On Pure Entertainment


“People who see life as anything more than pure entertainment are missing the point.”

– George Carlin

Aiguillette [Noun.]


A braided cord awarded to a police or military unit for distinguished service and worn on the left shoulder. From aglet or aiglet, literally “needle”, meaning the cover at the tip of a shoelace, to prevent it from fraying. (See also: fourragère).

“Don’t these schools do enough damage making all these kids think alike, now they have to make them look alike too? It’s not a new idea, either. I first saw it in old newsreels from the 1930s, but it was hard to understand because the narration was in German.” – George Carlin

Shooting In The Air


A typical 7.62mm round fired vertically normally climbs about 2,400 metres in 17 seconds, and then take another 40 seconds or so to return to the ground. It falls at a speed of about 70 metres per second (falling base first, because it’s more stable that way round).

The bullet velocity required for skin penetration is between 45 and 60 metres per second, but a blow to the head doesn’t need to penetrate the skin in order to be fatal, and this is the key: the reason fatalities are disproportionate is that any injuries which do occur are likely to be cranial. So while it’s less likely that you’ll be hit than if somebody is aiming at you, if you are hit it’s more likely to be fatal – about five times as likely as in normal firing.

“A lot of the people who keep a gun at home for safety are the same ones who refuse to wear a seat belt.” – George Carlin

Even if it’s launched vertically the bullet is likely to move sideways quite significantly – when it slows down towards its highest point it is particularly susceptible to sideways movement by the smallest gust of wind.

Experiments in Florida just after the First World War involved a machine gun set up on a ten-foot-square platform positioned over water so that the returning bullets could be seen to splash down. The gun was adjusted to centre the returning bullets onto the stage, but, of more than 500 bullets fired into the air, only four hit the stage at the end of their return journey. Unfortunately, the size of the stage is at present not known.

“You don’t need no gun control, you know what you need? We need some bullet control. Men, we need to control the bullets, that’s right. I think all bullets should cost five thousand dollars! Five thousand dollars per bullet! You know why? Because if a bullet cost five thousand dollars there would be no more innocent bystanders.” – Chris Rock

Prokaryotes


Based on cell type, there are two basic types of organisms on Earth: Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic.

Prokaryotic cells are divided into the domains Bacteria and Archaea: these families include close relatives to the earliest forms of life on our planet. Eukaryotic cells on the other hand make up the more familiar domain Eukarya: these cells are the building blocks of life for complex organisms such as bumblebees, frogs, cats and humans.

“The dream of every cell is to become two cells.” – François Jacob

Prokaryotes are the smallest forms of life known to science that can live independently. Unlike eukaryotes, prokaryotes do not have a specialized subunits within itself, known as organelles (nucleus, nucleolus, et cetera).

The first life on earth consisted of prokaryotic cells; most of them we observe today are tiny single cells, but some can form larger, multi-celled structures.

The most familiar prokaryotes are bacteria. Bacteria are a very diverse group that have several shapes, depending on the species. The archaea are also quite diverse, but resemble the bacteria in general appearance.

Prokaryotes, mainly in domain Archaea, are famous for thriving in extreme environments: extreme thermophiles live in hot places such as volcanic springs and hydrothermal vents; extreme halophiles live in water of high saline content and acidophiles thrive at very low pH; methanogens are poisoned by oxygen and live in places like swamps and the gut of animals.

In fact, many biologists think that the life that exists elsewhere in our solar system resembles thermophiles and methanogens we have on Earth.

“If it’s true that our species is alone in the universe, then I’d have to say that the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little.” – George Carlin

Gympie Gympie


The Gympie-Gympie (pronounced gimpey-gimpey) is one of four species of stinging tree of the family Urticaceae in Queensland, Australia. It is said to have the most painful sting of any plant, not only in Australia, but the World.

“I like it when a flower or a little tuft of grass grows through a crack in the concrete. It’s so fuckin’ heroic.” – George Carlin

Although called a tree, the Gympie-Gympie is a soft-wooded shrub that can reach 4-5m, but is often found as a smaller shrub around 0.1-1m tall. It has broad, oval or heart-shaped leaves (which appear furry due to a dense covering of tiny stinging hairs) with saw-tooth edges, and white or purple-red fruit. The stems and fruit are also covered in the stinging hairs.

When touched, the tip of the hairs break off which turn the hairs into a self-injecting hypodermic needles. It is reported that brushing against it is like being burnt with hot acid and electrocuted at the same time.

The actual chemicals contained in the toxin are not completely understood; however, it is probably a peptide (organic chemical molecules made from linking amino acids together in a certain order) called moroidin, hence the plant’s taxonomic name Dendrocnide moroides.

After a person has been stung, the small hairs can become embedded in the skin, which can lead to long-term pain and sensitivity – there are many accounts of people suffering heavily for months from a sting.

Worse still, the Gympie-Gympie is just as capable of stinging when its leaves are dead. The toxin in the hairs seems unaffected by age.

One account a soldier in the bush during World War II was caught short of toilet paper, used the wrong leaf, and was in so much pain that he shot himself in an attempt ease the pain. In 1866 a surveyor reported that his pack horse was stung by the plant, went mad and died in two hours.

“…and then, I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough?” – Vincent van Gogh

On An Invisible Man


“Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure.”

– George Carlin