Wednesday 29 April 2015

Inspirational Quotes 74

Looks don't matter, just be yourself, be sincere, dream big, blah blah blah.

Still in his teens, he had cultivated a gentlemanly accent and manners which, coupled with his natural good looks, he used to defraud young women by offering them bogus jobs. ( on conman Netley Lucas.)

By the time most of us are adult, we’ve learned to mask our true feelings — at least as they show up in our face – because we have to get along at work, at home, and in social settings.  So we pretend to be interested, we pretend to smile, we assume a bland expression when we’re actually peeved, and so on. ( gives good advice.)

Another factor is that you do get a lot of attention, and it can make you very self-conscious. It can make dating difficult (there comes a point when tall is just too tall) and can make people treat you differently in a way that is not always good. (Internet commenter)

Tall people are more likely to be paid better, nominated to be CEOs, to hold elected office, and are rated as more trustworthy and attractive in surveys. (From the same message board. But I think she means tall MEN.)

Social norms will always be more powerful than laws. (Guardian on Stonewall Nov 2014)

It’s not up to her. Ike and Tina Turner’s relationship has nothing to do with Tina Turner. Nothing. Stop blaming victims. Address the perps. (Chris Rock)

The barbed wire loo seat was a bit of crazy experimentation...some crazy ideas work...others don't...if you don't try you don't succeed. (@MrGeorgeClarke)

Lego’s marketing people are brilliant. They know what children want. Not inspiration. Not educational play. They want what they’ve seen on the telly. Emmet from the Lego Movie, or the Golden Ninja, or Lego Hulk. (Jemima Lewis, DT Nov 2014)

Read the Gospels honestly you'll find repeated threats of Hell combined with idealism no one could possibly follow but no realistic messages. (Noel McGivern ‏@Good_Beard)

New Law To Forgive Student Debt For College Graduates Once All Their Dreams Shattered (Onion)

Deep down, life’s lessons have to be learned independently. That’s another major middle-class belief. You have to be self-reliant and can’t depend too much on other people. Life is an individual quest and not always something that’s easy to share. (Middle Class Handbook website on Xmas ads)

The “just don’t play it” mantra is nonsense, sexist depictions of women in games are not just harmful to women, they’re also harmful to men. (@femfreq Feminist Frequency)

She was a mean little girl in a sweet old woman’s body; she spoke about people behind their backs in ghastly ways, sometimes loudly just seconds after they’d left the room. She spoke in a permanent whine, sometimes practically in baby talk. (Meghan Daum on her toxic grandmother)

According to Tom Robinson's song from 1978...
(Voice from The Other Side:) "Today, institutions fundamental to the British system of Government are under attack: the public schools, the House of Lords, the Church of England, the holy institution of Marriage, even our magnificent police force are no longer safe from those who would undermine our society and it's about time we said 'enough is enough' and saw a return to the traditional British values of discipline, obedience, morality and freedom.

What we want is:

Freedom from the reds and the blacks and the criminals
Prostitutes, pansies and punks
Football hooligans, juvenile delinquents
Lesbians and left-wing scum
Freedom from the n*****s and the P*k*s and the unions
Freedom from the Gypsies and the Jews
Freedom from leftwing layabouts and liberals
Freedom from the likes of you..."

More here, and links to the rest.

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Reasons To Be Cheerful 14

Roman law gave women property rights, Christianity gave monogamy and Greek education (with emphasis on literacy) gave them tools to rule. (Byzantine Ambassador ‏@byzantinepower)

But that’s positively medieval! “Europe in the 11th-13th centuries, when we see the invention or development of the great cathedrals, the first universities, the invention of spectacles, musical notation, perspective, the plus and minus sign, alphabetization, modern punctuation, etc." (Culture and Civilization, ed. Irving Louis Horowitz)

Somehow that picture of an Italian woman Astronaut  Flight Engineer for Expedition and  a Captain in the Italian Air Force photographed by an American with a Russian Team member in a Space Station sums it all up for me. (TD)

The annual numbers of people dying in wars has declined since the 1940s.

[Quakers had] established equality between the sexes in their Meetings as early as the 1600s. Just about every American social movement you could think of had been supported and often spearheaded by the Quakers, from abolition, to women’s rights, to temperance (O.K., one mistake), to civil rights, to environmentalism. (Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot)

When did Burberry stop labelling trench coats “for officers only”?

