Wednesday 31 December 2014

Euphemisms in Quotes 3

Hogwarts is not cheap

To get into them you do need a good education, and privilege – by which I infer money. (Bristol blogger)

The upcoming changes and how they are being handled, for which read foisted upon us, by Apple. (

The writers [of the 60s TV show] were allowed to be an eclectic bunch – i.e. some had not been to Cambridge. (The Guardian, March 25 2008)

They demanded “modernisation,” which turned out to mean up to 10,000 lost jobs. (Green Party)

They say “Shazia, you should be warm, friendly and unthreatening”. This is intellectual language for pink, fluffy bimbo. (Comedian Shazia Mirza, The Guardian, Aug 8 09)

Today, men are given confusing and contradictory advice. Socially, they are expected to be “compliant” (i.e. cooperative) partners to women. However, they are also urged by women's sexual interest to maintain an “attractive personality” – i.e. assertive and ambitious. (

Too often, though, the Academy has rewarded films at the high end of mediocrity, operating within a narrow band of reassuring realism. They're called “movies of quality,” which really means movies of piety — stories of cosy spiritual uplift (Mrs. Miniver, Going My Way) or, more recently, of superior damaged creatures (Rain Man, A Beautiful Mind). (Richard Corliss, Time magazine, Feb 25 08)

When a client asks us to "indulge them" we tell them to "pay us". (Matt Ranson/@matr77)

When directors say things like “I really wanted to return to this story to explore [x]” = “Hmm. I need another beach house.” (@artificer13)

When I said “I believe in the Christian Faith” I meant “I embrace the way of love”. (Richard Braithwaite, Cambridge Professor of Moral Philosophy)

“Had an old dealer in moaning that people are too educated & you can't get bargains any more! Translated he can't rip people off as easy.” (@LadyKentmores)

When someone says "With respect..." he means "With impatient and patronising contempt..." (@PeterBradshaw1) Working-class version is: “I’m not being funny, but…”

Wikipedians are “disagreeable” and “closed to new ideas”, according to one survey. Could this be because we have to resist continually the agreeableness and new ideas of creationists, revisionists, flat-earthers and other quacks? (New Scientist, 24 January 2009)

Women [who marry a man plainer than themselves] want a man who’s positive and supportive. Or, to use another word, grateful. (Carol Midgley, The Times, Sep 16 10)

Work-life balance is shorthand for finding reasons to work less. (The Leadership Skills Handbook)

Yet, in Germany, all was stagnation, he lamented. The dominant political ethos remained one of consensus, but what that meant in practice was “shying away from conflict and seeking broad approval in the hope of postponing change”. (The Guardian, Tuesday 23 November 1999)

"I'm sure it'll be fine" - Meaning: This can only end in disaster. "If you say so" - Translation: "I'm afraid that what you're saying is the height of idiocy".  (VeryBritishProblems/‏@SoVeryBritish)

More here, and links to the rest.

Friday 26 December 2014

Outrageous Excuses of 2014

In a recorded phone conversation, UKIP candidate Kerry Smith talked about UKIP setting up a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) group. He jokingly referred to it as BLT UKIP, and adds "what the old poofter groups call themselves". He jokes about "shooting peasants" from the Essex town of Chigwell and supporting "a peasant's hunt through Chigwell village" A UKIP spokesman said they were "the rantings of an angry man" who was on sedatives for an injury at the time.
Man caught taping ex in shower: That hidden camera was for chickens!

I’m not racist, you’re quoting me out of context, I hate everybody, it’s just like calling the Irish Paddies, we all say these things in private - don’t we?

I’ve been hacked!: I meant to send that as a direct message, ooops! (In the olden days “Oh no I hit reply all!”.)

That’s not hotel dust – it’s come through the air conditioning vent! (Hotel owner on Hotel Inspector. Yes, but it’s still on the light fitting, isn’t it?)

Head of Sir John Cass school said boys and girls had separate playgrounds for "their own safety".

Cyril Townsend, a backbench Conservative MP, asked the Home Office to act [on child pornography]. In response, he claimed, it said: “that the problem did not exist, then that it had all been exaggerated, and finally that it was impossible to do anything about it.” (Spotlight on Abuse)

He had a temper. (Used to be used to excuse bullying, denigration, vilification and assault – not so much any more. Assumes the perpetrator can’t help it – it wasn’t him, it was his temper. We can also blame the subconscious, and (earlier) the passions, or an “angry and rebellious spirit”. That probably had to be beaten out of you.) Conversely, it may all be the fault of the victim, who was “emotionally dependent” on the perp, or provoked him, or something.

The "brand director" at Robinson's insisted that: "We are retiring Golly because we found families with kids no longer necessarily knew about him. We are not bowing to political correctness, but like with any great brand we have to move with the times." (Wikipedia) (Translation: We are bowing to political correctness.)

The occupation of an empty council estate has been hijacked by “hangers on,” councillors claim (Evening Standard) And the packed protests were the work of “a few ringleaders”, yes, we know.

Man who tweeted rape threats to Stella Creasy claims he was "trying to provoke debate". He also claimed that radical feminists had abused him on Twitter and he hadn’t realised he had offended anyone. “It’s a dark day for free speech.” He also said he was just satirising the feminist debate and these were just jokes and banter. He says he’s a feminist, says he retweeted a message threatening to rape Creasy as a “show of support”. He sent a message to Caroline Criado-Perez telling her to treat threats to rape her as “a compliment”.

Uganda's anti-gay law was repealed. Defending the law, Ugandan authorities said the President wanted to "demonstrate Uganda’s independence in the face of Western pressure and provocation”.

An orphanage manager in Cairo filmed beating children said he was trying to teach them a lesson because they were playing with electrical equipment.

Savile, Smith and others weren’t prosecuted because they were “too powerful”.

"We've all said those things. We're all fucking hypocrites." Gary Oldman commenting to Playboy on Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic rant. Gibson said his remarks were made “in a moment of insanity”.

A Baptist minister who was criticised for his poster reading “If you think there is no God, you better be right” with a picture of burning flames, said it was an attempt to get people to engage with the Christian message. (Daily Mail May 2014)

After the rape and hanging of two girls in India in June, a minister from the ruling party said that rape "is a social crime ... sometimes it's right, sometimes it's wrong.” (avaaz)

A man who wrapped his head in a blanket and waved a Toblerone in an attempt to hijack a plane said he was just trying to entertain the passengers.

More here, and links to the rest.

Thursday 25 December 2014


It is the day when he was born
A bitter day that early sank
Behind a purple frosty bank
Of vapour, leaving night forlorn

The time admits not flowers nor leaves
To deck the banquet. Fiercely flies
The blast of North and East, and ice
Wakes daggers at the sharpen'd eaves,

And bristles all the brakes and thorns
To yon crescent, as she hangs
Above the wood which grides and clangs
Its leafless ribs and iron horns.


Monday 22 December 2014

Adjectives 10


Full of ludicrous spa architecture ('sparchitecture') and garishly-painted fairytale towers, Bagnoles' main feature is, surprisingly, a spa. ( 

Spectacularly silly hospital design proposed in 1890s Manchester (It's modelled on the Eiffel Tower.) (@johnb78)

trashy hipster products
(M von Aufschneiter)

plucky: our plucky buyers (Homes under the Hammer) These incredible pictures show the moment a plucky seal managed to twist away from the killer jaws of a great white shark. (Daily Mail)

Caught the last episode of Dr Who last night. Usual mix of narrative-free sentiment, bombast and nostalgia. (Lee Jackson ‏@VictorianLondon )

social-welfare expressions (Betty Cornell Teen-Age Popularity Guide)

the remorseless pursuer of unconscious vulgarity (WM Thackeray)

clumsily written, trite pap (ND on Paulo Coelho)

Never in all my life have I seen such a footling procedure. (Below Stairs by Margaret Powell on ironing shoelaces)

hairybod drama recon (Susannah Davis ‏@aethelflaed on Operation Stonehenge)

Rachel Cusk’s last book was “mesmerisingly whiney and narcissistic”. (Times 2014-09-06)

interchangeably banal warbling (Lauren Laverne on the pop music of today)

the demented intricacy of science fiction (NYT on David Mitchell)

insipid Hallmark quotes (@SoluslupusIII See teatowels, quilts etc.)

