Friday 30 May 2014

Quietist Proverbs, Part 4

We mustn’t ever get upset, or complain.

Anger is a stone cast at a wasp’s nest.
Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves. (Possibly makes more sense in a world of Montagues v. Capulets.)

Every minute I spend angry or resentful is 60 seconds of my life I just wasted.
Flaming burns the flamer not the flamed.

If you don’t like it, don’t buy it.
If you lose your temper, you’ve lost the argument.

If you love somebody, you will let them go. (Look, he’s not leaving me – the rat! – I’m letting him go! Isn’t that lovely?)

If you sit by the river long enough, the body of your enemy will float by.
If you’re angry, you’re wrong.

Judge not, lest you yourself be judged.
Living well is the best revenge.

Neglect will kill an injury sooner than revenge.
No reply is best.

Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.
Revenge never repeairs an injury.
Revenge only hurts the avenger.

Take no offence where none was intended.
The noble-minded are calm and steady. Little people are forever fussing and fretting. (Confucius)
The noblest vengeance is to forgive.

The remedy for injuries is not to remember them.
There’s always an off button.
Turn the other cheek.

Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord.
Violence never solved anything.

And they want us to shut up.

A wise old owl lived in an oak.
The more he heard,
the less he spoke.
The less he spoke.
The more he heard.
Let’s imitate that wise old bird.

If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing.
One of the lessons of history is that nothing is often a good thing to do and always a clever thing to say. (US historian Will Durant)

Silence is a woman’s best garment.
Speech is silver, silence is golden. (Jewish proverb)
The quieter you become, the more you can hear.

More here, and links to the rest.

Thursday 29 May 2014

Inspirational Quotes, 57

Just be yourself, looks don't matter, you're stronger on your own blah blah blah.

Often, Saga functions dramatically as a moral critic of society's loony hypocrisy. (Stuart Jeffries, Guardian blog on The Bridge 2014)

Happy teenagers earn more as adults. (Observer 2014)

Fairness is an imperfectly attainable goal for which any decent society should aim.
(Ian Gordon)

Give yourself permission to immediately walk away from anything that gives you bad vibes. There is no need to explain or make sense of it. Just trust what you feel. (

He got easily the things that I had to work hard for; amusements and friends and money. (The Odd Flamingo, Nina Bawden)

In general, dominant elements in a society dismiss the beliefs of less powerful elements as superstitious. (The Penguin Guide to the Superstitions of Britain and Ireland, Steve Roud)

[They had never] known a moment’s shame of friendlessness, never had they had to look for a partner in dancing or in gym, never had they walked alone from classroom to classroom. (Jerusalem the Golden, Margaret Drabble)

I started to observe others... and acquired the trick of being part of the rest of the human race. I made tentative overtures to other girls at school, the quiet outcasts, and became part of a studious group which went to the cinema at weekends. (The Clothes on Their Backs, Linda Grant)

I was like a much-loved dog that counts on affection from everyone.
Frequently I reminded myself not to "act young" when people were present.
The status symbol principle had operated in the provinces quite as much as in London and conventional men seldom chose odd little wives.
(The Town in Bloom, Dodie Smith)

Infatuation dies a lingering, painful death. Even after all hope is gone the afterglow sometimes stubbornly clings on and on. (Murder, Obliquely, Cornell Woolrich)

Sherlock: We're in a good place. It's very affirming.
Watson: You got that from a book.
Sherlock: Everyone got that from a book.

I still haven’t forgiven the feminist movement of the 1970s for largely rejecting science as patriarchal, a fundamental mistake that’s taken decades to correct. (Wendy Grossman, The Skeptic April 2013)

People who are just shitty to you "for free", just for the sake of being mean, they are the worst. (Agata Pyzik)

I am fairly certain that [people read me] as a Fancy White Lady. Now that I have a wedding ring, I may have reached the very peak of privilege in my lifetime. ( See the French girl who found she got more respect from shop staff and tradesmen if she called herself “madame”. And the woman who got more online writing work when she called herself Richard.)

Single? Do you make THESE mistakes in trying to get married? Click here now!
(FB ad, 2014)

More here, and links to the rest.

Monday 26 May 2014

Outrageous Excuses, Part 5

Dolphin hunting is "traditional fishing culture", says Japan as annual slaughter of hundreds of dolphins begins. (@TheWeekUK)

[I was not strangling my wife], I was holding her by the neck to make her focus.” (Charles Saatchi)

I was having a schizophrenic episode. (“Signer” at Mandela’s memorial)

Rogue taxi driver tells police "I've had a hair transplant". (Manchester Evening News 2013 He was caught using his – older, balder – brother’s cab licence.)

