Tuesday 31 December 2013

Inspirational Quotes 47

Always be spontaneous, but:
Before going on a date, it’s standard practice to think about questions that you can ask your date in the event that the conversation begins to flatten out.

Believe me, I perfected my "Wagner the musician is not the same as Wagner the man, and in any case he can't be held responsible for how his music was misused ..." speech pretty quickly. (brightcecilia.com)

It's sad that some girls feel the need to copy someone else just cause they think it'll make them more likeable #justbeyourself (Carly Preston ‏@carly_horse18 8 Aug)

Lives have been changed through prayer and sacred texts, but … it is through the discipline of attention and the following prescribed behaviours that lives are transformed. (The Skeptic, Sept 2013)

“You just have to get over things. But I don’t think I ever have!” (Rita Moreno on having her songs dubbed in West Side Story)

Quite a few people still think bullying is a normal part of life and don't see why effort should be expended trying to prevent it. Some of these seem to define bullying out of existence by calling it something else. (Mark Thornton mthorn@cix)

I eventually decided I needed to be more aggressive and boxing was the most aggressive thing I could think of. I took it up and the whistles stopped. (Ran Fiennes on being bullied at school, Times Sept 2013)

I realised it wasn’t for me. (Ran Fiennes, T Sept 2013 on climbing the Eiger with vertigo)

He was born into a family of fallen aristocrats and raised on a dilapidated Northamptonshire estate in an atmosphere of almost Victorian froideur. "We never related emotionally to either parent," he says bluntly. (Dorian Lynskey on producer Ivo Watts-Russell Guardian 2013-09-12)

Rulers are granted great privileges which are practically cancelled by taboo prohibitions. (Freud, Totem and Taboo)

Homosexuality, I was told, is not God’s best plan. They meet in bars, you know, and they’re not really committed to each other. (Antonia Honeywell)

Always do what you did and you'll always get what you got. (Chris Evans)

They had married in 1923 after a brief courtship involving long country walks and literary discussion. (The Love-Charm of Bombs)

Reading books that I would have read anyway and forming irrelevant opinions about them. (Giles Coren on studying Eng Lit Sept 2013)

In much the same way that a popular book written in accessible language cannot be "literature", an academic screed cannot be sufficiently "rigorous" unless it is written in language so [impenetrably] arcane that it is completely inaccessible to a non-"expert". (Nick Hart)

In “pop” a dreamworld is created which is a substitute for actual living, and also a projection of inward myth-hallucinations. (David Holbrook, Leavisite)

More here, and links to the rest.

Monday 23 December 2013

Inspirational Quotes No. 46

Remember, don’t think about yourself – nobody else is.

Only the self-aware can have charm. (theatlantic.com)

I would suggest another reform which would lift a... weight off many a pair of shoulders. Let us all start off in life determined to be what we really are. (Mrs Panton, From Kitchen to Garrett, 1893  She means “don’t try to pretend your income is higher than it really is”.)

Just like your friend from middle school who came back from summer vacation suddenly too cool for you because she grew boobs. (jezebel.com)

Over the winter I moved from New York City to Portland, Ore. The reasons for my move were purely logical. New York was expensive and stressful. Portland, I reasoned, would offer me the space and time to do my work. Upon arriving, I rented a house and happily went out in search of "my people." I went to parks, bookstores, bars, on dates. I even tried golfing. It wasn't that I didn't meet people. I did. I just felt no connection to any of them... Me? I moved back to New York. (Slate article on loneliness)

From interview with me: “Useful advice is better than inspiring stories of people riding up Everest on a unicycle.” (@MarkOneinFour)

The fear of being alone is deeply rooted in our mind. (lifehack.org)

The entire point of science is to stop us deluding ourselves. (Richard Feynman)

I've noticed even people who claim everything is predestined & we can do nothing to change it look before they cross the road. (Stephen Hawking

Common interests, beliefs, life goals/wants, family and why you like each other are all acceptable topics that will usually generate interesting and meaningful talk between you and your date. (teengirltalk.com)

I'm of the age where I am never fully dressed without a forced smile and a wool button-up cardigan. (@ElizabethBastos 28 Nov 12)

Fear less, hope more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; love more, and all good things will be yours. - Swedish proverb (So much more manageable than those terrifying directives to Be Yourself! Trust Absolutely! Live Every Minute as if It Was Your Last!)

I think I once said that if I hit 30 and I’m still single and I still don’t have a mortgage then I’d f*** off to London... If I were more sociable I would know more people and get more freelance work. (Ben Mægenmund ‏@BennyBrick)

More here, and links to the rest.

Sunday 22 December 2013

Whatever Happened To....? 27

“You’ve got mail!”
Advent calendars
without chocolate (and with snow scenes and windows that showed you what was happening in the houses.)
alphabetti spaghettiarticles asking if ecommerce will take off (one-third of commerce is now online)
ban on two-letter words in Scrabble (it’s the way to get huge scores, and now almost any two-letter combo is accepted as a word)
books printed on non-recycled paper
brass rubbing (nerdy 70s pastime)
brushed nylon

(became phones)
campaign to bring back mono

coast path
all the way round Britain (promised in 10 years by Labour): short stretch in Devon, Welsh coast path, a few more short stretches now being built, ready possibly by about 2020 (Countryfile)

coloured tights (late 70s) and green stockings (60s)
counterculture (it became mainstream culture and vice versa)
crab sticks
crepe knitting wool

double bills at the cinema
duffel bags

envelopes lined with tissue paper

glucose tablets
hats with attached scarves
(they were so frumpy)
high-cut swimsuits

toilet preparations
invisible menders (and stocking repair shops, per gransnet)
ipods (all your music goes on your phone now)

Maeterlink’s The Blue Bird
making notes on shirt cuffs
miniature crocheted hats
muslin curtains draped over a pole

people playing the spoons
(thank God they’ve stopped)
people tweeting the words “om nom nom”
people who thought BSE wasn’t caused by prions
prawn-flavoured Niknaks
Pringle sweaters

recipes that told you to fry raw rice before boiling it
rings made of elephant hair
saltimbocca alla Romana
shoulder-strap curtains

The Modern Jazz Quartet
The Serial
(hilarious send-up of hippy fashions)
tonic solfa system of music notation (so user friendly nobody uses it any more)
tonsures (abandoned by Papal order in 1972, according to Wikipedia)
Tory ladies in hats

Williams and Glyn’s bank
(Disappeared 30 years ago. RBS may be bringing it back.)
women’s centres

More here, and links to the rest.

Friday 20 December 2013


Classical doorway

A skeuomorph is an object that retains features of an earlier model made in a different material. The classic example is the Greek temple, made out of stone, but modelled on a wooden original with transverse beams. In the wooden version, the beam-ends (visible at the top of the outside walls) became a design feature. This decorative strip was retained in the marble version, though it no longer had a function. It turns up on any building that wants to look classical – and even on Victorian shopfronts and fireplaces. The Greeks had to build temples out of marble – they’d cut down all the trees. And a rock tomb that’s a copy of a stone temple is a skeuomorph of a skeuomorph. Are cathedrals and temples man-made caves?

pediments: They were originally created by the gable end of a pitched roof.

A keystone holds up an arch – but they turn up over windows where they are purely decorative. And how did a triple keystone become an Art Deco trope? "Modern" Art Deco also borrowed from Egyptian art and Jacobean embroidery.

is made with carpentry techniques (mortice and tenon joint, tongue and groove).
pilasters: They “support” a “pediment” or beam.

Some still have grooves so that you can tie up your boat or horse. (Others are modelled on cannons, with a cannon ball in the barrel. Some are actual cannon barrels.)

Plaster is sometimes pargeted to look like clapboarding.

Stucco on brick buildings was painted to look like stone. (Romanesque cathedrals were plastered inside and painted to look like marble.)

Amphorae were modelled on gourds. Gourds used as vases rested on woven bases – so did amphorae. When did it occur to potters that you could make them flat-bottomed? Why were they still making chianti bottles in this style in the 60s?

