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ARCHIVES - NOVEMBER 2002 TO APRIL 2003

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PIGS CAN FLY - SO CAN HORSES, PIANOS, CARS
Biological warfare isn't only a product of the 20th and 21st centuries. It dates right back to medieval days, when huge catapults hurled dead horses and other animals into castles under siege, to spread disease. Facing starvation, the defenders ate the putrid flesh, and promptly succumbed to the dreaded plague.  For a story about modern versions of this mechanical marvel, click on CANADIAN SENIOR YEARS   0304

HOMETOWN HEROES  KEEP IN TOUCH.
Americans at war can keep in touch with their hometown buddies on the internet by taking advantage of a clever inter-active website set up by Carl Bromley, of Kittanning, Pennsylvania. Bromley's site, local4all.com. allots a separate page to each of the nation's zip codes. He's seeking the help of community groups and individuals to provide local input. For details, click on LOCAL4ALL.   0304

THE KIT-KAT CLUB (21st Century)
People living in KATANNING, a small town in Western Australia, have never heard of KITTANNING Pennsylvania, a somewhat larger town on the opposite side of the globe - and vice versa. They should get together to form a second Kit-Cat Club. To read about these two towns, and the original Club, please click on KIT-KAT.   0304

PUPPYDOG CLOCK GENIUS UNMASKED
Just a year ago, we wrote: "Some clever computer geek has invented an intriguing 'puppydog clock,' which not only shows the date and time, but follows the cursor around the screen when you move the mouse." Now,we find that the geek we couldn't identify is Yugo Nakamura, 32, a brilliant Japanese web designer. His achievements are described in interesting articles on the websites of Time magazine and ArtandCulture.com To read more about this genius of the web, click on YUGO.   0304

SHANGHAIS - Then and Now No. 9
When I was a schoolboy in New Zealand in the 1930s, my mates and I made shanghais (small catapults) from Y-shaped tree branches and pieces of car inner tubes, and fired them with devastating effect (until our parents discovered these lethal weapons, and confiscated them). A good marksman could kill a rabbit by day or hit a street light or a neighbour's milk bottle at night from a range of 100 yards or more. Shanghais have been popular with teenagers and a menace to their elders for generations. Read about them by clicking on SHANGHAIS.   0304

SEA SERPENTS STILL SURFACING - Then and Now No. 8
Reports of sailors having been terrified by the sight of monstrous sea serpents have been published in many countries for centuries. A book, The Great Sea-Serpent, published in London in 1892, reported more than 160 such sightings. Surprisingly, many of the descriptions seem to tally. Read about them by clicking on SEA SERPENTS.   0304

PLEASE TRY OUR NEW GUESTMAP
Thanks to BRAVENET, we invite you to point out where you live, and send us a brief message, by using the world map which now replaces our Guestbook. It's simple to use! Just click on the image of the globe.   0304

DID JACK THE RIPPER SHOP AT GRANDAD'S GROCERY?
Riding the internet's magic carpet, I've made the intriguing discovery that my maternal grandfather, Arthur Locke, of fond memory, may just possibly have sold groceries to London's notorious mass murderer, Jack the Ripper, and perhaps to some of his victims. For details, please click on CANADIAN SENIOR YEARS.   0303

HEAD-LOPPER COPS THREE MONTHS' JAIL
Paul Kelleher, the Londoner who beheaded a statue of Britain's former and formidable Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, hasn't been executed, a fate which we facetiously suggested would be a suitable punishment for all statue-loppers, in our story Off With Their Heads. Instead, he's  been jailed for three months. For details, please click on HEAD-LOPPER.   0303

EMAIL FROM A FEMALE COPYBOY
Two female former newspaper "copyboys" have joined forces to conduct a class in Washington College's Continuing Education Program. It's called "How the News Is Made: Like Sausages and Laws, You May Not Want to Know." One of them, Connie Godwin (now a young 76), has told us about it, after reading our story Copy Boys: An Extinct Species, posted in this e-book nearly two years ago. Read her interesting contribution, by clicking on CONNIE.   0303

"DEAR ME, WHAT WAS THAT?" - Then and Now No. 7
Australia's media have always taken huge delight in recounting mysterious ghost stories. For reports from the Victorian goldfields in 1872 and Sydney in 2003, click on GHOSTS.   0303

AFFLUENCE OF INKOHOL - Then and Now No. 6
From The Portland Guardian, Victoria, 1868. The following eloquent address was delivered from the balcony of a certain hotel after Mr Butters had returned thanks and all the election business was settled. The address was thus delivered: - "Shentlmn! gotopot!!" (we may here observe that during the delivery of the address some friend of the speaker was trying to prevail upon him to come into the house). "I'll shpeak to you likea bird; had toomushdrink; don cararap! (here the speaker was melted into tears)." To read on, click on PORTLAND GUARDIAN.  0303

