Thursday, August 16, 2012

Phil Mann's Full Mind Edinburgh 2012

Phil Mann's Full Mind

5:30pm (1 hr) - Daily (2-26 Aug),

Laughing Horse Link: Link:

The world's only improvised, science-based, stand-up/sit-down tea party (with free tea and sweets for all audience members) in which PHIL MANN will answer any conceivable question, as well as remember the answer to any previous question he's been asked in the last 45 editions of the show. What's more, the audience will attempt to break two world records in every single edition of the show. 

'A brilliantly comedic creation' (The Scotsman)

Door salesman, youth worker and sex-ed demonstrator, you'd think PHIL MANN would've learnt something by now.

'An enviable flair for comic timing' (Fest)

Appearing at the Fringe for 3 consecutive years, Phil Mann has honed his ability as an 'instant expert.'

'The most obscure of subjects with the most precise of comic timing, had us rolling on the floor laughing and scratching our chins knowingly.' (Annexe)

Taking questions from the audience, he fearlessly answers on everything from prehistoric chat-up lines, homing crustations and Cadbury's Creme Eggs.

'Interesting, surreal, eccentric outpourings of knowledge taken even further into the twilight zone.' (End of Radio)

PHIL MANN has uncovered the supernatural secrets of Rolf Harris, the Roman Empire's great cheese cover-up and attempted to contact aliens. People flocked time and time again to put his incredible powers to the test.

'Intelligent and surprisingly funny, genuinely interesting and delivered with delight and scruffy charm. [2011] Well-timed jokes. Incredibly knowledgeable and charmingly inquisitive [2012]'' (Three Weeks)

'Untamed mischief, unpredictable and rampantly chaotic. The architect of his own fortune.' (Matt Trueman, Culture Wars)

Every night PHIL MANN will become an expert in a many various topics of the audience's choosing, having only the 23 hours between shows to ready himself to be able to hold forth at length, answer questions and make you laugh about topics you didn't know existed.

'Hilarious... quite endearing' (The Stage)

'Perfectly timed comedy' (Public Reviews)

Previously running at the Bedlam Theatre, Firestaion Arts Centre Windsor, The Three Sisters Edinburgh, Phil Mann is also part of the incredibly successful improvised comedy group BattleActs! - favourites of the Free Fringe.

'Hyper-energetic, eccentric, very funny. Breathtaking.' (Fringe Review)

'Odd and appealing' (Ian Shuttleworth, Financial Times)

'Splendidly odd. No question is impossible for protean Mann and it is impossible not to warm to him. A unique flavour on the fringe, driven by the direct, committed performer who has a mind as sharp as a critic's nose. His Herculean knowledge is part of the spectacle and the impression and impressiveness of it builds as the hour progresses. A full-flowing genius.' (Fringe Report)

Thursday, January 05, 2012

The Nutritional Benefits of Drinking Your Own Urine

The Nutritional Value of Drinking Your Own Urine

The nutritional and health benefits of drinking urine are majorly debated. Let's run through the process. You consume things and the stomach breaks them down into its composite parts and runs them through the liver. The liver emulsifies the fats in food, filters out impurities and passes waste to either the bowel or to the bladder.

The excess liquid waste is stored in the bladder in a watery substance. This is then passed out of the body as urine.

In one litre of urine you'll find

9.3g of urea
1.87g of chloride
1.17g of sodium
0.75g potassium
0.67g of creatinine
and various trace compounds

In terms of it's hydration, it does have a high concentration of salt. Not as bad as seawater which is 35 gallons per litre, but it still has a very high 3g/L.

To break that down a bit futher (no pun intended) let's have a look at what those substances do:

Chloride, Sodium and Sodium Chloride
...can all be found present and correct. Sodium chloride is of course common salt, but all chlorides are corrosive, and this is what makes seawater (and urine) so bad for you. It is the chlorides in seawater that cause corrosion to ships, cliffs and everything else.

is necessary for all living cells to operate. It is no surprise it is found with sodium and sodium chloride as up until the 1700-1800s, we thought that Potassium and Sodium salts were essentially the same thing. It took a hundred years (1807) to prove otherwise.