1753 Marriage Act stipulates that young people under 21 need their parents’ consent to marry
1969 Age of majority (and ability to marry without parents’ consent) lowered to 18

1847 London’s first public toilet for women opened
1855 Cesspools outlawed (shit pits under your house or back yard)
1992 Women US senators get their own private toilet
1998 EU bans marine dumping of sludge

1860 Nude bathing banned in UK
1862 Margate prohibits nude bathing
1920s Bans on mixed bathing increasingly ignored

1872 Licensing Act forbids being drunk in charge of a horse.
1875 First Teetotal People’s Café opens in Whitechapel.
2003 Under the Licensing Act 2003, it is an offence to sell alcohol to a person who is drunk, or to obtain alcohol for consumption by a person who is drunk.
And we don’t sell gin to children any more.

Until 1950s and 1960s, that "utmost resistance" standard [in US rape cases] was replaced, but with a "reasonable resistance" standard! So even after the 1960s, a rape victim had to prove she resisted! (Brienne of Snarth ‏@femme_esq)

1841 Rape is no longer punishable by death

1872 In defiance of US law, suffragist Susan B. Anthony votes for the first time, and is later fined $100 (via Hamish Thompson)

1879 Lady Margaret Hall is first Oxford College to admit women

1883 Contagious Diseases Acts suspended (repealed 1886). Under the Acts, women thought to be prostitutes could be arrested, forcibly examined for sexually transmitted diseases, and confined in a “Lock Hospital”.

1918-1970: The National Council for the Unmarried Mother and her Child The charity was originally founded in 1918 as The National Council for the Unmarried Mother and her Child (and for the Widowed or deserted Mother in Need) by Lettice Fisher. The charity had two goals: to reform the Bastardy Acts and Affiliation Order Acts laws which discriminated against illegitimate children, and to provide alternative accommodation to the workhouse for mothers and babies.

1922 Carrie Eve becomes the first woman mayor of the Metropolitan Borough of Stoke Newington
1922 Helena Normanton, the first woman barrister, “scandalised the legal profession by insisting on practising in her maiden name”.

1929 Marion Phillips becomes Labour MP and the first Jewish woman MP

1938 A woman who witnessed a burglary was jailed for 5 days for wearing slacks into court when she testified.

1959 Repeal of 1913 Mental Deficiency Act enabling unmarried mothers to be categorised as “moral imbeciles” and sent to lunatic asylums

1997 Protection from Harassment Act

1998 Dame Heather Hallett becomes the first woman to chair the Bar Council, 103 years after its creation. She now sits in the Court of Appeal.

2014 Women in India are allowed to be makeup artists
2014 Saudi Arabia’s new domestic violence laws take effect

2015 Economist magazine appoints its first female editor
2015 Malawi bans child marriage, raises minimum age to 18
2015-03-26 The new royal succession rules, giving women equal rights to girls and allowing marriage to Catholics, came into force on this day.

1950s Circumcision of boys begins to fall out of fashion

1978 Protection of Children Act The Times in February 1978: ‘At present police have difficulty in gaining a conviction under the Sexual Offences Act 1956, because there must be evidence of assault on a child. The Indecency with Children Act, 1960, is concerned only with those under the age of 14 and its wording is not clear. The Obscene Publications Act, 1959, has been described as the most useless legislation on the statute book.’ At the time a lawyer said: “There’s no point prosecuting because it’s very difficult to get a conviction.”

1987 Family Law Reform Act repeals the Bastardy Acts and Affiliation Orders Acts, ending the concept of illegitimacy

1998 School Standards and Framework Act requires all UK state schools to have anti-bullying policies

2014 Divorced parents get assured contact with children

Scotland: neyfs (serfs) disappeared by late 14th century
England and Wales: obsolete by 15th-16th century
Iceland: 1894 (completely)
Bosnia and Herzegovina: 1918
Afghanistan: 1923
Bhutan: officially abolished by 1959

1676 Slave rebellion in Virginia
1681 Law stops slave owners breeding Irish and African slaves to create lighter-skinned, more valuable, slaves
1963 End of an unofficial bar on the employment of black and Asian bus drivers in Bristol
2015 Modern Slavery Act consolidates current offences relating to trafficking and slavery, establishes an Anti-Slavery Commissioner and provides for the protection of modern slavery victims.

