Sunday 20 December 2015

Inspirational Quotes 79

As Barbara Ehrenreich points out, this attitude must ultimately be founded on the preposterous idea that your state of mind can change the world and overcome the contingencies of life. (Brian Appleyard on positivity in the New Statesman)

My years in college had given me the completely false impression that there were no constraints, that it was safe for an artist to comment on volatile cultural and political issues in public. (Garry Trudeau)

Thirty – the promise of a decade of loneliness, a thinning list of single men to know, a thinning brief-case of enthusiasm, thinning hair. (The Great Gatsby)

If only those who went on about the dignity of work actually respected the dignity of workers! ( ‏@Brimshack)

I don’t suffer from autism, I suffer from people’s attitudes towards autism. (Tina Brooks @pepperfire)

‘Just be yourself’ was probably first said by a tall, rich, smug, handsome jerk. (Karl Sharro @KarlreMarks)

Through Spock, Leonard showed us that things like compassion, mercy, dignity, wit and friendship were actually logical. (Ronald D. Moore @RonDMoore)

Bede thought the golden age of Anglo-Saxon Christianity had been in the 7th C; Alcuin in the 8th. Nostalgia has a long history in England. (Tom Holland ‏@holland_tom)

Attempting to graft Enlightenment onto existing religions. (Peter Dashevici)

The power of hierarchies is hard to break. (Nick Cohen Guardian March 15)

Love this: ‘People are more vocal against fur than leather because it’s much easier to pick on rich women than motorcycle gangs.’ (Karl Sharro @KarlreMarks)

‘The inevitability of world revolution’ had been postponed. (LRB quoting Eric Hobsbawm on the last communist rally before the Nazis destroyed the movement in Germany)

Thinking you’re going to be famous is “a common desire and belief among the young”. (RS)

I love being unremarkable. (Chinese immigrant, Guardian 2015)

My mother didn’t know how to do some of the most basic things that most people in this country seem to think are intuitive. (Another Chinese immigrant, Guardian 2015)

However, it involved working from home a fair bit and that is where it became incredibly isolating. I lived in a part of north-west London where one needed a family and a puppy to fit in and I had neither. Coming from Toronto, where I had a vast network of friends, I felt like a fish out of water with virtually no social life. (Recent immigrant to the UK, Guardian 2015. So much for the idea that happiness depends on your personality or attitude.)

Swearing with your friends, however, is vital. Done deftly, it can be the first sign of friendship. (Hugo Rifkind in the Tatler)

The savvy spa-goer could build patronage networks, discuss business and politics, peruse marriage prospects, attend parties, and hear all the latest gossip. (

Naturally bright, she had sailed through every exam at school, but met her match at Oxford. After years of achieving top grades with very little effort, the punishing schedule of essays and reading lists came as a shock. She graduated, but seemed scarred by the experience. (Lord Steerforth)

You have to love the fact that a lot of people today believe that everything is socially constructed, except religion. (Karl Sharro ‏@KarlreMarks)

More here, and links to the rest.

Wednesday 16 December 2015

Movie Clichés (in Quotes) II

Bad things

How to write a horror film:
1. Bad things
3. Yes bad things
4. Defeat the bad things


Just once, I’d like a passing bus or train to obstruct someone’s view of the villain, but for them NOT to vanish once it’s gone. #Luther (@danowen79)

Love the bit in Escape to The Country/Bargain Hunt/ Flog It/ Countryfile/Antiques Road Trip where the presenters learn to shear a sheep. (Sathnam Sanghera ‏@Sathnam)

Are there any modern crimes novels with a detective who DOESN'T have an alcohol/drug habit or a problem with authority? (@Lord_Steerforth)

1. Someone lets themselves into their car and you know, just know, that a sinister figure is going to rise up behind them and strangle them. Plausible perhaps at night, but in broad daylight would someone really not notice that there was a person crouching in the back seat of their car?

2.  This is from my great friend Sue ( In the US Law and Order the police show up to interview a witness at their place of work. Do they give the police their full attention? No: directors don’t like talking heads, so the witness goes on loading their van, polishing glasses or whatever. If they are at home, they will be folding the laundry.

3. Someone – probably a woman – is running through woods. There is wobbly, hand-held camera-work and a soundtrack of crashing through undergrowth and gasping for breath. Cut! The next scene will be the police being called out to a body.

4. Someone’s alone in the house and the door bell rings. They answer the door. Their face lights up: ‘oh, it’s you!’ Cut! The next time we see them they are dead. (Christine Poulson)

That accent is an affront to bad accents everywhere. (imdb message board on Tom Bosley’s “Kentucky?” accent in Murder She Wrote)

Darkness seemed like a two-part story padded out with lots of shots of silently anguished lead characters to fill four hours. (Martin Edwards)

QUESTION: In crappy American disaster movies with a male protagonist, why does the hero ALWAYS send his wife "to [her] mother's in Vermont"? (AlexPaknadel)

Series sound engineer Kate Hopkins said: 'If it's a polar bear on snow, custard powder is usually very popular, with some salt crystals added for a bit of crunch.' The ingredients, she explained, are then mixed together inside a stocking, scrunched up and pressed against a hard surface. Other tricks include imitating the crunch of bones as an animal eats by snapping sticks of celery. Slowly peeling an orange creates the sound of a predator ripping flesh from a carcass. (She explains that most wildlife footage is shot through a telephoto lens, and the technology can’t pick up sound at that distance.)

Times review of Britain Beneath Your Feet: “The only downside is the grandiose orchestral gloop of the sort that is usually slathered over the duller species of natural history programme.”

I've just struggled through Horizon: The Trouble with Space Junk. Struggled not because of the incidental music... but because of the stupid cliched movie sound effects. Computer screens that go zeep because that's what they do in real life, obviously. A deep rumbling accompanying the view from space - I guess there's a crack in the window making wind noise. Dodgy video connections with pictures that break up and make a crackling noise, because they do that all the time, of course.

It also suffered from the insistence of so many similar shows before it – not least the BBC’s Restoration series of a decade ago – on conjuring tension where none existed or was required. Arbitrary deadlines were announced without context or explanation – Six weeks! Seven days! – and the Trust’s experts proved more than happy to play along. (Daily Telegraph on Restoring Britain’s Landmarks Oct 2015 Nick Paget on Twitter: “So much repetition means each quarter almost repeats itself.”)

Whose idea was this 'dramatic 90 second intro of absolutely no benefit to anyone' that begins every single beeb documentary now? (Douglas Murphy ‏@entschwindet)

More in love with production values than the story (quite a common BBC flaw at the moment). (Past Offences)

Talking at the camera while driving, unable to say anything at all without walking, presenter talking to himself from a thousand yards away in a crowd, presenter ending every scene by walking briskly out of the picture... (RI)

Wait wait. There *is* a black guy in Steve Jobs...He plays a security guard. (@redsteeze)
I bet he's a Wise Old Security Guard, who says a Few Well-Chosen Words that give the protagonist a Fresh Insight Into His Life. (Damian Counsell ‏@DamCou)

Though the characters age only 25 years or so in the course of the story, by the film's end they are seen doddering around like nonagenarians. ( on the film of O’Neill’s Strange Interlude)

Reed Richards is soon snapped up by a sinister governmental agency (yep, them again) and set to work with a kindly paternalistic physicist who speaks only in gnomic pronouncements (“We are stronger together than we are apart”)... [There’s a long sequence where the cast pretend to build a teleportation device] and no, the mid-montage scene of the gang chillaxing with Chinese food, and laughing uproariously between mouthfuls (I’d swear they’re just saying: “Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb”) doesn’t help, conveying only the sense that this film is treading water until the cogs click together with such uninspired inevitability that a deranged gibbon who’d been force-fed a couple of Thor movies could probably have done a better job. The gibbon, unfortunately, was unavailable, so we’re stuck with Reed and the Von Doomettes travelling to a rocky volcanic other world (laziest art design ever — like the planet Mustafar from Revenge of the Sith, only duller) and getting infected with super-energy that, for reasons known only to a select bunch of comic-book hierophants, makes Reed bendy, Sue invisible, Johnny fiery and Victor kind of nutty... (Kevin Maher on Fantastic Four, Times 2015-08-09)

