Most consecutive vowels in one word

As far as everyday English words are concerned the most consecutive vowels to be found in a single word is 5. This occurs in two words: queueing and cooeeing. However there is term used in medieval music: euouae, which has 6. This is quite a contrived word, in fact it is an abbreviation. Wikipedia describes it thus: Euouae (/juːˈuːiː/) is an abbreviation used in Latin psalters and other liturgical books to show the distribution of syllables in the differentia or variable melodic endings of the standard Psalm tones of Gregorian chant. It derives from the vowels in the words “saeculoruAmen” of the lesser doxology or Gloria Patri, which ends with the phrase In saecula saeculorum, Amen. So there you have it.

Condor in Golf

We all know about about the golf term birdie, one under par for a hole, eagle, two under, and even albatross, 3 under. As would be expected birdies can happen all the time, eagles are less frequent, and an albatross is a rare event, not occurring in most tournaments. But what about 4 under par for one hole? This would be a condor.

To date this has never happened in a professional golf event. It would either have to be a hole-in-one on a par 5 hole, or a two on a par 6 hole. Even in these days of massive drives from the tee, it’s very hard to imagine anyone driving the distance required for a par 5 hole. A two stroke finish on a par 6 is equally incomprehensible, especially given the rarity of par 6 holes (most courses don’t have any).

So we await the first momentous condor in professional golf; my prediction is a hole-in-one on a dogleg par 5.

However, is there a name for 5 under par for one hole? No. Well there should be, because that is what I scored the other day. Admittedly it wasn’t in a pro tournament, in fact it wasn’t in any kind of tournament, and it wasn’t on a real golf course. It was on one of these crazy golf courses. Somehow I contrived to get a hole-in-one on a par 6. I just slammed the ball (with a putter), through two hedges, then it bounced on a sharp rock up into the air, hit the flagpole, and rolled down the pole into the cup, voila!

So what bird’s name can I use? I think I’m going flightless, so an emu is my choice.

Football: the Inequality of Sendings-Off

In football, and many other team sports, for certain types of foul play the penalty is the sending-off of the offender, thus reducing the team’s playing strength by one member. This can have a huge effect upon the team. And there is usually a subsequent ban for the player involved, which can also affect the team.

Here, we are not going to be concerned with refereeing inconsistency, where one referee adjudges a transgression to warrant a sending-off, when another referee might adjudge what appears to be a virtually equivalent transgression unworthy of even a free-kick. And we are not going to be concerned with whether a certain transgression should or should not be punished by a sending-off. These arguments will be dealt with on another day.

Instead the focus here is on the inequality of the effect of the sending-off.

As mentioned above the effect of a sending-off on the team is great. Playing the rest of the match with 10 players against 11 is a big difference. And it is meant to be. After all it is designed to be a disincentive to commit transgressions. I have no problem with that. But what I do have a problem with is the length of time of the penalty.

Let’s look at two extreme examples to highlight my point.

Example A: a player is sent off in the 1st minute of a game, and the rest of the team must play for 89 minutes with one player short, an enormous burden, not to mention a much greater risk of injury.

Example B: a player is sent off in the last minute of a game for handling on the line, preventing a certain equalising goal. The resulting pk, with the last kick of the game, is missed. The team play zero minutes minus one member, and wins the game courtesy of foul play.

This is inequality

In many countries and tournaments there is further punishment for a player who is sent off, usually a 3 game ban. The team can play with a full complement of players but of course the banned player is ineligible, so there may well be a disadvantage to the team, especially if it is one of their best players. But who benefits? The opposition. And who is the opposition? Almost certainly not the team that the original sending-off was against. So an advantage accrues for teams lucky enough to be the three subsequent opponents, who may well be rivals of the team that the original sending-off was against, thus punishing an innocent team.

This also is inequality.

So there is an inequality insofar as a player sent of early in a game ends up missing nearly 4 matches (sent of for most of one, and banned for three), whereas a player sent off in the dying moments of a game misses only the 3 subsequent matches.

How can this inequality be addressed? Not an easy problem to solve, but one possible option would be for the player involved to be banned for 3 matches plus the amount of playing time he had when he was sent off. So someone who is sent off in the 15th minute (and who therefore missed 75 minutes of that game) receives a 3 match ban plus 15 minutes.