1731 England starts recording laws in English rather than Latin
1793 Catholic Relief Act gives voting rights to Catholics in Ireland who meet property qualifications
1827 CoE clergy lose remaining legal immunities
1868 Penal transportation from Britain and Ireland officially ends
1916 Soldiers in the British Army are no longer required to wear a moustache
1960 Betting and Gaming Act repeals the injunction for all adult Englishmen to practise with the longbow
70s, 80s laws passed to ban flammable furniture
2015-03-26 For the first time since surveys began in 1983, UK support for death penalty is under 50%. (BBC)

History class nugget: for hundreds of years up to 1215, the Church forbade marriage between anyone more closely related than sixth cousins. (sumit paul-choudhury ‏@sumit)

When America became a Republic, it was based on the democratic state of Athens (men get the vote, but not women or slaves). But the family copied a despotic state: the man is the unelected head with supreme powers; women, children and slaves have no vote (and no property).

Latinas/Latinos were excluded from access to the legal system in Mexican Cession States for decades. Also Asians in California, ditto.

Kinship carers don’t have the same rights as foster parents.

Spousal citizenship has been a right since 1948, and was generally upheld before that back to the 1700s. In 2012, low-earners were excluded. (@zoesqwilliams)

In France, hate speech is only illegal if it directly incites violence, according to cartoonist Garry Trudeau.

And reporting child abuse is still not mandatory.

1534 First Act of Supremacy 1534 and the Treason Act 1534 made it illegal to harbour a Catholic priest. Both have been repealed.

1850 Fugitive Slave Act punished northerners who helped slaves escape – they had to send them back.

1857 The Dred Scott decision of 1857 said the Negro is not a citizen of this nation, he is merely property. He has no rights that the white man is bound to respect. (Martin Luther King)

1896 the Plessy v Ferguson Decision established as a law of the land the doctrine of separate but equal. (Martin Luther King)

1910 Tennessee is the first state to adopt the “one-drop” rule

1921 Women’s football banned by FIFA in the UK (ban lifted 1971, leading to a revival across the world)

2015 Russia bans from driving transgender people, fetishists and voyeurs among others

More here, and links to the rest.

Wednesday 22 April 2015

Inspirational Quotes 73

Be yourself, be spontaneous, be sincere. Yeah.

When I saw her approaching in the hall I’d grab a friend by the elbow and throw my head back in laughter so she’d perceive me as being popular and bubbly. (Meghan Daum on her mother)

I know someone whose entire circle of friends consists of ex-flings. (Alex Andreou)

I still absolutely stand by the fact that if you have good manners, people will like you. And if people like you, they will help you, socially and professionally. ... If I’m interviewing somebody, she walks in, she looks me in the eye, she sits down, she knows how to engage me conversationally and she doesn’t bore me rigid, I’m going to be far more impressed than with somebody who walks in with some kickass CV but hasn’t bothered to wash her hair, is picking at her nails, can’t look me in the eye, and is frankly boring me rigid. It’s human nature. (Editor of the Tatler, in the Obs, Nov 2014)

According to a Mississippi pageant director: “When a girl wins the pageant, it’s because she wins in interview. It’s like anything else in life. It’s not just about showing brains. You have to have a sense of humour. You have to be charming. You have to show personality." (NYT)

As with most sex acts, no one ever gives you a “how to” on the subject. ( on BJs)

Valuing you as a person – not just your grades, your place in society or how cool you dress. (Woman vicar on BBC Breakfast admits the importance of social position and a cool wardrobe.)

The psychology of "mate poaching" - when you form a relationship by taking someone else's partner (BPS Apparently relationships formed this way are less satisfactory, as the poachees are not great at commitment.)

Moving in together is 1 of life’s #milestonemoments. (Aviva)

Would you like your child to marry this speaker? (You Say Potato: A Book About Accents, Ben Crystal and David Crystal)

Most of us feel deep relief when we are told where to go, where to sit and whose instructions to listen to. (Dora Mortimer)

That's the negativity of the four-ale bar. (John Major on UKIP on the Marr Show)

Members of this rejectionist minority are more likely to have left school at 16 and they are less affluent. They are older as well. (Guardian on poll into attitudes re immigration)

