Sunday, 31 January 2010

Great Mysteries - Bermuda Triangle (Part 1)

The Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil's Triangle, is a region in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean in which a number of aircraft and surface vessels are alleged to have mysteriously disappeared in a manner that cannot be explained by human error, piracy, equipment failure, or natural disasters. Popular culture has attributed these disappearances to the paranormal, a suspension of the laws of physics, or activity by extraterrestrial beings.
While a substantial body of documentation reveals that a significant portion of the allegedly mysterious incidents have been inaccurately reported or embellished by later authors, claims by official agencies, stating that the number and nature of disappearances in the region is similar to that in any other area of ocean, have been directly challenged by the investigations of several private researchers.

Notable incidents

Flight 19
[Pictured left: US Navy TBF Grumman Avenger flight, similar to Flight 19. This photo had been used by various Triangle authors to illustrate Flight 19 itself. (US Navy)]
Flight 19 was a training flight of TBM Avenger bombers that went missing on December 5, 1945 while over the Atlantic. The squadron's flight path was scheduled to take them due east for 120 miles, north for 73 miles, and then back over a final 120-mile leg that would return them to the naval base, but they never returned. The impression is given that the flight encountered unusual phenomena and anomalous compass readings, and that the flight took place on a calm day under the supervision of an experienced pilot, Lt. Charles Carroll Taylor. Adding to the intrigue is that the Navy's report of the accident was ascribed to "causes or reasons unknown." It is believed that Taylor's mother wanted to save her son's reputation, so she made them write "reasons unknown" when actually Taylor was 50 km NW from where he thought he was.
Adding to the mystery, a search and rescue Mariner aircraft with a 13-man crew was dispatched to aid the missing squadron, but the Mariner itself was never heard from again. Later, there was a report from a tanker cruising off the coast of Florida of a visible explosion at about the time the Mariner would have been on patrol.
While the basic facts of this version of the story are essentially accurate, some important details are missing. The weather was becoming stormy by the end of the incident, and naval reports and written recordings of the conversations between Taylor and the other pilots of Flight 19 do not indicate magnetic problems.

Mary Celeste
The mysterious abandonment in 1872 of the 282-ton brigantine Mary Celeste is often but inaccurately connected to the Triangle, the ship having been abandoned off the coast of Portugal. The event is possibly confused with the loss of a ship with a similar name, the Mari Celeste, a 207-ton paddle steamer that hit a reef and quickly sank off the coast of Bermuda on September 13, 1864. Kusche noted that many of the "facts" about this incident were actually about the Marie Celeste, the fictional ship from Arthur Conon Doyle's short story "J. Habakuk Jephson's Statement" (based on the real Mary Celeste incident, but fictionalised).

Ellen Austin
The Ellen Austin supposedly came across a derelict ship, placed on board a prize crew, and attempted to sail with it to New York in 1881. According to the stories, the derelict disappeared; others elaborating further that the derelict reappeared minus the prize crew, then disappeared again with a second prize crew on board. A check from Lloyd's of London records proved the existence of the Meta, built in 1854 and that in 1880 the Meta was renamed Ellen Austin. There are no casualty listings for this vessel, or any vessel at that time, that would suggest a large number of missing men were placed on board a derelict that later disappeared.

USS Cyclops
The incident resulting in the single largest loss of life in the history of the US Navy not related to combat occurred when USS Cyclops, under the command of Lt Cdr G. W. Worley, went missing without a trace with a crew of 309 sometime after March 4, 1918, after departing the island of Barbados. Although there is no strong evidence for any single theory, many independent theories exist, some blaming storms, some capsizing, and some suggesting that wartime enemy activity was to blame for the loss.

Theodosia Burr Alston
Theodosia Burr Alston was the daughter of former United States Vice President Aaron Burr. Her disappearance has been cited at least once in relation to the Triangle. She was a passenger on board the Patriot, which sailed from Charleston
, South Carolina to New York City on December 30, 1812, and was never heard from again. The planned route is well outside all but the most extended versions of the Bermuda Triangle. Both piracy and the War of 1812 have been posited as explanations, as well as a theory placing her in Texas, well outside the Triangle.

S.V. Spray was a derelict fishing boat refitted as an ocean cruiser by Joshua Slocum and used by him to complete the first ever single-handed circumnavigation of the world, between 1895 and 1898.
In 1909, Slocum set sail from Vineyard Haven bound for Venezuela. Neither he or Spray were ever seen again. There is no evidence they were in the Bermuda Triangle when they disappeared, nor is there any evidence of paranormal activity. The boat was considered in poor condition and a hard boat to handle that Slocum's skill usually overcame.

Animal Crackers


Signs Of Growing Old

You are getting a little action today - but that means the fibre is working.
You think 'getting lucky' means finding your car in the car park.
You think an 'all-nighter' is not having to get up to pee.
A sexy woman walks by and your pacemaker opens the garage door.
You're the life of the party, even if it lasts until 8 PM.

Who Am I? - Saturday's Answer

Who Am I?
Saturday's Answer
Barbara Windsor

Thoughtful Mouse

Where there's a will there's a way!

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Looking Back - Shoe Bomber Jailed For Life

On this day in 2003, a US judge sentenced British-born "shoe bomber" Richard Reid to life in prison after he tried to blow up a transatlantic flight from Paris to Miami.
Reid was unrepentant throughout the 90-minute hearing in which he received the maximum sentence on each of the eight counts faced by Judge William Young.
He was sentenced to life imprisonment on three of the charges - attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and two counts of interfering with a flight crew.
Reid was also given an additional 20 years each for attempted homicide, attempted murder, planting an explosive device on an aircraft, and attempted destruction of an aircraft - plus 30 years for using a destructive device in relation to a crime of violence.
The total of 110 years of imprisonment in addition to the life sentences was more than the prosecution had requested.
Before hearing his fate he made a brief statement, lashing out at the American Government.
"Your government has sponsored the torture of Muslims in Iraq and Turkey, and Jordan and Syria with their money and weapons," he said.
He then told the judge: "It's in your hands."
Reid tried to bring down American Airlines Flight 63 through the use of explosives stuffed in his shoes on 22 December, 2001, just over 3 months after the 9/11 attacks.
But he was eventually overpowered by flight attendants and passengers as he tried to ignite a fuse protruding from his shoe.
Reid was tied up with belts and headphone cords, and the plane landed in Boston under escort from fighter jets.
Authorities later said that the shoes contained powerful plastic explosives which could have blown a hole in the plane's fuselage and killed all 197 people aboard.
In pleading guilty last October, Reid, 29, said he had been driven to blow up the aircraft by a love for Islam.
"Basically I got on the plane with a bomb," Reid told the court at the time.
"Basically I tried to ignite it. Basically, yeah, I intended to damage the plane . I'm a follower of Osama bin Laden. I'm an enemy of your country and I don't care."
Last week Reid's lawyers asked Judge Young to sentence him on one of the counts to which he pleaded guilty, and which carries 30 years in prison.
They asked the judge to delay sentencing on the other seven counts, citing classified government files that could clear their client.
But the motion was rejected by the judge after the prosecution argued that delaying the sentencing would be unfair to the 14 crew members and 183 passengers who could have died on the flight.
Reid is likely to serve his sentence at the Federal Correction Center in Florence, Colorado.