Rolls Royce: Posh cars preserved the look of a nobleman's carriage. Later versions look nothing like carriages but retain vestigial style features from previous models. (And a Roller’s radiator is modelled on a Greek temple.)

A “country kitchen” is just a modern kitchen with a distressed wood skin.

Hats in the shape of a solar topee or pith helmet have a token ridge on the top. Some modern solar topees have a moulded feature in imitation of the original scarf round the crown.

plastic oil cans, water butts and hard hats: models of metal or wooden originals

metal pen-nibs:
based on the nib of a goose-quill created with a pen-knife

Plastic stylus touch pens are like tiny biros. Biro tops and even highlight pens have barely functional hooks for hooking onto sheaves of paper or your top pocket.

Electric wall lights modelled on candle sconces: especially with the bulb as the flame on a fake candle with fake wax dripping down the side

Ramekins have grooves because they are a “fossil memory” of pleats in paper cases. (Ivan Day the cook on Royal Upstairs Downstairs)

basketweave china, basketweave knitting, basketweave shoes
half-timbering applied to semi-detached house, prefab, café interior
silver buckles imitate cut steel
Self-adhesive stamps still have perforations.

Some 30s art pottery was modelled on Indian basketwork, some 18th century china was modelled on silver originals and vice versa, plastic chatties are modelled on a bronze original, there are Viking stone bowls based on a Roman ceramic original, Anglo-Saxon stone thrones were modelled on wooden chairs.

Interlaced decoration on Pictish slabs, in the Book of Kells started as woven braids, embroidery, woven leather, knots, metalwork.

The antefix on top of the columns that divided Victorian shops from each other was originally a pottery detail on a tiled roof (Etruscan, ancient Roman). Sometimes in the shape of a leaf, sometimes with a face.

The first railway carriages were modelled on horsedrawn carriages, as were cars – and babies’ prams. Trains had coaches and carriages because the first trains just plonked carriage bodies onto train wheels.

Rubber boots modelled on leather riding boots preserve the old-fashioned shape, with functionless straps.

Wine coolers
copy milk pails.

cc (carbon copy) for copying an email
gears and spanners for options or change settings
envelope as email icon
old fashioned handset as phone icon
clipboard icon of a clipboard
radio buttons on computer interfaces

Web versions of fluorescent cardboard circles with jagged edges (NEW! NOW WITH X! FREE! SALE!) you used to see in shop windows

in text messages (They don’t do anything - but they’ve become a literary form.)

sound effects:
camera shutter, game over DING! (saved by the bell), online Scrabble has pinball sounds
computer fonts made to look typewritten

They’re still called “set-top boxes” though you can’t put one on top of a flat-screen telly.

SHIFT and RETURN keys (Why did people go on calling it a CARRIAGE RETURN long after typewriters with carriages had vanished? Has become an ENTER key now.)

jeggings with an embroidered fly and pockets
jeggings printed to look like jeans complete with faded patches, creases and rips
leather patches on sleeves that aren’t worn through, become a design feature

bits of costume that once had a use like men’s sleeve buttons, vents in the back of coats so that you could ride a horse in them

watch pocket on jeans – why not make it a phone pocket?

Cloche hats of the 20s were modelled on WWI flying helmets (they lived on to the 60s as rubber swim hats).

Nun’s habits became vestigial and vanished (they were already fossilised medieval costume).
A nurse’s dress is a fossilised 40s dress.

Nurses’ caps
made sense when servants wore caps. But both were a vestige of the linen or cotton caps that were once worn by most women over a certain age. These evolved to fit current hairstyles and began to go out in the late 19th century.

More skeuomorphic clothes here.

Hats keep archaic shapes, but hairstyles change, so you end up with the wrong hairstyle for the hat.

Corsets and “kinky” lace-up boots carried on being used in pornography long after they’d ceased to be everyday wear.

We got wide pavements so that we could have continental pavement cafes, but we never learned to wash them like they do on the continent.

People went on putting thick fur rugs in cars even after cars were no longer open, and had heating. Car rugs were taken over from carriage rugs.

Many sanctions are a hangover: in the past, nice girls didn’t because if you lost your reputation nobody would marry you.

Brushing your hair 100 times a day helps to keep it glossy – if it's waist-length. People went on recommending this practice long after most women had short hair.

We went to school with all our stuff in individual trunks. When did it occur to anybody that suitcases might be more practical? And you had to bring enough stuff for the whole term because you never went home for the weekend. The arrangement predated even train travel.

Huge suitcases (and trunks) persisted after the disappearance of porters. There was a long gap before the arrival of pullalongs.

We get new tech like ATMs and card readers in shops – but nobody cleans it.

Some people still put two spaces after a full stop (period) because that’s what they were taught 30 years ago. Books on how to write still tell punters to put two spaces after a full stop (and to submit articles double-spaced on A4). (Update: Word now corrects this "mistake".)

We still call utility poles “telegraph poles”.

There was about six months between the first mini-skirt and the first pair of American tan tights.

 Impressionist and then Cubist paintings were given ornate gilded frames.

Once the law had been changed (in the 20s) to allow children born out of wedlock to be “legitimised” and inherit from their parents, there were no material drawbacks to being a bastard. But something called “the stigma of illegitimacy” lasted until the 70s.

In the 20s, little girls with bobbed hair wore huge ribbon bows – left over from the previous decade when they had long, bouffant hair that needed tying with a bow.

We’re still told to use chilled butter for pastry – but we keep it in the fridge now and it’s always chilled.

Washing rice
made sense when it was full of grit and insects.
A double saucepan was necessary when you couldn’t adjust the heat on your hob.

Egg cosies
kept in the heat when all food was carried along miles of cold stone passages from a basement kitchen.

Sugar tongs
were made for picking up tiny pieces of sugar (like coffee sugar). No wonder it was so hard to pick up sugar lumps with them.

Tiny, blunt butter knives
were fine for serving butter curls, but were hopeless for cutting bits off slabs of refrigerated butter.

had a use when wine was full of bits and you strained it into a decanter. They continued as a pointless luxury item.

Teabags and mugs arrived in the 70s. It’s 2021 and nobody’s making spoon rests. Or mug saucers.

The human appendix no longer serves a function – it’s a vestigial organ. Darwin points out that most humans still have non-functioning ear and tail muscles.

The final come-down of the medieval great hall is the space-wasting lobby of a one-bedroom flat.
Modernist churches have vestigial spires.

Railway stations
originally had very high roofs to accommodate the steam and smoke of steam trains – new ones are built with high glass roofs because that’s what railway stations look like.

The Empire State Building had a mast on top to tether airships. (Transferring passengers by gangplank was made even riskier by high winds.) Now tall buildings have a mast on top to try and be taller than the next tall building. (The bulbs for the lights on the tip have to be changed by steeplejacks.)

Stately homes were built for a family, servants, guests. The servants have gone, and the house has lost its function. There’s no money to keep it up and it slowly decays. The last members of the family live in a few rooms with nothing to occupy their time – or minds.

Wooden spoons have bowls that are too shallow to be any use. (Though wooden spoons that you can also use as spoons are making a come-back.)

“Who giveth this woman...” is a relic of arranged marriages. (And the best man and stag party are a relic of the posse that captured the bride.)

People are still being trained for ways of life or professions that no longer exist: short story writer (there’s no market), jazz singer.

