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CABINET OF CURIOSITIES (NEW CONCEPTS)
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Mick Harper
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The bastards have just sent me a £140 Warm Home Discount. Now I'll have to vote for them. Why one would need a discount for a warm home is beyond me. I suppose the fridge is working overtime and I sweat more, so that's more on the Bold All in One bill. The All in One refers to a Lenor Lavender & Camomile additive though, speaking for myself, I'd prefer it if they would invest in some technology that is not all in one child-proof and Mick-proof. My fingernails are for chewing not for splintering on washing pod packaging. Still I suppose if it protects the kiddies it's a small price to pay.
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Mick Harper
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Police Five (Great Powers edition)

An MP with Russia’s opposition Communist party is under investigation for allegedly hunting without a licence after police found the dismembered remains of an elk in the boot of his car. Valery Rashkin confirmed he was stopped by police while driving in Russia’s Saratov region with the elk carcass in his trunk but said, “They’re turning everything upside down as though I killed the elk.” He and a travel companion did not shoot the elk and had planned to report the animal’s death to police.

Saratov police said they were responding to reports of shots fired in the area when they stopped Rashkin’s car and found two knives with traces of blood and an axe in the car as well as the elk

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Dghoughi, a Muslim who immigrated to the US in 2013 and studied finance, had borrowed the Audi of his girlfriend, Sarah Todd, after a barbecue. On the way back home, he stopped and pulled over in Turner’s neighbourhood in Martindale, a city about 55 miles north-east of San Antonio. Dghoughi’s family and girlfriend believe he was possibly lost in an unfamiliar town and was checking for directions.

It was 3.30am when Turner got up to use the bathroom and noticed a car parked in his driveway. He retrieved his gun, and when he came outside, the car Dghoughi was driving had its headlights on and was reversing out of the driveway. Turner shot Dghoughi through the car window as he was leaving. Turner claimed Dghoughi pointed a gun at him. No gun was found. Turner defended his actions on Texas's stand-your-ground law.

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Red-armbanded neighbourhood watchers have become a common sight on streets of China’s capital. They help run their neighbourhoods by picking up litter and guiding those who are lost. “They are often retirees and female. Many would call them grassroots governing agents for the party state, but grannies themselves speak of their service in terms of contribution and honour.” In different districts, they have tailor-made names. For example, in Xicheng distract, they are called “Westside Mamas”.

More than 850,000 such volunteers were registered across Beijing in the summer of 2017. By then, Chaoyang district officials had claimed that about 130,000 names had already been registered with them – 277 people per square kilometre. On average they provided close to 20,000 tipoffs every month, for sins ranging from terrorism to drug use and theft. In recent years, neighbourhood watchers have often been credited with turning in prominent artists and celebrities. They have also been praised for keeping an eye on foreign agents, with news reports from as early as 1974 detailing the way they assisted the police in the arrest of Soviet spies.
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Mick Harper
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Five Questions From History That Historians Can’t Answer
Faze https://medium.com/the-collector/5-questions-from-history-that-historians-cant-answer-b3047186058e

I'm always a sucker for these kinds of things being one myself (a revisionist historian not a sucker). Counting down we start with

5. The Mysterious Devil’s Footprints

This was some 'cloven footprints' in the snow found one dark and stormy morning outside Exeter in 1855. Wouldn't make my top five but, he's right, historians certainly haven't explained it.

4. Why Did Neolithic Europeans Burn Down Their Houses?

I have to admit this was a new one on me. Nothing to do with historians of course but archaeologists have failed to explain it. They should get a pat on the back for knowing it. And another pat for not coming up with an explanation that includes 'for ritual purposes'. In fact a third one for admitting they do not have an explanation, though I find this difficult to believe. It would be a first.

3. What Was the Lin Biao Incident?

This remains a mystery. Mao's successor not succeeding because his plane crashed in Mongolia. What was he doing flying across Mongolia? Aye, that is the question. In my Top One Thousand.

2. Was Thomas Cromwell Behind Anne Boleyn’s Downfall?

Duh.
1. What Brought Down the Minoan Civilization?

