Tuesday 29 April 2014

Boo and Hooray 2

Just misunderstood

A man's called a traitor - or liberator
A rich man's a thief - or philanthropist
Is one a crusader - or ruthless invader?
It's all in which label is able to persist
There are precious few at ease
With moral ambiguities
So we act as though they don't exist.
(from Wicked)

"Uncompromising revolutionary spirit" or "revolutionary adventurism"? There's no objective distinction: it's "Stalin likes" and "Stalin dislikes" (and Stalin, of course, reserves the right to change his opinion at a later date). Ditto "maximum flexibility and manoeuvring ability" as opposed to "opportunism". (friend JP)

“Religion: A large popular cult. Cult: A small unpopular religion.” (Peter Craig/@M_Pete)

“I hate innovation, but I love improvement.” (Writer and Rev Sidney Smith, paraphrasing philosopher Jeremy Bentham)

“Bedroom tax on the poorest and most disadvantaged is ‘austerity’ but a tax rise for the rich is ‘politics of envy’.” (@woodo79)

“Up until the age of about 15, I was a self-confident (some would say arrogant), opinionated (some would say overbearing), incautious (some would say idiotic) extrovert (some would say shameless exhibitionist).” (Robert Crampton, The Times, 22 March 2014)

The Planning Decisions Unit of the Greater London Authority, the body responsible for greenlighting these schemes, begs to differ. "It is simply not true to say these towers haven't been planned," says director Colin Wilson. "They have been very carefully planned. But we prefer to use a flexible framework, rather than a rigid masterplan. This liberty is what makes London successful." (Guardian, April 2014)

More here, and links to the rest.

Sunday 27 April 2014

Inspirational Quotes 55

[About 1981] I became aware that some peers… were attending the same parties, gigs, clubs, events. And they were pairing off, or at a minimum hanging out to admire each other’s cheekbones, clothes, hair, outstanding good fortune, whatever. I also became aware that my own presence in these perfumed ranks was not required. A few of my pals – better looking, sportier, richer – were admitted. But not me. (Robert Crampton, Times, Dec 2013)

We all have a desire to fit in. What this means, usually, is that we follow social norms and rules of appropriate conduct. (Prof Francesca Gino)

Bullying can take many subtle, often socially acceptable, forms and it can cause feelings of rejection that blight and poison future relationships. (Letter to the Guardian)

How can u tel wen ur officially friends with sum1 in this country? Its like a game of charades where the only action alowd is a distant smile//Sumtimes it feels like ebullience & wanting warmth, closeness, is British Leprosy. (AdamNathanielFurman ‏@Furmadamadam)

[At work] Men tend to enact sexual performance through chivalry and giving favours. Both men and women tend to use a third type of performance, other-enhancing, which involves compliments and raising the status of the other party. (British Psychological Society Occupational Digest)

Kenneth Halliwell improved when he began wearing the wig. He was very ashamed of his baldness… I think that looking into the mirror with it actually altered his personality. He became rather charming and sincere. (Peggy Ramsay)

If you’ve got something to say and you want somebody to listen, you’ve got to attribute your idea to somebody else. (Brendan Behan – according to Dudley Sutton)

It is difficult to overstate the practical benefits to every gay American following [Edith] Windsor’s victory in June. After the Supreme Court decision, gay couples could file joint tax returns, get access to veterans’ and Social Security benefits, hold on to their homes when their spouses died and get green cards for their foreign husbands and wives. For many couples – especially those with children and those without means – these benefits and protections are not merely symbolic. (Time Dec 2013)

The cynical view that some form of "civil religion" provided "the best way to keep the multitude in check". (London Review of Books review of a book about the Enlightenment, Dec 2013)

The court of Lucian Freud was… absolutist in its punishments: if you displeased him – by bad timekeeping, unprofessionalism, or disobedience to his will – you were tossed over the cliff. (Julian Barnes in the LRB compares Freud to the Emperor Tiberius, Dec 2013)

[The world] divides into controllers and controllees. (ditto)

I wish he had painted more sinks, and more pot plants, and more leaves, and more trees. More waste ground, more streets. (ditto)

More here, and links to the rest.