From Renault Clio adverts to Hollyoaks episodes, running into a wedding, tears streaming, clutching a telegram or skidding down the aisle on your knees is one of those great cultural tropes that almost never actually happens in real life. Thank God. (

Is there any chance we could never again make Russian movies with British actors who speak in silly fake Russian accents? (Lexi Alexander ‏@Lexialex)

From 100 things you can learn from classic Who, imdb message boards:
7. Don't touch any green glowing stuff when you're down a mine.
11. Massage therapists’ uniforms is the chosen fashion wear for humans going into suspended animation in 'The Ark in Space'
16. The Master with the entire Earth to choose from always launches his crazy power schemes in Britain directly under the nose of the Brigadier and UNIT.
29. If you're a small-minded greedy person who wants to exploit aliens in some way for money, you'll be first in line to die.
31. A lot of alien dictatorships can be overthrown within a day or so.
37. A nuclear power complex with an output enough to power all of Southern Britain can be blown up or bombed without any Chernobyl style fallout.
42. At some point in the future humanity will revert to using magnetic tape computer storage and cathode ray tubes.
51. Pretty much everyone you meet in your travels through space and time initially wants to kill you.

I'm trying to avoid the "classic" counselling photos: trees, waves, stacked up stones, bees, lips, ears, handshakes... (Tina Weston)

Holding his head like a silent movie actor registering anguish. (7 1/2 Cents, Richard Bissell)

I could have lived without the flimsy costume drama interludes. Elizabeth... seemed to spend most of the episode in Richmond Castle, drinking wine and chilling with her pet monkey. Philip II of Spain was portrayed as a bureaucratic weirdo who ran his empire from a tiny cell and who did “I-am-definitely-a-creepy-megalomaniac” things like covetously fondle a globe by flickering candlelight. Also, I’m pretty sure he had a stick-on beard. (Times stand-in TV critic, June 2015)

You're like wossname in GoT who lets his prisoner think he's escaped, only to recapture him. (Lisa Carey ‏@msleedy)

More here, and links to the rest.

Friday 11 December 2015

Predictions for 2016

Someone will do something blatantly sexist, and everyone will go "Hey, guys! It's 2016!"

Journalists will ask:
Why does nobody ever think about the men who pay for sex?
Why does society denigrate women who decide not to have children? (While telling single people they are better off on their own, they shouldn’t look for a partner, and there’s no pressure on women to get married now they can have jobs – as the writers don't say.)

Journalists will state:

is back!
The fuller figure is back!

At last! Sexy bras for large sizes.
Class is much more “nuanced” now, and based on socio-economic groups.
Zeppelins are back! (or perhaps the Hyperloop)
Email is dead.

Social media
is dead.
Social media makes no money.
One in five prisoners have reading difficulties.
Tinder has changed relationships.
Bullying isn’t just in the playground.
Menopausal women no longer need to suffer in silence.

Living together doesn't give you legal rights - gosh!
Me and my partner aren't getting married because we're just too special.
We eat less meat now because [insert peg here].
We're driving less because [insert peg here]. (Some of "us" never learned.)
Masculinity is in crisis.
("Many modern men complain of feeling redundant in an increasingly feminised world where advances in reproductive science might render them unnecessary even for sperm production." Times. I think they mean "women are filtering into higher-paid jobs".)

The Met Office and the BBC will predict bad weather. People will be scathing about the “panic”. Bad weather will arrive.

Twitter users will denigrate Facebook (inspirational uplift, baby pictures, right-wing politics). Intelligent people with degrees will be quite astounded to learn that you can turn all these off.

Twitter users will ask "Why isn't there a Men's Day?" (it's 19 November) and "When's White History Month?". (When they're not telling atheists that evolution is a religion.)

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

A dictionary will add a few items of modern slang. We will be very surprised, even though it happens every year. (“Why are we putting them in the dictionary, all these words?” BBC Breakfast on “manspreading”.)

People will complain about the news media (all opinion, left-wing bias, not what I call news).
They will also whinge that children aren't being taught grammar, and we're importing too many Americanisms.

Two women a week will be killed by their partners or ex-partners. Meninists will disbelieve the statistics.

The French will stop parents calling a child Nutella.
Parents in NZ will name their child Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

Tenements will be recommended to solve the housing crisis. Apprenticeships ditto, to solve the unemployment crisis.

Hollywood remakes of classics, and Christie/Austen stories by other hands, will be dire.

Something rather trivial will be identified either as “a symptom of what our society has become” or proof of “the end of civilisation as we know it”. (For example, children are arriving at school unable to use a knife and fork. Of course they can't use a knife and fork. They're four.) Next year it will be something different.

A smug middle-class family will “do without” something for a year (throwing out ANY rubbish, processed food, electronic devices...).

The mystery of Agatha Christie’s disappearance will be “solved at last”.

Every few years or so a spate of newspaper stories proclaim, as the Los Angeles Times did last year, that “rabbit appears to be going through a renaissance of sorts”. ( They mean "on the menu".)

Why does the "pop stars today aren't political" whingepiece still get commissioned and written, over and over again, WHY? (@alex_macphers)

The Masterchef pauses will get... even longer.

Someone will propose a giant skyscraper with forests every few floors.

Architects will whinge about “noddy boxes”, and praise a development of “quirky” houses that are too close together, and have too few, tiny windows but sport some interesting detail like steeply pitched roofs. The energy saved by the arrow-slit windows will be used up by aircon and lighting.

TV programmes will start with trailers for themselves, using all their best moments and giving away the plot. They will do this before and after the ad break, and will keep repeating the “highlights”. Participants will be forced to read bland, scripted pieces to camera. These will be chopped up and sprinkled throughout. There won’t actually be a programme at all.

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

Predictions for 2015

Wednesday 2 December 2015

Hey guys, it's 1965, not 1465!

Pupils were told the world outside the sect was evil and dangerous.

They were told that all those outside the sect would burn in Hell for all eternity.

They were taught only a religious point of view about everything. Other viewpoints were never mentioned. Information was restricted.

They were trapped, and had little contact with outsiders.

In term-time, they hardly saw their parents. They wrote home once a week. 

The institution was hierarchical and questioning was frowned on. It was run like a fascist state.

Teaching was patchy – there was no oversight or independent testing.

It was a single-sex environment.

There was no sex education. Pupils weren't supposed to even think about sex. What was the punishment? If they didn't repent, they burned in Hell for all eternity.

But they were told they must get married young and have lots of children.

The punishment for doubt? You guessed it.

Pupils were prepared for life in medieval Europe, not 20th century Britain.

Stamford Hill 2015, or the Convent of the Sacred Heart, 1965?

It would all be illegal now.

(Picture by cathcandy3)

More ghastly schools here.

Monday 30 November 2015

Hey, guys, it's nearly 2016!

Warburton's sandwich thins

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. Andy Warhol

Hey guys – it’s nearly 2016 and people are still trophy hunting?

The UK doesn’t have a classic movies cable TV channel.

It’s OK to make fun of grannies and opera singers. See the Advertising Standards Authority advert about Irene and her bridge partner. And Carbuyer's “Would you ask your neighbour Petulia?” (She says that hybrid cars are good for azaleas and whales - and this is supposed to be hilarious.)

It’s OK to make jokes about ugly spinsters (that ad for Warburton's Sandwich Thins).