Several other suspects were arrested over the attempted bombing incident but only one other man, Sajid Badat, 24, from Gloucester was convicted with conspiring with Reid.
Badat was given 13 years' jail in March 2005.
He had pleaded guilty to conspiring to place a device on an aircraft in service.
Badat was arrested at his home after surveillance operations by the police and MI5.
More than 100 homes in Gloucester were evacuated during a police search of Badat's house in November 2003,

Today's Smile

Better than a Flu

Miss Beatrice,
The church organist,
Was in her eighties
And had never been married. She was
admired for her sweetness
And kindness to all.
One afternoon the pastor
Came to call on her and she showed him
into her quaint sitting room.
She invited him to have a seat while
she prepared tea......

As he sat facing her old Hammond
The young minister
Noticed a cut glass
bowl Sitting on top of it.
The bowl was filled
With water, and in the
Floated, of all things, a
When she returned
With tea and
They began to chat.
The pastor tried to stifle his
About the bowl of water and its
strange floater,

but soon it got the better of him
and he could no longer
'Miss Beatrice', he said,
'I wonder if you would tell me about
Pointing to the bowl.
'Oh, yes,' she replied, 'Isn't it
I was walking through
The Park a few months ago
And I found this little package on the
The directions said
To place it on the organ,
Keep it wet and that it would prevent
the spread of disease..

Do you know I haven't had the flu all winter.

Why Do We Say That?

Ships that had sailed past the Cape of Good Hope or Cape Horn were said to have 'turned the corner'.

The pole was a mast of a ship. Climbing it was dangerous and, not surprisingly, you has to be a bit crazy to go up there willingly. So if you were a bit mad you were said to be up the pole.

A Spinster is an unmarried woman. Originally a spinster was simply a woman who made her living by spinning wool on a spinning wheel. However it was so common for single women to support themselves that way that by the 18th century 'spinster' was a synonym for a middle-aged unmarried woman.

This old saying comes from the Bible, from Proverbs 16:18 'Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall'.

According to legend a man named Leofric taxed the people of Coventry heavily. His wife, Lady Godiva, begged him not to. Leofric said he would end the tax if she would ride through the streets of Coventry naked. So she did. Peeping Tom is a much later addition to the story. Everybody in Coventry was supposed to stay in doors with his or her shutters closed. However Peeping Tom had a sneaky look at Godiva and was struck blind.

In an emergency rather than haul up an anchor the sailors would cut the anchor cable then run with wind.

Why Boys Need Parents

Like the last instruction!

Who Am I?

Test your showbiz celebrity knowledge with our latest Who Am I? puzzle. Study the 10 clues listed below and they should lead you to a well known celebrity. Can you work out who it is?

01 I was born on 6 August 1937.
02 My place of birth was Shoreditch, London.
03 I was the only child of John and Rose Deeks.
04 My father was a costermonger and my mother a dressmaker.
05 I passed the 11+ exam with the highest marks in North London.
06 I gained a place at Our Lady's Convent in Stamford Hill.
07 My mother paid for me to have elocution lessons.
08 I became an actress, making my stage debut at the age of 13 and my West End debut in 1952 in the chorus of the musical 'I Love Judy'.
09 My first film role was in 'The Belles of St Trinian's'.
10 I was awarded the MBE in the Millennium honours list and now appear regularly on television.

Who do you think this is? Answer in tomorrow's Journal.

Friday, 29 January 2010


Darfur (Arabic: دار فور‎ dār fūr, lit. "realm of the Fur") is a region in Sudan. An independent sultanate for several hundred years, it was incorporated into Sudan by Anglo-Egyptian forces. The region is divided into three federal states: West darfur, South Darfur, and North Darfur which are coordinated by a Transitional Darfur Regional Authority. Because of the Warin Darfur, the region has been in a state of humanitarian emergency since 2003.
Darfur covers an area of some 493,180 square kilometers (190,420 sq mi)—approximately the size of France. It is largely an arid plateau with the Marrah Mountains (Jebel Marra), a range of volcanic peaks rising up to 3,042 meters (9,980 ft) of topographic prominence, in the center of the region. The region's main towns are Al Fashir, Nyala, and Geneina.
There are four main features of the physical geography. The whole eastern half of Darfur is covered with plains and low hills of sandy soils, known as goz, and sandstone hills. In many places the goz is waterless and can only be inhabited where there are water reservoirs or deep boreholes. While dry, goz may also support rich pasture and arable land. To the north the goz is overtaken by the desert sands of the Sahara. A second feature are the wadis, which range from seasonal watercourses that flood only occasionally during the wet season to large wadis that flood for most of the rains and flow from western Darfur hundreds of miles west to Lake Chad. Many wadis have pans of alluvium with rich soil that are also difficult to cultivate. Western Darfur is dominated by the third feature, basement rock, sometimes covered with a thin layer of sandy soil. Basement rock is too infertile to be farmed, but provides sporadic forest cover that can be grazed by animals. The fourth and final feature are the Marrah Mountains, volcanic plugs created by a massif, that rise up to a peak at Deriba Crater where there is a small area of temperate climate, high rainfall and permanent springs of water.
Remote sensing has detected the imprint of a vast underground lake under Darfur. The potential water deposits are estimated at 19,110 square miles (49,500 km2). The lake, during epochs when the region was more humid, would have contained about 607 cubic miles of water. It may have dried up thousands of years ago.
Darfur is conjectured to have been part of the Proto-Afro-Asiatic Urheimat in distant prehistoric times (c. 10,000 BC), though there are numerous other theories that exclude Darfur.
Most of the region is a semi-arid plain and thus insufficient for supporting a large and complex civilization. While the Marrah Mountains offer plentiful water, the Daju people created the first known Darfurian civilization based in the mountains, though they left no records beside a list of kings. The Tunjur displaced the Daju in the fourteenth century and introduced Islam. The Tunjur sultans intermarried with the Fur and sultan M. Solaiman (reigned c.1596 to c.1637) is considered the founder of the Keira dynasty. Darfur became a great power of the Sahel under the Keira dynasty, expanding its borders as far east as the Atbarah river and attracting immigrants from Bornu and Bagirmi. During the mid-18th century the country was wracked by conflict between rival factions, and external war with Sennar and Wadai. In 1875, the weakened kingdom was destroyed by the Egyptian ruler set up in Khartoum, largely through the machinations of Sebehr Rahma, a businessman who was competing with the dar over access to slaves and ivory in Bahrel Ghazal to the south of Dar fur.