mild, self-effacing, modest, ostentatiously humane if slightly hairshirt-wearing architecture (Owen Hatherley on the latest generation of non-dom investment flats – looking like good low-rise 60s housing estates, or modernist Cambridge colleges.)

excessive vulgarity (Andrew Marr on “Highland dress”)

high-fibre fun (Mary Beard on the Aldobrandini tazze)

Stephen Fry narrates in tones of sing-song wonder (Radio Times on a prog re whales)

the sort of wholesome casuals sold in Gap or Next (Nigel Richardson, Breakfast in Brighton)

Tom Paine had lived in Lewes in the 18th century and written The Rights of Man, advocating votes for all, old-age pensions and free state education – dangerously sensible stuff, for which he was indicted for treason and had to escape to France. (Nigel Richardson, Breakfast in Brighton)

I looked round Brighton’s fishing museum and it looked a bit Toytowny to me. (Rick Stein)

The first was too hot… The second was too cold… The third had a chummy blurb on the packet that was so unctuous it made her want to throw up. (Goldilocks by Berger and Wyse)

awe-inspiringly wooden (Peter Bradshaw on Grace of Monaco, May 2014)

Re: Bofill's housing schemes. They really were absolutely staggeringly nuts. (Charles Holland)

Alain de Botton’s “smarmy and banal ideas of self-improvement” Guardian April 2014

It's all self-righteous guff, flatulent bar-room moralising. (

His tone is one of rather soupy contrition… (LRB on the real wolf of Wall Street)

Norman Tebbit once claimed that the 1960s was a third rate decade, full of third rate minds, which were (among other things) smug, wet, sanctimonious, naïve, guilt-ridden and insufferable. (

‏The John Peel tent is going to be vibey, to say the least. (Kaiser Chiefs member)

More here, and links to the rest.

Thursday 11 December 2014

Euphemisms in Quotes 2

There go the "estates". Now for the "villages".

Then estates, now villages, streets, squares & gardens. (@createstreets on creative terms for "new developments")

Her Majesty considers the arrangements to be tentative
Until we ship a proper diplomatic representative.
We don't foresee that you will be the least bit argumentative,
So please ignore the man-of-war we brought as a preventative.

Yes, please ignore the man-of-war
That's anchored rather near the shore,
It's nothing but a metaphor
That acts as a preventative.
(Stephen Sondheim)

Orthodoxy is my doxy - heterodoxy is another man's doxy, as Bishop William Warburton pointed out to Lord Sandwich back in the 18th century.

“If interpreted correctly”, i.e. if twisted to mean something you'd never guess from the dicionary definitions? (AG)

A team effort is a lot of people doing what I say. (Michael Winner)

And so she began to tell herself that Dabney’s acting was “restrained” or “economical.” She appreciated that Dabney was “secure about himself” and “didn’t need to prove anything” and wasn’t a “showoff.” Instead of worrying that he was dull, Madeleine decided he was gentle. Instead of thinking he was poorly read, she called him intuitive. (Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot)

When I was poor and I complained about inequality they said I was bitter, now I’m rich and complain about inequality they say I’m a hypocrite. I’m starting to think they just don’t want to talk about inequality. (Russell Brand)

Guide to cynic's vocab: 'Public funded green space' = Shameful Waste. 'Private funded green space' = Vanity Project. Go figure.... (James Wong ‏@Botanygeek)

We call it riots, because they were black people. We wouldn't call it riots if they were white people. (James Baldwin in 1968)

Cooking tips: "Brown" = Fry "Caramelise" = Fry "Render" = Fry "Pan Fry" = Fry "Oven Fry" = Fry "Shallow Fry" = Fry "Stir Fry" = Fry (@kerihw)

Patriot is code word for Racist for conservatives. (‏@Proud2Progress)

Me to man in @eat_news 'Can I have a medium veg soup?' 'We don't have medium only small, big and bold' lskdgfniosdlg WHAT?!?! (Andrea Klettner‏/@aklettner And a “grande” latte is small.)

"We need to have an open debate about immigration." Translation: "I want to feel free to express my racist beliefs openly." #bbcqt (Patrick Strudwick/‏@PatrickStrud)

So what is the difference between 'dated' and 'retro'? (Apart from the price tag). (Jane Duke ‏@stoneflowerjane)

Newsnight "trusted on immigration" What's that, a euphemism for "full-blown racists"? (Winston Smith ‏@Globalidentity)

More here, and links to the rest.

Predictions for 2015

Met Office panics again

Someone will do something blatantly sexist, and everyone will go "Hey, guys! It's 2015!"

The Met Office and the BBC will predict bad weather. People will be very scathing about the “panic”. Bad weather will arrive. We will claim that we walked to school through snow drifts aged four.

Journalists will write articles about:

Why does nobody ever think about the men who pay for sex?
Craft is back! The fuller figure is back! (Any year since 1962.)
At last! Sexy bras for large sizes. (Every year for 30 years.)
Masculinity is in crisis.
Class is much more “nuanced” now, and based on socio-economic groups.
Dating sites just introduce women to frogs. There are five women to every man. But look at these women who have found love!
Zeppelins are back! (HAV304 or Airlander promised for “later this year”. 2014)

Media will predict the death of social media: Atlantic claims “Twitter is entering its twilight” May 2014

Media will claim that social media makes no money.

Someone will announce the death of Twitter, Facebook, blogging, email, the internet.

People who don’t use Twitter will denigrate Twitter and complaining that it’s just pictures of food. "I always say Twittering because I hold it in very low regard." Ken Clarke on
Question Time. People who do use Twitter will complain that Facebook and Instagram are just pictures of food.

People on Twitter will say: "Atheists, stop attacking Christianity! Stop shoving your religion down my throat!" (They mean “Stop saying you don’t believe in God.”)

They will also ask "Why isn't there a Men's Day?" and "When's White History Month?".

Gamergate will rumble on, becoming more and more misogynistic and reactionary.

Proponents of “whole language” reading methods (look and say) will continue fighting a bitter rearguard action for control of schools and the lucrative reading materials and training market in the teeth of overwhelming evidence that their method doesn’t work and teaching phonics does.

Someone will point out that one in five prisoners have reading difficulties.

Someone will reinvent speed reading. It will not catch on.

Faith schools will be found to be repressive and inefficient.

People will mention "British values" without defining them.

A dictionary will add a few items of modern slang. We will be very surprised, even though it happens every year.

Someone will suggest that we need a gender-neutral pronoun (ignoring “they/them” which has done the job for centuries).

People will complain about the news media.

Other people (or perhaps the same ones) will complain that the wrong people have control of the English language and that very soon it will be utterly destroyed and we will have to either speak Mandarin or communicate by gestures. (They like complaining about split infinitives, too.)

Many nice middle class people will enjoy themselves very much agreeing that everybody is illiterate these days – and what’s worse, they’re proud of it! They’re also proud of being bad at maths! In fact they are revelling in ignorance! (These nice people don’t mean “illiterate” (unable to read or write), they mean “uneducated” (makes a few grammatical mistakes).)
A politician will suggest dropping medieval studies as an undergraduate subject.

Someone will climb a mountain in flipflops, or go on a fun run in Dr Scholl’s.

Someone will rewrite a classic by Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Agatha Christie “for the 21st century”. It will be dire. (Clueless never made any pompous claims.)

We will wring our hands about domestic violence. (Every year for the past 30 years.) "A report shows that domestic violence victims are being failed by the police." (March 27 2014)  Some idiots will whine that there are almost as many male victims of domestic violence.

Someone will complain that fewer women play football every year.

A prominent woman will appear on the cover of Vogue – so photoshopped that she is unrecognisable.

Someone will announce the launch of a robot butler – soon. (But where's our robot pavement cleaner?)

Superyachts will get even more super. Gazillionaires will run out of features to add (helipads, slides, missile systems).

Someone will suggest a giant floating “world” on a specially adapted cruise ship. Buy a suite, become a citizen and get away from chavs, surveillance, laws, governments, the EU, immigrants etc etc etc

A teacher will tell children the truth about Santa Claus. Parents will be upset and will maunder on about the magic of Christmas and the look on their little faces, and the teacher will lose her job.

It’s the 80s/90s/00s/10s/teens – why don’t you ask HIM out?

Last year's predictions, and previous years'.

