Thursday, 23 October 2014

Reasons to Be Cheerful 13

Florence Prag Kahn
1845 First Jewish US Congressman elected. (First Jewish Congresswoman, 1925.)

1885 Medical Relief Disqualification Removal Act means that people who have accessed medical care funded by the poor rate are no longer disqualified from voting in elections.

1914 Welsh Church Act disestablished the Church of England in Wales (the Welsh were fed up with paying tithes).

1917 UK's first black commissioned officer, Walter Tull.

1941 The last first-class carriage disappeared from the Underground.

1967 Butler Act, forbidding the teaching of evolution in Tennessee schools, is repealed.

1970 Britain’s first visitor centre opens at Carrbridge near Aviemore in Scotland.

1970s UK government limits lead in paint.

1979 Marital rape outlawed state by state in the US 1979-1993.

1980 The diagnosis “hysteria” is dropped from the DSM.

2003 Sexual Offences Act outlaws “causing a person to indulge in sexual activity without consent”.

2006 Racial and Religious Hatred Act outlaws "stirring up hatred against persons on racial or religious grounds".

2010 Catalonia bans bull-fighting.

2011 The FBI changes its official definition of rape (which spoke of the forcible “carnal knowledge of a female”) to require penetration “without the consent of the victim”.

2013 In the UK, there were 40% fewer emergencies of all kinds for the fire service than ten years ago. (Could it be Health ‘n’ Safety?)

2013 The UN committee against torture said the UK must prohibit all techniques designed to inflict pain on children. (Letter to the Guardian, Aug 2014)

2014 Egypt outlaws sexual violence and harassment for the first time.

2014 June UK Government bans all existing and future Academies and Free Schools from teaching creationism as science.

2014 Judith Weir is first woman Master of the Queen’s Musick in 400 years.

2014 Civil partners can upgrade to marriage (with the changes they requested).

2014 Latest research shows that single mothers do just as good a job as couples. It’s poverty that’s bad for kids.

2014 Uganda’s anti-gay law ruled illegal by its Supreme Court.

2014 Evolution is on the UK primary school curriculum from September.

2014 Royal and Ancient Golf Club votes to accept women members.

2015 Sex with animals to be made illegal in Denmark.


1890 Mormon church ends polygamy (after the Federal government “escheated” its property and applied other sanctions like not giving Utah statehood).

1978 Black men are allowed to become Mormon priests (But in both cases, the Mormon church did not “change its mind” or “give in to pressure”, but “received revelations”.)

2014-09-01 A Utah Judge, Clark Waddoups, has ruled that the law against polygamy is unconstitutional. However, polygamous marriage is still illegal. In a polygamous family only one wife is married to the husband.


LESS THAN CHEERFUL

Schools are still required to hold a religious assembly every morning.

The Church of England controls thousands of state schools in a way which is democratically unaccountable, and it has a block of votes in the House of Lords.

Sami people (Lapps) are being displaced from their reindeer lands by a British company given rights to dig for iron. The Sami say the Swedish children get taught about Native Americans in schools, but not their own indigenous peoples. (via HC)

Every 30 seconds, the UK police receive a call about domestic violence.

There are still men who think that all domestic violence is the fault of the woman.

In South Africa, a woman is killed by her partner every eight hours. (Guardian)

The Philippines is the only country in the world, apart from Vatican City, that lacks divorce laws.

Twelve children die from violence every hour (says UNICEF).

Black literacy was illegal for the majority of American history.

“There are legal reforms that give daughters the right to inherit equally, and laws against dowries and sex-selective abortions” in India, says a New Scientist interviewee, but “enforcement can be difficult”. Changing laws changes minds, but some people take a long time to get it.

BUT...

In my lifetime, schools and colleges have become more and more coed.

It’s much easier now for single women to obtain artificial insemination (in the olden days they used a friend and a “turkey baster”).

Thirty countries around the world have banned spanking in all settings. (time.com Dan Arel/Patheos)

AND...

Hotels no longer require unmarried couples to sign in as Mr and Mrs Smith.
Criminals are no longer condemned to “hard labour”.
Begging is no longer a crime.
People are no longer charged with being "rogues and vagabonds".

