Comfort saddles and noms de guerre


Comfort saddles and noms de guerre

ALI VAN WYK travels to the farthest corners of the internet to find the most tantalising, strange and surprising happenings.

A rainbow of understandings

The economist Xhanti Payi has his own idea about how a government of national unity will make a contribution.

If you still don't understand what a government of national unity is, let Carvin Goldstone explain.

Lees hierdie artikel in Afrikaans:

Bums on seats

Sometimes, when you see a new design, you wonder why it took us over a century to come up with it.

For politicians who can't count

And TikToker Samham couldn't believe his eyes when he saw Apple's new Math Notes app in action. It is quite impressive. To think our teachers were afraid of pocket calculators.

Electric language, wet sparks

Donald Trump ended up on a bizarre backroad in a speech at a political rally in Las Vegas on Sunday, improvising about electric boats and sharks. It is a sad reminder of what awaits us if he becomes president again.

A golf joke that's funny!

You have to be a bit of a golf follower to appreciate this joke. The background is that the world's new golf sensation, the mild-mannered and well-behaved Scottie Scheffler, a two-time Masters winner, was anxious that he would be late to practise a few shots before his second-round tee-off in the PGA Championship.

At 6am, he drove past an accident scene outside Valhalla Country Club, a police officer stopped him and there was a bit of an argument. Media reports that the officer was dragged along and injured appear to be exaggerated — you can see the video here (go to 1min 30sec). After Scheffler was processed and photographed by the police in an orange prison overall, he was released to play the second round. By the middle of it, fans were already showing up alongside the greens wearing “Free Scottie" T-shirts.

Great-great-granddad knits penguin jerseys

The oldest man in Australia, 109-year-old Alfie Date, is making himself useful by knitting sweaters for injured penguins at his retirement home in New South Wales.

Date learned to knit 80 years ago when his sister-in-law put a few needles and a ball of wool in his hands with the instruction to knit a sweater for her baby.

After two nurses asked him in March to help knit sweaters for little penguins (Eudyptula minor) that had been caught in an oil spill, he took out his needles and went for it. The task completed, he maintained his momentum with scarves for friends and beanies for premature babies. — Time

Brenton Blue vanishes again

South Africa's most famous butterfly, the Brenton Blue in the Southern Cape, may have finally become extinct. The butterfly's best-known fan, Dave Edge, says the last Brenton Blue was seen in November 2017, but its habitat at Brenton-on-Sea was destroyed in the big fire of that year. A species is considered extinct only after 30 years, as declared by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, and the Brenton Blue has made several surprising comebacks after being discovered in 1858.Sunday TImes 

Astronaut dies in the blue sea of ​​his photo

One of the first three astronauts to orbit the moon as part of the Apollo 8 mission, Bill (William) Anders, died after crashing his veteran Beechcraft T-34 Mentor near Jones Island in the ocean north of Seattle. He was 90 years old and alone in the plane.

The retired Maj-Gen Anders is famous for the “Earthrise" image, the first photo of the Earth taken close to the lunar surface. Anders had to photograph the moon with a modified Hasselblad camera, but after the third revolution got bored with the “ugly lunar surface”, looked up and saw the blue planet.

Rumours that Anders flew the plane into the sea on purpose are rebuffed by two eyewitnesses who took a video. They say he was clearly trying to get the plane out of a steep vertical dive when he hit the water.

The famous Earthrise photo with the moon in the foreground, taken by Bill Anders on Christmas Day in 1968.
The famous Earthrise photo with the moon in the foreground, taken by Bill Anders on Christmas Day in 1968.
Image: NASA/Bill Anders

Grandpa, you forgot your toothbrush!

Elephants are the only animals besides humans that give each other names, say researchers from Colorado University in an article in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

Parrots and dolphins also do a kind of naming, but only by imitating each other's sounds. Elephants do not imitate.

The researchers used artificial intelligence algorithms to analyse hundreds of sounds recorded between 1986 and 2022 in Kenya's Samburu National Reserve and Amboseli National Park.

The study leader, Michael Pardo, says elephants use specific vocalisations for each individual, and specific elephants respond to name calls addressed to them, not to calls directed to other elephants.

