Duchas.ie, The Schools Collection

dúchas.ie, The Schools’ Collection, Co. Roscommon

A treasure trove of old school books lovingly scanned and transcribed. The handwriting is superb and the insights fascinating.

One of several entries about Fairy Forts written circa 1937

“There are two fairy forts situated in my district. One is about a quarter of a mile from my house in a village known as Cloonarrow while the other is about three hundred yards east of my house.
The fairy fort situated about a quarter of a mile is of circular shape and is surrounded by trees. Fairies are supposed to abide in it and are said to appear after twelve o’clock a.m. In front of this fort a house was situated but now the owner of the house and of
the land in which the fort is situated is dead and the house has collapsed. There is no entrance hole to it.
The other fort situated a very short distance from my house is a circular little hill surrounded by trees. Neither is there an entrance hole to this fort. It is said that a woman dressed in white appeared to a man at this fort and accompanied him to a place known as the “Crooked Bush” where she disappeared.
Nobody ever dreams of tilling the land in which the forts are, neither do they cut the trees as it is said that anybody who touches those trees is sure to be unlucky.”

Using freely available online resources and my local knowledge I’m pretty sure this is the location of the Fairy Fort 300 yards East of the author’s home:

Fairy Forts are typically, but not exclusively circular archaeological sites. Often tumuli or hill forts, there are over 30,000 of them in Ireland.

See also: https://www.nolligan.ie/SU/?p=3504


Numbeo is a collaborative online database which enables users to share and compare information about the cost of living between countries and cities.
It also includes data on:

  • property prices,
  • crime,
  • health care,
  • pollution,
  • traffic,
  • travel,
  • quality of life
Quality of life comparison (March 2020)

Low Tech Magazine

What is Low-tech Magazine?

Founded in November 2007, Low-tech Magazine questions the blind belief in technological progress, and talks about the potential of past and often forgotten knowledge and technologies when it comes to designing a sustainable society. Interesting possibilities arise when you combine old technology with new knowledge and new materials, or when you apply old concepts and traditional knowledge to modern technology.

My personal favourite articles:

Reinventing the Greenhouse –

Research shows that it’s possible to grow warmth-loving crops all year round with solar energy alone, even if it’s freezing outside. The solar greenhouse is especially successful in China, where many thousands of these structures have been built during the last decades.

How to Downsize a Transport Network: The Chinese Wheelbarrow

For being such a seemingly ordinary vehicle, the wheelbarrow has a surprisingly exciting history. 


Futility Closet – a collection of entertaining curiosities 

About Futility Closet

Futility Closet is a collection of entertaining curiosities in history, literature, language, art, philosophy, and mathematics, designed to help you waste time as enjoyably as possible.

The database contains more than 10,000 items, and more are added each day.

You can read Futility Closet on the web, subscribe by RSS, or sign up to receive a daily email.

Science & Math


Accountable Predictions Long Bets

The Arena for Accountable Predictions or Long Bets site is:

…an arena for competitive, accountable predictions (Long Bets). 

…a forum for focused discussion and debate about prediction.

…an attractive tool for philanthropic giving.

…a way to foster better long-term thinking.

People making long term predictions and prepared to put their money where their mouth is. Some bets are a bit ridiculous though.

Update 2023: Some bets have already finished and from my observations most were wrong. e.g.

  • Tesla will make a <$30,000 car by 2015, By 02022,
  • Aether Physics (or its equivalent) will take the place of General Relativity and Quantum Theory,
  • Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be found guilty at a court of law or will flee from the country by 2020.

It would be good if the site owners made site navigation better and had a section for bets which have finished.


The Goon Show


From The Goon Show, The Red Fort, Series 8 Episode 7:

Major Bloodnok OBE, late of the 3rd Disgusting Fusiliers,

“I say Major your medals are showing.”
“Yes!” “And they’re all long service you know.”

Update: broken link so here are some alternatives:


Listen online: https://www.radio-uk.co.uk/abacusfm-the-goon-show

Podcasts and link to Archive.org Goon Show mp3 resources https://fourble.co.uk/podcast/thegoonshow

Radio Echoes – 206 Goon show episodes

Bernard Cornwell – Official Site



also he has an amazon page

Here’s forty shillings on the drum
For those who’ll volunteer to come
To ‘list and fight the foe today.
Over the hills and far away.

O’er the hills and o’er the main.
Through Flanders, Portugal and Spain.
King George commands and we obey.
Over the hills and far away.

When duty calls me I must go
To stand and face another foe.
But part of me will always stray
Over the hills and far away.

If I should fall to rise no more,
As many comrades did before,
Then ask the fifes and drums to play.
Over the hills and far away.

Then fall in lads behind the drum,
With colours blazing like the sun.
Along the road to come-what may.
Over the hills and far away.

O’er the hills and o’er the main.
Through Flanders, Portugal and Spain.
King George commands and we obey.
Over the hills and far away.