More here, and links to the rest.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

More Euphemisms in Quotes 1

If it's Thursday it must be Cameron

"Those words we throw around like they actually mean something actually mean something." (Fred Scharmen ‏@sevensixfive)

"Courtesy" call = irritating and pointless call. "Courtesy" car = deathtrap.
(Sathnam Sanghera ‏@Sathnam)

"Let's restore peace" - "Let's return to killing and terrorizing random black folks without you people causing a fuss. Attention seekers!" (‏@hsofia, week of Ferguson riots, Aug 2014)

What they call 'persistence' feels like plodding, doesn't it? A lot of plodding in success. (@alightheart)

Can we stop saying politicians "toured" a flood-affected area? It's not a tourist attraction. It's a natural disaster. (Ryan Kessler @therkess)

Kids. Just let them be. Stop living through them, spoiling them and over indulging them. They deserve to be themselves. (@Nick_Pye Yet another meaning for “be yourself”.)

Exams are "unimaginative, little changed from Victorian times" and fail to ready pupils for the modern workplace, warns Eton's headmaster. He means: "Public schools do not come top in league tables, we need a different USP."

[In the 80s] the Observer carried a story based on a leak, claiming that MI5 secretly controlled the “hiring and firing’’ of BBC staff members in a vetting process known as “colleging” or “the formalities”. (Telegraph Aug 2104)

For "efficiency" read "returns to our shareholders". (comment on notice re Post Office deliveries)

I was... voted “most scholarly” of my class, roughly equivalent to “least likely to have sex”. (medium.com)

Materialism: Usually seems to be "other people wanting stuff". (RI)

General warning about the world; if a person/government has to tell you how democratic/peaceful/not racist/not misogynist they are, run. (@Fauxgyptian)

They perpetuate the myth that there is an ever more threatening minority demanding special rights from a cowed and pandering nation emasculated by “health and safety gone mad” and "multicultural Britain". (Liverpool Echo on Britain First)

When cops shoot a black kid, ppl who gather to grieve are an "angry mob". When cops shoot a white kid... Hm I can't even think of an example. (‏@YesYoureRacist)

Political correctness: the term reactionaries use when they caught out behaving badly. (ND)

Didn’t suffer fools gladly: “obituary-ese for ‘ill-tempered and difficult’” (@WillWiles)

Security chief Zhou Yongkang is to be investigated for a “serious disciplinary offence” (code for bribery and influence-peddling)." (The Week)

More here and links to the rest.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Euphemisms about People (in Quotes)

Be spontaneous!
“When the television people instruct you to be “lively,” “spontaneous,” “controversial” and full of “energy,” what they mean is that you should feel free to ridicule others, interrupt, toss off opinions from the top of your head, argue with cleverness rather than evidence, and display intolerance for any opinion but your own.” (Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behaviour, Judith Martin)

Sophisticated: person who can enjoy a film despite clunky FX. Unsophisticated: person who can't enjoy a film unless the FX are 'realistic'.” (writer and Dalek Barnaby Edwards)

Let's have lunch sometime!: I don't want to see you again. (alumni.media.mit.edu)

You would want to do X now: Do X.
You might want to consider doing X: I absolutely expect you to do X.
I'll have to think about it: I have thought about it, and the answer is ‘no’.
Are you sure you want to do that?: Are you really stupid enough to consider that?
Do you mind Xing?: Do X!
It's not that X, it's just that...: If it were acceptable, I would say X.
(alumni.media.mit.edu)

boring: “Men worry that having children will make them ‘boring’. This is code for ‘can’t go out and get drunk with other men’.” (The Guardian, Nov 09)

boundaries: It is up to parents to determine the way they want to help their children navigate boundaries and how they define right and wrong. (David Lammy, January 29, 2012).

condition: illness (“Professionals Can Suffer from Career-Related Conditions” @lifehackorg)

earnest: dull, worthy, probably cares about an unfashionable cause, or wants to stop us doing something harmless but enjoyable like smoking or making sexist jokes. It’s subtly pejorative. (“Earnest types who use the word “powerful” to describe music.” flavorwire.com “Earnest types sitting around pontificating about abstruse elements in books that no one reads.” joannehichens.co.za “The interminable bickering of painfully earnest students.” Popup London/@FoodPit)

ebullient: cruel (“Ebullient, indiscreet and cantankerous, he loved winding people up.” Times obituary, Sept 2011)

eccentric, erratic: crazy, creepy (“The man was clearly creepy – or, to use the British term, ‘eccentric’.” Hadley Freeman on Jimmy Savile, The Guardian, 8 November 2012)

emotional intelligence (formerly “maturity", or perhaps "Machiavellianism”): “The trick is to use your emotional intelligence to recognise how you are feeling and how it impacts your work persona.” (stylist.co.uk) Emotional intelligence is the ability to “motivate oneself and persist in the face of frustrations, to control impulse and delay gratification, to regulate one’s moods and keep distress from swamping the ability to think, to empathise and to hope,” as defined by Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, Why It Can Matter More than IQ. “A useful resource that helps develop networks, figure out hierarchy, and influence others.” (BPS Research Digest)

