Sunday 27 January 2013

Reasons To Be Cheerful 5

Census: Less religion, more educational qualifications, vast majority of us in good health, more inter-racial partnerships. Broken Britain? (Dan Snow/‏@thehistoryguy, 11 Dec 2012)

313 Edict of Milan legalises Christianity

1561 In 1561, unless you were the son of a knight, wearing a silk cap carried a prison sentence of three months and a hefty fine. (@DaintyBallerina)

1821 Mexico gains independence from Spain
1829 Suttee banned by the British in India
1830 Canada rebels against Britain
1856 Hindu Widows’ Remarriage Act legalizes the remarriage of widows

1909 Lloyd George’s People’s Budget taxes the rich to provide social care for the sick and infirm
1910 Lloyd George’s Parliament Act asserts the supremacy of the Commons over the Lords

1938 It becomes legal to talk about contraception in the US (outlawed by the Comstock Act of 1873)
1938 Church of England fudges concept of original sin (and quietly drops it)
1939 Cancer Act prohibits advertising cures for cancer

1946 Randomised controlled trials are introduced to medicine, 3,000 years after they were described in the Book of Daniel.

1965 The Supreme Court makes contraception legal for married couples in the US; in 1972, it gives access for single people.
1967 Scolding and eavesdropping are legalised in England
1969 Germany legalises bestiality

1971 Same-sex relationships become legal in Sweden
1977 Last person is guillotined in France

1980 Selling contraceptive devices legalised in Ireland (outlawed 1935)
1981 Capital punishment is abolished in France
1988 The Lambeth Conference of Anglican and Episcopalian bishops condemns the death penalty

1992 Boris Yeltsin announces that Russia will stop targeting United States cities with nuclear weapons
1997 Marital rape becomes illegal in Germany

2003 Germany outlaws cannibalism
2003 Sodomy laws invalidated in all American states
2003 UK changes sentences for bestiality from life to two years
2006 Pakistan votes to amend rape laws. “Victims had to have four male witnesses to the crime - if not they faced prosecution for adultery.” BBC

2010 The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee concludes that "the NHS should cease funding homeopathy”.
2012 The Leander Club, which attracts rowers from Berkshire, elects its first female captain in its 194-year history. (BBC)


We did not have full adult franchise till 1928. We decriminalised most homosexual acts only in 1967, and a year later we abolished theatre censorship (ie, some chap telling us what we could watch on stage). Four years earlier the last men were hanged in Britain; 20 years later we stopped corporal punishment (ie, sanctioned physical abuse of children) in schools. Four years ago – four years! – we abolished the crime of blasphemous libel. And though Sweden effectively outlawed it in 1966 and Albania and the Congo by 2010, we still allow children to be physically abused, or “reasonably chastised”, at home. (David Aaronovitch, 2013-01-23)
1873 The Comstock Act criminalises any and all forms of contraception in the US
Child labour still legal in India
Church of England’s absurd fudge over gay bishops
1576 In 1576 the age of sexual consent for women was set in England. It was set at ten. (@TourGuideGirl)
Bullying is still legal.

Reasons to Be Cheerful 4
More Reasons to be Cheerful here.
Yet More Reasons to Be Cheerful.
More Reasons to Be Cheerful... ish.
More Reasons to Be Cheerful here, here and here.

Sunday 20 January 2013

Unserious Limericks

A wolf-pack residing near Berlin

Objected to being called vermin:

They said "Our aversion 

To eating a person

Applies from this burg to Dunfermline!"

Steve Terry/LF

Anon., Idem, Ibid. and Trad.

Wrote much that is morally bad:

Some ballads, some shanties,

ALL poems on panties –

And limericks, too, one must add.
via Andy Giddings

The Catholic church has some jobs that
Knock diplomacy into a cocked hat.
There's some bloke who looks
Into new-published books –
If they're clean, then he writes "Nihil obstat".

In Spain there once lived one Bernarda
Who told all her daughters "Try harder!
Keep men from your doors
Or I'll beat you, you whores!”
And what did it get them? Well, nada.

A lewd dude was doing quite well
Till a stone guy told him “Go to hell!”
His man had to log
All his chicks in his blog.
I’ve been Don Giovanni, farewell!

