Friday 28 March 2014

Overheards 5

Impress me, Emerald!

Teacher: I need you to impress me, Emerald!

‏Latitude is great – there are multi-coloured sheep!

If Brian Eno had made a Carry On film it would be brilliant.

The pen? Don’t tell me it’s in the pen pot! Surely not!

[On the phone] I love your sneakers! I wish I was wearing them now!

It's very strange being in a city you aren't really in.

In the charity shop
Sonia could crochet something like that.

In the café
Older lady: There’s a cupcake café in Camberley!
Small boy: What does “hyperactive” mean?
Two architects: It’s Tudorbethan – either someone’s got a tremendous sense of irony or no sense of irony at all.
Girl: This is bubble and squeak. I can’t believe you’ve never had bubble and squeak. It’s like fried carrots. It goes really well with eggs.

At the bus stop
This was all like – I know Brian.
I just can’t be doing with it, Julie. I can’t be arsed.
I found one that was very similar and it was grey.
When they do magic, they don’t say anything – all them Japanese people.

On the bus
Black men! That’s what we need on the currency – not more women! Not bloody Virginia Woolf! They just need to use more dye!

Man on phone outside my son's nursery: "A shepherd. She's a f***ing SHEPHERD! You won't believe who got Mary." (@mrnickharvey)

"I'll be damned if I'm gonna be shaped by the ugly things in life. I only allow myself to be crafted by life's beauty." #HeardinTottenham (@HeardinLondon)

Overheard: "I suppose I have a bit of the Gipsy in me. I was born in Essex, but moved to Horsham." (@Lord_Steerforth)

More here, and links to the rest.

Thursday 27 March 2014

Mixed Metaphors 11

Insidious cross

Clegg loves mixed metaphors. Press are "animals round a shrinking waterhole" which are "struggling to keep their heads above water". (@AdamBienkov)

This is part and parcel of something which I think most people agree with, which is that as we fill in the black hole in the public finances we have also got to make sure that we do not put Humpty Dumpty back together again and make the same mistakes, that we rewire the British economy and make it fairer and give people more opportunities. (Nick Clegg, Sept 2012 You can't put the genie back in the bottle, the toothpaste back in the tube, or Humpty Dumpty back together again.)

The British “have a more insidious cross to bear”. Nick Clegg May 2010

James Miller from Experian said High Streets and town centres had "a careful balancing act to play". (BBC Online Sept 2012 Tricky balancing act to bring off?)

Seeking a Canute-like, static London is p*ssing in the wind. (Commenter on Hackney Hive. I think he means "We can't hold back change.")

notch up a milestone

Amazon: "This book is a minefield of information." (via @seatrout/Andrew Brown)

The socialism scourge creeps in slowly, cuts the ties that bind our nation together with moral relativism & atheism. (@Billy_Purcell ) (A creeping whip cuts ties...)

The BBC is dancing on the most peculiar set of pinheads. (BBC News channel October 24, 2012)

The Elephant and Castle became a cog in the transport network. ( You find cogs in clockwork. Networks are made of string.)

These tides may have been the trigger that kick-started life. (Maggie Aderin Pocock)

a large olive branch could still prevail (Times head Nov 26 2012 As a symbol of peace a small olive branch is just as meaningful. Perhaps they mean “major concessions could still work”?)

pass the puck for pass the buck (But that makes more sense. Nobody knows what the "buck" was that kept being passed around. Let's pass a hockey puck instead.)

The Arab Spring has shaken the kaleidoscope.
defuse the pressure (lighten, reduce. You defuse bombs.)

Portsmouth are a house of cards with just days to live. (Feb 11 10 Guardian)

This is music in which Gergiev has few peers today: he brings an epic, symphonic and dramatic integrity to its vast, multifaceted canvas. (The Sunday Times)

Fuelled by this flood tide of necessary junk (Jonathan Margolis Times 09 We still can't use water for fuel.)

We do not continue the treatment long enough for the full-blown glove-and-stocking picture to appear.

