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Sideswipe: April 29: Next level cat humour

Apr 28, 2022

Gulls for war

During World War I the British Navy attempted to train seagulls to reveal the presence of German submarines. The idea was to use a dummy periscope “from which at intervals food would be discharged like sausage-meat from a machine”. The birds would, hopefully, learn to associate periscopes with food and would then fly around approaching German submarines, revealing where they were. Initial tests were conducted by Admiral Sir Frederick Inglefield in Poole harbour in Dorset. Inglefield tried to train the birds not only to fly around periscopes, but also to poop on them. Subsequent tests were briefly conducted in 1917, but then the Navy abandoned the idea. One private inventor, Thomas Mills, refused to give up on the idea. Unfortunately for Mills, the development of sonar then made submarine-detecting seagulls unnecessary.


Naman Gupta of Noida, India, started a business making teddy bears stuffed with used cigarette butts. He pays ragpickers to collect butts in the street. Then Gupta’s employees carefully separate the paper and charred tobacco from the filters, which are thoroughly washed and dried before being used as stuffing.

Protesting everyday annoyances

Words and phrases making a comeback

1. Cool beans

This can be used interchangeably with cool to express approval. What the inclusion of beans adds to the interjection is unclear. According to Merriam-Webster, this slang term dates back to 1985 when the oldest Millennials were just 4 years old. Though they may not have coined the phrase, the generation definitely popularised it in the 1990s and 2000s.

2. Niblings

If you’re lucky enough to have several nieces or nephews (and you can’t always recall their names), refer to them as your niblings. Niblings is a gender-neutral term that encompasses both nieces and nephews. The word nibling was coined in 1951 by Samuel Martin, who was a professor of Far Eastern languages at Yale University.

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