Saturday 31 August 2013

Inspirational Quotes 40

Be yourself, confidence comes from within, yawn zzzzz.

The traditional respectable venues for eligible people to meet have all but disappeared. (Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior)
It seems that the men I work with, including my two bosses, cannot resist turning any statement I say into some sort of sexual play on words. (ditto)

As an immigrant to this country in my mid-20s, I am at a stage in my life where many of my friends are getting married. (Problem from ditto)

a social unit of two (ditto)
Be yourself… Unless you’re a jerky know it all, then be someone else. (

It was my lost-soul, post-college adventure phase. (line from sitcom set in a women’s prison)

The ppl that say "grow up" are the ones that are bitter because they did. (@Imajika25)

It's an incredibly difficult but worthwhile thing, to act as if any other human is having a continuous mental experience as real as your own. (Truett Ogden ‏@Truett)

She was a youngster hoping for love like the others… (after surgery she) has found the fella of her dreams. She no longer feels out of place with her friends and is looking forward to life with her sweetheart. With her looks transformed, she hopes to open a beauty salon… “Now when I look in the mirror I can see opportunities that weren’t there before. There is the chance to go to college and have a better future. Before surgery I was picked on for looking different. Now I look the same as other girls my age. Our relationship has changed me a lot. I’m more independent now and have more self-belief. I feel like I’m now able to do things like going to college and having a career.” (Daily Mirror)

Social convention offers no palatable rites or modes for expressing wounded feelings or concomitant fears of being alone. (Barbara Pym, No Fond Return of Love Dulcie finds she can’t talk to anybody about the break-up of her engagement.)

At the inquest into her death, two days later, her half-brother Henry said he felt sure that she hadn’t meant to kill herself. The fact that she’d acted alone was down to her “pathetic loneliness”, he added. (Daily Mail on suffragette Emily Wilding Davison)

You’ve not mentioned love, Alec. (Bet Lynch to Alec Gilroy in Coronation Street after he pursues her to Spain and asks her to marry him.)

They have to trust me. I don’t particularly want to spend the whole of a lesson in a dialogue about why I’m asking them to do something. Just bloody do it. (Phil Beadle, adult literacy teacher)

Have a thick skin and take it on the chin. (black Wimbledon player)

My gods are older than yours and have more tentacles.

It is the old practice of despots to use a part of the people to keep the rest in order. (Thomas Jefferson)

More here and links to the rest.

Thursday 29 August 2013

Howlers 9


Writers often use "pun" when they mean metaphor, "metaphor" for any figure of speech, and "grammar" for correct English.
With a mayor who has put an onus on cycling provision… (BBC News 2013-08-12): emphasis – an onus is a burden

Honours system is outdated, rooted in our colonial past, often politically corrupt, usually rewarding those who have more than enough already. (Irene Short/‏@ipasho) What do honours have to do with colonialism?

that doughy-eyed look: it’s “doe-eyed”, like Bambi

Winnowing Down Religious Liberty: Whittling reduces gradually, winnowing gets rid of the bits you don’t want.

enteuproneur: entrepreneur
: fundamentalism
Sacré bleu!

Lady X came from an old country family: County family. “The County” were the big landowners of a particular county. They sometimes, but not always, had hereditary titles. They were listed in Burke’s Landed Gentry. “Landed gentry is a largely historical British social class, consisting of land owners who could live entirely off rental income.” (Wikipedia)

ripe with disease: rife

for hermitic (“He had become increasingly hermetic.” Julian Barnes)

name-guessing (BBC, July 2013): fervid (feverish, not religious)

for intercede 

for abstruse (confusion with obtuse, obscure, oblique)

pilfer for plunder

lest for unless (it means “for fear that”)

asterix for asterisk

inconstant for inconsistent: The company has produced inconstant maps for the players as to what parts are still free to play on. (New Statesman Aug 2013)

More here, with links to the rest.

Saturday 24 August 2013

Reasons to Be Cheerful 8

1187 Saladin retakes Jerusalem

In 1936 Sol Hurok arranged for Marian Anderson to perform at Constitution Hall, which was owned by the "Daughters of the American Revolution" (DAR). Anderson was rejected because of the "white performers only" policy of the DAR. Hurok quickly turned to a black school in Washington D.C. and the concert was a success. Anderson was invited by the First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to perform for President Roosevelt at the White House, and the two women developed friendship. However in 1939, DAR again turned Anderson away from the Constitution Hall. Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from DAR in protest of their discrimination of non-white artists. Sol Hurok brilliantly resolved the situation; he organized an open-air concert at the Lincoln Memorial, which was, ironically, near the Constitution Hall. 75,000 people of all races attended that historic concert of Anderson; it was broadcast nationwide and made her a celebrity. (

When the Queen had her first baby, she was the first royal to suggest that no senior figure from the government need attend to make sure she didn’t switch babies. The government complied, and the practice has been quietly dropped.