Although having children to rekindle a shaky marriage often has disastrous results... (prop up a shaky marriage, rekindle a slow-burning marriage)

Unleashing a slow relentless stranglehold on our planet… (Eden)

cloud-clapped kingdom for cloud-capped ( A cloud-capped kingdom would also be nonsensical: the cloud-capped towers – as Shakespeare wrote – are so tall they’re wearing clouds as hats.)

They felt hemmed in by the shackles of society.

Britain "teetering on edge of dangerous housing bubble", top Treasury official warns (NHA Party‏/@NHAparty)
China is in the grip of a classic bubble. (Times Jan 2010)
a key driver of the bubble
at the height of the bubble
a hefty burden of red tapeconfronted by a wall of bureaucracy and forced to wade through a mountain of red tape

More here, and links to the rest.

More British Understatement

Not madly edifying

Or litotes, as the Greeks called it.

Confronted by a scene of mayhem, you say: "There seem to be one or two problems here. "

If your whole team is steadfastly opposed to your plan, you say: "There seems to be a little bit of an issue with this."

If a fight broke out at your daughter's wedding, you tell your friends: "It wasn’t madly edifying."

“1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure,” said the Queen on a year in which her three eldest children’s marriages broke down and one of her palaces caught fire.

“Certain people wanted their share of the gold and when it wasn’t there waiting for them, they started getting very upset.” (A gangster - he meant they started shooting people down.)

Hunting man has remarkably few legs to stand on. #bbctbq (Dave Plummer ‏@primevalmudd 2014-02-09)

Suggesting that a mosque in Athens wld somehow be the fault of Zionism doesn't show the Gk Church at its absolute best. (Tom Holland)

Troops and tanks in target area continue to be faced with serious resistance. Situation "unpleasant". (UK war cabinet, via Dan Snow)

Just got an ad, across a youtube video, that promised "smart underwear for smart men". I would have you know that my response wasn't delight. (Truett Ogden)

very inclement weather: tornado, torrential rain, blizzard

More here.

Saturday 22 March 2014

Inspirational Quotes 53 (about the French)

La belle France
From Lucy Wadham's revelatory The Secret Life of France.

I wonder if some of the sexual paralysis afflicting my English male contemporaries was brought on by post-feminist guilt, which only seemed to compound the puritan tendencies inherent in our culture… The dead hand of guilt falls far more heavily on us Protestants… My Protestant mistrust for the cult of appearances is deeply entrenched.

Lotissements – each region possessing its own… parody of the vernacular. (She's talking about urban sprawl.)

Good clean fun is not feasible in today’s Britain.

The French have not been affected by the tyranny of Cool.

The habit of embarrassment is quintessentially English.

The deep-seated resentment that seems to infect gender relations in Britain.

On French songs or chansons: They are firmly rooted in an easy melodic tradition and there are plenty of words… the French are quite happy to listen to some tone-deaf actress with a breathy voice sing Serge Gainsbourg’s compositions. (Somebody's said it at last.)

French is a language given to digression and subordinate clauses… with all its wonderful imprecision, it is a perfect vehicle for abstraction. (I.e. don't worry if you can't understand Deleuze and Guattari.)

In most aspects of French life, there is a huge gap between the idea and the reality. (She points out that they have an Academie that patrols the language and forbids neologisms, but meanwhile all young people speak an incomprehensible argot that changes every few weeks.)

More here, and links to the rest.

Wednesday 19 March 2014

Inspirational Quotes 52

I'll just be myself...

I’ll just be myself and act very professional. (Lisa, girl queuing for Star Wars audition)

For an individual to escape from unfair preconceptions and cliquishness while remaining in the same work environment can be almost impossible. You often need to begin all over again: with no history, in a new place and with new colleagues. Jeremy Bullmore, Guardian Nov 2013

Lee Harvey Oswald was not without a certain charm, and had an untutored intelligence. But both wore thin with familiarity. People liked him well enough to begin with, liking him less as they got to know him. (Times Nov 2013)

He soon baulks at the drabness of political activism. (Adam Lively on Howard Jacobson’s The Finkler Question Times Aug 10)

I remember going through the 1960s watching my friends  become Maoists or Althusserian feminists or God knows what else and thinking: "This is garbage." (Tony Judt)