Molecule shirts showing the molecular structure of your favorite drugs



Interesting but I remember from my days at University, the Chemical society had a picture of the above compound emblazoned on their t-shirts together with the logo:

‘Leeds Chemists wipe their own.’

In case you’re wondering, the molecule in question is an arsole.

More amusingly named chemicals can be found at:

Pandorabots – chat bots

“Pandorabots is an experimental software robot hosting service based… “

I love the concept and admire the hard work, but these bots have a long way to go before they can pass the Turing test.

The news section is regularly updated (monthly), with news about commercial chatbots for major players such as AOL as well as providing tools for the open source community

Update 2022: well the chatbots have evolved and nice to see that the company is still operational. They have added voice recognition which is a nice touch but I’m still waiting for one to pass that elusive Turing Test. Perhaps if they name one Wintermute?

Check out their latest offering here:


Control Our Junk



“Control our Junk” like this web truck for example…

From the site:
“Can’t afford really cool toys and gadgets?

We strive to create unique and new things that the user can control at home from a standard desktop PC… control trains, drive RC cars, fire off fireworks, turn on and off lights, and control many more toys right from your computer!

We are 3 brothers who live in Michigan, USA. We build these wonderful things in our basement, which is a giant place that nothing is occupying currently.”

Great idea, but the web site has a few errors.

Update 2022: the site seems to have died sometime in 2008, it was part of a wider network web truck.org which in turn died in September 2013 it also points to a Twitter Page where there is some activity.

Edward Tufte: Posters and Graph Paper


From the page:
“Probably the best statistical graphic ever drawn, this map by Charles Joseph Minard portrays the losses suffered by Napoleon’s army in the Russian campaign of 1812.

Beginning at the Polish-Russian border, the thick band shows the size of the army at each position. The path of Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow in the bitterly cold winter is depicted by the dark lower band, which is tied to temperature and time scales.”

Update: 2022 – this site has stayed online and intact – which is great. For more info on Tufte check out his wikipedia page. This is just one of the many interesting links I recorded via stumbleupon.

fUSION Anomaly. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?




fUSION Anomaly. – Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – this novel by Philip K Dick was the basis of the film Bladerunner.

Update 2022: the site is still online which is great but does look rather dated now. I did notice that the copyright (copyleft) notice said 1997 – 2021. Over twenty years on line is an achievement.

Main site:


Banned Cartoons

Banned cartoons: also racially sensitive ‘toons are reviewed

“If you squint your eyes long and hard enough, any fictional character on any animated cartoon begins to develop its own offensive, socially improper qualities. Even the dynamics inherent to seemingly innocent cartoon settings and situations can appear sinister when scrutinized by qualified armchair cynics.”



Update2022: site dropped offline in 2017

In the 1930’s when the Nazi film maker Leni Riefenstahl http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leni_Riefenstahl visited the USA all of the film studios refused to have anything to do with the awful bitch except for Disney.

In an effort to redeem Disney’s reputation, Der Fuehrer’s Face (1942),and other anti-Nazi cartoons were made.

The Unofficial Peter OToole Pages!


The Unofficial Peter OToole Pages seems to have dropped off the web sometime in 2007, possibly later as the site may have moved. The latest version I could access can be found here:


The The Unofficial Peter OToole Pages! were run by Hamish Grant

The actor Peter O’Toole 73 years old this week, born in Co. Galway, Eire, raised in ‘Hunsbeck’, Leeds.




Escherization ofEscher

Over his life, the Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher created over a hundred ingenious tesselations in the plane. Some were simple and geometric, used as prototypes for more complex endeavors. But in most the tiles were recognizable animal forms such as birds, fish and reptiles.

Escher was able to discover such tilings through a combination of natural ability and sheer determination.

The author of this site has developed a complex algorithm that can produce reasonable solutions to the Escherization problem.

There some very good examples which I can’t show you because they are all either exceed the maximum file size or image size for stumbleupon apart from this one which is probably the poorest example on the site:

Spheres on a teapot teapots on a sphere

The man responsible for all this is:

Craig S. Kaplan
Assistant Professor,
Computer Graphics Lab,
School of Computer Science,
University of Waterloo,

He even looks clever doesn’t he?
And just to prove how clever he is he even lets you play at making your own compositions using a java applet here: http://www.cgl.uwaterloo.ca/~csk/software/penrose/

and it’s it was a lot of fun, enjoy!


The Chap magazine – refinement in an age of vulgarity



From the site:

What, dear friends, has become of our culture?
Was not this once a country where jazz beatniks rubbed shoulders with aged philosophers in smoky cafeterias?
Did not dapper men in horn-rimmed spectacles once explain the mysteries of the world to us via our crackling wireless sets?
Were not public libraries the places where all human knowledge was to be found, at the fingertips of avuncular librarians swaddled in tweed? Where has all this gone?
Replaced, we are told, by the “information superhighway”.
What sort of “information” is conveyed by religious zealots, unclothed harlots and medical charlatans?

