Tuesday 20 December 2016

Contradictions 3

'Society,' said Mrs Merdle... 'is so difficult to explain to young persons... I wish Society was not so arbitrary, I wish it was not so exacting ... But we must take it as we find it. We know it is hollow and conventional and worldly and very shocking, but unless we are Savages in the Tropical seas (I should have been charmed to be one myself — most delightful life and perfect climate, I am told), we must consult it. It is the common lot. .... [My son] is a little gay, a thing Society is accustomed to in young men, and he is very impressible. ... Not a misfortune in our natural state I dare say, but we are not in a natural state. Much to be lamented, no doubt, particularly by myself, who am a child of nature if I could but show it; but so it is. ... 'If we could only come to a Millennium, or something of that sort, I for one might have the pleasure of knowing a number of charming and talented persons from whom I am at present excluded. A more primitive state of society would be delicious to me. There used to be a poem when I learnt lessons, something about Lo the poor Indian whose something mind! If a few thousand persons moving in Society, could only go and be Indians, I would put my name down directly; but as, moving in Society, we can't be Indians, unfortunately — Good morning!' (Mrs Merdle politely gets rid of Fanny Dorrit, whom she suspects of wanting to marry her son. Fanny is an actress.)

The nuns told us not to copy anybody and to be original. That would mean that everything we did and said had to be something nobody in the history of the universe had done or said before. At the same time they wanted us to believe 365 impossible things before breakfast, and to be 100% conformist and obedient.

Lefties are all poor little snowflakes who can’t stand a few racist and sexist jokes, but we must try to understand racists who feel excluded and unhappy.

The snowflakes want safe spaces – but we want a country that’s just for white people: Rassisten so: "Keiner hat Recht auf einen 'Safe Space'." Auch Rassisten so: "Wir hätten gerne ganze Länder exklusiv für Weißen!"

Tell people to be consistent, while giving them contradictory advice.
Whinge about Christmas consumerism, while bewailing the recession and the decline of the high street.

Recommend not being kind to children, or helping victims, but complain of “vicious attacks” if your position on anything is questioned.
Victims are entirely responsible for their plight – unless they’re the ones whining about the “moaning”.

All lefties are insincere virtue signallers and dangerous enemies who must be destroyed.
Nobody has free will, but everybody has criminal responsibility.
We want fat people to exercise, but we don’t want to see them doing it.
We hate the nanny state, but we should “tackle” obesity.

We want everyone to be partnered, but we don’t want to make it easier for the single to meet each other.
Everyone is supposed to be part of a couple, but you mustn't "look for" someone.
You’ll be stronger on your own, but we won't invite you to dinner because it's so awkward finding someone "for" you.
Tell us you're happy being single and that relationships arrive out of the blue, while doing all you can to “find someone”.
You’ll find someone when you’re not looking – so why are there dating apps?
We are monogamous but adultery websites are big, and x% of men go to prostitutes.
Go wild! Let your hair down! – but only in the way we approve.

Children are inconvenient, but you've got to have them or be thought a freak. (And what would happen if everybody did it?)

The nuns told us civil marriages weren't marriages, but if you'd been married in a registry office you couldn't get married in a Catholic church.

Tell your fundamentalist children to get married young, while homeschooling them in social isolation.

We say we like “sassy, feisty, strong, independent” women, but put pressure on women to be “feminine”.

Women should be liberated, but liberated women can't  knit, have boyfriends, wear make-up, shave their legs, want children, or... (It was an 80s thing.)

We say that people pick up social skills by osmosis, while we are teaching them.
We can't teach social skills, but we can write books about business etiquette.
You must make an effort socially, but you mustn’t try too hard to be liked.

We say we're individualists, while conforming.
Don't think about what others are thinking about you, but first impressions count.

Everything happens for a reason (we’re playthings of fate), but we’re responsible for everything that happens to us.

Tories hate anything “regimented” – unless it’s an actual regiment.
"Why are school results so poor?", ask Tories while axing Sure Start centres.

We say we're controlled by our subconscious, but we plan our lives down to the last detail. (When pushed you may explain “I just wish I could be more spontaneous sometimes”.)

Getting what you want won't make you happy, but you can get whatever you want as long as you want it enough.

Everybody’s an equal, and there are no social hierarchies any more, but you must kowtow to the boss if you want to keep your job.

Everyone should have free speech, apart from the people who want to stop others issuing rape and death threats.

In summer, American offices are kept 4-6 degrees too cold so that men can wear business suits. (Wasting n amount of electricity, and contributing x amount to global warming.)

Election coverage is “the full horror”, but I’m wringing my hands over the way we’re “sleepwalking into a police state”.

It's OK for a bully to hit you, but not OK for you to hit back.

My placid son snapped and laid out the school bully with one punch. The bully was off school for three days. The gist of the telephone call from the headmaster was that it was a bit naughty but all the staff were delighted. To their credit, the lad's parents didn't complain and the bully calmed down and became a firm friend of my son. (JWH)
Hipsters dress the way rednecks dressed 100 years ago.

Slavery was abolished in the 1830s, but unpaid internships are legal, as is a week’s unpaid “training” work while the company decides whether or not to employ you.

If the fossil record was put there by Satan to stop us believing in God, why is there no missing link?

All change comes from within, but we talk about life-changing events.

We're getting taller and bigger, but houses are getting smaller.

I hardly read newspapers any more – but we’re bombarded with information all the time! (It’s the information that was in the papers you don’t read any more – and the phone calls you don’t have.)

Email wastes so much time!
(Far more time was taken up by long phone conversations; and by opening, reading and replying to letters.)

America, land of the free, set up the first democratic state since Athens (copying the idea that democracy is not extended to women or slaves). They threw off British tyranny. But by law, the family was modelled on a dictatorship, with dad as the dictator. All the money and property was his (even if it had belonged to the wife originally). His wife and children were his property. These laws were changed in the 70s, and not everybody has caught up.

Intellectual lefties love “the people” but hate “the masses”.
Conservatives love the past, but they hate anyone to “rake up” the past (expose past crimes and injustices and bring the perps to book).

Protest never changed anything – but rioters got rid of the Poll Tax.
Revolutions never changed anything – but we haven’t got a cherry orchard any more.

If we give young people the HPV vaccine/give them sex education/let them take the pill/warn them about STDs/let them use condoms they will have sex. Which is dangerous because they might get an STD or get pregnant (back to top).

It beggars belief that the same people that say Ebola and Zika re hoaxes believe in fake diseases like “chronic Lyme” and “yeast overgrowth”. (@Takethatmedicine)

Can right-wingers please decide whether immigrants are here to "steal our jobs" or here to "live entirely on benefits"? (Chris Ward ‏@christopherward)

How long can we go on a) developing robots and b) blaming the jobless for their "attitude"?

Hang on. I thought the problem was that migrants would work for less? But it's also a problem when they don't? (@hugorifkind Brexit Tories don’t want migrants to come here and be paid the living wage, says the Times. April 2016)

In the UK there are two constant sets of news: lack of teachers/doctors/nurses/construction workers etc and how we must stop immigration. (@KarlreMarks)

Daily Mail commenter suggests Britons should move to Australia, where they have sensible immigration policies.

A balanced approach to Brexit that starts with a change to free movement but preserves Britain as an open, welcoming place.
(Andy Burnham)

Quick question: how does global blasphemy law work when one god tells followers to kill those of another god? Asking for minor deity. (@byzantinepower)

I hate when rich people slag off people on benefits but use the NHS and state education but still claim to be taking nothing. (Pip Borev ‏@pipogypopotamus)
Moan about petty bureaucrats, speed cameras, government interference, socialism (free-loaders expecting pensions, care homes, health care), while benefiting from street lights, libraries, hospitals, schools, sewers, policemen, the army, free galleries and museums…

So UKIP are against Equal Marriage? I do love these 'do what you like as long as I like what you are doing' 'Libertarians'.
(Martin Shapland ‏@Mshapland)

Libertarians are the ones who think that good English means following rules and want to shoot people who say “Can I get a latte”.

The same people who whinge that Britain is becoming a police state approve of boarding schools, corporal punishment and workhouses, and think the civil liberties of “yobs” should be taken away.

And it's the Libertarians who like to say we don't have free will...

