Friday 31 May 2013

Buzz Words of 2013, First Instalment

onesie (around 2012 but now everywhere in tones of horror)

(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?)

storyteller Something to do with selling and marketing, rather than Hansel and Gretel. "At 25, I was hired as a storyteller and media consultant for xxxx, exploring new ways to use narrative to share knowledge within the organisation." (Guardian 2013-01-12) I teach you to use storytelling to change & improve every aspect of your business or nonprofit. Author, Storyteller. Hard-core how-to-do-storytelling coach.

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." Words fail.

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) Social graphs seem to have vanished, June 2013.

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

Vogue for long, cutesy book titles like: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False (Are they modelled on the titles of Friends episodes? Or winners of the Frankfurt Book Fair bad title award?)

predatory pricing (offering new customers amazing deals)


scare quotes
(sharp rise from 80s)

pfft! (On Twitter)

asymmetrical warfare
KLAXON (Why when no one has heard a klaxon since 1935?)

heady People are using it to mean almost anything.

stew of (emotions etc) Appears 80s, peaks 1995, gone again May.

gözleme February

People using “panic” to mean “broadcast weather warnings” or even “talk about snow”. “Chaos” means “traffic disruption” as usual.

This is about as great of a eureka moment as you can have as a scientist. (Americanism)

Quite young people are talking about hipflasks.

Panic also means “reporting a serious fox attack on a child”.

selfie: photo of yourself, taken by yourself

third time’s the charm: Americanism. Why aren't pedants objecting?

People are now saying that Twitter parody accounts are lame. (They always were, apart from @reelmolesworth and his pals.)

curate (v)
monster for “turn into a monster figure”

Pecha Kucha: mini-presentation

blue-rinse brigade to mean “women with white hair”

panic: used to mean “schools closing” (it’s snowing again)

cis (cis-gender, cis-sexism etc) Goes with intersectionality.

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. I hope.)

lean in (whatever that means. Oh it’s a book.)

stoush (At least it’s better than “spat”. Or is it?)

People “braving” weather again. It’s snowing. On April 4.

like farming: Putting up a picture on Facebook and asking everybody to "like" it for a good cause. When you've collected thousands of "likes", you sell it to advertisers.

link bait: contentious web articles by "controversial" columnists
Twitter memes: variations on “give a man a fish”, lame film title puns involving cake, bacon etc. “Jokes” less funny than Victorian cracker jokes. (I went to a restaurant called Moon, but didn’t enjoy it. There was no atmosphere.) Ed Balls. Enough already.

heavily used to mean “a lot”

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

do so: Still with us. Someone on TV just asked “And why so?”

overthinking, overthought: popular week of 2013-04-15

name-meshing (Bill Turnbull 2013-04-24 Griffin and Peacock become Puffin. Not quite.)

mindful: aware

stress: depression, anxiety, nervousness, misery, negative affect

Are people using raise for pay rise? Creeping Americanism?

MAHvlous! (several years)

That creeps me out.
popcorn, scooters and hopscotch seem to be popular

infographic (formerly diagram or Powerpoint slide, invented by Florence Nightingale)

the wow factor: Victorian terrace house disfigured with granite worktops, a marble bathroom, open-plan living and downlighters

bikini boot camp
go Amsterdam, go shops, go Nandos Where are the infuriated pedants? Shall we get up a movement?

swivelgate mid-May (Allegedly some top Tory said the Tory grassroots were “swivel-eyed loons”.)


rebunking (Undebunking. Usually results in redebunking.)

dinner-party racism
extreme couponing

culturally Marxist
is taking over from “politically correct”

cray for crazy (I think)

do so
is the new situation (and why wasn’t there a fuss over “levels”?) 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. (That genius Clive James)

Buzz words of 2012, and links to the rest.

Why Gay Marriage Is Wrong Part II

[Former Archbishop of Canterbury] Lord Carey claims equal marriage opens door to polygamy and marrying your siblings. (@OwenJones84, May 31 2013) Earlier he said that we shouldn’t have equal marriage because some ethnic minorities are homophobic. (May 2013)

“A lot of people are concerned marriage is being redefined, and they don’t think the Government should get involved. It is already a divisive situation – these are beliefs people have had for hundreds of years.” Interviewee on May 2013 (People believed that bloodletting cured disease for 100s of years.)