There was an old man of Khartoum
Who kept two black sheep in his room
'They remind me,' he said,
'Of two friends who are dead,
'But I cannot remember of whom.'

A mosquito was heard to complain
That a chemist had poisoned his brain
The cause of his sorrow
Was paradichloro-

There was a young lady called Bright
Who travelled much faster than light.
She set out one day
In a relative way
And came back the previous night.

There was a young lady of Bude
Who was horribly bored by a dude
She gave him a hint
That was plainer than print
And a desperate silence ensued

There are folk in the village of Erith
Whom nobody seeth or heareth
And look, there afloat
On the river, a boat
Which nobody roweth or steereth

From the elephant paddock one day,
They took Barbara Woodhouse away;
There's no harm, in the least,
Shouting 'Sit' to the beast,
But she should have got out of the way.

Poor Ophelia sighed: 'I deplore
The fact that young Hamlet's a bore.
He just talks to himself;
I'll be left on the shelf,
Or go mad by the end of Act IV.'

Once a Raven from Pluto's dark shore
Bore the singular news 'Nevermore'.
Twas of fruitless avail
To ask further detail,
His reply was the same as before.
Anthony Euwer

In a piano concerto in A
The cadenza went sadly astray.
Coming home via China,
F sharp, B flat minor
And stations from Slough on the way.

Serious limericks
More serious limericks

Serious Limericks 2

There was a young man who said "God
Must find it exceedingly odd
To see that this tree
Continues to be
When there’s no-one about in the quad."

“Dear Sir, your astonishment’s odd
I am always about in the quad
And therefore this tree
Continues to be
Since observed by, yours faithfully, God.”
Ronald Knox

There was an old man with a beard
Who said, “I demand to be feared.
Address me as God,
And love me, you sod,”
And man did just that, which is weird.

There was a young man who said “Damn!
I suddenly realise I am
A creature that moves
In predestinate grooves.
I’m not even a bus – I’m a tram.”
(Attributed to Maurice E. Hare, 1905)

"Young man, you should stay your complaint,
For the grooves that you call a constraint
Are there to contrive
That you learn to survive:
Trams arrive, buses may or they mayn't."
(Anon replies)

But after some thought he said, "No,
It ain't necessarily so.
The argument fails –
I can lay my own rails,
And go where I wanted to go."
(Andy Giddings/LF)

There was a young man who said: "Though
It seems that I know that I know,
What I would like to see
Is the 'I' that knows 'me'
When I know that I know that I know."

Serious limericks 1

Adjectives 7


Who was it who wrote about people dotted about “heritage” restored mills in “demeaning” period costume?

laboured, leaden:
The Great British Sitcom Drought continues. Everything that has been wrong with the form for decades is wrong with Miranda: laboured overacting, leadenly predictable jokes, production values that could be rivalled with a camera phone, and an overriding assumption that embarrassment is amusing in and of itself. (AM, Guardian 2013-01-19)

bizarrely cardboard London night-life (imdb commenter on The Saint)

tepid: tepid monster comedy (Bilbo is almost eaten by some Three Stooges-like trolls) Review of The Hobbit

overblown, busy work: It's tremendously overblown, there's a lot of busy work, unnecessary padding to make you think you're getting your money's worth. (Punter describes writing course, from Jessica Mitford’s piece in The Atlantic)

conceited: the sort of conceited blonde tart one used to see in ski lodges flirting with the owner (imdb)

vulgar: Above all, the book betrays an amazing vulgarity. Amateur psychology is expressed in rhetorical questions: ‘He [the 9th Duke] had also collected human bones. Was this a manifestation of the psychological damage his parents had inflicted on him?’ There are some truly frightful appearances of servants’ hall superstitions: ‘Mr Tweed said His Grace was being taken by the witches’ curse. We all knew about it. It had been going on for hundreds of years.’ In descriptive mode, Bailey writes: ‘Tiny points of dust sparkled in front of us, caught in the light that flooded in from the single window.’ (Review of The Secret Rooms by Catherine Bailey)

tame (doctor etc)

preachy vegetarian cookbooks

cheesy: What a cheesy boring Gap advert of a boy 'band' #XFactor (@___Sharp )

snazzy: wearing a rather snazzy cardigan (suspect on Crimewatch)