I have noticed that even people who claim everything is predetermined and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road. (Stephen Hawking)

Those that deny free will in principle nevertheless act in practice as if it exists. (Julian Baggini)

The (Archbishop’s) communique speaks of marriage as a “lifelong union between a man and a woman”, when no one seriously expects the Anglican churches to denounce divorce. (Guardian Jan 2016)

Note how traditional patriarchy considers women too delicate to look after themselves in public but OK to do all the hard work at home. (Karl Sharro ‏@KarlreMarks )

Alternates between "Outrageous! Somebody wants to build houses!" & "Outrageous! Housing expensive!" (Kristian Niemietz ‏@K_Niemietz)

People prefer modern tech to pigeon but mostly prefer older homes to new ones. (@createstreets)

These days, marriage is generally considered to be far less important as an institution, or as a step in life which people take, than it used to be. Yet the amount that people spend on wedding celebrations has gone through the roof. (WS)

Dream: “Guardian Masterclass - Develop your book and get it published.” Reality: “Authors’ incomes collapse to ‘abject’ levels” - Guardian (Mischa Hiller ‏@mischahi)

Man educated in school which locked him away from the outside world for first 18 years of his life bemoans isolationist communities in UK. (‏@RetroAperture)

Boarding schools stress “individuality and independence”, while turning out “a standardised product”.
(Nick Duffell, The Making of Them He also says they claim to be producing independent individuals while teaching children how to live as part of a community. But, he adds, they are not part of their local community – they hardly ever see or are seen by anybody on the outside.)

London in the 19th century was a “vast building site... gobbling up the countryside... Yet nowhere else in the world do town houses strive so hard to appear like country houses, with their large gardens and architectural features.
(Nick Duffell)

While pioneering the abolition of the slave trade upon which our colonies had been founded, we helped establish our home industrial base on child labour. At the same time, popular culture espoused a sentimental cult of the innocent child... (Nick Duffell)

The daily meditations promoting liberty and the 36-page handbook that curtailed it... For all the rhetoric of communitarian governance, the divide between child and adult was as distinct and hazardous as a glacial crevasse. (Allen Kurzweil on his creepy Swiss boarding school)


More here.

Friday 16 December 2016

My Novel

Yes, I've written a novel. It's a young adult paranormal romance called Witch Way Now? (see the cover top right) and is about a teenager called Anna in the Swinging Sixties who discovers she has some unusual powers. To start with, she uses them to make friends at her new school, and return a few favours, but then she comes to the notice of the local coven... Her parents have secrets they aren't sharing. Eventually she finds herself in London, which everyone says is "where it's at". Should she turn on, tune in and drop out? Her friends range from sensible secretaries to druggy boutique staff to... read it and find out. It's funny. You might like it.

Thursday 15 December 2016

False Scent, by Ngaio Marsh

Ngaio Marsh’s False Scent 1960

Nobody seems to like this book much, I’m not sure why. I’m rather fond of it, perhaps due to the brilliant audio performance by James Saxon. This is for the Past Offences 1960 challenge.

Mary Bellamy is an actress of, as Inspector Alleyn puts it, the “naughty darling” school. Her heyday was probably the 30s. She wakes on the morning of her birthday as her maid Florence (also her dresser) brings her breakfast in bed. Mary lives in some style, thanks to a rich husband. Her dresser has made her a filmy embroidered camisole, but her old Nanny (known as Nin) has knitted her a warm bedjacket, saying that you like to be comfortable when you’re “getting on”. Yes, Mary can’t kid herself she’s 49 any more.

Her husband Charles enters the room and she disloyally ponders how badly he has aged. Then she makes the mistake of posing for him in the camisole and a shaft of sunlight. He notices that she is using a lethal looking pest spray on her indoor plants and begs her to throw it out. Another admirer makes her a present of a vulgarly large cut-glass bottle of an overpowering scent, and Charles begs her not to use that either.

As preparations for her birthday party get under way, we meet the rest of the cast as Mary has flaming rows with one after the other. Bertie Saracen, her gay costume designer (where would she be without the “Saracen concealed curve”?) and her old friend and understudy Pinky Cavendish, who has just been offered a rather too-good part. Mary lays into them both, getting more and more paranoid and seeing conspiracies everywhere.

“Rise above, dear, rise above,” says Bertie to Pinky and they carry on doing the flowers (there’s a conservatory downstairs as well as in Mary’s bedroom).

We also meet Dicky, Mary’s adopted son, who has written several plays for her. He is nervous about showing her the latest, as it’s in a completely different style and doesn’t have a role for her. In fact it’s meant to star his new girlfriend, Anelida, who lives nearby with her antiquarian bookseller uncle, Octavius Browne. Maurice Warrender, Charles’s cousin and an old admirer of Mary’s, turns up early for the party.

The bash gets going, the guests mill about, including Mary’s director, Timon Gantry, and producer, Monty Marchant. Aspiring actress Anelida of course makes an impression on Bertie (“your clever hat!”) and Gantry, who immediately asks her to read for him. Mary overhears, there are more scenes, and Mary goes upstairs to apply some more of the pungent scent (Formidable), which she has poured into her atomizer. Yes, she is found dying on her bedroom floor as someone has adulterated the scent with the Slaypest. The Yard are called in and the main players spend an uncomfortable night sitting around as various awkward truths are revealed, between agonizing silences and the occasional “deadly little pause”.

The opening scene, the entractes with Bertie and Pinky. A few likeable characters: Florence, Colonel Warrender. I like Alleyn and Fox as well. Alleyn’s facetiousness is toned down from the earlier books.

Octavius is insufferably arch, and Anelida is both pallid and wet. And we’re supposed to like them, which makes it harder to bear. Anelida deserves a role in James Barrie's Dear Brutus, bleating: "Daddy, come back; I don't want to be a might-have-been." Dicky’s “different play” sounds intolerable, but perhaps it’s meant to. The fact that Florence is known as “Floy”. (Marsh nicked her from Somerset Maugham’s Theatre, but filled her out and made her more of a character.) Nin’s over-indulgence in port and subsequent bad behaviour. She talks backwards, like this: “A man to you, seem he may...”, a tic also displayed by the Nanny in Noel Streatfeild's Ballet Shoes. Alleyn calling the middle-aged Florence a “girl”.

What makes it particularly 1960?
Drawing-room comedy is going out, probably thanks to television. Mary’s clothes: for the party she wears pink, with flying panels of chiffon, over what sounds like a “corselette”. Anelida going to an evening party in a white hat. (The 60s didn’t really know what to do with hats. They were no longer obligatory for respectable women, as in the 50s and earlier, but milliners had to make a living and hats became a “feature”.) A gay character (Bertie) with a well-honed camp persona. (Homosexuality was still illegal, but the law was soon to change, and Kenneth Williams was a big star.)

More Marsh.

Wednesday 14 December 2016

Hey Guys, It's 2017! (Almost.)

Why are there still faith schools?

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

‏The conservative response to “It’s 2016 and the liberal project still hasn’t been achieved!” is to sneer: You might almost think that it was THE CURRENT YEAR guys.

It’s 2016 and Nazis are back, and terrible things are happening in the Middle East, and...

It's 2016 almost 2017.... why are there still wobbly tables in restaurants? (@SpenceShaw7 Nov 22)

There is a man on my train who is testing the ringtones on his phone. At full volume. In 2016. (Charlotte L. Riley ‏@lottelydia Nov 14)

For people bemoaning that there are gay characters in Coronation St in *2016 *, a few words from its creator. (James Cooray Smith ‏@thejimsmith)
"On one occasion I sat there and listened and listened until I got to my feet and said, 'I have sat here and listened to three poof jokes, an actor described as a poof, a storyline described as too poofy, and I would just like to remind you that without a poof you wouldn't be in work'. One of them said, 'But Tony, we didn't mean you'. I said, 'You call my brothers, you call me'. I didn't know I felt so strongly until that moment, and from then on I never pretended to another soul that I was anything other than what I am." (Coronation Street creator Tony Warren)

A horrific day in British politics when archaic faith schools are given more power. Supposed to be 2016 not 1916! (Chris Manning ‏@VaegaVic)

Faith and learning should be kept separate, its 2016 not 1816. Why are all the churches closing then? (harry o ‏@zeerlin12)

How and why is this type of thing happening all over the world? In the 21st century? (@sezohanim on protests over refugee camps in Nairu.)

There are Vote Leave billboards on the M40 urging drivers to 'Stop ze German Advance'. And yes, it's 2016. (Robert Colvile @rcolvile)

Last direct train to London from Manchester on a Friday night: 21.15. Unbelievable. In 2016. #northernpowerhouse (Sathnam Sanghera ‏@Sathnam)

Seems vastly improbably that splinter of bone is from Thomas A Beckett, but even if so, in 2015 it should be in museum, not being worshipped. (Tom Shakespeare ‏@TommyShakes)


Jewish father driven out of his London home after being attacked 30 times in 3 years by racist thugs (@ShulemStern )
This is 2016 not 1939. (‏@MargeDacre)

2016 and I'm working to try and help children who have been rescued from slavery and people are correcting my grammar. Well done internet. (@HeardinLondon)

"Legal Action In Gay Slur Cake Incident". Welcome to 2016, time traveller. No, no flying cars yet. (Damian Counsell ‏@DamCou)

And why do I still have to read such headlines in 2016? What have I done wrong to deserve this? (M. v. Aufschnaiter ‏@mva_1000)

#Its2016AndWeStillDont have marriage equality,more than a quarter of female MPs,constitutional indigenous recognition,fast broadband #auspol (@GaryNunn1)

It's 2016 and the Daily Mail is still (re)writing articles like this: Can any wife fancy a man who becomes a house husband? (@marcuswstow)

It's 2016, and technology hasn't quite caught up...

