26 August 2018

Twenty Wonderful Words Which Shouldn’t be Allowed to Wither

There are many words these days that are rarely used – and that is a great shame as even the simple act of their enunciation can bring on a smile, such is their irrefragable brilliance.

Go on, drop a few in to your next conversation and ensure their preservation.  You are guaranteed to be the cynosure of attention and contesseration will be guaranteed.

In other words you will be the life and soul of the party and make many friends.

This could also be known as nodding dog syndrome – and quite often it happens at work.  Do you have a colleague who – in their keenness to show that they understand and agree with you – nod their heads for so long and so consistently that you become afraid that it will fall off?  Then they are demonstrating nutation.

Do you like or admire a particular part of someone’s body – or for that matter that special place on bodies in general?  Then that means that you are agastopic.  Perhaps you can be relieved in one way – at least you have an alternative word to fetish at long last.

King Penguin Crèche - The Biggest Day Care Facility on the Planet

f you have children you will no doubt have experienced the heart stopping moment when you realize the little one has wandered off and you cannot see them anywhere. Whether the feeling is one of relief or panic is very much up to the child or the parent, I guess, but you might imagine, then, how the average King Penguin parent might feel when they return to feed their chick. Yet it is all part of the King Penguin’s master plan for the survival of the next generation. The Ark in Space, our sibling site, has the story and lots of pictures of lots of king penguins.

19 August 2018

Japan – The Land of Vending Machines

Anyone who lives in a town or city is used to the sight of the odd vending machine. As a convenience they have no equal – at least when they work or have not run out of the product they are supposed to sell. Yet where most countries have vending machines for a limited range of goods the Japanese have taken it to extremes. Japan truly is the country of vending machines and some of the items you can get from them might surprise you.

Image Credit Flickr User Livvy
Who needs people to sell meat and vegetables when a machine will do just as well?  Here a variety of green things are on sale to those who wish to purchase.  To many people in the rest of the world this would seem like quite an odd idea – those who like to have a good squeeze of their veggies before buying them would have to break the glass first.

16 August 2018

Who Invented Roulette? You May Be Surprised by the Answer

Roulette has a very interesting history.  Of course, these days most people play roulette online but that has not always been the case.  So, when did the game originate and how did it develop over the years? Oh and what does the name actually mean?

We’ll start with that – you have probably guessed it’s French but in English it translates as little wheel.  So, that makes sense!  As the name is French then you won’t be surprised to learn that its country of origin is… France!  It was first developed in the 17th century but it was not originally designed with its current use in mind.

Blaise Pascal, (left, 1623 – 1662) is one of the most famous mathematicians to have lived. A child prodigy he created calculating machines while still in his teens.  But it was during his search for the secret of perpetual motion that he created what for many is the original prototype for what we now know as the roulette wheel.  Although Pascal’s model was primitive compared to the final design, which came about just over a century later, this is almost like Einstein coming up with Pokémon as a by-product of the Theory of Relativity.

Apart from a few changes (the colours for the zero and the double zero) the roulette wheel was as we know it by the 1790s but was still predominantly played in French casinos.  It was not until the 19th century that the game became truly popular in the rest of Europe, also spreading to the United States of America.  If it was a child you might call it a slow developer (as was Einstein!) but once it began to really take off its path to world domination (in the casinos at least) was swift.

The French language was spoken widely in Louisiana so it is hardly surprising that it was in the bars of New Orleans that it first became popular in the United States, spreading up the Mississippi on the steamboats of the day.  With the advent of Las Vegas in the 1940s and 50s, America became the new home of roulette.

Image Credit
Yet the American city (pictured above) and – of course – Monte Carlo were the only ‘casino towns’ of note until the 1970s.  From then, however, casinos also began to flourish elsewhere and by 2008 there were hundreds of casinos around the world offering the game (as well as much more, of course).

The rise of the internet meant that the game could also be adapted for new, online audiences.  This means that roulette is with us to stay - in either real-life or online form – for a very long time to come.

One can only wonder what Blaise Pascal, living a life of genteel poverty, would think if he knew how his original roulette prototype ended up.  I expect he would have advocated gambling sensibly unlike one London man who, in 2004, sold all of his possessions – included clothing – and placed it all on ‘red’ at a casino in Las Vegas.  Incredibly he doubled his money…

First Image Credit

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