This reminds me of my own indifference to the business world when I was a graduate student, and thought I was well informed on everything important—you know, semiotic theories of gender and decentered subjectivities in 18th century novels and that sort of thing. My arguments about these subjects with my peers were so VITAL. (Rob Horning,

There comes a time when you have to hand in your gun and badge. (Steve Coogan as washed-up roadie Saxondale)

Drawing a line in the sand gives one the power to cross the line. (Roger K)

He got a girlfriend, went to Glastonbury and became involved in the squatting and free party scene… He began to engineer problems with their relationship… he became distant. [One woman was told that her lover had fled to South Africa, so she followed.] The fruitless search drained her savings and affected her health. [But some undercover police “went native” and refused to come out of cover.] (LRB review of Undercover: The True Story of Britain’s Secret Police)

Most dating tips advise “dating loads of people at once and withholding sex for as long as possible. Until he ‘commits’.” (

Some unattached women choose “in a relationship” for their profile just so people won’t start matchmaking or single-girl-pitying. A single woman of a certain age is a prime target for people who think everyone should be paired off in "happily ever after" relationships. (

When you’re single and of a certain age, you get used to people inquiring about your status. Just a couple of years ago, the whole, “oh no I’m single” was usually met with a, “good for you” or, “you’re young man, this is the time for you to have fun.” I’ve noticed that once I hit 25, this collective enthusiasm had started to wane. Now, more than less, I feel like I get a strangely sympathetic reaction. “You’ll find someone” or “don’t worry there’s someone out there for everyone,” I’m told, sometimes accompanied by a reassuring pat on the back. Or sometimes it’s shock and mild disapproval. More than one person has reminded me that I’m not getting any younger, which is kind because that’s not common knowledge or anything. (A man on

More here, and links to the rest.

Saturday 15 March 2014

What Would Happen If Everybody Did It?

Numbers game

"What would happen if everybody did it?" "Then I'd be a fool to do otherwise, sir." Joseph Heller, Catch-22

If everyone in the world is convinced that it is better to give than to receive and that we should live for others – we’ll be stuck for ever going “After you, Cecil! No, after YOU, Claude!”

Stop looking for the love of your life and they will find you. (But you just told us ALL to stop looking… How can he find me if he's stopped looking?)

Your happiness consists in giving happiness to others. (But only if everybody plays.)

If we all buy property in Hackney because it’s cheap, prices will go up and it won’t be cheap any more. (And there won’t be any property left.)

If we all go and work all day in a café and buy only one coffee, the café will go out of business and we will have nowhere to work.

If none of us gives to beggars because they earn £30,000 a year, they won’t earn £30,000 a year. If we all become beggars because they earn £30,000 a year, we’ll all earn 0p a year. Also, if all beggars earn £30,000 a year, where is it coming from?

Plumbers are in demand and earn a fortune. Let's all quit journalism and become plumbers!

Everybody can have a professional career - but there aren't enough to go round, and besides we need people to do ordinary jobs and have babies.

Cars mean we can travel everywhere fast – but only until everybody gets one.

If all mothers in India have five sons, there’ll be nobody for them to marry, no dowry, nobody to care for you in your old age.

If the working classes stop having so many children there’ll be nobody to do working-class jobs.

If all the girls go to university to get a husband, there won't be enough boys to go round.

If you don’t get your kids immunised they’ll be OK – just as long as all other parents get their kids immunised.

If you write about an “unspoiled” destination, people will go there and spoil it (and fill up the “empty” beaches). But the travel company gave you the freebie to attract people to the empty beaches.

If all Chinese country girls get a job in the big city, there’ll be nobody for farmers to marry, and nobody for the girls to marry because they now outnumber city men. And there are so many spare girls that men don't need to get married. (See Sex and the City.)

If crowds don’t come to blockbuster art shows and stand between you and the pictures the museums can’t afford to put on the blockbuster art shows.

If we turn all redundant industrial buildings into art galleries we’ll have nothing to put in them, and nobody will visit them.

If we all go blonde because blondes get paid more and marry wealthier men…?