Friday 13 December 2013

Inventions and Reinventions 6

coffee bars
that stay open late
dry bars
dance halls and ballroom dancing schools

(like the Canaan Trust, Simon Community and Emmaus)
dog licences
woollen combinations

front porches
(for sitting out on, and holding "stoop sales")
walls for sitting on
as “focal point for room”
kitchen as room you live in with large wooden table and chintz sofas
cottages: just call them “small-scale starter homes”
boarding houses: they were banned in the US because of density laws, zoning, blah blah…
wood-panelled rooms (for insulation, warmth and that 70s sauna look)
sliding glass doors between rooms (so you can turn one large room into two and vice versa)

keyboard shortcut to take you to the top of a web page

compasses set into pavements outside station exits. More NEWS indicators.
secretaries – to read, sort and answer a company's email

play streets
(shut streets for a few hours a week so that kids can play).
mirrors to beam sun into deep mountain valleys (dreamed up 100 years ago, activated now in Italy and Norway)

coffee mornings
gallantry (A gentleman does not call Julia Gillard a “witch”, or respond to a school Fem Soc with #DPMO – “don’t piss me off”.)

car pools
smaller cars

tiny one-person car drawing a train of one-person podules (They're called quadpods.)

German trains have tables hinged in the middle so that you can fold them in half and easily get into your seat.

Let's reflood the Aral Sea.

And Native Americans should move back into national parks.

London's tube will run 24 hours at the weekend from 2015.

Amazon to offer cheap/free e-book versions of any physical book you buy (or have bought) from them. (Sept 2013)

"Around Warwickshire they do something called Living Cemeteries where they don't cut them back, let them grow a little wilder with local green things like grass and plants and the occasional sheep." (EW)

Why don't laptop lids have photovoltaic panels built in? (

Right, I need a 24 hour cafe in London, with good wi-fi and half decent air con. I don't think such a beast exists. Someone prove me wrong? (

SOAS students use radio drama to address sexual health and gender equality in Ghana

apes’ rights
(and dolphins', and…)

mobile school
that moves with refugees/travellers
philosophy classes in schools
modernist retirement homes and shared ownership flats
flattering ambient light
that turns on at the door

app showing the nearest toilet

TV remote app
tablet stand
for watching TV and films
shorthand to text app for tablets
(write on screen with stylus)

decent classic movie channel
in the UK
catch-up evolution classes
exercise bikes connected to the national grid
heated car tyres

random product button
for Amazon
pavement cleaning robots
Education Maintenance Allowance

mail pickup points – the privatised post office can take over empty shops
child-height sinks in primary schools (and elsewhere)

separate schools for kids who get bullied. And teach them a martial art. Because it “gives them confidence”, of course.

half-depth kitchen units
with glass doors. They don’t block the light, and you can see to the back of the cupboard whether the door is open or closed. And you have more space to work on your worktop.

open-topped buses for summer use
(if TfL can’t get it together to provide buses with enough windows that open properly.)

architectural re-enactment:
Participants research, build and furnish houses from the past.

unusual religious missions: to clubbers or motorway drivers. Provide stalls with tea and sandwiches; preach road serenity in service stations. (The Samaritans go to festivals.)

fit all buses with free auto-airconditioning (Yes, windows. Or how about a Ventaxia?)

Repurpose church towers
as mobile phone masts and internet cafes. (happening)
Repurpose farms to grow niche crops (cucamelons, goji berries). Happening, says James Wong.

Instead of bagging your baby a gmail account, give him or her a unique name. Makes Googling easier, too.

Instead of making kids sit down at a table and eat cereal with a spoon, why not give them a packet of healthy tasty snacks in the shape of animals and a box drink (milk) to take to school with them?

Collect uneaten food from restaurants/out of date food from supermarkets and distribute to the poor.

Regrow the Caledonian Forest (over the Scottish Highlands) and stock it with the original fauna (lynx, bear, musk ox, reindeer, wolves). Do the same for the Welsh temperate rainforest.

Get the Chinese to build us an imitation Paris here instead of the tincan modernism and pseudo cottages with tiny windows which are all we can come up with. (Tiny windows may save on heating, but you'd have to keep the lights on all the time.) Repeat with Vienna, Linz, Mykonos etc.

Tax the ridiculous fashion of the moment (hair powder, crinolines, high heels).

Stop mowing roadside verges.


empty homes
level crossings
airline seats on trains
, and first and second class
charitable status for public schools
actors pretending to be Santa Claus
unflattering ceiling lights
cellars and basements (so that nobody can keep kidnap victims in them – or bodies in freezers)
websites that change their design so that they look more like an app and work less well
dogs in cities

Energy is so expensive – but we’re still “knocking through” and turning several rooms into “a nice space” for “open-plan living”. (Apparently schools keep adding walls to open-plan classrooms.)

"Perhaps HFR is one of those innovations that might have to be discreetly de-innovated." (Peter Bradshaw on Smaug, Guardian Dec 2013)

More here, and links to the rest.

Thursday 12 December 2013

Guys, it's 2013! And it's nearly 2014!

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. Andy Warhol

So angry! Children are being refused primary education because of their parents' religion. Ireland, 2013 (Andrew Gallagher @andrewgdotcom)

It’s 2013 the Nielsen Book homepage uses Flash. sigh. (Alex Ingram ‏@nuttyxander 26 Nov)

People are still very shocked when they find out someone doesn't believe in God. It's 2013. Open your mind. (Zachary Tyler Henry ‏@rebelrouserr 26 Nov)

Katy Perry's "cultural dragfest": performed as a GEISHA complete w/all the props, pantomiming, etc. It's 2013, people. (Asian Art Museum ‏@asianartmuseum 25 Nov)

There is nothing wrong with being gay. It's 2013. Cut the crap, people. (Jack Gray ‏@jackgraycnn 16 Nov)

It's 2013: Why Are We Still Using Paper Receipts? (Mashable.com)

It's 2013 and we actually have to tell universities it's not OK to segregate audiences by gender. (Captain Tracy King ‏@tkingdoll 24 Nov)

In 2013, there is no excuse for gender apartheid in a UK university. (Richard Firth-Godbehere)

Can we not spell 'definitely' as 'defiantly' anymore pls it's nearly 2014 let's stop this injustice before then yes (khanye west ‏@ohmycroftholmes 15 Oct)

It's nearly 2014 and people still don't know how to spell 'Bieber' correctly... (#Heartbreaker ‏@Kidrauhlbeebsx)

Come on it's nearly 2014, why can't you unsend a message? (‏@Vicky_Noutch 13 Sep)

It's nearly 2014, where is my cyborg body, science? (@Supernintendo 8 Sep)

It's nearly 2014. Where's my metallic jumpsuit, flying car and robot servant? (Karen Wilde ‏@wildelycreative 3 Sep)

It's nearly 2014, people - surely the salesmen's attitudes towards women should have changed since we were given the vote? (timeslive.co.za)

It's nearly 2014 about time smartphones started charging themselves.

Re Syria: I should be planning shopping trips, not a bomb shelter! It's nearly 2014 and we were supposed to have advanced past this!

It's nearly 2014, and what adults do with their own bodies shouldn't be cause for puritanical alarm. (freenewspos.com)

It's almost 2014! They couldn't find anyone of color to play a Pharaoh?? (screenrant.com)

It's nearly 2014 why do people still think tribal tattoos are a good idea. (Wednesday Addams ‏@melaniedrinnan 26 Nov)

It's nearly 2014 why are people still thinking that the words "extraordinHARRY" "phenomeNIALL" "fabuLOUIS" "amaZAYN" & "brilLIAM" are cool. (diana ‏@iCASHTONARRY 26 Nov)

More here.
See you next year, when we might have unsegregated schools in the UK, and a keystroke that takes you to the top of a Web page.