Friday 18 April 2014

Inspirational Quotes 54

Learn chess, lose friends
We all know confidence comes from within – don't we? Don't try to be interesting, be interesTED, and learn one subject of conversation really well! And be spontaneous, spontaneous, spontaneous...
Some people just have lasting social inhibition due to confidence-destroying experience in childhood. (jezebel.com commenter)

Wholly self-taught, his interests covered chemistry, science in general, philosophy, chess, music, and literature – interests that… tended to cut him off from those among whom he lived and worked. (doyouwriteunderyourownname.blogspot.co.uk/)

When deciding between two equally strong candidates, an employer will almost certainly pick the one who appears the strongest socially… Practise your elevator pitch in the mirror, film your answers to make sure you are using eye contact, ensure you get rid of any nervous twitches. "On the day, give yourself a few minutes to use the bathroom, have a drink and take a few deep breaths. When you sit down, relax your shoulders, remember to maintain eye-contact, make a conscious effort not to fiddle and fidget. Sit forward to give the impression of confidence." Guardian, Dec 2013

I am not strong on my own. When I have the support of people around me I am fine. I have a great team. (Singer Susan Boyle on discovering she has Asperger’s)

The more Ethel Smyth took umbrage, the more she exhibited her hurt feelings, the more she was likely to alienate. (Alison Light, Mrs Woolf and the Servants)

Boarding children, despite their prestigious schools, have to grow up amongst their peers and never really come home again. (Nick Duffell)

You know that useless phrase 'There's no such word as 'CAN'T'.' I bet that's written in 72-point Comic Sans in the DWP foyer. (Justin Lewis ‏@Mumbler3)

Positive thinking and hard work are not enough when there is a steel ceiling just above your head. [But] if you win, no amount of prejudice can pretend otherwise. (Matthew Syed)

Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy. (H L Mencken)

Was it General Melchett in Blackadder Goes Forth who always embarked on the same strategy, despite it having failed every time before? (Brian Lawton)

England. There is nothing to be "learned" from losing a match other than you tried to win but didn't know how. Everything else is bullshit. (Danny Baker ‏@prodnose)

I don't have to, personally, have an entire alternative system all ready to go, in order to identify this one as broken. (Alex Andreou ‏@sturdyAlex)

TACOMA, WA—Local woman Jillian Lauretta confirmed to reporters Friday that she was thinking of doing that thing where she acts incredibly cold and unfriendly toward other women she has just met for absolutely no earthly reason whatsoever. “You know, I think I might just go ahead and make a couple women whom I don’t know and whom I have absolutely no reason to dislike feel very uncomfortable and insecure by greeting them with a tight-lipped smile and then silently judging them,” said the 32-year-old accounts manager, adding that she might even tack on the whole bit where she reacts to every perfectly pleasant thing another woman says with chilly near-silence and then, when said woman leaves the room, say something mildly cutting about her in a way that opens the conversation up to outright trash talk if anyone else is so inclined. “While I’m at it, I’ll probably feel threatened by her based on nothing at all and then make little passive-aggressive asides about her—whereas she’ll just be really friendly to me, which will only make me feel small and petty, and my self-loathing will drive me to irrationally despise her all the more.” At press time, reports indicate that Lauretta was not laughing at a humorous remark another woman was making. (The Onion)

More here, and links to the rest.

