Saturday 25 June 2011

Inspirational Quotes Part Four

Just be yourself! Live in the moment! Be spontaneous! Don't copy other people! Feel, don't think! Don't worry about what other people are thinking about you! Confidence comes from within! Or maybe not...

Professor Pam Mara, a psychologist ...said “How we think others see us and how we see ourselves affects all our behaviour; book choice is one clue to others and ourselves.” Guardian August 23, 2006

"For a long time, parents discouraged their children from worrying about what others think. They didn't realize how shortsighted and stupid that was," says Mark Leary, a social psychology professor at Duke University who studies impression management.

"We need other people to think well of us." (Time Oct 06)

The prefrontal cortex “has been implicated in planning complex cognitive behaviors, personality expression, decision making and moderating correct social behavior.” wiki

Sharing and self-disclosure can help achieve intimacy and closeness with others and reduce social anxiety. BPS Research Digest

(When hiring “overqualified” staff) the authors recommend that employers and employees go into situations “with their eyes open”, establishing a clear psychological contract . BPS Research Digest

Scrutinising and discussing the actions of the famous allows us to examine our own behaviour, without ever quite admitting that that’s what we’re doing. David Aaronovitch on the kerfuffle over celebrity adultery, May 26, 2011

We overestimate the pleasures of solitude and leisure and underestimate how much happiness we get from social relationships.

Evidence-based medicine is often about stopping doing something that's not very useful. Ben Goldacre

When people don’t act immediately they talk themselves out of it. Linda Papadopoulos, psychologist

And it's also a fine thing to be able to reduce dissonance after you've made a decision and bought that car and married that person and moved to Cincinnati, so that you won't beat yourself up about everything that you might have done wrong. The people who don't reduce dissonance enough suffer from regret and remorse... Carol Tavris

“You have not yet learned that in this life you have to be like everyone else.” Kubrick’s The Killing

“Differences between men and women in aspirations for marriage and children are fairly small,” says Anke Plagnol... “Gender differences in satisfaction depend largely on attainment.” ... “Of course, one doesn’t have to be married to be happy, but if that’s something you really want – and it is for most people – then the failure to attain it can have an impact on your overall happiness,” Plagnol says, adding that those in a relationship also tend to be in a stronger financial position than those who must depend solely on their own resources.

Everybody wonders and worries about how they come across to others… New Scientist May 2011

Emotional Intelligence is a useful resource that helps develop networks, figure out hierarchy, and influence others. BPS research digest

With no readily imaginable future, no possibility of a shared social life, no financial support and a relationship based on duplicity… [without] shared friendships, holidays, mutual hobbies, a partner at ghastly couples dinners. Mariella Frostrup explains why people want relationships while talking about mistresses, May 1 2011

Basic problem solving on work and relationship issues may make a difference [more than therapy or CBT]. Guardian February 27, 2008

More here and here and here.

Thursday 23 June 2011

How to Be Rude

You can do a lot with an adjective:

A plodding and sometimes self-regarding technical dreariness blights several of the surrealists: Dalí, Ernst and the awful, slithery Yves Tanguy. Adrian Searle, Guardian on the Magritte show at Tate Liverpool.

I was up against chillingly bright people from a local College.

sepulchral (a half-demolished 70s shopping centre in Aylesbury)

bulbous Hepworth rubbish (in the new Wakefield gallery)

clip-on (“all those clip on bits of pop ornamentation” on postmodern architecture)

terrible, laboured, empty, bonkers, tedious, “pompous and clumsy and utterly miserable for no good reason”, eerily joyless, stupid, arrogant, insolent, lumbering, inane Jonathan Jones on a show by artist Mark Leckey, Guardian May 24, 2011 (I don't think he liked it.)

More adjectives here and here and here and here.

Thursday 16 June 2011

Journalistic Clichés

acrimonious, amicable Only applied to divorces, which are always either one or the other.
bagpipes “skirl”
used as a verb

battle with cancer
People don’t die of cancer, they lose their battle with it, don’t suffer it but fight it, don’t recover from it but beat it.


bitter struggle, conflict, dispute etc.
boasts Please don’t use when you just mean “has”.
bolster as a verb. What's wrong with "support"? And when did you last see a bolster?

Writers are fond of "brutal", and like applying it to things that can't be brutal, like "the brutal trajectory of the porn industry". I think this writer meant "unstoppable spread". (Trajectories go up and then down again.)