Monday 9 December 2013

Buzzwords of 2013

Early selfie

It doesn’t matter when the Beeb’s weatherman, Mr Fish, wears a jacket that strobes like a painting by Bridget Riley. But it does matter when he warns us about something called a ‘freezing fog situation’. There is no such thing as a freezing fog situation. What Mr Fish means is a freezing fog. In the panic of the moment, when on television, I myself have employed the word ‘situation’ when it was not strictly necessary. Even now I find myself thinking of Mr Fish as Mr Fish situation. But Mr Fish situation has all day to rehearse his little bit of dialogue situation. There is no excuse for his situation getting into a saying ‘situation’ situation. (Clive James)

(Do you trust the BBC? Do we trust teachers? Can teachers teach if they don’t feel trusted?)

brunt: annoyingly overused week of Jan 1. What is a brunt?

onesie: around 2012 but now everywhere in tones of horror

storyteller: something to do with selling and marketing, rather than Hansel and Gretel

link bait
man up

the Twitter, the Facebook, the Internets, the ebay, the bbc iplayer, the Jesus: seems to be over Jan

learnings: We’ve taken some learnings from our colleagues in Oslo.

social graph (and Tweeters are already promising to teach you how to use your “social graph” to make money – just give them lots of yours) Jan 2013

brave: In the snow, people are using the words “brave” (as a verb), “struggle” and “effort”. Also “wimp” and “we never closed”.

Long, cutesy book titles like: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False

predatory pricing (offering new customers amazing deals)

scare quotes (sharp rise from 80s)
pfft! (On Twitter)
asymmetrical warfare
(Why when no one has heard a klaxon since 1935?)

heady: to mean almost anything
stew of (emotions etc) appears 80s, peaks 1995, gone again May
gözleme February

panic: to mean “broadcast weather warnings” or even “talk about snow”. “Chaos” means “traffic disruption” as usual. Panic also means “reporting a serious fox attack on a child”.

This is about as great of a eureka moment as you can have as a scientist.
Quite young people talking about hipflasks.

selfie: photo of yourself, taken by yourself
third time’s the charm
People now saying that Twitter parody accounts are lame. (True, apart from @reelmolesworth.)

curate (v)
for “turn into a monster figure”
Pecha Kucha: mini-presentation
blue-rinse brigade to mean “women with white hair” (My hair is NOT blue.)

panic: schools closing (it’s snowing again)

high moral ground for moral high ground (If an army takes the high ground, it has an advantage. So, figuratively, if you occupy the “moral high ground”… you get it.)

lean in
stoush (At least it’s better than “spat”. Or is it?)
People “braving” weather again. It’s snowing. On April 4.

Like farming, link bait

Twitter memes: variations on “give a man a fish”, lame film title puns involving cake, bacon etc. Victorian cracker jokes (I went to a restaurant called Moon, but didn’t enjoy it. There was no atmosphere.) Ed Balls.

heavily used to mean “a lot”

the greek community: members of Phi Kappa etc sororities/fraternities. Apparently they’ve been bullying people.

do so: Still with us. Ed Miliband using “do so” without an antecedent. Someone on TV just asked “And why so?”

overthinking, overthought popular week of April 15

mindful: aware
stress: depression, anxiety, nervousness, misery
MAHvlous! (several years)
That creeps me out.

popcorn, scooters and hopscotch
(Buzz things.)

infographic: formerly diagram or Powerpoint slide

the wow factor
bikini boot camp
go Amsterdam, go shops, go Nandos

mid-May (Somebody said that some top Tory had said the Tory grassroots were “swivel-eyed loons”.)

(Undebunking. Usually results in redebunking.)
dinner-party racism
extreme couponing
culturally Marxist
is taking over from “politically correct”
cray cray, hilair, informay, vacay, amaymay, nabe (neighbourhood), spox (spokesperson)

woo for homeopathy, acupuncture
stroller: baby buggy/pushchair
Bring your whole self to work. (It means you shouldn’t have to hide the fact that you are gay.)
home made Scotch eggs June 2013

very very
There could be several causes for unusual darkness: the very hail storm described in plague 8, a solar eclipse, a sandstorm, volcanic ash, or simply swarms of locusts large enough to block out the sun. Wikipedia

strawboard everywhere in walls, furniture…
fuck-ton (As in “fuck-tons of…”) Gone again, August.
tats for tattoos (around for a while)
open the kimono for reveal all, moment of truth
whip smart
Curse you,
[fashionable phenomenon]! Back July 2013.

de-extinction (for the mammoth)

mass outbreak of “fawning” as royal baby is born

house parties: parties (Where else would you hold a party?)

subtweet: tweet with no @ mention that beefs/comments about unspecified person. Portmanteau of "subtext" and "tweet". (@bat020)

badass popular 4 Aug

in persuading for to persuade, etc (In challenging the religious hierarchy, Hutchinson also challenged traditional gender roles. huffpost By challenging etc)

"Smart" is our generation's "modern". (Truett Ogden ‏@Truett)

More fuss about selfies (Good Lord, Carruthers – people are taking photos of themselves! Whatever next? )

sharpie: a kind of marker that young people like to sniff, me lud
fried gold

popup cinema:
“This seems to be the summer that Popup Cinema has gone mainstream” wegottickets

FOMO: fear of missing out

Everybody has a solution for Syria, August 30, 13

Lots of people tutting that we shouldn’t mention trolls, it only encourages them.

donut has replaced muppet

The web is now the internet (the distinction between them has been forgotten).
squeaky bum time (whatever THAT means)

attention-seeking very popular, used to mean “women complaining about bad treatment from men” or possibly “women talking”, as usual. It has become What To Say About women columnists, whatever they write. Bandwagon being jumped on by people who never read the columnists in question, but just want to be nasty about women, or anybody at all.

coward now means "attacker" rather than "person who is afraid of something"

Social media has been around for – how long? But people are being particularly venomous about it Sept 2013. (Narcissism – attention – selfies.) And they’re using social media to do it: complaining about Facebook on Twitter, blogging about selfies etc etc

pix of people jumping are popular

hard-working being used as an all purpose hooray word, Sept: hard-working rail passengers, and couples (who’ll be getting a tax break).

tribal: “an effort to appeal to tribal socialism” spokesperson on BBC News, 2013-09-25
shiny for things that aren’t shiny
privilege has become a dirty word

Now wind turbines are attention-seeking. Simon Jenkins doesn't like them because they are waving and saying "look at me"! BBC Breakfast Oct 4 2013

publicity (The McCanns are getting a lot of publicity = the McCann case has been re-opened.)
exposure (re the McCanns, who should return to “obscurity”) Oct 18

dematerialisation for share certificates become digital
blue line, blue line moment (that annoying Twitter “feature”)
potplants (for measures to mask or prettify an unpopular policy)

rort (v) Australian? expenses scandal? Apaz it means to consume a lot of drugs or alcohol quickly. Or “To cheat, rip-off, beat, defraud, hack or scam something”. Urban Dictionary

Nay for no, week of Nov 2 2013. Stopped now 22 Nov.

selfies: Lot of fuss about them last week of Nov 2013.

profauxsal: We’ll run the tube all night! And unearth lost rivers! And drones will deliver books! And there'll be a coast path all round Britain!

offence last week of Nov (Some people are very offended by other people taking offence at things that aren’t offensive, in the writer's judgement. They think the alleged offenders, not the offendees, should decide whether or not the remark was offensive.)

Dec 1: This week’s meme is people who move into an area and then complain about the noise. (Next to a factory – and they force it to close. Repeat with variations.)

forever diamonds
beige for bland

Where did “longform” come from?
chaos: being used for “cancellations” again, Dec 5 storm
wiggle skirts and dresses

Links to past years.

Thursday 5 December 2013

Art Shows in London 2013-14

British Museum
Vikings: Life and Legend

6 March-22 June 2014
Invaders, destroyers, slave-owners, warriors, poets, artists, sculptors, metal-workers, our ancestors.

London Art Fair
Business Design Centre, Islington

15-19 January 2014
Buy some contemporary art for your wall.

London Museum
Sherlock Holmes

17 October 2014-12 April 2015
A show dedicated to the rational, violin-playing Victorian detective. Expect cross-dressing sopranos, speckled bands and the Giant Rat of Sumatra.

National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
Turner and the Sea

To 21 April 2014
The voice of many waters, the mighty waves of the sea.