‏And there are still some people who think rape just never happens.
And another lot who think women claim to have been raped to gain attention, and for the “excitement”.
And those who accuse the famous of abusing them as children just want attention and money.
And there are still some people who think brown people should go somewhere else.
And another lot of people who think feminists have nothing to worry about.
And yet another lot who don’t understand racism and think slaves in the South were well-treated. And some who think black people or “foreigners” aren't Americans.
And any refugees who aren’t from Syria are economic migrants (who just happen to be fleeing war zones in Libya and Eritrea).
And some people are still complaining that “a kid is a baby goat – it’s ‘children’ not ‘kids’”.
And people still think biodynamics is organic farming, and homeopathy is herbalism.
And they think living together gives you legal and financial rights. It hasn’t since 1753. Yes, 1753.

It's nearly 2016 and there’s an evil worldwide cabal persuading the unfortunate that the answer lies within themselves and that pointing the finger at recessions, wars and unequal societies is just failing to stand on your own two feet and blaming others for your problems. Think positive! Or we’ll take your benefits away!

And I get personal abuse and bullying online if I say I’ve been bullied in the past, if I criticise British private schools, if I suggest that we should be kind to children, if I suggest that lying is wrong – and just for being a socialist, a feminist and a woman. (I’m pathetic, pretentious and paranoid and blame all my problems on others, apparently.) Oh, and for talking back and calling people Tories and mansplainers. They can dish it out, but they can’t take it.

Asked to explain his gender parity promise, Justin Trudeau answered: "Because it’s 2015".

In 2015... Mum thrown out of Grays Job Centre for breastfeeding her 13-week-old daughter (Nov, @imajsaclaimant)

American bishop says gay people should be sentenced to 10 years hard labour – in 2014! 2014, guys!

That in 2015 Lindsey Graham has to explain that he's not a "defective person" for being single is madness. (M. v. Aufschnaiter ‏@mva_1000)

A paediatrician was locked out of a women’s changing room at a gym because everyone with the title Dr was automatically registered as male. [She was told] “the system couldn’t be changed and she’d have to drop her title”. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is 2015!... (stefano mariani ‏@stefanako71)

Welcome to 2015, folks! Ohio class teaches children that men think, women feel. (‏@JessicaValenti )

It's 2015 why are things like "gay" and "lesbian" used as insults? (@BewitchingMind)

I've said it before but I'll say it again, if you can't or don't want to be monogamous then you don't have to pretend to be, it's 2015. (Amy ‏@bottrill Feb 23)

It's 2015 and straight people use the word "gay" as an insult. Get a time machine and step your ignorant asses out of the 1970s. (@OutrageousBSFan Feb 21)

Yes, yes, sometimes women propose, but it's pretty much always the guys (happy 2015 everyone). (

Rick Santorum arguing that religious prejudice should be protected in law. #CNNDebate It's 2015 in the most advanced country in the world. (Matt D ‏@EyesSkyward)

From today's Daily Mail. Actual, proper, racist blackface cartoon faces. In other news, it's 2015. (@pointlesslettrs)

It's 2015. Why am I having to explain to people that falsely attributing words to a Rothschild to explain the Greek crisis is anti-Semitic? (Damian Counsell ‏@DamCou)

Gawd, I hate that as a 45 year old man, living in 2015, I STILL have to be concerned about race and some "them -vs- us" bullshit. (FB)

Chelsea racist abuse victim: 'It's 2015 and we are talking about black and white skin. Why?'

It's 2015 and let's face it, we really haven't solved the problem of wobbly cafe tables. (@MarkSReynolds Mar 29)

Miss France visits the Lille stand at Mipim. What decade is this? March 2015 (@_SamJacob)

It's 2015 and I'm watching a sewing contest on television. This is basically stuff we'd joke about being on telly in the 16th century. (@djplastician)

It's 2015 and the word "autistic" is still a novelty in the speech of morons everywhere. (@alexthesmart_)

There’s a café in Wolverhampton that won’t let you take coffee out.

Optimise for tablet, pessimise for desktop. It's nearly 2016 and technology is going backwards – and some people haven't caught up with the 21st century.

Improvements that aren’t: Web pages no longer have print-friendly (no ads, no comments) versions. And they make it very hard to select the text of an article (so that you can cut and paste it into a Word doc and print that). And some pages aren't printable at all. There’s no point giving us “content” if we can’t read it.

There’s no way of adding a note to a photo on camera or phone.

And why does “shuffle” not shuffle my tracks randomly? Instead, it picks out the ones I’ve played recently.

If you want to review a book in Goodreads, you have to rate it. There is no button saying "Write a review".

Google have “updated” maps so that they are less useful than the classic version, and won’t give us access to the classic version. The map with the yellow dude is too small – though it is easier to move the him around now. When you look for a street it comes up in the centre of the map – but there’s no arrow pointing to it. And not all the streets are labelled. How do you find your street? They obviously don’t want you to.

Twitter returns me to the top of my timeline if I retweet, or click on a commented tweet. Why don’t commented tweets open in a new tab, like everything else? And why can’t I select the text to cut and paste? And why can’t I select the text if someone has posted a positive affirmation as a picture? Why am I having to retype it? Why am I retyping anything - in 2015? And why doesn’t Twitter have an edit button? And automatic emojis?

How can Twitter not know that a timeline is chronological?

Oh and Facebook, I want to see latest, not top stories. I don’t want to see “top stories” ever. Couldn’t I make it stick at “latest”? Somehow?

If I’m not careful, Spotlight opens the last file I searched for, instead of the one it just found for me.

Could you give us a little more time to get to the phone before it goes to voicemail, or count out our change before feeding it into the self-checkout? Where’s my robot pavement cleaner? Where’s my key combo to take me to the top/bottom of a web page?

And my clock radio is too quiet.

And no, I don’t want to search for the words I just searched for – I want to change them slightly. And when I search for a picture of Grays bus station I don’t want the train station...

And where's the online version of the Fortean Times?

And Word, I never want to default to “Times”. Ever, ever, ever. Why can’t cut and paste adopt the style of the document I am pasting to, rather than the one I’ve taken the words from? And why does that darned Times font keep appearing no matter how often I change the default font to Trebuchet? (Will setting it as a new style work?)

And please open files where they were when I last worked on them, like you used to. And I used to be able to move to another file by clicking on it anywhere – now I can only click on the top bar. And the new file opens underneath the one I'm working on, so that I can't even see it. I opened that file because I want to use it. I want to use both files at once.

Is there any way I can search in French AND English in Google Chrome? And is there some way I can stop it translating my French results into English? Do I have to tell it I’m in Paris?

Nurse at hospital says she “can’t” email my GP but must send them a letter. And if I have the blood test done at the GP’s surgery they “can’t” send the results to the hospital.

It used to be easy to follow a blog – there was a button at the top saying “follow”. Now everyone uses a different system and puts the button in a different place. But I can't unfollow anybody.

And I have just downloaded 40 MP3s from Amazon one by one, because if I batch download them they turn into a Zip file that I can’t open.

Many organisations have an email address but have failed to employ anyone to read, filter and answer emails.

I can’t log into my Gmail account, and apparently neither can anyone else. (Sept 2015)

And my new Virgin Media TV remote doesn’t have page up/page down buttons.

And you can’t sort columns alphabetically in Woodwing.

Changing your address or personal details for your account is easy. Just download the form below, fill it in, sign it and post it to your local branch. (RBS)

Unfortunately we cannot accept emailed copies of the form, you will need to post it to us using the Freepost address which can be found on page 5.