I am not a [….] but… (People seem to hate being called “bigots” the most.)

May I say this is a human undertaking? (Indian scientist apologising for a mistake about glaciers in a global warming report 2013)

Argos has thousands of products - they're bound to make mistakes sometimes. (Spokesman justifying the sale of a zombie Halloween costume with bloodstained shirt and axe labelled “mental patient”. September 26, 13)

Stephanie Banister (hoping to represent Australia’s One Nation party in the elections) today said her words were "twisted" and taken out of context, making her out to be "a stand-up criminal and a stupid moron." (In a TV interview, she said she “didn’t oppose Islam country” and Muslims eat “haram” food. 2013-08-08)

The "Nightstalker" said his wife left his DNA at the crime scenes.

“But the wise ones said: A woman shall not read from the Torah in order to respect the public.” (Tractate Megillah I think that means "because some people wouldn’t like it".)

All My Great Excuses
I started on my homework
but my pen ran out of ink.
My hamster ate my homework.
My computer's on the blink.

I accidentally dropped it
in the soup my mom was cooking.
My brother flushed it down the toilet
when I wasn't looking.

My mother ran my homework
through the washer and the dryer.
An airplane crashed into our house.
My homework caught on fire.

Tornadoes blew my notes away.
Volcanoes struck our town.
My notes were taken hostage
by an evil killer clown.

Some aliens abducted me.
I had a shark attack.
A pirate swiped my homework
and refused to give it back.

I worked on these excuses
so darned long my teacher said,
"I think you'll find it's easier
to do the work instead."
Kenn Nesbitt

More here, and links to the rest.

Friday 23 May 2014

Quietist Proverbs, Part 3

We shouldn’t try to avoid or end suffering, or expect help from anybody. And when we’re not at home cultivating contentment, we should rush out into the world and do difficult, dangerous and painful things.

God gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers.

Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

No pain no gain.

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. (T.S. Eliot, allegedly)

There is no education like adversity. (Benjamin Disraeli)

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us - they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us. (St Paul’s Epistle to the Romans 5:3-4)

We have nothing to fear but fear itself. (F.D. Roosevelt)

But we mustn’t expect to succeed. In fact, failure is somehow better than success. But if they’re sure we’re going to fail, why do they encourage us to work hard, embark on a journey of a thousand miles and dream the impossible dream? They are almost ordering us to fail.
A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing. (G.B. Shaw)

Expectation is better than realization.

Fail again, fail better. (Samuel Beckett)

Failure is just a way for our lives to show us we’re moving in the wrong direction, that we should try something different. (Oprah Winfrey)

Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement. (C.S. Lewis)

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)

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm. (Winston Churchill)

We learn more from our failures than our successes.

Even though they want us to fail, they’re always exhorting us to do the impossible. Make up your minds!
Nothing is impossible to a willing heart.
There’s no such word as can’t.
The difficult we do immediately, the impossible takes a little longer.

There are many more unhelpful platitudes here.
And more depressing proverbs here, with links to the rest.

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Quietist Proverbs, Part Two

We mustn’t try to improve our circumstances – they don’t need it (so why are there so many home makeover shows?).

Accept, adapt, move on.
All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone. (Blaise Pascal)

Be glad! (Pollyanna)
Don’t wish your life away.
Enjoy what you have, every little detail of wherever you are. Don’t focus on where you aren’t. (Dennis Publishing)
Enough is as good as a feast.

Good things come to those who wait.
Health is wealth.

If you can’t get what you want, change your want. (Virginia Ironside)
If you got what you wanted, you’d only want something else.
If you want to change the world, why not start with yourself? (Popular in the revolutionary 80s.)
Il faut cultiver votre jardin. (Voltaire)
It’s all in the mind.

Let everyone be content with what God has given him. (Portuguese proverb)
Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.
Man is disturbed not by things but by the views he takes of them. (Epictetus, circa 500 BC)
Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but unwilling to improve themselves. (James Allen)
Money isn’t everything.
Much coin, much care.
Nothing’s either good or bad but thinking makes it so.
One of the happiest moments ever is when you find the courage to let go of things you can’t change.

Take things as they come.
The best things in life are free.
The mind is its own place and of itself/ Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven. (Milton, Paradise Lost)

There's no place like home.
There's nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so. (Shakespeare, Hamlet)

Tolerance is not about not offending others, it is about not allowing yourself to be offended. (Friend MG writes)

Two men look out through the same bars, One sees the mud, and one the stars." (Frederick Langridge, A Cluster of Quiet Thoughts)

We don't need more to be thankful for, we just need to be more thankful.
We make our own reality.
You can change climates, but not conditions.
You can only change the world a little bit at a time.
You can’t change others, you can only change yourself.
You don’t miss what you’ve never had.
You may not get what you want, but instead you get what you need. (Popular in the revolutionary 70s and 80s.)