Some people aren’t replying to their own Tweets yet, so you have to read their grate thorts backwards.

The thing that most impresses me about Boots is that they sell stuff where the prices aren't on the system, they look them up in a book. (@celestialweasel)

It took two hours of hell on the phone to fail to persuade Virgin to cancel my TV and broadband contract. None of the robot services would accept my phone number or mobile number. I've got an account number but no area code. Finally I got through to a person, but she spoke very little English and the line was terrible. I had to ask her to repeat everything. I told her the problem (two engineers say there's no cable and they can't put one in). She said she'd look up my notes to see what the problem was, and read it back to me. (Which was what I’d just told her.) Then she tried to rebook the installation appointment... No amount of yelling "Cancel it! Cancel it!" would stop her. She had read and heard the words, but obviously didn't understand them. Finally she said she'd put me through to her supervisor, and the line went dead. (In the good old days, it took half an hour to find a line that worked, and half an hour to get through layers of “I’ll just put you on hold and see if he’s free” to get to the person you wanted to speak to. This is not progress.) It was cancelled in the end after I whinged on Twitter and sent angry emails to every Virgin customer service person in my address book.

Wordscraper doesn’t automatically save your notes.

Why can't I get a blogger feed on a Facebook page without a degree in computing? They can put a man on the moon...

I have two files called template, one in Word (template.doc) and one in Garageband. If I search Spotlight for “template” it lists them both. I select “template.doc”. Spotlight thinks I really want the Garageband file and opens Garageband. Several minutes wasted while it loads and I shut it down again.

And Twitter doesn’t do automatic emojis yet, unless you’re using a phone. Oh, you’re all using a phone. Oh, I see.

The Independent is incredibly slow to load, impossible to read, and crashes Firefox every time.

When I pause my Epson printer and resume, it starts printing the document again from the end.

We can put a man in space but Facebook doesn't support italics or bold.

There are a gazillion different kinds of:
light bulb
ink cartridge

you can’t remember which is which
or where you put the one you need
or else you’ve left the thing at home

Sometimes the bagging area is on the left and sometimes on the right and you have to place your items in the bagging area even if there are no bags because the store doesn't use them, and it’s never ever labelled BAGGING AREA.

My energy supplier emails me to say it has sent me a message on my account page. I can read the message there, but I can’t reply to it there. I have to email them. And they can’t email me back – they can only email me to say there is an answer on my account page…. I think.

And online forms still ask me if I’m Miss or Mrs.

And online forms are agony to fill in, erasing everything you’ve input, arbitrarily halving your income…

And people are STILL whingeing about women putting on makeup in public. Didn't that one go out in 1925?

But go to top of page in Firefox is Apple up cursor!

More here, and links to the rest.

Friday 9 December 2016

Reasons to Be Cheerful 17

Temple Bar, now in Paternoster Square (sans heads)

In 2016, many seem determined to unravel the liberal project. But we still have some reasons to be cheerful.

We no longer fear and punish internal migrants (vagrants).

Endurance starvation is no longer a spectator sport.

We don’t execute people in public any more, or exhibit their heads on bridges and city gates.

There are no longer “whites only” drinking fountains, bus seats or lunch counters in the Southern States of America. Or notices in British boarding-house windows reading “No coloured, no Irish, no dogs”.

Nobody adds “Esq” after a man’s name any more.

In the US, the death penalty is being eroded by legal decisions.

The world’s top three largest clothing retailers, Gap Inc., Inditex, and H&M, are now completely fur-free.

We no longer threaten our children with the bogeyman or der Kinderfresser if they misbehave.

We don’t run ads like “Every morning’s a Smirnoff morning” (young woman in dressing gown drinks Smirnoff for breakfast).

We can talk about love, and admit that everybody needs it! (And if there are any 80s leftovers still claiming it’s a bourgeois construct, I hope they choke on their bulgur wheat.)

New Labour's Achievements
devolution to Scotland and Wales
Human Rights Act
removal of most hereditary peers from parliament,
minimum wage,
near full employment,
the longest period of sustained growth in 200 years & significant steps towards peace in Northern Ireland

1870 After the public dismemberment of the Babbington plotters against Queen Elizabeth I caused an outcry, this punishment was never used again. It was abolished in England in 1870. The death penalty for treason was abolished in 1998.

1916 Soldiers no longer required to grow moustaches
1924 Native Americans can leave reservations

1961 India outlaws the dowry system (but the law is widely ignored)

1966 Bobbi Gibb is the first woman to run the Boston Marathon

1970s The last all-male brass bands begin to accept women (Most bands, including the Salvation Army, recruited women in WWI because so many men were at the front. Why did Salvation Army women bang tambourines? Because initially they were banned from the band.)

1976 Girls can be Boy Scouts "From 1912 to 1967 the organisation's name was The Boy Scouts Association and until 1976 only boys were admitted to its programs. In 1976, girls were allowed to join the Venture Scouts section for 16- to 20-year-olds. This expanded to the entire organization in 1991, although the admission of girls was optional and has only been compulsory since 2007. Girls now make up 25% of participants with a total of 94,366 female participants aged between 6 and 25 and a further 50,600 women involved in volunteer roles (being more than 1 adult female for every 2 female young people)." 2014 Annual Report, The Scout Association.

We had female Assistant Scout Leaders in 1980 and female Venture Scouts a couple of years after that. (DC)

1991 UK Dolphinariums closed and the dolphins were released into the wild.

1999 Time magazine updates “Man of the Year” to “Person of the Year”

2012 Hen batteries banned. Replaced by “enriched cages”, but these may be phased out too.

2016 The Pope is setting up a commission to discuss women deacons, and the Orthodox Church is  having discussions.

Aug 2016 US Supreme Court bans domestic abusers from owning firearms

Sept 2016 A ban on microbeads in cosmetics is predicted for the end of the year
Sept 2016 Plans to privatise the Land Registry have been shelved.
Sept 2016 The “Liverpool Pathway” (denying the dying food and water) has been scrapped

Oct 2016 Pakistan has tightened laws punishing “honour killings”, but the sentence, if not death, is 12.5 years.

Oct 2016 John Lewis appoints its first female boss (she started in haberdashery)

2016 The Netherlands plans to increase forest cover by 25%.

2016 An all-girl choir is to sing for the first time in Gloucester Cathedral Choir's 475-year history.

Nov 2016 The Tories are defeated over the bedroom tax in the Supreme Court
Nov 2016 Argentina bans greyhound racing


Whatever the outcome of today's ruling on Pre-exposure Prophylaxis for HIV we have:
1) No compulsory sex ed
2) No mass testing system
3) No national prevention scheme
(Patrick Strudwick ‏@PatrickStrud)

Aug 2016 Patients mount desperate plea to save Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital
Therapies on offer at Glasgow’s Centre for Integrative Care include:
Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy,
Art and Music Therapy,
Therapeutic Massage,
Allergy therapy and
Anthroposophic medicine
and complementary therapies such as
Acupuncture, Homeopathy and Mistletoe Therapy

Wild Animals in Circuses (Prohibition) Bill 2015-16 did not become law

Slavery in the British Isles existed... from before the Roman occupation until the 12th century, when chattel slavery virtually disappeared after the Norman Conquest and was replaced by feudalism and serfdom. From the 17th century until well into the 19th, transportation to the colonies as a criminal or an indentured servant served as punishment for both major and petty crimes in England and Ireland. During the same period, workhouses employed people whose poverty left them no other alternative than to work under forced labour conditions. (Wikipedia)

The British sugar beet industry has quietly collapsed.

African American servicemen weren’t allowed to take British children and mothers home, and they themselves could not stay in the UK. (Bonnie Greer)

1962 Commonwealth Immigrants Act (an act of 1948 gave Commonwealth citizens British citizenship)

“Before the Act was passed, citizens of British Commonwealth countries had extensive rights to migrate to the UK. In response to a perceived heavy influx of immigrants, the Conservative Party government tightened the regulations, permitting only those with government-issued employment vouchers, limited in number, to settle. The leader of the opposition in Parliament at the time, Hugh Gaitskell, called the act "cruel and brutal anti-colour legislation". The Act was amended by the Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1968 and another new Act, the Immigration Act 1971... These Acts resulted from widespread opposition to immigration in Britain from a variety of political groups, but most notably the Conservative Monday Club, whose Members of Parliament were very active and vocal in their opposition to mass immigration.” (Wikipedia 2014 Latest UK Immigration Act)

More here, and links to the rest.