One rightwing [French] MP claimed the government was "killing children" by allowing same-sex married couples to adopt, while a senator said gay marriage would pave the way for people being able to marry animals or objects. Guardian May 20 13

Gay marriage is "culturally Marxist". (says somebody or other May 2013)

Restaurant “refused to host gay couple's wedding party because it would be bad for its feng shui”. (@GRadioLGBT Sept 2012)

Allowing marriage of same-sex couples would support another 'stolen generation' (@ACLobby) What the hell is wrong with you people? (@MrOzAtheist )

SPUC (the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children) says gay marriage will ‘destroy UK families’. Also ‘Marriage will be reduced to gratifying your own personal desires’.

Director of SPUC on #equalmarriage: "We must act now to prevent our country descending into centuries of barbarism". (@jonanamary)

David Burrowes, one of the organisers of the campaign against the reform, told The Independent he is "cautiously optimistic" the proposal will be defeated in the Commons because it would "fracture" the institution of marriage. Mr Burrowes, parliamentary aide to the Cabinet Office minister Oliver Letwin, insisted there is strong opposition to gay marriage across the Conservative Party spectrum. "Many colleagues are worried that it would fundamentally affect how marriage between a man and woman has historically been viewed in this country," he said. "There are strong doubts that we need to go down this path. It would open up a can of worms and a legal minefield about freedom, religion and equalities legislation. Gay marriage is a debate we don't need to have at this stage. It is not an issue people are hammering us on the doorstep to do something about," he continued, adding: "It is important that there is a reasoned debate around how we view marriage rather than about homosexual rights. It may open up old wounds and put people into the trenches; no one wants that." He denied that dropping the plan would jeopardise Mr Cameron's modernising credentials. "There are many other ways that the Conservatives can show we are a modern party – not least our social justice agenda. This is too important an issue to decide in terms of where it positions our party." Independent January 17, 2012 (Pure Jeremy Bentham.)

More reasons why gay marriage is wrong here. And here.

Thursday 30 May 2013

Haiku 4

I am everywhere,
in the ocean which is my blood,
in the hills which are my bones. 

August Strindberg

A squirrel sits in a tree
in Kelvingrove park,
eating a Tunnock's teacake.

@Greebobek/Bek Hobbes

It's hello cat,
but is it goodbye
fundamentally flawed extension?

Cowboy Trap 2013-05-28

If anyone spots
the remains of a Peppa Pig cake
in the Buckinghamshire area...
it's ours.
Btw does anyone know
how to remove eel slime?

Ben Fogle

I’ll go somewhere spooky, alone
With just a torch in the dark.

Review of Arne Dahl @samt77

So many vapour trails up there today,
planes taking to the expanse of blue
like a crayon to fresh wallpaper.

John Grindrod

In the garden today,
picked up a moth,
thinking it was a dead leaf.
Lee Jackson/@VictorianLondon

Small new leaves on the
silver maple tree hang folded.
Miniature green bats.

Elizabeth Bastos/LF

All is cold, rational, empty!
Filled with memories of great antiquity
I wander as if among the dead.

Romantic 19th century Scandinavian archaeologist

Ich habe heute morgen
einen Sonnenstrahlenkranz
Regine Wosnitza

It’s nearly 8:15am
howling a gale
& the sky is John Major grey
but more menacing.



Friday 24 May 2013

Music Genres

Who listens to Everything but the Girl? Music for social workers, teachers, probation officers and other disappointed minor functionaries of the state.  (Anon)

acid punk
acid rock
acid skiffle
all the -cores: hardcore, grindcore, etc
ambient lounge/chill
apocalyptic folk-pop (@VictorianLondon)
atmospheric gothic metal

bangin' bootie

dark ambient
deep space house
deep vocal house
doom metal
dream pop

electro soul
electro swing

electro swing blues Balkan Gypsy circus funk and soul influenced bass music

electroclash synthcore
ethereal gothic

ethereal, neoclassical, Gothic, shamanic/tribal, art rock style

funeral doom

geek pop
ghetto funk
ghost trance
glitch hop

Gothic choral (incomprehensible words, minor key, rhythm, drumming, repetition, plainsong)

gypsy baroque (As mentioned in his autobiographies, Telemann's encounters with Eastern European gypsy music influenced his own compositions… However, there are two other factors that lead to the assumption that Bach was well acquainted with the gypsy music of his time…)

gypsy swing
haughty melodic (“small rock or medium rock”, apparently)

instrumental post-rock
jangle pop (like the Monkees)

melodic techno
mild/dark ambient drift
minimal Detroit techno

nameless hotel lobby jazz supergroup (James Inverne)
nu swing

prog rock

Progressive trance is a sub-genre in trance music, contains elements of house, techno, and ambient genres. (Soundcloud)

psy glitch
psych rock
psych trance

quiet storm

Reform style camp/folk/rock music (Sidney Minty) (A style of Jewish religious music otherwise known as the hootenanny school.)