The Darfurian were restive under Egyptian rule, but were no more predisposed to accept the rule of the self proclaimed Mahdi, Muhammad Ahmad, when his Emir of Darfur from the Arabs of Southern Darfur from Razeigat tribe led by Sheikh Madibbo defeated the British forces (that had just invaded Egypt in 1882) in Darfur in 1882 led by Slatin Pasha. When Ahmad's successor, Abdallahi ibnMuhammad, himself an Arab of Southern Darfur from Ta'isha tribe , demanded that the pastoralist tribes provide soldiers, several tribes rose up in revolt. Following the overthrow of Abdallahi at Omdurman in 1899 by the Anglo-Egyptian forces, the new Anglo-Egyptian government recognized Ali Dinar as the sultan of Darfur and largely left the dar to its own affairs except for a nominal annual tribute. During World War I, the British, being concerned that the sultanate might fall under the influence of Ottoman Empire, invaded and incorporated Darfur into the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan in 1916. Under colonial rule, financial and administrative resources were directed to the tribes of central Sudan near Khartoum to the detriment of the outlying regions such as Darfur.
This pattern of skewed development continued following national independence in 1956. To this was added an element of political instability caused by the proxy wars between Sudan, Libya and Chad. The influence of an ideology of Arab supremacy propagated by Libyan leader Muammar al-Gadaffi that began to be acted upon by Darfurians, including those identified as "Arab" and "African". A famine in the mid-1980s disrupted many societal structures and led to the first significant fig
hting amongst Darfuris. A low level conflict continued for the next 15 years, with the government coopting and arming "Arab" militias against its enemies. The fighting reached a peak in 2003 with the beginning of the Darfur conflict, in which the resistance coalesced into a roughly cohesive rebel movement. The conflict soon came to be regarded as one of the worst humanitarian disasters in the world. The insurgency and counter insurgency has led to 300,000 deaths, though the numbers are disputed by the Khartum government. Over 2.5 million people have been displaced since the beginning of the conflict. Many of these refugees have gone into camps where emergency aid has created conditions that, although extremely basic, are better than in the villages, which offer no protection against the various militias that operate in the region.
The region is divided into three federal states: West Darfur, South Darfur, and North Darfur. The Darfur Agreement established a Transitional Darfur Regional Authority (TDRA) as an interim authority for the region. The agreement states that a referendum on autonomy for Darfur should be held no later than 2011. Minni Minnawi is the current Chairperson of the TDRA

Canned Up

We May Not Be Alone

The law of probabilities backs theories that we are not alone in the Universe, although an encounter with an advanced civilisation may shock our species, scientists at a conference in London said on Monday. "There is no firm evidence that life exists elsewhere, but there is a very firm probability" for it, said Baruch Blumberg, an astrobiologist at the Fox Chance Cancer Center in Philadelphia.
"My clear prediction is that living generations have an excellent chance of seeing extra-terrestrial life being detected," said Martin Dominik, an astronomer at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland.
Life on Earth may have been kickstarted thanks to carbon molecules and dust that drift through interstellar space, said Pascale Ehrenfreund, an astrochemist at George Washington University, Washington.
If so, "the basic building blocks of life -- at least as recognised on Earth -- must be widespread in planetary systems in our Milky Way and other galaxies," she suggested.
The two-day conference is being hosted by Britain's Royal Society, one of the cradles of modern science, as part of a series of discussions on major issues to mark the academy's 350th anniversary.
The meeting is not intended to give any conclusion on whether other life exists but give a snapshot of where we are in our quest to find it -- and speculate on the impacts of such a discovery on human society.
Lord Rees, president of the Royal Society, said it was essential to admit to our present ignorance.
"We don't even know how life began here on Earth and that being said, we don't even know how to place our bets on how widespread life is or where to look for it," he said in an interview.
Even so, new astronomical tools, including powerful orbital telescopes, are exposing "extra-solar" worlds, or planets orbiting other stars, and one of them could eventually be revealed as a potential haven for life, said Blumberg.
Since 1995, "more than 400 extrasolar planets have been detected and the number is increasing rapidly," he said.
Intriguingly, though, none so far has been found to be in the lucky position of Earth.
We inhabit a rocky planet orbiting in the so-called Goldilocks zone, where it is not too hot, not too cold but just balmy enough for water, one of the key ingredients for life as we know it, to exist in liquid form.
Some of the speakers scorned Hollywood's notion of the extraterrestrial, whose anatomy was invariably inspired by a human design (four limbs and a head housing an external brain) and whose behaviour was driven by human emotions of anger and love.
If alien life exists, our first discovery is likely to be in microscopic form, which would not be too disconcerting for our civilisation, said Albert Harrison, a social psychologist at the University of California at Davis.
It could be as a bacterium found in promising sites in the Solar System such as the sub-soil of Mars, Jupiter's satellite Europa or on the Saturnian moon Enceladus, which are thought to harbour oceans beneath their icy crust, some hope.
Simon Conway Morris, a professor of evolutionary palaeobiology at the University of Cambridge, offered a contrasting view.
"My own opinion is that the origin of life is a complete fluke," he said. "I fear that we are completely alone... there's nothing (out) there at all, not a thing."
Should smart aliens want to contact us, he warned, we should not necessarily think they will be cuddly, kind and wise, in the Spielberg genre.
"They could be like the Aztecs, just as aggressive and extremely unpleasant," he said. "If I'm wrong, and the telephone rings, whatever you do, do not pick it up... we might not want to say hello."

Oh Dear!

He should have gone to Specsavers!


As a dedicated coffee drinker, I was interested in a BBC Lifestyle article on caffeinated drinks. If you enjoy drinking lots of coffee I am sure it will interest you too.

Caffeinated drinks
Many popular drinks contain the stimulant caffeine. It has a bad reputation, but what effects does it really have and does it bring any health benefits?

In this article
Effects of caffeine
Caffeine and weight loss
Green tea
Caffeine and iron absorption

Effects of caffeine

Caffeine acts as a stimulant to the heart and central nervous system, and is also known to increase blood pressure in the short term, although there's no conclusive evidence of long-term effects on blood pressure.
The effects on blood pressure are most likely when caffeine is taken in excessive quantities or by people who are highly sensitive to it. People who are hypertensive (have habitual high blood pressure) are advised to avoid caffeinated drinks, and pregnant women should limit their intake of caffeine to less than 300mg a day.
Caffeine content
Coffee (mg/cup)
61 to 70
Percolated ground
97 to 125
Tea (mg/cup)
15 to 75
Cocoa (mg/cup)
10 to 17
Chocolate bar
60 to 70
Cola drinks (mg/12oz can)
43 to 65

Caffeine and weight loss

Caffeine has been shown to have very modest effects on increasing metabolism, and is sometimes added as an ingredient to weight loss pills. These pills often make claims about speeding metabolism to 'effortlessly melt' excess fat, but in reality the amount of calories that slimming pills containing caffeine would actually burn is very small.
Caffeine may also suppress appetite, but without making other changes to your diet and lifestyle caffeine is unlikely to make a significant difference to your weight.


Coffee has been linked with a number of the risk factors for coronary heart disease, including increased blood pressure and raised blood cholesterol levels. But no relationship has been found between drinking coffee and the likelihood of developing coronary heart disease.
Coffee may be beneficial in some areas of health - for example, research has found it may reduce the risk of developing gallstones and kidney stones.
It's difficult to suggest a safe limit for coffee intake because of the huge variation in caffeine content across different brands and an individual's sensitivity to the drug. People with high blood pressure and pregnant women are advised to limit their caffeine consumption.
For the rest of the population, there's no evidence coffee does any long-term harm. Caffeine does have a very mild diuretic effect but, drunk in moderation, you don’t need to increase fluid intake to any significant degree as the loss of fluid is very minimal.


Tea contains some useful minerals such as zinc, manganese and potassium, and scientists are researching its potential to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and some cancers.
Tea contains antioxidant substances called flavonoids, which have been shown to help slow or inhibit the chemical reactions thought to take place during the development of coronary heart disease.

Green tea

There's also a lot of interest in the health benefits of green tea, particularly in relation to cardiovascular health. Again, this is due to flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants found in high concentrations in both green and black teas. The concentration of these compounds depends on how long the tea has been brewed, but can range from 125mg to 140mg.
Some studies have compared the concentration of these antioxidant compounds to that found in fruit and vegetables. Flavonoids bring potential benefits to heart health, as well as possible reductions in the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions.