Tuesday 15 April 2014

Reasons to Be Cheerful 11

No legal existence
“A married woman in England has no legal existence.” (Caroline Norton, divorce campaigner, 1855)

“In the early 80s you needed to be married and have a doctor’s prescription to buy a condom [in Ireland].” (Mick Nugent)

1834 Six farm labourers from Tolpuddle are sentenced to be transported to Australia for forming a trade union
1871 Trade unions legalised

1916 British Summer Time Act

In 1900, Native Americans were not considered citizens.
In the 20s Nome, Alaska was racially segregated.
1924 US Indian Citizenship Act grants full citizenship to Native Americans (and schools in Alaska are desegregated)
1950s Schools are desegregated in the US

1968 Dawn Langley Simmons, born Gordon Langley Hall, weds in the first legal interracial marriage in South Carolina.

1976 A women’s cricket match at Lords’ is televised for the first time

1982 El Vino’s wine bar in Fleet Street lifts its ban on women ordering and drinking at the bar

Early 90s divorce was still illegal in Ireland.
1993 Homosexuality legalised in Ireland

In 2010… the NHS funded... five homeopathic hospitals; today all have either closed or faced a serious threat to their existence… Prescriptions [fell] from a high of 170,000 per annum in 1996 to just over 10,000 last year. (Guardian April 2014)

2014 MPs call for prostitution to be legalised, but demand tough new penalties on pimps.
2014 China may opt for two-child policy in future, says senior official.
2014 It’s suggested that psychological abuse should be made a crime.
2014 Anne Hidalgo is elected as first female mayor of Paris.
2014 Nuts magazine is to close as sales drop from 300,000 to 50,000 in 10 years.

And we no longer think it's OK to keep zoo animals in tiny concrete enclosures.

2010 Ireland passes blasphemy law (punishable by fine of up to E25,000) The 1936 constitution extends the protection of belief to Christians only.
And schools are still segregated by religion in Northern Ireland.
There are still subsidised bars in the Houses of Parliament.

More here, and links to the rest.

Reinventions, Inventions, Disinventions 7

They can put a man on the moon, but they can't build enough women's toilets.

Women's toilets with room for a loo, a paper holder, a bin, and a visitor. Architects, please remember that women have to partially undress, and that some of us are taller and larger than average. It's hard to disrobe when your arms are clamped to your sides. Oh, and give us somewhere to queue in privacy. (Would benches be too much to ask for?) And build two ladies' toilets for every one gents.

mug saucers

rechargeable electric bus

ability to turn off autocorrect, predictive text

map of laptop plugpoints
(is there an app for that?)

luminous roads to save on street lighting (being tested in the Netherlands)

clothes designed for women with “enhanced” figures (and did I mention that some of us are taller than average?)

virtual keyboard on a tablet that’s haptic and actually feels like a keyboard and can be used by a touch typists (We type by touch, you know.)

laptops get touch screens, tablets get stands and keyboards

new etiquette for new technology (Don't check your phone at dinner.)
new etiquette for new situations (Don’t ask transsexuals nosy questions.)

cafes in libraries (happening)

subsidised house insulation to avoid deaths from hypothermia

app that listens to your conversation and dictates a response through an earpiece
chatting app that comes up with random conversational opening/continuation (pretend you’re checking emails)

posters in the tube and on billboards teaching basic sign language (hello, goodbye, bad, good). Ditto Welsh.

cabinet with small labelled drawers for storing your chargers and connectors. (Either in clear plastic or reclaimed wood with brass fittings. Or shabby chic style with stuck-on vintage chintz.)

cabinet with labelled drawers for storing replacement lightbulbs (You now need a different one for every lamp. You could also store notes of where these bulbs are available.)

remote central locking for house
aircon in the tube, lifts at all stations

A CD of decent, non-theological Christmas songs. (So Here It Is Merry Christmas, Carol of the Bells, Abba Happy New Year, Beatles Happy Christmas War is Over, Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Judy Garland), All I want for Christmas is You, Snow is Falling All Around Me, Wham's Last Christmas, Let It Snow, Winter Wonderland, It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Xmas, Santa Claus is Coming to Town (Michael Jackson))

A CD of non-theological, not in-copyright Christmas ambient music – wordless children going aaaaa on chords, glockenspiels, harps, glass harmonicas…

Bikes in the hallway
ruin the feng shui. Bike box in front garden? Executive homes built with bike garage? Internal solution if you don’t want to block light from your front windows? Hang them from pegs round the room, Shaker-style?