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Predictions for 2017

There’ll be a poppy debate of some kind.
Virtue signallers! Fascists! Jingoists! Jobsworths! Too big! Too small! Forbidden! Imposed! Poppy police! Repeat for Halloween (American!), Christmas (too early!), Black Friday (American!), Valentine's Day (Commercial!), Mother's Day (American!), Easter (Children don't know what it means!).

School leavers will be found to lack essential workplace skills.

Some middle-aged people who have only just noticed the last faint echoes of a dying trend will complain about uptalking? And wonder if it comes from Australia? (Middle-aged people took it up about 20 years ago, but fortunately dropped it again.)

Arguments (excuses) for not having a smartphone or joining Twitter will get more and more baroque.

Journalists who have never read a single line of her books
will opine about Agatha Christie (cosy, idyll, gosh she wasn’t Miss Marple).

At the start of the academic year, some school will hope to get into the papers, gain publicity and curry favour with Middle England by sending home 50 children for wearing garments that are “not uniform”. (Black suede lace-ups when the list calls for “plain black shoes”, September 2016.) The head will come out with 50 silly reasons for imposing uniforms and rules. He will then be machine-gunned from the roof of the chapel by angry pupils.

At any mention of bankers employing only Old Etonians (surprise, surprise), or Carole Middleton being a former air hostess, the media will pass round its tattered and tea-stained copy of Nancy Mitford’s 70-year-old book on how to tell a member of the upper classes from a yob.

A Polly Filla will write a long article explaining why she couldn't possibly marry her partner (patriarchal baggage, just a bit of paper, outmoded institution) as if she was the first person to have thought of it.

"Why did you give your article such a terrible headline?" people will ask writers on Twitter. Writers don’t write headlines, sub editors write headlines.

Midsummer! It’s more like the beginning of summer!
JSA claimants will be sanctioned for not having a computer (so they can’t search for jobs over Christmas), not being able to use a computer, or being illiterate. Or even blind.

Some Twitter users will fail to grasp that if they reply to their own tweets, we can read their grate thorts in sequence. (Or Twitter will adopt proper threading.)

Meanwhile other Twitter users will only post by replying to their last tweet, so that we have to wade through tweets we have read before to get to the new stuff.

Measures will be put in place to make restaurants pass on tips to staff. Restaurants will get round it somehow. (“Too many employers didn’t understand the need to respect a voluntary code” said a commentator.)

Girls will do better than boys in exams, and many will moan “How can we fix this problem?”

The right-wing press and socmed will attack socialists for drinking prosecco, wearing new clothes, and sending their children to private school. Hypocrites!

A famous software house will issue a new version of its operating system. Users will curse and scream. The same will happen with well-known online picture-sharing services, micro-blogging sites, map providers etc. The firms will not ask users for advice. Next year they will repeat the procedure. (The new version gradually becomes more usable as they listen to their users which they should have done in the first place.)

More newspapers will go online and cease printing.

Many media organisations will sack their sub editors because technology can do their job now. Standards will slide even further and the public will complain, but the subs won’t get their jobs back. The public will blame schools, which “don’t teach grammar any more”.

The media will shed jobs. Thousands of young people will leave university “determined to break into publishing/the media”. They will work as an unpaid intern, and then most will go and do something sensible. Out of work journalists will make money for a while running training courses for jobs that no longer exist.

Even more girls will go to university. They now outnumber the boys six to one.

A few sensible young people will train as butlers and concierges, and a few girls will become lumberjacks, engineers or nuclear physicists.

And two women a week will be murdered by their partner or ex-partner.

Newspapers only ever run two basic stories abt architecture. 1. Egocentric architect. 2. Egocentric architect's building collapses. (@tomdyckhoff)
Journalists will write articles about:

The Forgotten Backroom Girls of
[insert enterprise here].
You have been doing X wrong your whole life.
Zeppelins are back!

Masculinity is in crisis.

Predictions for 2016.

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Buzz Words of 2016

Run as fast as you can to stay in the same place

6 Jan First instance of “There are Easter Eggs in the shops already!!!” spotted.

Lefty architects vilifying Jane Jacobs and Alice Coleman (co-opted by Tories) in wake of Cameron’s plans to demolish sink estates.

11 Jan RIP David Bowie By lunchtime the backlash tweets have arrived. “Famous person you didn’t know blah blah”. Columnists seize the opportunity to have a dig at Twitter, including the hoary old “tweeting about your breakfast to 1,000 people you don’t know” slur.

So far I've seen 4 journalists ticking off the rest off the public for being upset about death of a public figure. Is there a competition? (Pam Smith ن ‏@revpamsmith)

It’s “grief porn”, apparently.

Twitter's wild cycle of public emotion, backlash, counter-backlash, counter-counter-backlash, assorted Hot Takes etc is getting predictable. It's the constant second-guessing and outflanking that wearies me, specifically. It's all in such bad faith. But also Takes of the manner "What mattered is not obvious, much-celebrated A, but obscure B, which no one else has mentioned". (Will Wiles And you have to instantly take sides, and find a pejorative epithet for the “others”.)

The meaningless uplift ascribed to Gandhi fad has mainly passed.

Blokey competitive snowfall culture has started – not snow unless blizzard or 15ft drifts.

tribes: We’re talking about the Labour party.

Cue middle class whingeing about Blue Monday.

millionaire shortbread (It’s a thing and I’m eating some.) (Forgotten what it is now, Aug.)

FB/Twitter is populated by right-wingers, baby pictures, and morons, unlike Twitter/FB. Twitter has an update – Twitter users wail that it’s “turning into Facebook”. (And FB users complain FB IS turning into Twitter.)

ن (Arabic letter nun expresses support for Iraq's persecuted Christians.)

– it’s a fruit. Or a vegetable. Or something.

Intelligent, educated people are coming up with silly reasons for not getting married, again. “At last somebody’s said it!” Historical, patriarchal associations, apparently. And costs too much. (£100 too much?)

They’re also claiming that life was “simpler” before smartphones and computers. (It wasn’t “simple” to type out the same letter 20 times. Or go to the library and look up something in an encyclopedia. And what did you do if you turned up to the rendezvous and the other person wasn't there?)

harsh on (verb)

thin gruel – heard twice week of 19 Jan. Odd when nobody has eaten gruel since Oliver Twist.
"The thin gruel has been further watered down, Mr Speaker." (James Delingpole)

bracing for a lot of grumpiness about the Queen’s birthday (and what will the middle classes do when she dies?)

Deadly blizzards in US, snow panic panic here.
Pffft! is going out – I hope.

drop for release or publish

Vegans are the new legitimate hate figures (remember the fuss over vegetarians in ooooh, 1975?)
And Times journalists are recycling old anti-lefty jokes by crossing out “lentil” and inserting “quinoa”.

When people say “faux outrage”, do they mean “misplaced outrage”?

waist trainer, base layer (corset)

RIP Terry Wogan – bracing for middle-class backlash against “outpouring of grief”
They’re just comparing the length of his and Bowie’s news coverage so far.

The winner goes on to face Princess Diana in the final... (On DM head: Wogan moved Britain in a way Bowie couldn’t) (Dave Jones ‏@WelshGasDoc)

The gluten-free diet is being sold as a slimming and fitness diet. It’s all about vanity and it has gone mainstream. Docs say: won’t give you superpowers.

Has the positive affirmations fad faded?

How quickly drones have become part of our lives. And smartphones.

When people say “granular” they mean something like “fine grain”, or “fine detail”. “The fairly grainy detail that David Cameron brings back from Brussels.” (Tim Farron, Andrew Marr Show)

desk envy (another girl got a bunch of red roses)

There’s an anti-Ai Wei Wei backlash.

Air miles are now Avios.

This year’s zeppelin is the Airlander 10, built at Cardington. Originally intended as a surveillance vehicle for the US military.

What to Say About Conservation: But you wouldn’t want to live in a museum!

Dear [writer]: Why did you choose that terrible headline? (Writers don't choose their headlines. Or write them.)

tribalism: supporting the policies of left or right, however loony

21st century chain letter: “Copy and paste this onto your page, PLEASE DO NOT 'share'. This is a little test, just to see who reads and those who share only without reading! If you have read everything, select 'like' and then copy and paste into your profile, so I can put a comment 'smile.' To copy just touch the post and when the word copy pops up, touch it and go to your status and tap till it says paste then touch paste.” (This is a like-farming or phishing scam – click on FB's grey down arrow, top right of the post, and follow the options.)

Feb 15 Lot of actor hatred. Are actors the new legitimate hate figures?

Spirit animals
are everywhere.