Friday 5 December 2014

Euphemisms about Money and Stuff (in Quotes)

In the upper reaches of the British establishment, euphemism is a fine art, one that new arrivals need to master quickly. “Other Whitehall agencies” or “our friends over the river” means the intelligence services (American spooks often say they “work for the government”). A civil servant warning a minister that a decision would be “courageous” is saying that it will be career-cripplingly unpopular. “Adventurous” is even worse: it means mad and unworkable. A “frank discussion” is a row, while a “robust exchange of views” is a full-scale shouting match. Economist July 2014

Property developer on radio refers sheepishly to "more discerning customers". Otherwise known as "rich people". (G Fallowes /@GPhallus)

The price for Poole pottery has softened. (Dickinson’s Real Deal) It has fallen.

"The observation was made that the audience was mainly middle class, whereas the real pressures of food scarcity and climate change are more relevant to those who are less resourced." ... I’m afraid I can’t, without remark, allow "less resourced" to pass into the vernacular as a better phrase than "poor". (Zoe Williams, Guardian May 24 2014)

abundant: get lots of money. (The euphemism, these days, is "abundant," as in "Every day, you're going to live that abundant life!".

attractive: country where labour is cheap “China is starting to lose its attractiveness.” (McKinsey report on Bangladesh, 2011)

care in the community: Too often a code word for budget-cutting. (Karl Taro Greenfield)

production difficulties: Production difficulties – which I think means budget constraints. (The Times, 16 Nov 2013)

Cameron has "reformed" the NHS in the sense that the Goths "reformed" Rome. (@marcuschown)

sincere: I've consistently argued that a more contextual and sincere (ie uncommercial) take on public life is what the Queen Elizabeth Park needs. (Kieran Long)

suggested post, promoted tweet, special offer, sponsored post, sponsored link: social media advert (Steven Poole, Guardian 23 Nov 2013 The opposite are “organic” posts and tweets.)

More here, and links to the rest.

Monday 1 December 2014

Buzz Words of 2014

Is the media over-reacting just a tad?

Twitter: People are so easily offended these days! Atheism is a religion. Won't somebody think of the children? If we come from monkeys why are there still monkeys LOL! Why isn’t there a white history month? You should be worrying about (something completely different). Wake up, sheeple! Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. (Via Alex Andreou of the Guardian)

People are installing actual floodgates, 2 January.
flood tourism

listicle (list + article = 10 habits of mentally strong people)
devices: phones and tablets
classy, stay classy
intersectionality (seems to mean “white feminists including black women”)

tariff: Finally we’re admitting that energy companies having 20 different, complicated, tariffs makes it impossible to compare providers.

bichon: suddenly everybody’s got a bichon frise or is it freesay?
reshoring: David Cameron – bringing “offshore” jobs back “onshore”, January
Who’s with me? Twitter, Jan (Gone by July.)

Is “mindful” the new “holistic”?
upcycle: sand, and paint grey

A lot less whingeing about weather “panic”, but some people still posting “funny” jokes about panic over the floods (and especially the BBC weather warnings).

heinous: mainly US – That’s so heinous!
a pop of colour
retreat: First week of February, when the Somerset Levels have been flooded for a month and the
railway line at Dawlish has been washed away, used to mean “stop building flood defences, give up, let the Levels turn back into marsh and Ely turn back into an island”.

American liberals seem to be blaming everything on… Walt Disney. Especially Disney princesses.

typing gesture has taken over from telephone gesture (and text gesture)

Twitter meme Feb: “please RT” pics of a handwritten message (Some may be Photoshopped.)

stone: People have stopped saying “stone” for very (which they did very briefly a few years ago).

Flood moaning continues: David Aaronovitch is using the word “hysteria” and someone else asks “I wonder if the papers are over-reacting a touch?” “Whingeing” has been mentioned. And someone is “bored” with flood reports Feb 19.

snagging, snag list (Whatever it was, it has gone again.)

You can read a book on a “device” because people will think you’re checking email/FB/Twitter. (But old people will complain that young people spend all their time on “devices” sending selfies and texting their friends and updating Facebook instead of talking to people who are present.)

Americans are saying it’s racist to call people racist. (There’s a lot of grumbling about Black History Month.)

They’re talking about wearable computing again. (Every year for the last 20 years…)

Oh my days! is back. (Gone again, Dec.)

passion – you have to be “passionate” about what you do. Think this is our old friend “commitment”.

SEO is “now passé”. (

data point (does it mean “fact”?)

A suitcase is now a bag.

Twitter meme: quoting inane stuff found on FB to supply evidence that FB is really lame and Twitter is the place to be.

derp: do something stupid
TERF: Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist
curate: now means “choose”, rather than “choose, research and conserve”.
together home (like forever home)

Lots of snarking about Nick Robinson: fawning on the Tories, talking out of turn on Crimea. (Mar 17)

misper: missing person

No one breaks a record or hits a target any more – they “smash” or "shatter" them.
And the Russians are “storming” targets, instead of attacking them. March 22 2014

granularity: fine detail

secret locations: probably been around for a while – enabled by technology
The bien-pensant are now worrying about enjoying ruin porn without being like all those other people who like ruin porn (“disaster tourists”). The same may be happening with Brutalism – is it getting (gasp!) TOO POPULAR? was, like, 20 years ago?

What to Say About hipsters: They wear glasses but they don’t need them. (Probably with plain glass instead of lenses.)

Now there’s “hysteria” about the Saharan smog, week of April 1.

It’s fashionable to go completely over the top about mild grammatical infringements. There are the usual threats to shoot anyone who says “Can I get a latte”, and stuff like this: “Someone sent me an email in which they opened quotation marks but never closed them, and now I haven't slept in two years.” I think it’s meant to be funny. And a bloke on Radio 4 said that when he visited the States he found himself saying “store” instead of shop and wanted to shoot himself.

Are “hashtag activists” the latest legitimate sneer target? (We don’t need to do anything about that, the hashtag activists are onto it.)

Kate, Wills and George are visiting New Zealand this week and the press are accused of “grovelling sycophancy” for covering their tour. And people are writing witty letters to the broadsheets about the coverage (early April).

boutique everything, even estate agent

Moral compass now means “moral code” or “moral sense”. (A moral compass would just point at Good (North), Bad (South), Complex (East) and Ambiguous (West).)

concern porn (over kidnapped girls)

trigger (Week of May 18. Pieces carry "trigger" warnings.)

Peak “peak” week.
(May 23)

faceless bureaucrats (Are they dangerous lefties?)

Apparently nobody queues any more – they just have no manners not like in the Good Old Days. (Queues were invented in WWI. Before that people just milled about.)

shop: alter photograph in Photoshop
earthquake: not a terremoto, but political change

fawning: the Queen’s making a speech (6 April)

Poor Kirstie Allsop’s in the firing line again for suggesting that girls should skip uni and just get on with getting married and having children (or for being fat and posh, as some put it).

Giant jungle clearing slogans in Brazil (C’MON ENGLAND), snapped and put on Twitter, are a thing (August). (Or are they all photoshopped?)

gamification: Do you remember when everyone talked about gamification for about three months then forgot about it? (@MarkOneinFour)

enriching is the new improving

throat punch (ugh!)

People still (or again) saying this kind of thing: Why is feminism’s fundamental foundation built upon the falsifiable patriarchy theory. Which is its animus?

You had one job... (still going Dec)

People tweeting variations of: Opening a window to let out a fly and ending up with thirty midges, three wasps, two bees and an owl. (Sometimes a fox. Why steal tweets?)

After the Harris case, and allegations that many in parliament were involved in abuse of minors in the 70s and 80s, the thing to say is “Our obsession with pursuing paedophiles is a modern witchhunt”.

bucket hats are back (after about 15 years)

radicalisation now means “turned into a belligerent, extremist Muslim”

Interesting wedding photo opportunities seem to be a thing.

What to say about historic child abuse, Irish mother and baby homes etc: “They were different times, we can’t judge them by our standards.”

Vicious attacks on Laurie Penny for trying to get abusive reviews of her book removed from Amazon. (end July 2014-07-22. Lip-quivering, victimhood, petulant etc etc etc. Somehow complaining about CCTV and the nanny state is not lip-quivering victimhood.)

Pretended indifference to darling Prince George.

Crossrail diggers using “breakthrough” in its literal sense. (Like builders talking about “ground-breaking”.)