ridiculous werewolf-based thrash-banjo Estonian lycra metal (@Hackneymarshman)

scifi house (Legowelt)
shoegaze music
sista rock
smooth house
smooth soul

songs about circuses Puppet on a String, For the Benefit of Mr Kite, Death of a Clown (it was a 60s thing)

space jazz
space rock
speed garage
surf rock
swing house

toozie garage
Toytown rave?
trailer music (for trailers? or for ppl who live in trailers?)

witch house
world bass
zombie lounge

Thursday 23 May 2013

Reasons to Be Cheerful 6

I needed a man's signature in 1968 to take out a hire purchase agreement for a fridge, even though I was in a good permanent job. My boss was kind enough to help. (Friend HC writes)

Interesting history fact about #Pope Francis' installation mass: for 1st time since Great Schism of 1054 leader of Orthodox Church is there. (‏@bensimmoneau)

1826 University College London founded It was the first university institution to be founded in London and the first in England to be established on an entirely secular basis, to admit students regardless of their religion and to admit women on equal terms with men. (Wikipedia)

1843 Disruption in the Church of Scotland 450 ministers broke away over the issue of the Church's relationship with the State, to form the Free Church of Scotland… most of the principles... were conceded by Parliament by 1929. (Wikipedia) Some church buildings were abandoned.

1850 Libraries Act sets up free public libraries

1861 The Offences Against the Person Act outlawed man-traps and spring guns (used against poachers). It consolidated an act of 1828.

1861 Section 61 of the Offences Against the Person Act "abolished the death penalty for buggery, and provided instead that a person convicted of buggery was liable to be kept in penal servitude for life or for any term not less than ten years. The mandatory minimum sentence was abolished by the Penal Servitude Act of 1891." (Wikipedia)

1866 Uruguay abolishes corporal punishment (It was abolished in the Brazilian Navy after the Revolt of the Lash in 1910. Many Brazilian sailors were the sons of former slaves forced to join the service. In 1971 it was banned in schools in Toronto. There's an interesting history here.)

1892 and 1909 The rule forbidding women to wear trousers in Paris was amended to allow them to wear trousers, "if the woman is holding a bicycle handlebar or the reins of a horse." The law is repealed in 2013.

1932 Irish law forbidding married women to teach in primary schools. Repealed 1973. Here's a history of women's rights in Ireland.

1939 Cancer Act states that it is illegal to advertise offers to treat cancer.

1951 IBM issues a memo saying it's OK to employ married women

1974 Health and Safety at Work Act

1982 Borstals ("approved" schools for young offenders) abolished

1987 European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals prohibits tail docking for dogs (some countries opt out)

1973 Once the UK joined the European Union in 1973, it also became subject to Article 119 of the 1957 Treaty of Rome, which specified that men and women should receive equal pay for equal work.

1998 Human Rights Act makes it illegal to treat people unequally.

1691 Whites only
1724 Blacks with permission of slave owner
1769 The wife is property
1899 Polygamy outlawed
1900 The wife can own property
1965 Contraception legal
1967 Interracial couples
1975 Wife can have credit in her name
1981 Husband no longer owns all property
1993 Marital rape a crime

Marriage liberalisation took longer in the US, perhaps explaining why people still think that "marriage is slavery" or that the words "marriage" and "wife" are relics of patriarchy, or something.

2013 France passes equal marriage law.

2013 Niger villagers take mass public vow to end female genital mutilation. 

We've come a long way. Oxford professors can be married. Monarchs no longer wash paupers' feet or touch them to cure the "King's Evil" (TB). Oxford students are no longer fined for not wearing a gown after dusk (such rules were implemented by a private police force, disbanded in 2003). You won't be deported for catching a rabbit on someone else's land. Parents can visit their children in hospital any time. Most people now understand equality and human rights (they apply to all humans).

And someone has suggested that bullying in schools should be made a crime. Why stop at schools?

1618 to 1967 150,000 children were forcibly deported from the UK to overseas colonies (

1925 Any presumption of law that an offence committed by a wife in the presence of her husband is committed under the coercion of the husband is hereby abolished, but on a charge against a wife for any offence other than treason or murder it shall be a good defence to prove that the offence was committed in the presence of, and under the coercion of, the husband. This does not apply to civil partners, or to men.
The principle difference [between marriage and civil partneships] is that if you go to a country that has both a civil union and a marriage (e.g. South Africa, many US states, France soon, etc) then your civil partnership will usually be treated as the local civil union, not the local marriage - and the rights given by that other country to civil unions may well be significantly lower. (rgadsden@cix)

More here, and links to the rest.