Just had the raw urge to cancel an appearance because they want me to mail in the contract in the year of our lord 2000 and 15. (Daniel José Older ‏@djolder)

 2015 UPDATE: Still takes 1.5 hours to install a printer and print a test page. Even with WPS. We'll try again next year, shall we? (Cormac ‏@Cormputer)

PayPal allows 10 (!) days to process my unsubscription from their newsletters (which I never subscribed to in the 1st place). It's 2015! Also, I was yet again baffled that ticket vending machines for Berlin's public transport don't accept credit cards in 2015. Ach, Germany. (M. v. Aufschnaiter ‏@mva_1000)

It's 2015 why do I still need to charge my phone three times a day? (@TmarTn Feb 23)

Guildford has got rid of the pay by phone system at its car parks. Welcome to the 20th century! (Keith Judge ‏@KeefJudge)

Come on ‪#‎eastmidlandstrains‬ surely it is time all your trains had plug sockets for charging mobile phones‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬? (Steve Rogerson)

More here, and links to the rest.

Saturday 28 November 2015

Buzz Words of 2015

Where'd they go?
Buzz words and things of 2015

We shouldn’t imprison people for Twitter rape and death threats because free speech and the Charlie Hebdo massacre. "Since #CharlieHebdo I keep seeing people being arseholes/racists and generalising large groups of people in the name of free speech #stop" Jan 17 (@BeckyMccerery)

curate (the verb) is everywhere.

The Stephen Fry “taking offence” meme is back in force. And everybody saying it as if they’re the first person to have thought of it.

Why is there no white history month? (Again. Again, everybody saying it as if they’re the first person to have thought of it. Twitter troll farm? PS International Men's Day is 19 Nov.)

kalettes or flower sprouts “trending”

The language of objectification, misogyny, sexism and other isms is back.

on fleek (something like “on top form”)

Lots of “panic” about snow “panic” in New York City, 27 Jan. (Think they mean “media reports, weather forecasts” as usual. It is snowing quite hard there.)

More and more people complaining about email as if there were no solutions (and as if they were the first to think of it). Hire a secretary or virtual assistant to slim your inbox (or learn how to do it yourself), learn to touch type. Remember the days before email and how much time was taken up writing letters and answering the phone.

Twitter is full of middle-class people handling the words “Super” and “Bowl” with tongs, while Americans complain about the ad breaks. (Feb 1)

It’s hard to say that you couldn’t learn the times tables, in a week when the Ed Sec says that all kids should know them or the head will be sacked. (“If you can learn poetry, you can learn the times tables!”, says a liberal educationist, after claiming three times that I could learn them if I wanted to. Well, no.)

We “panic” about snow, and then when it arrives it’s “pathetic”! (Feb 2 2015)

bobbins (means "rubbish", apaz)
bantz and haterz have gone

Anti-Vax and Climate Change Denial are now religions. Membership tells people who you are, and is about faith, not evidence.

Ritual whingeing about Valentine’s Day inflation. (Someone called the whingers “left-wing Puritans”.)

concept café
“Restores my faith in humanity” and “giving up on humanity” are both still popular, though ill-defined.

Many ask “why isn’t there a None of the Above” option and are surprised to discover that there is a NOTA movement.

People are coming up with 100 reasons for not voting (We are powerless tools of a global corporate conspiracy, politics never changed anything. And look what happened.)

Welcome back “yah boo” and “No kidding.”

You can get a doll of practically anybody.

smash: speed records etc

The three schoolgirls who have gone to Syria are jihadi devil women/Why is there all this media coverage of three schoolgirls who have gone to Syria?

BBC celebrating Holi festival. Why stop there?

Wait, what?
Bracing self for “It’s MOTHERING SUNDAY! Mother’s Day is an American invention to make people spend money and they celebrate it on the WRONG DAY!”

People affecting detached world-weariness about the eclipse. (OK, it was pretty underwhelming.) And “nanny state” over eclipse glasses.

Scarfolk (The 70s were funny enough as they were.)
meff (lame, dim, wears the wrong brands)
vidya (videogames, me lud)

Assistant social media editor is now a job title. (Firms have realised that it’s like marketing, you have to pay someone to do it instead of leaving it to an intern.)

Bizarre reasons why transsexuals shouldn't use female toilets.

There isn’t really a gender pay gap because [reason]. (I think they’ve all read the same paperback. Oh, it’s because men and women’s pay isn’t comparable because there are few women in top, high-paying jobs.)

Several people (like Tim Lott and the governor of Indiana) are genuinely baffled by the furious response to their reactionary ideas. (“I just don’t understand why they’re angry.”)

GRIL: gonna read it later.
fakery (around for a while)

“Why aren’t we allowed to talk about immigration?” (Means “Why aren’t we allowed to complain about immigration?”)

confusion about what "racist" means

Depressing number of people whingeing that they are bored of the election already, and wheeling out the old “But I want my vote to count”, and “none of the above” memes. Oh, give them PR, if only to shut them up.

Election coverage being referred to as “the horror”: "Thankfully we're usually spared the full horror - only a few minutes on the news." (The same people like to complain that we are “sleep-walking into a police state”.)

Reasons for not voting become more and more baroque. Middle-aged middle-class people furious that their one and only vote is no more or less influential than anybody else’s.

Party leaders campaign on “Vote for US! We’ll give you money, the others will only take it away!”

I’m all about the...

(Global property developer org. Abhumans from the pit of hell.)

In 3, 2, 1.
When did people stop writing “He said he wouldn’t stand again, but he’s doing just that”? It drove me mad, but “he’s doing so” is worse, far worse.

Preparing for outbreak of “fawning” when Kate has her baby.

deepen for worsen

Everybody going on about movie trailers and critiquing them as if they were the movie itself. (And now we get "teasers for the trailer" before the trailer. And "notifications" of the teaser...)

In case you’re concerned about our rapid transit to Hell via handcart, an expert on college slang writes: “Only about 10% of the slang terms used survive a year”.

Gamergate and the meninists have quietened down – but they’ll be back.

Kate’s gone into labour, here comes the “fawning”:

Here we go. Royal baby blanket news coverage ahead. Forget about the election, a week of fawning over some kid born into sickening wealth. (PAB C Nesbitt ‏@PAB190968)

Nothing the Tories will like better than a Royal birth with just a few days left till elections, millions cooing, fawning & doffing. :-( (Alan Wylie ‏@wylie_alan)

tribal”used to mean “my party right or wrong”

People complaining about being .@-ed. (Meanwhile rape and death threats continue.)

American press using “dignity” a lot re equal marriage and riots in Baltimore. “these riots aren’t a black or white thing – they’re a humanity thing, a dignity thing”. (Tavis Smiley in Time)

tectonic plates (politics) May 2015

spiralising (device for creating green smoothies) (Looks like Pippa Middleton is flogging them. And there must be some device for turning courgettes into green spaghetti.)

Miniature fairy gardens are a thing.

lots of “smashing” as Picasso reaches record price (Do paintings by women “smash” records?)

Republicans/Conservatives accusing Democrats/socialists of “always blaming someone else for their failures”.

“God I’m bored of this election run-up” has morphed into “Can you all shut up about it now?” It’s your country, your government – couldn’t you at least try to be interested? 2015-05-13

The Labour Party isn’t socialist, you poor fool! (Also works with “Green Party”.)

Has “metrosexual” lost its original meaning (think it was “heterosexual man who uses grooming products”) to become code for those “metropolitan elites”? Oooh, now “metroliberal values”!