Caffeine and iron absorption

Both tea and coffee contain polyphenols that can bind to iron, making it difficult for our bodies to absorb. Avoiding tea and coffee during and around mealtimes is important for people at risk of iron deficiency.

This article was last medically reviewed by the MRC Human Nutrition Research in July 2008.First published in March 2001.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Chinese Zodiac

Chinese Zodiac

The mouse, or rat, is the first in the cycle of 12 animals representing years. The others are, chronologically, the ox, the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the goat, the monkey, the rooster, the dog and the pig.
How come animals designate years? Why 12, no more, no less? And why these specific animals?
There are different explanations about their origin. A popular legend says, long time ago, king of the heavens ordered all the animals to pay him a visit on New Year's Day, that is, the first day of the first lunar month. He said he would give the first 12 animals the title "King of the Animal World" and let each hold the title for one year. The 12 winners happened to be those mentioned above.
Another theory holds that the animals originated from the 28 constellations, or the Lunar Mansions, which are named after animals. Every two or three constellations stand for a year, and the most commonly known animal in each group was chosen for that year. Thus we have the 12 animals.
A more convincing theory maintains that using animals to symbolize years began from totems of minority peoples in ancient times. Different tribes had different animals as their totems. Gradually, these animals were used as a means to remember the years.
Alongside the increasing exchanges between the hinterland and the border regions, the custom of using animals to designate years made its way to the hinterland and was adopted by the Han people, the largest national group in China.
At that time, the Hans were using the 10 Heavenly Stems and the 12 Earthly Branches to designate years. They took one from each series to make a pair for one year and developed a system based on a 60-year cycle Every 60 years it is back to square one and the cycle repeats.
When the method of using animals to represent years was introduced into the hinterland, the ancient Chinese married them to the 12 Earthly Branches, one to each. So 12 animals were used. And animals officially began to be used to designate years during the Later Han of the Five Dynasties Period a little more than 1,000 years ago.
The New Year visit-to-the-god story explains how the unpleasant Mouse managed to become the first of the 12. As the story goes, when the Ox heard of the God's decree, he said to himself: "It's a long journey to visit that God. I am not a fast traveller and I'd better start early." So he set out on the eve of the Lunar New Year. The Mouse heard the Ox and jumped onto his back, without being noticed. The Ox, sweating all over, was so glad to be he first to arrive at the God's place. But just as he was about to be the first to arrive at the God's place, to express his New Year greetings to the God, the Mouse jumped down over the Ox's head and became the first to bow to the God. So he was appointed the first King of the Animals and consequently, the first of the 12 animals to designate years.
A more authentic explanation says, the Earthly Branches are divided into two categories: Yin and Yang. Each of them is paired with an animal of the same "gender". The gender of the animal is determined by the number of a specific part of its body. Odd numbers are Yang and even numbers are Yin. The tiger, the dragon, the monkey and the dog, all have five toes on each foot or paw, and the horse has one hoof. So we know they are Yang animals. The cloven-hoofed species such as the ox, the goat and the pig fall into the Yin category because their hoofs are divided into two parts. The rooster is also Yin since it has four toes on each foot. The rabbit has two upper lips and the snake has a two-point forked tongue. So they are Yin, too. The mouse had been a problem. It has four toes on each fore leg and five on each hind leg. It has both Yin and Yang qualities and there seemed to be no pace to put it. Fortunately, the first of the Earthly Branches, Zi (?)can be considered both Yin and Yang. The branches were also used to designate days and hours, and when symbolizing the hours, this branch covers a period from eleven in the evening to one o'clock in the morning. PM is Yin and Am is Yang. So the mouse goes together with this first branch. It is this double-gender feature, a kind of split personality, you might say, that makes the little mouse the leader among his colleagues.
Now you may be wondering why there is no Year of the Cat, especially since cats have been popular as pets for thousands of years in China as well as in many other countries.
Well, in the legend, the Cat failed to be chosen because he was a day late getting to the God's place. The Mouse had played a trick on him. He lied to the Cat, telling him the wrong date for the competition. The cat was not pleased and has hated the Mouse ever since.


It seems there's a product for every eventuality!

Do Giant Footprints Prove Big Cat Theory?

A set of massive paw prints could finally be proof of the existence of a 'big cat' residents believe has stalked their village for 30 years.
The chilling 9cm (3.5inch) imprints of a large feline's foot were discovered in several inches of snow by teaching assistant Coryn Memory, 43.
She took photos of the prints after her neighbour Jane Spicer, 53, saw a large cat 'the size of a Labrador' dog run past her on a country lane in Thrupp near Stroud, Gloucestershire.


Proof: The 3.5 inch paw print was photographed by Coryn Memory on the Dallaway Estate in Stroud. Residents say it's evidence of a big cat living in the village
Villagers have been reporting elusive beasts in the area - sometimes rummaging through bins - for the last three decades.
The creature has been spotted more than 15 times this month alone and experts believe it may have been forced into the open by the bad weather.
Ms Memory said: 'Jane and I went out immediately and followed where it had been and took photos of the prints. It's about nine centimetres from its front toe to its back pad.
'You can see its toes and it looks like someone's just dropped a dart at the end of each toe where it's claw has made an indentation in the snow.
'The stride between the prints was about 120cm and there were tail marks in the snow as well.'
She added: 'I've seen it loads of times across the valley. One of the neighbours has been here since she was a child and she said she's been seeing it for 30 years.'

Elusive: Big cat expert Frank Tunbridge said the paw prints suggested that the feline had been forced into the open by bad weather
Ms Spicer, a caretaker, said: 'The animal was long in body and about the size of a collie. The tail was round thick and black, and it had a small catlike head.
'I've always been quite sceptical about whether to believe it or not, but I know what I saw.'
Big cat investigator Frank Tunbridge said more sightings are likely in the adverse weather as the cat comes out of the woodland to look for prey, such as voles, field mice and deer.
He said: 'The tracks are clawed, which make them different from a domestic cat.
'The pads are slightly rounder than a dog's and the claw marks are like points of a dart, as opposed to a dog's which are blunt.
'This animal is a mysterious beast. It has a few characteristics of a big cat and others which are dog-like.
'This time of year is also their mating season so they come out of familiar surroundings to look for a mate. I think the sightings are all probably the same one or two cats, as most are very territorial.'
Experts believe big cats are the descendants of animals like pumas or panthers released into the wild by owners after the Dangerous Animals Act 1976 tightened up regulations over keeping them as pets.

Why Boys Need Parents

Today's Smile

A scouser walked into the local job centre, marched straight up to the Counter and said ' Hi , I'm looking for a job'.
The man behind the counter replied 'Your timing is amazing. We've just got one in from a very wealthy man who wants a chauffeur/bodyguard for his nymphomaniac twin daughters. You'll have to drive around in a big black Mercedes and wear the uniform provided. The hours are a bit long but the meals are provided. You also have to escort the young ladies on their Overseas holidays. The Salary package is £ 200,000 a year'.
The Scouser said 'You're bullsh*tting me!
'The man behind the counter said 'Well you started it!'

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Looking Back - Auschwitz Death Camp Liberated

On this day in 1945, the Red Army liberated the Nazis' biggest concentration camp at Auschwitz in south-western Poland.
According to reports, hundreds of thousands of Polish people, as well as Jews from a number of other European countries, had been held prisoner there in appalling conditions and many had been killed in the gas chambers.
Few details have emerged of the capture of Auschwitz, which has gained a reputation as the most notorious of the Nazi death camps.
Some reports say the German guards were given orders several days earlier to destroy the crematoria and gas chambers. Tens of thousands of prisoners - those who were able to walk - had been moved out of the prison and forced to march to other camps in Germany.