It's great to be the working class kid who gets a degree and makes it into the middle class, but what would happen if....? ("Social mobility" implies that only some individuals will make it. And they have to work for it – we're not going to make life better for an entire class of people. In fact, it's our old friend "equality of opportunity".)

We can all become president – except only one person can become president.

It's getting harder and harder to make a living as a writer, so writers are teaching creative-writing courses, and turning out more would-be writers... (Beware courses claiming "You can make a living doing this!". The trainers make the money, and those training the trainers make even more money.)

We can’t all pick up social skills “by osmosis”. We can’t all imitate our peers. (Remember the islanders who lived by doing each other's washing?) We can’t all be good listeners – nobody would ever say anything.

For four of the last five years the numbers of children enrolled in fee-paying schools in the UK have fallen to just over 500,000. Part of the reason for the fall is that the average annual private school fee is now £14,000, and one of the reasons it is so high is because the numbers are dropping. (Guardian Feb 2014)

"With a far greater proportion of young people attending university, there is an oversupply of graduates and an undersupply of positions. This is driving down the price of graduate salaries meaning holding a degree isn’t as lucrative as it used to be." Nicholas Jollie on LinkedIn
More illogic here.

Sunday 9 March 2014

Similes 4

The BBC’s Father Brown “bears more resemblance to the Wikipedia entry for Father Brown than the character himself”. (

I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee. (Isaiah 44:22)

As useful as a catflap in a submarine. (Boris Johnson on “Red Ed”)

Australian PM Tony Abbott, who is as popular as gout.

Like measuring the air. (Telugu proverb). 

The matter drags like a mist without wind. (Bulgarian proverb).

Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud, and as the early dew that passeth away, as the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney. (Hosea 12:3)

He scattereth the snow, and the falling down thereof is as the lighting of grasshoppers. (Ecclesiastes)

dryer than a moth sandwich (Douglas Murphy @entschwindet)

New gallery space seems to be covering London like a carpet of algae.

The Large Hadron Collider looks like a third-rate technical college. (Professor Brian Cox)

The recycling company occupied a building which looked like a tertiary college that had been abandoned after a nuclear accident, with long, unlit corridors and vast walls of peeling paint. It would have made a good headquarters for the warlord of a small, local militia. (Steerforth at the Age of Uncertainty)

This week is going interminably slowly. Like a traction engine at the Great Dorset Steam Fair. (Paul Stevens ‏@paul_d_stevens)

Texas – now watch your young flee like hosed cats. (Lucy Inglis)

Like a microwave meal, he’s getting a bit heated. (Lord Sugar, June 2013)

Serena's contorted non-apology is quite something. It has all the logic of an Escher staircase. (Dr Simon Sellars ‏@ballardian, 2013)

He no longer looked so much like a derelict fragment of newspaper. (Molly Lefebure)

When Mary Wollstonecraft begins to write about injustice, she goes off on one like a blender with the lid off. (@beerowlatt)

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (Isaiah 64:6)

Running makes me feel like a wrung-out floorcloth. (Leslie Costar)

He snapped the thongs as easily as a piece of string snaps when it comes close to a flame. (Judges 16:9)

Caledonian Road in snow is “as slushy as a Quentin Tarantino rom-com”. (Rupert Goodwins)

Editing poetry
feels like grinding bones
for magical purposes.

More here, and links to the rest.

Saturday 8 March 2014

Amphiboly 3

Mary Anning

This is a wartime example of amphiboly: SAVE SOAP AND WASTE PAPER.

Mary Anning, fossil woman (Natural History Museum)

Beware flowering bulbs! (Horniman Museum)


Mini Man Sized Tissues

Women Behind Bars with Trevor Macdonald

Refuse to be put in the skip.

Nothing cleans better than Lava soap.

Raymond Talis reviews Oliver Sacks on drugs

SLOW pedestrians

duck down (duvets)

No room safe. (Ie no safe in hotel rooms)

Giant Titanic posters on sale

Empty when full (New Scientist)

Vintage knitting patterns to try and enjoy

Ask a child solicitor (Google ad)

Roadside sign in Wales:

Apparently the Lord Chancellor no longer sits on the woolsack stuffed with wool, but:

The sounds of the Sun, Jupiter and Voyager leaving the heliosphere Sky at Night 9 March 10pm BBC4 (@liminallondoner)

He joined the National Youth Theatre at the age of 13 where he remained for eight years.