Alcoholics make the rules. They make it impossible for you to leave, or to change anything. They normalise abnormal behaviour. Adam Mars-Jones’s father used to have to be carried home from the club many nights, but he pretended everything was fine. “The whole charade made it surprisingly easy to play along.” His apologies “seemed designed to wind up the tension rather than soothe it. They were strange cocktails of amnesia, shoulder-shrugging and indirect accusation... ‘Your mother tells me that you were upset by something I said last night... I don’t remember what it was, but all I can say is, you can be very annoying’.” He would apologise, but “he did not accept there was a pattern of behaviour attributable to drink”. (LRB, Nov 2014)

We are now in the hands of Isaac Newton. (Comet lander team, Nov 2014)

I have done my utmost for some years past, to stop the progress of “mob” and “banter”, but have been plainly born down by numbers, and betrayed by those who promised to assist me. (Jonathan Swift complains that young people talk slang and that plainly we are all going to Hell in a handcart.)

More here, and links to the rest.

Tuesday 21 April 2015

Overheards 7

Posh department store in London: "Pandora! Leave that box alone!" (As genuine as “Midas, I said ‘Don’t touch!’ ”)

Melbourne, Victoria
Heard a woman in the park yesterday calling for her Jack Russell. “Aioli, come back here. Now, Aioli.” I despair. (Sniouxsie Sioux ‏@SilverMtSarah)

Man on bus: They’ve got seven children, but they weren’t accidents, they were all wanted. There’s a picture on Facebook of them holding up shortbread. I’m voting UKIP. (He also said that friends of his had gone out to fight ISIS and ended up joining it. “But they all hate each other – they pretend to be friends, but they all hate each other.”)

Man on bus: We just put a few pounds under the apple and banana bowl, son, yeah? (In the middle of a half-hour rant to his son, yeah? about looking after his gran, and the cost of travelling to Barbados.)

In the café: Don’t you want to meet your new grandson?
Cockney gran:
Naow, I don’t! Naow!

One girl to another: Just keep saying “I’m a princess and I deserve to be treated like one.”

Two blokes walking: I don’t believe everything I read in the Bible.

Girl on phone: But I haven’t even got a boyfriend!Girl on train: So when you got married, you’d never had sex before in your life!

In the café, small boy to phone: Google, what’s a Quark?

In Stoke Newington café:
Did you leave a jacket behind? I’ve got it at home.
Young girl: Oh my God, that’s a £200 Italian leather jacket! I cried when I thought I’d lost it!
Proprietor: Don’t get too excited, it might not be yours! (Sells jacket on ebay.)

In Clissold Park café: Would you like a carrot stick, Henry? Baby crisp? Naughty baby crisp?

In the health food shop: The olive crop has failed – the price of olive oil is already £2 up!

At the community garden fair:What does H O R I Z O N say, Spencer?
What's his Friday enrichment?
I offered it to you earlier and you didn't choose to do it. (craft workshop)
It would be a very tiny religion!
Don’t say Specsavers to 'im!

At the feminist library Xmas fair:
Would you woman the tea stall?

In the bistro: My greatest wish is to be there when an operation is performed. I’d love to see that. That’s why I love watching Dr Who. But I can’t bear touching fish! (Did she mean Doctors?)

On holiday: I have never experienced that even in a ski resort!

At the Giant’s Causeway: It was built by somebody – here’s a cut mark! Somebody built this!

In the corner shop: You don’t want no energy drinks. Keep it simple!

Woman on bus on phone: #'Hi, are you sleeping?' Gets loud 'not any more' reply. (@dellamirandola0)

OH: "Nick Clegg is at a hedgehog sanctuary." (‏@JonnElledge)

On the train, someone's phone conversation. Agitated tones, cut short as she disembarks: "The next generation of Tinder babies will be..." (Simon Sellars ‏@ballardian)

OH: "It takes a feminine napkin to make that point." (@joshgreenman)

Overheard at the National Theatre: "And I was in a Bulgarian film that was so bad it went straight to DVD in Bulgaria." (@DrMatthewSweet)

Man talking loudly on his phone in this coffee shop has just said "No, no, no! Fresh water is a PRODUCT!" (Andrew Male ‏@AndrewMaleMojo)

'My wife and I argue every single day. She just won't accept that I am her master.' - said in all seriousness by a man in this hotel bar. (@BarnabyEdwards)

Overheard on the train: "I don't do Shiraz." "No, I don't do Shiraz either. Really sick of it." (They prefer Merlot since you ask.) (‏@bat020)