atrocious cod-Derridean architecture theory (@entschwindet)

eerily tedious: Nosferatu: eerily fascinating in its hypnotic tedium. (@stevenpoole)

hopelessly jaunty chevrons, jaunty blocks of flats, plasticky corporate styles (Bill Bryson, Notes from a Small Island)

laughable: But if by pastiche you mean a kind of Disneyland version of Jolly Olde England like this laughable heap before me, then thank you but no. (Bill Bryson, Notes from a Small Island)

misguided: Nearly everything in the city suffers from well-intentioned but misguided meddling by planners. (Bill Bryson, Notes from a Small Island)

refined: Authentic performances of Early Music circa 1970 were so darned refined.

melancholic: The Amicus film From Beyond The Grave proved an outstanding example of the genre, even though the stories were pretty simplistic. The second tale, in which Ian Bannen becomes involved with unctuous old soldier Donald Pleasance and his real-life daughter Angela, is imbued with a creepy, mildewed seventies melancholia that’s hard to shake off. (

bum-numbing: The English Patient - 162 minutes of bum-numbing middle-class claptrap. (commenter on The Middle-Class Handbook)

the woefully slow Archipelago (another MC handbook commenter)

overly ambitious tour concepts wherein an artist bites off more than they can chew. ( on Amanda Palmer)

ghastly, jokey, frivolous, Blairite, distasteful, childish, jolly: The colours are simply ghastly, jokey and frivolous in the worst kind of Blairite fashion, a distasteful Cool Britannia vibe… childish jollity. (@entschwindet on the stuttering refurbishment of Park Hill in Sheffield)

Latest here.

More here, and links to the rest.

Friday 18 January 2013

Inspirational Quotes 31

The eternal silence of these infinite spaces frightens me. (Blaise Pascal, Pensées)

For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream. (Vincent van Gogh)

Women are now realizing that societal expectations may be the key to finding balance in leading others. (Harvard Business Review)

Is the point of this Downton Abbey, "don't force it"? Which we have all done, & uniformly ends awful-y. Even when the dude really likes you. (Ami Greko/‏@ami_with_an_i )

In school, in order to get the grade, you learned to provide the authority figure – the teacher – what he or she wanted… In school, many of us did what was necessary to survive socially; at times we found ourselves acting like airheads, trading in being smart for being cool. (Harvard Business Review, 2013)

They had become so used to saying the same thing that they no longer thought about what they were saying. The same phrases were simply trotted out without thought. (Guardian, 2013-01-12)

But I’m going to keep reinforcing the point - I may even buy a whistle and some treats. (2013-01-12)

There is also the matter of self-respect. Either partner… can only take so much hurt before they feel themselves humiliated. At those times, a show of anger seems to be demanded, if only to defend one’s perceived sense of dignity. (Tim Lott, The Guardian, 2013-01-12)

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

I'm at that age where EVERYONE'S announcing their engagement on FB. (Susie Verrill/‏@rugbycupcakes)

Not going to dismiss it as "part of growing up" because that's sort of a lazy way parents shrug off emotional lives of their younger humans. (Truett Ogden/‏@Truett)

Inspirational Quotes 30
Inspirational Quotes 29 Inspirational Quotes 28
Inspirational Quotes 27 (and links to all the rest)

Wednesday 16 January 2013

Inspirational Quotes 30

What's really become prevalent over the last two decades is the idea that being highly self-confident - loving yourself, believing in yourself - is the key to success. Now the interesting thing about that belief is it's widely held, it's very deeply held, and it's also untrue. ( Jean Twenge, Jan 2013)

A 2006 study led by John Reynolds of Florida State University found that students are increasingly ambitious, but also increasingly unrealistic in their expectations, creating what he calls "ambition inflation". "Since the 1960s and 1970s, when those expectations started to grow, there's been an increase in anxiety and depression," says Jean Twenge."There's going to be a lot more people who don't reach their goals." (, Jan 2013)

The traditional relationship scenarios (and their utterly predictable trajectory). (Suzi Godson, The Times, Dec 2012)

The expected sexual trajectory… Those stages are expected to happen sequentially and… the majority of people have completed the cycle at least once by their mid to late twenties… [Those who haven't] become more and more out of sync with their peer group. (Suzi Godson, The Times, Dec 15 2012)

