Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Idler, Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Another harpoon era

THAR she blows … They're about to start collecting the space junk that is orbiting our planet by harpooning it.

The space junk – potentially dangerous to expensive satellites – is making the bit of space within earth's field of gravity look a bit like a Durban dump site on a windy day.

The idea is that the larger items of debris will be harpooned by a chase satellite, reeled in on a tether then towed to a lower orbit where they will burn up in the earth's atmosphere.

On TV they demonstrated the harpoon, powered by a gas cylinder, that can punch it's way through thick metal. It looks rather like an underwater speargun.

Harpoons? Reeling in? There's something very 19th century about this. Step forward Queequeeg!

The Young 'Un

IF YOU WERE thinking North Korean leader Kim Jong-un – the Young 'Un – has gone a bit quiet lately, it's possibly because he's decided to pace himself.

It's a little punishing to sabre-rattle seven days a week, says American satirist Andy Borowitz. Kim has therefore decided to take weekends off from vowing to incinerate the world.

He is quoted: "On Monday through Friday I'll have the insanity and unmitigated rage necessary to do this job right."

That explains it then. It's reassuring to see a leader who recognises his own limitations. There are far too many megalomaniacs around.


VARIETY is ever a feature of St Clement's, the weekly arts soiree on the Berea. Last week we had Anton and Merle Scholtz taking us through typography, from the ancient hieroglyphics to monks with their parchment to Gutenberg hot metal to the computer-generated flowery fonts people like Anton and Merle have now turned into an art form.

This week we had charming chanteuse Natalie Winter with a medley of songs in French and in English, accompanying herself on guitar and harmonica, the latter held in position before her in a crafty sort of headset.


Hey, what a busker! It went down a treat. Natalie is librarian at the Alliance Francaise but I suggested during interval that she could make a fortune busking at the Greyville racecourse underpass. I could be her agent.


Stick around kid – I'll make ya famous!


New anthem?


READER Derek Atkinson suggests a new national anthem, set to the "Bee-baa! Bee-baa!" of a blue-light police vehicle going through the traffic lights on the red.


Yes, it's a catchy rhythm. Can anyone set words to it?


Duly noted

WAYNE Klinkel, of Colorado, has donned rubber gloves and taken to following his golden retriever around the garden.

Wayne and his wife left the retriever, named Sundance, in their truck while they stopped off for a bite while on the road. While they were having their meal, Sundance was also feeling peckish. He ate five $100 notes that were lying loose in the cab.

Wayne has since recovered most of the tattered remnants of the bills, washed them, taped them together and sent them to the US Treasury for a refund.


Who would be a teller in the US Treasury?




YOU CAN'T get a good poet down. Ian Gibson, poet laureate of Hillcrest, toppled forward on the bowling green the other day as his Achilles tendon snapped with a sound like a pistol shot. In a hospital ward next morning his anaesthetist gave him some verse to read, written by himself in the style of Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky.


As Ian was reading, he slipped into dreamland. But, recovered, he has now dashed off a few lines.


A perky anaesthetist called Gwynne,

Gave his patient a verse to take in;

But while absorbing that

His patient went slack,

Overcome by his slow Mickey-Fynne.





Last word

The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.

George Orwell


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