Two women having a heated discussion. One uses air quotes. "He calls for me then takes you out for a hotdog? I don't call that 'chivalry'!" (Andrew Male ‏@AndrewMaleMojo)

Town cryer oh-yey!-ing in Cecil Court. Boy stops to look. Dad pulls him away. Dad: That's for tourists. Boy: Aren't we tourists? Dad: No! (Andrew Male ‏@AndrewMaleMojo)

Guy on tube, on phone, in hushed confidential voice "I got the clingfilm, dandruff shampoo, and a lime. Like you specified." (@lucyfishwife)

OH at the Gdn leader writers' desk: "Do you say 'Trotskyist' or 'Trotskyite'?" Apparently there are subtleties to the answer. (Andrew Brown ‏@seatrout)

Quote of the day. Couple walking past me into the wind 'we are just like those penguins aren't we?' (Claire Welford ‏@Welfrington)

School group (10yos) trails past shop. "NO SIMON, that's NOT the National Archives, it's a BOOKSHOP." (@lucyfishwife)

OH, South London: "That was the night I ate my own sim card". (Sathnam Sanghera ‏@Sathnam)

Just heard genuine train announcement: 'Please mind the gap (pregnant pause) between Southern Rail timetable and reality'. (@MunicipalDreams)

Train announcer: "Apologies to passengers w reservations in coach C, there is no coach C tonight, this is due to there being no coach C." (hannah ‏@nanpansky)

Will passengers taking the train on platform 13 please put it back. (Apocryphal)

More here, and links to the rest.

Monday 13 April 2015

Thankyou, Mr Moto

This is a review of Thankyou, Mr Moto by John P Marquand for the Past Offences crime fiction blog's 1936 challenge.

John P. Marquand wrote straight novels about snobbery and the American upper class, but he also wrote spy thrillers set in the Far East of the 30s. This one is confined to Peking at a time when the Japanese were empire-building and China was ruled by shifting bands of warlords. Against this background, French, British, American and Russian businessmen and expats carry on life as normal.

The story is seen through the eyes of Tom Nelson, who has left a respectably dull life as a lawyer to live in Peking in a lovely old house with Chinese servants. Family money and the exchange rate probably makes this temptingly easy. A thoughtful man, he is intrigued and attracted by Chinese culture and philosophy. But he likes to ask of everything, "Does it matter?".

No snob himself, he has befriended a Chinese aristocrat, the dignified Prince Tung, who lives in a corner of his vast, decaying palace. He is also mates with a Japanese, Mr Moto. The drama begins at a party given by an American woman, where people of disparate origin dance to a jazz band. There are rumours of unrest, but everybody is tired of those. Tom bumps into Mr Moto, and an American girl called Eleanor Joyce, who has come out East and stayed. Is she just hunting for a husband?

Then an Englishman called Best invites Tom to dinner, tells him a tale about a sinister warlord, Wu Lo Feng, and next morning turns up dead. What was he to Eleanor and vice versa? Then Mr Pu the curio dealer appears with some priceless pictures thought to belong to Prince Tung...

The action becomes fast and violent. All our friends - and the pictures - get mixed up with the horrible General Wu. But the players insist on treating each other with elaborate Oriental courtesy, serving tea while threatening torture or death.

It is more of a thriller than a mystery, a breathless page-turner, and written by a skilled master who evokes a dimly unknowable city with empty, dusty streets, high walls, ancient gates, and the occasional rickshaw drivers' eating house lit by flickering lanterns.

What makes it 1936? The politics, and the sense that the Dark Ages are back. And Eleanor dancing in a tailored chartreuse dress and hat. And Tom's reliance on servants to bring him something to eat.

All the Moto novels foreground a young man and woman, with Moto himself hovering in the background. They were quickly turned into a Hollywood series. Moto is described as small and chunky, with protuberant eyes. Who does that remind you of?

The films were variable, with plots on loosely based on the books; Thankyou, Mr Moto is one of the more faithful. Peter Lorre plays Moto with his usual skill, and Philip Ahn impersonates the renamed Prince Chung (who has acquired an effectively Oedipal mother). The movie Moto is more of a detective and a master of disguise than a spy or agent of the Japanese government, but we are never quite sure. The series came to an abrupt end, overtaken by events.

The literary Moto made one post-war appearance in a tale that stands up to the early examples. He is older, greyer, sadder, driving a taxi and given to saying "Poor Japan". The plot is even darker than before. I must read them all again - and Marquand's tales of the aristocracy.