No, don’t let go of things you can't change! Start a revolution, form a party, become an MP, lobby your MP, join a protest group, yarn bomb an arms fair – or just stick your head out of the window and shout “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more!”

More here, I'm afraid.

Friday 16 May 2014

Inspirational Mantras 4

By Michael Erhardsson
These three things are hardest to bear:
To try to sleep, and sleep not;
To wait for one coming, who cometh not;
To try to please, but please not.
(“Old Arabian Proverb”)

I don’t have to stand here and listen to this. (Pigpen from Peanuts)
There is no problem so big or so terrifying that it can’t be run away from. (Pigpen)

Beauty opens locked doors.
Beauty is eloquent even when silent.
A pretty face is half a fortune.
Make the most of what you've got.

Too much hope deceives.
Hope deferred maketh the heart sick.
Hope is a good breakfast but a bad supper.
Know when to give up.

Everybody lays a load on the willing horse.
Even a worm will turn.
Patience under old injuries invites new ones.

Treat a charwoman like a duchess and a duchess like a charwoman.
Wear a cloth coat as if it was mink and and a mink coat as if it was cloth.

"I have forgotten thy name" is better than "I know thee not." (West African proverb).

A job begun is a job half-done.
A man is known by his friends.
A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country.
A rich man’s joke is always funny.

Clothes make the man.
Defence is the name, attack is the game.
Do wrong once and you’ll never hear the end of it.
Don’t swim against the stream, go with the flow.
Don’t try to run before you can walk.
Doubt everything, at least once. (Lichtenberg)

Expect the unexpected.
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may. (Robert Herrick)
Get up early to trick a trickster.

He that is warm thinks all so.
He who makes himself a dove is eaten by hawks. (Italian).

If in doubt, mumble. (Bek Hobbes ‏@Greebobek)
If it looks too good to be true, it is.
Invite widows to dinner.

Know when to lead and when to follow.
Learn by doing.
Learn from others’ mistakes.
Love and a camel cannot be hid.

Mud sticks.
Never stay at an event just because you paid for it. (Mark Hogan ‏@markasaurus)
Nothing succeeds like success.
One must howl with the wolves. (When in Rome…)

Past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour.
Pay it forward.

Seeing is believing. (Or “Believe nothing of what you hear, and only half of what you see.”)
Smile, stand tall, maintain eye contact. (But if you can only manage a nervous leer, frowning might work better for you.)

The fool says, "My friend is meant, not I." (Arabian proverb)
The golden age was never the present age.
The invisible people must be seen, and the silent people must be heard. (Sally Magnusson, January 28 2014)

The more talk, the less do.
The song should be for her whose wedding it is. (Indian proverb). (Meaning don’t try and steal the limelight, or shove the star out of the spotlight. It’s not all about you.)

The times change and we change with them./The more things change, the more they stay the same.
The weak must be wily.
Things are not always what they seem.

Though the wound be healed, a scar remains.
Trust in God, but tie your camel first.
Try a hairstyle you’ve never tried before. (@chictopia)

Wishes can never fill a sack.
You can walk out of anything. (And you can walk into any hotel and use their loo.)
You can’t believe everything you hear.

More here, and links to the rest.

Quietist Proverbs, Part One

Sometimes proverbs are ludicrously over-optimistic (“You can have anything you want as long as you want it enough!”). And some look encouraging but are utterly meaningless (“You are as precious as the love you feel for others”). They coexist with proverbs that resemble the subliminal messages spread by colonialist aliens in the film They Live:

Who wants us to sit down and stop the rocking the boat? And why? Whoever they are, they want us to be humble and uncomplaining. We have to realise it’s all our fault. They don’t want to protect us, and they don’t want to make society fairer. They like exhorting us to do difficult, dangerous and pointless things. And if the bungee cord breaks they’d like us to know that it’s all part of the cosmic pattern, and besides, think of the good it’s doing to our characters. There’s always some reason why we shouldn’t fight back.

They like being counterintuitive.
An obedient wife commands her husband.
It’s better to give than to receive.
Pools winners are never happy.
Real freedom is about living with limitations. (Template: real x is [the opposite of X].)
The more you get, the more you want.
The journey, not the arrival, matters.