Ah, now we do have a mystery and one that does make my Top Five. Why historians (and archaeologists) persist in believing in a Minoan Civilisation a thousand years before 'Greek' civilisation with only the Mycenaeans and the 'Greek Dark Age' to fill the gap. When they get rid of the thousand years maybe they'll find out what (if anything) brought down the Minoan Civilisation.
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Mick Harper
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Oh No! It's Another One of Mick's Smart Lists

1: Do you like to sleep late? Then you may be smart.
larrylambert https://medium.com/the-haven/are-you-smart-553939520d65

I always used to sleep late but then I started taking these 'smart pills' (modafinil) and now I get up ridiculously early.

2: Are you attractive? Then you might be smart. I think what actually happens is other people tell attractive people they’re smart and the attractive people aren’t sharp enough to realize they’re being played.

This is soppy. Smart men are more attractive to women, all other things being equal. Though not, I think, the other way round.

3: Do you enjoy twisted humor? Then you might be smart.

Complex rather than twisted. A very good indicator in my view.

4: Do you have large pupils? Then you might be smart. Large eye pupils are a sign of brain activity.

New one on me. They're also a sign of drug use of course.

5: Are you more prone to anxiety than those around you? Then you might be smart. It could be the anxiety is caused by realizing the people around you aren’t that bright.

I don't suffer from anxiety but if I did it wouldn't be for this reason. It's a great comfort.

6: Are you tall? Then you might be smart? There seems to be a slight correlation between height and intelligence.

Seems reasonable on evolutionary grounds.

7: Are you a loner? Then you might be smart. It probably depends on whose choice it is that you’re a loner. If it’s your choice, that’s one thing. If it’s other people’s choice, it might be something else.

How true. The life of the mind is entire unto itself. However my reclusiveness always evokes pity from others and advice to get out more.

8: Do you follow rules? Then you might be smart. Smart people generally are more ready to follow rules than their less intelligent counterparts.

An interesting one. I always advise going with the flow until it is time to strike out on your own.

9: Do you enjoy thinking time? Then you might be smart. Smart people take more time to consider decisions and make better decisions. Smart people know thinking time might save them some unnecessary work.

Not true. Smart people see the correct decision very quickly. If they don't they know they probably never will.

10: Do you check for toilet paper before you do business? Then you might be smart. Ok, I just threw this one in there, but it makes sense. Nobody looks intelligent when they’re on the pot and asking for paper.

Strange but true. I was a temp for many years, invariably arriving in a strange place on a Monday morning, before anybody else and bursting to go to the lavvy. I was smart to stop being a temp and become a layabout on the dole. Or 'heavyweight intellectual' to give it its smart name.
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Mick Harper
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I commend this article about Howard Johnson restaurants. [No, really.] There's an AE rule about never judging by results and you should look carefully at the writer's attempt to explain why the biggest brand in America pretty much disappeared overnight. He thinks he can, he thinks he must, he cannot see he can't. A salutary tale but not an explicable one. Apart from 'everything passes' but even that doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. https://historyofyesterday.com/why-did-americas-most-popular-roadside-restaurant-disappear-c41594b40d2f
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Mick Harper
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As you know, I'm a sucker for lists so this one really got my juices flowing

10 History Books Highly Recommended by Long-Time History Buffs
Make sure you’ve read all these before you start calling yourself a history buff

https://medium.com/lessons-from-history/10-history-books-highly-recommended-by-long-time-history-buffs-679ae5c1ba42

Well I call myself a history buff so lead on, McBuff. (No? All right, please yourselves © Frankie Howard.)

1. What is History? By Edward Hallet Carr

An excellent start. Who knew E H stood for Edward Hallet?

2. 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus by Charles C. Mann

Sublime to ridiculous in one easy step. Maybe not ridiculous but whatever they were up to they haven't affected history much.

3. Precolonial Black Africa by Cheikh Anta Diop

Ditto. But it's a lot of people and a lot of time so I suppose maybe top hundred.

4. A History of the Twentieth Century by Sir Martin Gilbert (the concise edition)

No special objections.
5. Survivors: Children’s Lives After the Holocaust by Rebecca Clifford

Six million objections.
6. Double Lives: A History of Working Motherhood by Helen McCarthy

I suppose we have to include them if we want our tea on the table.