Monday 13 May 2013

Neologisms 8

Nobody can write proper English any more and Americanisms are taking over and children should rote-learn grammar and – while people can think up locutions this vivid, there's no need to panic.

While the rooms pay homage to every benighted cliché of postmodern kitsch, the bathrooms are strictly Travelodge. The hotel's crashing suggestiveness is less of a nudge and a wink than a right hook and a black eye. (Guardian 2005 on a hotel where you could buy “adult toys” and a box full of nightlights and rose-petals for the bath.)

That’s my address book rinsed out. (Andrew Lamberty in Auction Hero, 2013)

It is prone to asinine generalities ("People have long memories in Belfast")… It may also be a sign of the outstanding boringness of the outward facts of Lewis's religious conversion… (Sam Leith, Guardian, May 11 2013)

Cream, off-white - it’s all a bit latte, really. (Sarah Beeny’s Selling Houses)

BBC journalist pretends he can eat for £1 a day… Devastating teardown ensues (@bengoldacre)

If Greg Dyke was doing an interview on flower arranging he’d turn it into an attack on me. (Chris Patten on Andrew Marr, 5 May 2013 New DG is “both a sigh of relief and a wind of change”.)

Tried an alternative coffee blend from the work vending machine. I think this one is called 'Coal dust, pond water and abject despair' (Dean Burnett/‏@garwboy)

It offers a heady melange of mannerisms, overscaled oriel windows, riotous gables, chimneys ago-go and a hundred and one materials. (Charles Holland on Norman Shaw)

Kochs form new dark money group to hide political activities (

So bland is this adaptation and so embarrassingly awful the dialogue that I feel all my blood has drained away. (imdb commenter on Three Act Tragedy)

Treat tips on deterring pigeons the same way as tips on getting rid of hiccups. Most are designed to entertain the public. (Marie-Lan Taÿ Pamart/‏@Jastrow75)

Mabel – that’s a museum name! (Heir Hunters)

sticking it to you in an under-handed way ( definition of passive aggression)

Mrs Thatcher will cling to the Velcro of our collective national memory more than any other politician. (Peter Hennessy)

I haven't read 'The Economy of Cities' but I'm led to believe it's brimming with gibberish - is that right? (Douglas Murphy/‏@entschwindet )

I'm feeling rather plaice-like (lightly battered) after defending a novel at Book Group. (Caroline Mansfield/‏@LadyofMisrule)

As John Grant so wisely asks on his new album, I wonder what Ernest Borgnine would do. Something to live by. *Adopts grizzled attitude* (John Grindrod/‏@Grindrod)

More here, and links to the rest.

Sunday 12 May 2013


The population has ballooned

UKIP leaflet says that the local population has been "ballooning over the last decade". Nonsense. I've been once, and that was in Egypt. (Lord Beestonia/‏@Beeestonia, 28 April 2013)

Leafing through
some ancient magazines (How old does something be before you "leaf" through it rather than "flicking"? Got to be at least 20 years, I think.) letslooksideways.blogspot

always “resorted to”

explode: The industry is undergoing explosive growth. (BBC News That's rapid, prodigious or excessive growth.) Cities exploded to house the middle classes. (They expanded quickly.)

immense speeds: high speeds (speeds are high or low, not big or small)

salaries swelled accordingly: salaries rise or fall

restore: Can we just “restore” things, without restoring them “to their former glory”?

Propelled by the power of tectonics, India hurtles forward at two inches a year. (That's hyperbole or overstatement.)

big: This is the biggest month in the calendar for anyone whose child is finishing primary school. Tim Lott, Guardian Mar 2013 (most important)

threat: As the threat of war loomed (BBC) as war loomed

reignite: Would tunnelling under Charterhouse Square reignite the Black Death? (revive) BBC News 2013-03-15

trigger: Deposits like these have triggered a new gold rush. BBC News 2013-03-14 (started, set off)

Sam Leith on CS Lewis: A Life and The Intellectual World of CS Lewis  by Alister McGrath G 11 May 2013

Sentence after sentence is inflated with meaningless intensifiers such as "deep", "powerful", "magnificent", "famous" and "prestigious". "Landmark" is a favourite adjective (as in "landmark book"), and the landmarks of McGrath's own text are "crushing personal blows", "tectonic plates", "shattered dreams", "dark shadows", sealed fates and "forces over which he had no control". … [His marriage:] ("a ticking time bomb" … "a Trojan horse"); her death ("emotional firestorm" … "emotional battering ram").