Go to church on Sundays; smile and be pleasant. In a society in which it is a mortal offense to be different from your neighbors your only escape is never to let them find out. (Maureen Johnson, character in the books of Robert Heinlein)

Simply because no one disagrees with you it doesn't mean you're brilliant. Maybe you're the boss. Or Paul MacCartney. (@IamThorMeToo)

Psychiatry teaches you to be self-obsesssed while at the same time condemning you for it.  It tells you to be aware of yourself while at the same time telling you to stop thinking so much. (Liza Long)

You have to know who you can relate to, who are your group. (Jo Spence, 1991, writing about class)

Look, college kids are the most predictable people in the universe. What with their Marley phase, flirtation with socialism and the Gustav Klimt poster, the only thing they are on the bleeding edge of is creative ways to get f***ed up. (

Women's advances toward equality still stall out when it comes to our [US] cultural norms about love and marriage. (

He was still single, which gave rise to speculation. (BBC programme on gardens)

For a long time, I thought not texting somebody first, trying to make somebody a tad bit jealous (to add “tension”) and acting like you were only half-interested in a guy were the fertilizers that made a relationship grow. I have since realized they are simply s***. Ineffective s***. (

If you stick your neck out, sometimes your head gets cut off. (Chris Packham)

I didn't want to be unique, I wanted to be pretty and, if I couldn't be pretty, then I would settle for ordinary. (Katie Grant, Independent, Nov 2012 wonders if she should get a nose job)

To love someone when you have sex with them is great, but not entirely necessary. There is a very separate kind of pleasure to be had from loveless, short-term sex – the joy of discovery, of novelty, of self-affirmation. (Tim Lott, The Guardian, 1 Dec 2012)

Inspirational Quotes 29 Inspirational Quotes 28
Inspirational Quotes 27 (and links to all the rest)

Monday 14 January 2013

Inventions and Reinventions 5

plastic windows in different designs and colours
(“in keeping” with the buildings)
all terrain "wheelchair" on six robot spider legs
double umbrella (
‏pocket "one size fits all" device for stabilising wonky tables @TracyBiram
marine drone to scoop up plastic debris (
safety pins for attaching Flanders poppies

small, short, light books
(People used to scoff at airport novels, doorstop novels, brick-sized novels – now they’re all that size. And weight.)

drying areas
tumble dryers use too much energy. Being suggested for new developments Nov 2012

one product that does one thing
– abolish its “range”. (Take Head and Shoulders. It actually cleaned hair. Now you never know if the bottle you pick up is for men, is for frequent use, contains menthol, contains conditioner, is conditioner…)

medicated makeup
(banned by EU rule)
half-size loaves of bread

wooden spoons with bowls
(that actually function as spoons)
– computers were always hopeless at address labels

oriel/box bay windows, and 60s windows that look like pulled out drawers (you could fit them up with a bed inside so you could sleep almost in the open air.)

Open-air ice rinks with music
like in Vienna – oh, we have!
German double beds are made with two single mattresses and two single duvets.

Good ideas:

Turn redundant shops into flats, offices, lunch clubs, reading rooms, seminar rooms, libraries, book swap shops, clothes swap shops, cinemas screening old movies, shared offices, studios, lunch clubs, soup kitchens, reading rooms, seminar rooms, village halls (Lorna Soar), workshops, classrooms,  music/dance/yoga studios, night shelters.

Render fat from joints, chicken, bacon etc and keep in a pudding bowl in the fridge (no need to buy goose/duck fat).

Convert traditional windmills to generate electricity (being done).

Turn malls into downtowns: “Where there’s access to mass transit or a strong market it often makes sense to clear the site, connect a walkable grid of tree-lined streets and parks, and build up with a mix of retail at the ground floor and several floors of housing and offices above.”

I can see within the next 3-5 years that ebooks will be the primary source of reading with printed copies available as an option or special order (except for printed speciality books which will always exist.) We may see book dispensers that can spit out a printed book from your ebook while you wait (similar to the Kodak develop/print stations for photos) and even personal printers that can print and bind a paperback subject to your choice of paper size, typeface and font size. JP Paul on LinkedIn

Make clothes using old patterns (instead of using vintage styles as “inspiration” – ie complete misunderstanding).