Words I'm already sick of hearing in the EU ref campaign: "Control". "Sclerotic". "Ever-closer". "Brake". "Red card". & most of all: "Mojo". (@StuartJRitchie)

‏It's getting to the point where I spend the first half hour of every working day unsubscribing myself from mailing lists trolls put me on. (@JonnElledge)

On FB: “We're having a little argument over here. Which number bread is toasted perfectly? FRIEND or FOLLOW ME! I am always posting awesome stuff on my timeline!" (Scam as before. Delete and select "See none from xxxx".)

Have cat pictures and coffee shops saturated the market yet?

Metal detecting has become cool.
Fuss over selfie sticks has died down.

Procrastinating is popular – but it seems to mean “Not doing that thing you said you’d do or that you set out to do at all ever”, not “doing it tomorrow”. Lack of sticktoitiveness.

Is “wedging” “driving a wedge between groups”?

Are we living through a narcissism epidemic? asks Zoe Williams (The Wrong People wanting attention again.)

Men worrying whether their snow was deep enough to count as “snow”.

Ruth Davidson (Scottish Conservative leader) coins the term Corbynitis: "A disease identified last summer among millionaire, latte-supping, croissant-scoffing socialists."

Guardian asks “Should exclamation marks be banned?” (Some idiot wants to ration them in schools.)

People are outraged that Soundcloud’s profile pictures are now circular.

clean eating, March 12 2016

Oh god, the 'why do atheists celebrate Easter?' tweets have begun. Because pagan goddesses, chocolate eggs and bunnies are so scriptural. (Helen Pluckrose ‏@HPluckrose, March 12 2016)

Bridgeblogger?? Off-ground? On-ground? And what’s this “cushion” in weboggle?

Bracing for silly reasons for not voting, and silly reasons for voting for Trump (Well, obviously I can’t vote for Hillary because she’s a woman.)

Fizzy drinks are the only foods that contain sugar.

Somebody says that Trump is “trash talking”, and the blue-collar voters love it.  (Aggressive, cruel, attacking opponents. There used to be an option for “trash talk” on online Scrabble games – it became a chat option.)

Twitter is 10 years old,
despite its imminent death being predicted every year of its existence. And despite the people still saying “You see, I can’t DO Twitter”.

Bleeding-heart is back as a pejorative epithet.

Post the Brussels attacks, Josh Spero is more worried about people copying other people than about being blown up: "It is sad, alarming & problematic that we are developing a post-terror grammar: a significant cartoon, colouring the lights, common hashtags." (@joshspero)

Lots of businesses starting up that will deliver you a selection of stuff (matching clothes, ingredients with recipes) in a box once a month. Will they go the way of the office sandwich sellers who were forced to wear a humiliating “Edwardian” uniform?

Graffiti of a “muted posthorn”. Anybody?

“You can’t say Easter any more!”
Whatever happens, people carp about the way other people react. Like Harry Enfield character “You didn’t want to do it like that!”

blue tick (A disease of sheep?)

Exorcism is back. (It never quite goes away.)

Spelling “eh” as “ay”. (Also “yay or nay”.)

The sublime narcissism of getting offended on other people’s behalf. (@kenanmalik Caring about other people is narcissim, oh I see.)

cultural appropriation (You mean like menus in French? Pashminas? Italian opera? Baguettes?)

Pollyanna having a moment first week of April, used rather broadly where Candide or ostrich might be more appropriate. Pollyanna was “glad” about everything, however terrible. Candide naively saw the good in everything, and ostriches hide their heads in the sand to avoid seeing anything.

The useful "heinous" has gone out again.

Stewart Lee (Whoever he is. You have to love him or loathe him.)

We have bred a generation who [insert anything you like here, and then wring your hands].

[Absolutely anything] is a symptom of [how uniquely awful life is now]. (But I suppose the media wouldn’t pay me to write “exactly the same thing happened in 500BC, the 18th century etc.”)

There are already drone clubs. (Can Bertie Wooster join?)

I’ve got no skin in the game. (Isn’t that “no dog in this fight”? All over the place late April.)

Woot has vanished.
Why Recreating the Palmyra Arch in London Was Smug, Hypocritical and Tacky vice.com (All the newspapers called it “3D printing” when it was actually machined... and there’s always some reason why we can’t do the same for the Euston Arch.)

April 30 Oh no no THAT’s not anti-Semitism and THAT’s not anti-Semitism and... (SEE “That’s not sexism”, and “That’s not bullying”.)

Chapeau! for “I tip my hat to you” popular week of May 1.

Bien pensant for hipster, middle-class leftie etc (Because middle class people really ought to vote in their own interests.)

“London isn’t English any more.”
May 9 Some folks are still very aeryated over others photographing their food. Apparently that’s why people are buying more bowls and fewer plates. (Could they be eating the kind of food that’s easier to eat out of a bowl?)

SATs are frying our children’s brains, putting them under unbearable stress etc.

You cannot see my cat. (Pic not containing cat. Well, really.)

Hyperloop (this year's futuristic transport system that may or may not happen)

We eat too much soy, says... Gwyneth Paltrow? (Some use it as shorthand for “Society has become feminised and men are too soppy how are we going to fight wars?” Or is it “Everybody is too left-wing”?)

Ads for alternatives to email. (Can’t see how an alternative to email isn’t email. Can’t see how a heterosexual civil partnership – once civil partnerships gain the same rights as marriage – isn’t a register office marriage, either.)

“The Finns have the best education system and their kids don’t go to school until they’re 7.”
The earth is flat, therefore God and we didn’t evolve. (Some seem to think “evolution” is an evil, amoral philosophy, not a description of how biology works.)

First the cat café, now the cat wedding...
Shoulder bags are now “messenger bags”.

Tata Steel – Tatter or Tartar? Nobody has called it “taTA!” yet.

Outrage is still with us, mainly outrage at outrage.

flanby, crue week of June 1 Seine floods (Is Flanby François Hollande? Yes – it’s a brand of potted caramel custard.)

placemaking (Architects say it means “creating a public space where people can meet” – next to your big ugly private building.)

asexuality (What we used to call “frigidity”. Doesn’t it still mean “ignorance, inexperience and inept men”? Or “late developer”?)

instrumentalise (What we mustn’t do to the murder of Jo Cox. Seems to mean “view through lefty glasses”, or “mention that a right-wing extremist murdered a socialist female MP”.)

deorbit burn 18 June
South coast fascists now called the Pie and Mash Squad.

school debating society (June)

Post-vote: Everyone’s entitled to an opinion, can’t we all get along? Don’t be a sore loser! Stop weeping into your latte! Man up! (Why is that not an Americanism? They're still at it in December. If they want to change the laws on free speech I suggest forming a protest or lobby group, or standing for Parliament.)

Victorious Leavers are very, very upset at the hurtful things everybody is saying about them! And the BBC is biased, as usual. We should “heal divisions” and “take this opportunity” to “move forward”. (This means "the other side should shut up". June 2016-06-30)

And anybody who is upset about Brexit should practice mindfulness, see a therapist and just will themselves to be happy.

Nobody can mention Jeremy Corbyn without using the word “beleaguered”. (2016-07-01)

unicorn – not sure what people mean by this. That thing I thought I’d never find? (“Unicorns and rainbows” is shorthand for New Agery and possibly utopian socialism.)

yet re blair and iraq people are all "nah time flows forwards not back m8 how can you judge in hindsight" (Martin Waplington ‏@hmclandress You can often judge better in hindsight when you possess facts you didn’t at the time...)

Popup fan zones are a thing.

kitten heels (on Theresa May – but not all mid-height heels are kitten heels)

poutine (I gave up at garlic cheesecake. Thought poutine was how the French spell Putin. Poutine is cheesy chips with gravy, per an orthodox priest.)

interpretive dance

“If only there was a centrist party...”
(July 13 16 A bit like “If only heterosexuals could have civil partnerships.”)
Theresa May “sounding scarily socialist” as she mentions the poor. (It didn't last.)

Atrocity in Nice – thoughts, prayers, ribbon – immediate mean-minded, self-righteous sneering about how useless all this is.

false flag (Dear Snopes – are there any real false flag operations?)

Brexiteers still having conniption fits (“They’re /criticising/ us! Mummy!”)

“Deterrent” heard again.

If you come from somewhere hot, sneer at the Brits for going to work “dressed for the beach” in a heatwave. Look, it rains all the time here – we haven’t got any heatwave workwear. And Boris buses don't have windows that open.

headbangers (for “members of the other party, movement or tendency”)

SpAd (special adviser)

Some Americans having trouble understanding what “slaves” are,
July 2016. (Is there “slavery denial”? Oh no, there is.)

Notopia (“Industrial bleach” over any character, identical high streets with identical shops, identical business districts with identical blocks, identical residential areas with identical tin can flats.)

be your best self (This means "change yourself to fit into society".)

Week of Aug 1 lots of people using “mental health” to mean “mental illness” or “mental ill-health”. Neuroscientist has to say “sound mental health” when he means “mental health”.

