General Knowledge

A Blonde was sent on her way to Heaven. Upon arrival, a concerned St Peter met her at the Pearly Gates.

‘I’m sorry,’ St Peter said; ‘But Heaven is suffering from an overload of goodly souls and we have been forced to put up an Entrance Exam for new arrivals to ease the burden of Heavenly Arrivals.’

‘That’s cool’ said the blonde, ‘What does the Entrance Exam consist of?’

‘Just three questions’ said St Peter.

‘Which are?’ asked the blonde.

‘The first,’ said St Peter, ‘is, which two days of the week start with the letter ‘T’ ‘?

The second is ‘How many seconds are there in a year?’

The third is ‘What was the name of the swagman in Waltzing Matilda?’

 ‘Now,’ said St Peter, ‘Go away and think about those questions and when I call upon you, I shall expect you to have those answers for me.’

So the blonde went away and gave those three questions some considerable thought (I expect you to do the same).

The following morning, St Peter called upon the blonde and asked if she had considered the questions, to which she replied, ‘I have.’

‘Well then,’ said St Peter, ‘Which two days of the week start with the letter T?’

The blonde said, ‘Today and Tomorrow.’

St Peter pondered this answer for some time, and decided that indeed the answer can be applied to the question.

‘Well then, could I have your answer to the second of the three questions?’ St Peter went on, ‘how many seconds in a year?’

The Blonde replied, ‘Twelve!’

‘Only twelve?’ exclaimed St Peter, ‘How did you arrive at that figure?’

‘Easy,’ said the blonde, ‘there’s the second of January, the second of February, right through to the second of December, giving a total of twelve seconds.’

St Peter looked at the blonde and said, ‘I need some time to consider your answer before I can give you a decision.’ And he walked away shaking his head.

A short time later, St Peter returned to the Blonde. ‘I’ll allow the answer to stand, but you need to get the third and final question absolutely correct to be allowed into Heaven. Now, can you tell me the answer to the name of the swagman in Waltzing Matilda?’

The blonde replied: ‘Of the three questions, I found this the easiest to answer.’

‘Really!’ exclaimed St Peter, ‘And what is the answer?’

‘It’s Andy.’

‘Andy??’

‘Yes, Andy,’ said the blonde. 

This totally floored St Peter, and he paced this way and that, deliberating the answer. Finally, he could not stand the suspense any longer, and turning to the blonde, asked ‘How in God’s name did you arrive at THAT answer?’

‘Easy’ said the blonde, ‘Andy sat, Andy watched, Andy waited till his billy boiled.’

And the blonde entered Heaven…

Facebook and Twitter: the anti-social networks that bring out the worst in us all

Every time I log on to Facebook these days, I feel as if a little bit of me dies inside. Specifically, the bit of me responsible for faith in the world and the human beings that inhabit it. It’s not just that Bono stands to make more than a billion dollars from the company’s flotation (he was an early financial backer), although obviously this does very little to kerb the feelings of misanthropy that threaten to engulf my very being every time I see that stupid little F logo. No. It’s mostly my “friends” on the site, who seem to spend their days sharing meaningful quotes, pictures of snowmen they have built, and extreme political opinions of both persuasions.

Here’s the thing: Facebook has made me actively dislike people. Worse, I think it has made me actively enjoy disliking people. For passive aggressives who are too weak simply to de-friend the people they don’t like and get on with their lives, Facebook (and Twitter, for that matter) are dangerous things. These aren’t social networks – they are anti-social networks, outlets for all manner of pent-up aggression that might turn me into a complete sociopath otherwise.

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Europe is now deliberately trying to push Greece out

There is only one way of interpreting the set of fresh demands tabled by eurozone finance ministers last night in return for agreeing a new €130bn bailout for Greece – that they are now quite deliberately trying to push Greece out of the euro. All pretence at European solidarity has been abandoned, to be replaced by the vengeance of Shylock.