Previous challenge here.

Thursday 9 April 2015

Howlers 12

Sam and Dave Cameron may be privileged, but they’re hardly “chinless wonders”, as somebody called them.

Arc Deco (Art Deco)

a blouse in cool creap (crepe)

It was written in Egyptian hydroglyphics.

Sliver ye timbers! (It’s “Shiver my timbers!” as in “shatter my planks”.)

post hawk, propter hawk (or talk), argumentum ad homonym (from Neal Whitman @literalminded)

I consulted the oricals. (oracles)

The genii was out of the box. (Genies usually live in bottles. It was the evils of the world who lived in Pandora's box.)

Have a looksy. (look-see)

From a bygone ear. (era)

The fires of our love are nothing but dead ambers. (embers)

It rang the death knoll. (knell)

O’Say Can You See (BBC iplayer site)

The singer was a real pre-Madonna.

They pulled off a real coupe. (coup, pronounced “coo”)

His explanation was inchoate. (incoherent)

The prices were draw-dropping. (jaw-dropping)

the strong arm of the law (BBC continuity. The arms of the law are usually "long".)

the tricoleur of revolutionary France (Times, March 2015. It’s tricolor or tricolore. Why not tricouleur? It just isn’t.)

There are about 600 million fossils proving creation. We keep asking them to show one fossil to prove evaluation and they fail to do it. (@harun_yahya)

a soluble but determined Irishwoman (Andrew Billen, Guardian. Surely “voluble”. His stuff is always full of typos. Does he phone it in?)

I take it to task, on behalf of all the other introverts, to share with you some little known facts about us. ( I take ON the task. “To take someone to task” means that you tick them off. But thanks, anyway!)

a perfectly coiffered hairdo (Mail, coiffeured) Euphemia has gone down for posterity as the possessor of the most famous pubic coiffeur in our history. (Times 2014-08-23. A coiffeur is a hairdresser – what they produce is a coiffure. And shouldn't that be "to posterity"?)

Football is occupying an uncomfortable moral ground. (BBC News. Try "in an uncomfortable moral position".  In a battle, whoever has the high ground has the advantage. That's why people try to occupy the moral high ground, metaphorically.)

Tattoos were once the preserve of sailors, prostitutes and criminals... Now they are most likely to be found daubed onto the skin of Britain’s middle class. (Times 2014-08-02. You daub paint onto a canvas – thickly, with a brush. Tattooing is more like etching or engraving.)

Bob Fosse cut open a new vein in Broadway dance. (Times caption, July 2014. When you “find a new vein” in any art or enterprise, you’re imagined to be mining a new vein of gold, not bleeding someone to death.)

A letter to the Times complains you can’t smoke a pipe in the street on a 10-minute cigarette break. “This may go some way to explaining the lesser-spotted pipe smoker. That, and the sniggers I seem to elicit from passers-by.” (Lesser-spotted doesn’t mean “rarely seen” or “vanishing”. A Spotted Woodpecker has spots. The Lesser Spotted Woodpecker is the smaller version.)

More here, and links to the rest.

Wednesday 8 April 2015

Junk Statistics 5

Some statistics are reliable. Others just get passed around. You can always get the Straight Dope at And now we've got all this equality, surely women have nothing to whine about?

Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half.
(Gore Vidal)

One of the most popular images circulated by libertarians on the Internet is of a blue plaque commemorating a house in Notting Hill where Orwell lived, complete with a security camera mounted beside it on the white stucco facade. Actually the image is a complete fake [...]
Reputable newspapers and broadcasters still tell you there are more than 4 million security cameras in the U.K. and that the average person can be captured by 300 cameras in any one day. [...] The problem is that few of these stories are based on any facts. Times columnist David Aaronovitch researched the much-cited "300 cameras in a day" story and debunked it as an urban myth -- a diligent piece of public skepticism that inspired the Full Fact website, which now makes regular checks of the untested assertions that fill the British press. As for the 4 million cameras report, an evidence-based survey calculated the number was less than half of that, and that 95 percent of the cameras were privately owned by shops, businesses, and homes. If anyone is watching you, it’s not Big Brother, but your neighbour."
(Daily Beast. Surveillance is nothing new. MI5 used to have a room - and a kettle - in all the major sorting offices.)

