Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Idler, Wednesday, April 3, 2013

There was a young lady …

THE LATVIAN coastguard had to be called out to rescue more than 200 ice fishermen who had been out on the frozen Baltic off the capital, Riga, when suddenly the ice cracked and they were blown well out to sea on two huge floes by an offshore wind. All were picked up safely by boat and helicopter.

But why were the TV people suddenly pronouncing Riga as "reega". It always used to rhyme with "tiger".

This is preposterous because it spoils the famous limerick.

There was a young lady of Riga

Who smiled as she rode on a tiger;

They returned from the ride

With the lady inside

And the smile on the face of the tiger.

Reega forsooth! Hands off our limericks!


Robot jellyfish

THE MARCH of science and technology is relentless. Scientists in Virginia, in the US, have developed a robot jellyfish that is almost two metres wide. The project cost $5 million (R40 million).

The Robo-Jelly has a silicone skin to protect the electronics inside and propels itself using eight mechanical arms. It has its own energy sources, which it can store for months on end.

Is a robot jellyfish what the world has been waiting for? It's what the US Navy has been waiting for anyway. It sponsored the project but is a little vague as to what the Robo-Jelly will actually do. It could eventually be used for military surveillance, cleaning oil spills and monitoring the environment, the navy brass say.

Yes, that's $5 million well spent.


Robot ants

MEANWHILE, scientists elsewhere in the US have built and tested robotic ants that they say behave just like a real ant colony.

The robots do not resemble their insect counterparts; they are tiny cubes equipped with two watch motors to power the wheels that enable them to move.

But their collective behaviour is remarkably ant-like, the scientists at the New Jersey Institute for Technology say. So far they haven't come up with an idea as to what these robotic ants could actually be used for.

Oh, I don't know. They could always get into the jam sandwiches of the North Korean military brass and ruin their picnics.

Deity awol

A ROMAN stone relief of a Cotswold deity has turned up in a castle cupboard in Gloucestershire, England, after being missing for more than 100 years.

The deity is Apollo the Hound Prince and he's togged out in a conical cap and tunic, carrying a bow and arrows.

He was first discovered in 1875 during an archaeological dig on the site of what had been a Roman villa in Stancombe Wood, on the estate of Sudely Castle. But then he disappeared until recently found again in a basement cupboard during a routine clear-out.

Presumably he's been there all this time. But then you never know what these Roman deities get up to, left to their own devices. Things like designing robotic jellyfish and robotic ants.


Two left feet

IT'S NOT ETIQUETTE to discuss a woman's age but when she taught you the foxtrot exceptions can be made. I discovered purely by chance the other night that the gal I took to my school's sixth form dance turns 70 today.

Can this be possible? It is. My informant is none other than her husband, a man with whom I played rugby for many years and recipient, as flyhalf, of my rocket-like passes from the base of the scrum. He has always felt beholden to me – not so much for the rocket-like passes that put him at such an advantage on the rugby field but because, in the dancing department, I was such an easy act to follow.

I discovered that evening that I had two left feet. But she persevered and by the end of the evening I was doing a semblance of the foxtrot. Agonies! But what a sense of humour she had.

Who is this lady? Step forward Anne Davel (nee Osborn), former Springbok hockey player and current flamenco dancer. Many happy returns! I volunteer to leap out of the cake.


He: "Can I come inside?"

She: "Absolutely not. I never allow a man to come in on the first date."

He: "How about on the last date?"


Last word

Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theatre.

Gail Godwin


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