It is however a metal, and quite a reactive one. It has one more electron than argon (which is very stable - a noble gas) and thus is likely to use that electron to react with things. When you cut potassium (which you can do like a knife through butter, it's very soft) you find that it's silver and quickly begins to taint into a grey colour, like an apple.

It was discovered so late that it doesn't even have a real Latin name. Before we had the strict naming convension (established by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry in 1918) we could name things what we liked. Now we stick to a -ium format. Potassium's Latin name is Kalium (which is why its atomic symbol is K), however in English we call it Potassium because of the use of "potash," which is heavy in Potassium and has been used for 1500 years for soaps, bleach, fertilizer, fuel and nowadays, aluminium recycling and electroplating. Ever since Latin began its decline in the Renaissance, we've had to keep making it up to keep its medical and scientific usage relevant.

It is a fossil fuel and was previously mined like coal, but in the modern day we can manufacture it.

Is used to process nitrogen in the body. Mitochondria (little bugs that live in your body) and cytosol (the liquid inside cells) send it through a series of five processes to turn the nitrogen in your food into stuff the body can use to grow, and the waste is put out of the body. Now urea is odourless, colourless, tasteless and neither acid nor alkaline, but it does react very strongly with water. It is this reaction to water that produces the ammonia that makes urine pungent.

It can be used to make explosives, plastics, reduce pollutants in diesel fumes, and get this... it is the flavour enhancer in cigarettes, a colour enhancer in pretzels and the active ingredient in hair removal creme and tooth whitening paste. It's also used in moisturisers and hair conditioners. Yuck.

Now everyone knows that urine is sterile. Well, it mostly is. It is because it's produced in isolation inside the body after all the body processes are done with it. But bear in mind that bugs, rods and cocci live on *any exposed external cells* and as a result are likely to be caught and dragged in as urine leaves the body.

Maybe it's for this reason that the US state of Oregan recently dumped 32 million litres of water because someone urinated in it and was caught on CCTV. This wouldn't happen in the UK because all of our freshwater reservoirs are covered. However, no one could adequately explain why the US wasn't worried about animals and other pollutants getting into the constantly exposed water system.

What they should have done is followed one of Phil Mann's Full Mind's handy tips for purifying water:

This is one of the most easy methods to do. What you need is a 2 litre coke bottle (or similar plastic), fill it with contaminated water and leave it in direct sunlight for 6 hours, or for 2 days if there's a lot of cloud cover. The sun's rays will naturally kill anything nasty living inside.

Thoroughly boiling something can rid it of any nasties.

Add 8 drops per gallon.

Burn wood and use water to keep it from burning too hot and decaying in the flame. It will leave you with charcoal. Crush and stir this into water. Filter. Repeat these steps twice. Mix it with clay from a riverbank. Allow it to settle overnight. Drink the clear water off the top.

Plant Sunflowers
This is if you've got a lot of time and need to purify a large area, but it is especially useful in a post-nuclear apocalypse as it soaks up nuclear impurities as well.

Mix it with Pure Water
If you have a limited supply of fresh water and it's running out - say you're stuck at sea, you can mix 1/3 seawater with 2/3s freshwater to eek out your supply a little more.

So What Are The Benefits Then?
Well to get to the point, you can use it in the following ways :

As Toothpaste
In Ancient Rome and Gaul they did this. The Roman poet Catullus writes:

Dentes tui sicut levia sunt
Ut hoc vos plenius indicat urincam

So the fact that your teeth are so polished
Just shows that you're all the more full of piss

What a joker.

As A Cure For Everything
There have been many quests for a panacea (a cure-all). However there is literally no scientific basis for any of these claims. Any claims that people have made that says that drinking their own urine cures colds/cancer/headaches/broken bones are made despite the fact that science can't prove them right.

As A Cure for Tiredness
Now here's an interesting thing, again pretty unprovable, but they are saying that if you're feeling jetlagged your first wee in the morning contains a higher concentration of the hormone melatonin, which helps regulate sleep patterns, and could help you feel like you've had a longer sleep than you've already had.

It's up to you to experiment and get back to me on the results.

For Jellyfish stings?
No. It does nothing. If you've been stung by a jellyfish and had someone wee on your leg it was all for nothing. In fact it may have made matters worse.