Chuka Umunna has been in a “very bad place”.

coasting schools (as undefined as “slums”, someone points out)

Impossible to mention “unions” without “ransom”, “barons” and “paymasters”.

wealth creators for workers – or for the firms that employ them?

aspiration (end of May. Parties all want to offer aspiration and appeal to the aspirant. They mean “aspire to social mobility”, by which they mean “get richer”.)

champagne socialists (lots of “joking” about prosecco, which has morphed into real venom) Because the better-off can’t possibly care about the poor or want to help them. Metropolitan elites are this week’s hate figures for people who don’t approve of other people having hate figures.

asymmetrical warfare (same old Cold War)

said nobody anywhere ever

I am shocked – shocked! – to find... (Quote from Casablanca)

badum-tish (when nobody has done this for years – I mean using actual drum sticks and cymbals)

neoliberalism (whatever that is)

leftwit, leftard
I love my office! (over picture of beach, forest, mountains etc)

On the anniversary of Magna Carta, a lot of sniping about its provisions (only benefits landowners, all about eel traps, doesn’t mention women). And it was repealed immediately. You can read it here.

videos of your child’s sports day on FB

Looks as if Stephen Fry was right about the plague of “taking offence” – but it’s happening in US academia. (Spread here October.)

ghosting: quitting a relationship without warning, taking all your stuff and leaving no contact details

phrogging: pretending to leave, but continuing to live in the attic

trigger being used for “bring back painful memories” and also “start” or “cause” pretty much anything. Seems to come from hacker speak (computer programming language).

Nobody complaining about “silence inflation” over the two-minutes silence for the Tunisian shooting victims.

Latest anti-hipster slur is that they “photograph their food instead of eating it”.
Tories claiming that NHS is paid for by “taxpayers” and not by the people who use it. Also claiming that poor people cause all their own diseases by “bad choices” – smoking, eating and drinking too much, and being couch potatoes. Yes, that’s how I broke my leg and contracted Lyme disease.

Refoulement means the expulsion of persons who have the right to be recognised as refugees. The principle of non-refoulement was laid out in 1954 in the UN-Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. (Unesco)

pro: a meaningless syllable that makes your product sound better

Have we stopped thinking that we can all mysteriously make money from the internet?

dollar for money early July

Some people are still getting very upset over some aspect of pop cult that’s been around for years and that is not going to go away now (like LOL!).

silo for clique, cabal or bubble

First instance of “Christmas starts earlier every year” (in response to a BACK TO SCHOOL banner on the last day of term), spotted July.

We don’t design products or write books but “develop” them.

Writers have stopped calling everything “major”, but “key” is still with us. (What’s the difference between “key stage three” and “stage three”? Is “key” different from “core”?)

witch hunt, lynch mob – in the context of historic sex crime allegations (All accusers are in it for the money and fame, the media gangs up on prominent people as usual. And refugees are all in search of the good life, they’re all “economic migrants”.)

If I read the words “Tony B. Liar” once more I shall scream.

What’s happened to those journalists who wrote sneering articles about Twitter and Facebook without joining either (full of silly “likes”, pictures of your dinner, Stephen Fry has a cup of coffee)? They always predicted socmed’s imminent demise, too. (“Radio is here to stay!” Fred Allen circa 1935)

journey now ubiquitous

Padrón peppers (They’re hotter, of course, gaining them extra middle-class points.)

vape now means “smoke an electronic cigarette”, not vapourise or vapourware

teachable moment
bake, bite, thin (Low-calorie snacks aimed at women and sold as “tasty!”. You’re supposed to eat them with those “creamy” spreads that are 0% fat because they’re mainly methyl cellulose.)

Lot of Banksy-hating after he opened a theme park called Dismaland.

Today the Queen becomes the longest-reigning British monarch – look out for “fawning”! Only spotted “vomit-inducing monarchist sycophancy” so far.

hysteria about hysteria about snow has started (in the US): “The hysterical forecasts for world-ending snow every winter...” FB

Everybody hates “reach out to” for “contact” all of a sudden. It’s been around for years. And wasn’t there a similar fuss about “contact”? (But perhaps its meaning now shades into "market to".)

And now people are attacking the father of the two boys who were washed up on a beach. Lived the high life in a resort in Turkey, was actually a people trafficker...

Corbyn, refugees – wave of bile from Daily Mail commenters. And instant urban legends. And catastrophising. Yes, Corbyn will turn Britain into a Stalinist dictatorship and if you let in Muslim refugees your country will become a satellite of ISIS.

“Refugees? They are economic invaders and they want to impose Sharia Law on the UK...” Letter to Sheffield Star

“Young people are using technology at a very granular level.” (BBC Breakfast)

OK, stick a fork in me.
(What on earth mean? Gone again, October.)

Usual poppy whingeing starts early due to Corbyn wearing a white one (in previous years). (2015-09-15)

Endless articles re Agatha Christie (she’s cosy, her murders are bloodless and all set in country villages) by people who have never read her books or her autobiography. Some writers seem surprised that she wasn't Miss Marple (She roller skated! She surfed!)

Death of blogging announced, again.

Are adblockers the end of journalism as we know it? late Sept 2015

People are still complaining about “liking” things on social media. In 2015.

Annual poppy whingefest, Oct 2. Boris wore a poppy during a tug-of-war! How dare the BBC issue a directive and force interviewees to wear poppies....? (BBC representative issues denial.) Now combined with Halloweenophobia: Didn’t start here, shouldn’t happen here! (It started here.) There are 101 reasons for not wearing a poppy, and 101 reasons for disapproving of Halloween.

“Cohesion” popular week of the Tory conference.

They looked from man to pig and from pig to man.... Popular week of the Tory conference. And nobody can let Diane Abbott forget that she sent her son to a private school.

Tories quite querulous about being called “vile”. You’d have thought they could have seen that coming.

immersive experience (What every museum or exhibition has to be. Especially when they haven’t got many – or any – actual objects. Does it mean “It’s dark and there’s an intrusive, inappropriate soundtrack”?)

Churches the new Airbnb as 'champing' proves popular (Yes, camping overnight in a church.)

smize: smile with your eyes (October 15 2015)

plum for fool

flu vaccine conspiracy theories spotted late October

Suddenly there are hundreds of articles about procrastination. October

engagement shoot
Luvvies are the new champagne socialists. And how dare socialists have been to private school and then have the gall to er er er

Audiences shocked by Suffragettes. "Men were so beastly! And women didn’t have the vote!”

First “Xmas starts too early” moan. (

identity politics
Chorus of moans about the John Lewis ad.

People using social media to explain that they loathe social media, science is wrong, and the earth is flat.

hopey, changey endings are back (The Hunt - bitey and killy)

chiselled now means ripped abs

Resilience” takes on a sinister new meaning in the light of college protests in Missouri. Black students should be “resilient” to racism, while white students can go to Halloween parties in blackface because “free speech”. I think. It’s hard to tell, thanks to the heavy rain of academic doublespeak. Apparently now black people in America have created all their own problems, and shouldn’t blame anybody else! (Nov 2015)

virtue signalling (Like champagne socialists. If the virtue signallers are insincere, surely the Tories have nothing to worry about? As you were, chaps, nobody really cares about anybody else.)

Atrocities in Paris, and the twittersphere is all about blaming others for having the wrong attitude.

cultural appropriation
ritual whingeing about Black Friday – it’s American, you know. But is it cultural appropriation?

tiny violins now stand in for “my heart bleeds!” (Originally a street musician playing melancholy tunes.)

US Twitter is full of feeble jokes about turkeys.

Photographing road markings is now a thing.

More here, and links to the rest.

Thursday 26 November 2015

Outrageous Excuses of 2015

A man accused of taking photographs up women’s skirts at a wedding reception near London Bridge has said his suspicious-seeming behaviour was just his nervous twitch. (London 24)

We were advised that period shows work better if they are set within living memory, so that’s why we updated it. We wanted the TV show to be anchored in a time and a place – unlike the stories. My feeling was that the stories had a timeless feel to them anyway. (Producer of Father Brown)

Once in an exam analysis meeting, a school leader who taught in a particular department said that the reasons the exam results of that department were so poor was because of their outstanding teaching. They concentrated on independent learning and refused to ‘spoon feed’. This obviously meant kids did less well in the test. (quoted by David Didau on

BBC is cancelling the Tommy and Tuppence series because of “David Walliams’ busy schedule”. "It was the right building on the wrong site" – architect’s defence. (Rob Cowan ‏@cowanrob )

The Hungarian PM says that Hungary can’t accommodate any refugees from Syria because, unlike Germany, “Hungary isn’t used to foreign religions”. (Hungary was pagan until 1000CE and used to have a large Jewish population.)