Nick Laird, The Guardian, Friday 29 March 2013 13.00 GMT   

I spent a few weeks recently reading through 10,000 of the 13,000 entries for the National Poetry Competition. Many were very good; a few hundred were excellent…  Still, reading the poems was also, sometimes, depressing. There were poems that weren't good, and they tended to have features in common: a lack of control or occasion, a lack of linguistic felicity or surprise…

If the title is a ready-made phrase such as
A Falling Star, the poet already has a distance to claw back. So scrap the cliches: his breath is not bated, the contrast is not sharp. We want the language of a poem to renew our experience of life, not dull it with rote phraseology...

The register has to be controlled, and preferably not helplessly imitative or archaic. Be careful with words such as whence or din or guffaw or russet. Also, contorted or caress or ochre. Or clad or crave or pale or engorged. Or gossamer. Don't write about things frosted with dew...
Please don't set your font to eight and please refrain from using dingbats... More here.

Outdated Slang IV

Ecommerce will never work

When did people stop saying...

Any joy?
canalise (popular 40s to 1960, then steep decline)

(peaked 30s)

destructive/constructive (constructive peaked 20s to 50s. Constructive criticism has been popular since the 30s.)

Ecommerce will never work.

for yonks
(early 70s)

from here on in

full of the joys of spring
(peaked 1900)

give it up as a bad job (peaked 30s)

haemorrhage (funds etc)

I don’t think!

I’m afraid I don’t know anything about computers.

in any way, shape or form


india-rubber for rubber
(india rubber was non-vulcanised and more “natural”, also thought to be more bouncy)


intuitive interface
(They all are now – or are supposed to be.)

literature for brochures, leaflets, handouts, “information packs” etc

lover (the word “boyfriend” came back – and “lover” always sounded a bit self-conscious. Boyfriend has been steadily rising since the 60s.)

mindset (sharp rise from 70s)

moonbat (spike 1990)

neurotic (especially in the accusative - peaked early 50s)

on second thoughts… (or “on second thought”, as the Americans say)

push-pull technology

right/well out of order

same here

(Probably 1980.)

This I must see.

tunny fish/tuna fish
(because people might not know that tuna was a fish)

TV rots the brain.

jellyfish (now “jellies”)

umbrella (umbrella term, Dance Umbrella)

unpack (a concept)

up to you (now “down to”)

You pays your money and you takes your choice.

Thanks to NGram.

Part III here, and links to Parts I and II.

Monday 6 May 2013

Inspirational Quotes No. 36

Try not to be puneengy. I wish I'd known that.

Do not be overly needy, do not stalk or bombard with phone calls or gifts, but do be warm and responsive and always interested in what interests your guy. (Amazon reviewer)

I think the closest word would be pushy? or maybe clingy? needy? LOL. How bout all of them rolled together: puneengy. (

Like most hysterics, her trump card is weakness. (Charlotte O’Sullivan, Independent 11/16/02)

A birthday is a painful marker of popularity in London. Of how far you've come in life. Would work colleagues find an invitation a bit needy? (Liz Hoggard ES Aug 7 08)

Marx was on to something more profound than he knew when he observed that the family contained within itself in embryo all the antagonisms that later develop on a wide scale within the society and state. (Shulamith Firestone)

The most important thing in life is having a child. Bob Edwards (Shulamith Firestone thought that in the future children would be produced in tanks and brought up in institutions. After she violated some rule her father never spoke to her again.)

[Childless] men are much more likely than women to feel isolated, depressed, angry and sad about it. (Giles Coren, Times, April 2013)

This worked for me many years ago. I had a small cassette recorder and taped the barrage as it happened. Later when she was in a calmer, happier mood I sat down and talked about what I saw as constant attack. When she started to protest I asked her to listen to herself and played the tape back. She paled because she hadn't realized how vitriolic she had been. She did a total transformation. (

Love is all you need. Though a roof over your head, food in your cupboard and accessible healthcare for all certainly helps. (@HeardinLondon )

Ignoring the social background to stress puts the burden of responsibility on vulnerable people to change themselves – to solve their own problems – and it condones the external conditions that lead to their suffering. It allows us to avoid the larger problems. (NS April 2013)

Novels, romcoms… can convince you that love is best when it's serendipitous. We're hooked on the meet cute: Reaching for the same book in the bookstore, bumping into each other on the bus. (

Our mission was to snog boys. Sarah Beeny (She travelled around the world solo at the age of 17 and felt "lonely and seasick" most of the way. Wikipedia)

Inspirational Quotes No. 35 and links to the rest.