Mind you, it’s easy enough to see why their patience has been broken. The Greeks keep promising, but have consistently failed to deliver. Today, their promises are more worthless than ever, as popular support for the political parties which are signing up to them has collapsed.

The way things are going, they’ll all be out at the next election, to be replaced by a ragbag of populist politicians unbound by whatever the present lot have signed up to. Even if eurozone finance ministers manage to get their new conditions agreed, there is not a chance of them being adhered to.

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Conservative Home’s assault on the NHS bill isn’t about Andrew Lansley: it’s an attack on David Cameron

Well, Downing Street has got its wish. Someone has taken out Andrew Lansley and shot him. In the back.

Yesterday I wrote Labour had yet to find a bullet with the health secretary’s name on it. They needn’t have worried: Tim Montgomerie of Conservative Home has done the dastardly deed. “The NHS was long the Conservative Party’s Achilles heel,” he says. “David Cameron’s greatest political achievement as Leader of the Opposition was to neutralise health as an issue. The greatest mistake of his time as Prime Minister has been to put it back at the centre of political debate.”

Mr Cameron could be forgiven for feeling a little miffed this morning. Since becoming leader he has been under constant, if low level, attack from the Right of his party for – how can one put this delicately – being a bit of a wuss. All that flouncing about in the Downing Street rose garden with Nick Clegg. Jabbering on about how “we’re all in this together”.

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Quantitative easing: Pensioners are paying the price for Sir Mervyn’s ‘funny money’

Let’s try a thought experiment. Imagine that George Osborne were to stand up in the House of Commons and declare that, in order to avoid a new economic crisis, he had decided to raid our pension funds. The Treasury, he would say, had reluctantly concluded that it had no choice but to confiscate about £74 billion from what we’ve all been saving for our retirement. Furthermore, VAT would have to rise by another 2 per cent. The cash would be used to reduce the interest rates paid by Britain’s borrowers (his Government chief among them). And yes, he would add, it probably seems grossly unfair to transfer wealth from the thrifty to the profligate, but this is an emergency. The alternative is another banking crisis, or a new Great Depression.

If Mr Osborne did say all that, there would be uproar. The Chancellor would face unflattering comparisons with Robert Maxwell. Pensioners would be protesting outside Westminster, asking what right the Government had to steal their savings. The Institute for Fiscal Studies would publish graphs showing the “unfairness” of a VAT rise, since it would hit the poorest hardest.

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The Pope will die within a year: Vatican ‘assassination fears’ revealed

The sensational prediction was allegedly made by Cardinal Paolo Romeo, the archbishop of Palermo in Sicily, on a recent visit to China.

Cardinal Romeo reportedly made the startling prediction of the Pope’s death during a trip to China in November 2011.

He seemed so sure of the fact that the people he spoke with, including Italian businessmen and Chinese representatives of the Catholic Church, were convinced that he was talking about an assassination attempt.

They were so alarmed by his remarks that they reported them back to the Vatican.

The extraordinary comments were written up in a top-secret report, dated Dec 30, 2011, and delivered to the Pope by a senior cardinal, Dario Castrillon Hoyos, a Colombian, in January.

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Government accused of ‘social engineering’ over plan to make elderly move out of their homes

David Halpern, a senior No.10 aide, said loneliness was a “more powerful predictor” of whether a pensioner would be alive for more than a decade than whether they smoked.

He also suggested that elderly people who did not move to smaller homes were contributing to the shortage of housing in England.

Ros Altmann, director general of the Saga over-50s group, said: “It’s outrageous social engineering for the government to suggest that older people somehow don’t deserve to live in their own homes and that the government should decide what size home is appropriate.

“Working longer is inevitable but we need to be very careful in raising the state pension age to recognise that there are substantial differences in life expectancy across the country.”

On an official visit to Sweden, the Prime Minister and some of his key advisers discussed radical plans on retirement with their Scandinavian counterparts.

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