Dulwich Picture Gallery
David Hockney, Printmaker

5 February 2014–11 May 2014
Responses to Hogarth, Picasso, Greek poetry.

Royal Academy
Allen Jones
13 November 2014-25 Jan 2015
The slick, Pop Art painter of disturbing images of women, inspired by vintage porn.

Inspirational Quotes 45

It's all attitude - isn't it?

Building a social life requires the same active and strategic approach that making money or building a career requires; an approach based on setting goals and acting on them. (lifehack.org)

I reject the ideas that life is supposed to be confusing, that life is supposed to be hard. These seem to be very prevalent ideas though. I also clearly reject the idea that life is supposed to be totally spontaneous except for the things those mean grown-ups make you do. I reject the notion that doing things that make you happy are "selfish" acts that should be minimized. (Truett Ogden ‏@Truett)

Another strategy was to attach myself to a more outgoing friend. I did this at school, university, and later when I began to travel a lot in my twenties. Although I didn’t do it consciously, wherever I went I would make friends with someone much louder than me. Then I’d become their little sidekick, going everywhere with them, trying to fit in with all their friends, and even adopting aspects of their personality. Sometimes I just tried faking it… When you’re always being told you’re too much of this or not enough of that, it’s easy to start thinking you have to be grateful that anyone is willing to spend time with you. I used to put up with friends who treated me badly because I thought if I stood up for myself, I’d lose their friendship and I’d end up all alone. (lifehack.org)

“Having a climax is, for a woman, arrived at through feelings of being loved, secure, free from doubts and fears and willing to let herself go,” Woman’s Own advised its readers in 1970. “It is naturally hard to have all these feelings outside marriage – this is biology, not morals!” (Quoted in New Statesman Aug 2013)

Your father didn’t dare criticise you once you were seriously courting because another, unknown force thought you were perfect. (Mass Observation, quoted by Claire Langhamer in The English in Love)

I was itching to reinvent myself, after a disastrous high school debut the previous year. (salon.com)

The period for making B.F.F.’s, the way you did in your teens or early 20s, is pretty much over. It’s time to resign yourself to situational friends… “All of a sudden, with your wife out of the picture, you realize you’re lonely,” said Dr. Glover, now 56. “I’d go to salsa lessons. Instead of trying to pick up the women, I’d introduce myself to the men: ‘Hey, let’s go get a drink.’ ”… As external conditions change, it becomes tougher to meet the three conditions that sociologists since the 1950s have considered crucial to making close friends: proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other. (nytimes.com Aug 2013)

So I guess one problem is: no stable system (neither internal nor external) for tracking, evaluating, prioritizing problems? (Truett Ogden ‏@Truett)

It may be useful to repeat that will does not imply ability to implement that will. (KS)

To feel the supreme and moving beauty of the spectacle to which Nature invites her ephemeral guests! That is what I call prayer. (Claude Debussy)

Sarcasm is irony plus contempt plus aggression. (Tim Lott, Guardian Aug 2013)

Ditches him on the agelessly base pretext “I want you to be free”. (Guardian, Aug 2013)

I am 29, perhaps I should start to focus on finding the right person. (Christine Ohuruogu, Times Aug 2013)

Sandra Gregory, jailed in Thailand for drug smuggling, thought her father would rescue her in a helicopter. “I believed that for much longer than I should have done.” (Times Aug 2013)

Her forceful personality and strident physical attractiveness meant she was used to getting what she wanted. (The Guardian on Joan Crawford)

More here, and links to the rest.

Sunday 1 December 2013

Progress II

Ian Nairn’s Outrage (about the destruction of Victorian streets and buildings and the erection of brutalist housing "estates", many now demolished) was published in 1956. In the 70s, nobody ever told us that there had been a protest movement for 20 years. Can we stand in the way of progress?

It's funny how it's so often the oppressor rather than the oppressed that thinks things should remain the same. (@MrOzAtheist)

"Rust belt planners' novel concept-redeveloping ex-industrial brownfield sites with... new industries." (@urbanphoto_blog)

Houses on the ring road in Enfield blighted by a road-widening scheme that never happened are being regenerated.

Government decides to cull badgers – protests – condemnation – “It will never work” – marksmen shoot fewer than expected – end of badger cull. For the moment. (2013)

UK companies move call centres to India, customers are furious, UK companies move call centres back to the UK.

BBC cancels Sky at Night; Sky at Night continued by popular request.

Government wants to close down Lewisham AandE; people of Lewisham protest; Lewisham AandE stays open.

The Greens want to renationalise the railways.

In the 1930s, speed limits in the UK were abolished as it was assumed that the British would drive like gentlemen. They were swiftly reinstated.

Reindeer are back in the Scottish Highlands after 8,000 years.

Stalingrad is Volgograd.

Buffalo is depedestrianising Main Street. “For roughly 15 years, cities have been removing their pedestrian malls after finding they weren’t working.” (buffalonews.com Aug 2013)

Whitby railway closure by Beeching was “very controversial”. A society to reopen it was formed within two years. It was reopened in 1973 (steam trains, run by volunteers).

The 30s department store burned in the riots has been rebuilt as it was, where it was.

Crystal Palace “may be rebuilt”. (Guardian 2013-07-28 But the aliens who told a medium that “Crystal Palace will stay up” were talking about the football team.)

How long did the New Maths last? (See the Initial Teaching Alphabet and the Whole Language reading method (Look and Say).

Berlin reunified, becomes capital of Germany again.

"Without much fanfare, Scotland has been systematically reversing Dr Beeching's cuts to rural rail services. In the last 30 years, 62 railway stations in Scotland have reopened - more than anywhere else in the British Isles. In December 2009 the Airdrie to Bathgate Line which had been closed to regular passenger traffic since 1956 started to run again. The reopened service brought rail to an area which had lived without it for half a century. Rail reopenings have enjoyed a cross-party consensus in Scotland - but can the programme survive public spending cutbacks? (BC Radio 4 24 June 2011, Reversing Dr Beeching)

Dutch conservator ordered to destroy paintings, hid them instead. Now they're back in the Rijksmuseum. (Same thing happened to medieval sculpture during periods of iconoclasm, including Eve of Vezelay. People hid them in walls, the wrong way round.)

French revolutionary made-up months (Pluviose, Thermidor) went the way of Cleveland (made-up county abolished 1996). Like the temples to atheism. (But the Atheist Church is opening international branches after a couple of years of existence.)

Salmon return to the Clyde.

Thamesmead – people will love to move to this modernist new town surrounded by green fields. Property prices there are the lowest in the area.

Bendy buses – introduced, loathed, withdrawn. (Replaced by Boris buses which may be even worse.)

Marriage and children were abolished as a goal for women in the 70s/80s – you were supposed to prefer a career. More women have professional careers now, but women went right on wanting to get married and have babies, and doing it – and what would happen if they didn’t?

Communal changing rooms: introduced as modern in the late 60s, hated, rapidly became cubicles again.

Russians are being invited to buy back family mansions and estates to stop them falling down.

We took Victorian and Edwardian pine furniture and stripped off the paint and varnish. Now we’re repainting it.

The German Rechtschreibreform banned the umlaut and esszett. A friend writes: "They gave it a go for a while but it didn't catch on with the public, nor most of the press, and it all became a bit of a national joke and an easy laugh for comedians. The government's attemps at pushing the spelling reforms through actually led to some court cases which demonstrated that the government had no legal powers in the matter and people could spell how they liked. By about 2005/6 the idea was pretty much a flop."

Muzak was  supposed to make people calm and happy, so why did it disappear? Because they found it unbearably irritating.

A half-century ago, the Liberal haggadah omitted most of the traditional passages relating to the flight from Egypt including the Ten Plagues - though these were restored in 1981. (Jewish Chronicle)

Sixties office block Centre Point, which stood empty for years, to become a residential tower.

Countries forced into federations re-Balkanise (Czech Republic and Slovakia, Spain and Catalonia, England and Scotland).

Many planned new tram routes in London follow the old routes (but aren’t looking likely).