Stop daytime TV presenters leering and tittering at any mention of alcohol.

Teach EFL to all school students.

New towns? Lay out streets, build libraries, schools and doctors’ surgeries, shopping centres, lay on services – then sell off plots and let people build houses to their own designs, with safety restrictions but no style restrictions.

classic Flickr

triangular buildings that fit an awkward plot

small bracket shelves for your nicknacks

observation cars and lounges on trains
software without a black background
London squares – build some more on the original pattern (also Italian piazzas)

round windows
that keyboard shortcut that took you to the top of a web page

moderators (for online conferences and comments pages)

watering wine (old French practice)

monasteries and convents to care for the homeless, the poor, the sick, the disabled and the lonely

flannel sheets (Warmer than linen. Pensioners used to like them.)

classic clothes and shoes – manufacturers must have the original patterns

tailored coats and jackets (and briefcases) A crowd of people in baggy anoraks and backpacks looks so untidy.

Report recommends unearthing London’s “lost” rivers to avoid flooding. Let’s find the Hackney Brook. (April 2014)

American homes have a “mud room” – a second entrance where you can leave boots and coats
Don’t build new towns or “developments”, build a few houses or blocks of flats where needed.

In flood areas, pave your ground floor. Or make your ground floor the garage and live upstairs. (But apparently the floodwater comes up through the sewage system... Solution: emergency Elsans.)

Reflood the Fens and the Somerset Levels, turn Ely and Glastonbury back into islands, abandon some coastal towns and roads.

Plant belts of trees on hillsides to stop flooding in valleys (prevented by environment minister who is paying farmers to remove trees from hills). Also stop straightening and dredging rivers so that the water flows faster into towns and floods them. Reinstate silt and meanders. (Being done elsewhere in world. George Monbiot, The Guardian)

Revive the London overground – they have???

countries (re-Balkanise, split, secede, de-federate)
Kurdistan (Kurds in Iran and Syria are getting there)

Do something with bits of green space between blocks of flats, communal gardens. (They’re getting a facelift, but for years they were just there for show and nobody used them.)

Knock down unused drying grounds and coalbins and build flats (happened in Homerton with a scary underground garage).

They’re reviving the idea that you can control your heating from your phone (it senses where you are). It saves you money, apparently. Do you otherwise leave all the radiators on when you’re out? Who does that? And they’re reviving radiators that you can control individually – like we used to have in the 70s.

Microsoft Word: Opened documents to appear on the screen where they were when last saved, not on top of each other without even the edge showing, so that you have to move the top one to see what's underneath. (Also, we'd like to select an open document by clicking on it anywhere.)

ring roads
Anglican vestments
taps that turn off and on in different directions (Who's brilliant idea was that?)

More here, and links to the rest.

Friday 11 April 2014

Verbing 4

We might live more easily with more recent converts like oil, pressure, referee, bottle, debut, audition, highlight, diagnose, critique, email, and mastermind if we recalled such ancient verbs as rain, snow, and thunder. (David Hancox We don't mind "author", "fund" or "summer", either.)

Liz Mitchell Boney M singer is blue-plaqued in Willesden. (@NotableAbodes )

caveat: Train stops in Warrington: man with phone gets on "well, tell the builder to caveat out the risks" he shouts into it (mym/‏@LiberalDespot)

X will be remoting in.
pond: Expert on BBC News talking about “ponding” water.

renaissance: You know, sail is so much sexier as a technology than these gasbags. Let's renaissance that instead. (@WillWiles)

daylight: What you do to a lost river.
catfish: Persuade someone over the internet that you are their girlfriend.
gaslight: persuading someone they are mad by providing “evidence”
sunset/rust: What you do to an old Facebook account you intend to close down, or you can sunset a business.

other: turning “exotic” people into the “other”
vague it up (via Susie Clapham @FLASC)
casualty: Industrial action at the BBC... caused several programmes to be 'casualtied' according to a reporter on the News Channel a short time ago. (efrog@cix, March 2013)
monster: turning someone into a monster

And if we can "showcase" something, why can't we "inbox" it?