He climbed to the top of the hill and watched the horses pass though a telescope.

“Dragon” academy teaches teenagers who quit school to become tycoons (Observer headline, May 10 09)

A Russian Impressionist oil on board young children being attended by nurses in a cream and gilt frame

Insert finger under flap and move from side to side.

I was listening to the news this morning when I heard a report of a university department using satellites to look for woodpeckers from outer space.

Mystery of pre-historic whale graveyard solved by toxic algae (The Week)

More here, and links to the rest.

Wednesday 5 March 2014

Visions of the Future 2

Home, sweet home

Futurologists are obsessed with shopping. Surely we should be living on nutrition pills by now?

1951 Look out for atomic refrigerators and manmade weather.

1952 The Catholic Church thinks psychoanalysis is probably a mortal sin (meaning that if you die with this sin on your conscience you will burn in Hell for all eternity). It thought the same about birth control.

1953 Soon we’ll have noiseless air conditioners and home CCTV for keeping an eye on your children, or seeing who’s at the front door.

1954 Has the time come for volcanic power, and a second Nile in the Sahara?

1955 Rockets will carry mail, cargo and passengers across the Atlantic within five years.

1955 Dr Lovshin says he can spot patients whose disorders are psychosomatic: look out for exaggeration, a prepared list of ailments, bleached hair on a brunette, over-plucked eyebrows, and fluttering eyelids.

1956 Coffee bar workers suffer from “espresso wrist”.

1956 Curtiss Schafer predicts we will have all electrodes implanted in our brains to make us willing slaves.

1958 Women start wearing tights instead of stockings and suspender belts.

1960 We’re all promised a microwave oven and an ultrasonic dishwasher.

1961 One day doctors, lawyers, banks will have their own computer systems!

1961 Solar-powered insects would be perfect for lunar exploration.

1962 Take your shopping list to the supermarket on your miniature computer. Plug it in at the checkout and your delivery will slide down a chute into your bag.

1964 Thanks to thumbprint readers, cheques will soon belong in a museum, says Simon Ramo. (They’re still with us.)

1965 Video calls over “vest-pocket transmitter-receivers” are predicted.

1967 Orbiting mirrors will illumine the night.

1971 Fish farms are taking off.

1974 Many countries plan to harvest manganese nodules from the seabed and use the sea’s heat for energy. (Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion or OTEC was suggested in the 1880s. Work continues.)

1974 Flatscreen TV that will hang on your wall demonstrated.

1975 DVDs predicted.

1978 Let’s turn garbage into electricity.

1978 Meanwhile, will computers destroy our brains? (They’re now saying the same about Google and possibly Facebook.)

1980 We’ll get electricity from “solar ponds”.

1983 By 2000, robots will do our housework.1986 The internet will change our lives: we will set burglar alarms, start air conditioners and program VCRs from mobile phones.

1987 TV will become interactive, newspapers will be customised, you’ll order tickets for the ballet through a “conversational desktop”. We’ll have realistic teleconferencing by projecting video images of participants onto plaster casts of their faces.

1988 Speech to text predicted.

1989 Tiny robots will explore space, perform operations.

1989 Commuters will carry supercomputers the size of magazines.

1995 AT&T president says phones with screens will arrive in a decade. People will “wake up to a tiny bedside screen that gives the time and the weather forecast and even displays news headlines or sports scores”. And of course you’ll use them for your grocery list.

Future food
1931 Let’s grow crops on the moon, urges Professor William Pickering.
1931 No, let’s make food out of wood, counters Friedrich Bergius.
1955 The world's population can live on plankton, or protein from chemically grown algae cultures.
1976 Antarctic seals are possible protein source for world population.
1978 The winged bean could solve world hunger problem.

More here.

Tuesday 4 March 2014

Visions of the Future

"Nothing dates faster than visions of the future." Katherine Whitehorn

Future technology always seems to include recipes, shopping lists and turning on ovens or central heating “from the supermarket”. Or else your fridge will order food over the internet, and your TV will inform you that the washing machine has finished its cycle. And walls that change colour with your mood are a perennial.