Indy Ref (Scottish Independence Referendum)

This week’s “Can I get a latte?” is the historic present. (Early August)

Week of Aug 4 many people complaining about the “glorification” of war. When pushed, they explain: “You know, parades and that.”

Of any group shot of politicians, say “U2 haven’t aged well, have they?” (and variations).

Mid-August, people are using “outgunned” in its literal sense.

EVERYBODY hates Richard Dawkins now.

Rain has not dampened the festivities at Notting Hill. (“Soggy revellers” were mentioned too, 25 Aug.)

Many things that are not storytelling are called storytelling. I think it means “PR”.

Much sneering about “threat levels”, 29 Aug.

Assimilation, multiculturalism, misogyny and political correctness all popular post the Rotherham report. (Also blaming “rural Pakistanis” for having the same attitudes towards young girls as Yorkshire policemen and social workers.)

Brutalist being used for any post-war building that isn’t pastiche or post-modern.

Video gamers whingeing deafeningly about Anita Sarkeesian. She got an award! And compensation! And she said videogames are sexist! And she obviously knew that bomb threat was just a troll! (She wrote some articles about sexism in video games, September.)

As Scotland goes to the polls everybody hates Nick Robinson again.

jolly hockeysticks: used to describe one of those pieces (in the Guardian) listing the phenomena that add up to Britishness. OK the writer mentioned Malory Towers. But she also mentioned fish and chips. Hockey was referenced nowhere.

onesie: No one shudders while using this word any more.

SJW: hashtag activists are now called SJWs or “social justice warriors”. They are full of “faux outrage” over #gamergate.

And Owen Jones, of course, is just a “champagne socialist”. (Only a fake lefty? Then surely he’s no threat?)

nude selfies: Apparently you have to take one and send it to your romantic prospect.

surveil: Anxiety about governments “surveiling” the internet, last week of Sept.

Selfie bashing is so 2013! (M. v. Aufschnaiter @mva_1000)

egg account: anonymous Twitter account

Cool bananas! (It's gone now.)

People tweeting re the smell of burning dust second week October (from the central heating they have just turned on).

#gamergate rumbles on. Three women and their children have been hounded from their homes by death threats, but Gamergate are the victims. The SJWs (social justice warriors) are all in it for the attention and compensation. (A bit like those climate change scientists who just want to keep their jobs.)

longform still popular: It means Americans writing repetitious articles that have made their point by two-thirds of the way in.

#gamergate has hit the mainstream media, 17 Oct - usually taking the form “Who are these wankers?”

twee: It seems to be OK now to point out how many things are.

The accusations of “panic” about Ebola have begun, 20 Oct.

As two-year sentences for trolls are talked of, the Stephen Fry defence (everyone’s so easily offended nowadays!) resurges, 20 Oct. (The two-year sentence has been in the Bill since July.)

Twitterwise, it has been a year of astroturf accounts, rhetoric wars and battling Eliza-bots. (Just like dear old usenet.)

What To Say About Trolling, 21 Oct: However the authorities respond, they’ve got it wrong somehow. Because, you know, they’re the Establishment.

The middle classes’ annual poppy indignation meeting has started, 24 Oct. “Terrifying poppy propaganda” (spoken adverts on tube and buses)

Ian Hislop is still holding out against Twitter.

Tried to remember how to hate Halloween: US import; commercialised; intrusive etc. But the kids love it so much it's all just 'Bah Humbug!' (James O'Brien ‏@mrjamesob)

A lot of mean-spirited snarking about people wearing T shirts saying THIS IS WHAT A FEMINIST LOOKS LIKE, 30 Oct. It’s like wearing a poppy! (What a difference from the 80s, when everyone wore a Friends of the Earth badge, a stop the bloody fur trade brooch, a Frankie Says Relax T shirt etc etc etc. Though it did make more sense back then, when feminists had a look.)

People have stopped making a terrible fuss when anyone unfollows them on Twitter. They never tweeted about their meals, but they do tweet every time their pet throws up, farts, drools, vomits or shits on the sofa. They could stop doing that.

The poppy display at the Tower, and the viewing crowds, “glorify war”. (Sian Williams points out that “glory” is part of the language of war: Death or glory, the glorious dead.)

#gamergate latest is getting tame “feminists” (who may not even be real people) to quote each other dissing “censorious feminism”. You know, the kind that doesn’t like sexism, or death and rape threats.

UKIP supporters say: “I’m just saying what everybody else is thinking.”

iceberg homes: Create another three stories – in your basement.

Badges are back.
Kim Kardashian’s “pre-Photoshop” pictures were Photoshopped.

Some idiot comes up with yet another reason why rape isn’t rape.
broken: All kinds of things still are.

storied: "Even in her storied position today..." (Guardian, Nov) “Storied” is American for “celebrated” or “historic”. Here used to mean something like “highly respected” or “prominent”.

normcore: Over so soon?

Of course gamergaters are conducting the argument as if it was a video game, winnning points or rounds, using arguments or people as “shields”, branding people friends or enemies, you call me misogynist I call you misandrist...

In the context of schools, “teaching children British values” means “preparing children for life in modern Britain”, which is quite sensible really. (My school prepared us for life in medieval France.)

The middle classes are all hating Black Friday because it’s American. And chavs are hitting each other with tellies.

This year’s meme: Nobody says thank you any more!

More here, and links to the rest.

Saturday 22 November 2014

What I Don't Miss About the 50s 2

Now UKIP are trying to drag us back to the 50s, let's remember the good old days. (Thanks to friends.)

There is an ancient attitude, too, that I saw in my mum and which seems to have disappeared along with the wireless and the mangle and the lardy cake: no fuss, no moaning. (Liz Jones meets the Pullein-Thompson sisters.)

We don't miss:
Outside toilets.
Tin bath in front of the fire.
Ice on the inside of the windows in the morning.
Coats on top of the quilt to keep you warm.
Burst hot water bottles.
Weekly wash day when the kitchen was full of steam from the gas clothes boiler.
Liberty bodices.
Short trousers till you were at secondary school.
School caps.
Sadistic teachers with leather tawses.
Sago puddings
Semolina puddings
The smell of my grandmother cooking tripe.


Even worse having to resort to violence to stop people bullying me.
No TV.
Very few sweets even the Sherbet was rationed.
Violence on the Streets.

Domestic Violence.
Water freezing solid in the glass in my bedroom.
Children being abused - and the cover-ups.
Being forced to go to church and Sunday School.

Being forced to be a Christian - which I am not.
Having to Read the Bible out in classes, didn't make sense then - even less now.
Seeing children in dire poverty, we appear to be moving back to that.
Having everyone in one room as that was the only one with heating.

The sheer pomposity that abounded the "class society" yes even as a little un I remember that.

Some more reasons to loathe the 50's: Being routinely beaten by teachers (from the age of six in my case) with implements including shoes, rulers, straps, canes and cricket bats. Brutal, brutalising and utterly ineffective.

Pollution: the London smogs were appalling and killed large numbers of people. Rivers and canals were bio-hazards and disgusting beyond belief.

Housing: I never met anyone with central heating. Houses were heated with coal fires (hence the smog), typically only in one or two rooms. Homes were freezing in winter. Many were draughty and cramped. Even in the early 70's I visited slum houses in East London with no inside toilet. In the 50's north these were commonplace as were back-to-backs* with a shared toilet block at the end of the street. Then imagine getting up in the night and trudging down the road in a northern winter to use a shared toilet.

Parenting: It seemed to be a grim business for most parents, with children being seen as creatures needing to be forever disciplined and constrained. The idea that spending time with children might actually be fun seemed not to have occurred to many people.

Safety: Many workplaces were positively lethal. As were the roads. As a seven year old child to get to school I had to cross a six lane road (with central reservation) having no speed limit.

Food (again): Many families in the north couldn't afford enough food. Despite full employment money was that short.

Even if your experience was different, surely you can see that for many people the 50's were grim?

* Before anyone comments, check that you know what a back-to-back actually is ;-)


More here.

Wednesday 12 November 2014

Inspirational Quotes 66

You can't see me

Just be yourself, don't think about what others are thinking about you, people will take you at your own valuation, you'll be stronger on your own, pigs might fly... Has anyone blogged "how I lived on cliché'd advice for a year?