In effect, having missed the first 3 matches, he could be placed on the bench for the next match, and could enter the game as a substitute any time after the 15th minute.

For someone sent off in the 85th minute the ban would be for 3 matches plus 85 minutes. After serving a 3 match ban he could be placed on the bench for the next game (as in the previous example), but he would not be able to enter the game until after the 85th minute. In a real situation the manager may well decide not to select the player for this game, for the sake of only 5 or so minutes of playing time, but nevertheless the option remains.

So in both of the above examples the player who is sent off is forced to miss exactly the same amount of possible playing time, 4 matches worth. And this would be true of all situations. This is equality.

But there is the additional problem: a team who has a player sent off against them gains no direct advantage from that player’s subsequent ban. Finding a suitable solution here is even more tricky. However simple is best, so the 3 game ban should apply to that player’s next three games against the same opposition. And if one of those games happens to be a cup-final, or whilst playing for a different team, then so be it. For tournament football, like the World Cup, then the current rule is obviously better, since some countries don’t play each other for decades, but for regular club football it would surely be fairer. This again is equality.

Just a final caveat: these are tentative solutions which I have come up with all by myself. Surely a FIFA think tank could come up with something better? Or is that too much to ask?

Love is a many splendoured thing

Love is a many spendoured thing, or love is a many splintered thing?

The greatest thing about love is its unpredictability, its non-compartmentability, its incomprehensiveness. Despite the multi-billion people who have experienced love no-one has been able to get into its psyche, to tame it.

From the three previous articles my personal observations lead me to believe:

  • there are many different kinds of love.
  • we are capable of falling in love with thousands of different people.
  • we can love more than one person at any given time.
  • some people have life partners and some do not.
  • love is on a gradient; we can love one person more than another.
  • it depends on the individual as to how much in love one needs to be in order to be satisfied one has found their life partner.

So can anything useful be garnered from these observations? The main conclusion that I keep on returning to is that it appears to be quite natural to have more than one partner.

I’m certainly not advocating having simultaneous partners, this is easy to refute; just imagine how you would feel if your partner had an alternate. But it is pretty clear that over the course of a lifetime the possibility arises for an individual to be in love several times.

This is rather at odds with a conventional Western view of marriage and family, where one life partner, and a stable home for any children is widely considered the ideal. Perhaps it isn’t.

Perhaps if more fluidity were considered the norm, then the fears and stigmas of broken homes might be avoided, and might be viewed with much less embarrassment and contempt.

For ‘broken homes’ maybe we should substitute ‘multi-homes’. After all some so-called stable homes are not exactly dens of pleasure, and plenty of children from so-called broken homes grow up to be decent, rounded people.

Maybe we should worry less about love, and more about its effects.

How much do you love me?

Clearly it cannot be true that there is only the one person with whom we can fall in love, as indicated in the previous article.

If that were so then what are the chances of finding that one person? We often find our life partner at the same college, or working for the same company, or living around the corner. There must be plenty more potential lovers from the other billions around the planet.

So there has to be quite a number of people with whom we are capable of loving, and who are capable of loving us.

One point that needs raising here is the question of whether love is an ultimate condition, whole and unconditional, or is it on a kind of loving gradient. Can we love someone, but not quite as strongly as we love someone else? It would seem logical to assume this is so. It could be argued that when one is in love with someone that love prevents us from loving someone else for the duration of the love. But there are just too many examples of people with overlapping love that I feel we can discount this argument. A more pertinent question might be whether love is a permanent state or just temporary, but that is for a later article.

If we are able to fall in love with multiple partners it just doesn’t seem possible that we can fall wholly and equally in love with them all, one of them will be favored.

So the answer to the question “Do you love me?” is not as simple as “Yes” or “No”. It should be more like “I think I do, quite a lot”. In fact the question is not right. Better is “How much do you love me?” which makes it slightly easier to answer, with perhaps “A lot, but not enough to want to be your life partner at present” or “Enough to continue dating”.