In 1985 a pundit wrote: “Popular notions of the future [were] fantasy antidotes to the Depression. A gyroplane for every family! Aluminum sidewalks! Houses made entirely of Bakelite!”

William McGrath, chief executive at Aga Rangemaster says that the new range “can be turned on and off using a mobile phone… If you have a weekend place in Devon, you can turn it on on the way.” (Times, 2013)

We’ll probably get 3D printed furniture soon – but will it be repro “French provincial”?

1802 Channel tunnel proposed. Digging stopped in 1884. Tunnel opened 1994.

1890s Svante Arrhenius warns that CO2 emissions will cause global warming.

1923 Hermann Oberth predicts a telescope in space. (Hubble telescope launched 1990.)

1926 We could purify sewage with ultrasound (idea revived in 1978), and use tide power for energy (first tidal power station completed 1966, and one is being built in Swansea).

1927 Ettore Bugatti says he is developing a speed boat, cigar shaped, half submerged, that will cross Atlantic in two days.

1928 “Air trains” of gliders pulled by planes are predicted after successful experiments.

1928 Why not grow poplar trees as a crop to produce rayon?

1930 The Congress of Eugenics says “We must get rid of the idea of feminism… equality of the sexes is absolutely incorrect.”

1933 Wind power suggested.

1933 Dr Thomas Shastid predicts that future men will have one central eye.

1934 Jeannette Piccard ascends to the stratosphere with her husband's twin brother and a turtle called Fleur de Lys. (She was a scientist and balloon pilot who later became a priest.)

1935 In The Next Hundred Years, Clifford Furnas predicts television, smoke elimination, a leather substitute, breathable fabrics, superconductors, solar power and biofuel.

1937 Dr Julian Huxley predicts eugenics will be accepted within one or two generations.

1938 Sonic booms (“compressible burbles”) predicted.

1938 They didn’t have all these innovations in my day, says the UK’s Professor Joad: “To insert coins into metal slots, scan headlines, crowd through clicking turnstiles, turn on the radio, hurl ourselves over the surface of the earth in a mechanism propelled by petrol - these constitute the modern notion of entertainment.”

1938 “Virginity at marriage will reach vanishing point in about 20 years.”

1944 In the amphibious “car of the future”, you’ll be able to order a meal through a two-way radio.

1944 Amazing Stories publisher Hugo Gernsback has an idea for a robot mine detector.

1946 Movie stars wear jewellery made of “atomite” (aka atomsite or Trinitite): sand fused into glass by the atomic bomb test. They're advised not to wear it too often.

1948 Psychiatrist James Halliday blames our sick society on flush toilets, baby carriages, and the decline in religion.

1948 Maths geek Norbert Wiener says wholly automatic factories are just around the corner.

Inventions we can live without
Inventions we should reinvent

Sunday 2 March 2014

Reasons to Be Cheerful 10

Hurrah! I can wear trousers!

Life was simpler in the 60s. We didn't have all this change. Now we're going to Hell in a handcart – or are we going the other way?

1677 De Heretico Comburendo (“Regarding the burning of heretics”) is repealed

1890 Mormonism bans polygamy

1909 Back to back houses outlawed. (But some builders are trying to get round the Act, 2014.) “They continued to be built in Leeds until 1937 because the authorisation for those had already been agreed prior to the act.” (@singleaspect)

1933 First woman golfer to wear trousers at St Andrews

1967 Scolding and eavesdropping no longer illegal in England

1994 US Violence Against Women Act. Since then domestic violence is down 67%, murders down 35%. The UK is discussing a similar law, Jan 2014.

2014 In February, Hackney council submits proposal to control the number of betting shops on high streets

2014 FORTY YEARS after the Equal Pay Act was passed, Birmingham Council is being forced to abide by it (January).

1984 The Paedophile Information Exchange is disbanded. In March 2014 people are reacting with horror that there was ever such a thing. (Update, 2023. "Minor Attracted Persons" are pushing "child love" harder than ever.)