It amazes me how fast "you're so fun and carefree" changes to "you're an asshole that doesn't care about anything" (about 3 months). (@PuddingBoobs)

ladylike: [The Mama-San] suggested we foreign girls behave in a more ladylike manner, that is – to laugh more and talk back less. She herself laughed almost all the time, even when nothing funny happened. (Angela Carter on working as a hostess in Japan in the 80s)

outspoken: abusive, teller of painful truths, blunt (Word thesaurus says: “very frank or straightforward and showing no delicacy or consideration” – no tap dancing around the subject, no diplomacy, no deference, no “Up to a point, Lord Copper”.)

phoney: The phoney world of Twitter, the London chatterati and left-wing media. (Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre, 2013 If it’s a phoney world it’s no threat. It’s like calling your opponents “so-called” or "faux socialist".)

positive: idealised (You could probably divide middle-class TV watchers into those who think TV should project an idealised, “positive” version of the world, and those who think it should reflect reality. middleclasshandbook.co.uk)

prosocial behaviour: kindness (Often [privatised medicine] fails to build up and reward pro-social behaviour (a psych word for ‘kindness’) in its staff, because paying them so little exhibits so little kindness towards them. Zoe Williams, The Guardian, March 21 2013)

sense of self (“famed for his extravagant lifestyle and robust sense of self”): probably a taker rather than a giver

sinful: mildly self-indulgent (“11 Sinfully Easy Crock Pot Recipes” lifehack.org)

strongwilled, tough: “positive terms for bastard” (Zoe Williams, Guardian, Mar 16 10)

team player: willing pawn “Someone who will allow us to do whatever we want to you.” (management.fortune.cnn.com, Feb 2012)

You’re overqualified: You’re too posh. (Or “we’ll have to pay you too much”.) And “we think you’ll be bored” means “we think you’ll look down on us”. (“She had no suitable position for someone so ‘overqualified’, which was a euphemism for saying that I was too old for the job… I told myself that ‘passing the responsibility on to her superiors’ was a polite way of saying I wouldn’t get the job.” People Speak, by Hayim Valder)

More here, and links to the rest.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Euphemisms About Class and Stuff (in Quotes)

There was nobody at all in the East End

“My rather simple family kept my own genetic secret for over half a century.” (geneticist Paul Nurse His father – actually his grandfather – was a farmworker.)

Row over NY developers installing “poor doors” – separate entrances for the affordable housing they have to provide. Green Party’s Darren Johnson said: “This shows contempt for ordinary people.” (July 2014)

Now for reshuffle winners. Team Cameron calls them "refreshing, representative and election winning" - code for 'good on telly & not posh'. (‏@bbcnickrobinson)
It has become acceptable to shop at Lidl. (Guardian July 2 2011 Presumably it was acceptable to a lot of people before 2011, or Lidl would have gone out of business.)

"What I like about east London is that it is still a bit edgy [...] It is so populated. Ten years ago there was nobody there." (Zaha Hadid)

“He seems to get around to a lot of places people haven’t visited before.” (Anthony Powell, What’s Become of Waring? The people who live in the places are of course “natives”. The novel was written in the 30s.)

Community
seems to be a euphemism for the vulnerable lower orders. (Grayson Perry, New Statesman Oct 2014)


Is it too simplistic to suggest that this 'recovery' involves profits going up again and shareholders/bosses keeping almost all of them? (James O'Brien ‏@mrjamesob)

"I'm just old fashioned" = I know my views are outdated and probably sexist, racist, homophobic, or similar, but I'll keep them anyway. (@MrOzAtheist)


He said he was “managing director, digital” at a public relations firm.
“I don’t really know what that means.”
“I’m a digital and social-media strategist,” he explained. “I deliver programs, products, and strategies to our corporate clients across the spectrum of communications functions.”
“Sorry to be a doofus, but pretend I’m ten years old. What do you do all day? ”
“I teach big companies how to use Facebook.”
(Gary Stephen Ross, walrus.com)


Support for the status quo is "nuanced", opposing the status quo is "predictable". (@OwenJones84)

Everyone gushed about how Clare Balding had got where she was because of graft and ability (which was another way of saying she wasn’t conventionally pretty and didn’t sleep her way to the top). (Times 2014-09-06)

There's poverty in the UK, but we are better off calling it inequality. (John Lanchester)

Rezidentura was Cold War Russian terminology for a KGB spy station overseas. (New Humanist August 2014)

Dark as in “the new Dr Who”: I think it involves the difference between “good” and “bad”, “hero” and “villain” being somewhat blurred. (Michael Savage ‏@Softspoken_One)

Poverty has structural causes. (We are not, repeat not, pointing the finger at anybody.)