Details of what went on at the camp had been released previously by the Polish Government in exile in London and from prisoners who have escaped.
In July 1944 details were revealed of more than 400,000 Hungarian Jews who were sent to Poland many of whom ended up in Auschwitz. They were loaded onto trains and taken to the camp where many were put to death in the gas chambers.
Before they went they were told they were being exchanged in Poland for prisoners of war and made to write cheerful letters to relatives at home telling them what was happening.
According to the Polish Ministry of Information, the gas chambers were capable of killing 6,000 people a day.
Another report from Poland told of mass arrests in the village of Garbatka near Radom in the early hours of one morning in August 1942. Workmen were accused of plotting to blow up a local factory. Twenty were executed on the spot, the rest were sent to Auschwitz.
Since its establishment in 1940, only a handful of prisoners have escaped to tell of the full horror of the camp.
In October last year, a group of Polish prisoners mounted an attack on their German guards. The Germans reportedly machine-gunned the barracks killing 200 Polish prisoners. The Poles succeeded in killing six of their executioners.
When the Red Army arrived at the camp they found only a few thousand prisoners remaining. They had been too sick to leave.
The capture of Auschwitz came as the Red Army had made important advances on three fronts: in East Prussia to the north, in western Poland as well as Silesia in eastern Germany. Fighting continued around the historic Polish western city of Poznan.
The Polish capital, Warsaw, was liberated a week before after five-and-a-half years of German occupation.

Although few details of the liberation of Auschwitz were given in the British press at the time, it had gained a reputation as the worst of the German concentration camps.
On 8 May 1945 a State commission compiled by the Soviets with advice from Polish, French and Czechoslovak experts revealed the full horror of conditions at the camp.
Nearly 3,000 survivors of various nationalities were questioned and on the basis of their evidence the report estimated 4,000,000 people had perished there between 1941 and early 1945.
The dead included citizens from the Soviet Union, Poland, France, Belgium, Holland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Italy and Greece.
The commission, which had previously investigated conditions at Majdanek, Treblinka and other camps, described Auschwitz as the worst in its experience.
It found evidence of experiments carried out on humans "of a revolting character".
According to the evidence, the commission said the Germans had moved out up to 60,000 inmates - those still fit enough to walk - when they retreated. The few thousand who were left behind were freed by the Russians.
They also found seven tons of women's hair, human teeth, from which gold fillings had been extracted and tens of thousands of children's outfits.
The final death toll was later revised downwards, by the Auschwitz Museum, to between 1 and 1.5 million, including almost 1m Jews.

To hear audio recollections by survivor Leon Greenman being deported to the camp, click on the link below: (First broadcast by the BBC 27 January 1995).

Animal Crackers

Just when you think you are safe.

Adolph Hitler's Final Hours

The following account of Adolph Hitler's death appeared in Sunday's 'Mail On Line' as an extract from a book now being published. The book has been written by Hitler's chauffeur Erich Kempka and gives a fascinating insight into the final hours of the German leaders life.
Adolf Hitler looked composed. Even I, who'd known him for 13 years, could not tell that he'd already decided to end his life.
Dressed in his usual field-grey tunic with black trousers, he held a map of Berlin in his right hand. His left trembled. It was April 29, 1945 and Soviet troops were closing in on the city centre and the Fuhrer-bunker.
'How do you see things, Kempka?' he asked. I reported that my men were defending the Reich Chancellery against the Russians, while awaiting relief from our 12th Army. He retorted that everyone was waiting for that and offered me his hand. It was the last time I saw him alive.

I was born in 1910, one of ten children in a family descended from Polish immigrants. In 1930, I became a driver for the Nazi leadership in Essen, joining Hitler's staff two years later.
I had been summoned to Munich, where I was interviewed by Hitler, along with 30 other hopefuls. From habit we formed a semi-circle, with me, the smallest, on the left flank.
We were called forward individually to be questioned by Hitler on our technical knowledge and personal details. Finally came my turn. 'Erich Kempka... father Ruhr mineworker from Oberhausen, 21 years old.'
Then he snapped out rapidly: 'What types of vehicle have you driven? Do you know the eight-litre compressor motor? What is the horsepower of this vehicle? Where did you learn to drive? You are on a blind zigzag bend doing 50 miles an hour when you see an oncoming car. What are your next actions?'
I had not expected this man to have such a degree of technical knowledge. After I answered the last question to his apparent satisfaction, Hitler offered me his hand. I felt elated to have done so well. Just the idea of driving alongside such a man thrilled me.
In 1932 alone I drove 132,000 kilometres [82,000 miles], crossing all over Germany by day and night.
Hitler rarely spoke to me about politics, but said I could come to him with my personal problems. He would always see that his drivers had the best accommodation and food, emphasising: 'My drivers and pilots are my best friends! I entrust my life to these men!'
Hitler, a great motor enthusiast, would sit with me when I drove him, chatting and reading a road atlas, calculating our timings so he always arrived on the dot.
When Hitler's top driver suddenly died in 1936, I was appointed his successor. I was later promoted to the rank of SS-Obersturmbannfuhrer, equivalent to lieutenant-colonel, and appointed one of the eight original members of Hitler's bodyguard.
Apart from my few journeys home and abroad on official duty, I spent virtually the entire war within the closest circle at Fuhrer-HQ.
Hitler moved into the Fuhrerbunker in Berlin as the last phase of the war began in 1945. It received direct hits but the thick concrete roof held. Street fighting raged in the north of Berlin, with the few German troops putting up a desperate defence against the Red Army.
A few weeks before Hitler's last birthday on April 20, his girlfriend Eva Braun had come to Berlin. Against his will, she spent his birthday with him and the last days until his death.

