Vertical lateral thinking

Augustus the Strong

Augustus the Strong (1670–1733)

You can say what you like about Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony, but he was one hell of a tosser. At one tournament he presided over, 647 foxes, 533 hares, 34 badgers and 21 wildcats were killed for fun.

Animal tossing, most commonly fox tossing, was once a popular sport in certain parts of Europe—primarily amongst the aristocracy, obviously. Two toffs would take either end of a large sling and launch the wild creatures skywards, usually to deadly effect.

Fox tossing tournament

A fox tossing tournament of the early 18th century. (Note the quite high foxes.)

Unusually for a blood sport practised almost exclusively by the aristocracy, fox tossing went the way of blood sports popular amongst mere plebs, such as bear baiting, cock fighting, and goose pulling. Yes, goose pulling.

Well, call me controversial, but I think it might be time for an animal tossing revival. Only this week, we've heard how we need to cull 50% of the deer in the UK to protect the countryside. Personally, I'd re-introduce wolves to keep them in check, but I suspect I'm in the minority on that one. So why don't we launch our spare deer into the air instead? Can you imagine how cool it would be to toss a deer—to see it actually somersaulting through the air? I'd pay good money to see that. Then there's the invasive grey squirrels. Bastards! Up in the air with them too! And cats, obviously. Bloody, bloody cats!

Seriously, though, I'm struggling to see any drawbacks with this one: fewer deer, grey squirrels and cats ruining the countryside; still no wolves to worry about; and even the toffs are happy!

It's a win-win-win!


BBC: Benedict XVI: 10 things about the Pope's retirement
6. Life in retirement Announcing his resignation, the Pope said he would spend his time praying for the Church. His elder brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, has also said Benedict would be happy to advise his successor, if required. Writing and studying also seems likely to be on the agenda - Benedict had a library of 20,000 books installed in the papal apartments when he was elected in 2005. He also enjoys playing the piano and watching old black-and-white comedies - and he loves cats. At least one, Contessina, is known to live at Mater Ecclesiae.

The Pope ‘loves cats’.

I rest my case.

Near miss

Observer (my butler reads it): Meteorite 'could have devastated northern UK'
The meteorite that caused devastation in the Urals on Friday could have struck Britain if it had entered the atmosphere at only a slightly different time of day, astronomers revealed yesterday.

The region around Chelyabinsk hit by the meteorite impact is 55 degrees north, the same latitude as northern England. Had the meteorite's timing been only few hours different, it could have caused widespread damage in the British Isles, astronomers at the University of Hawaii said yesterday.

Phew! On the other hand, had the trajectory of the lump of space-rock that became the meteorite been only a fraction of a degree different, it might, long, long ago, have collided with the much bigger lump of space-rock/comet that took out the dinosaurs before it actually took out the dinosaurs, thereby altering its course by an even smaller fraction of a degree, so that it didn't, in fact, actually take out the dinosaurs. In which case, none of us would be here. Thanks, lump of space-rock!

Meanwhile, in related news, had Frederick Miller not lost an eye in a freak golfing accident back in 1885, I might be Prime Minister right now. And wouldn't the world be a much nicer place?

Unless you're a cat, obviously.

Soup selection

Jen and I have been making a lot of soup recently. Well, when I say Jen and I, what I really mean is Jen has been making a lot of soup recently, and I've been helping her. Well, when I say I've been helping her, what I really mean is Jen has been making a lot of soup recently. Pulsating pulse soup, stilton and broccoli soup, Thai chicken and mushroom broth, roasted red pepper and tomato soup, spinach and nutmeg soup.

Which got me thinking. How come you don't get bacon soup? Yes, I know you do get bacon soup—I have a large book of soup recipes, and bacon soup is definitely in there—but you just don't, do you?

Wouldn't bacon soup be totally awesome? The clue's in the name: bacon… soup! What's not to like?

And, while we're at it, how about cat soup? And Pope bouillabaisse?

What about you lot? Are there any particular soups you like to try?