Fur Farming Banned
End-1990s Austria
2003 UK
Late 1990s Netherlands (banned fox and chinchilla farming, and is phasing out fox farming)
It is also illegal in Switzerland, and in Sweden it’s illegal to keep fur-bearing foxes in cages.
“Although fur farming is illegal in some countries it does not make them non-players in the fur trade. London is said to be the biggest centre of the international fur market with an annual turnover of hundreds of millions of dollars.” (

Women’s Rights in Ireland
Fintan O’Toole, The Irish Times, Feb 2014

10 things women could not do in 1970:

1 Keep her job in the public service or a bank when she got married
Female civil servants and other public servants (primary teachers from 1958 were excluded from the "marriage bar") had to resign from their jobs when they got married, on the grounds that they were occupying a job that should go to a man. Banks operated a similar policy.

How it changed The marriage bar in the public service was removed in July 1973, on foot of the report of the first Commission on the Status of Women. In 1977, the Employment Equality Act prohibited discrimination on the grounds of gender or marital status in almost all areas of employment.

2 Sit on a jury
Under the 1927 Juries Act, members of juries had to be property owners and, in effect, male.

How it changed Mairín de Burca and Mary Anderson challenged the Act and won their case in the Supreme Court in 1976. The old Act was repealed and citizens over 18 who are on the electoral register are eligible for juries.

3 Buy contraceptives The 1935 Criminal Law Amendment Act banned the import, sale and distribution of contraceptives. Some women were able to get doctors to prescribe the Pill as a "cycle regulator" or to fit devices such as the cap. In 1969, the Fertility Guidance Clinic was established in Dublin and used a loophole in the law to give away the Pill for free. (It was thus not being sold.) Most rural and working class women had no access to contraceptives.

How it changed The Commission on the Status of Women in 1972 delicately suggested that "parents have the right to regulate the number and spacing of their family" but stopped short of an open demand for contraception. The Rotunda Hospital, the Irish Family Planning Association and student unions began to distribute contraceptives. The law, however, changed very slowly. The McGee case of 1973 established a right to import contraceptives for personal use, but did not allow them to be sold. A Bill to allow for controlled access was defeated in 1974. In 1979, in an infamous "Irish solution to an Irish problem", an Act was passed to allow doctors to prescribe contraceptives to married couples only. A 1985 Act allowed contraceptives to be sold to anyone over 18 but only in chemists. The IFPA and Virgin Megastore were prosecuted for selling condoms in 1991. Later that year, the sale of contraceptives was liberalised.

4 Drink a pint in a pub In 1970, some pubs refused to allow women to enter at all, some allowed women only if accompanied by a man and very many refused to serve women pints of beer. Women who were accidentally served a pint would be instructed to pour it into two half-pint glasses.

How it changed Women's groups staged protests in the early 1970s... In 2002, the Equal Status Act banned gender discrimination in the provision of goods and services. It defined discrimination as "less favourable treatment". Service can be refused only if there is a reasonable risk of disorderly or criminal conduct.

5 Collect her children's allowance The 1944 legislation that introduced the payment of children's allowances (now called child benefit) specified that they be paid to the father. The father could, if he chose, mandate his wife to collect the money, but she had no right to it.

How it changed Responding to the report of the Commission on the Status of Women, the 1974 Social Welfare Act entitled mothers to collect the allowance.

6 Get a barring order against a violent partner In 1970, a women who was hospitalised after a beating by her husband faced a choice of either returning home to her abuser or becoming homeless. Abusive spouses could not be ordered to stay away from the family home, leaving many women little choice but to seek refuge elsewhere.

How it changed Women's Aid campaigned for changes in the law, and in 1976 the Family Law Act, Ireland's first legislation on domestic violence, enabled one spouse to seek a barring order against the other where the welfare or safety of a spouse or children was at risk. The orders were for three months and were poorly implemented. In 1981, protection orders were introduced and barring orders were increased up to 12 months.

7 Live securely in her family home Under Irish law, a married woman had no right to a share in her family home, even if she was the breadwinner. Her husband could sell the home without her consent.

