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21 August 2014
Rentajudge


20 August 2014

Three Legged Footballers

You might not be all that surprised to learn that there is no rule in football which specifically prohibits the use of three-legged players. This, of course, is perfectly understandable since when the rules for football were first laid down by Sir Geoff Football back in 1952 the possibility of multi-limbed players was, at best, a remote one.

Today modern surgical techniques have made the grafting on of additional body parts almost commonplace, leading not only to an increase in leggage amongst professional players, but also the use of animal parts. For spectators at a Premier League match, it's not at all unusual to witness surgically enhanced centre-forwards tearing down the left wing on cheetah legs, strikers springing gazelle-like into the penalty box, or elephantine goalkeepers executing a perfect save with their trunks.

The situation looks set to become even worse now that human cloning has become a practical reality. In fact, Chelsea have already bred an octoplayer, whose eight legs means that he can squat in the centre of the pitch, kick the ball in any direction and doesn't even have to turn round at half time.

Well now FIFA, football's governing body and clearing house for brown envelopes, has decided that enough is enough. It has announced new legislation on the use of what it calls 'non-standard anatomy' and henceforth any player caught using more than two legs will be fined and banned for the rest of the season.


19 August 2014

Nuts and Berries

Samsung have invented the first laptop in the world to run on nuts and berries. Made out of bark and with a touch sensitive screen developed from a specially grown species of Alpine moss, the Hedgerow 4000 is lightweight, economical and is compatible with most species of easily-foraged flora.

Originally scheduled to go on sale last year, a number of pre-release units had to be recalled when it emerged there was a problem with field mice. The rodents were burrowing through the soft casing and nesting on the motherboard.

Samsung say that they now have this problem all under control. They haven't gone into detail regarding their solution, but they have warned customers that if, while the machine is in use, they should hear a sudden loud 'snap' - similar to the noise of a powerful spring being triggered - they should not worry. This, they say, is part of the 'anti-mouse software' and is perfectly normal.


18 August 2014

Dark Wind

The history of great scientific endeavour is littered with many examples of accidental discoveries. We think of Newton who devised his theories of gravitation after watching an apple fall. We remember Archimedes who observed the displacement of water in his bathtub and invented the plughole. And where would we all be had Sir Tim Berners-Lee not discovered the World Wide Web, hidden inside an old shoe box in the bottom of his grandmother's wardrobe? Outside, probably.

Now there is another name to add to this roll call of serendipity - Wendy Miller. Ms Miller, an amateur astronomer from Cornwall, has for some time been pondering the nature of 'dark energy'. Ms Miller lives alone and does not own a TV, so she finds that most evenings she faces a choice between pondering dark energy or taking up basket weaving.

Dark energy, as we all know, is a hypothetical form of energy that was dreamt up to explain the expansion of the universe when cosmologists realised that their sums didn't add up. The nature of this mysterious force has yet to be explained, which has led many laymen to speculate that it's 'bollocks' - not because they have any real insight into the issue, but purely because they know how much it winds up physicists.

Ms Miller believes that she is now on the verge of cracking this conundrum and, like her illustrious predecessors, her light bulb moment was a matter of pure chance. "I was sitting at my kitchen table after having put the cat out for the fourth time that evening. I don't know whose cat it is, but it keeps getting into my house and scratching up all my furniture. I was trying to fill in a health insurance application and its constant wailing was getting on my wick. So anyway, I was just pondering what the effect on my premium would be of ticking the 'asthma' box, when a sudden gust of wind swept the form off the table and dropped it into a sink full of washing up."

It was this event that was to trigger the genesis of Miller's 'Dark Wind' theory. As she attempted to revive the sodden document with the help of a hairdryer she mused on the parallels between her paperwork trauma and the fundamental nature of reality.

"The Universe must have a back door," she explains. "Clearly there is a draught coming from somewhere and it is this that is driving the expansion of the cosmos. I haven't done the sums or anything, but it stands to reason when you think about it, doesn't it? Anyway, we'll soon know for certain when my project gets the go ahead."