In my social life... I became more extrovert as a performer... Eventually... I couldn’t remember how to “do” my personality any more. (Girl who went deaf in her 20s.)

There is a certain advantage for a woman novelist in being middle-aged and overweight. You acquire a curious social invisibility: strangers sometimes carry on in front of you as if you weren't there; or if they chance to fall into conversation, they talk, on occasion, with a surprising lack of inhibition. (Jane Stevenson, Guardian 2006)

Considering his particular interest in how primates manipulate their own and others’ reputations to their own advantage... (Nicholas Humphrey on Robin Dunbar)

Approach an elk upwind and it will spook. Run your hand against the grain of the wood and you'll get a splinter. (John Eldredge Live the dream! As long as it doesn’t involve elks and planks.)

Everything is awesome, everything is cool when you're part of a team. (Mr The Boy ‏@knitboy)

Conferences can be challenging without a sidekick... (CP)

It was a constructivist approach that… “moved teaching away from the traditional/academic approaches of memorization, repetitions and activity books, to a much more comprehensive approach focused on learning in a contextual setting in which children are expected to find the answers for themselves.” And it didn’t work. (Re maths teaching in Canada. Web of Substance)

Parents on programme Child Genius “never seem to have asked themselves where it is all going to end". (Hugo Rifkind, Times July 2014)

For a lot of people, the 70s were a rebellion against authority. In my family’s case, authority figures were parents, too... We would hold ‘meetings’ if there were issues to be discussed. (Her stepfather suggested they all pooled their money and took out what they needed.) I was 9 and my brother was 7. It was completely insane. (Sophie Grabol)

Everyone deserves to have a nice job and have a nice family when they're older. (Boy interviewed on BBC News)

Everybody thinks they belong in the group ten years below them in age. (Katharine Whitehorn, paraphrase)

Can we not with this mindset that being accused of an -ism/oppressive behaviour is worse than actually (constantly) facing it? Can we NOT? (@FeministAspie)

Also, remember, folks, labelling offensive tweets "parody" makes them funny & acceptable. (Rose ‏@SwissMinx)

The world of dating has certainly changed since I was ‘out there’ over 14 years ago. Back then, you met people either through work, friends or going out to the pub. It was almost impossible to meet anyone any other way... (Says a dating service website. What about “take up an interest”? Does it really not work?)

As a brilliant student of Latin and Greek, the 18-year old Gissing seemed destined for an academic career until, in May 1876, his life changed dramatically and for ever. He was caught stealing money from the cloakroom of Owens College, Manchester, convicted and sentenced to a month in prison. The money (five shillings and twopence) was intended to help out an alcoholic prostitute, Nell Harrison, whom he later married in the hope of redeeming her. It proved a terrible miscalculation, and, after repeated salvage attempts on his part and much abusive behaviour on hers, he left her for good. The next time he saw Nell, in March 1888, she was lying dead from syphilis in a Lambeth boarding house.

10 Things True Friends Don’t DoGossip behind your back.
Make personal attacks.
Start pointless arguments.
Interrupt your every word.
Discourage you from pursuing your goals.
Look down on you for your past.
Abandon you in social situations. (“True friends are emotionally intelligent enough to know that bringing a friend to a party where they don’t know anyone, and then proceeding to throw them to the fishes, is a very inconsiderate thing to do.”)
Get jealous of your success.
Judge you or try to “fix” you.
Take your friendship for granted.
(, paraphrase)

More here, and links to the rest.

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Agatha Christie's The Hollow (1946)

A group of people collects at a house in the country for a family weekend. One of them never goes home again... The book is longer than usual, and the characters have more depth (at least, we find out more about them, and see things from their point of view). As someone else has pointed out, the book begins with a series of interior monologues – unusual for Christie, unless she was using one of the characters as a narrator, as in Murder in Mesopotamia.

The hosts are Lady Angkatell (Lucy) and her husband, ex-diplomat Sir Henry. (The Hollow is their house, a large country place with a staff and a swimming pool.) Lucy is a fragile, charming, beautiful woman with an endearing “scatty act”.

We see two of the guests preparing for the weekend, Dr John Christow and his wife Gerda. John is a successful “society” doctor who hates the hypochondriacal rich, and would rather be working on a cure for “Ridgeway’s Disease”. His wife Gerda is shy, inefficient and rather dim but adores John and thinks he is doing noble work. They have two children, a little girl and a boy who is more interested in chemical experiments and explosions than people. Gerda is dreading the weekend: the Angkatells are so clever and brittle, and insist on playing paper games that she never gets the hang of. John is irritated by her, and looks forward to meeting his mistress, sculptress Henrietta Savernake, who will also be at The Hollow. But he is haunted by memories of the South of France and an early girlfriend called Veronica who left him to star in Hollywood.

Henrietta is an Independent Young Woman Living Her Own Life, and creating what sound like rather sentimental sculptures in a pseudo-modernist style. She’s enabled to do this by family money.

Her cousin, Midge, lacks independent means and works in a dress shop. Another cousin, Edward, now lives in the family country house, Ainswick, which they all go on about. They spent holidays there as children, and Lucy grew up there – only to be ousted on her parents’ deaths, as a woman could not inherit. Edward is a scholarly fellow, madly in love with Henrietta, who is madly in love with John Christow. Meanwhile Midge is in love with Edward.

They all converge on the Hollow, where Henrietta cheers up Gerda by walking her round the kitchen garden and asking her about her knitting. Gerda has moved on to leathercraft and has made her own handbag, which Henrietta praises.

Also staying is another cousin called David, an awkward young man whom Lucy unnerves by asking him to tell her about all the fashionable ideas. Henrietta comes to the rescue again and gets him talking about the new socialist utopia that will be built on the ruins left by the war. If Edward doesn’t marry and have children, David will inherit Ainswick, and Lucy fears for its future as a people’s palace of culture.

At some point during the afternoon they all go target shooting for fun, like you do. Sir Henry has a collection of firearms, and it turns out that Lucy is a crack shot and Gerda can barely hit the target.

That night after dinner, Veronica makes an entrance through the French windows, pretending she has run out of matches. She manages to persuade John to walk her back to the cottage she has rented nearby (as part of a scheme to meet him again). Little does she know that her next-door neighbour is Hercule Poirot, who has been persuaded to try country living...

...and has been invited to lunch on Sunday. He takes a path that leads to the Hollow’s swimming pool, and then to the house. When he reaches the pool, the entire cast emerges from other paths to find a man lying dead beside the water, and a woman standing over him holding a gun. For a moment Poirot thinks they have set up a “murder hunt” as a joke, but no – John Christow is dying from a gunshot wound, and the woman standing over him is Gerda, his wife. But then it turns out that she couldn’t have shot him... so what did happen? As usual, almost anybody could have done it, and nearly everybody has a motive. Has Henrietta's love turned to hate? Has Lucy's complicated mind worked out that if John's out of the way, Henrietta can marry Edward and have children and save Ainswick from being turned into an "institute"? Has Edward shot his love rival? Did John and Veronica quarrel?

Apparently Christie thought she had spoilt the story by introducing Hercule Poirot, but I disagree. His cottage is not half-timbered but cuboid, and full of geometric ornaments for him to straighten. Various members of the cast drop in, ostensibly to ask his advice – or are they just putting up a smokescreen?

It’s a satisfying book, with some funny moments, as when Lucy tries to decide on an appropriate post-murder dinner menu. What makes it particularly 1946? Large houses with staff and a butler (called Gudgeon) had become rare, and the characters comment on this. They are all rather appalled that Midge insists on working instead of living off Lucy and Henry. Edward visits her in her shop, and is even more shocked to find that she is treated disrespectfully by the “Whitechapel” proprietress, and has to take the same treatment from the shop’s rather vulgar clientele.

Social reformers usually get rather brisk treatment in Christie’s books, and in 1946 they were seizing opportunities. Servants were a dying breed – Gudgeon is a survival. More middle-class women had jobs, and had spent the war driving trucks, making aeroplane parts, nursing and working on the land. (Christie herself went back to her old job as a pharmacist.) The characters don’t seem too much bothered by shortages (in an early scene the Christows are sitting down to roast mutton, unobtainable during the war – and surely just after it?). I wonder when Christie planned and wrote this story?