How far along the gradient of love do you need to go to be satisfied, to be able to commit to a life partner? I don’t find it easy to put this gradient into words, but here goes: in love, very much in love, deeply in love, truly in love, madly in love. I suppose everyone has their own idea of how much they need to love to someone before wishing to share their life with this person, possibly depending on such things as age and desperation, and probably on other factors such as money.

In fact it’s not difficult to imagine a couple agreeing to become life partners who are not in love.


You’re the only one for me

The word love conjures up a myriad of complex feelings. This is compounded by the many varieties of love as mentioned in the previous article. But let’s concentrate on the love that confuses, bemuses and defuses the most: love for a partner.

Most kinds of love are largely understandable, for example: love for a pet. However love for a partner has baffled us since it began (and that is another story which we will leave aside for later), baffled and fascinated in equal measure.

In English there exists the term to fall in love (I’m unsure about other languages, but I guess there is generally some equivalent phrase), but how do we fall? And when are we in love? Is it a reciprocated emotion? Is love mutual (as suggested in a comment in the previous article)? And there is also the term true love. Does this infer that there is also a false love?

As usual I have more questions than answers, so let’s just investigate as logically as is possible and see where it gets us.

You’re the only one for me! Our destiny has arrived when we meet our one perfect partner. So there’s only one? Only one person on the planet with whom it is possible to fall in love. It’s obviously nonsense.

For argument’s sake let’s consider a heterosexual scenario. A male is looking for a partner. There are 3.5 billion females on the planet. Even subtracting those unavailable it would still leave a huge number. And this is just a snapshot in time. Perhaps this male’s ideal partner is now too young, but in 10 years’ time may develop into the ideal partner. If there is only one partner with whom to fall in love then the chances of finding them are practically non-existent.

But many people do fall in love, so it follows that we can fall in love with more than one person, not just two or three, but hundreds, possibly thousands. Thus it is possible to find an ideal partner, but when there are multiple ideal partners it starts to become clear why love causes so many problems.


Love is …

Among the current trend for lists are endless lists of the types of love. Some lists have 4 types, maybe 6, or 7, or more, and some appear to be based on a number of old Greek words. The one thing these lists have in common is that they try to classify the different kinds of love according to the emotion and commitment involved. However I prefer to classify these loves according to what is loved. Here goes.

  • love for god
  • love for spouse
  • love for family & relatives
  • love for a friend
  • love for a pet
  • love for music, art, literature, food
  • love for a sportsteam

And there are surely more. In some cases love can be substituted by a synonym, for example love could be viewed as passion (possibly as love for art), affection (love for a pet), fanaticism (love for a sportsteam), infatuation (love for a partner), devotion (love for god), and many more. That there are different kinds of love would seem to be inescapable (perhaps languages other than English better deal with these differences). Admittedly there is a kind of common denominator, and the word love does conjure up an idea of a deep and positive emotion, which has the power to raise people, but also has the power to cloud judgment. This can’t be more true than the so-called romantic love, which never stops to fascinate. TBC

The Right to take a Life, part 2

The right to take a life is something I’ve wrestled with since childhood. Some of the issues are included in the previous article, and this is a continuation.

Many years ago I met a high-ranking UK politician, the top legal adviser to the then Prime Minister. He had been a barrister and a judge, and had been involved in some trials when the death penalty had been passed (the last UK executions being in 1964). He talked about the atmosphere in the courtroom at the moment of sentencing, and the horrific emotion that welled within him and others present. From a humanitarian standpoint he told me he had concluded that the death penalty was simply wrong. And this came from a legal mind.

However a few decades later he had changed his mind, and was part of a pro capital punishment movement. One can only speculate why, presumably age had blunted his emotions and he now viewed the issue more coldly. If an eminent lawlord can change his mind it underlines the dilemma for the rest of us.

So where does that leave us? Where we started? Not quite. I guess it all goes to show that we should follow both our head and our heart.

For what it’s worth I’ve finally come to my own conclusion. I would support capital punishment, but with some caveats: firstly it would be only for the most evil of crimes, eg mass murder, and secondly there can be no doubt as to the perpetrator. Of course there must be a fair trial, and a mandatory appeal.