It wasn't until April 26 that I had a chance to have a long talk with Eva, whom I had known well since 1932.
She told me: 'Under no circumstances will I leave the Fuhrer and, if I have to, I shall die at his side. Initially he insisted that I should take an aircraft out of Berlin. I told him, "I shall not. Your fate is also mine."'
Hitler gave one of his physicians the grim task of testing the cyanide capsules that Nazi Interior Minister Heinrich Himmler had given him. After discovering that Himmler was trying to negotiate with the Allies, Hitler wondered if the poison might be ineffective.
It was visibly a difficult decision for Hitler to test the cyanide on his favourite dog, Blondi. Hitler's suspicions were unfounded, and immediately after being injected the alsatian lay dead on the carpet.
For days there had been talk of the impending marriage of Hitler and Eva. The first preparations were made on April 28. The ceremony was to be held in his study. Hitler dictated his personal and political will to secretary Traudl Junge.
The ceremony was conducted against a backdrop of exploding shells. Nevertheless there was a festive mood as Hitler and Eva stood before a table flanked by Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels and Hitler's private secretary Martin Bormann as witnesses.
By April 30, Russian shells were hitting the Reich Chancellery and the government district continuously. The streets around the Chancellery were deserts of rubble.
Hitler's adjutant Otto Gunsche phoned me in the underground garages. His voice hoarse with excitement, he said: 'I must have 200 litres of petrol immediately.'
I thought it was a joke and told him it was out of the question. He began shouting: 'Petrol - Erich - petrol!'
'Why would you need a mere 200 litres of petrol?' I asked.
'I cannot tell you on the phone. But believe me, Erich, I simply must have it. Whatever it takes, it must be here right now at the exit to the Fuhrer-bunker!'
The only source was the Berlin Zoo bunker, where we had a few thousand litres buried. It would be certain death for my men to go there under bombardment. 'Wait until at least 5pm, because the firing generally dies down a bit around then,' I said.
'I cannot wait another hour. See how much you can collect from your damaged vehicles and send your men at once to the exit to the Fuhrerbunker. And then come yourself immediately!' Gunsche hung up.
With a few exceptions, the vehicles in the underground garages were covered with masonry from a cavedin concrete roof. I ordered my deputy to siphon out what petrol could be found. Then I hurried over to Gunsche. As I entered the Fuhrerbunker, he was leaving Hitler's sitting room. He was as white as chalk.
'For God's sake, Otto, what is it?' I cried. 'You must be mad, asking me to endanger the lives of a half-dozen of my men to bring you petrol under this kind of bombardment!'
He went to the two outer doors and shut them. Then he turned and said: 'The chief is dead.'
I was shocked. 'How could that happen, Otto? I spoke to him only yesterday. He was healthy and calm.' Gunsche raised his right arm, imitated holding a pistol with his fist and pointed to his mouth.
'And where is Eva?' I asked. Gunsche indicated the door to Hitler's room: 'She is with him.'
With some difficulty, I extracted from him the events of the final hours.

Hitler had shot himself in his study with his pistol and had then fallen head first across the table. Eva sat at an angle beside him. She had taken poison but had been holding a pistol. Her right arm was hanging over the side of the sofa and on the ground nearby was the gun.
At that moment, one of my men came in to report the placing of between 180 and 200 litres of petrol at the bunker exit. I sent the man back.
As I did so, the door of Hitler's sitting room opened and his manservant Heinz Linge shouted desperately for the fuel: 'The petrol... where is the petrol?'
I replied: 'It is in position.'
Hitler had told Gunsche to contact me and arrange for enough fuel to burn his body and that of his wife, telling him: 'I do not wish to be displayed after my death in a Russian panopticon like Lenin.'
Linge returned to the sitting room. Seconds later the door opened again. Ludwig Stumpfegger, Hitler's doctor, and Linge emerged carrying Hitler's body in a blanket.
His face was covered as far as the bridge of his nose. Below greying hair, the forehead had the waxy pallor of death. The left arm was dangling out from under the blanket.
Bormann followed with Eva in his arms. She was wearing a black dress, her head and blonde tresses inclined backwards.
This shocked me almost more than the sight of the dead Hitler. Eva had hated Bormann, the eminence grise in Hitler's personal circle. His intrigues for power had long been clear to her.
Now her greatest enemy carried her to the pyre. I could not allow this and said to Gunsche: 'You help carry the chief, I will take Eva!'
I took Eva's body from Bormann's arms. Her side was wet. I assumed that she had also shot herself, but later Gunsche told me that when Hitler's body collapsed across the table it overturned a vase and the water flowed over Eva.
There were 20 steps up to the bunker exit. My strength failed. I had to stop. Halfway up, Gunsche hurried to help me and together we carried Eva's body into the open. It was around 4pm. The Reich Chancellery was being shelled. The explosions sent up fountains of soil.
Stumpfegger and Linge had placed Hitler's body on the ground about three metres from the bunker exit. He lay there wrapped in the blanket, legs towards the bunker stairway. The long black trousers legs were pushed up, his right foot turned inwards. I had often seen his foot in this position when he had nodded off beside me on long car journeys.
Gunsche and I placed Eva at an angle to her husband as Russian shells exploded around us.

I rushed back to the bunker. Panting, I seized a canister of petrol, ran out again and placed it near the two bodies. Hitler's untidy hair fluttered in the wind. I took off the cap of the petrol can. Shells exploded close by, spattering us with earth and dust.
Again we ran to the bunker entrance for cover. Gunsche, Linge and I waited for the shelling to die down before returning to pour petrol over the corpses.
Eva Hitler's dress moved in the wind until it was drenched by fuel. Watching from the bunker entrance were Goebbels, Bormann and Stumpfegger.
I protested at a suggestion that we ignite the bodies with a hand grenade. My glance fell on a large piece of rag at the bunker exit.
'Get that cloth!' I shouted. Gunsche tore it in half. It took only a second to open the petrol can and soak the rag with the contents.
'A match!' Goebbels took a box of matches from his pocket and handed it to me. I set light to the rag and lobbed it towards the petrol-soaked corpses.
In seconds a bright flame flared up, accompanied by billowing black smoke. Slowly the fire nibbled at the corpses. For the last time, we gave the Hitler salute to the dead Fuhrer and his wife.
We had to keep pouring more petrol over the bodies and then set fire to them again. During the afternoon, under the most difficult conditions, my men supplied several hundred more litres of petrol.
Back in the bunker, the staff had gathered. Many went up to give the dead leader and his wife a last salute.
Gunsche and I went to Hitler's sitting room. The traces of the suicides were still visible. The pistols of Adolf and Eva lay on the red carpet. The Fuhrer's blood lay pooled on the table and floor coverings. To one side was an image of Hitler's mother as a young woman.
I left the room to resume my duties. Outside the medical room I saw Magda Goebbels at a table. She told me of her leave-taking from the Fuhrer: 'I fell to my knees and begged him not to take his own life. He lifted me up benevolently and explained to me quietly that he had no choice.'
The charred remains of the bodies were gathered up and interred in a shallow grave at the side of the house fronting the garages.
The decision was made to break out forcibly at 9pm on May 1. We had no alternative but to go through enemy lines or die as soldiers in the attempt. Our 100-strong group got away with the help of a Panzer company. At one point I was knocked unconscious by an explosion, leaving me temporarily blind.
Later, having destroyed my documents and donned civilian clothes, I was helped through Russian lines by a Yugoslav girl who introduced me as her husband. It remains a mystery to me why this strange girl helped me.
Eventually I made it to Berchtesgaden, near Hitler's mountain retreat. There I spent a day with my wife, recovering from the shock of recent events.
It was my plan - after convalescence - to report myself to the Allies as the head of the motor pool of the Fuhrer and Reich Chancellor. However, I was fingered. The US Counter-Intelligence Corps came for me. After 12 hours of interrogation I was thrown into jail at Berchtesgaden.
I was moved from one prisoner-of-war camp to another. The Allies thought Hitler was alive and every interrogation tried to establish what had become of him. The same questions over and over. Always the same traps. But I was not badly treated.
At the end of June 1946, I was taken from the POW camp at Darmstadt to the Nuremberg war crime trials. I gave evidence in the trial of Bormann, who was tried in his absence (his body had not been found at the time). They were astonished that I knew so much.
From Nuremberg I went to Regensburg camp for transfer from POW to internee status. On a drive from Regensburg to Ludwigsburg I was involved in a serious accident in the transport vehicle. As a result, following court proceedings, I was released in October 1947.
I will always remember a conversation I had with Hitler in 1933, shortly after he seized power. I was driving him from the Reich Chancellery. At the time his words struck me as strange and I never forgot them: 'Do you know, Kempka, I shall never leave here alive.'
• I Was Hitler's Chauffeur, by Erich Kempka, is published by Frontline Books on Saturday at £19.99. To order your copy at £15.99 inc p&p, please call the Review Bookstore on 0845 155 0713.