Reactivate all those Victorian water fountains. No more bottled water!

Make contraception free in the US and reduce abortions by 50%.

Make religions pay tax (then we wouldn’t have to cut benefits).

The NHS should stop funding homeopathy (and we wouldn’t have to privatise it).

It's cheaper to rent storage for your extra stuff than to buy a bigger flat/house. Or you could sell it on ebay! BBC News

Move Malmesbury and Tewksbury to higher ground; if building in flood plains, build on stilts or artificial mounds.

Why don't we have wireless chargers like we have wireless internet? Come on inventors. This is meant to be THE FUTURE. @HeardinLondon

Paint wind turbines blue, green or grey. (Hugh Pearman)

Bake your pastry case and then squash down the middle – no need for greaseproof paper or baking beans.

Pretty much, the way to meet people is through friends. Those little dating groups. You bring x number of boys, I will bring x number of girls and we will see who connects kind of things. (discussion re meeting partners in Japan)

Teach children to read (d says duh!). (Lot of whingeing about synthetic phonics late Oct 2012, “fashionable in the last 10 years”, “takes the fun out of reading”, too “task-based”, forces children to learn too early etc etc)

Paint all dark passages white.

Turn redundant office space into flats. (Happening.)

Make bigger clothes for the bigger people we have now.

Make smaller baths, kitchens, cookers, fridges and sofas for the smaller houses we have now.

Reinvent cycling helmets as riding helmets. (Cyclechic)

Reinventions 4Reinventions 3
Reinventions 2

Reinventions 1

Saturday 12 January 2013

Whatever Happened To...? 19

beating the bounds on Rogationtide (Parish boundaries were visited and a small boy was beaten. The ritual became more humane – a hymn was sung instead – before being quietly forgotten like the Churching of Women after childbirth.)
Bejam, Dolcis, MK One, Pineapple, Richard Shops, Rumbelows, Safeway, Stead and Simpson, Timothy Whites
cosy basement kitchens with a slight casino air (red walls and a pull-down light over a round table)
cress (not watercress, proper cress)
dishcloths (became kitchen roll, Jay cloths and baby wipes of all kinds – phew!)
jam roly poly
mulligatawny soup
multipurpose furniture
oxygen bars

pigeon holes
(Were round robins the Twitter of their day? Or was that the small ads in the Times? Or Loot? Or CB radio?)
pongee (A soft thin cloth woven from Chinese or Indian raw silk or an imitation thereof. Free Dictionary)
restaurants with Tyrolean interiors (varnished wood panelling, fake windows onto mountains (with curtains), red check tablecloths, heavy wood furniture, beams).
Rinso, SQzy, Tide, Persil, Omo, Dreft
sedan chairs
Swiss Cheese plants (monstera)
Those ear studs that helped you stop smoking. (Could it be that they didn’t work?)

tubular steel

whistling kettles (70s) Especially in metallic red. They were supplied in rented flats.
More here, and links to the rest.

Friday 11 January 2013

Inspirational Quotes 29

It is time for women to stop being politely angry. (Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Prize Winner)

Feel better due to changes in situation, judged “recovered”, changes that made you feel better removed. (@MarkOneinFour)

I believe the children are our future. Unless we stop them now! (Homer Simpson)

The “biggest risk”, says Jeffrey Kluger, is that such children are overpraised and overindulged, leaving them ill-prepared for the real world, where the superior charms their parents saw in them are invisible to everyone else. (Time, Nov 2011)

I’d read a book…on how the Roman view had pervaded everything and misled historians and that the ancient Britons were in fact a very civilised people. I ended up writing an article on the subject for the local newspaper. After it was published, my Latin master called me in and humiliated me in front of his senior students and the headmaster asked me whether I believed the Moon was made of green cheese… (Paul Screeton, Fortean Times, Nov 2012)

Ask for what you want. Subtle hints do not work! Strong hints do not work! Obvious hints do not work! Just say it! (

They say money doesn’t make a difference. Of course it makes a difference. (Martha Lane Fox)

The dislike some humans have for difference in their own species goes far beyond the realms of caution or territory/status defence. (@christineburns )

God isn't a noun but a process... a continual, infinitely creative outpouring of love and light onto all living things. (Marianne Williamson)