1965 Catholic Church decides that slavery is immoral

1967 First woman runs a marathon, in Boston. A steward leaped onto the track, ran after her and tried to tear off her number. He was beaten off by the woman’s boyfriend, a hammer-thrower.

1976 Episcopal Church in the US approves significant revisions in the Book of Common Prayer, including “recognizing” the ordination of women.

1976 Race Relations Act 1976 recognises Gypsy and Traveller communities as ethnic minorities (via Pip Borev)

1989 National Rivers Authority founded to clean up rivers and restore canals, led by Lord Crickhowell. (It did that, and in 1996 became the Environment Agency.)

In 1993 rape in marriage finally became a crime in all 50 US states. In 1973 it was illegal in none of them. (via @mims)

1997 UK bans private possession of handguns

1998 Crime and Disorder Act Outlaws racially/religiously motivated violence, harassment, intimidation. (Right-wingers like to pretend that racist remarks are banned by something called “political correctness”.)

2013 Brazil becomes the first country to completely ban indoor tanning for anyone of any age. Australia is buying back tanning beds in preparation for a ban.

2013 Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act


1845 The Southern Baptists walk away from their northern brethren over slavery. (They were for it.) (Jeff Chu, Does Jesus Really Love Me?)

1882 Chinese Exclusion Act in the US prohibits the immigration of Chinese people. (Repealed 1943.)

1921 House of Lords debates whether to ban lesbianism

1928 Sexual Sterilization Act of Alberta (repealed 1972)

Reasons to Be Cheerful 7
, and links to the rest.

Twitter Haiku 5

Rain, rain, rain, rain,
rain, rain, rain.
Knit, knit, knit, knit,
knit, knit, knit.

(Suzanne Hardy/‏@glittrgirl)

Enough bollocks


There's things I don't know.
I refuse to call them God.
Signed, Donovan.


The McDonalds in Forest Hill
is now a gym.
The staff always seem to be
sat in the window
playing poker and
eating Haribo Star Mix.

(John Grindrod/@Grindrod)

Storms on their way here
Send hot winds as their herald.
It's going to be bad.

(Susan Peak)

Walking the streets of London,
passing through countless
metropolitan dreams.

(Lee Jackson/‏@VictorianLondon)

Suspended limbless
eyes forced open
in a cold ether of loneliness.
Standing in front of a Niagara Falls
of sublime, deafening isolation.

(@Furmadamamadam/AdamNathanielFurman on Tao Lin’s Taipei)

Haiku on the train.
Gorgeous countryside
rolling past.


Half of Australia
Is by the pool again.
But I have bought a minotaur.


Just enjoying the
tingling afterglow of my
first homegrown electric daisy.


That line of showers
danced just to north of Cardiff
as it fizzled away.


Having a pit stop break
about 80 miles away from my final destination.
This Little Chef chocolate milkshake tastes vile.
It’s cold up north.

(Leslie Costar)

Second-hand book.
Between pages 196 and 197,
a stranger's eyelash.
Almost a haiku.


More here and links to the rest.

Friday 16 August 2013

Inspirational Quotes 39

We've either got to kick the door down or be more patient. I'm for kicking the door down, myself. (Lenny Henry June 2013)

The end-stage versions of the lovable slackers. (Time)

She started out on her return journey to social oblivion. (The Guardian on Julian Fellowes’ Snobs)

Oprah Winfrey is seen promoting the poisonous notion that “being all you can be” is a simple matter of deciding. “Since there was no random suffering in life,” George Packer writes… Oprah left [her viewers] with no excuse.” (Review of Packer’s The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America)

Lord G had edged up to his daughter, and was intimidating her in what he imagined to be an undertone. (GK Chesterton, Father Brown)

The religion of cheerfulness is a cruel religion. (Father Brown)

I can see now how he orchestrated the breakdown of our relationship. (Woman unwittingly partnered with an undercover cop, Guardian June 2013)