Funny Signs

Brainteaser - Tuesday's Answer

Here are the answers to Tuesday's brainteaser. The task was to answer 10 'trivia' questions.

01 The bunsen burner.
02 One.
03 84.
04 In a desert.
05 In Australia.
06 In Edinburgh.
07 1984.
08 Spaghetti does not grow, it is manufactured.
09 Mercury.
10 Mecca.

9/10 Excellent 7/8 Very Good 5/6 Good - Below 5 Perhaps you were feeling tired!

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Witch Doctors

Witch doctor
A witch doctor originally referred to a type of cunning man who treated ailments believed to be caused by witchcraft. It is currently used to refer to healers in some third world regions, who use traditional healing rather than contemporary medicine. In its original meaning, a witch doctor was emphatically not a witch himself. Witchcraft-induced conditions were his area of specialization.

(Picture above left: Five sangomas in Zululand).

Recourse was had by the girl’s parents to a cunning man, named Burrell, residing at Copford, who has long borne the name of “The Wizard of the North:” but her case was of so peculiar a character as to baffle his skill to dissolve the spell, Application was next made to a witch doctor named Murrell, residing at Hadleigh, Essex, who undertook to effect a cure, giving a bottle of medication, for which he did not forget to charge 3s. 6d., and promising to pay a visit on Monday evening to the “old witch,” Mrs. Mole, and put an end to her subtle arts... ... the news of the expected coming of the witch-doctor spread far and wide, and about eight o’clock there could not have been less than 200 people collected near the cottage of Mrs. Mole to witness the supernatural powers of the Hadleigh wizard. -The Ipswich Journal (Ipswich, England), Saturday, September 25, 1858

Witch doctors in Europe
The Oxford English Dictionary states that the first record of the use of this term was in 1718, in a book by Francis Hutchinson. Charles Mackay's book, Extraordinary Popular Dillusions and theMadness of Crowds, first published in 1841, attests to the practice of and belief in witch doctors in England at the time.

In the north of England, the superstition lingers to an almost inconceivable extent. Lancashire abounds with witch-doctors, a set of quacks, who pretend to cure diseases inflicted by the devil. The practices of these worthies may be judged of by the following case, reported in the "Hertford Reformer," of the 23rd of June, 1838. The witch-doctor alluded to is better known by the name of the cunning man, and has a large practice in the counties of Lincoln and Nottingham. According to the writer in "The Reformer," the dupe, whose name is not mentioned, had been for about two years afflicted with a painful abscess, and had been prescribed for without relief by more than one medical gentleman. He was urged by some of his friends, not only in his own village, but in neighbouring ones, to consult the witch-doctor, as they were convinced he was under some evil influence. He agreed, and sent his wife to the cunning man, who lived in New Saint Swithin's, in Lincoln. She was informed by this ignorant impostor that her husband's disorder was an infliction of the devil, occasioned by his next-door neighbours, who had made use of certain charms for that purpose. From the description he gave of the process, it appears to be the same as that employed by Dr. Fian and Gellie Duncan, to work woe upon King James. He stated that the neighbours, instigated by a witch, whom he pointed out, took some wax, and moulded it before the fire into the form of her husband, as near as they could represent him; they then pierced the image with pins on all sides -- repeated the Lord's Prayer backwards, and offered prayers to the devil that he would fix his stings into the person whom that figure represented, in like manner as they pierced it with pins. To counteract the effects of this diabolical process, the witch-doctor prescribed a certain medicine, and a charm to be worn next the body, on that part where the disease principally lay. The patient was to repeat the 109th and 119th Psalms every day, or the cure would not be effectual. The fee which he claimed for this advice was a guinea.

Witch doctors in Africa
(Picture right: Shona traditional healer, or n'anga (Zimbabwe).
The witch doctors in Africa are known as 'sangomas' in southern Africa. The Oxford English Dictionary states that the first use of the term "witch doctor" to refer to African shamans (i.e. medicine men) was in 1836 in a book by Robert Montgomery Martin (1803?-1868).

Sangomas of Southern Africa
Sangomas are the traditional healers in the Zulu, Swazi, Xhosa and Ndebele traditions in southern Africa. They perform a holistic and symbolic form of healing, embedded in the beliefs of their culture that ancestors in the afterlife guide and protect the living. Sangomas are called to heal, and through them ancestors from the spirit world can give instruction and advice to heal illness, social disharmony and spiritual difficulties.
Sangomas have many different social and political roles in the community: divination, healing, directing rituals, finding lost cattle, protecting warriors, counteracting witches, and narrating the history, cosmology, and myths of their tradition. They are highly revered and respected in their society, where illness is thought to be caused by witchcraft, pollution (contact with impure objects or occurrences) or by the ancestors themselves, either malevolently, or through neglect if they are not respected, or to show an individual her calling to be a Sangoma. For harmony between the living and the dead, vital for a trouble-free life, the ancestors must be shown respect through ritual and animal sacrifice.
A Sangoma is called to heal by an initiation illness, often psychosis, headache, intractable stomach pain, shoulder or neck complaints. She will undergo Thwasa, a period of training including learning humility to the ancestors, purification through steaming, washing in the blood of sacrificed animals, and the use of Muti, medicines with spiritual significance. At the end of Thwasa, a goat is sacrificed to call to the ancestors and appease them.
Sangomas are steeped in ritual. They work in a sacred healing hut or Ndumba, where their ancestors reside. They have specific coloured cloths to wear to please each ancestor, and often wear the gallbladder of the goat sacrificed at their graduation ceremony in their hair. They summon the ancestors by burning a plant called Imphepho, dancing, chanting, and most importantly playing drums.
Sangomas are able to access advice and guidance from the ancestors for their patients in three ways: possession by an ancestor, or channe; throwing bones; and interpreting dreams. In possession states the Sangoma works herself lingpossesses her body and communicates directly with the patient, providing specific information about his problems. It can be very dramatic, with the Sangoma speaking in tongues, or foreign languages according to the specific ancestor, or dancing fervently beyond her normal ability.
Accessing the ancestors' advice through the bones is an alternative to the exhausting possession states. The Sangoma possesses a collection of small bones and other small objects like seeds, shells etc, each with a specific significance to human life. For example a hyenalion bone signifies a thief and will provide information about stolen objects. The Sangoma or the patient throws the bones but the ancestors control how they lie, and the Sangoma then interprets this metaphor in relation to the patient's life. In the same way, Sangomas will interpret the metaphors present in dreams, either their own or patients'.
Sangomas will give their patients Muti, medications of plant and animal origin imbued with spiritual significance, often with powerful symbolism - lion fat is given to promote courage. There are medicines for everything from physical and mental illness, social disharmony and spiritual difficulties to potions for love and luck. Muti can be drunk, smoked, inhaled, used for washing, smeared on the body, given as enemas, or rubbed into an incision.