And they really don't want us to be happy.
A lifetime of happiness! No man alive could bear it: it would be hell on earth. (George Bernard Shaw)

Be happy with what you’ve got.

Content is all.
Content is happiness.
Content is more than a kingdom.

Happiness is a journey not a destination.

Happiness is as a butterfly, which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you. (Nathaniel Hawthorne)

Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of travelling.
Happiness isn't getting all you want. It's enjoying all you have.
Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort. (F.D. Roosevelt)

It is comparison that makes men happy or miserable.
It’s the simple things that make you happy.

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honourable, to be compassionate. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

The purpose of life is the expansion of happiness now. (Deepak Chopra)

The pursuit of happiness is a most ridiculous phrase; if you pursue happiness you’ll never find it. (C.P. Snow)

The secret to happiness is as simple as learning to love what you already have. (Rev Andy Pakula)
There is more delight in hope than in enjoyment. (Japanese proverb)
To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness. (Bertrand Russell)

We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about. (Charles Kingsley)

We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have. (Frederick Koenig)

You only experience happiness in retrospect. (Popular in the revolutionary 80s, when we trying to build a better world. Why bother, if we're never going to be happy in it?)

Fortunately some proverbs distil human wisdom and give good advice.

Implausible Sports Ride Again

When you're bored with nude midnight rainstorm motorway grass verge running, and cloned mammoth slalom begins to pall, try one of the following (genuine) sports:

night golf with luminous balls

sidewalk skiing (popular in Saudi Arabia, it involves driving your car on two wheels)
paddle-board – stand-on board, propelled with paddle (has own “paddling community”)

disc golf, Frisbee golf, cro golf (“Players throw a flying disc at a target.” Wikipedia)

fist ball (like volleyball)
snow scooting (BMX bike crossed with snowboard)
surf rowing (training for surf rescues)

Triathlon holidays
hound trailing
(the hounds follow an aniseed trail)

scurry driving (“A pair of ponies pull a carriage around a course of cones in an attempt to get the fastest time.” Wikipedia)

water biking (paddle boat with a bike on top)
water motorbiking (like a small powerboat with motorbike handlebars)

skeleton (“Skeleton is a fast winter sliding sport in which a person rides a small sled down a frozen track while lying face down” Wikipedia)

hand board surfing
(a snowboard that can be split in half to form skis)
underwater rugby (started in Germany in the 60s, says the BBC's Mike Bushell)

(“This simplest of all powered aircraft consists of a small motor driving a propeller, worn like a backpack under a paraglider wing and providing thrust to take off, climb and maintain level flight.”)

Heli-skiing, mountain boarding (this is without snow), and para-skiing. New sports include tree-diving (yet more opportunities for arboreal vengeance), zorbing - in which you are loaded into a 10ft- high clear plastic ball and then rolled down a steep hill - and bladerunning, involving jumping out of helicopter on top of a mountain, and then skiing down at incredible speed. (David Aaronovitch)

More here, and links to the rest.

Monday 12 May 2014

The East London Group

The work of the East London Group of painters, who lived and painted in the East End of London in the 20s and 30s, is now on show at the Nunnery Gallery at Bow Arts, Bow Road. They started as a class taught by artists John Cooper and Walter Sickert.

The group painted the industrial landscape around them, the interiors they lived in, the English coastal towns where they holidayed. Like Victorian painters of boats and windmills, they saw the beauty in buildings and structures that were purely functional – what we now call "eyesores" or "blots on the landscape". They'd have loved mobile phone masts and satellite dishes. They are, thankfully, completely unsentimental. There is a total lack of "spin".

In Henry Silk's The Bedroom a bamboo table stands in an empty fireplace. In another picture a woman cooks - on a table stuck up against an iron bedstead and an Edwardian washstand. Nobody could afford to decorate their houses, so decor and furniture are 30 years out of date. Archibald Hattemore's Interior shows a mantelpiece like the one Alice climbed onto to get Through the Looking-glass. It has the same big mirror and Victorian black slate clock. Directly, we can only see the fireplace, with its  green velvet drapery and matching vases. In the looking-glass room the face of a reproduction Gainsborough little girl is surreally obscured by a hanging ceiling light.

Many of the pictures are tiny. Canvey Island by Walter Steggles is exquisite, made up of blocks of colour defined by the grid of a beach hut and the geometric lines of a bridge. Walter and his brother Harry also liked squares empty of all but a few people. There is a feeling of early morning.

Walter's The Bridge is a bare, misty scene, criss-crossed by tramlines and a strange delicate metal structure in the centre. In his pictures the distance quickly becomes dimmer and lighter, like the far blue mountains of a Renaissance fresco.