Jellyfish stings are like microscopic bear traps (called cnidocytes). When you press on them it sets them off - which is how they work when you're stung by them. By weeing on them, there will be no chemical reaction to help the pain, and the physical pressure/action of the liquid on your leg may cause undetonated sting cells trapped in your skin to go off.

For sexual practices?
Sure. Whatever floats your boat. Although you're in good company with the porcupines. The male will wee on the female in order to soften her quills for an easier ride.

Because the Bible tells you so?
Well there's the disputed verse in Proverbs 5:15: Drink water from you own cistern, running water from your own well. Is this a divine message about autourine therapy? It could be. Or it could also literally be saying, "Drink water from your own cistern (not someone else's, that's theft), drink water from your own well (not someone else's well, that's stealing)." Or another interpretation could be "Drink water from your own cistern, i.e. your wife, don't hang around with slags."

If you're stuck in the mountains
Bear Grylls has achieved internet infamy for drinking his own wee in his TV show. However, if you find yourself in that position you could always try this:

Wee in a saucepan or pot. Cover it with some kind of waterproof material, with something small in the middle to create an indentation. Underneath this indentation, also in the pan you place a smaller cup. The heat will evaporate the water from your urine, it will condenstate on the material, run down the underside of the indentation and drip into the small cup. Enjoy...?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Difference Between conTROVersy and CONtroversy

There are two ways to pronounce it, as roughly described above. The former being British, and the latter American.

It is often described how we in the UK are being more American. This is usually described as the process of Americanisation. The first "Americanisation" was the separation of church and state. The Vatican called it the American heresy. Their view is that the will of God and the interests of the state should meet at an apex, not be held in parallel but untouching planes.

There a many differences in American and British pronunciation. Note that it's never, "pronounciation." That's not a work. It comes from pro (out) + nuntiare (announce) or nuntius (messenger), hence pronunciation. You can have pronounceable and pronounceability though.

Some common and well-documented mis-pronunciations in recent newspaper articles include

- Arctic being pronounced Artic
- Ask being pronounced Aks
- Barbiturate being pronounced barbituate
- Card sharp being pronounced card shark
- Espresso being pronounced expresso
- Miniature being pronounced miniture
- Mischievous being pronounced mischievious
- Sherbet being pronounced sherbert
- Tenterhooks being pronounced tenderhooks
- Triathlon being pronounced triathalon

Others include

One does not have a forte as in FOUR-TAY, but one has a forte as in FORT. Four-tay is reserved for the musical notation meaning get louder, but one's speciality should be like a castle.

Irregardless is usually claimed not to be a word, but a tautological construct. Regardless and irrespective are terms, but not irregardless. However, it is found in some dictionaries, including some dictionaries advise against the use of it. Which is incredible. As no dictionary advises you not to use the swear words, and we all know we've looked those up in English lessons as a teenager.

But some dictionaries specifically advise you not to use the word. How badass is that?

Ass is another one of course. Badarse does sound weird. In the chicken-or-egg syndrome arse came first, but Americans lightened the curse by turning it into an animal.

The differences between American and British punctuation are as follows (I'm going to use RP and General American accents, obviously, the wealth of accents across both countries demonstrates the flexibility of language and speech in an awe-inspiring way).

RP is non-rhotic. In RP "bore" would be pronounced "baw" but in GenAm, "bawR". Chicken-or-egg moment, according to "experts" in ancient accents (how?), the accent of the early English isles used to be rhotic, but we left it in the New World when we colonised America and came back without it.

These lost Rs do have a home in the RP's intrusive R. RP speakers would say, "I don't like the idearovit" (idea of it).

In terms of long vs short A, say in bath. There's a raging flamewar across the centuries about people in the North of England pronouncing it "bath" (short a) or "baath" (long a). Americans go for short, and in chicken-and-egg terms, the short a came first.

Americans are big on flapping too. That's changing T's to D's in the middle of words. For example "better" becomes "bedder." In RP we're more likely to head towards a syllabic L in words like "bottle." Forcing them to become almost "bol-L." This is taken to extreme in East London, Cockney and Essex accents, forming the glottal stop "be?'er"

Ever dropped a yod? No, it's not a Lovecraftian hallucinogen, but what Americans do all the time. In RP we'd say new as "nyew" (or njew), whereas Americans say "noo." cf. Tyuesday/Toosday, dyuty/dooty. Sometimes the yod is called the "liquid y."