The most common name call is a harmonious low-frequency sound. — The Guardian

A passport photo of Carlos the Jackal.
A passport photo of Carlos the Jackal.

Jackal twists with jackal names

“Carlos the Jackal" was the nom de guerre of Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, a Venezuelan assassin. His was a nom de guerre in the true sense of the word: actually a war name.

In the army of the Old French regime, the kingdom before the revolution, every recruit was given a war name instead of a force number.

The name would be put after your own name — usually your place of origin or a physical or personality trait. For example, Antoine Bonnet dit Prettaboire would refer to a guy's drinking habits, because “prêt à boire" means “ready to drink". If the soldier came from Witbank, he would have been Anton Bonnet Now-let's-go-drink.

Nowadays, nom de guerre just means pseudonym, or nom de plume, like the stage names that famous singers and actors take before becoming famous because their birth name was not “hip" enough, or because it is too difficult to pronounce.

The cover of a reissue of classic Gene Rockwell hits.
The cover of a reissue of classic Gene Rockwell hits.
Image: GALLO

No one in the Valiant

Sometimes a name was just too Afrikaans for a rhinestone cowboy from the West Rand in the Eighties. For example, did you know that the country singer Gene Rockwell was actually Gert Smit from Krugersdorp? And Bobby Angel is actually Robert Engelsman and Lance James was Lance Liebenberg? Clive Bruce is Clive Bergman and Alan Ladd was Louw Wessels (and his brother's name was Johan Wessels, better known as Cupido, the singing partner of Cora Marie … actually Cora Nel).

Almost the entire rebellious Voëlvry movement of the Eighties had satirical stage names. Koos Kombuis is André Le Roux Du Toit, Johannes Kerkorrel was Ralph Rabie and Bernoldus Niemand was a satirical Afrikaans character invented by James Phillips. Their later brother, Valiant Swart, was of course not named Valiant. He's Pierre Nolte.

Who's Jennifer Anastasakis?

South African actors are not exactly in the habit of changing their names, but in Hollywood the practice is widespread. Sir Michael Caine, the prolific actor with the heavy Cockney accent, is actually Maurice Joseph Micklewhite, and the Israeli-born actress Neta-Lee Herslag is better known in the film world as Natalie Portman.

The actress who was born in Israel as Neta-Lee Herslag.
The actress who was born in Israel as Neta-Lee Herslag.

Joaquin Phoenix's real name is Joaquin Rafael Bottom, making the change understandable, and Whoopi Goldberg is Caryn Elain Johnson. The title role of the Woody Allen film Annie Hall was played by Diane Keaton, whose nickname was Annie and whose real name was Hall. However, Allen denies that the film is named after his former girlfriend, although he wrote the role specifically for her.

Quite funny, however, is that the actor Michael Keaton's name is Michael Douglas, but when he arrived in Hollywood there was already a successful actor with that name. He apparently chose the surname “Keaton" because he was in love with Diane Keaton. Keaton denies it and says he found it in the phone book. He could also have seen it in the Hall of Fame thanks to Buster Keaton, who got his name from one Harry Houdini after falling down the stairs as a baby.

Diane Keaton, Woody Allen en Jerry Lacy.
Diane Keaton, Woody Allen en Jerry Lacy.

The most spectacular name changes are in the world of rock, rap and pop. Snoop Dog's mother named him after Snoopy in the Peanuts cartoon but his baptismal name is Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jnr. Everyone knows Elton John is Reginald Dwight and Bob Dylan is Robert Zimmerman, but few people know that the chaste reverend's daughter, Katy Perry, is Katheryn Hudson, or that Iggy Pop is a southern gentleman who was born James Newell Osterberg.

The southern gentleman James Newell Osterberg, undergoes a metamorphosis on stage in every way, becoming Iggy Pop.
The southern gentleman James Newell Osterberg, undergoes a metamorphosis on stage in every way, becoming Iggy Pop.

And who is Jennifer Anastasakis? She's the daughter of Yannis Anastasakis, a Days of Our Lives actor who was born in Crete and changed his name to John Aniston.


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