"Celebrate your extraordinary" "Go directly to fabulous" "Give Exceptional" "Generate positive" "Think Different" "In search of incredible" (AdamNathanielFurman ‏@Furmadamadam )

My morning mellow being harshed by dog owners who think it's cute when their pets chase ducklings. (Sathnam Sanghera ‏@Sathnam )

the shiny

ADJECTIVINGAll nouns can function as adjectives in English. Railway station. Apple tree. Roof tiles. Curtain rail. Hand pump. Pot plant. Aircraft carrier. Table leg. Telephone directory. Mouse pad. Cloud cover. Radio station. Shirt sleeve. Kitchen floor. Cat litter. Log cabin. And whatever you're having yourself. (garyking@cix – that's www.cixonline.com, the original social medium.)

More here, and links to the rest.


Be yourself, but try to please as much as possible. (designer Edith Head)
Be yourself, but if you want to change the world, why not start with yourself? (popular in the revolutionary 80s)
Be yourself, but don't think about yourself. (popular in the conformist 50s)
Be spontaneous, but say "please" and "thankyou".
Live for the moment, but “Invest in your future so you won’t be lonely in old age.” (BBC Breakfast)
Appearance doesn’t matter, but first impressions count.

Occurs to me as odd that phonics opponents are essentially arguing in favour of rote memorisation. (@Samfr/Sam Freedman)

Conflicted: Tube quote y'day:"If you want s/thing you've never had, do s/thing you've never done." Today: "Patience is a course of action." (Simon Robinson ‏@iron_emu)

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
But the first sign of madness is to keep doing the same thing while expecting a different result.

You can do whatever you want as long as you want to enough, but you should have realistic expectations.

Children must learn to manage risk, understand money and remember to turn off lights, but must not grow up too fast.
Children pick up social skills “by osmosis”, but they mustn't copy each other.
Children mustn't copy others, but they need role models.
Children pick up social skills “by osmosis”, but they must be constantly nagged to say "please" and "thankyou", and "may" rather than "can".

Stop young people finding out about sex, tell them they can't do it until they’re married, and then expect them to have an enjoyable sex life.

Stop children hearing any "bad language", so that they won't come out with it in public and embarrass you. At the same time, tell them: "Don't think about what other people are thinking about you, because they aren't."

Drug children out of “hyperactivity”, then complain they don’t do enough sport.

Northern Europeans spend hours (and £££) acquiring the skin colour of people they despise - for their darker skin colour. While these people are lightening their skin colour. :-(

Conform, while claiming to be an individual.
(Popular among the middle classes. It may be an entry requirement. Once, you're a member, you can moan about materialism while moaning about the decline of manufacturing and the death of the high street. You can also bang on about eating local and reducing food miles, while forcing your children to eat world cuisine. And blame all psychological problems on bottling up emotion, while moaning about mourning inflation and the Dianafication of society.)

Tories claim education can change lives, and ban sending books to prisoners.

"In most aspects of French life, there is a huge gap between the idea and the reality." (They have an Académie that patrols the language and forbids neologisms, but meanwhile all young people speak an incomprehensible argot that changes every few weeks. Lucy Wadham, The Secret Life of France)

Creationists say evolution isn’t a science because it isn’t falsifiable, and then produce evidence against it. (They also say that atheism is a faith, but Christianity is true because they believe in it.)

Men and women are equal now,
but Victoria Coren says she has become much more feminine – because it works.
The more freedom, money, rights women acquire the more they impose on each other a ridiculous and painful standard of “beauty”: thinness, high heels, tan.

How many therapists does it take to change a lightbulb? One, but the lightbulb has to really want to change. (Just be yourself!)
80s contradictions here.

Wednesday 2 April 2014

Unhelpful Advice 2

Just add sugar

“Be spontaneous, live in the moment, be yourself, be positive and confident.” It assumes a world where there are no life-changing events, no influential people, no social hierarchies, no social institutions, no politics, no wars, no recessions, not even rich and poor.