In fact on duty the Americans are flapping and dropping their yods all over the place.

The British are pretty good at elliding (or missing out parts of) words too.

The British would say
military as mili-tree
inventory as inven-tree
and library as lie-bree

In terms of why Americans pronounce things differently, there is a clue in how they handle words borrow from different backgrounds.


In French-borrowed words, RP speakers would put the stress first, GenAm speakers on the second syllable.

RP / GenAm
ADult / adULT
DEbut / deBUT
CAFfeine / cafFEINE

This is reversed on words ending in ate
RP / GenAm
dicTATE / DICtate


In words of Latin origin, the RP stress is on the second syllable, and GenAm on the first, with the second syllable taking a weak form and becoming ellided.

aGILE / a-gill
virILE / vi-rill


Americans pronounce it "loo-tenant" and the British "lef-tenant." It is a French word, though, and they go for loo-. The Navy, bizzarely go for leh-tenant. And that's the kind of fun you have on a boat in the middle of the ocean for three months.


Some Americanisms that have come into British speaking are:

"American" (British)
"From the get-go" (from the start)
"Can I get a..." (may I please have)
"Take-out" (take away)
"A half hour" (half an hour)
"Burglarize" (burgle)
"Bi-weekly" (fortnightly)
A million and a half (one and a half million)
math (maths)
regular Americano (medium black coffee)
expiration (expiry)
season (series)
period (full stop)
I could care less (I don't care or even I couldn't care less)
Happy Holidays (Merry Christmas)


The Americans changed our numbers system. A billion used to be 1,000,000,000,000 (one million million, or 1*10^12). Because of Americans it's now 1,000,000,000 (one thousand million, or 1*10^9) . We used to call the American billion a "milliard" a term now dropped out of fashion.

The scale runs
One - 1
Ten - 10
Hundred - 100
Thousand - 1,000
Ten Thousand 10,000
Hundred Thousand 100,000
Million 1,000,000,000
Billion 1,000,000,000,000
Trillion 1,000,000,000,000,000
Quadrillion 1,000,000,000,000,000,000
Quintillion 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
Sextillion 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
Septillion 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
Octillion 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
Nonillion 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
Decillion 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
Undecillion 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
Duodecillion 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
Tredecillion 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
Quatturodecillion 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
Quindecillion 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
Sexdecillion 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
Septendecillion 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
Ortodecillion 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
Novemdecillion 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
Vigntillion 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
Centillion 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

Spare a thought for President Bush, though, when told that three Brazilian soldiers had been killed he said, "That's terrible. How many's in a Brazilian?"

Monday, August 15, 2011

Jaffa Cakes

Jaffa Cakes are small pieces of confectionery, circular in shape and 54mm in diameter. They have three layers: the sponge cake, the smashing orangey bit (made of orange jelly) and chocolate.

They takes the name from the Jaffa orange, which takes its name from the Palestinian city of Jaffa and is Israel's primary citrus export. Jaffa oranges are good for making jam out of (for the smashing orangey bit) as jaffa oranges are seedless and sweet; have a thick skin so good for transport; are very cold-tolerant and stores well.

The jaffa orange can catch asthma.

Well, at least they can be infected with the Altermania altenata fungus - which destroys the oranges but causes asthma in humans.

The city of Jaffa had a boon in citrus export after the Crimean war Oct 1853 - Feb 1856. This is mainly people squabbling over the fall of the Ottoman empire. Bonaparte stages a coup d'etat in France and takes the throne. He's the last ever monarch of France. After he was captured by the Prussians France became and remains a republic.

Napolean sent a message that France is the soverign authority in the Holy Land. Russia disagrees, France bullies the Ottoman empire into agreeing, the British convince them to change their minds and everyone piles in. War erupts. It kills 143,000 people.

There is a plus-side though. In the wake of the war, in order to rebuild, the people of Jaffa need something cheap and cheerful. The jaffa orange takes the stage.

Citrus production in the middle East declined of course during WWI, but the British Mandate for Palestine brought it back. Which is probably the only good thing the British Mandate for Palestine has ever done.