“I’m sorry, but you’re too experienced.” It is, I believe, synonymous with, "I'm sorry, but we would have to pay you too much..." "Too experienced" could mean "I find you intimidating." (LinkedIn discussion) (Could also mean “You are taller than the boss”.)

physical: violent (He was accustomed to being physical with women, and, while his wife put up with the abuse, her daughter grew less and less inclined to stand by and watch. pulpinternational.com)

It's work experience and personality (ie being willing to get stuff done, smiling, easy to talk to) that get you jobs. (Commenter in Guardian)

Well, the head of chemistry sighed, the Salters course was quite new and so some of the stuffier universities might not look too favourably on it. These ‘stuffier’ universities seemed to overlap quite closely with my mental list of ‘good’ universities. (Web of Substance blog)


Surely, gov't cannot possibly cap rail fares. They've already said price regulation is unworkable socialist madness. *awaits announcement* (Alex Andreou ‏@sturdyAlex)
It’s unworkable socialist madness when proposed by socialists. When proposed by Tories, it’s supporting hard-working families. (Brian Johnson ‏@MustardSeedUK)

"Courtesy" call = irritating and pointless call. "Courtesy" car = deathtrap. (Sathnam Sanghera ‏@Sathnam)

"Let's restore peace" - "Let's return to killing and terrorizing random black folks without you people causing a fuss. Attention seekers!" (HSofia ‏@hsofia Week of Ferguson riots, Aug 2014)

What they call 'persistence' feels like plodding, doesn't it? A lot of plodding in success. (@alightheart)

Kids. Just let them be. Stop living through them, spoiling them and over indulging them. They deserve to be themselves. (@Nick_Pye  Yet another meaning for “be yourself”.)

Exams "unimaginative, little changed from Victorian times" and fail to ready pupils for the modern workplace, warns Eton's headmaster. He means: "Public schools do not come top in league tables, we need a different USP."

[In the 80s] the Observer carried a story based on a leak, claiming that MI5 secretly controlled the “hiring and firing’’ of BBC staff members in a vetting process known as “colleging” or “the formalities”. Telegraph Aug 2104

I was... voted “most scholarly” of my class, roughly equivalent to “least likely to have sex.” (medium.com)

materialism: Usually seems to be "other people wanting stuff". (Roman Iwaschkin)

General warning about the world; if a person/government has to tell you how democratic/peaceful/not racist/not misogynist they are, run. (@Fauxgyptian)

‏Also, western leaders are rarely called things like "master manipulator" even when so. But the tricksy Arabs are just that. (@Fauxgyptian Quoting from the Economist on Erdogan)

When cops shoot a black kid, ppl who gather to grieve are an "angry mob." When cops shoot a white kid... Hm I can't even think of an example (@YesYoureRacist)

political correctness: the term reactionaries use when they caught out behaving
badly. (Nick D)

didn’t suffer fools gladly:
“obituary-ese for ‘ill-tempered and difficult’” (@WillWiles)

Security chief Zhou Yongkang is to be investigated for a “serious disciplinary offence” (code for bribery and influence-peddling). (The Week)

It's never described as 'elegant' or 'beautiful' with Germany. it's always 'clinical', 'well oiled' & 'efficient' why is this @GaryLineker? (@dallascampbell)

It is incredible how quickly folk resort to labels of 'negativity', 'aggression', 'confrontation' etc when faced with criticisms they dislike. ( ‏@How_Upsetting )

More here.


Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Have His Carcase



Have His Carcase, by Dorothy Sayers, was published in 1932. (The title is a sort-of play on “habeas corpus”.)

Successful detective novelist Harriet Vane is on a solo walking tour of the West Country, wearing sensible clothes (a jumper and skirt) and a knapsack. The idea is to hike along narrow country roads from pub to pub. What a modern, independent woman she is! She lunches on a beach, and falls asleep in the sun. When she wakes up, she spots another sleeper – on a rock dangerously near where the tide is coming in. She goes over to wake him, but finds that he is dead – he has cut his throat.