UK female academics earn nearly £6K less than men (gaps of £10-12K in some institutions). (Times Higher Educational Supplement)

History students: 60% women. History professors? 20% women.

Women are 56% of low-wage workers. (Economic Policy Institute)

Women make up 60% of the world’s working poor, but on average they are paid between 10% to 30% less than men. (Sathnam Sanghera)

60,000 women a year lose their jobs due to pregnancy (Independent, Dec 2013)

In 2013, the top 10 highest-paid actor made a collective $465m. the top 10 highest-paid actresses made $181m. (Guardian)

In Hollywood male actors earn 10 times more than female, says Hilary Swank.

Fewer than a third of all speaking roles in film go to women. (UN report September 2014)

60% of art school graduates are female; 20% of work sold in London galleries is by women artists. (BBC2)

Researching with @Tate's online catalogue I noticed something about their collection: 70,707 male artists, 3,183 female artists. Hmm. (Dr Ayla Lepine ‏@heartchitecture)

Women still earn only 82p for every £1 a man earns, though gender pay gap has shrunk. (BBC Nov 2014. But there isn’t really a gender pay gap because [reason].)

Domestic violence is now the leading cause of injury and death in women under 45 in Australia. (ABC)

Study finds “violence in the home” biggest source of violence in the world. (Dec 2014)

More than 850 Pakistani women were murdered by their families in 2013. (

About 40% of domestic violence abuse victims are male. (Home Office, British Crime Survey)

Scottish statistics covering the 10 years to 2011-12 show that 51% of the female victims of homicide aged 16 to 70 were killed by their partner, compared with 6% of male victims. For Northern Ireland, the equivalent figures for the five years to 2013-14 are 73% for women and 3% for men. (BBC)

Single parents are twice as likely to be poor.  (Gingerbread)

Couples who stay together can boost their income by an average 35%. (Daily Mail)

Married people have up to 300% more sex than single people. (True, says letter to LRB)

Atheists make up less than 1% of the US prison population. (United States Federal Bureau of Prisons)

Office of National Statistics says rates of conception for under-18s in England & Wales are at their lowest since records began in 1969.

"I'm just saying what everyone's thinking." UKIP has now at last demonstrated how large this "everyone" is - about 15-20% of population. (Will Wiles)

Joseph Rowntree Foundation research reveals that less than 1% of workless households had two generations in which no-one had ever worked. Not a single “three-generation jobless family” was found. 17% of households have one generation workless. The study found no evidence for a “culture of worklessness”.

Muslims make up 5% of the German population. (Pew Research)

Amazon deforestation in Brazil drops 18% in 2013/2014. (Brazilian government figures)

Retailers selling 25 types of jam sell less jam than the shop selling eight types. (Ben Page of IPSOS MORI)

59% of the British cabinet, three-quarters of senior judges, half of diplomats, etc, went to Oxbridge. (Financial Times)

Only 7% in Britain are privately educated, and yet graduates of private schools make up 71% of senior judges, 62% of the senior armed forces and 55% of permanent secretaries. Only 7% of members of the public attended a private school. But 71% of senior judges, 62% of senior officers in the armed forces, 55% of permanent secretaries in Whitehall, 53% of senior diplomats, 50% of members of the House of Lords and 45% of public body chairs did so. So too did 44% of people on the Sunday Times Rich List, 43% of newspaper columnists, 36% of cabinet ministers, 33% of MPs, 26% of BBC executives and 22% of shadow cabinet ministers. (Sutton Trust)

40% of British children leave school without a C grade in maths and English. (Economist)

Immigrants contribute more to the UK than they cost. (Al Jazeera)

There are fewer Romanians working in Britain since January. (Huffpost, May 2014)

The statistic “1 in 4 will suffer mental health problems in a lifetime”, quoted everywhere, is an understatement, says Hugh Porter, head of

Tax fraud is 15 times greater than benefit fraud, but the media talk about benefit fraud 600% more. (Huffington Post)

The UK porn business has shrunk by 90% in the last seven years. (Jerry Barnett, founder of Sex and Censorship)

Pregnancy and abortion rates plunged in study offering sexually active teenagers free birth control. (New York Times)

[In the US,] women’s colleges are going co-ed in an effort to combat years of decline in revenue. Enrollment at women-only colleges fell 29% since 2000. (Time Magazine Oct 2014. Women-only colleges were founded because men’s colleges wouldn’t admit women.)