A Murder Is Announced, published in 1950, has a far more post-war feel, with posh characters clearing their own gutters, caring for their own hens and swapping home-made jam for eggs and vegetables. The only servant is an Austrian intellectual called Mitzi.

Readers and critics seem to agree that The Hollow is a better, and more “modern” book than Christie’s usual, because it has psychological depth – meaning that we inhabit the characters, and they go on about their feelings. Is this what readers want from a book these days? I like The Hollow, and I also like her more “superficial” books – which do not lack insights into character.

More on Christie here.

Sunday 2 November 2014

Neologisms 11

60s style
(Stuff people retweet as if it was their own.)

trinketisation (Agata Pyzik on the afterlives of soviet-era basic utility “milk bars”)
mussteunismus (Doing something rather than nothing, usually a disaster.)

sawtooth graph
Tat bazaar.
(@regvulture sums up ebay.)
nicknackerama (Eric Knowles)

(RI on the “community” initiatives of the 80s.)
net worthlessness (Andrew Male)
marching ants (seen in some selection tools)

whataboutery: When you complain about anything, someone says “But what about... [something completely different]?”
The Coultergeist (Teapublican Anne Coulter)
carbon hoofprint: effect of livestock on global warming

fly speck:
for Smallville, Kansas (imdb)
reached escape velocity (for “reached its peak”) @oniropolis
restrospectoscope (Maggie Aderin-Pocock)

normalised parental neglect (Nick Duffell on boarding schools)
utter stains (@shakingwaking on Twitter trolls, bullies, the far-right etc)
That woman on the stamps. (@HeardinLondon on the Queen)

New Spider-Man film to reboot itself halfway through, devour own husk, split into thousand smaller franchises, attack moon. (James Henry ‏@james_blue_cat)

These abject, toadying creeps haven’t enough talent to fill an eggcup. (SL on Putin’s icon painters.)
Away with such barmy strictures! (SL on the idea that you should never use the passive voice.)
Post-religious guilt is the Japanese knotweed of the soul. (SL)

Electricity looks like it's about to go. Lights flickering. Wind picking up. Dead beginning to rise from graves. Off to fortify the house. (Imaginary Cities @Oniropolis)

The dark quirkiness of BeingCyrus regurgitated in a kind of babyfood version. (Trisha Gupta)

A luxurious but airless crypt filled with fossilised dreams, live corpses, the chatter of ghosts. (Ian Penman, LRB Sept 2014 on Elvis’s desperate and drug-fuelled life off stage.))

Batman: he just fights for regular, store-brand justice. (‏@SolonCubed)
Not so much a gold rush, more of a gold amble. (BBC Breakfast)

Rubber baddies, wooden dialogue, too many injokes, not enough solid story. (F on first episode of the latest Dr Who)

Out come the Scots, resplendent in the tartan of the Clan MacMigraine... (Mitch Benn)

The former nurse could affect a saccharine persona. (Forensic Detectives)

I play Lucia, a terrible, dominating phoney. (Anna Chancellor on Mapp and Lucia. Yet she is presented in the books as the heroine – oh, I say, how clever.)

The pompous dirigible Jean-Luc Godard, like most French movie directors a man utterly in love with himself. (imdb)

It went from torrential to Biblical and back to horrendous. (BBC weather report)

Show me a boy who doesn’t like tractors and I’ll show you where you can get a bus – to the moon. (Paul Martin)

Reverse ferret is a phrase used predominantly within the British media to describe a sudden reversal in an organisation's editorial line on a certain issue. Generally, this will involve no acknowledgement of the previous position. (Wikipedia)

A champagne lifestyle with a lemonade income. (LC)

While I suppose it's possible to remove somebody's kidneys with a paper plate and an X-acto knife, as a practical matter it can't be done. ( on rumours of kidney theft)

MUSIC[Jazz] jettisons poetry to showcase virtuosity. (Washington Post Aug 2014)

The Ramones did not play their guitars “badly”. They cut out all the self-indulgent widdling and stripped everything down to glorious adrenalin-rush basics. (Graham Larkbey, letter to the Observer July 2014)

ART AND ARCHITECTUREThe scary thing isn't so much the idea of the city as liminal Cophenhagenised purgatory but that people are celebrated for advocating it. (Imaginary Cities ‏@Oniropolis He means limbo with coffee shops and cycle lanes.)

I found out I had a good eye for mass-produced junk! (American Antiques Roadshow)

Ah, co-working spaces. The student flats of offices. (Stephen Fulljames ‏@fulljames)
Startling calm of the bleached industrial acropolises. Unbeatably affecting. (@IntervalThinks
on Bernd and Hilla Becher)

There are two suggestions for where it’s come from: one is “beamed in from Saturn”, the other is “made in Bohemia”. (Antiques Roadshow glass expert on a pink melon lying on a pink vineleaf.)
Majestically bad library design in Nice, France. (@mrianleslie It’s in the shape of someone with a box on their head.)

A particularly egregious piece of public art: a shoal of iridescent lozenges on sticks. (The Guardian on Stratford)

The restaurant is situated in a part of Hastings so unlovely that it “might have slipped though a wormhole” from 1970s Bucharest. (Matthew Norman)

The dancing cosiness of Butterfield's All Saints on Margaret Street. (@Furmadamadam)

‏ Is "signature" the new term for "iconic" re tower blocks? (@NorthviewN7)
You’re thinking of ‘gateway’, ‘landmark’ or ’fraudulently naming it after the posher area it isn’t really in’. (‏@BorisWatch)

More here, and links to the rest.

Saturday 1 November 2014

Inspirational Quotes 65

May all beings be peaceful.
May all beings be happy.
May all beings be safe.
May all beings awaken to the light of their true nature.
May all beings be free.

If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn . . .
If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight . . .
If a child lives with fear, he learns to be apprehensive . . .
If a child lives with pity, he learns to feel sorry for himself . . .
If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy . . .
If a child lives with jealousy, he learns to feel envy . . .
If a child lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty ...


If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient . . .
If a child lives with encouragement, he learns to be confident . . .
If a child lives with praise, he learns to be appreciative . . .
If a child lives with acceptance, he learns to love . .
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves..
If a child lives with honesty, he learns what truth is . . .
If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice . . .
If children live with recognition, they learn to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn to be generous.
If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith in himself and those about him . . .
If a child lives with friendliness, he learns the world is a nice place in which to live . . .

(Dorothy Law Nolte, Children Learn What They Live Well, who'd have thought it.)

Spontaneity is a virtue that we wish to have ascribed to us but don’t actually want to act out. (Steven Poole, paraphrase)

An institutional population may be offered the anti-stress benefits of mindfulness rather than the removal of the stressors that have made it stressed in the first place. (Steven Poole)

You let down women everywhere by promoting the crass belief that if we say nothing, abuse will stop. (Laurie Penny)

Charlie Parker locked himself away to practise for years before he ventured on stage again. (Steven Poole)

I used to think of performance anxiety as something that appeared as you walked on stage. I’ve realised that it’s about how you approach life as a whole. (Andy Evans, performance psychologist)

I have no religious beliefs, but music is that glimpse of the infinite, that ineffable light. (Mark Brown)

If the internet has taught us anything, it is that the majority of self-help tutorials, comments, tweets and blogs are just NOISE. (Mat Ranson ‏@matr77)

Self-help books are cold comfort for life’s losers. (Zippy the Pinhead)

I feel most comfortable walking through a mini-mall in the San Fernando Valley. (singer/songwriter Jenny Lewis)

Boyfriend Ready To Take Relationship To Previous Level (Onion headline)

“You don’t know how to speak to someone your age – the slang is different, everything is different. You don’t have the tools to handle the world.” (Young man who has left the Orthdox Jewish world, July 2014 Just like leaving public school.)

"Get over it" is, of course, often the response but I wonder whether anybody truly gets over any crime or whether it always affects their future thoughts and actions in some way. (MB)

People will stare. Make it worth their while. (Harry Winston)

There is nothing in the world so curious and so interesting and so beautiful as truth. (Hercule Poirot)

More here, and links to the rest.

Thursday 23 October 2014

Reasons to Be Cheerful 13

Florence Prag Kahn
1845 First Jewish US Congressman elected. (First Jewish Congresswoman, 1925.)

1885 Medical Relief Disqualification Removal Act means that people who have accessed medical care funded by the poor rate are no longer disqualified from voting in elections.