IT pro child porn arrestee has a story about how he was helping the Feds by working as a vigilante: THAT's how it got on his computer. Ok. "I had all the child porn on my computer because I was working with the LAW and I didn't delete bc it was EVIDENCE!" Ok. Bye now. (Brienne of Snarth ‏@femme_esq)

Our alleged sexist remark was “probably out of context, probably self-deprecating, probably misreported”. (via Adam Rutherford)

In September 2012 Superintendent Andrew Parker, then a member of Rotherham Safeguarding Children’s Board, told the Rotherham Advertiser that the leak was “disloyal”. “The consequence is that victims will be less trustful of giving us access to their lives and concerns. It’s completely destructive to the confidence we are trying to build and it’s exploitation in itself.

You can't just ask people to behave ethically just like that. (Sepp Blatter)

@NickyMorgan01 and @TristramHuntMP both say that they are against compulsory governor training as it would put off volunteers.

We have to oppress women because they are weaker than us and have babies. (You don’t hear that one so much any more.)

Police union: "Appalled and frustrated" with charges against officers, which they say are a "rush to judgment". (re the case of Freddie Gray, who died in custody)

Kylie Jenner (17) at last admits she has had lip filler: “I have temporary lip fillers. It’s just an insecurity of mine, and it’s what I wanted to do. I’m just not ready to talk to reporters about my lips yet, because everyone always picks us apart.” (Earlier she claimed it was all done with makeup.)

“I’ve always had a problem when it comes to telling the truth on the internet, to be honest. After realising the effect my bravery in my illness had on people, I then used it as a vehicle to try and get some of the idiot emo kids on LJ [LiveJournal] to buck up and realise they don’t really have it all that bad … the lie was worth something, wasn’t it? How bad is a lie if it helps?” Said “Limeybean” who faked illness and death from TB on the internet.

It was all a long time ago.
Just saw someone saying they’re not voting because ‘voting gives legitimacy to politicians’. (Tom Hatfield ‏@WordMercenary) April 2015

In 2 meetings this week, developer says we love streets but planners stop us & London planners say we love streets but developers won't build. (@createstreets)

Judge caught driving defendant's car says he was "Just looking after it”.

It has been argued that releasing Prince Charles’s "black spider memos" would undermine his neutral political status. (BBC)

More here, and links to the rest.

Saturday 21 November 2015

Virtue Signalling

We all know that “prejudice” means “making sweeping assertions without supplying evidence”. People on benefits are all scroungers, immigrants are all fit young men in search of the good life, women aren’t funny - these are clearly prejudiced views. But, mysteriously, "champagne socialists expressing concern about global tragedies are just virtue signallers who fail to live up to their ideals" doesn't count as prejudice.

How can you prove that all those expressing concern for victims of a global tragedy on social media are merely "virtue signalling" and "failing to live up to their ideals"?

You’d need to convince the court that expressing concern is useless, and that there is such a thing as "virtue signalling".

Assuming that there is, who are these people? What did they say? What are their ideals? What would “living up to them” consist of? We would need to agree on a standard of “living up to ideals”, and have their actions judged by a neutral observer.

OK, so this isn't a court of law. But are you saying that in real life it’s OK to make assertions, allegations and accusations without evidence? Of course, you’re free to present no evidence. And I’m free to disbelieve you. Or you could name and shame some “virtue signallers”, and they can sue you, and then we WILL be in a court of law.

But how are you going to convince anybody without evidence? What made you think it was possible? And why would you base your opinions on no evidence?

Even if they are just “virtue signalling”, and not helping, does it help to carp about the way others respond to a tragedy?

I put it to you that you are merely repeating an accusation you have heard or read - on social media, and using a tragedy to put others in the wrong.

And finally, do rightwingers accuse lefties of “virtue signalling” because they suspect that their own mean-minded views don’t show them in a terribly good light?

Sunday 8 November 2015

Howlers 13

Had the contingencies of history and geography been different? We might be eating a lot more rabbit these days. ( Needs a comma, not a question mark, after "different".)

It’s really clicking all the boxes. (Escape to the Country Well, when did you last tick a box with a pen?)

Highly prized as a symbol of political power: an C18th spectre made in the reign of the Chinese Qianlong Emperor. (‏@WallaceMuseum)

It places the actions and motivations firmly on this earthly plain. ( plane)

What spurned me to write this? (Dean Burnett spurred)

I might write a book about train conductor's English. Today we had apologies for the "sincere delay" that we "incrued". (@NickThornsby severe, incurred)

normative for normal, typology for type, seismological for seismic, methodology for method (Hugh Pearman)

I think it’s quite simple – obviously in a quite flamboyant style. (Antiques Roadshow)

Will such justice be metered out to our teams? (Tim Wonnacott meted)

Painting of Ophelia Recreated as Mural on Boat Roof (Murals go on the walls – les murs.)

fighting a dual (New Scientist duel)

Does Renoir’s pallet hold the clue? (Philip Mould palette)

missed guided: misguided
well-healed: rich (well-heeled)
gin up on: gen up on

blight: plight (Iris’s blight is interesting.)
cellulite: celluloid (Bargain Hunt)

laughing historically: hysterically
Bruce Brainsfather: Bairnsfather (Bargain Hunt)
crapulous: crapey

monasteries were raised to the ground: razed
amphibious: for ambidextrous
please bare with me: bear

art décor:
art deco
upper nova garage door: up and over
deep-seeded: deep-seated (say it in an American accent)

Miss Marples:
Miss Marple
withdrawl: withdrawal
ball out: bawl out

And nobody knows what “cognitive dissonance” means. They use it to mean “denial”. (People go into denial to avoid cognitive dissonance – holding two contradictory ideas at once. Dissonance is the opposite of harmony.)

More here, and links to the rest.

Tuesday 3 November 2015

At Macdonalds

OK, I'm a bit deaf. Especially when there's a lot of background noise.

Me: Filet of fish and a milk, please.

Server: MIL?

Me: Yes.

Server: MIL?

Me: Yes, I said milk.

Server: DRINK?

Me: What?

Server: DRINK?

Me: I said MILK.

Server: Huh?


Server: Like this? [Gets kids' bottle of milk out of fridge.]

Me: Yes, fine.

Server: SOS?

Me: Eh?


Me: Oh, no thanks.

[She hands over the food.]

Me: You've given me fries - I didn't ask for fries.

Server: You said "IN A MIL".

[Removes fries, fiddles with till, calls over supervisor, explains problem. After about 5 minutes I'm refunded £1.01.]

So "In a meal?" means "Do you want fries with that?"

Monday 2 November 2015

Inspirational Quotes 78

Shortage of comfortable ruts

It’s what’s on the inside that counts, we make our own reality, you'll be stronger on your own and the earth is flat.
He had no home, no car, no job, few friends. (Amanda Burton)

The present is apt to be parochial.
(Agatha Christie)

There are some people who will never see you as being good enough. That is their short-coming not yours. Be merciful enough to yourself to cut them out of your life. (Steve Maraboli)

There’s a terrible shortage of comfortable ruts. (Web commenter)

Cherry had never realized before how isolated one could feel in a  big city. (West End People by Peter Wildeblood)

Some people just want a nice life. They want to bring up their kids, have a job – that’s winning for them. (Alastair Campbell, BBC Breakfast)

Religion is full of poetry and magic. (David Baddiel)

My morality? Consequentialist moral philosophy, in which acts are moral or immoral depending on their consequences, for example whether they cause pain or bring happiness. (Richard Dawkins)

As [Barbara Ehrenreich] points out, [positive thinking] must ultimately be founded on the preposterous idea that your state of mind can change the world and overcome the contingencies of life... This is superstition, as is the entire positive thinking industry... More preposterously, there was the supreme expression of positive thinking that was The Secret (2006), a book by Rhonda Byrne. This exposed the superstitious roots of positive thinking by openly saying that there was a “law of attraction”, whereby the universe would materially reward your positive thoughts. (New Statesman)

When a celeb goes to a party “everything you would want from a party – love, sex, work, contacts, drugs and friends – they can find.” (Cosmo Landesman, Starstruck – on his parents' lifelong struggle to be celebs)

"Have you got one wish for the coming year, Sam Smith?" "I’d like a boyfriend."

