Of Pogues and Pranks

I just found out an amusing fact about old Shane MacGowan, the brilliant songsmith who founded one of Celtic rock’s most celebrated bands and is somehow still with us after years of reckless merriment, spirits having literally preserved him.

Another influential musician (albeit in a different genre) recounted something from his youth in England that involved the mischievous Mr. MacGowan:

At my previous school in London I was good friends with Shane. He and I used to sit together in the back row of English Lit. He was extremely smart.

On one occasion during a boring reading of some classic novel or other, the teacher spotted me and Shane nattering. He singled me out saying something like, “What figure of speech is ‘indubitably’… Robertson?”

Shane whispered under his breath: “It’s an onanism.”

Ha. “IT’S AN ONANISM, SIR!” I blurted out.

Deadly pause.

“Robertson, please come up to the front of the class, take down the OED and read out to the class the definition of the word onanism.”

Which I did. Much to the delight of Shane and the rest of the class.

This little gem was recalled by one Thomas Morgan Robertson, who was famously blinded in 1982 (by something other than incessant onanism).

 

 

Nota Bene #112: GOOOLLLLLLLL

“Freedom of any kind is the worst for creativity.” Who said it? Continue reading

The Large Hadron Collider will not eat the world

There are a lot of people worried that the world will end soon. This autumn, specifically, when the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Switzerland and France turns on and starts smashing protons together at velocities that are nearly the speed of light. The main concern is that these collisions will create a miniature black hole that will swallow the Earth and us with it.

Thankfully for human civilization, black holes just don’t work this way. Continue reading