We have been told how we should look and talk, what we should think and want for so long that many people don't have a clue who they are. (Melanie Pinto/‏@LoveAndRealty )

I reckon that loneliness is a hugely underestimated life factor. (@MarkOneinFour)

When you get to your 20s people begin to ask questions. (Brian Sewell, Nov 2012)

Inspirational Quotes 28

Inspirational Quotes 27 (and links to all the rest)

Friday 4 January 2013

Inspirational Quotes 28

I had boyfriends from the local boys’ school just like everybody else. (Alice Arnold, Nov 2012)

Lots of women don’t realise that they’re gay until they’re grown up. Particularly if they’re all doing the same thing, which is essentially looking for a husband. (Clare Balding, Times Sept 15 2012)

The subtext is that external economic factors can never be the cause of someone's unemployment: the problem must lie with the individual. (The Guardian on the government’s multimillion pound efforts to get those on benefits back into work.)

Others get swept up in a “clique” that does give them some security but at the price of their individuality and maybe even their values. ... Healthy friend groups don’t need everyone to be exactly the same. People in healthy friend groups are there for each other, go to each other’s special events, support each other through hard times, and let people be individuals. (

Till [the right moment] does come, you know, we women never mean to have anybody. It is a thing of course among us, that every man is refused, till he offers. (Mrs Smith in Jane Austen’s Persuasion)

When you are troubled, it's better not to think about it, but to keep busy with more cheerful things. (

“His number one driving force," he says of his father, "was adulation - he needed it like a drug. That's why things went so downhill so quickly in Jonestown. One, he couldn't hide his madness; two, his source [of people] was finite." (Guardian re Jim Jones May 26, 2005)

“Neurotypicals, the socially conscious beings that they are, are inherently embarrassed by making mistakes, and are strongly predisposed to disbelieve any ideas they encounter that contradict existing views. That is why they can be so hard to convince, even when it is so obvious that they are wrong. They're more interested (unconsciously) in defending their image as someone that has all of the answers than in accuracy. And that, ironically, ensures that they are more prone to continue to advocate and spread ideas that are wrong.” (

According to Madeline Bunting, whose book Willing Slaves examines Britain's overwork culture, the idea behind the 1994 reform was that "everybody would find their own Sunday [a day of rest] during the week." "That's not happened," says Bunting, who sees an "environmental influence" in how we manage our days. "We're very, very affected by the way other people are living their lives. If they're out doing things, we feel we should be too." BBC

Before the children at my school broke me of it, I had a lot of crazy idealistic notions. Both my parents were social workers, and I read a lot of books in which good triumphed over evil and people loved you for your inner beauty. (Rebecca Golden, Times Aug 16 2006, on losing weight)

Inspirational Quotes 27
Inspirational Quotes 26

Inspirational Mantras 2
More Inspirational Mantras here
Inspirational Quotes 24
Inspirational Quotes 23
Inspirational Quotes 22
Inspirational Quotes 21
Inspirational Quotes 20
More here and here and here. And here. And here too. Yet more here.

Tuesday 1 January 2013

Buzz Words of 2012, Last Episode

baby hysteria (people referring to the fact that the Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant)

do so and very are as popular as ever. (Unfortunately so. Please use only for “it’s the very thing!” or “heat was in the very sod”.)

and so is modern-day (Just say "modern" and save time.)

gravitassy joins hopey-changey and Bibley

social now means social media marketing. I think.

cheeky is back

to ding means to microwave (Popty ping is colloquial Welsh for microwave.)

Well played! (Back week of Dec 17. )

Oh, my days! (Back among young people.)

epic (Some pedants want to save it for Ancient Greek or Anglo Saxon literature.)

(I think it means “to scream”, me lud.)

workfare (a ghastly Americanism polluting our language, of course)

Buzz Words of 2012, previous last instalment
Part III here
2012 Part II here
Buzz words of 2012 Part I here
Buzz words of 2011 Part II here.
Buzz Words of 2011 here and here.
Complete Buzz Words of 2010 here.
Buzz Words of 2009 here.
Buzz Words of 2009 Part Two here.
Buzz Words of 2006 here.
Buzz Words of 2002 here.
More here (90s, 2000, 2001).
Buzz Words of 2004/5 here