Everyone must keep in mind that his personal behaviour reflects very much on his parents. (The Talmud gives a useful clue to your parents' odd opinion of your behaviour.)

We’ve spent years trying to harden lines that are actually quite blurred. (Subject on Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates)

What could be more romantic than making long-term plans together? (Advert)

Next time your spouse is getting shouty, why not tell them to calm down? It won’t have occurred to them & they will appreciate the advice! (Sanjeev Kohli ‏@govindajeggy )

It is often said that before you die your life passes before your eyes. It is in fact true. It’s called living. (Terry Pratchett)

Females are placed under a lot of pressure to fit in, and I think that drives us to develop coping mechanisms... Female brains are better than male ones at storing up scripts in social situations.... I would observe people around me, see how they were behaving, and develop a script to get myself through it. (Hannah Belcher, a woman with Asperger’s, New Scientist 2015)

Modern enquiry... falls away into confusion... religiosity (virtually everything to do with consciousness), and cant... (New Scientist 2015)

In the countryside it’s much worse: people see you as a social pariah. You get the lunch slot: people don’t ask you to dinner because it’s all about place settings, and being single just doesn’t work. Besides, they’re scared you’re after their husbands. (Daily Mail)

Books and movies always highlight the big dramatic moments of our lives, but it’s in the stupid meaningless details where grief lives. (@KristenePerron)

Does over-prescription of CBT “as a treatment for distress” reflect “the misplaced assumption that the causes of distress are to be found within the person?" (Peter McKenna and Keith Laws in a Maudsley debate)

The thing that always gets me is the assumption that depression means that something’s automatically wrong with you and that it needs to be “cured” or “treated” or “therapied” until you’re some kind of 24/7 grinning loon, rather than a signal that there’s probably something not right about your situation and what’s happening to you. All the focus seems to be on eliminating the feeling, and not on whether or not the person’s actually got something to be depressed about. (Web)

One might argue that the assumptions of behaviourism are still alive and well within contemporary cognitive approaches. (The Psychologist)

Power relations are a feature of every workplace, particularly those with formal ranks and explicit hierarchies. Holding power means greater freedom to act, and this can have consequences on behaviour such as ignoring societal norms. As an example, one wonderful experiment revealed that powerful people are more likely than others to take more biscuits from a plate, eat with their mouths open and spread crumbs. (BPS Occupational Digest)

"College dropouts [which she is] always end up in either McDonald’s, KFC, or if they’re in America, Taco Bell,” she says. “Unless you’re really really clever, and you’ll still probably end up in Pizza Hut. Do you know what I mean?” (Sam Wollaston in the Guardian, March 2015, quotes a KFC worker)

[Murderesses] tended to be above average in physical attractiveness, which may have helped to engender trust in their victims. (BPS Research Digest)

It’s so weird wearing a suit on the train. I’m suddenly aware of the businessmen giving me a “one of us” nod. (@greg_jenner)

This will bring back into play that old Protestant meaning in the word (economy), overlaid with ideas of delayed gratification, moderation and self-sacrifice being goodly, godly and rewarding in themselves. (Michael Rosen in the New Humanist)

More here, and links to the rest.

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Reinventions, Inventions, Disinventions 8

Say goodbye to wobbly tables

city squares with central gardens
grid plans for cities

round windows

moon gate
(circular door) between rooms

French-style house or flat layout:
rooms that open off each other with a big glass door (no space wasted on dark, cramped corridors)

obvious entrances "Any public building that has to tell you where the entrance is has failed immediately." (Tom Dyckhoff quoting

arbours and bowers in gardens (seats surrounded and shaded by shrubs)
cosy corners in sitting rooms – the same idea, but with a comfy sofa and curtains

nurses’ hostels, on the hospital site
hostels for people who can't afford flats of their own (They used to exist as private clubs.)
farm cottages, estate cottages, factory towns (Want workers? Build them somewhere to live.)
houses right on the street (Thanks to quiet, clean electric cars they will become desirable again.)
little parades of shops (build them in – flats over shops, shops under flats)

stay-at-home mums
loos and cafés at tube stations

WI free cooking classes

staff canteens

canteens that cooked basic British food on the spot. They’ve been replaced by franchises that sell plastic-wrapped stale sandwiches and baguettes; or over-expensive, over-grand restaurants.

cows or sheep in parks to nosh the grass
Indian step wells
Grow Food, Not Lawns
Humphrey Repton
(to create picturesque gardens for the rich)
kitchen tables (rescue them from hipster cafes and put them back in kitchens)
dining cars on trains
blinds and curtains in trains
(They were really useful, even if they were made of orange nylon.)

threading and message numbers
for Facebook (like usenet in the 80s)

ergonomics (After all the fuss about repetitive strain injury, workers are now hunched over a tiny screen, a tinny keyboard and a slow, slow, slow trackpad.)

women’s magazines that are all recipes and patterns (cooking and craft really are back)

banquettes lining the walls of cafés

barefoot doctors BBC Breakfast says barbers, bookies, barmaids may pass on public-health messages. (They could put up posters saying Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases too.)

Dalcroze eurythmy (to replace Morris dancing)

the Italian passeggiata (On a warm night, everybody wanders the streets, buying stuff at the shops which stay open late.)

plate rails above your sink

Help pages and manuals. FAQs and forums are just not the same.

In the days of tape recording, playback/transcription machines rewound the tape slightly every time you pressed the pedal, so that you knew you were in the right place and hadn’t missed anything. You can’t do that with mp3s. But why not?

In Japan’s ubiquitous konbini, or convenience stores, you can pay your gas bill, buy concert tickets and have your suitcase sent ahead to the airport while stocking up on everything from bananas and batteries to pink Pepsi. (Times Dec 2014)

What to do with beautiful old brooches you never wear (because it’s hard to pin them on today’s stretchy clothes – they’re designed for layers of tailoring, or a corset)? Pin one onto a wide velvet ribbon and wear it as a choker.
If Milton Keynes’ experimental houses wouldn’t look out of place today, why not just build copies? Weren’t they intended to be templates?


Anything designed by men for men: microphones (the power pack clips onto your trousers at the back. Toilets: we need twice as many as you do. CDs: they’re JUST too big for our hands. Aircon: you like a colder temperature, and you want to be able to keep your jackets on; we freeze. Unexpected item in bagging area: I need to put my handbag down somewhere while I get my money out. Ringtones: I need to be able to hear my phone which is in my handbag in another room, not in my jacket pocket because I’m not wearing a jacket, so I can’t feel it vibrate. And by the time I answer it, it’s gone to voicemail. (Oh, and take the tax off tampons.)


nap pods have been introduced at the Uni of Michigan library

badges reading I’M PREGNANT AND I NEED TO SIT DOWN are available (This is the best – most of the others are either twee or crude. Sometimes I wish I was French.)

Someone’s invented a slipper with a clip-on rubber sole.

Rivers are being returned to their original meanders after 19th century straightening, to fight floods.

