Tag-Archive for » humour «

Meanwhile, in Russia…

Yup, that’s a nekkid woman swimming in below-freezing seawater.

The rationale:

Braving sub-zero temperatures, she has thrown caution — and her clothes — to the wind to tame two beluga whales in a unique and controversial experiment.

Natalia Avseenko, 36, was persuaded to strip naked as marine experts believe belugas do not like to be touched by artificial materials such as diving suits.

The skilled Russian diver took the plunge as the water temperature hit minus 1.5 degrees Centigrade.

The taming of the whales happened in the Murmansk Oblast region in the far north-west of Russia at the shore of the White Sea near the Arctic Circle branch of the Utrish Dophinarium.

An area of the sea is enclosed to stop whales and dolphins getting out and instructors tame the mammals before they are transported to dolphinariums around the world — a practice many animal conservationists consider cruel.

— “Princess of whales: How a naked female scientist tries to tame belugas in the freezing Arctic.” Daily Mail, 16 June 2011.

Let’s assume that their theory is correct and that the belugas do not enjoy contact with artificial materials, such as diving suits.  This would be an argument for taking off one’s gloves, at best.  What other parts of the human body do belugas need to be familiarised with?

The staff at whatever aquarium or zoo these captured belugas end up in are going to be wearing wetsuits, after all.

Category: Diversions  Tags: ,  Comments off

Winning the lottery

Ms. Ruth Ellen Brosseau, Member of Parliament for Berthier-Maskinongé

This is probably my favourite election story from 2011.

A rookie NDP candidate—a former pub manager who was in Vegas for the campaign, and whose command of French leaves something to be desired—got elected by a comfortable 6,000-vote margin in a riding north of Montréal.  Which, if nothing else, demonstrates that in spite of the language laws, it’s entirely possible to be unilingual in Québec and still get government work.

(Via Darcey at MetisOnline)

UPDATE 040332Z MAY 11: it appears that Mme. Brosseau had some irregularities on her nomination papers. Residents who don’t recall signing, misspelled name of a signatory, etc.

Two things come to mind.

First, if the young lady speaks little French, how did she manage to convince 128 people to sign her nomination papers in a riding which is nearly 100% francophone?

Second, it’s nice that the national media is clueing in to these things. It would have been better if they had been a little more rigorous with the NDP before election day.

Category: Amor Patriae  Tags: ,  Comments off

Shaggy dog story

Doing some research into medieval scandals and papal annulments, I chanced across historical fiction author Susan Higginbotham’s hilarious description of an annulment granted to the real-life Richard FitzAlan, 10th Earl of Arundel. This beats the hell out of Henry VIII’s consanguinity argument.

In December 1344, Richard Fitzalan succeeded in having his marriage to Isabella annulled on the ground that the couple had expressly renounced their vows at puberty but had been “forced by blows to cohabit, so that a son was born.” If the Pope or his deputy had any doubts as to why Richard had waited seventeen years after the birth of that son before attempting to secure an annulment (“Well, I was going to get around to it, but . . .”), he kept them to himself.

— Higginbotham, Susan. “Divorce, Medieval Style.” SusanHigginbotham.com, c. 2006.

i.e. I didn’t want to, but my relatives beat me up until I had sex with my wife…

That’s the best you can come up with? For the Pope. Really?

If I had been the Pontiff of the day, that letter would have been framed on a wall somewhere. Cardinals would still be laughing about it today.

Category: Historica  Tags:  Comments off

Things that will ruin your impression of mediæval France

Lots of folks know that under the ancien regime, the heir to the throne of France was known as le Dauphin. But do you know why? While doing some historical research I discovered a tiny nugget of information that has forced me to re-evaluate my impressions of France from 1349-1830.

Arms of Guiges IV, Count of Albon

The fourth Count of Albon, Guiges IV, had a dolphin on his coat of arms, and because of it he acquired the nickname le Dauphin (or “the Dolphin”).

From that nickname he also derived a whole new hereditary title—Dauphin of Viennois.  I suppose there are worse fates than to go to your deathbed having been called “the Dolphin” for most of your adult life.  Just ask these guys.

Now, this is where things get strange.

Arms of the Dauphin of France

The territories the Count and his successors ruled thus took on the name Dauphiné (we would call it “the Dolphiny” in English), and when Humbert II of Viennois sold them to France in 1349, he stipulated that the heir to the throne of France must be known—in perpetuity—as Dauphin (“Dolphin”), a state of affairs that French monarchs not only agreed to, but perpetuated right up to the end of the French monarchy almost five hundred years later in 1830.

I am forced to wonder why anybody ever took France seriously in that five hundred year span.

Category: Historica  Tags:  Comments off