How it changed Under the Family Home Protection Act of 1976, neither spouse can sell the family home without the written consent of the other.

8 Refuse to have sex with her husband In 1970 the phrase "marital rape" was a contradiction in terms. A husband was assumed to have the right to have sex with his wife and consent was not, in the eyes of the law, an issue. Women's adultery was also specifically penalised in the civil law, the notorious tort of "criminal conversation" or "CrimCon": a husband could legally sue another man for compensation for sleeping with his wife.

How it changed The Council for the Status of Women urged the creation of a crime of marital rape. In 1979 the Minister for Justice Gerard Collins declined to introduce legislation to this effect. Even when new legislation on rape was introduced in 1981, the situation did not change. It was not until 1990 that marital rape was defined as a crime. The first trial, in 1992, collapsed within minutes. The first successful prosecution for marital rape was in 2002. Crim Con was abolished by the Family Law Act (1981). The Act also, as a dubious quid pro quo, abolished the right to sue for "breach of promise" of marriage - an ancient provision that was occasionally used by jilted women, although it was in theory also available to men.

9 Choose her official place of domicile Under Irish law, a married woman was deemed to have the same "domicile" as her husband. This meant that if her husband left her and moved to Australia, her legal domicile was deemed to be Australia. Women, who could not get a divorce in Ireland, could find themselves divorced in countries where their husbands were domiciled.

How it changed Acting on a report from the Law Reform Commission, the Fine Gael junior minister for women's affairs Nuala Fennell drove forward the Domicile and Recognition of Foreign Divorces Bill in 1985. It granted married women the right to an independent domicile.

10 Get the same rate for a job as a man In 1970, almost all women were paid less than male colleagues doing the same job. In March 1970, the average hourly pay for women was five shillings, while that for men was over nine. In areas covered by a statutory minimum wage, the female rate was two-thirds that of men.

How it changed Legislation on equal pay was introduced in 1974 and employment equality legislation followed in 1977, both as a result of European directives.

In Sweden it is illegal to buy sexual services but not to sell them. That model has slowly been gaining ground across Europe and is now being seriously considered in seven countries, most notably France. (BBC Online)

The Chinese campaign to persuade people not to eat shark fin soup has reduced the shark fin trade (it’s banned from public banquets).

“It is unlawful to release beavers in England." (Defra spokeswoman. Fortunately the beavers took no notice.)

More here, and links to the rest.

Saturday 1 March 2014

Tautology 6

Extinct? I'm devastated!

“Curated” is bad enough, but “carefully curated”? What, as opposed to “haphazardly curated”? (Clare Lynch/‏@goodcopybadcopy)

from the very bottom of the Amazon river (Amazon Abyss)
In the space of just a split second. (Unseen Universe)
Nuns stroll slowly through the market.

A devastating fire ripped through the East Wing. (Countryfile Jan 2014)
The Dodo had undergone a devastating extinction.
The Irish elk suffered a catastrophic extinction.

We must redouble our efforts…
Make the return journey back to the mainland
It was in conditions like this that life on earth first started.

She nodded her head.
30 died in a deadly flu epidemic.
at risk of a sudden catastrophic disaster (Prof Iain Stewart)

Teams of trained marksmen will be culling the badgers. ( BBC World Service)
Innocent civilians were bombed.
celebrating the momentous milestone

With the threat of war looming (War loomed.)
Portland Building Faces Demolition Threat (It faces demolition.)
Trenton faces a potential flood threat. (It faces a potential flood.)

This is only the tip of a large and ugly iceberg. (Times 2013-11-23)
He tried to pour oil on the deeply troubled waters.
absolute equality between the sexes
BBC’s The Story of the Jews is "enormously epic". (Simon Schama)
‏Appeal to tackle horrendous slaughter of elephants in Africa (Rory Bremner)
The play… sank under the ponderous weight of its pretensions. (John Lahr)

future plans
abiding preoccupation
past history
end result
interminably long
rain down
advance forward
retreat backwards
reverse back

vast mansions
finally finishing your journey
calculated snub
rose up
through the ranks
restored back to its former glory
added bonus
random chance
blind chance

More here, and links to the rest.