Albert Turpin's style was rougher, less contemplative. The dark ground of his canvas shows through the vivid paint, and is used to "draw" linear features like lamp standards, cables, scaffolding and fences. See his Canal Scene, Victoria Park, or St James the Less, Bethnal Green. A dry brush dragged across becomes light on railings or leaves. Black accents define branches and windows.

Like the best English painters, they loved their patch, and showed it as it was: gritty, smoggy, poor, working, aged, mysterious. The show is on until July 13. There's also a book by David Buckman:

Sunday 11 May 2014

Grammar: Yet More Misplaced Pedantry

Et tu...?

The funniest example of misplaced pedantry I’ve seen for a long time appears in a comment thread about what Google’s spiders are up to. Photo Matt used the phrase, “Et tu, Googlebot.” François Briatte, thinking himself clever, responds, “Correct French words would be ‘et toi, GoogleBot?’” I thought “Et tu, Brute” was one of two Latin phrases (veni, vidi, vici the other) everyone could recognise.
(Davos Newbies Home, 2004)

Someone in the Shetlands ticked me off for saying Shetlands. Seems it must be Shetland or Shetland Islands. (Hugh Pearman)

My old English master ... taught us that "television" was an abstract noun and that one could have "television" and one could have "a television receiver" but one could not have "a television". (efrog@cix)

Just been forced to report somebody's Facebook status as spam because it was written entirely in text speak. No need for that, not nowadays. (‏@welsh_gas_doc 2013)

It’s “eat your cake and have it”.

In Ireland, children are taught that ‘haitch’ is the correct pronunciation.

Strange how Shakespeare produced such great plays without consistency in spelling. Maybe content matters more. (@Good_Beard )

Sing choirs of angels, sing in exaltation, sing all ye citizens of heaven above: It seems to have always been citizens, but some pedants tried to change it to denizens on the grounds that Heaven is not a city, therefore citizens is incorrect and it should be denizens. (walsham@cix. But isn't it "exultation"?)

Some people used to insist on pronouncing Milan and Seville with the accent on the first syllable, margarine with a hard G, and cinema as ky-nee-mar, and referring to a "facsimile machine". They lost.

They probably also said "parl-i-ament, med-i-cine and choc-o-late" rather than parlament, meds'n and chocklit.

There’s a whole genre of worrying about the grammar of buying and selling: Can I get a latte, Did you want fries with that, Can I serve who’s next etc. (Just as long as I get my coffee.)

massive: properly means only something with great mass, ie something very heavy

comprised of: should be either comprising or composed of

prestigious: means “connected with sleight of hand”.

trait is a French word pronounced “tray”.

per capita should be per caput

Never use what for which.

It's “hoi POLLoi” not  “the hoi polLOI” because hoi is Greek for the.

It's “the chapel is adjacent the school” because “ad” is Latin for “to”.

Angela Brazil is pronounced “Brazzle”.

It's bored with, not bored of.

ate: pronounced “ett” not “eight”.

The circumflex accent in French indicates a very subtle pronunciation difference. In German, the "ch" is pronounced differently in "ich" and "ach".

It's most important not most importantly; first, second not firstly, secondly and so on.

It’s the reason that, not the reason why – that’s a tautology.

Remember to never split an infinitive, but why don't Americans object to "to better understand"?

It’s not a rota, it’s a roster.

It's the past week or decade, not the last.

It's the Union Flag, not the Union Jack. (Apparently this quibble is quite recent.)

Halley's comet – does it rhyme with surely, bailey or rally?

Anticipate means “jump the gun”, not “look forward to”. (OED accepts “look forward to” but notes that many people think it’s incorrect.)

substitute: Someone has substituted my photo for one of Barack Obama, ie someone has swapped my photo…/Someone has substituted a photo of Barack Obama for one of mine. In both cases, we see Barack, not the writer. People get very steamed up about this one and insist that the second way is wrong... I think.

The Tube only refers to underground trains that run in tube-like tunnels and are dug very deep.

It’s “an historic”, "an historian" and “an heroic”.

The word “whatsoever” is obsolete. (Do you mean

For old times’ sake
not “for old time’s sake”. (The pedants could be right about this one.)

It should be cabinet shuffle, not reshuffle.

less and fewer – what if you want to write “a few fewer”?

vibrancy, incompetency: a ghastly modern habit, probably American (the Book of Common Prayer talks about continency).

The man in the job before you isn’t your predecessor unless he’s died - he should be your precursor or forerunner. (And you should never use "he's" for "he has", save it for "he is".)