We’d reached that critical 18-month point where I couldn’t stall things any longer – we had to move in together as normal couples do, otherwise why continue the relationship? (Guardian June 2013)

Inevitably the cliché content is high (‘you have to believe, work hard, have a dream and never ever give up’). (Spectator, 2013)

conation: The aspect of mental processes or behavior directed toward action or change and including impulse, desire, volition, and striving. (The Free Dictionary)

When you’re a year younger than the rest of your class, socialising is difficult. (Physics prof Athene Donald, paraphrase)

HOW TO SURVIVE AT PARTIES It’s about talking and acting in a way that is more random, and not that intelligent. Speak as though you’re not sure of a lot of things, or as if you’re too tired to talk about serious subjects. This creates a certain comfortable energy around you, and it encourages low-key conversations. It makes people see you as a regular and open-minded person, not a snob… you’ll see that there are people who come alone, and hope to be able to meet anyone. If they look friendly but hesitant to talk to anyone, go to them and ask a basic question, and see if they’re open to talking. (It also recommends you go to parties early so that you’re there when people arrive feeling nervous. You could put them at their ease! And with luck you have formed a group with other early arrivers. Plus, you can always pretend you can’t stay long because you have another Thing to go to.) ( 2013)

No amount of luxury in a hotel could make up for the fact that you were on your own. It would gnaw away at you. (BBC Online)

More here, and links to the rest.

Thursday 15 August 2013

More Geological Eras

And other terminology that sounds like a 70s thriller.

Chevreul’s pendulum (It demonstrates the ideomotor effect.)

Disruption of 1843
(The Free Church breaks away from the Church of Scotland.)

Ipswichian Interglacial

The Red Centre (of Australia)

Strombolian Explosion

Hawaiian Eruption

Untempered Schism
(Dr Who)

Rockingham Anomaly (Possible pingo in South London.)

Great Kelderara Invasion (A third wave of Roma migration to Bulgaria, known as the great Kelderara invasion, came after the abolition of slavery in Wallachia (a region of Romania) and Moldova. Via blogger Pipopotamous)

Werribee sludges (A stockpile of sewage waste from Melbourne that has been accumulating since 1898. New Scientist May 2013)

Western Palearctic

Nebo-Sarsekim tablet (Cuneiform tablet now in the British Museum from a large sun-worship temple at Sippar in modern Iraq. Wikipedia)

Heinrich Events (During Ice Ages, flotillas of icebergs drop rocks onto the sea floor as they melt – “ice-rafted debris”.)

Laurentide ice sheet (Involved in Heinrich events.)

Late Heavy Bombardment (with meteors. Happened around 4.1 to 3.8 billion years ago. Also known as the Lunar Cataclysm.)

Late Unpleasantness (litotes for war)

dark triad trait scores (Includes psychopathy alongside related constructs such as narcissism and machiavellianism.)

Hangenberg Extinction Event (At the end of the Famennian Epoch, sea-levels fell and the seas became less oxygenated.)

Hutton’s Unconformity (An unconformity – where one type of rock meets another – found by geologist James Hutton in Inchbonny in 1787.)

Kondratiev Winter (“Exposing the Ponzi scheme of fiat currency is necessary to better understand how it could facilitate the onset of a Kondratiev Winter.” Position in an economic cycle. Other cycles are: Kitchin inventory, Juglar fixed investment, Kuznets infrastructural investment and Grand Supercycle. Kondratiev also had a Wave named after him.)

Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum

Beringian Standstill (Early Americans pause in Beringia – the land bridge between Siberia and Alaska – before populating the rest of the Americas.)
Solutrean Hypothesis (Or did people from the European Solutrean culture cross the Atlantic to the Americas on ice sheets?)
Kelp Highway (Another hypothesis about the arrival of Homo sapiens in the Americas.)

More here.
And here.

Monday 12 August 2013

Another Set of Movie Clichés

Do people really carry out important conversations while wandering round brushing their teeth, as they do in the movies or on TV? (@GraemeGarden1)

Nerdy guff that annoys me #53 - Defiance: Aliens who refer to themselves as 'aliens' to humans. Humans would be the aliens to aliens. (@woodo79)

When dressing a medieval or renaissance outdoor scene for TV put in plenty of barrels. (@DAaronovitch )

Single people always have just one carton of Chinese takeaway food in the fridge. (Bill Maher)

Woman packs a case for a man, sometimes while making arch, brittle conversation.

The heavy only cares about his pampered chihuahua.

In old movies, bodies are discovered by someone looking off screen and screaming.