Try "growing".

bustling Try “busy”.

came for happened, occurred, took place, followed, fell, was effected/done/carried out, coincided with. “Her murder comes after the deaths of several journalists…” Guardian July 17, 2007 How about “Her murder follows the deaths…”? Writers may be trying to avoid the passive, but this is much worse.


combat for fight, oppose, counter
comes after, in the wake of follows

cosset, pamper, indulge, decadence Inseparable from articles about massage, spas or beauty treatments.

draw for prompt, evoke etc
dry facts are always dry, especially in the education debate - see cram, regurgitate etc
for break out, happen, occur
explode for increase (verb)
explosion for increase (noun)

fan flames
for exacerbate
forge for create, give rise to, form
fuel a surge and other inappropriate things

fuelled for impelled, built up, constructed, powered, encouraged, provoked, driven, incited, powered, prompted, facilitated, made possible, instigated, contributed to, promoted, advanced, exacerbated, aggravated, worsened

garner for gain
girding for preparing
good-humoured to describe behaviour of protesters and police
head off for avert, fend off, stave off, ward off, preclude
hurdle for problem, obstacle, barrier
iconic of buildings, means BIG

ignite for set off, cause, prompt etc. It's only used for starting riots, not for setting light to anything. If a riot is “ignited”, rioters will “torch” cars and buildings.

industrial wasteland
applied to any collection of industrial buildings which may be “hives of activity” and “bustling” with actual industry. But anything that isn’t residential or natural is a “wasteland”.

isolated beauty spot
The place where the body is found.

for tilt, disturb

jump for increase, rise

key for core

kick start
for start, prompt, cause – it implies that all you have to do is kick the machine and then it’ll run by itself.

for amount/s

lull into a sense of false security Why not soothed, stupefied, tranquillised, sedated?

mane If a woman has grey hair, it's a "mane"

mired in for involved in, embroiled in, caught up in, entangled in, stuck in etc

mobs always bay, while the upper classes bray
is headlinese for consider

No one can mention them without using the word wimple. Most nuns wear ordinary clothes, and have done since the 70s.

ordeal kidnap victims always suffer an ordeal
of grief (but upsurge of protest)
plummet for fall
pummel (what waves do to coasts)

reeling everybody reels far too often (still reeling from the shock of…).
relentless, remorseless
progress etc Try "unstoppable", and avoid the pathetic fallacy.

riven for split, divided

as in “last year saw an increase in X”, or "Germany has seen". Try “last year X increased”, Germany has experienced or witnessed (or X took place in Germany).

for severely

shrink for lessen, fall

sit for lie, stand "The crypt which sat (and still sits today) beneath the 11th century church." Which lay, and which still exists? The silliest example I ever read was "IBM sits firmly in all three camps".

sit well with
for agree with, appeal to, go down well with, find acceptance with

spark for start, cause, prompt, result in, lead to, provoke, set off

spat for row

spawn for cause, give rise to, result in, lead to, generate

spry, sprightly as applied to older men (they're also dapper)

spur for prompt, encourage)

sun beats down

for ethnic hatred or violence (inflaming tensions New Scientist 2009)

the bulk of for most

Things are called into question, but thrown into disarray
for cause etc (see spark)

tumult for trouble

tumultuous for potentially violent, troubled, eventful

typically for usually

for emphasize, highlight, reveal, reflect

unravel lives always unravel
restraint is always “urged”
for thriving

wedded to a point of view

weigh for consider

wrenching for disturbing

You don’t care a jot, if asked if you’re worried you say "Not one whit", there is never the slightest whiff of scandal, and you go a tad off course. Milk? Just a dash!

More clichés here.

Thursday 9 June 2011

Verbing Nouns

We hate verbing nouns, don't we? It's just another symptom of the decline of the English language. Soon we'll all be speaking Jafaican, or txt speak – or was that last year's panic?

Here's what the Economist style guide has to say: Try not to verb nouns or to adjective them. So do not access files, haemorrhage red ink, let one event impact another, author books (still less co-author them), critique style sheets, host parties, pressure colleagues, progress reports, trial programmes or loan money. And though it is sometimes necessary to use nouns as adjectives, there is no need to call an attempted coup a coup attempt... Vilest of all is the habit of throwing together several nouns into one ghastly adjectival reticule: Texas millionaire real-estate developer and failed thrift entrepreneur Hiram Turnipseed... [Actually, educated Americans abominate this practice.]