Sangomas function as the social workers and psychologists in their community. They know the local dynamics and can counsel appropriately with this background knowledge.
The formal health sector has shown continued interest in the role of sangomas and the efficacy of their herbal remedies. Western-style scientists continue to study the ingredients of traditional medicines in use by sangomas. Public health specialists are now enlisting sangomas in the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS. In the past decade, the role of all types of traditional healers have become important in the fighting the impact of the virus and treating people infected with the virus before they advance to a point where they require (or can obtain) anti-retroviral drugs.
Sangomas far outnumber western-style doctors in Southern Africa, and are consulted first (or exclusively) by approximately 80% of the Black population. While for many they provide the healing needed, there are some causes for concern. Chalatans who haven't undergone Thwasa charge exorbitant prices for fraudulent service, and not all countries in southern Africa have effective regulatory bodies to prevent this practice. Some Sangomas have been known to abuse the charismatic power they have over their patients by sexually assaulting them, sometimes dressed up as ritual. Repeated use of the same razor blade to make incisions for Muti carries HIV transmission risks in regions where the disease is rife. Western-style doctors have seen a number of cases of patients with serious gastrointestinal problems through the use of Muti, especially in enema form, and have even coined the phrase "ritual enema induced colitis". Zulu children may have up to three enemas a week.
One of the most famous and well respected sangomas worldwide is Vusamazule Credo utwa also known as the Zulu Shaman.



Today's brainteaser is another set of 10 'Trivia questions. Can you answer all 10 correctly?

01 What did Robert von Bunsen invent in 1855?
02 How many people play the game solitaire?
03 What is the next number in the sequence 36, 48, 60. 72 ....?
04 Where would you expect to see a mirage?
05 Where did the boomerang originate?
06 Where is Arthur's seat?
07 What is the title of George Orwell's novel about life in the future?
08 On what tree does spaghetti grow?
09 Which metal is a liquid in normal condition?
10 Which is the Holy city in Saudi Arabia to which Moslems make their pilgrimages?

You can check your answers in tomorrow's Journal.

Two Pig Stories

Pig In Love

Pigin' Out

Questions You Just Can't Answer

Why is the person who invests all your money called a broker?
Why do we chop a tree "down" and then chop it "up"?
How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?
Why do we wash bath towels; aren't we clean when we use them?
If work is so terrific, how come they have to pay you to do it?

Monday, 25 January 2010

King George III

George III (George William Frederick; 4 June 1738 – 29 January 1820 ) was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of these two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death. He was concurrently Duke of Bruswick-Luneburg and prince-elector of Hanover in the Holy Roman Empire until his promotion to King of Hanover on 12 October 1814. He was the third British monarch of the House of Hanover, but unlike his two predecessors he was born in Britain and spoke English as his first language. Despite his long life, he never visited Hanover.
George III's long reign was marked by a series of military conflicts involving his kingdoms, much of the rest of Europe, and places farther afield in Africa, the Americas and Asia. Early in his reign, Great Britain defeated France in the Seven Years War, becoming the dominant European power in North America and India. However, many of its American colonies were soon lost in the American Revolutionary War, which led to the establishment of the United States of America. A series of wars against revolutionary and Napoleonic France, over a 20-year period, finally concluded in the defeat of Napoleon in 1815.
In the later part of his life, George III suffered from recurrent and, eventually, permanent mental illness. Medical practitioners were baffled by this at the time, although it has since been suggested that he suffered from the blood disease porphyria. After a final relapse in 1810, a regency was established, and George III's eldest son, George, Prince of Wales, ruled as Prince
Regent . On George III's death, the Prince Regent succeeded his father as George IV. Historical analysis of George III's life has gone through a "kaleidoscope of changing views" which have depended heavily on the prejudices of his biographers and the sources available to them.

George was born in London at Norfolk House. He was the grandson of George II, and the son of Frederick, Prince of Wales and Augusta of Saxe-Gotha. As Prince George was born two months premature and was thought unlikely to survive, he was baptised the same day by Thomas Secker, who was both Rector of St James's and the Bishop of Oxford. One month later, he was publicly baptised at Norfolk House, again by Secker. His godparents were the King of Sweden (for whom Lord Baltimore stood proxy), his uncle the Duke of Saxe-Gotha (for whom Lord Carnarvon stood proxy) and his great-aunt the Queen of Prussia (for whom Lady Charlotte Edwin stood proxy).
George grew into a healthy, but reserved and shy, child. The family moved to Leicester Square, where George and his younger brother Prince Edward
, Duke of York and Albany, were educated together by private tutors. Family letters show that he could read and write in both English and German, as well as comment on political events of the time, by the age of eight. He was the first British monarch to study science systematically. Apart from chemistry and physics, his lessons included astronomy, mathematics, French, Latin, history, music, geography, commerce, agriculture and constitutional law, along with sporting and social accomplishments such as dancing, fencing, and riding. His religious education was wholly Anglican.
George's grandfather, King George II, disliked the Prince of Wales and took little interest in his grandchildren. However, in 1751 the Prince of Wales died unexpectedly from a lung injury, and George became heir apparent to the throne. He inherited one of his father's titles and became the Duke of Edinburgh. Now more interested in his grandson, three weeks later the King created George Prince of Wales. (The title is not automatically acquired.)
In the spring of 1756, as George approached his eighteenth birthday, the King offered him a grand establishment at St James's Palace, but George refused the offer, guided by his mother and her confidante, Lord Bute, who would later serve as Prime Minister. George's mother, now the Dowager Princess of Wales, preferred to keep George at home where she could imbue him with her strict moral values.
Later life
In late 1810, at the height of his popularity but already virtually blind with cataracts and in pain from rheumatism, George III became dangerously ill. In his view the malady had been triggered by the stress he suffered at the death of his youngest and favourite daughter, Princess Amelia. The Princess's nurse reported that "the scenes of distress and crying every day ... were melancholy beyond description." He accepted the need for the Regency Act 1811 and the Prince of Wales acted as Regent for the remainder of George III's life. By the end of 1811, George III had become permanently insane and lived in seclusion at Windsor Castle until his death.
Perceval was assassinated in 1812 (the only British Prime Minister to have suffered such a fate) and was replaced by Lord Liverpool. Liverpool oversaw British victory in the Napoleonic Wars. The subsequent Congress of Vienna led to significant territorial gains for Hanover, which was upgraded from an electorate to a kingdom.
Meanwhile, George's health deteriorated, and eventually he became completely blind and increasingly deaf. He never knew that he was declared King of Hanover in 1814, or of the death of his wife in 1818. Over Christmas 1819, he spoke nonsense for 58 hours, and for the last few weeks of his life was unable to walk. On 29 January 1820, he died at Windsor Castle. His favourite son, Frederick Duke of York, was with him. His death came six days after that of his fourth son, the Duke of Kent. George III was buried on 16 February in St George's Chapel
, Windsor Castle.
George was succeeded by two of his sons George IV and William IV, who both died without surviving legitimate children, leaving the throne to their niece, Victoria, the last monarch of the House of Hanover and the only legitimate child of the Duke of Kent.

Animal Crackers

Where's my toast?

American One Liners

I bet you I can stop gambling.
I think I'm agnostic, but I haven't decided.
I can't get enough minimalism.
I was born to be a pessimist. My blood group is B Negative.
Do ten millipedes equal one centipede.
A liberal is just a conservative that hasn't been mugged yet.
Once we had Bill Clinton, Johnny Cash and Bob Hope. Now we have George Bush, no cash and no hope.

Awesome Wildlife

I never go anywhere without my minder!

Signs Of Growing Old

You enjoy watching the washer and dryer in action.


You stop lying about your age, and start bragging about it.


Your friends compliment you on your alligator shoes, but you're barefoot.


You don't care where your spouse goes so long as you don't have to go along.


You're cautioned to 'slow down' - not by the police, but by your doctor.