Serious discussion of “internet addiction” on BBC Breakfast how many years after its invention? (Oh, ah, “the internet” is what comes through your phone.)

People finding pejorative synonyms for “love one another” (political correctness, kissing up, mollycoddling...)

“When I grew up, these things weren’t called racist.”

Google-fu (and others on this template)
useful idiot (A red flag, like “sheeple”.)

Be like Bill – do X! (Is it something they do in American schools? Hold up the good children as models?)

some grumbling that “medal” and “podium” are verbs

command and control (how most organisations are run, despite a lot of waffle about democracy and positivity)

instant opining about Charlotte Dujardin’s boyfriend proposing with a message on his teeshirt (whingeing male, pushing himself forward)

Are “unicorns” rare, talented people?


Pfft! Back Sept 2016.

First “Christmas starts earlier every year” spotted: “Mince pies already on sale in the Co-op” September 16 (Plus moaning about how nasty they are anyway.)

scourge popular week of Sept 1. “The horror of sewer floods...”

September 13, a snide interview by Simon Hattenstone with Nick Clegg, full of comments about NC’s appearance at various stages (“You were fat and pasty, weren’t you?”), and prodding NC to say that his family sang the “I’m so sorry” song in a supermarket.

In the same week, an interview with Rowan Atkinson’s actress daughter that consisted entirely of “Yes, but Rowan Atkinson’s your dad, ineee? Ineee? Is he funny in real life?”

A few weeks later, a long meandering interview with Trinny Woodall who doesn’t have much to say apart from “I am now going out with Charles Saatchi”.

What to say about Twitter debates: It's all about ego and getting RT’d by your followers (If that was so, ideas wouldn’t be dangerous, but they are. Perhaps people are trying to say that ideas have no power. But they have. Or that those putting forward the ideas don’t really believe them. But they do.)

Whenever anybody says “Hey guys! It’s 2016! And [insert name of antiquated illiberal practice] is still going on!”, riposte wittily with “It's still the current year!”

Rod Liddle is laying into Emma Watson for being a UN ambassador because she’s a “luvvie” and actors are always pretending, right? So they can’t possibly be sincere ever.

Now lefties being accused of eating quinoa (“Don’t choke on your quinoa, Corbyn fans!” Jolyon Maugham QC)

lots of “weaponisation” last week of Sept

pumpkin spice latte
Several people complaining that comedians should tell jokes, not talk about politics – especially not when they criticise the right.

“Elite” used to mean “those other people, the ones I don’t like, who have too much power and influence, and whose opinions can be discounted, don’t say ‘democracy’ to me...” The elite also live in a “bubble” which is not the real world.

“That’s a keeper” seems to have gone.

Bremainers are now “arrogant” (ie “disagrees with me, won’t do what I want”)

Complaints about Nobel-winner Dylan’s voice being “gravelly”. It was never gravelly, more whiny after listening too many Smithsonian Folkways recordings.

When did the “challenge” thing start? With Challenge Anneka?

snowflake has gone from “You’re a unique snowflake!” to “Ah, you poor little snowflake, can’t stand a little robust humour, racism, sexism, exclusion, mistreatment, abuse, violence, rape, hate preachers on campus or you’ll melt!” (Projection,)

Gary Lineker a “luvvie”? The word now means “anyone who cares about refugees and doesn’t want to send all brown people somewhere else”, and has lost all connection with actors or Private Eye’s collection of their pretentious quotes.


16 thousand people have liked this Twitter “joke”: Hannah's printed Claire's boarding pass out on A1 am sobbing hahahaha state a that (It’s printed out on a big piece of paper. Oh, there’s something called an A1 boarding pass? Must be the American “upgraded to business class” culture.)

I’m not racist/anti-Semitic because [reasons]. In fact I don’t have a racist bone in my body!

Hashtag games are mostly over.

Avocado is still “hipster”. Does it have magic properties? And now we’re “obsessed with aubergines”, according to people who are too young to remember the 70s and tomato, mozzarella and aubergine “bake”, the Seven-Layer Pie of its day.

Mass whingeing about Halloween (those ghastly hyperactive narcissistic children!), bonfire night (in danger of dying out!), and poppies (Hypocritical! Army underfunded!). Halloween, Guy Fawkes and Christmas must be preserved exactly as they were when I was eight. Other people do traditions wrong!

And Halloween is only for the Irish? May be a US thing.

street food (I don’t think this means hot dogs or caramelised peanuts.)

People enjoying getting very cross about poppies for various reasons, and throwing brickbats at those of the opposite party. “The jingoism of the poppy police” – what form does this take, exactly? Do they have a uniform? Do they march about singing “We don’t want to fight, but by jingo if we do” while pinning poppies on people? Now people are fretting about HOW to wear a poppy – large petal down, leaf at 11 oclock...

Latest Brexit meme: “Anything’s better than this uncertainty!”

Have holdouts stopped sneering about “twitface”? (Oh no they haven’t – still whingeing about Farcebook and Twatter.)

Trump myth Day One: “We must join together and solve the obvious problems.” (Like removing all people of colour, cancelling all anti-climate-change programmes...)

“Lefties live in an echo chamber” – projection. It’s righties who live in an echo chamber and can’t bear dissent. But they also want the chance to talk lefties out of their erroneous beliefs, and they can’t do that if the lefties keep blocking them for threatening to kick brown people out of the country and worse. It’s always the other side who live in an “echo chamber”. (They talk to people who agree with them. And they ALL disagree with me!)

“The rise of the far right is all the fault of social media!” “Yes, it’s that terrible Farcebook and Twatter!” (Actually reddit and worse.)

Synecdoche is popular week of Nov 7, to mean all kinds of things that aren’t synecdoche. (Fascism became a synecdoche, that is, a word that could be used for different totalitarian movements. Umberto Eco)

Also “false consciousness” (or “false conscience”), sometimes used to mean “disagrees with me”.

“I wish they’d stop using the word ‘misogyny’ – it’s so boring!” (Give us equality and we’ll stop using the word.)

Nov 14 It’s Armageddon, and opiners are complaining about use of the term “alt.right”. "Let’s stop calling them the alt.right and call them neo-Nazis!"

overthink, meaning “argue against Trump or Brexit”

The alt.right are accusing the left of “claiming moral superiority”. (Plus the usual virtue signalling and claiming the moral high ground.)

“I see people in restaurants, both on their phones, they’re talking to other people, they’re not talking to each other.” (How do you know they’re not checking a fact on Wikipedia, booking a theatre ticket, looking for reviews of the restaurant, checking rail ticket prices or even buying a book?)

Facebook full of the oddest people supporting Trump and attacking liberal elites and a “spoiled” generation. Basically, “everyone who disagrees with us should just shut up”. (And saying “But isn’t Breitbart parody?”)

Americans think that all social problems are caused by damaged relationships with fathers.

I'll take "Snowflake" or worse, but then "White Supremacist" must be the term. Not a coddling hip term like "alt-right". No more using it. (Guillermo del Toro ‏@RealGDT “Alt” has been around for about 20 years, so not exactly “hip”, and many “alt” groups were far from cuddly. It’s short for “alternative” and is from usenet newsgroup terminology.)

The people who claim we're going to hell in a handcart because Britons use a few Americanisms have gone quiet. (They may shortly be reminded what a police state really looks like.)

“Man-baby” has gone but they’re still here in force.

Jacobin being used for extreme lefty (see the French revo).

I refuse to accept that Black Friday is a real thing!
There’s no difference between Right and Left!

There are people talking foreign in the street!
Lefties “sip” pretentious drinks.

People are laughing at a GIF of someone falling over.

What's happened to GET IN THE SEA? (He turned it into a book.)

Happy Holidays!

More here, and links to the rest.

Monday 28 November 2016

Received Ideas (in Quotes) 3

Whenever you work in an area that challenges people’s wrongheaded, cherished beliefs, it can be difficult. But sometimes it can also be a matter of life and death. (Elizabeth Loftus on false memory)

You can’t tell a word processed novel from one dictated from the couch or typed on a vintage Olivetti. (Brian Dillon, Guardian July 4 2016 Word processors were going to corrupt our prose circa 1985.)

I must follow the people, for I am their leader. (That, or something very like it, has been attributed to Disraeli, Bonar Law, Gandhi, and Alexandre Auguste Ledru-Rollin, but I can't find a convincing source – and Harold Wilson.) (AG)

Not the Truth with a capital T, an omniscience, but truth that is the same as reality. (Hanna Segal quoted Guardian September 5, 2008 What is truth? That is.)

When you talk about things like dowsing most people only hear what they want (or expect, I'm not sure which) to hear. (RJ)

Karl Marx sarcastically critiqued the bourgeoisie yet was addicted to the trappings of their lifestyle. (Andrew Billen Times 2016-06-17 Conservatives have decided that all socialists should be poor.)