1914 Welsh Church Act disestablished the Church of England in Wales (the Welsh were fed up with paying tithes).

1917 UK's first black commissioned officer, Walter Tull.

1941 The last first-class carriage disappeared from the Underground.

1967 Butler Act, forbidding the teaching of evolution in Tennessee schools, is repealed.

1970 Britain’s first visitor centre opens at Carrbridge near Aviemore in Scotland.

1970s UK government limits lead in paint.

1979 Marital rape outlawed state by state in the US 1979-1993.

1980 The diagnosis “hysteria” is dropped from the DSM.

2003 Sexual Offences Act outlaws “causing a person to indulge in sexual activity without consent”.

2006 Racial and Religious Hatred Act outlaws "stirring up hatred against persons on racial or religious grounds".

2010 Catalonia bans bull-fighting.

2011 The FBI changes its official definition of rape (which spoke of the forcible “carnal knowledge of a female”) to require penetration “without the consent of the victim”.

2013 In the UK, there were 40% fewer emergencies of all kinds for the fire service than ten years ago. (Could it be Health ‘n’ Safety?)

2013 The UN committee against torture said the UK must prohibit all techniques designed to inflict pain on children. (Letter to the Guardian, Aug 2014)

2014 Egypt outlaws sexual violence and harassment for the first time.

2014 June UK Government bans all existing and future Academies and Free Schools from teaching creationism as science.

2014 Judith Weir is first woman Master of the Queen’s Musick in 400 years.

2014 Civil partners can upgrade to marriage (with the changes they requested).

2014 Latest research shows that single mothers do just as good a job as couples. It’s poverty that’s bad for kids.

2014 Uganda’s anti-gay law ruled illegal by its Supreme Court.

2014 Evolution is on the UK primary school curriculum from September.

2014 Royal and Ancient Golf Club votes to accept women members.

2015 Sex with animals to be made illegal in Denmark.

1890 Mormon church ends polygamy (after the Federal government “escheated” its property and applied other sanctions like not giving Utah statehood).

1978 Black men are allowed to become Mormon priests (But in both cases, the Mormon church did not “change its mind” or “give in to pressure”, but “received revelations”.)

2014-09-01 A Utah Judge, Clark Waddoups, has ruled that the law against polygamy is unconstitutional. However, polygamous marriage is still illegal. In a polygamous family only one wife is married to the husband.


Schools are still required to hold a religious assembly every morning.

The Church of England controls thousands of state schools in a way which is democratically unaccountable, and it has a block of votes in the House of Lords.

Sami people (Lapps) are being displaced from their reindeer lands by a British company given rights to dig for iron. The Sami say the Swedish children get taught about Native Americans in schools, but not their own indigenous peoples. (via HC)

Every 30 seconds, the UK police receive a call about domestic violence.

There are still men who think that all domestic violence is the fault of the woman.

In South Africa, a woman is killed by her partner every eight hours. (Guardian)

The Philippines is the only country in the world, apart from Vatican City, that lacks divorce laws.

Twelve children die from violence every hour (says UNICEF).

Black literacy was illegal for the majority of American history.

“There are legal reforms that give daughters the right to inherit equally, and laws against dowries and sex-selective abortions” in India, says a New Scientist interviewee, but “enforcement can be difficult”. Changing laws changes minds, but some people take a long time to get it.


In my lifetime, schools and colleges have become more and more coed.

It’s much easier now for single women to obtain artificial insemination (in the olden days they used a friend and a “turkey baster”).

Thirty countries around the world have banned spanking in all settings. ( Dan Arel/Patheos)


Hotels no longer require unmarried couples to sign in as Mr and Mrs Smith.
Criminals are no longer condemned to “hard labour”.
Begging is no longer a crime.
People are no longer charged with being "rogues and vagabonds".

More here, and links to the rest.

Thursday 16 October 2014

More Euphemisms in Quotes 1

If it's Thursday it must be Cameron

"Those words we throw around like they actually mean something actually mean something." (Fred Scharmen ‏@sevensixfive)

"Courtesy" call = irritating and pointless call. "Courtesy" car = deathtrap.
(Sathnam Sanghera ‏@Sathnam)

"Let's restore peace" - "Let's return to killing and terrorizing random black folks without you people causing a fuss. Attention seekers!" (‏@hsofia, week of Ferguson riots, Aug 2014)

What they call 'persistence' feels like plodding, doesn't it? A lot of plodding in success. (@alightheart)

Can we stop saying politicians "toured" a flood-affected area? It's not a tourist attraction. It's a natural disaster. (Ryan Kessler @therkess)

Kids. Just let them be. Stop living through them, spoiling them and over indulging them. They deserve to be themselves. (@Nick_Pye Yet another meaning for “be yourself”.)

Exams are "unimaginative, little changed from Victorian times" and fail to ready pupils for the modern workplace, warns Eton's headmaster. He means: "Public schools do not come top in league tables, we need a different USP."

[In the 80s] the Observer carried a story based on a leak, claiming that MI5 secretly controlled the “hiring and firing’’ of BBC staff members in a vetting process known as “colleging” or “the formalities”. (Telegraph Aug 2104)

For "efficiency" read "returns to our shareholders". (comment on notice re Post Office deliveries)

I was... voted “most scholarly” of my class, roughly equivalent to “least likely to have sex”. (

Materialism: Usually seems to be "other people wanting stuff". (RI)

General warning about the world; if a person/government has to tell you how democratic/peaceful/not racist/not misogynist they are, run. (@Fauxgyptian)

They perpetuate the myth that there is an ever more threatening minority demanding special rights from a cowed and pandering nation emasculated by “health and safety gone mad” and "multicultural Britain". (Liverpool Echo on Britain First)

When cops shoot a black kid, ppl who gather to grieve are an "angry mob". When cops shoot a white kid... Hm I can't even think of an example. (‏@YesYoureRacist)

Political correctness: the term reactionaries use when they caught out behaving badly. (ND)

Didn’t suffer fools gladly: “obituary-ese for ‘ill-tempered and difficult’” (@WillWiles)

Security chief Zhou Yongkang is to be investigated for a “serious disciplinary offence” (code for bribery and influence-peddling)." (The Week)

More here and links to the rest.

Friday 10 October 2014

Euphemisms about People (in Quotes)

Be spontaneous!
“When the television people instruct you to be “lively,” “spontaneous,” “controversial” and full of “energy,” what they mean is that you should feel free to ridicule others, interrupt, toss off opinions from the top of your head, argue with cleverness rather than evidence, and display intolerance for any opinion but your own.” (Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behaviour, Judith Martin)

Sophisticated: person who can enjoy a film despite clunky FX. Unsophisticated: person who can't enjoy a film unless the FX are 'realistic'.” (writer and Dalek Barnaby Edwards)

Let's have lunch sometime!: I don't want to see you again. (

You would want to do X now: Do X.
You might want to consider doing X: I absolutely expect you to do X.
I'll have to think about it: I have thought about it, and the answer is ‘no’.
Are you sure you want to do that?: Are you really stupid enough to consider that?
Do you mind Xing?: Do X!
It's not that X, it's just that...: If it were acceptable, I would say X.

boring: “Men worry that having children will make them ‘boring’. This is code for ‘can’t go out and get drunk with other men’.” (The Guardian, Nov 09)

boundaries: It is up to parents to determine the way they want to help their children navigate boundaries and how they define right and wrong. (David Lammy, January 29, 2012).

condition: illness (“Professionals Can Suffer from Career-Related Conditions” @lifehackorg)

earnest: dull, worthy, probably cares about an unfashionable cause, or wants to stop us doing something harmless but enjoyable like smoking or making sexist jokes. It’s subtly pejorative. (“Earnest types who use the word “powerful” to describe music.” “Earnest types sitting around pontificating about abstruse elements in books that no one reads.” “The interminable bickering of painfully earnest students.” Popup London/@FoodPit)

ebullient: cruel (“Ebullient, indiscreet and cantankerous, he loved winding people up.” Times obituary, Sept 2011)

eccentric, erratic: crazy, creepy (“The man was clearly creepy – or, to use the British term, ‘eccentric’.” Hadley Freeman on Jimmy Savile, The Guardian, 8 November 2012)

emotional intelligence (formerly “maturity", or perhaps "Machiavellianism”): “The trick is to use your emotional intelligence to recognise how you are feeling and how it impacts your work persona.” ( Emotional intelligence is the ability to “motivate oneself and persist in the face of frustrations, to control impulse and delay gratification, to regulate one’s moods and keep distress from swamping the ability to think, to empathise and to hope,” as defined by Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, Why It Can Matter More than IQ. “A useful resource that helps develop networks, figure out hierarchy, and influence others.” (BPS Research Digest)