7. Burning the Books: A History of the Deliberate Destruction of Knowledge by Richard Ovenden

I have had my own run-ins with Oveybaby but is this really a Top Ten thing to worry about? In fairness, if it's history, I suppose we need to know about anti-history though my own new book on the subject does it better.

8. Atlantic Wars: From the 15th Century to the Age of Revolution by Jeffrey Plank

No objections from me.

9. The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation by Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff

Oh, they've woken up, have they?

10. The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote by Elaine Weiss

Oh, they've woken up, have they?
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Mick Harper
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A most extraordinary thing has just occurred. I had written 0 BC in a draft I was updating but the 0 and the BC was separated by the word-wrap onto different lines. So I carried out the shortcut that Microsoft Word provides to make sure two words are kept together on one line.

Only, as always, I'd forgotten what that was. I knew it involved some combination of Shift, Control, Alt and space bar so, as always, I just banged around with them until a combination did the job. Only I was stopped in my tracks when a perfectly modulated English male voice started reading my text. No errors, no mistakes, even though it consisted of loads of technical terms like Aramaean, Mitannian, Professor Stephen Kaufman and so forth.

He was quite unstoppable until I pressed the space bar and all was quiet once more in the Harper household. Now I guess he will never visit me again. But who was he? Can anyone enlighten me? I'd love to know how I can summon him forth again. Bit of company for me. Speaks my language. Shares my thoughts.
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Grant



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On Windows 10 you hold down the Windows logo plus control and enter
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Mick Harper
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Ta. I was sufficiently intrigued to Google it and discovered it had been around since 2003. Who knew? Grant and Bill Gates prolly. What I found unnerving was that the voice was conversational rather than mechanical and knew how to pronounce every word I had written. That irritated the hell out of me on account of me thinking I was bit more recherché than that. Even so I find such a device not being widely known (I'm generally considered to be the median adopter for the UK, even a bit ahead) a mite strange.

Members should write in to a) lie about knowing it was there and b) come up with a use for it.
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When I start writing my magnum opus I intend to use it to replay my words to ensure they are suitably mellifluous
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Mick Harper
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I was writing my magnum opus. And you have given me a use for it. I am always telling young shavers they should read their words aloud (for, as you say, general mellifluositiness) but now I can hear my words being read aloud without me getting in the way. If we gave out proficiency badges, Grant, you would be in line for one.
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Mick Harper
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Last week I bought some hamburger buns but forgot to buy the hamburgers. This week I bought some hot dog rolls and forgot to buy the hot dogs. Why can't they just put them together in one cabinet? Nobody's not going to buy them together. I swear to God I may be the only person still with a working brain left in this country.

Also I forgot bacon for the second week running but that's down to me fair and square, nothing to do with the country.
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Mick Harper
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I cannot help thinking our capacity for recognising visual double entendres has been fatally weakened by stock images

How Rebecca Black’s Hit Song Friday Destroyed The People Who Wrote it
And why ARK Music Factory’s bad reputation is undeserved


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Mick Harper
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Talking to somebody who never understands what's what, I had to explain to her that this really is a stock photo, nobody remotely considers it anything other than a young woman singing into a standard microphone. Only my mucky mind thought differently although now I look at it again it is more reminiscent of a Tesco own brand salted caramel ice cream cone.

Talking of Tesco I had a mini-crisis this morning because I had run out of their own brand artificial sweeteners. I rely on my first coffee to start work and I rely on sweeteners to make the coffee drinkable. Luckily I had an emergency supply. The ones on the kitchen floor. Probably not Tesco, they have been collecting for some time, but they did the job. You know what they say: mucky mind, mucky kitchen floor.
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Mick Harper
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Big in Germany

M.J. Harper | LibraryThing
The Secret History of the English Language 31 exemplaren. The Megalithic Empire 4 exemplaren. Meetings with Remarkable Forgeries 2 exemplaren. An Unreliable History of the Second World War 1 exemplaar, 1 bespreking. Leden.

Shoudn't it be LibraryThingen?
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