When life sends lemons, make lemonade!
(Unless life also sends you sugar and water, your lemonade is gonna suck.)
Stop validating yourself according to other’s reactions to you. (Experiments show that people judge us according to other’s reactions.)

Know this and be okay with it: Not everyone is going to like you.

No-one can make you feel inferior without your consent. (Eleanor Roosevelt But if they’ve told everybody else that you’re inferior you'd better move to a town where nobody knows you.)

Dream big and you’ll get to the Olympics. (BBC Breakfast You probably have to run fast as well.)
Lower your sights. (But you told me to dream big!)

Make doing the right thing a habit and it won't be difficult. (As pundits have been saying since 500BC with patchy results.)
Character is simply habit long continued. (Plutarch)

My strength lies solely in my tenacity.
(Louis Pasteur He had a few science degrees as well.)

Don't Compare! You'll Never be Happy with Your Life.
(lifehack.org How do you know they're doing better than me? And why don't you want me to know?)

Happiness comes from knowing we are The One. We are the Big Love of our Lives.

All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well. (Dame Julian of Norwich)

All of us are the wretched puppets of our unconscious selves. (Emil Coué)

If you don’t think about it, it will go away. (Applied to any problem in the 50s. Probably means "Don't expect anybody to help you.")

If you really love someone you’ll let them go. (Somehow this lets them off the hook. They aren't abandoning you, you are "letting them go".)

I am responsible for everything that happens to me.
(Including all the bad things that really are somebody else's fault. But perhaps it just means: "I’m not as powerless as I think I am.")

A teacher told us not to have romantic fantasies because no human being could ever live up to them and we’d only be disappointed. (But maybe she meant “don’t live entirely in a fantasy world”.)

It’s the things you don’t do that you regret! (Shouldn't you regret being an alcoholic, a bully or a thief? And can't you think of some undone deeds you are sooooo glad you never did?)

I honestly think it is better to be a failure at something you love than to be a success at something you hate. (George Burns)

Don’t feed the troll. (It’s just the old “ignore bullies”. And responding, naming and shaming seems to be working much better.)

Men are disturbed not by events but by their opinion about events. (Epictetus, and Pollyanna)
It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. (What if you’re caught up in a war or a famine, get radiation poisoning, are trafficked for prostitution or beaten by your husband, get laid off in a recession, or experience racial abuse?)

Stop chasing happiness. Where you are right now is precisely what is right for your life.
Happiness comes only to those who don't actively chase it.
(bigthink.com Am I being inactive enough?)
You’ll meet someone when you aren't looking. (So my strategy for looking for someone is to not look for them? But that would mean I was looking for them.)
Go out and enjoy life, have fun. Love will come when you're ready, not because you “need” someone. Stop thinking about it! (@emmaziff How long should I wait, Emma?)
Happiness isn't something you experience, it's something you remember. (Oscar Levant)
You date to get to know yourself. (But I didn't want self-knowledge.)

Unhappy people get to enjoy being lonely and unhappy – they’re lonely and unhappy because they can’t let go of it. (The 2013 version of “you’re in a rut of self-pity”, as agony aunts used to say.)

You’ll be much stronger on your own. (But you’ll be lonely, because all your friends will pair off. And nobody ever said that to Orpheus, or Romeo, or…)

Practice makes perfect. (But only if you have the talent – or some instructions to follow.)

Somewhere between science and superstition lies the truth. (This is logical fallacy No. 94.)

Take a different route to work.
(There’s an app for it now! Called something like getmelost.)

Start a conversation with “I’m thinking of buying a radio.” (Dorothy Parker made fun of this one. It's still doing the rounds.)

You shouldn’t expect anybody else to “complete you”. You should take responsibility for your own happiness. (Popular in the 80s – though people paired off just the same. )

Violence never solved anything. If you want to take revenge, first dig two graves. Resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Don’t take revenge – you’ll only hurt yourself. (Why are you telling me all this, "Old Arabic proverb"?)