There’s a charity turning Victorian drinking fountains – back into drinking fountains. (We could even build modern versions.)

They're going to abandon London's sealed-bus experiment and put opening windows in the New Routemasters. Like everyone told them to, including the designer. (Hugh Pearman)

Gordon Cullen was right: what the South Bank needed was bustle and awnings. #Better64YearsLateThanNever (Barnabas Calder ‏@BrutalConcrete) (I remember reading in the 80s that 60s shopping precincts needed market stalls. For a long time, all they got was Victorian “style” lamp posts.)

sons, as well as daughters, of the great and good to be invited to the Queen’s Garden Parties – oh, they are! When did that happen? Between 19 and 26, unmarried.

volunteer gleaners to pick crops not pretty enough for supermarket, and give to poor

glass-domed railway carriages on scenic routes (on Indian Railways)

Royal Mail to deliver parcels on Sundays, parcel offices to open on Sunday afternoons.

turn redundant phone boxes into solar powered phone-charging stations and cash machines

apprenticeships (Moves to revive them were around for 40 years, but apparently they're being misused, and apprentices are being made to sweep floors and make tea without being taught anything.)

Moats are being dug to protect buildings against flash floods.

Liverpool architects notice that people use front gardens for parking cars and storing bins – so they build new houses with a parking space and bin shed out front.

pressure group for single people
tax on empty homes
lipstick that matches an orange face

double-sided curtains
self-cleaning floor/pavements

fizzy drinks with half the sugar
spider-legged all-terrain “wheel” chairs
a “no work without pay” act
that fit energy saving bulbs

sprinkler drones to clean pavements (combined with industrial quality Roombas)

sun reflectors (they reflect light into your room) – as good as enlarging windows, says ad. (If the windows had been large enough in the first place... And why not enlarge the windows?)

subtitles for radio (and pictures) And if you had a picture/radio channel you could have a real-time signer for the deaf as well.

pod capsule dwellings and studio flats designed by the people who design motorhomes – stop wasting space on useless halls, or full-size kitchens a single person doesn't need. (Thanks to Don Constance.)

hose down
the West End every night
pave all “paths of desire”

Tell closed groups about each other. So you think you have a monopoly on the truth and that everybody hates you? Meet Fred – you have a lot in common.

Oblige the staff and students of universities in the Southern States of America to have dinner together once a week, at circular tables. You must sit next to someone you’ve never met before. Have a speaker, or a discussion topic, or an activity – or conversation cards!

Open Buckingham Palace to the public year round to pay for its restoration.

Why has nobody yet invented GPS chips for children's clothes? (Sam Leith ‏@questingvole)

Turn redundant fireplaces into bookcases.

Let grass in graveyards grow to encourage wildflowers and wildlife.

We can put a man on the moon but we haven’t got a proofreading machine (that could at least compare two pieces of text).

Organise a mass trespass of first class carriages on trains.

Find a huge redundant church in London and lend it to the Russian Orthodox (who can’t build a cathedral to fit all their community because of some silly quarrel between different monasteries, or something).

tiny windows
window frames below a certain size
tiny type
giant books
circular beds
corner baths 

instant gambling machines
(and oboe practice)

large wine glasses
(At the same time, water the workers’ beer as in WWI, bring down alcohol content of wine, ban high-alcohol Buckfast, Special Brew etc.)

the acid used in acid attacks, and those stoves that “accidentally” burn brides to death. And dowries. Oh, and the caste system.

(Well done, Catalonia.)

wobbly tables, latte glasses that don’t fit the saucers, teaspoons that don’t reach the bottom of the glass, glasses with tiny handles

modernist cladding on Victorian buildings, pomo claddings on modernist buildings (except where it’s an improvement), 70s cladding on 30s buildings, faux brick cladding for your computer-generated eyesore (Now comes in "antique", with different coloured bricks. We are not fooled.)

Tesco coupons (Some just earn you more points when you buy Tesco’s finest something-or-other. You can use the points to earn more points.) A Tesco card should work like a Boots card, where the points are money.

They can put a man on the moon but we still send each other Xmas cards “from Brian and Sue”, with no surname, address or email.

With something like the "streets in the sky" concept, the aim was to keep the "solidarity of the street and face-to-face interaction", says Prof Michael Hebbert, professor of town planning at UCL. "It didn't work, but you can understand the underlying logic of it." BBC online (They were designed to be wide enough for milk floats.)

More here, and links to the rest.

Thursday 22 October 2015

The Eighties Again

From the Condition of Postmodernity by David Harvey

Modernism on the left, postmodernism on the right.
romanticism/Symbolism:           paraphysics/Dadaism
form (conjunctive, closed):        antiform (disjunctive, open)
purpose:                                      play
design:                                        chance
hierarchy:                                   anarchy
mastery/logos:                            exhaustion/silence
art object/finished work:            process/performance/happening
distance:                                     participation
creation/totalisation/synthesis:  decreation/deconstruction/antithesis
presence:                                    absence
centring:                                     dispersal
genre/boundary:                         text/intertext
semantics:                                  rhetoric
paradigm:                                   syntagm
hypotaxis:                                   parataxis
metaphor:                                   metonymy
selection:                                    combination
root/depth:                                  rhizome/surface
interpretation/reading:               against interpretation/isreading
signified:                                    signifier
lisible (readerly):                       scriptible (writerly)
narrative/grande histoire:           anti-narrative/petite histoire
master code:                               idiolect
symptom:                                   desire
type:                                           mutant
genital/phallic:                           polymorphous/androgynous
paranoia:                                    schizophrenia
origin/cause:                              difference-difference/trace
God the Father:                         the Holy Ghost
metaphysics:                              irony
determinacy:                              indeterminacy
transcendence:                           immanence

We tried so hard to be post-modern in the 80s, avoiding list A and embracing list B. But it is quite difficult to pursue an activity while carefully avoiding anything like an end-point. I found myself collaborating with people who had apparently never worked on a project that produced anything. It was exhausting.

Column A doesn't just represent "modernism", it represents the Establishment and right-wing politics. And isn't it defining what appears in Column B? So that post-modernism couldn't exist without modernism?

Read about the middle classes in the 80s here.

More about the 80s here, and links to the rest.

Sunday 18 October 2015

Haiku 11

is as useless
as the rustling of leaves.
Karl Sharro ‏@KarlreMarks

Trying to tell him
about my yearning to see
oil distilleries and funicular railways
and shabby motorway services
and ferry terminals.

Fog-enveloped radio mast in Carlisle
is one of the eeriest, coolest things
I've ever seen.
Ah the M6.
We are together again
at last my sweet.
Thy yellow orange lamps
bathe me in baleful light
as the miles slide by.
I think I must have dreamt
that very nice bunshop
in Highgate
that didn't exist
this afternoon.
Polly ‏@IntervalThinks

So windy.
Blowing the crows around
Like angry ash.
Paul Western-Pittard ‏@Cerullean

There must be more to life
than trying to reach the next level
on Candy Crush...
but I can't think of anything
off the top of my head.

Hopefully one day
Hollywood platitudes of overcoming adversity
will be replaced with grinding reality
and the laughter of the damned.
Imaginary Cities ‏@Oniropolis 

The zoo with the bear
also has a sauna
with a panoramic window
into the wolf enclosure.
Andrew Brown ‏@seatrout 

In the Edgelands at night,
no humans remain.
The environment is ruled
by mutant junkyard dogs.
Simon Sellars ‏@ballardian

On the Hubble photo
Like a leopard clinging
to what remains
of the trunk of a burned tree,
possibly mourning it.
Claire Siegely ‏@SiegeFeathers

Airplant – a present.
I didn’t notice when it died.
It looked just the same.

Sterilised milk, yams.
Fly specks on the pink iced buns.
Scent of incense, dogs.

More here, and links to the rest.