My daughter is not called Mary, she is named Mary.

It’s “I have” not “I have got”.

“Those who fight custom against Grammar are fools,” said Lord Melbourne (reports Queen Victoria)

More here, and links to the rest.
And a pedant writes to the Times here.

Thursday 8 May 2014

Junk Statistics? Part 4

Dinner for one
These seem quite trustworthy:

Britons are paying a heavy price for their independence, according to a new study (Rosemary Bennett writes). The number of Britons living alone has doubled in 40 years to 87 million, as people marry later or not at all, get divorced and live longer. A young person aged between 20 and 30 today is likely to spend 15 years living alone. Those who live alone pay on average £2,000 a year more on household bills than couples. Their financial security is also precarious. A quarter of solo dwellers would run out of savings within a fortnight if they lost their job. Mortgage payments or rent account for £1,392 a year more than for a couple, but while couples will have £6,000 in savings, a single person will have just £2,000 according to a study by LV, an insurance company. (The Times, May 8 2014)

The dramatic drop in religious affiliation in the U.S. since 1990 is closely mirrored by the increase in Internet use (MIT Technology Review)

100,000 wolves are thought to have been killed in British India between 1871 and 1916

In 99.6% of occupations, men are earning more than women.

Australia apologised for an adoption rate of 60% among single mothers in late 1960s. In Ireland, the figure for 1967 was 97%. (

Opposition to the death penalty has doubled in the US. 1996; 18% opposed 2013; 37% opposed 2010.

Of the attempted suicides by women leading to A&E admission, 80 a day are attributable to domestic violence & almost 30 a day have DV as the primary cause.

1 in 6 women are abused verbally/physically/emotionally every day in Saudi Arabia. (@saudi_gazette)

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)

75% of Irish peat is burned in Irish power stations. Most of the rest is used by commercial growers, hardly any by gardeners.

47% of NE England's front gardens are paved.

Universal Credit: 0.2% of original target has been met.

Pregnancy, birth and abortion rates for US teens have all hit a record low.
(say figures from 2010-12)

10,000 people live on the canals and rivers of the UK.

0.2% of EU migrants claim benefits.

Attendance at Church of England services is falling.

More people are in slavery today than at any time in human history.  (The Week)

Less reliable
In a survey, 100% of respondents thought other people should pay more tax.

For every dollar men earn, women earn 77 cents.

One in four children are not the offspring of their supposed fathers. (…though nonpaternity rates of 10 percent and higher have routinely been cited in studies and textbooks, these numbers turn out to have little solid data behind them. Among the estimated rates they found: More than 30% — obtained from a researcher's remarks at a 1972 symposium on medical ethics, referring to a study (apparently conducted decades earlier in a single English town) that was never completed, much less published. 20 to 30% — from another aging and unpublished UK study; and 7 to 14% — from a 1990 study that relied (as later researchers would point out) not on any biology-based testing but on self-reporting by readers of a British women's magazine on the frequency and timing of their off-the-books intercourse. Update: 8% of British fathers say that they have been unsure of their child’s paternity. Or 10%? (2014-02-23)

In the late 18th century between 30% and 40% of brides were pregnant on their big day, says History Today, apparently.

Study shows that the world is made up of 1.1 Billion Non-Religious people!!! (KDS ‏@Yankeefan1972)

The Netherlands exports more soy sauce than Japan. (via Bek Hobbes)

As many as half of all pregnancies may end in miscarriage—we don’t know the exact number because many may happen before a woman knows she’s pregnant.

More here, and links to the rest.

Wednesday 7 May 2014

Mixed Metaphors 12

It is not as if we are dinosaurs, sticking our head in the sand. (David Linnette, Conservative chairman of Richmond Borough Council's planning committee)

The line between inappropriate and illegal behaviour can be a grey one. (Guardian 2012)

Female engineers can face tough hurdles (New Scientist - high hurdles)

Servants were expected to pin their colours to their employers’ masts, but they usually kept a foot in both camps. (Alison Light, Mrs Woolf and the Servants You nail your colours - your country’s flag - to your mast so that nobody can lower them until you defeat the enemy.)

The model ship is sailing off to pastures new. (Lorne Spicer)

New worm species unearthed off Rockall. (Guardian Dec 2013 Story reveals it was found in deep waters.)

Wrapping current tech and business models in aspic is no way to encourage future innovation.

When it came to initiative, the secretary walked a narrow tightrope. (Most tightropes are.)