It amazes me how fast "you're so fun and carefree" changes to "you're an asshole that doesn't care about anything" (about 3 months). (@PuddingBoobs)

ladylike: [The Mama-San] suggested we foreign girls behave in a more ladylike manner, that is – to laugh more and talk back less. She herself laughed almost all the time, even when nothing funny happened. (Angela Carter on working as a hostess in Japan in the 80s)

outspoken: abusive, teller of painful truths, blunt (Word thesaurus says: “very frank or straightforward and showing no delicacy or consideration” – no tap dancing around the subject, no diplomacy, no deference, no “Up to a point, Lord Copper”.)

phoney: The phoney world of Twitter, the London chatterati and left-wing media. (Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre, 2013 If it’s a phoney world it’s no threat. It’s like calling your opponents “so-called” or "faux socialist".)

positive: idealised (You could probably divide middle-class TV watchers into those who think TV should project an idealised, “positive” version of the world, and those who think it should reflect reality.

prosocial behaviour: kindness (Often [privatised medicine] fails to build up and reward pro-social behaviour (a psych word for ‘kindness’) in its staff, because paying them so little exhibits so little kindness towards them. Zoe Williams, The Guardian, March 21 2013)

sense of self (“famed for his extravagant lifestyle and robust sense of self”): probably a taker rather than a giver

sinful: mildly self-indulgent (“11 Sinfully Easy Crock Pot Recipes”

strongwilled, tough: “positive terms for bastard” (Zoe Williams, Guardian, Mar 16 10)

team player: willing pawn “Someone who will allow us to do whatever we want to you.” (, Feb 2012)

You’re overqualified: You’re too posh. (Or “we’ll have to pay you too much”.) And “we think you’ll be bored” means “we think you’ll look down on us”. (“She had no suitable position for someone so ‘overqualified’, which was a euphemism for saying that I was too old for the job… I told myself that ‘passing the responsibility on to her superiors’ was a polite way of saying I wouldn’t get the job.” People Speak, by Hayim Valder)

More here, and links to the rest.

Thursday 9 October 2014

Euphemisms About Class and Stuff (in Quotes)

There was nobody at all in the East End

“My rather simple family kept my own genetic secret for over half a century.” (geneticist Paul Nurse His father – actually his grandfather – was a farmworker.)

Row over NY developers installing “poor doors” – separate entrances for the affordable housing they have to provide. Green Party’s Darren Johnson said: “This shows contempt for ordinary people.” (July 2014)

Now for reshuffle winners. Team Cameron calls them "refreshing, representative and election winning" - code for 'good on telly & not posh'. (‏@bbcnickrobinson)
It has become acceptable to shop at Lidl. (Guardian July 2 2011 Presumably it was acceptable to a lot of people before 2011, or Lidl would have gone out of business.)

"What I like about east London is that it is still a bit edgy [...] It is so populated. Ten years ago there was nobody there." (Zaha Hadid)

“He seems to get around to a lot of places people haven’t visited before.” (Anthony Powell, What’s Become of Waring? The people who live in the places are of course “natives”. The novel was written in the 30s.)

seems to be a euphemism for the vulnerable lower orders. (Grayson Perry, New Statesman Oct 2014)

Is it too simplistic to suggest that this 'recovery' involves profits going up again and shareholders/bosses keeping almost all of them? (James O'Brien ‏@mrjamesob)

"I'm just old fashioned" = I know my views are outdated and probably sexist, racist, homophobic, or similar, but I'll keep them anyway. (@MrOzAtheist)

He said he was “managing director, digital” at a public relations firm.
“I don’t really know what that means.”
“I’m a digital and social-media strategist,” he explained. “I deliver programs, products, and strategies to our corporate clients across the spectrum of communications functions.”
“Sorry to be a doofus, but pretend I’m ten years old. What do you do all day? ”
“I teach big companies how to use Facebook.”
(Gary Stephen Ross,

Support for the status quo is "nuanced", opposing the status quo is "predictable". (@OwenJones84)

Everyone gushed about how Clare Balding had got where she was because of graft and ability (which was another way of saying she wasn’t conventionally pretty and didn’t sleep her way to the top). (Times 2014-09-06)

There's poverty in the UK, but we are better off calling it inequality. (John Lanchester)

Rezidentura was Cold War Russian terminology for a KGB spy station overseas. (New Humanist August 2014)

Dark as in “the new Dr Who”: I think it involves the difference between “good” and “bad”, “hero” and “villain” being somewhat blurred. (Michael Savage ‏@Softspoken_One)

Poverty has structural causes. (We are not, repeat not, pointing the finger at anybody.)

“I’m sorry, but you’re too experienced.” It is, I believe, synonymous with, "I'm sorry, but we would have to pay you too much..." "Too experienced" could mean "I find you intimidating." (LinkedIn discussion) (Could also mean “You are taller than the boss”.)

physical: violent (He was accustomed to being physical with women, and, while his wife put up with the abuse, her daughter grew less and less inclined to stand by and watch.

It's work experience and personality (ie being willing to get stuff done, smiling, easy to talk to) that get you jobs. (Commenter in Guardian)

Well, the head of chemistry sighed, the Salters course was quite new and so some of the stuffier universities might not look too favourably on it. These ‘stuffier’ universities seemed to overlap quite closely with my mental list of ‘good’ universities. (Web of Substance blog)

Surely, gov't cannot possibly cap rail fares. They've already said price regulation is unworkable socialist madness. *awaits announcement* (Alex Andreou ‏@sturdyAlex)
It’s unworkable socialist madness when proposed by socialists. When proposed by Tories, it’s supporting hard-working families. (Brian Johnson ‏@MustardSeedUK)

"Courtesy" call = irritating and pointless call. "Courtesy" car = deathtrap. (Sathnam Sanghera ‏@Sathnam)

"Let's restore peace" - "Let's return to killing and terrorizing random black folks without you people causing a fuss. Attention seekers!" (HSofia ‏@hsofia Week of Ferguson riots, Aug 2014)

What they call 'persistence' feels like plodding, doesn't it? A lot of plodding in success. (@alightheart)

Kids. Just let them be. Stop living through them, spoiling them and over indulging them. They deserve to be themselves. (@Nick_Pye  Yet another meaning for “be yourself”.)

Exams "unimaginative, little changed from Victorian times" and fail to ready pupils for the modern workplace, warns Eton's headmaster. He means: "Public schools do not come top in league tables, we need a different USP."

[In the 80s] the Observer carried a story based on a leak, claiming that MI5 secretly controlled the “hiring and firing’’ of BBC staff members in a vetting process known as “colleging” or “the formalities”. Telegraph Aug 2104

I was... voted “most scholarly” of my class, roughly equivalent to “least likely to have sex.” (

materialism: Usually seems to be "other people wanting stuff". (Roman Iwaschkin)

General warning about the world; if a person/government has to tell you how democratic/peaceful/not racist/not misogynist they are, run. (@Fauxgyptian)

‏Also, western leaders are rarely called things like "master manipulator" even when so. But the tricksy Arabs are just that. (@Fauxgyptian Quoting from the Economist on Erdogan)

When cops shoot a black kid, ppl who gather to grieve are an "angry mob." When cops shoot a white kid... Hm I can't even think of an example (@YesYoureRacist)

political correctness: the term reactionaries use when they caught out behaving
badly. (Nick D)

didn’t suffer fools gladly:
“obituary-ese for ‘ill-tempered and difficult’” (@WillWiles)

Security chief Zhou Yongkang is to be investigated for a “serious disciplinary offence” (code for bribery and influence-peddling). (The Week)

It's never described as 'elegant' or 'beautiful' with Germany. it's always 'clinical', 'well oiled' & 'efficient' why is this @GaryLineker? (@dallascampbell)

It is incredible how quickly folk resort to labels of 'negativity', 'aggression', 'confrontation' etc when faced with criticisms they dislike. ( ‏@How_Upsetting )

More here.