Hard boiled

I quite like the so-called hard boiled fiction of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and so on.

Very often, a young male character is referred to as a “gunsel”. In one book, it is explained that this means a young man carrying a gun.

However, it’s not correct. As far as I understand it, a gunsel is a young man kept by an elder as a homosexual partner. You can see it in The Maltese Falcon.

Wilmer is the gunsel. It’s used as a person with a gun,which he does have, but I always assumed it was (also) meant as a secret reference to homosexuality.


The Wizard Of Oz

A friend of mine says her favourite film is The Wizard Of Oz.

She was telling me the other day that the Tarkovsky film Stalker mirrors TWOZ, even down to the black and white bits at the beginning and end.

Oddly though, there are no black and white bits. It is a colour film all the way through, glorious Technicolour, or Technicolor.

The aspect ratio of this picture is wrong, but you can see clearly that it is monochrome, but it’s sepia. It is the colour you associate with old and faded photographs, it’s the colour of nostalgia (also a Tarkovsky film).


I get very cross sometimes when people continue to make stupid mistakes, even when they know they are wrong. Here are just a few:

“Princess Diana”

Diana Spencer died at the age of 36. At no time in her life was she ever “Princess Diana”.

She was “Lady Diana Spencer” for a time before she married, then became “Her Royal Highness Diana, Princess of Wales”. After she died, as a courtesy title only, she was known as just “Diana, Princess of Wales”.

Did it really happen?

Apparently, one American in 20 does not believe we went to the Moon. One in 10 does not believe we have ever been in Space. A similar number believe that the Earth is flat (and that the Easter Bunny is real too, I guess).

All the interest in space has brought all the nut cases out of the woodwork.

Some really are just nutty. I guess they actually believe it was all a conspiracy and a fake, filmed by Kubrick just like the film Capricorn One.

I don’t know why people listen to these folk. They talk nonsense. Just because you can say it, doesn’t mean it’s true. Here are some arguments the Discovery Channel is using to suggest it’s a fake:

  • the flag blows in the wind on the “Moon”
  • man would die when pasing through the van Allen belts
  • America couldn’t trust the astronauts to complete the task so they faked it
  • Wernher von Braun was a Nazi so we didn’t go to the Moon
  • there is no real evidence of going to the Moon
  • if they had gone into space, where are all the pictures of the Earth?
  • you can’t see anything on the Moon that proves we went

and so on.

I don’t know why the media give these stupid people the time of day. It’s a failing of our educational system that folk believe in nonsensical things.

Mythbusters categorically disproved every popular fake theory a few years ago. I am sure you can find it and others on YouTube.

And ask yourelf this question. Why would they fake it? It would need hundreds of thousands of people to be in on the conspiracy and for all of them never to admit such a fake existed.

It’s a lottery

When the UK lottery started, in, what 1994, it was a novelty. You picked 6 numbers, from 49, and bet £1. If you got 3 numbers you won £10, and the prizes went up from there. Get all 6 numbers and you won lots of millions.

We did it for a bit, a few pounds a week, because we could afford it and it was fun and we did have some winnings, the largest being just over £100 I believe. But if we didn’t do it, we didn’t much care, and if we didn’t win, which mostly we didn’t, it was not the end of the world.

I was a Maths teacher then, and there was a lot of useful material you could get out of it. What are your chances of winning? Well, of winning the jackpot, one in just less than fourteen million. It has changed now, I believe, more expensive, more numbers and smaller prizes.

People had many interesting ideas about the lottery. “Well, someone has to win and it could be me” was one. Well, of course, no-one has to win the jackpot, which is why you get rollovers.

“There’s no way to guarantee a win” was another. This is actually not true. If you bought every possible different ticket, all nearly 14 million of them, you would be guaranteed to get the jackpot, and every other minor prize several times over. The prize money would have to be over about £14m to make a profit, and goodness knows where you could find a machine to process that many tickets. Plus, if someone else chooses the winning numbers, you have to share.

“All combinations are equal, so I use my family’s birthdays”. Yes, lots of people do this, meaning numbers up to 31. Actually, if you go for higher numbers, you will still have the same chance of winning, but a reduced chance of having to share.

The best way to win is open a savings account at your bank.