In the 60s people hardboarded Victorian doors and replaced brass knobs with plastic handles, covered up plaster ceilings with polystyrene tiles. In the 70s people put the olde worlde details back. (But now they’re ripping out Arts and Crafts details.)

The Bilbao Effect – now pretty much discredited. (Douglas Murphy/@entschwindet The theory goes that if you built an iconic art gallery somewhere depressed, it will attract cafés, restaurants and businesses which will regenerate the area for you.)

Temple Bar (a 17th century stone gateway) was recovered from woodland in Enfield and put back near its original location in London's Paternoster Square (in 2004.

Cakestands are back, thanks to cupcakes.

Pathfinder: "The government is to end a controversial housing regeneration programme in England four years earlier than planned." (BBC 27 Oct 2010) "The scheme was designed to revive run-down areas in the North West, the Midlands, the North East and Yorkshire by tearing down old terraces and building new homes. But critics called it 'an exercise in social cleansing' and said it had resulted in perfectly good houses being demolished - and often not replaced - when they could have been renovated." (BBC 3 Nov 2011)

"The best hospitals are reinventing SENs (State Enrolled Nurses without degrees)." (Camilla Cavendish, Times September 29 2011) Now (2013) the governmentt announces that all nurses must do a year doing nothing but caring (washing, feeding, toileting).

"Bring back polytechnics, argues higher education report." (BBC June 2013)

Talking signs, talking bins, cabvision: hated, now mainly disappeared.

Trees for Life are trying to regrow the Caledonian Forest that covered all of Scotland. (Next, the Welsh rainforest and Irish forests.)

Co-ops as an alternative to top-down hierarchies: they either fizzled or became hierarchies again.

In the 70s, the French had topless beaches – now they all cover up.

All 12 tower blocks in Cumbernauld are to be dynamited. (January 18 2012 ). Oh no, they're going to be "reclad" and given new kitchens and bathrooms (2013).

Be careful what you wish for. I used to long for architects to see the hideousness of Brutalism and copy Victorian cottages. By about 1980, they’d caught on and have been building nothing but Victorian cottages, in all sizes, ever since – for housing, for retirement flats, for shared ownership flats, for supermarkets. And the buildings have become increasingly debased, with smaller and smaller windows and that red stripe everywhere. 80s fake cottages were at least a reasonable copy. (People used to say, “Oh no, we can’t copy Victorian cottages because they were too small”. They now build pseudo cottages with tiny rooms, terrible layouts and no storage. And tiny, tiny, tiny windows.)

More here.

Thursday 28 November 2013

Inspirational Mantras 3

An essay needs a thesis.

A goal without a plan is just a wish.

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

Know when to give up. Do the sums – if it's not worth it, don’t start. (@secularbloke )

Take up more space. Spread yourself. Use three chairs.

Advice to the young: Avoid novelty rucksacks and any form of jazz, however 'harmless'. (@IanMartin)

How to make people like you:
Tell stories about embarrassing things that happened to you – and act embarrassed.
Have pretty friends/Facebook friends.
Wear branded clothing with the label showing.
In high school, be a bully.
Get other people to do you favours – and thank them profusely.

Never get into a breath-holding contest with a fish.

Everything that is, is holy. (William Blake)

How do you know but every bird that cuts the airy way
Is an immense world of delight, closed to your senses five? (William Blake)

Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there. (Will Rogers)

The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off. (Gloria Steinem)

When people think you’re soft they tend to walk all over you. (Scooby-Doo)

I tend to smile warmly at most people at these things (networking events) and if I don't get a response
I keep smiling anyway to make them feel uncomfortable. (Web)

Like all geeky girls on the planet I have no friends. (juliehanks.com)

Maybe today you look at all of the things you are doing and you ask which of those things aren't working. (Truett Ogden @Truett)

That’s not OK – are you OK? (Christopher Banks - when somebody says or does something unacceptable)

Everyone has a first day at everything.

All may be inexplicable / Awe inspiring / Wondrous / Wonderful / But there are no miracles. (@labisiffre)

In every revolutionary beats the heart of a gendarme.
It was fun, it ended, things do.

Never retreat, never explain, never apologize – get the thing done and let them howl.  (Nellie McClung)

Enough is enough.

Nearly half children surveyed said they hid their talents to avoid being bullied.

More here, and links to the rest.

Saturday 23 November 2013

Predictions for 2014

British food

The media will tell us that:

British food has improved in the last ten years.
Britons love bizarre sports like bog-snorkelling.
Children don’t learn to read as fast or as well as we would like. Many adults are illiterate.
Etiquette is a thing of the past/undergoing a revival.
Families don't eat together any more.
Fashion houses are making bigger sizes and using larger models.
Girls grow up too fast these days.
If you don’t wash your hair, after six weeks it cleans itself.
Internet/app dating has lost its stigma.
It’s OK to be single – and holiday at the seaside.
Masculinity is in crisis.
Men use prostitutes.
Motherhood is denigrated.
Nobody talks about “spinsters” any more.
People are going in for “hook-ups” rather than relationships.
People expect too much from marriage (“It’s not happy ever after”).
Police don't interfere in "domestics".
Rape victims should get better treatment.
Spousal abuse happens in all levels of society.
The fashion industry has recognised the existence of the older/larger woman.
The NHS is failing old people who can’t feed or wash themselves.
Therapy has lost its stigma.
There is bullying in care homes for the disabled.
TV ads treat men as lovable idiots.
Welfare money lies unclaimed because people don't know what they're entitled to. If they do know, the claiming procedures are so Kafkaesque they give up.
Women don’t need to get married any more.
Women experience period pains in silence.
Women giving birth are ill-treated.
Women suffering miscarriages get no sympathy.
X% of women are wearing the wrong size bra.
You can cook with flowers.
Young women aspire to marry rich men.
Zeppelins are back. (The Times predicted their return 31 Aug 2013.)

Any news of a Viagra for women will be met with claims that for women “sex is all in the head”.
Journalists will misunderstand average age of death (everyone in the olden days died really young, yeah?).

Journalists will refer to women as a “minority”. (According to the 2011 census women outnumber men in the UK by almost a million.)

Journalists have given up pretending not to understand Twitter, but they will complain about hashtags and outrage.

Journalists will exclaim over some “new” internet acronym that has been around for decades – and will claim that it’s “youthspeak”.

Someone who has never even looked at Facebook or Twitter will write a pompous article about why they don’t use FB or Twitter (breakfast, celebs, Stephen Fry, attention seeking, me me me, silly “like” buttons”).

Another grumpy old git will complain about people taking instagrams of food.

Young journalists will write articles about the amazing changes the world has seen in the last 10 years, and how dim and unreconstructed we were a decade ago. They will also predict a “revival” of some garment that was fashionable three years ago. They will talk about the 90s as if they were a remote geological era (“back in 96”).

A writer will whinge that the Brits don’t take advantage of all the free food available in forests (berries, mushrooms). Another writer will complain that the Brits are now stripping woods and forests of rare mushrooms and selling them to restaurants.

A celebrity chef will “revolutionise hospital food”.

A charity will turn donated clothes into trendy designer clobber.

Research will reveal that X% of children arrive at school hungry because they’ve had no breakfast.

Stats will show that parents talk to their children/each other for a depressingly small number of minutes a week.

A huge organisation will commission a bespoke computer system which doesn’t work and gets scrapped after billions of pounds have been spent.

A new social media technology will arise. Immediately, scam artists will offer to show you how to make fortunes from it – for a price, while broadsheet pundits will cry woe, woe and prophesy that it will destroy society.

A public figure will make an outrageously racist remark and then exclaim innocently “But that wasn’t racist!”. Other racists will complain bitterly about being called “bigots”. Yet more racists will say it’s the intention that counts, and complain that people are just too easily "offended", whatever that means!

Someone or some thing will be a bad role model for young girls.

Girls will outdo boys at GCSE. The press will report it as if it was a BAD thing. Men will earn more than women.