Ageing film star dances shoeless, drinking champagne from a glass held in both hands.

Middle-class women in b/w movies think they’re being terribly witty while just saying ordinary things in arch, brittle voices. (The Letter, Steve in Paul Temple)

Detective holds up envelope with the secret microdot. He sets light to it! All: !!!!!!! He waves it lightly from side to side and drops it in an ashtray. Detective: Fortunately I have the microdot here (produces real microdot from top pocket disguised as a matchbook). “As I told you, the man who had it didn’t know he had it.” (Sherlock Holmes Goes to Washington)

Young, pretty woman turns up for first day's work in mortuary. She walks towards us down dreary corridor. We see her full length so we can appreciate her a) beauty b) perfectly in-period clothes. She pauses and simpers, then walks on. She is going to break down social barriers! (Murder on the Home Front)

Bloke has v important scrap of paper e.g. winning lottery ticket, phone number of ideal girlfriend, pawn ticket, name and address of secret agent etc etc etc.  He carefully puts in shirt pocket to use/dial/memorise etc later. And then... he forgets about it, and puts his shirt in the wash.  When he gets it out again, the bit of paper is a meaningless pulp... Or he has to visit 17 laundries to try and get it back in time. Or the lottery ticket gets buried with grandpa.

The team meet Mr Big in his office and one of them takes some photos. Mr Big is partnering with the local millionaire to build a visitor attraction. Later the snaps reveal a huge plan on the office wall which has completely obliterated a lake/nature reserve/village and replaced it with a golf course/opencast mine.

The Apprentice is all filmed like a dramatic reconstruction on Crimewatch.

80s women’s pictures: lots of twinkling, and titles involving food or embroidery. (An American Quilt, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Café)

In women’s pictures of the 30s/40s/50s, everything stops for a fashion show.

Mini e-book here.

More here.

Friday 9 August 2013

Logic: Jeremy Bentham

Philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832) wrote a book about the flawed arguments used by parliamentarians to avoid doing anything new or practical (A Handbook of Political Fallacies, currently out of print). Wit Sydney Smith summarised it in one speech (The Noodle's Oration). It went something like this:

It never happened in the Good Old Days! They’re taking away Britain’s Ancient Freedoms! If this is such a good idea, why didn’t anybody think of it before? We need to prepare the ground carefully. We can’t just rush into things. We’ve got to wait until the time is right. I don’t think society is quite ready for this. It runs counter to the climate of opinion. We can’t make any sudden movements. It’s a mistake to make a complete break with the past. If we do this, society will be doomed and it'll mean anarchy, or at least an end to civilisation as we know it. There’s no point suggesting ideas that are just Utopian. It’ll never work in practice. You can’t change the world, but you can change yourself. Why not start there?

We're still doing it:

This is change for change's sake!
Just a modern fad!
Phenomenon X has always been exactly as it is now.

We should go back to the way X was originally.
This isn't the right moment.
Many academics, politicians, Lords and bishops are against it.
This is a ridiculously futuristic and new-fangled idea.

"Precaution only is requisite where danger is apprehended." (We mustn’t wrap our children in cotton wool.)

Look what happened in Greece!
Cutting benefits is actually doing people a kindness – giving them benefits only encourages dependency.

"I hate innovation, but I love improvement."

"I am an enemy to the corruption of government, but I defend its influence."
(There are a few rotten apples in every barrel.)

"I dread reform, but I dread it only when it is intemperate." (Radical changes need to be phased in gradually.)

We need a change of culture, not excessive regulations.
You can’t change attitudes by changing the law.
It's the thin end of the wedge! It's a slippery slope! Next thing you know they'll be [insert silly and unlikely idea here].

We shouldn't be solving this problem, we should be solving this other, completely different problem. Why spend so much time on this when there are so many important things to discuss?

More silliness here, here, here.

Wednesday 7 August 2013

Outrageous Excuses IV

A man caught with a prostitute in his car told police she was there to show him where to buy tomatoes. (BBC 2013-07-25)

I’m not racist, I have two Kashmiri staff and a Polish wife.” UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom (paraphrase) after saying publicly that the UK should cease foreign aid to “Bongo Bongo Land”.

