Its been a hell of a week in many respects (more on that soon), so here’s a mixed bag of a round-up to usher in the weekend:

A poetry reading at a Cardiff bookshop was cancelled amid rumours that fundamentalist Christians were planning to stage a protest.

“Are we living in Iran?” asked poet Patrick Jones, brother of Manic Street Preacher Nicky Wire, after Waterstones cancelled the reading to promote his new book Darkness Is Where The Stars Are.

Apparently Christian Voice – the group responsible for organising the protests against the BBC for screening Jerry Springer The Opera – was upset by references to Jesus and Mary Magdalene.

Although there is mention of hundreds of complaints about Patrick Jones’ new book, Christian Voice itself says it had not actually organised any formal protest at the bookshop.

Still, Waterstones was probably right to cancel – better to be safe than sorry and disrupt the Christmas shoppers.

As winter takes hold and sniffles, sneezes and coughs start to fill the air, google.org  – the philanthropic arm of the world’s favourite search engine – has just launched a web tool that  might be able to help predict the pattern of flu epidemics, and so help you or your doctor or health officials plan accordingly.

Google Flu Trends works by picking up the search patterns of people who feel sick and look for information about the symptoms they are feeling, typing in telltale words like “flu symptoms”. 

There is potentially some good news to come from the crisis causing mayhem in world financial markets – and exciting a few now ubiquitous business journalists.

There is speculation that firms might ditch big-name and Z-list celebrity endorsement as budgets get crunched.

And there are claims that the legendary dead parrot sketch made famous by Monty Python could be based on an ancient Greek joke dating back to the 4th century.

Philogelos: The Laugh Addict, which has been translated from Greek manuscripts, contains a joke where a man complains that a slave he was sold had died.

It was the way he told ’em.

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One response »

  1. Ursula says:

    Paul, I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am that you brought Philogelos to my attention; and I thought I was pretty clued up on all things Greek.

    Have you noticed that it’s the male of our species who seems to excel at, indeed enjoys, recounting a joke?As you say, it’s how they tell them. I usually only ever remember punchline of a joke but not it’s build up and end up the only one laughing. Someone has to serve the dead parrot.

    U

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