Teachers will claim that they can't get boys to read. Others will claim it's because the poor lads are forced to read dull chick lit like Pride and Prejudice.

We’ll be promised a “new ladylike look for autumn”.

Someone will ask “Weren’t we supposed to have gender equality by now?” When progress doesn't happen as fast as expected, someone will say “Guys! It’s 2014!”

People will get upset about something utterly trivial, like Comic Sans.
Someone will try to start a trend for a sarcasm font.
Someone else will push for more expressive punctuation!”?
Everyone else will go on using emoticons. ;-)

There will be a new exercise craze.
There will be a new superfood.
There will be a new diet fad.

Experts will tell us that diets don’t work and we should just eat less and exercise more. We will ignore them.

Several people will threaten to shoot anyone who confuses "your" and "you're" (or asks "Can I get a latte?").

The French will ban some baby names.

Discovery will make a programme about the leaning tower of Pisa.

Archaeologists will find that Neanderthals, not Homo sapiens, invented (dugout canoes, philosophy, cooking, art, jewellery, poetry, writing etc etc etc). Americans will use "Homo sapien" as a singular.

Scientists will find that animals have some attribute previously thought to be unique to humans.
Writers will claim that all kinds of things are the one “that makes us human”.

The following arguments will be had:
Halloween is a ghastly American import – no actually it’s Scottish.
Flanders poppies – newsreaders start wearing them too early - grief inflation – diktat – jingoistic - originally anti-war? All BBC staff forced to wear them!
Flu jabs are useless – out of date – mismanaged – essential.

“They” will do something awful to the countryside.

Young people will need to be taught how to behave in the world of work. The middle classes will wail that children speak jafakin/write in text speak/copy the Tellytubbies/watch too much telly/don’t watch telly any more/watch telly and text at the same time. They will completely forget last year’s panic about something that is now an unnoticed part of life.

Volume builders will design houses with windows even smaller than last year’s. They'll add pitched roofs and a red stripe so the houses are “in keeping” with their surroundings, despite being surrounded by Gothic villas, warehouses, 60s blocks, 30s blocks, half-timbered bungalows...

Teenagers will invent their own language incomprehensible to anybody over 20. Adults will predict dire consequences, and several people will say "Language has got to evolve".

A school will ban an extreme hairstyle.

There will be a new plan for Battersea Power Station.
As the year ends, people will moan about Christmas starting too early and getting too consumerist while simultaneously whining about the recession, the decline of manufacturing and the decay of the high street.

Predictions for 2013. 2012, 2011.

Inspirational Quotes 44

Live in the moment, we make our own reality, there are no rules any more...
Couples often had nowhere private to go. They fell in love in dance halls and embraced in cinemas and parks. (Review of The English in Love by Claire Langhamer, Observer Aug 2013)

Convention serves a purpose;
it gives life meaning, and without it, one is in a constant existential crisis. Elizabeth Wurtzel

Other uses of the notion of performativity in the social sciences include the daily behaviour (or performance) of individuals based on social norms or habits. (Free Dictionary)

People say "Never give up" but sometimes giving up is the best option because you realise you're wasting your time (true but hard to accept). Said and copied by Syed. (Pinned up in internet café.)

In Cambridge in the 50s, being seen with a girl lost you prestige, being seen with a man gained you prestige. (Jessica Mann, paraphrase)

Dr. Alexander Avila identifies the seven gifts that shy people naturally possess - sensitivity, faithfulness, listening ability, reflection, modesty, mystery and gentleness. (Review of The Gift of Shyness)

Being quiet and shy in Asian countries is OK. But here in Western land it’s a different story when it comes to dating. (datingtipsforasianmen.com)

Once you acquire a degree of fame and fortune, one suffers very little at the hands of the rest of humanity. People tend to treat you with a disproportionate degree of respect, and then you’re on the phone to someone who’s not looking at you and suddenly you feel how a lot of people are treated a lot of the time. (Rowan Atkinson, after someone imitated his stammer on the phone, Sept 2011)

We want to move on in life and look to the future. (Couple on Countryfile talking about getting a place of their own)

Make your own plans. Life's too short to spend a decade waiting for someone else to get their arse into gear. (Donovan ‏@MrOzAtheist )

Possibly as bad as your first day at school, or your first kiss.

There are destinies being decided. Eye-watering calculations are being made.

Choices which are possibly going to affect some aspect of the rest of their lives.
(BBC News on A level results day 2013)

More here, and links to the rest.

Thursday 21 November 2013

Mixed Metaphors 10

The centre promises to be a buzzing cultural hub. (Only if there's a beehive in its cartwheel.)

Its pulse is on a very tiny part of the community. (It has its finger on the pulse of… Its focus is on…)

The tide is changing. (Tides turn – they rise, then they fall, then they rise again.)

Dinosaurs are just red herrings put there to test our faith. (Intentional.)

We don't have a horse in this fight. (Rick Santorum on Syria. He means "dog".)

They were going absolutely stir-fry crazy! (Time Team)

You can see the clogs whirring as they think it over. (Machines have cogs. Clogs are wooden shoes.)

Only amusing thing was the man at reception apologising and saying he was just a "clog" in the machine. (@adamcreen )

William is determined to forge his own path.

draw-dropping beauty

He draws a picture of Eliza as a young woman without much imagination, forced to use her raisin-sharp wits to carve out a brand-new life in a difficult new place. (NYT October 2013)

Tensions boiling over
in Uitenhage (The Herald PE)

Slovakian Roma in Sheffield: This is a boiling pot ready to explode (Guardian Nov 2013 Pots usually boil over long before they explode.)

Prince Charles urged the NHS not to dismiss alternative medicine as a “woolly cul-de-sac”. (Edzard Ernst)

Queen Mary became a rock around which the royal family focused. (Yesterday)

More here, and links to the rest.

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Let's Play a Game

The Caravan Game
We call this the Caravan Game because we played it while staying in a caravan waiting for the eclipse in 1999.

Each person has a piece of paper and a pencil or pen.

Everybody writes a caption at the top of the paper. (Something like "Everybody was longing for the next episode of Downton Abbey" or "Dr Who greeted the alien slime moulds with a witty quip".)

Pass your paper to the person on your left.

Illustrate the caption.

Turn down paper over the caption (forwards).

Pass your paper to the left.

Write a caption to the drawing you see.

Turn down the paper over the drawing.

Pass your paper to the left....

Until you get to the end of the paper.

In turn, read out the captions. Pass the papers round.

Costume Consequences

Everybody has pen/pencil and paper.

Turning down and passing on between each item, write:

An adjective for a girl.
A girl's name (someone you all know, or a celebrity)
A disguise (what she want to the fancy dress ball dressed as)
An adjective for an item of clothing.
An item of clothing.
An adjective for an item of clothing.
An item of clothing.
An adjective for a man.
A man's name.
A disguise.
An adjective for an item of clothing.
An item of clothing.
An adjective for an item of clothing.
An item of clothing.
What they were mistaken for.

Pass on one more time, unroll the paper, and draw them (they aren't allowed any other clothes). In turn, read out the results, and pass them round. Here's how it should sound:

Miley Cyrus
Went to a fancy dress ball as a dalek
Wearing acardboard
and a
She danced with
Jude Law
who went as a

faceless bureaucrat
in a
and afake fur
glitter ball
They were mistaken for

Clare, Gran & the Seven-Layer Pie

About five years ago, my sister and I dreamed up a project: to make a kids' picture book out of our grandmother's famous recipe, Seven-Layer Pie. It was truly horrible and probably came out of a church charity cook book. As we worked on the text and pictures, the story evolved. We wanted to celebrate Gran's baking talents (she really did win prizes), and recall those happy days at the village fete where we slid down the slides, helped in the tea tent and sold ice creams. Mum and her elegant friends are in the background selling pot plants, another friend is brewing up the tea. The year is 1965... ish.