Homeopathic care is enormously valued by thousands of people. (Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in 2007)

The decision to make the vehicles without operational windows on the top deck was made by TFL, not designer Thomas Heatherwick. Hendy said the new bus “is cooler than the latest equivalent bus”. He added: “It’s not a political issue, not is it a fundamental design failure, and it’s nothing to do with a lack of opening windows; it’s a manufacturing and operating failure which has been fixed.” (Transport Commissioner Peter Hendy, July 2013) (All buses are like Turkish baths in hot weather. If they had enough windows that opened properly, they wouldn’t need aircon. Windows fitted, 2017.)

Jeremy Forrest (he seduced and abducted a schoolgirl, starting when she was 14) “was in a dark place” with his marriage, “made a mistake and knows he’s been stupid” (parents). His mother says his wife didn’t support him when he was depressed. Father: “The Jeremy who did that is not the one I know… [His wife] needed constant reassurance.” He told the girl his marriage was a “hollow sham”.

The captain of the Costa Concordia “tripped and fell into one of the starboard lifeboats”, he originally told investigators. (July 2013)

Uzbek president calls his citizens "lazy" because they're so poor a third of them have to travel abroad for work. (Daniel Trilling/‏@trillingual)

Head of Hayward Gallery on fact there are only two women in "outsider show": "Maybe women are more down to earth." (@IntervalThinks)

Clichés are “colourful”, and without them the world would be a dull place.

Rhys Ifans’ rudeness and bad language in interview “was all down to him taking 'antibiotics'" and "coming to terms with bad news he'd received a few weeks ago in Wales" according to his PR. (Guardian June 2013)

According to Jung “people choose their parents in order to seek out the level of trauma they need in order to help them fulfill their destinies”.

Council found to have painted yellow lines down a narrow alley explained workers had “forgotten how large cars actually are”. (2013)

Stuart Hall initially called rape allegations “pernicious, callous, cruel and above all spurious”. He later admitted all counts and is now in jail. (2013)

UKIP candidate was not snapped giving a Nazi salute, he was “imitating a pot plant”. (New Statesman)

A human rights lawyer who fell asleep during a hearing in the Ghanaian Supreme Court has put his doziness down to a "spiritual attack" which began following a trip to London where he had an unsettling vision of a hippopotamus. ( April 2013)

Boys don’t read because the material isn’t challenging enough. (BBC Feb 2013)

I don’t have Botox any more because I honestly believe that beauty comes from inside. (Brix Smith-Smart May 12, 2012)

Aberdeen has lost a chance to push forward the frontiers of science - well as expected they have no guts - they are prisoners of Tradition and prim and proper science. (Aberdeen University turns down an anthroposophy course/department.

Teens who tweeted racist comments after the election: My account was hacked, it was a joke, teacher says “That’s not him really”. (And a hamster ate your homework, we know.)

More here, and links to the rest.

Tuesday 6 August 2013

Overheards IV

Overheard in Stoke Newington

Two identically and conservatively dressed little girls. One to the other: Yup! Our family’s really weird.

Are you sure you’re not a jazz musician?

Nick can’t bear hemp milk.

Passing mother: "You're not going to WORK, you're going to SCHOOL! TRY AND SHOW SOME KIND OF POSITIVITY!!" (Lee Jackson/‏@VictorianLondon)

Another mother: We’re going to sit down and have a picnic and we are going to ENJOY OURSELVES, all right? If you find one more thing to moan about we will go home.

Two girls pushing prams, one to the other: Of course she was embarrassed after beating up her husband in front of my face.

On the 236: She says “You go Amsterdam and you don’t go shops?”

Heard in the wild: "Let's go and have a chatté". (Hamish Thompson/‏@Suburbman )

Overheard at work: "Well, he's Anglican. So like, the Canadian of religious people." (Roz/‏@TheEvilTwinSet )

In a sudden lull in general train conversation, I just heard a woman vehemently proclaiming: "Well, I like antlers!" (@BarnabyEdwards)

"You're prepared to put up with that 'cos you got no self-esteem". "I know that". #overheardinlondon (Andy Horton ‏/@fechtbuch)

I work in a bookshop & overheard someone say "Ooh they've bought a book out of that now", referring to Tess of the d'Urbevilles! (christopher clarke/‏@christheclarke)

Daughter earwigging at OAP exercise class: "I can't lift my leg today as I fell out of a dodgem on Saturday." (@IntervalThinks)

Train guard: We will shortly be arriving at Chorley; don't forget your will to live. (@AllanFish)

"Why don't you go to a folk festival? You'll see loads of people there who look like you, who've managed to find partners." #HeardinHackney (@HeardinLondon)

More here, and links to the rest.