Many thanks to

for finding this excellent stumble!

Update 2022:

There is an equivalent Youtube Channel:


Papers, Please! The Identity Project

Update 2021 : failed in both countries thank goodness, but the Papers, Please! The Identity Project website is still going which is good as these issues remain relevant.

Papers, Please! The Identity Project:
“There are good people with bad papers; and bad people with good papers.”
– Bertolt Brecht

I’m horrified that the USA could be getting compulsory ID cards too. The perpetrators of 9/11 all had valid ID’s .


When I was younger I used to travel to Europe and I hated the way the gendarmes would demand ‘Papiers, papiers!’ to intimidate and hassle foreigners. In a manner only one step removed from the Geheime Staatspolizei.

It’s incredible that the present US Administration wants to make the USA resemble France.

Incidentally, these old stumbleupon pages are often in the interesting links category which you may like to check out

From the site:

What’s Wrong With Showing ID?

What does an ID, any ID, do for security?  The honest answer is ‘not much’.  If anything, relying on ID for security purposes actually makes things worse: a false sense of security fosters complacency.

Showing ID only affects honest people.  If you’re dishonest, you can obtain false documents or steal the identity of an honest person.

If a 19 year-old college student can get a fake ID to drink, why couldn’t a bad person get one, too?  And no matter how sophisticated the security embedded into the ID, wouldn’t a well-financed terrorist be able to falsify that, too?  The answer to both questions is obviously ‘yes’.

Sniggle.net the Culture Jammers Encyclopaedia

snig·gle (v) — To fish for eels by thrusting a baited hook into their hiding places.


Update: Visually rather old fashioned – this is how websites used to look at the end of the 20th century. A few nuggets to be found here although I’m not sure how active it is nowadays. I particularly enjoyed the pseudoscience section.

It describes itself as the Culture Jammers Encyclopaedia. Many subjects are covered from cryptozoology , Jello Biafra, Trickster Gods and Commerce Jamming.

Also very pleased that sniggle.net has been on the web since 1997.

Universe today flickr pool 3,000+ members, 76,000+ photos

Universe Today Group Pool on Flickr


Update: Originally this was a hotlink to a particularly impressive photo which is no longer available.

I’ve replaced it with something far better. A link to the Universe Today Flickr Group. Some truly amazing photos taken by gifted amateurs.

One of the great things about astronomy is the way that ordinary people make significant contributions.

Quick link: https://flic.kr/go/gi2Cq

Welcome to the Home Office


The Home Office, twinned with Mordor.

Tony Blair continues to eat away at the rights of free born Englishmen. From today I have to apply to the Secretary of State for permission to marry a foreigner, this came as a shock as my fiance and I presented our documents at the registry office today.

Now I can see why the thirteen colonies rebelled against good king George all those years ago.

Criticize Lin Biao and Confucius (1974)


Updated: https://chineseposters.net/posters/g2-14

Criticize Lin Biao and Confucius (1974)

The girl is holding a paper which says ‘Criticize Lin Biao and Confucius most vigorously.’
The title says ‘ Criticizing Lin Biao and Confucius is the most important issue for the Party, the People’s Liberation Army and the whole Chinese people.’

Lin Biao’s death should be the subject of conspiracy sites, I mean, what really happened to him? Unless it happened in the west or concerns secret societies with ‘arcane knowledge’ hardly anybody is interested.

Apart from http://www.odu.edu/ao/instadv/quest/linbiao.html
Which is well worth reading.

I wonder where he’s going to stick that pen?

INDOlink Poetry – Rabindranath Tagore Collection

Rabindranath Tagore, 7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941


The above link no longer works, so here’s an alternative


Nobel Prize winner 1913

The Gift
by Rabindranath Tagore
. (This poem is from ‘The Crescent Moon’ by Tagore)

I want to give you something, my child,
for we are drifting in the stream of the world.
Our lives will be carried apart,
and our love forgotten.
But I am not so foolish as to hope that
I could buy your heart with my gifts.

Young is your life, your path long, and
you drink the love we bring you at one draught
and turn and run away from us.
You have your play and your playmates.
What harm is there if you have no time
or thought for us.

We, indeed, have leisure enough in old age
to count the days that are past,
to cherish in our hearts what our
hands have lost for ever.
The river runs swift with a song,
breaking through all barriers.
But the mountain stays and remembers,
and follows her with his love.

Mail Preference Service


If you live in the UK and want to stop junk mail being posted to your address then this is the site for you. It’s not 100% effective but it’s better than nothing.

“The Mailing Preference Service (MPS) is a free service set up in 1983 and funded by the direct mail industry to enable consumers to have their names and home addresses in the UK removed from lists used by the industry. It is actively supported by the Royal Mail and all directly involved trade associations and fully supported by The Information Commissioners Office (ICO).”