Yet again, the government is wringing its hands while the waters rise, while squeezing the life out of the bodies they have made responsible for tackling flooding. (Charles Tucker, chair of the national Flood Forum, Jan 2014)

It marks a new chapter for Tate but is also a great springboard from which other things will grow. (Nicholas Serota Jan 2014)

[Union changes] will breathe fresh light into the Labour Party. (Harriet Harman, Marr Show Jan 2014)

‏Ideas become a kitchen-sink soup with everything chucked into the pot with little regard for structure or purpose. ( You throw everything but the kitchen sink into the mix.)

The Chinese fur bubble has only this season started to burst.  “It was obvious that the whole fur market was in the middle of a bubble, and that the bubble would either increase or explode," (says a Danish fur trader). (Guardian 2014 A fur bubble? And bubbles don’t burst gradually. They either expand or pop.)

Jewish apocalypticism sets a ripe stage for the community at Qumran and early Christian thought. (Justin Schieber ofRD ‏@Justinsweh)

More here, and links to the rest.

Neologisms 10

Back on slightly more sociable hours today after yesterday's shift, which started in the Early Devonian and ended at 8pm. (Andy Shaw ‏@RedAndy54)

Michael Gove axes the six-week summer holiday. Hopefully three ghosts will shortly be paying him a visit. (Andy Shaw ‏@RedAndy54)

The old Greek and Roman pagan religions were by then [50AD] completely out of gas. (

Man, where do they dig up these golden mouldies? ( reviewer)

Terribly sincere and sincerely terrible. (Nigel Andrews in the FT on Mother and Child Jan 2012)

‏Okay I am gonna again say say something massively controversial and then go PLUCK ERK and run away squawking in a cloud of feathers. (@bat020)

I swear it tore a hole in the space time continuum. I'm sure I caught a glimpse of Coco Chanel going the other way in a Hispano-Suiza. (@NEIL_OLIVER_)

And a pony. RT @markmackinnon: Poland wants more NATO troops in Eastern Europe, less EU reliance on Russian energy. (@Max_Fisher)

painfully middle class school (@woodo79)

panoptic view [of the history of reading] (As if from a panopticon or watchtower.)

My mind is sproingled. (Andrew Brown)

Their calls go more “Ah! Ah! Ah! –y”. (Gorilla expert on programme about evolutionary psychology)

the Viking river cruise stage of life (Jenny Éclair)

gangly public schoolboys disguised as Nordic fishermen (Jemima Lewis on hipsters)

celluloid flickerings from an otherly Albion... (Gareth Rees/@hackneymarshman)

thousands of hare-brained schemes whose doom is a near certainty. (The Guardian on startups)

Stephen Tompkinson plays Alan Banks with a kind of startled melancholy. (Martin Edwards)

the silliest idea since pet rocks (

If you didn’t see that joke coming you’re probably from outer space. (Tim Wonnacott)

"Chocolate-covered broccoli"—i.e., educational content that is thinly disguised as a game. (@anniemurphypaul)

Government announce £5 off flights from Newquay as response to railline being cut, Marie Antoinette school of bad PR strikes again. (Fat ‏@Bloke_On_A_Bike)

This weeks #NewLivesintheWild comes from the Philippines @RadioTimes calls it a "Poundland Version of Apocalypse Now". (@Benfogle )

pitying laugh (@revpamsmith)

Jacob Zuma candy-coated the State Of The Nation last week at the opening of Parliament. (

One joy of this book… is just how much it’s also a history of the weathering of religion. What was once widely believed is now looked upon with incredulity. (Skeptic, Jan 2014)

Some Brits have a condescension chromosome when it comes to Antipodeans. (Clive James Jan 2014)

That hideous crashing noise was my attempt at irony. (Douglas Murphy ‏@entschwindet)

Irritating, plagiarized crap in list form (@MrJimBentley sums up what’s wrong with the internet)

social cross dressing (LRB Dec 2013 on pretending you come from a different class background - lower or higher)

There is complete adhockery in the education system. (Spokeswoman, BBC 2013-12-10)

The parasympathetic nervous system is up there with the Babylonians as the default explanation for anything you can't think of a good reason for. (

the comfortable numbness of consumer culture
(Mmmm! Bring it on!)

cruft: computer code that is never used
unbundle: from accountancy, means “separate out”
omnium gatherum: not new but useful
pencil blocks: very thin towers in Kowloon built on old plots
paper streets: planned but never built, they turn up on maps
phoenix oak: It was blown down but shoots grew out of the trunk.
pretzel logic:
Like trying to make people moral by attacking a 19th century biologist
iceberg homes: 90% underground
deadstock: from 30s warehouses
spectrality (Goth expert on BBC Breakfast)
thumb drive: memory stick
les ruelles de Marseilles
arts-faculty science
(Professor Steve Jones on science without experiments)
supervillain ranting (Fred Scharmen)
medicinal morality
(Virginia Woolf)

More here, and links to the rest.