Does Ulm cathedral sport a sparrow statue? Martin Lampprecht: Well, it's one of those "can you believe how stupid the inhabitants of XYZ-ville are" stories. No idea how it originated, but it is very well-known, at least in the Ulm region and Southwest Germany. According to the legend, when the good people of Ulm built the cathedral (begun in the Middle Ages, but completed, like almost all Gothic cathedrals in Germany, only in the late 19th century), they once had to get a huge wooden beam in. But the portal was too narrow. But suddenly they saw a sparrow carrying a straw through a little hole, because the bird carried it lengthwise, unlike the stupid masons. (So they put a statue of it on top of the cathedral. The statue is actually a dove carrying an olive branch, but it’s so small the Ulmers called it a “sparrow”, and so the legend grew up.)

In Germany, it's a clear indicator of the religious history of a place: if the big church in the village has a cross, the village is traditionally Catholic, if it's a cock, it's Lutheran. (Martin Lampprecht)

Flying the Union Jack upside down is a covert distress signal
, so that if for instance your vessel had been captured by pirates and was being sailed into port you could signal to other British ships that something was amiss. Theory being any naval man would know the Union Flag was upside down but a pirate wouldn't notice. At least that's what we were told in the Scouts. If a Scout flew the flag the wrong way up he was asked “Are you OK? Are you in distress?” until he got the message. (Don Constance)

It is said that the Caryatids on Highpoint Two were added to the design by Berthold Lubetkin although they are not necessary structurally, since the cantilevers are self-supporting; however, the planners were unconvinced that the whole edifice would not collapse. In a witty response, Lubetkin added two Caryatids but did not actually attach the canopy to them, i.e. when first installed there was a nearly invisible gap between the two. (londongardenstrust.org)

This reminds me of that thing about cake that Marie Antoinette famously never said: Housing minister says first-time buyers should rely on inheritance from their grandparents. (M. v. Aufschnaiter ‏@mva_1000)

One of the most common theatrical superstitions is that green should be avoided at all costs. The tradition began in the days when stages were lit by limelights, which burned lime, producing a greenish light that made anything green nearly invisible. (goodlucklysmbols.blogspot.co.uk)

Surprisingly few "I've never been polled", "it's only 2k people", "polls got 2015/#EUref wrong", "lizard propaganda" or I've muted them all. (@JohnRentoul)

Jovan Jovanovič: Chemopetrol (today Prague Social Security Administration), 1974–1979 Originally the design had been a Yugoslav project for a complex of hotels in Saudi Arabia which was never realized. After an agreement between the Yugoslav and Czechoslovakian governments parts of the original design were built in Prague as office buildings for Chemopetrol. The pronounced concrete protrusions are remnants of the original need for sun protection. Because of the placement of the building and the exterior locals have nicknamed it "Vampire House". Special thanks to Oskar Helcel. (sosbrutalism.org)

Sculptor Alfred George Stevens spent most of his life and energy creating the Wellington memorial in St Paul's Cathedral. The railings with lions (also by Stevens) around this were originally, 1852, part of the British Museum boundary but some 1895 pavement improvements caused them to be removed.  Some of Stevens' BM lions also ended up on the railings outside the Royal British Society of Sculptors, 108 Old Brompton Road.  Others, possibly smaller copies are outside the Law Society in Chancery Lane. (londonremembers.com)

Does a section of the wrought-iron fence from St Paul’s surround a tomb for John and Jemima Howard in Toronto? (It was retrieved after the boat carrying it sank in the St Lawrence.) Some are also at Hoathly Town Hall (where they were originally made).

“There are amphorae full of oil and wine... with pointy bottoms to fit between the ship’s boards... Grotesque sculpted heads... might have been made by an apprentice [and] used as ballast.” (Nancy Durrant Times June 2016-06-17 on Storms, War and Shipwrecks at the Ashmolean. Amphorae were stacked on their sides in racks.)

Sir, Jonathan Sacks and the four intellectuals he quotes follow a long tradition of seeing only decline and collapsing discipline; Aristotle grumbled that the youth showed no respect. (“Bin Laden saw that the West was in decline”, Opinion, Sept 8).

Thank goodness for the Normans, who apparently dragged poor benighted Anglo-Saxon England out of the Dark Ages one day in 1066. (Eleanor Parker ‏@ClerkofOxford)

There's a tale about a young man from the south who was put in charge of a Glasgow department store. He noticed, with surprise, that there were no ladies' umbrellas on sale, and his staff didn't like to tell him that, at that time in Glasgow, the umbrella was regarded as the tart's advertisement, which was why the store didn't sell them. So he ordered several hundred of them -- and they sold out within a few days. (WS)

A belief widely held in Tory circles: the social sciences... lacked rigour as a discipline, producing results “everybody knew”. (London Review of Books, May 2016)

The commonly held notion, as Szalavitz describes it, “that people with addictions must ‘hit bottom’ before they can recover — and that harsh and humiliating treatment facilitates this process, while ‘enabling’ or being loving and kind is counterproductive.” (Unbroken Brain, Maiya Szalavitz)

It's little-known that France also gave the US statues of fraternity and equality but they were considered un-American and were hidden away. (Karl Sharro ‏@KarlreMarks)

More here, and links to the rest.

Thursday 24 November 2016

Art Shows in London, Paris and Beyond

The Menin Road

Tate Britain
To March 5 2017

Paul Nash was an English Surrealist and war artist in two world wars. This show at Tate Britain gathers up some of his lesser-known inter-war surrealist works, and those of his contemporaries. Nash was a variable artist. He was not a naturally gifted draughtsman, but he worked at it. He planned large compositions carefully, assembling them from sketches and photographs. His brushwork is sometimes dry and loose, sometimes heavy and stiff. He juxtaposed colours: pale blue, apricot, Indian red, airforce blue, grey, terra cotta. Shadows are not a contrast but a darker version.

Before World War I he was drawing landscapes and gardens in an avant-garde style, somewhat influenced by Samuel Palmer, but peopling them with drippy young girls left over from the Pre-Raphaelites. These maidens disappear with the outbreak of war. He reached the front in 1917, and what he saw there gave to rise to some of his greatest work – canvases showing the trenches and the devastated landscape pitted with shell-holes. His figures, toiling across mud or lying prone, are schematic patches of khaki.

There are Futurist or Vorticist motifs – diagonals and lightning flashes – but they are snaking ditches, star shells or searchlights. In the background are shattered trees, in the foreground the abstract shapes of warfare: chicken wire, barbed wire strung on queues de cochon, a food tin and a helmet submerged in a puddle, curves of pink corrugated iron, concrete blocks. (The Menin Road)

After the war he retreated to the coast, where he painted sea defences, taming the beach with concrete embankments and black groynes. Curves become straight lines and zigzags and the land is as flat as the horizon.

He and other British artists created their own Surrealist movement, making a feature of "found" objects looming against the Sussex Downs and white cliffs. The ironmongery of the trenches is replaced by pylons, picket fences, bare trees. They tried hard to make rocks, bones, giant eggs and megaliths portentous, but the results are pallid. Eileen Agar succeeds – but she was off on a journey of her own, and her collages of dead leaves, masked faces and plastic doilies are genuinely Gothic.

Then war broke out again, and Nash produced some of his most impressive work, based on pilot's eye views of the English landscape with contrails and bursting shells, and Totes Meer, a Friedrich-like frozen moonlit sea of broken-up German planes.

After the war he turned again to the English landscape, infusing it with meaning and an immanent horror. I don't buy whirling sunflowers as a sinister force, but he synthesized his war pictures into lurid visions of Whittenham Clumps – trees huddled on a hilltop, guarding the bones or unquiet spirits of earlier Britons.

Magritte: Le Trahison des Images
Pompidou, Paris

To 23 January 2017
The Belgian Surrealist is famous for confronting bowler hats with Granny Smiths and setting tubas on fire. The 4.50 to Paddington will be leaving by the fireplace.

Daubigny, Monet, Van Gogh: Impressions of Landscape
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

To 29 January 2017
The satirical magazine Punch used "Daubigny" for any pretentious painter (he produced "daubs", what a hoot), but Charles-François Daubigny (1817-1878) was a fine landscape artist and a member of the Barbizon School. Wikipedia patronisingly says he is regarded as "an important precursor to the Impressionists".

Australia's Impressionists
National Gallery, London

Dec 7-26 March 2017
Should make Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, Charles Conder, and John Russell better known in the northern hemisphere. Not just the bush, but railway stations, docksides and steamships.

Les Temps Mérovingiens
Musée de Cluny

26 Oct-13 Feb 2017
Early medieval French culture (their reign ended in 751). They were the first French tribe to become Christian and produced beautiful metalwork and illuminated manuscripts.