WHO WROTE WORLD'S SHORTEST POEM?  
The world's shortest poem, countless websites tell us, is this couplet:
     FLEAS
     Adam
     Had 'em.
That claim is itself debatable, but even more intriguing is: Who wrote it? Most websites either offer no author's name, or credit it to that prolific writer, Anon. For the intriguing answer, click on FLEAS.  0302

MANGOES  ACES  WITH  MARTINA
Many of the world's fruitlovers (including your humble scribe) think mangoes are the most luscious and desirable of all things edible. So, apparently, does Martina Navrátilová, "the greatest women's tennis player in the history of the sport." Martina, now 46, reportedly said her main reason for having visited Australia from her U.S. home was for the mangoes, rather than for the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne. For more details, click on MANGOES.  0302

BRUSH TURKEY'S BRUSH WITH DEATH
A beautiful brush turkey strutting proudly across the Scenic Drive must be one of the luckiest turkeys in Australia. Not only did he narrowly avoid being run over by my car, but, unlike domestic breeds, he wasn't destined for the oven. Brush turkeys, big, black turkey-like birds native to Australia,  were once a favourite Christmas dish for pioneer settler families, but today they're a protected species. To read on, please click on BRUSH TURKEYS.  0302

PUBLISHED 1943, POSTED 2003
On January 17, 1943, during World War II, the Sydney Sunday Telegraph published one of my short stories about the lighter side of Army life. Sixty years later, I've posted a copy in this e-book, just for the record (I'm not sure just what record that is). Anyone interested in military history can read it by clicking on BEDTIME STORY. Please don't ask me what a boob tent was. I can't remember. It had nothing to do with what we know today as boobs.  0302

BUSHRANGER IN SAN FRANCISCO - Then and Now No. 5
More than 140 years ago Scots-born Frank Gardiner's gang of bushrangers (highwaymen, bandits) attacked a gold escort at Eugowra Rocks and carried out Australia's largest gold robbery. They wounded two troopers, and fled with 77kg. of gold and £3700 in cash. Gardiner, using an assumed name, was later discovered running a store in a small Queensland town. Sentenced to 32 years' hard labour, he was freed after serving eight years, on condition that he left the colony. He sailed to America, where he acquired a pub (saloon) in San Francisco's notorious Barbary Coast district. For story, click on GARDINER.  0302

CLEVER KANGA RUSE - Then and Now No. 4
More than 130 years ago, The Pastoral Times (Deniliquin, Australia) told how station (ranch) hands had found a new way to round up kangaroos by catching one of the animals, dressing it in a man's coat, then releasing it to rejoin the mob. The story became a rural myth. Now it's the basis of a Hollywood movie. For details, please click on KANGAROO JACK.  0302

EASY TO SAY, BUT HARD TO SPELL
If any of your family or friends fancy themselves as good spellers, ask them to spell these three U.S. place names: Cincinnati, Massachusetts and Mississippi. The words have a pleasant rhythm, but spelling them is a nightmare for most of us. If your human spellers survive the test, challenge them with this clincher: "Spell a city in Arizona that's called TOO-sahn or too-SAHN." For further details, plus some new mnemonics, click on SPELLING.  0301

THE HAIRLESS HORSE - Then and Now No. 3
Can you imagine what a hairless horse would look like? This strange freak of nature caused a sensation in Sydney 132 years ago, and Americans flocked to see a similar animal displayed at a fair in Ohio in 1914. For details, click on HAIRLESS HORSE.  0301

LOLA MONTEZ WHIPS EDITOR - Then and Now No. 2
Fiery Irish-born dancer and courtesan, Eliza Rosanna Gilbert (1821-61) first achieved fame when she appeared as Lola Montez, a "Spanish dancer," on the London stage, and later made that name notorious around the world. What a plot for a film! Read more by clicking on LOLA MONTEZ.  0301

CANNIBALISM IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA - Then and Now No. 1
In this issue, we bring you the first three items in a series of colourful news stories we've found in Australian colonial newspapers of the 1870s. In each case, we've added a 21st century sequel from the internet. We call the series THEN AND NOW. To see the first of the series, please click on CANNIBALS.  0301

MINITRAIN'S LONG NAME
In a story about The World's Longest Place Names posted several months ago we mentioned a famous Welsh village with a 58-letter name and a 15-ft long sign on its railway station platform. A U.S. reader has told us about a railroad station with an even longer name, but it fails to qualify. To read the details, please click on FEEDBACK.  0301

WORLD'S BIGGEST TURKEY - FRAZIER KOs TYSON!
A huge gobbler in Frazee, Minnesota, that we'll call Frazier Fred, has KO'd Britain's Tom Turkey Tyson for the World's Biggest Turkey title, in much the same way that Mike Tyson demolished Marvin Frazier in 30 seconds in a fight for a different world title in 1988. For full details, click on BARE INGREDIENTS  0212

