Words fail me

This Scrabble-themed Christmas wrap will infuriate any fan of the game. It's like they made all the boxes first, filled in a few Christmas words, then couldn't be arsed and filled in the rest with whatever.

Truth about mistletoe

Mistletoe tends to spring from bird droppings that have fallen on trees, with the seeds having passed through the digestive tract of birds and most varieties of this plant are partial parasites, being unable to fully sustain themselves via photosynthesis, so they leach what they need from the particular tree they are growing on. The word "mistle" or "missel" meant "dung" and 'toe" which came from the Anglo-Saxon word "tan" meaning "twig". So mistletoe is essentially a poop stick. Not only is mistletoe a poop twig. Nothing like smooching under a parasitic poop twig ... (Source: todayifoundout.com)

Meddle management

A reader writes: "It used to be called the Retirement Commission. Now it's the Commission for Financial Capability. What genius decided that a clear, plain name that perfectly fitted the remit should be replaced by a vague polysyllable, and that four words would be better than the two we had? More importantly: how much does this person earn? Making it more silly still is that the new organisation is headed by ... the Retirement Commissioner. Perhaps the obscurely named Water Safety New Zealand should be rechristened the Commission for the Prevention of Anaerobic Saturation of Submersible Mammals."

Categorically going too far

An expanded medical coding system developed by the World Health Organisation goes into effect this month in the US. The revision has up to 100,000 codes describing various diseases, conditions and injuries (the previous had just 14,000 codes). The massive increase provides detailed information for insurance companies, federal reporting and data collection and will be significantly time-consuming for health workers. But the humour in the detail has been noted.


A code has been attributed to each of the following: bitten by a cow, pedestrian on foot injured in collision with roller-skater, problems in relationship with in-laws, hurt at the opera, accident while knitting, struck by orca — initial encounter, burn due to water skis on fire, struck by macaw and sucked into jet engine.

Quick links

1. Comedy wildlife photo winners.

2.The pick of New Yorker cartoons for 2017.

Video Pick

Star of Wonder, a traditional kiwi Christmas song by Fred Dagg…

Got a Sideswipe? Send your pictures, links and anecdotes to Ana at ana.samways@nzherald.co.nz