or somebody throwing a big party?


"Rumour has it that more such laws are being prepared. Private owners of more than 100 books will be deemed to be bookstores and will need a trading licence. Keepers of more than 20 exotic fish will be deemed to be fishermen who need a fishing licence. If you keep more than three restored vintage cars you are deemed to be a used car dealer. Your valuable stamp collection defines you as a post office.


"Shouldn't a country that has more than a dozen of this sort of lawmaker not be deemed an asylum?"


Well, it seems the wine thing is true only if you live in the Western Cape. There they've got a new provincial Liquor Act. You need a permit from the chairman of the Liquor Board to have more than 150 litres of wine in your home, and no outlet can sell you 150 litres in one day. There's a hefty fine for non-compliance – up to R100 000.


Yes, Werner's right. They've obviously gone a bit loopy down in the winelands.




BRITISH actress Tilda Swinton has gone on display sleeping in a glass box. Every morning she climbs into the box in the Museum of Modern Art, in New York, and snoozes for the day. The exhibit is titled The Maybe.

Nowt so queer as folk.


Like lightning

OVERHEARD in the Street Shelter for the Over-40s: "My wife drives like lightning. Not all that fast but she does hit trees."

Failed survey

LAST month the United Nations conducted a world-wide telephone survey. It asked one simple question: "Could you please give your honest opinion about solutions to the food shortage in the rest of the world?"

The survey was a failure because:

·        In Eastern Europe they didn't know what "honest" meant.

·        In Western Europe they didn't know what "shortage" meant.

·        In Africa they didn't know what "food" meant.

·        In China they didn't know what "opinion" meant.

·        In the Middle East they didn't know what "solution" meant.

·        In South America they didn't know what "please" meant.

·         In the USA they didn't know what "the rest of the world" meant.

·        In Britain they hung up as soon as they heard a foreign accent.


A SIX-YEAR-OLD tells his father he wants to marry the little girl across the street. The father hides a smile with his hand.

"That's a serious step. Have you thought it out completely?"

"Yes. We can spend one week in my room and the next in hers. It's right across the street so I can run home if  get scared of the dark."

"How about transportation?"

"I have my wagon and we both have our tricycles,"

"What about babies? When you're married you're liable to have babies, you know."

"We've thought about that too. We're not going to have babies. Every time she lays an egg I'm going to step on it!"

Last word


I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.

Noel Coward


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