Tuesday 6 May 2014

Inspirational Quotes 56

I found I could make people laugh
It’s a myth that the funny kid in class doesn’t get bullied. I got bullied just like everybody else. I hate the community of ridicule that exists now. I still don’t watch shows where people are embarrassed for other people’s entertainment. It’s just a kind of bullying to me. (Simon Pegg, Guardian 2014-01-04)

The greatest insight into groups of people is how they treat their children. (Nelson Mandela)

Adult complicity in children's bullying of other children - the apparent belief that it was normal, OK, a necessary evil. (Monadic Forks ‏@domfox 12 Dec 2013)

In February this year, the report of a joint inspection on young sex offenders found that, in many cases, there had been an earlier display of sexually harmful behaviour which had been overlooked, minimised or dismissed by parents, teachers and social workers. (

Your berserk insistence on turning up without warning… or ringing them when they’re eating, or just generally trying to pretend that you’re all still students, even though you graduated 15 years ago and they’ve got important jobs and marriages and children that you do your best to ignore. (Guardian 2014-01-04 warns against NY resolutions to spend more time with friends.)

Nineteenth-century young people were compulsive joiners. Political movements, literary societies, religious organizations, dancing clubs… proliferated. The men and women who joined cared about the stated cause, but also craved the community these groups created. (NYT)

My troubles are only scratches on the great periphery of cosmology.
(Kenneth Williams, 1963)

I feel like "throw everything into the sea, start a new life" wouldn't be a lasting solution, but it's very tempting. (Truett Ogden ‏@Truett 26 Oct 2013)

90% of problems can be solved with money. (Writer on

The idea that once women were economically independent traditional marriage would change utterly or fall by the wayside was popular with some late-19th-century feminists. (Swimming in the Steno Pool, Lynn Peril)

“The office is not a democracy!” Letter to the New York Times magazine, 1981 (Swimming in the Steno Pool, Lynn Peril Odd that the US was so proud of being the first democracy – but the office was not a democracy, and the family as set up by the Founding Fathers was a dictatorship.)

Now it was her job to fight the stereotype by becoming assertive (“without being aggressive”, certainly an exercise in mixed messaging if ever there was one). (Swimming in the Steno Pool, Lynn Peril)

Smart men and women in finance and corporate law always grow rich, or at least well-to-do. Incredibly smart men and women in short-story writing and anthropology or acting rarely do. (Ben Stein)

A lot of the time, these people see anything less than total agreement as an angry militant mob. They're not used to being stood up to. (‏@FeministAspie)

[The Cumbernauld] plan called for “a single multi-purpose town centre surrounded by high-density neighbourhoods.  The neighbourhoods would not have their own retail centres, but would instead be connected to the main centre by pedestrian footpaths.  Residents would be able to walk safely to and from the centre without ever coming across a car: a giant motorway system catered for those who wanted to drive through the town or to the centre.” What they created has been described by some as “A soulless concrete carbuncle surrounded by roundabouts.” (

More here, and links to the rest.

Thursday 1 May 2014

More Malaprops and Portmanteaus

Pepto-abysmal pink
Portmanteaus: two meanings packed up in one word, as Humpty Dumpy said. Malapropisms are wrong but right.


renoviction (coined in gentrifying Vancouver)

(yarn made from plastic bags)

(café plus office)


(Irish Times)


(foggy photography from that genius Ben Patio)

in German, female DJ

(alcohol free)


(fake artisan: when a corporate brand tries to pretend it was made by bucolic toilers. Also, some urban stylings. via Hopi Sen)



(Alex Silverman/@silvermong)

(destroy old-fashioned pubs, districts)






sharliton (typo for charlatan)

Only the hoi polloi of the world could afford Wemyss pottery! (Auctioneer Anita Manning – she means the high heid yins)

Rosemary beads (for rosary beads)

pepto-abysmal pink (for Pepto-bismol - intentional?)

It was a blessing in the skies! (in disguise)

neural post (for the newel post at the bottom of your banisters)

al dente for al fresco (ex-Bay City Roller Les McKeown – he meant going shirtless)

conceited efforts for concerted efforts (Australian home programme House Rules)

She’s got an omelette on her name. (ümlaut)

standing evasion (for ovation)

And they were all wearing correct periodical costume.

for all intensive purposes (intents and...)

deftifying (for death-defying)

More here, and links to the rest.