Here's an outline of the plot: Clare goes to stay with her Gran and has to endure her experimental cooking. But when the fete comes round, Gran brings her cakes and bread for the Women's Institute baking competition, and Clare goes in for the sack race. The local girls bring biscuits and fudge, and the fortune-teller promises them all they'll meet a tall, dark stranger. At the end of the day, they all dance round the field to the strains of the local brass band.

And if you want to know how to make Seven-Layer Pie, buy the book! Click the link: Clare, Gran and the Seven-Layer Pie

Friday 15 November 2013

Junk Statistics? Part 3

More girls apply to uni

Alcohol is detectable in the fingers 45 seconds after passing the lips. 

“We hate math”, say 4 in 10 – a majority of Americans. (Joke headline?)

Women now make up nearly half of the CIA. (jezebel.com)

[We think] 30% of people in this country were born abroad (it’s about 11%). (Guardian)

0.7% of benefits claims are fraudulent (BBC, Guardian, DWP figures)

Rowntree Foundation unable to find single instance of 3 generations having lived on benefits. (@Philip_Goff)

Shapps/Green/Fox claimed 1 million people on disability benefits dropped claims rather than face medicals. Official figures show 19,700 did. (May 31 2013, James O'Brien ‏@mrjamesob)

Benefit Figures: 42.3% old 20.8% poor 18.4% family 15.5% sick/disabled 2.6% unemployed.

Public think £24 in £100 is fraudulently claimed in benefits. Official estimate 70p.

We think 31% of population are immigrants - actually proportion is 13-15%.

The public believe 24% of uk population is now Muslim. Actual figure = 5%.

We over-estimate teenage pregnancy 25-fold…  only 0.6 % of under 16s have babies. (All via @benatipsosmori)

46% say anecdote and own eyes better judge of public services than statistics. Only 9% say would use stats! (@benatipsosmori)

The DWP publishes official estimates of fraud in the welfare system. The most recent publication estimated overall fraud at 0.7% of the benefits bill. At £1.2bn, that sum might – just – be said to count as "billions". But we should remember benefits can be underpaid as well as overpaid – and last year, those underpayments (arising from errors by either officials or claimants) added up to £1.3bn – more than the cost of fraud.

According to figures from the government and the Bank of England, the UK's manufacturing sector is bigger than its financial services sector. Manufacturing contributes around 11% of GDP, versus around 9% from the City. Contrary to what you might think, the biggest sector isn't heavy engineering (though there is plenty of that), but food and drink manufacture.

Despite the country's reputation as a "green and pleasant land", though, the UK doesn't grow that much: agriculture contributes less than 1% to GDP. (Guardian)

At least 20 children a year take their lives because they are being bullied.

70% of nonfiction books are ghostwritten. (huffpost.com)

The average woman hopes to get married at 27 and have first baby at 28, men ditto 2 years later, happens on average at 30 and 32. (Poll Times Sept 2013)

For every four girls who apply to uni, three boys apply. (Sunday Times Aug 2013)

There’s a site that shows gender distribution, average salary, average age, average house price for every town in the US.

45% of first marriages end in divorce, compared with 31% for second ones.

Women enjoy an annual income premium up to $18,152 a year if they wait until 30 or later to marry;
By the age of 25, 44% of women have had their first child;
52% of married men report they are “highly satisfied” with their life, compared to 35% of single men.
(The Relate Institute/National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia)

Men feel worse about themselves when their wives/girlfriends succeed.

75% of Italian women murdered between 2000 and 2012 (total: 2,200) were killed by partners or former partners. (www.nytimes.com)

One in ten emergency calls are about domestic violence. (Guardian, May 22 2013)

Rate of alcohol-related hospital admissions in England doubles in a decade (Centre for Social Justice report Sept 1 2013)

Figures revealed deaths involving "legal highs" in England and Wales increased from 29 in 2011 to 52 last year (Centre for Social Justice report Sept 1 2013)

About 40% of full time college students don't drink. (@OMGFacts)

57% of people think they should “fight pain for as long as possible before taking non-prescription treatment” ie painkiller. (Mintel survey reported by Times Aug 2013)

1 in 4 Young Adults Regret Social Media Posts, Survey Says (http://www.mashable.com)

The number of tanning salons in the UK has fallen by 29% in 2012-13. Sales of fake tanning products have fallen by 20.8%.

In the 70s, women earned 45% less than men for the same job.

The US Department of Veterans’ Affairs processes 97% of its claims by hand. (Yes, on paper. And the magazine Private Eye is still typed on typewriters and pasted up, and Jobcentres don’t have the internet.)

In the 1970s there were 600 murders per year in the UK. Now there are 550. Bloody computer games, reducing violent crime... (@BarnabyEdwards)

25% of the UK's 600 MPs are women.

The increase in women who drive is reasonably well correlated with a decrease in the road traffic accident rate. (@MrBLawton/Brian Lawton)

Cost to the NHS of smoking related illness £1.7Bn pa. (NHS figures)

"Health tourism is a huge problem", say Ministers. In reality, it costs the NHS 0.15% of NHS spending. (Dave Jones ‏@welsh_gas_doc )

X% of productivity is lost in the US thru heavy drinking, excessive commuting, Facebook, coffee breaks yada yada yada.

37% of the internet is made up of pornographic material. (Outdated, unreliable stat says net filtering firm Optenet. Academics say that only 4% of the internet is porn.)

30% of all net traffic is generated by porn sites, says Extreme Tech using dubious methods and maths.

We learn most of our vocabulary before we’re 18. (Lucy Mangan And spend the rest of our lives complaining about all these ghastly new words.)

People with longer names earn less money.

More here.
And you can find reliable statistics at http://www.fullfact.org.

Sunday 10 November 2013

80s Contradictions

Eighties types fought straw scientists (high priests telling a “triumphalist narrative”) - while trying to make their own disciplines as much like science as possible (graphs, impenetrable jargon).

They thought that intellectual analysis was the answer to everything – but you had to attack science and believe in magic.

They insisted on everyone being politically correct – but were rude and unfriendly.

They were working for liberation – but believed the subconscious was pulling your strings.

They were passionate feminists, but disapproved of girliness.

They said they were changing the world – but they insisted that “we create our own reality”.  (They never acted as if they believed it.)

They said they were creating a perfect world – but there was always a reason why we couldn’t be happy now (or even have any fun).

They had goals for society – but none for themselves.

They told us to rebel against conformity – but not during work hours.

They told us to smash capitalism – and get a mortgage and pension.

They told us that men and women were equal – but women had to avoid any behaviour that men might find “threatening”.

They were against censorship – but many opinions were unholdable and unspeakable. (Eg that intelligence is heritable. Or that your life could be changed by “life-changing” events.)

They said “We can talk about anything now” but they made many things undiscussable by banning their names ("We don't say that any more").

They were anti-hierarchy – and incredibly bossy.

They weren't strident so much as authoritarian – while complaining about oppression, repression, patriarchy, colonialism, cultural hegemony...

They condemned things and people as oppressive, elitist, judgemental ("value judgements" were out), while judging you according to their own brand of elitism (more PC than thou).

They thought people should be given more self-esteem, but complained about the “arrogance” of science, and thought we needed a "sense of awe".

They were so keen on changing society – but they never offered solutions to problems.

They insisted everyone was an individual, while being rigidly conformist.

They were very keen on “identity” – but claimed “there’s no such thing as the self”.

They were all for freedom – but they insisted there was no such thing as free will.

They insisted the universe is deterministic – but it was still all my fault, somehow.

They said they wanted to change the world – but told you to stay at home and change yourself.
They thought that everybody was created by their circumstances, but said that change comes from within.

But perhaps it was only the masses who were created by circumstances, or experienced false consciousness induced by capitalism. They hated you to try to change your circumstances, or do anything practical. They preferred theory to facts. Maybe since logic was a male conspiracy, they couldn't see a contradiction.

More about the 80s here, and links to the rest.
Read about the middle classes in the 80s here.