Ms Miller doesn't underestimate the importance of empirical data to support her theory, and to this end has designed an experiment that she believes will confirm her belief. She wants to recreate her kitchen insurance form incident on a grand scale by balancing a 100,000 km2 piece of paper on one of the outer planets and seeing if it 'blows off'.

"I've chosen Saturn because it looks quite flat on top in all the pictures I've seen," Ms Miller tells us optimistically. "I've written to NASA - I've not heard back from them yet, but I should think they'll be up for it. So it's all more or less sorted, really. The only problem I have is finding a piece of paper big enough. I've tried WHSmith, but the biggest they've got is A3. Do you think it's worth trying Office World?"


15 August 2014

Dinosaur Trousers

Did dinosaurs wear trousers? That is set to be the most hotly debated topic at this year's International Dinosaur Symposium, the annual gathering of paleontologists, biologists and other assorted folk who think dinosaurs are cool. One person who certainly believes the suggestion to be nonsense is Ingrid van Klacker, Emeritus Professor of Gravel at the University of Utrecht.

"Well, you know, this is clearly not the case, clearly," she explains to us in a heavy Dutch accent. "Of course, there is much that we do not know about the dinosaurs, you know, but the one thing we do know is that they were all - how do you say this now - schlappers."

"Slappers?"

"That is what I am saying," she confirms. "They were all big schlappers, this we know, because they were successful for the many millions of years, you know."

The Professor explains how the fossil record indicates that many species of dinosaurs bred at colossal rates. This, she believes, is how they were able to adapt and survive for so long.

"Now, they could not do all of the breeding with the trousers on," Professor van Klacker explains. "Mr T-Rex, when he comes home to find the lady dinosaur waiting for him in the cave, he's not going to fumble about with the buttons and the zips and whatever have you. Not with the little hands. No, of course, we know he's going to say 'phut' to the whole of the business and go and get a mammoth burger instead. So, hey presto, no trousers. The case is closed, whatever Sir Harvey is saying."

The 'Sir Harvey' to whom Professor van Klacker refers is Sir Harvey 'Bones' Brackish, one of the UK's foremost fossil hunters. Sir Harvey is a self-taught amateur but nevertheless enjoys a formidable reputation, and when he first proposed the idea five years ago that dinosaurs wore trousers, the world was prepared to sit up and listen.

"Stands to reason," he explained to us, in the clipped, privileged tones of a man who isn't accustomed to interrupting his flow long enough for anyone else to get a word in edgeways. "Dinosaurs ruled the Earth, you know. I think there was a film about it. Can't do that without pockets. Need somewhere to put stuff. Can't have pockets without trousers. QED. Think about it, Mr T-Rex goes into town, grabs himself a mammoth burger, leaves his stegosaurus on a meter. Got to have somewhere to put the change, hasn't he?"

While the logic of Sir Harvey's argument appears inescapable, Professor van Klacker is equally vehement in her beliefs. The scene is set, therefore, for the thunderously energetic debate which is scheduled to close to the symposium. It's sure to be hotly attended, but who is our money on? Well, despite the persuasiveness of Sir Harvey's argument, we think Professor van Klacker might just have the edge.

"Well, of course, it is all about empirical evidence, of course," she told us. "Sir Harvey's parking meter theory, this is good, but where are the fossilised parking meters? I tell you where the fossilised parking meters are. The fossilised parking meters are nowhere, that is where the fossilised parking meters are. But you want to know what is somewhere? What is everywhere?"

We encourage the Professor to continue.

"Birdies," she says. "The little birdies, they are everywhere. Now, of course, we are knowing that the little birdies are the descendants of the big dinosaurs, and yet the little birdies, they do not wear the trousers. No trousers for the little birdies. Look at the talking duck - the talking duck in the movies, with the waistcoat and the no trousers. Donald the Duck. This is what I am saying, of course, Donald the Duck is the big schlapper. Case is closed."


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