The Rule of Thumb (Phrase History)

The Rule of Thumb is a rough estimate based on experience rather than formal calculation. The expression has been in wide use since the late 1600’s and there are several suggestions for its origin. One of them emanates from the ale makers where, in the days before accurate thermometers were available, the brewer would test the temperature of fermenting beers by dipping his thumb in. I like it, but can find no connection between a brewer and his thumb. If this was the phrase’s origin I would expect to at least find a pub called The Brewers Thumb, but I can’t.  There is a beer called ‘Millers Thumb’, but that’s not quite enough evidence is it. Another suggestion dates back to the middle ages when it was possible for a man to legally beat his wife with a cane no thicker than his thumb. Evidence of this comes to light in the ‘Biographical Dictionary of the Judges of England’ written by Edward Foss in 1864.

In the text Foss suggests that a ‘husband may beat his wife, so that the stick with which he administers the castigation is not thicker than his thumb’. Of course it should have been possible for a wife to beat the man, who put that law on the statute book, with a stick no thicker than he was. Either way, I also don’t believe that to be the origin of our phrase. Instead we again travel back to the Romans who used the tip of the thumb (from the knuckle upward) as a unit of measurement as any thumb would fit roughly twelve times into the next unit of measurement, a foot. There is definitely a connection as the French word for inches is ‘pouces’ which translates as ‘thumb’ and that remained a standard unit of measurement until we all turned metric. The Roman bricklayers used their thumbs to estimate measurements and the phrase has been in standard use ever since.

Extract from Money for Old Rope Parts 1 & 2

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Read The Riot Act (Phrase Origins)

To Read The Riot Act is an expression used when an individual or group of people are given a rollicking about their bad behaviour. The original Riot Act was passed by the British Government in 1715 as an attempt to increase the powers of the civil authorities when a town was threatened by riotous behaviour. The act made it a serious crime for groups of twelve or more people not to disperse within one hour of it being read out to the mob. The Act read:

Our Sovereign Lord the King chargeth and commandeth all persons being assembled immediately to disperse themselves, and peaceably to depart to their habitations or to their lawful business, upon the pains contained in the act made in the first year of King George for preventing tumultuous and riotous assemblies. God save the King.

Those failing to disperse risked penal servitude for not less than three years or imprisonment with hard labour for up to two years.  Actually reading it out took extraordinary courage and often, during serious disturbances, many didn’t hear it anyway. After the Peterloo Massacre near Manchester in 1819 many of the convicted demonstrators claimed not to have heard the act being read and the same defence was put during trials for the 1743 Gin Riots, 1768 St George’s Massacre and the 1780 Gordon Riots. A rowdy bunch weren’t they?

The Act remained on the statute book until it was repealed in the 1970’s, but little use had been made of it for over a century by then, apart from when I come home late from the pub, singing too loudly.

Extract from Money for Old Rope Parts 1 & 2

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Part 2 – US Download   UK Download

Albert Jack’s Other Books – US   UK

The Fifth Column Attacks

Extract from Last Man in London

‘It was hardly surprising that when the Corporation promised to end the war and bring the western armies home, to act as a defensive shield only, that the public were so easily persuaded to replace their governments. By then it had come to the stage where Islamic extremists, who had been living in our own communities for generations, started attacking innocent people in shopping centres, on trains, buses, at stations, in schools and anywhere else they were gathered in large numbers, and were defenceless, that we knew we needed protecting here at home, not in the Middle East. Those idiot democracies did not see it coming. Luckily the Corporation did. Democratic governments, as much as they would like to have, could not control information back then as the Corporation can today.’

‘Attacked in shopping centres?’ George was appalled. ‘People just going about, living their normal lives with nothing to do with the army or religion, were attacked?’

‘It was co-ordinated George. Thousands of Islamic soldiers, who were living in the west; their families having been invited by governments in the years beforehand, armed themselves and went out into the streets. It happened in towns and cities all over the Western Empire. Hundreds of thousands of people were slaughtered; whilst their governments were looking to the East they had left the back door open. They called it a Fifth Column Attack and there was carnage.

‘A Fifth Column,’ George questioned, ‘What’s that?’

‘It was a term the Corporation used to describe a group of people, or army, living in a country that gathered together in secret. They would be as disruptive as they could be on a small scale and, once given the signal from their leaders, they would all rise at once and cause wide-scale chaos. It was an old military tactic that many armies used throughout history.’ Edgar explained.

‘I know,’ George replied. ‘I remember now. The Barbarians lived in the Roman Empire for centuries before co-ordinating their attacks on Rome. They were a Fifth Column and Rome was not expecting any threat from their own people, or so they thought.’

Edgar looked impressed. ‘I did not know that. But that is exactly what a Fifth Column is. People who you think are your own. People you think you know who turn out to be somebody else entirely. Does that sound familiar George? All the time there had been an Islamic Army waiting in the West for the signal to attack. They were all connected together by the internet, before it was regulated, and could communicate their intentions easily.

So, after the Fifth Column Attack we knew we were involved in a war for civilisation itself and that was worth fighting for. They wanted us all to change our way of lives. They wanted to impose their beliefs and laws upon us, here in the West. Their own medieval beliefs and barbaric laws. And the Christians, well they were just as bad. They made it clear that Islam would have to change their own ways if they wanted to live among the western communities. There was no compromise and no apparent end in sight.’

‘So what happened afterwards,’ George was mesmerized.

‘The government was forced to suspend its democratic principles. It was forced to act undemocratically in a way that everybody could see clearly, for the first time. They revealed their motives by rounding up all non Christians and taking them to secure compounds across the Western Empire where their families were forced to live. They announced that it was for their own protection but we all knew it was for ours really.’

‘That seems a little unfair to me,’ said George.

‘Nothing in life is fair son. They did what they had to do. Obviously many innocent people were shut away but there was no way of knowing who was innocent and who was a threat, either at that time or who would be in the future. Government experts had been studying Islam and their holy book, the Koran. It was clear that when Muslims talked about Islam being a religion of peace, the peace they were implying was the one that would prevail after they had forced the entire world to adopt its beliefs and obey its laws. That was the peace they were preaching and the Christian governments were never going to accept that. Islam wasn’t a religion of peace at all, but then neither was Christianity and this was the heart of the whole problem.’

Chapter One  Chapter Two   Chapter Three   Chapter Four  Chapter Five  Chapter Six  Available now

Ban Melissa Bachman from Africa

This is without a doubt the most vulgar and disgusting woman I have ever heard of.

Please sign the petition to the South African Government to have her Visa revoked and to never allow her back into the country.

And after you have dealt with that particular beast, how about we try to ban the canned hunting of all beasts. You can sign the petition here;

I have nothing else to say about this person, I can’t even think of anything funny.

Albert Jack