In addition I would respect others’ views and not be too proud to never change my mind.

The Right to take a Life

There is no gray area with the Death Penalty. Death or life. Nothing in-between. After decades of thought I am yet to reach a decision as to how I feel about capital punishment.

Does society have the right to take the life of a fellow human? Or are some acts so evil that death for the perpetrator is just? This is the nub of the issue, but deeper consideration only makes the dilemma more complicated.

  • There is the question of what offenses should warrant the death penalty.
  • The chances are that, over time, innocent persons are mistakenly executed.
  • More chillingly there is also the possibility of innocent persons being deliberately executed.
  • It takes a great deal of tax-payers’ money to keep a prisoner for life, money which could well be spent on keeping other people alive.
  • Without the death penalty would the deterrent for serious crime be eroded?
  • In the case of murderous dictators, for example, would it not be preferable to execute them, rather than leave the possibility open for their influence to remain and fester, perhaps causing more hardship and death.
  • What about euthanasia?

Is there any evidence to suggest that countries with the death penalty experience less serious crime than those with? Sadly there appears to be no compelling evidence either way, there are too many other factors involved. However it could perhaps be argued that countries without the death penalty do not experience significantly higher rates of serious crime.


Prayer is fruitless?

Praying for something is fruitless, as detailed in the previous article.

So, why pray? Is prayer useless? No, of course not.

Is prayer bad? No, of course not.

Let me backtrack a little. Prayer is fruitless if one ‘prays for’ something. It’s impossible for me to do statistical research, but experience tells me that much prayer includes some kind of request from god. Praying for success, praying for victory, praying for future happiness, praying for good health, praying for more money, praying for a miracle, all these are not going to work. If it happens to come true then it is merely that, a happening, a coincidental happening. It simply doesn’t happen frequently enough for the power of prayer to be proven.

Prayer is used incorrectly by too many. Doesn’t it soon become obvious that ‘praying for’ something is not the function of prayer. In fact it seems a rather selfish act. It is as though prayer has been hijacked into a parallel use, for which it was never intended.

Prayer is a conversation with god. It is a private refuge where one can be at peace with a listener who will never go away. During the prayer one feels a certain ease, a peacefulness, and often the way forward becomes that little bit clearer. One can more easily and readily acknowledge one’s own weaknesses, one can better appreciate the people and things that really matter in life, one can put life into perspective.

Praying is not to pray for, but to pray with.

Praying for something is fruitless

It’s impossible to speak for everyone, but let’s for a moment assume most prayer is directed toward a godlike figure. And let’s also assume that most prayer is said with the aim of ‘praying for’ something.

This something almost invariably concerns the future. It may be a wish, or a request, or a hope, or something of this nature.

Surely it doesn’t take much thought to realize that this kind of prayer is fruitless. If any group, or any individual, had their prayers requested then it would be immediately apparent to all. And it must be clear that the victims of disasters, and their bereaved families and friends, cannot all be non-praying people.

I cannot help but think the vast majority pray incorrectly.


Friday the 13th, how rare?

If you hadn’t noticed it’s that dreaded day, Friday 13th again. The day when everything goes wrong.

Thankfully it doesn’t come around that often, or does it? Well, the next one is just 4 weeks away, March 13th to be precise.

That’ll be the last one for a while, won’t it? Er, not really, there’s another by the end of the year.

Considering there are only 12 days a year when the 13th occurs on the calendar, it is admittedly rather unusual to have three instances of Friday 13th in the same calendar year

A year doesn’t go by without at least one Friday 13th, and there are quite often two Friday 13ths, but three don’t come along so much. The next one is 2025.

Four consecutive double letters in one word


It is common practice with the plural possessive form to drop the final s, but if one opts to retain it the result is four consecutive double letters in one word (Please tell me I am not the first to come up with this!).

The other popular word with three consecutive double letters, bookkeeper, can also be found in this form, ie bookkeepers’s, but of course in this case the four double letters are not consecutive. I have also seen subbookkeeper, although I am not sure if this is a true word. Or you could even go one further and have five consecutive double letters with subbookkeepperson, though I am certain this manufactured word does not really exist (except here!).