Friday 18 November 2016

Inspirational Quotes (about Politics) 90

Angela Davis

Snowflakes? Political correctness? Get over it? Make nice? A lot of people want us to shut up.

Seriously though, it’s amazing how annoyed people get by student politics stories which affect basically nobody. (@AdamBienkov)

I think a 'safe place' or safer place is one where the people don't demand the 'right to bear arms'. (@DuncanMcNab Nov 10)

"Safe spaces! Grow up and face the real world, snowflake" - People who voted to wreck the country just to avoid sharing it with foreigners. (Dean Burnett ‏@garwboy)

“Political correctness gone mad” – It just means they feel they feel they can't express their intolerance without being made to feel awkward about it. (Commenter on yougov.co.uk.)

Why is it that those who complain about political correctness seem to be asking for protection from speech they dislike? (Katherine Cross ‏@Quinnae_Moon)

The whole point of using the phrase ‘political correctness’ is to deal with all the pro-diversity efforts using one big insult. (northierthanthou.com ‏@Brimshack)

I really really wish that supposed free speech absolutists would stop declaring speech they don’t like a threat to free speech. (Angus Johnston ‏@studentactivism Oct 2015)

Some white people genuinely believe they have the right to police minorities' feelings about oppression. It's a form of social insanity. "I'm going to oppress you, then deny I'm oppressing you and shame you for resisting oppression." (professor baé ‏@alwaystheself)

When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression... They’re angry about being labeled a “racist,” just because they say racist things and have racist beliefs. (Huffington Post)

"How is that racist?" White Proverb (@danarel)

The first thing they'll tell you is that calling out racism and sexism is what lost the election. That's how it's given a free rein. Then they'll tell you that pointing out racism or sexism or standing up for liberalism is 'sneering' and 'elitist' and 'out of touch'. And they'll still be saying that when they're rounding people up for deportations. (‏@IanDunt Nov 9)

See also: republicans saying there wasn't racism until Obama. Like he caused it instead of pointing it out. (Jamie McKelvie @McKelvie)

Poor white racists (as a social group) do not rage at poverty as-such. They rage at poverty as inappropriate to their white race. (Ivan ‏@p0stcap Nov 11)

We've reached the point where decency and respect are portrayed as out-of-touch "elite" urban values compared to more "authentic" bigotry. (Bernard Keane ‏@BernardKeane Nov 13)

Probably worth remembering that a lot of "left behind" people have straight-up been left behind by public racism becoming less acceptable. (John B ‏@johnb78 Nov 15)

You get the sense that white supremacists genuinely believe that other cultures and races were recently created just to spite them. (Karl Sharro ‏@KarlreMarks Nov 13)

At what point does "Emotional concerns about immigration that has no impact on me" become racism? How low does the bar have to go before you'll say "Yeah, actually, that constituent is probably being racist?" (David Whitley ‏@mrdavidwhitley)

People come here because Britain went there!! (Stuart Hall)

If you're told Brexit wasn't about immigration, you can be certain it's an Outer regretting their pact with racists. (@AaronHEllis)

They are not anti-establishment. They are the far-right. (‏@IanDunt Nov 14)

If you support migration you have to personally house migrants, just like if you support borders you need to brick up your front door. (Joseph ‏@JosephKay76 Nov 14)

If by 'elitist' you mean 'doesn't automatically hate other humans and every other aspect of the world that isn't me' then yes, I guess I am. (Dean Burnett ‏@garwboy)

It's like there's a load of white men just looking for reasons to attack vocal students, women, those regarded a threat to the status quo. (@ThatSabineGirl)

“'Black Lives Matter' does not mean 'Hate Whites, kill whites'.” (Chris Tummings)

It's amazing how often people with amazing amounts of privilege & power complain about people "deciding to be victims". (Polly Putnam ‏@CuratorPolly)

Non-white people get much the same rubbish about how there isn’t racism and they don’t get treated differently and race doesn’t affect any of us, because who knows better than white people who are trying to silence people of color? (Rebecca Solnit)

Rage does not work as political opposition. Moral high ground, peaceful engagement, asking respectful questions of opponents. These work. (
Kurt Eichenwald @kurteichenwald)

As a historian, I would like to say: THIS IS TERRIBLE ADVICE. My evidence is: ALL OF HISTORY. Honestly, saying ‘just ask respectful questions’ is the biggest, most obvious tell for white male privilege that I can think of right now. (
Charlotte L. Riley ‏@lottelydia Nov 14)

“Don’t fight hate with hate” is an example of subtle gaslighting, where our legitimate hurt and anger at the injustices we suffer is being equated to the bigotry and abuse of our oppressors. Being angry doesn’t mean you are being hateful, it means you love yourself enough to get upset at your own mistreatment.” (frontier-heart)

I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept. (Angela Davis)

We protest and demonstrate and speak up precisely because we know we can make things better, and activism works. (@anildash Oct 2)

We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. (Elie Wiesel)

PLEASE, people, let's not POLITICISE the political assassination of a politician over a political issue by a gunman who opposed her politics. (@AmeliaMangan)

No surprise that people's reluctance to have their views ridiculed is often linked to the weakness of the evidence for those views. (Damian Counsell ‏@DamCou)

All views are not equal. Some are based on reason and evidence. Some are based on [redacted]. (@IanDunt Nov 14)

Paraphrased: "Didn’t think £12 billion welfare cuts would affect me. I’m not one of those scroungers. I’m a Tory." #bbcqt (@trabasack Duncan E)

The worry in Orwell’s writing is that we will not even be able to think [about rebellion] or have the language with which to articulate our opposition. The victory of the Thought Police will be when behaviour is so self-regulating that no Thought Police are required. There is one installed in every mind. (Darran Anderson, Imaginary Cities)

The worst form of apology is "I'm not perfect". As if this is some kind of astounding revelation. (@BDSixsmith)

More here, and links to the rest.
They really want us to shut up, don't they?

Thursday 17 November 2016

Inspirational Quotes 89

How to deal with a colleague who ignores you:
This person could be threatened by you. This is usually why someone is extremely rude or ignores a co-worker, unless they have a defective personality. Take comfort in the fact that you have something that your ill-mannered co-worker wants, eg approval of a higher-up, knowledge, wardrobe, good looks etc. the only way to handle a person such as this is to kill them with kindness, especially when your superiors are nearby. It is so much fun to make the other squirm when they have to be nice! (Dear Jeremy, Guardian)

When my daughter was eight, a former friend of hers (B) suddenly turned into a bully and gave my daughter no peace. There was nothing physical – just meanness and rudeness. I told my daughter one thing bullies hate is cheerfulness and politeness. We practised her responses to things B would say. This REALLY helped – kind of like studying for a test. Pretending to be B, I’d say something rude to my daughter and my daughter would respond by being perky and cheerful. Our two favourite and most effective responses to anything B would say were “Thanks for letting me know!” and “Sorry you’re feeling so crabby today!” It worked WONDERS and drove B crazy enough that within two or three days, she started avoiding my daughter! (Top Tips for Girls)

General confidence is not a really a thing. We're confident when we're placed in a situation where we genuinely feel we are likely to do well, meaning that confidence is situational. (reddit)

In week two, half the contestants have been driven away by the constant regime of knackering running, jumping, carrying each other around, and generally being shouted at. Those who remain have lost all their cockiness. (Hugo Rifkind on SAS: Who Dares Wins)

Partners should be able to cheer you up after a tough day, and they should be able to provide you with love and support. (lifehack.org)

In spite of her injuries, she did not forget to give the forced laugh which had been drilled into her, at school, as the accompaniment to any game's casualty.

Their formal bow, when Iris squeezed by them, was conditional recognition before the final fade-out. "We'll speak to you during the journey," it seemed to say, "but at Victoria we become strangers."...
She met the unfriendly glance of the ladies. Miss Rose's was perceptibly more frigid, as though she were practising gradations, in preparation for the cut direct, at Victoria Station.
(The Lady Vanishes, Ethel Lina White)

"These good looks of yours... are worth money, and you shall make money of 'em."
“Some beloved companionship fades out of most lives, my dear.”
(Our Mutual Friend)

Another voice, high and rather hard, but nonetheless feminine, was saying with experienced raillery... 

Nobody here [at a séance] was standardized; in tea-shops and theatres people are cut to the pattern of their environment.

His chubby, smooth, innocent appearance was a reason for his being always treated with condescension when he was not put down.

(Graham Greene, Ministry of Fear)

You seem to have passed through all the usual vague longings and somewhat wild aspirations of every girl's life. (Girls' Own Advice ‏@GirlsOwn)

The cameras show the kids as they learn to make friends. Friendship is becoming a big deal and it’s about best friends... Six-year-olds are like mini-teenagers. It’s all about impressing their friends. (BBC Breakfast)

Anything people say will be put in perspective according to their level of importance. (Old Flemish proverb)

More here, and links to the rest.