Blue-eyed people have more children. (And so do short women. Greater mate choice.)

Most UFOs are seen during drinking hours. (Economist. And most ghosts and apparitions are seen when people are “lying down”, according to one lecturer.)

In 2013 in the UK, there were 40% fewer emergencies of all kinds for the fire service than ten years ago. (Health and Safety? Smoking bans?)


In 1800, 40% of British women were pregnant when they married.

More people a year are killed by falling coconuts than are killed by sharks (150/5). (Citations needed.)

Does cannabis cause a quarter of psychosis cases? (But smoking skunk makes you three times as likely to develop a psychotic disorder.)

£1.2bn lost to benefit fraud £30bn lost to tax fraud £70bn lost to tax avoidance. (In which year?)

Number of CoE vicars has fallen by 40% since the 60s. And congregations have halved. (Citation needed.)

According to IEA: 'British drinkers now pay 40% of the EU’s entire alcohol duty bill.' Is this true? (Rob Baker ‏@robnitm Institute of Economic Affairs?)

There are now more foxes in London than double-decker buses.

90% of everything written in English uses just 1,000 words.

An estimated 37,940 hectares of previously developed land were vacant or derelict, that's 55% of the total. (@MrGeorgeClarke. In which year?)

35,000 UK kids reached out to a suicide hotline last year for help…an 18% rise.

Only 8% of immigrants speak no English. And of those, over 80% are women over 70 who, for cultural reasons, mainly stay in the home. (Citation needed.)

80% rise in cases of wild mushroom poisoning in the UK, thanks to the foraging movement. (Junk – The National Poisons Information Service (NPIS) says the number of incidents reported has remained steady between 200 and 300 in each of the last five years. Quoted in the Guardian.)

1877 was the year in which more alcohol per head was drunk than before or since. (If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home, Lucy Worsley)

Four in ten people in Britain admit that they possess kitchen gadgets they no longer use. (If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home, Lucy Worsley)

40% of antiques on the market are fakes. (Put about by the TV programme Treasure Detectives, and much questioned.)

The majority of economic migrants rent privately with only a small proportion relying on social housing. (Citation needed.)

More here, and links to the rest.

Monday 6 April 2015

How to Write Haiku

I was not aware

that Japanese poetry
was held in esteem.

Five syllables here.
Seven more syllables there.
Are you happy now?

Painting a picture,
A seasonal connection,
Various other things.

Moral reflection,
Metaphorical sense of
Image, stuff like that.

A twist or reverse
Of image between second
And third of your lines.

A sting in the tail –
The last word or image should
Come as a surprise.

More here, and links to the rest.

Friday 3 April 2015

Twitter Haiku 10

Sitting at home,
no heating on, balcony door open,
listening to the rain :)
Suzanne Hardy ‏@glittrgirl 

Listening to the rain
while sitting alone
in the pitch black
of the night.
Bek Hobbes ‏@Greebobek 

A near-empty hot water bottle
with a loose cap
emits a loud groan
when you tread on it
in the dark.

Record cold in South
50% of Lower 48 covered in snow
Ice Visible on Lake Superior...
Idaho breaks cold record from 1880!
Global Warming?
Carter Bates ‏@corkybates 

Magnetic fields
frozen into meteorite grains
tell a shocking tale
of solar system birth.
zoran ignjatovic ‏@barickiza 

Tibetan Buddhists do believe in gods.
Or archetypes.
Or personified abstractions.
Or something.
Roger K

The real elephant
in the room
was why you did not
keep your elephant
in the garden.

Sompting Lychpole dewpond
with noisy wavelets
blowing to the edges.
Mike Tristram

Reading! The autumn gloom
swirls around you, concealing all.
Thank God.

When I was born, Mars was a mystery.
Today we see planets forming around HL Tau,
a star 450 light years away.
Rupert Goodwins

All roads lead back
to Wolverhampton, man.
Even the A4123.
Sathnam Sanghera

Nine out of 10 people
on the bus next to mine
are on their phones.
The other one is
peeling a mandarin.
mrs o ‏@ortonioni

It is hard to walk out
into the Hell Creek Formation
and not stumble upon a Triceratops
weathering out of a hillside.
Dr Nick Longrich

Tonight, I am in Warrington.
Tomorrow I am in Sale.
I assume I was bad
in a previous life.

More here, and links to the rest.