You learn from your mistakes! (What if you circulate a private email at work and get the sack? You learn not to do that, but now you’re unemployed. What if you spend the rest of your life as a shelf-filler?)

They say the worst isn't so bad when it finally happens. (They say. It may be worse.)

Never turn down something through fear – fear is only ever in the mind. (Terence Stamp Many performers have taken on a role they’re unsuited for, and bombed.)

They only tease you because they like you! They’re laughing with you!
(See An Intergroup Investigation of Disparaging Humor, Jessica R. Abrams jabrams@csulb.edu)

Personality is more important than looks. (Many psychological studies have shows that attractive people are rated as kinder and cleverer. And they get better jobs.)

The proposition that good-looking people benefit socially from their physical attractiveness has been investigated for some 20 years, beginning with the classic article by Dion, Berscheid, and Walster (1972). Aronson (1972) elucidated what has come to be known as the physical attractiveness stereotype: "We like beautiful and handsome people better than homely people, and we attribute all kinds of good characteristics to them". In the years since, there have been numerous studies that one way or another test this what-is-beautiful-is-good phenomenon. Cash (1981), for example, lists about 500 articles in a bibliography – and the vast majority of them have supported its [conclusions]. (free-college-essays.blogspot.co.uk)

Set yourself life-goals. (It's our old friend “take up a hobby”.)

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
(But that presumes you’ll get to your destination eventually. What if your journey leads nowhere? What if you’re walking in the wrong direction? What if the journey will take too long?)

The journey not the arrival matters. If you got what you wanted, you’d only want something else. You may not get what you want, but you’ll get what you need.
(All popular in the 70s/80s where there were no solutions to most problems and the 50s "like it or lump it" approach was only just beginning to be eroded slightly.)

If you had a partner you’d only have other problems. If you can’t get what you want, change your want.
(Perhaps that's why they're called "agony" aunts.)

Twitter Haiku 7

The quick rustle
of a common lizard
on the bank of broken bracken.
Chris Packham

Thick clots of wood ants
massing on their drying nests
littered with the cigarette poo
of green woodpeckers.
Chris Packham

Under a willow in east London,
in the glow of flickering bike lights,
listening to tales of green belts and modern living.
Daisy Froud

Have just done manly things with the car,
involving oil, and screenwash,
and a conversation with another man about a tyre.

sadden me.
Andrew Lightheart

Solar System
Milky Way Galaxy
Local Group
Virgo Supercluster
Observable Universe
This is our address...
for now.

Another installment
of existentialist political nature poetry,
today inspired by the spectacular sunrise
from which I take inspiration:

The sun as it rises
Is a spectacular red ball of flame
Like a Florida orange
Organic, non-GMO
Sweet yet tart
Bite into it
After it's peeled
And you can taste it
But don't look too closely
Or you could get
Blinded by the light
As did I.
Seth Rogovoy
(copyright 2014; Thou Shalt Not Steal productions)

Umbrella flap
like pterosaur wing.
Sumit Paul-Choudhury

Because your web page
kept auto-refreshing
I closed the tab without
reading it. Goodbye.
Steven Poole

Bubble-gum, tom cats,
Steak and kidney pudding.
The scents of spring.

Looked up from my window
and there was a heron
flying over the centre of town,
low and very slowly,
against the wind.
Andrew Brown

Sometimes I awake in a Jury's Inn
and have no idea what city I'm in...
Tom Rogers ‏@tomrogersdesign

More here, and links to the rest.

Tuesday 1 April 2014

Misunderstandings III

In the past we were only supposed to live to 30. (Ruby Wax on the One Show Mar 5 2014)

Mariella Frostrup in the Observer (2013-07-28) thinks we now live three times as long as our ancestors, so we shouldn't expect marriages to last.