UMIÑA - GODDESS OF HEALTH
Did the small Australian town of Umina (pronounced you-miner) acquire its unusual name from the aboriginal word meaning sleep, or from the Aztec goddess of health, Umiña? There are two towns named Umiña (with a tilde over the n, indicating that it's pronounced oo-mean-YAH), on the opposite side of the globe in South America - one in Ecuador, the other in Chile. To read fascinating legends about the goddess, click on Umiña.  0212

SWEDE TRUTH ABOUT TURNIPS
The Turnip Man is a sprightly Canadian centenarian who still rides a bicycle. His real name is Emery Kilmer, of London, Ontario, and he celebrated his 100th birthday on October 1, 2002. "We called him the turnip man because he used to come play cards with his car full of turnips and sell them for 25-cents apiece," says Geraldine Martin, who has been playing cards with Kilmer for 20 years. ("I used to give those away," Kilmer chips in). - London (Ontario) Free Press. To read more, please click on TURNIPS.  0212

FEEDBACK: A MIXED BAG
We've received interesting feedback about several stories in last month's (Nov 2002) e-book. English head-lopper Paul Kelleher failed to see any humour in our suggestion that people who knocked heads off statues should be beheaded. Douglas Thompson of Tamarind Tours, Bangkok, told us many people in Thailand enjoy eating insects, and we heard of two strange coincidences. For details, click on FEEDBACK.  0212

TEXAS HAS WORLD'S LARGEST MOSQUITO                                         
The 125 residents of Komarno, Manitoba, will be dismayed to learn that their giant weathervane is only The World's Second Biggest Mosquito, and even their town is only The World's Second Biggest Place Called Komarno  The World's Biggest Mosquito is Willie-Man-Chew, a 26 ft. statue with a cowboy hat, boots, blown-up wings and a big stinger, and is the pride and joy of the small Texas town of Clute, while The World's Biggest Komarno is a town of 40,000 people in the eastern European republic of Slovakia.  For this new story about the two Komarnos, click HERE.  0212

UMBRAGE OR DUMB RAGE?
When a driver suffers road rage
He feels a sense of umbrage.
Would it be an outrage
To make it rhyme with dumb rage?
  0212

GUINEA GOLD SCOOPED WORLD'S MEDIA
Sixty years ago, on November 19, 1942, Australian and US troops fighting Japanese invaders in the New Guinea jungle during World War II read the first issue of Guinea Gold, a unique four-page Australian army newspaper which day after day thereafter published a record number of world scoops. As a former member of its editorial staff, I've written  a story about it. Please click on GUINEA GOLD.   0211

ANYONE FOR CRICKET?
Why don't we eat more insects? This question really bugs me. We humans  eagerly devour most species of animals, birds and fish, so why do we shudder at the very thought of eating insects? Australian aborigines in the outback enjoy eating witchety grubs, Bogong moths and honeypot ants, and Algerians used to collect vast numbers of desert locusts, which they cooked in salt water and dried in the sun before eating. To read on, please click on CANADIAN SENIOR YEARS.  0211

A WORD A DAY IS NOW A BOOK
Many of our readers will know by now that the writings of Anu Garg, the gifted wordsmith who composes the global newsletter A Word A Day, have just been published as a book. It's one of the most entertaining and informative works ever written about the world's most used - and abused - language, English. Be sure to buy a copy before the first print run is exhausted. Amazon has already listed it as its No.1 best seller. For more details, click on AWAD BOOK.  0211

SRI LANKANS MEET IN SAN DIEGO
Of an estimated 80 million Tamils in the world, 10 million live outside their native India and Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), says Ramalingam Shanmugalingam, of San Diego, California. "Events in the not too distant past in their native habitats have forced many Tamils to migrate to other lands," he says. As International Coordinator, he helped plan formation of a World Wide Tamils' Coalition (WWTC) in San Diego on October 26 and 27, 2002. You can read the details by clicking on SRI LANKA.  0211

FOUND! ANOTHER KOMARNO
Thanks to the magic of the Internet, we've just discovered that the small Canadian town of Komarno, Manitoba, has a larger namesake thousands of miles away in Slovakia (part of the former Czechoslovakia) in Central Europe. To read about it, click on KOMARNO.  0211

THE GRINGO AND GREASER
Last December, in a list of odd newspaper names, we mentioned The Gringo and Greaser, Santa Fe, New Mexico (1883/4). Now Kelley Pounds, a talented New Mexico writer, has kindly told us about that newspaper and its owner. To read her story, click on GRINGO.  0211

All above articles copyright © 2003.  Eric Shackle

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