It’s all pretty gruesome, but she’s not just a new woman, she’s a detective novelist – she ought to know what to do. The tide is coming in fast. She takes photographs, and takes a few things as evidence. Then she sets off in search of a telephone. But she’s on a remote country road miles from anywhere. By the time she phones the police, the body has been washed out to sea.

The police ask her not to leave the area, so she checks into the Resplendent Hotel in the nearby posh resort, Wilvercombe, and sends for (and buys) some more suitable clothes. She also phones the newspapers, to get her story in first.

Then who should pop up but her friend and admirer, Lord Peter Wimsey, who got her off a murder charge not so long ago. (He worked out whodunnit and got a confession from the real perp.) But he couldn’t stop the press raking up Harriet’s unconventional private life – she didn’t just have an affair with a poet, she actually lived with the blighter.

Lord Peter wants to protect Harriet from any unpleasantness – but she’s a modern woman, remember? That must be why she keeps turning down his proposals of marriage.

Harriet and Peter set out to solve the mystery, occasionally having bitter quarrels about her scruples. “I just want to be honest!” “But you make it sound so dreary and exhausting!” It’s better when they are exchanging banter and he is impressing her with his riding skills, though it gets a bit Mills & Boon.

It soon becomes clear that the body was that of Mr Alexis, a professional dancer at the Hotel Resplendent. Harriet follows his trail, befriending his fiancee, an older woman of means, and interviewing his colleagues, Doris, Charis and Monsieur Antoine. And then Mrs Weldon’s rather crude son, a farmer, turns up and takes a shine to Harriet.

There are many red herrings, and peripheral characters: the weedy hiker who disappeared after accompanying Harriet to a phone; the washed-up barber who supplied the weapon; a theatrical agent; Alexis’s ex-girlfriend; his landlady; a tedious West Country police inspector; and a horse. Not all of them are as amusing as Sayers intends them to be.

Much print is expended on tracking down the razor, working out everybody’s movements, checking their alibis, and solving a mysterious message in code found in Alexis’s lodgings. I tend to skip rustics and timetables, but I love the chapters that reveal a vanished world of meretricious luxury, glamorous evening dresses, ballroom dancing and classical concerts in “winter gardens”.

By the end of the book, the likeable M. Antoine and Mrs Weldon look set to waltz off into the sunset. Harriet and Peter don’t get together, but there are sequels...

What makes this book so 1932? The Edwardian hotel and resort. The lack of telephones. The narrow, empty roads. And women's attempts to live their own lives, working as a dancer, a writer or a landlady, marrying a younger man or not getting married at all.


More Golden Age detection here.

Inspirational Quotes 64

Learn a language and meet people

So, should you learn to love yourself – or learn German?

Learning a second language can potentially bring you more friends, ways to travel and better job opportunities: interpreters and translators are among the top five fastest-growing occupations. (Time June 2014)

Working behind the bar of his dads’s country pub, writer Chapman Pincher says he learned “the art of easy conversation with men of all ages and ranks”.

She expected it to come to her as all things had come to her hitherto, by virtue of the stationary magnetism of her physical beauty. (Patrick Hamilton)

Millie is an irritant female who seems to never shut her mouth and bothers people who are not interested in her. The reason for this is that she is so lonely that she intrudes in other peoples lives and as a consequence is ignored by them. (imdb comment on Three Women)

When a teacher relinquishes control you are unlikely to have a blossoming of freedom and democracy. Rather, one of the students is likely to start running the show; a student who is feared by the others and who has less benign intent than the teacher. (Harry Webb, Web of Substance)

If they attack one personally, it means they have not a single argument left. (Mrs Thatcher, paraphrase)

When people don't like themselves very much, they have to make up for it. The classic bully was actually a victim first. (Tom Hiddleston)

Some people try to be tall by cutting off the heads of others. (Paramhansa Yogananda)

I realized that bullying never has to do with you. It's the bully who's insecure. (Shay Mitchell)


Neither defendants nor amici cite any evidence or even develop a cogent argument to support their belief that allowing same-sex couples to marry somehow will lead to the de-valuing of children in marriage or have some other adverse effect on the marriage of heterosexual couples. (US District Judge Barbara Crabb)

The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it. (Neil deGrasse Tyson)

A recent Columbia grad says she’s noticed recurring themes in the conversations she has with friends about “being an adult,” the definition of which is “murky at best, but loosely includes holding down a job, paying your own bills, and owning Real Kitchen Appliances.” (lifehack.org)

More here, and links to the rest.