The world probably doesn't categorically suck any more right now than it did in medieval times when you only lived for three decades… (jezebel.com 2013-04-22)

For the average Roman, life expectancy was only 29. (Simon Montefiore, BBC1 11 Dec 12)

According to Wikipedia, in medieval Britain life expectancy at birth was 30. At 21, life expectancy was 64.

News just said eating 'seven-a-day' would significantly decrease risk of death. Fraid not, guys. It's still 100%. (Stuart Maconie)

Society is moving in the direction of fairer treatment of minorities including women and gay people, says Professor Linda Woodhead (Times 5 July 2013 Women form 51% of the population.)

We hate math, say 4 in 10 – a majority of Americans.

Actual newspaper headline: Statistics Show That Teen Pregnancy Drops Off Significantly After Age 25 - Denver Post (Johnston ‏@GrandCanyonPics)

Erm... "nearly half of schools doing worse than average" - that's kinda how averages work folks... (@stuartcantrill quoting BBC)

In the end, [Rupert Brooke’s] dust did not blend patriotically with the earth of his homeland. (Lara Feigel, The Love Charm of Bombs. Rupert Brooke in a well-known poem spoke of his dust mingling with “some corner of a foreign field”.)

In the olden days, people wrote with whole feathers. (See many historical dramas: you strip the feathery bits off a quill pen.)

English judges wear long wigs with lappets and bang gavels. (They wear small wigs in court and tap a pencil for silence.)

It's possible that from a very young age you were taught that marriage is a right of passage and you don't become an adult or a woman until you get married. (drphil.com Do people really think a rite of passage is a “right of passage”, and is some kind of human or legal right?)

I notice bottled glass windows (a telltale sign of a former pub) on some far flung London private house. (New York Times It's bottle glass – the panes were originally made from the bottoms of bottles. Common in the 1820s for shop windows, and revived in the 1920s.)

Fashion writers will use "crochet knit" for practically anything – including embroidery on net. (Neither crochet nor knitted. Knitting with holes is still knitting.)

The spring is sprung, the grass is frizz. (It's "the grass is riz", meaning "risen".)

a loose cannon primed to go off without warning (Loose cannons are dangerous because they are very heavy, have wheels and are made of metal. They are usually lashed into place. A loose cannon runs wildly around the gundeck as the ship pitches and rolls. Cannons only go off when fired by a man with a burning fuse or botefeux.)

Diana Cooper was “still expected to bat her saucer eyes”. (Kathryn Hughes, Guardian May 31 2013 You bat your eyelashes, fanning them up and down rapidly. You may, for a change, flutter your eyelashes, or bat your eyelids. I don’t know why this is supposed to be seductive. Or what it has to do with bats.)

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral – known locally as “Paddy’s Wigwam” because of its Catholic congregation of primarily Irish descent and its resemblance to a Native American tepee. (Fortean Times, May 2013 It’s dedicated to St Patrick.)

best left back in the Dark Ages … along with smallpox and witch-burning. (Laurie Penny Guardian 2013 The "Dark Ages" stretched from the fall of the Roman Empire to William the Conqueror. Witches were burned in Scotland during the persecutions of 1480 to 1750 – in England witches were hanged. Smallpox spread through Europe in the 11th and 12th centuries.)

His mother twanged strings to get him a job. (London Review of Books, paraphrase. The cliché is "pull strings", like a “pull a string and win a prize” stall.)

To illustrate “red tape”, use a photo of a man in a suit stuck to a wall with scarlet gaffer tape. (The “red tape” used by lawyers to tie up bundles of documents is narrow, woven out of cotton – and PINK.)

Fruit knives were silver because it was more hygienic than steel. (Dickinson’s Real Deal The fruit acids would blacken pre-stainless steel. They didn’t know about germs back then.)

Radical and often ill-advised changes in lifestyle have become the calling cards of the midlife crisis. (Guardian Nov 12 He means "marker" or "symptom" or "diagnostic sign".  And why mention calling cards when no one has used them for 50 years?)

And that tale about Prince Albert and the watch-chain? First heard of in a 70s pamphlet by someone who wanted to popularise the operation.

More here.