Jaffa is so famous for its oranges that, like New York is called the Big Apple, Jaffa is called the Big Orange. Jaffa has mostly been incorporated into Tel Aviv, but still remains one of the oldest sea ports in the world, even being mentioned in the Bible.

The main controversy over Jaffa Cakes is whether they are cakes or biscuits. This is because HM Customs and Excise demands VAT on chocolate-covered biscuits (correction by Ian Shuttleworth, thank you) and not on cakes. Because cakes are food. And biscuits are... ...not food? Luxury items, apparently.

Luxury items are subject to VAT, meaning you pay tax on the added value of any particular product. Under VAT you would, say, pay for the materials your business uses (let's say, wood) and you pay the VAT. The raw supplier (who sells you the wood) takes your money, siphons off the bit for VAT and sends it to the government. You then make your product (carve it into a dog) and sell it to the retailer (who sells wooden dog statues in his wooden dog shop). The retailer pays you the money for the stock, and VAT, which you siphon off and give to the government. The retailer sells your wooden dog on to a customer (who collects wooden dogs) and they pay for the dog, plus VAT. Then the retailer, yourself and the man who sells you the wood, reclaim the cost of VAT from the government, meaning you only paid for what you bought. But the customer can't reclaim it, so the government pockets that money and the tax is paid. In America all that doesn't happen, just the customer pays the tax at the end of the line.

Up until 2001 VAT was also charged on woman's sanitary products. This has now been reduced to 5%. Research suggests you could get this down to 0% if you can prove, bizarrely, that it's not only used for what it's designed for - perhaps if you can convince the government it is an item of clothing.

McVities makes Jaffa cakes and so McVities had to go to court to defend their product against HM Customs and Excise (despite VAT being neither a customs tax nor an excise duty). How they won is by claiming the ingredients, texture, appeal to children and name suggest it's a cake. And cakes start soft and go hard when stale, biscuits start hard and go soft when stale. Therefore it is a cake. They even baked a giant Jaffa cake to prove to the judge that jaffa cakes were just miniature cake.

McVities also started the whole digestive biscuit thing. The idea was in 1889 they made a biscuit that you could eat after a meal to help aid your digestion. This was down to the high levels of sodium bicarbonate.

It wasn't until 36 years later they have the brilliant idea of adding chocolate to one side.

It is of course, Gordon Brown's favourite biscuit. Well, eventually any way. In the run-up to the general election he was asked no fewer than 12 times what his favourite biscuit was. He refused to answer until speaking to his advisory panel who told him to go back and say, "A chocolate one."

The record for number of Jaffa cakes eaten in one minute is six. So few because the competitor for the title must entirely finish one Jaffa cake before starting the next, and is not allowed to drink anything whilst doing it.

The advice that I've found states that you should insert the cake chocolate side on your tongue to prevent friction from the cake side, as that could lose your valuable microseconds. Finally, use the smashing orangey bit to aid oral lubrication.

We attempted it and managed 4.5 in a minute in our show.

1-in-10 parents believe that a Jaffa cake is part of your 5-a-day.

Michael Barrymore

NOTE: Again, this is a slightly dry topic. This one and previous Sex Education are quite slim on notes.

British comedian born 1952. In 1993 he was voted the UK's favourite TV star. In 2001 his career collapsed.

He grew up in Bermondsey and later became a Redcoat, going to to present Blankety Blank.

He become a big star, before he starts going a bit weird. He arrives at the White Swan in East London and begins to sing New York New York, adapting the lyrics to announce his homosexuality, whilst still married to his wife.

A lot of his problems were blamed on his friendship with Diana Princess of Wales. After Diana's death, Paul Burrell tried to seduce him. Just goes to show there's nothing of her's he won't steal.

Barrymore has caused major controversy with his back-and-forth nature on his sexuality. He claims he's gay, then he claims he's no longer gay. The ex-gay community mainly centers around bible-belt America, claiming they can help you stop being gay. Many gay campaigners say that your sexuality is hard-wired and cannot be changed, that attempting to change it is simply a form of denial.

Later, a man is found drowned in his swimming pool. He is arrested, released and re-arrested many times, pulled in and out of court before finally being acquitted.