We all hate access action architect author caveat conflicted contact gift
host for “played host to” (but you can’t put that in a headline – and actually it’s a revival of an archaic use)
ideate impact incent
leverage (in finance, means “borrow the money”)
retributed (The Apprentice Oct 27 10)
surface (for bring to the surface)
target task vacation (He vacationed in Hawaii.)
incentivise marketise monetise televise weaponise

But just because management bollocks is irritating, it doesn’t meant that you should rush about claiming that the sky is falling and making up rules that you should never verb nouns, or quoting Calvin and Hobbes (“Verbing weirds language”) as if they were the Bible. Surely nobody minds these:

book (Book him!)
boot (out)
box (box up, mint and boxed)
bridge (bridge that gap)
broker (a peace deal)
bus (people from place to place)
doughnut [Doughnutting is a] practice used in televised sessions in the UK's House of Commons (and other places) of surrounding the speaker at any one time with a coterie of camp followers who would yell "hear hear " and other such things. This would hopefully work to distract the cameraman's attention from the facts that firstly, most of the seats in the chamber would be empty, and secondly most of the remainder would be occupied by MPs who were filling in crosswords, sleeping, or otherwise unengaged in parliamentary business.
earth (an electrical device)
effort (She efforted to overcome many difficulties in her life.)
eye (a bargain, a prospect)
fence (off)
house (the homeless)
ice (up, in, over)
moon (about)
nose (out)
nostalge @elliotjbrown
obsess (obsessing over…)
picture this
pinkslip to lay off or fire from a job "The company pinkslipped 60 staffers in its New York office Monday." (Variety)
pocket These job losses are going to be pocketed in areas where we can trim a little more. (tailoring metaphors from government spokeswoman)
pot (potted meat, potted plant)
rain just about fringeing in… BBC weather man Liam, nutshell
sand (down this piece of furniture)
stress (stressing about…)
sugar (your cornflakes)
table a motion
thrift (buy clothes in thrift stores)
trouser (the change)
trucked/bussed in
wall up/off/in

And nouning verbs can be fun
usage dwindle, mission creep


Sunday 5 June 2011

More Cop Show Clichés

As of 2011, TV cops have to be female, with a lot of back story.

At least Scott and Bailey avoids the scene with the laconic pathologist cheerfully sizing up a corpse while a rookie police officer vomits in the corner from shock. Every time Vera turns up to see a body, there’s a jaunty bloke carrying out the autopsy while being sarcastic and patronising. Other clichés of the genre also regularly feature: both episodes one and four begin with a body found underwater and shot with arty blurrings and reflections after the Millais painting of the drowning of Ophelia. Vera is overweight, drinks too much and is unable to sustain a relationship because of her workaholism and abusive relationship with her dad. Oh, and she has a habit of going off on hunches, which lead her colleagues to think she’s gone completely mad, until she proves to have seen things that nobody else did. (See also reviews of The Shadow Line with its ridiculous extended metaphors. Policemen don’t talk like that. Why don’t writers shadow real policemen, who speak a genuinely colourful argot? Oh, and look out for the pathologist who munches a sandwich while pointing out the horrible injuries.) Private Eye on Vera and Scott and Bailey.

As my colleagues in the Guardian have pointed out, the more realistic the cops, the more fanciful and improbable the murders. And the cliches remain the same, whether in Vera, Lewis or Case Sensitive. Here are some more recent ones I've spotted: the first murder is usually the weirdest and is unexplained at the end. Any group of children having a boisterous outing will always stumble on a body. All mobile phone calls come at the worst possible moment. When the sidekick searches for a crucial clue on the internet, he invariably finds it immediately, usually with a cry of "Bingo, boss!". Simon Hoggart May 7 2011

The suspect will go out of their way to make contact with the person in charge, simply to comment on how alike they both are. @matr77 (Mat Ranson)

Use of the internet is either elaborately casual, or obviously grafted on to a pre-Internet plot. Internet searches take seconds, not hours. Cops told to search the internet comply either over-seriously (the internet – ooooh!) or grumpily (to show how at ease they - and the director and writer - are with technology). Wouldn’t you Google the suspect as soon as you heard his name, without being told?

Man in phone box: Inspector? I’ve got something really important to tell you!
Insp: Oh, OK, I’ll come to your houseboat at 8.
He arrives. The houseboat owner is lying there dead.

More deathless dialogue:

I don’t know what you’re talking about!
Oh, I think you do.

Can we talk?
I have nothing whatever to say to you! (or: I don’t think we have anything to talk about! or: Not here!)

Look, I didn’t murder him, if that’s what you’re getting at.

What do you think you’re doing here! After everything you’ve done [to me/my daughter/my dog/Stark Enterprises etc]!

If Harry Worth thought that Kaufman was Dr Belasco, he’d hardly suggest his café for a rendezvous with Sir Graham. (The invaluable Francis Durbridge)

More here. And here.