Saturday 30 September 2017

Racism and Logic

A recent survey shows that since 1970 Brits have accepted homosexuality, contraception, gender equality, premarital sex (remember that?). But sadly when it comes to racism we haven't moved on, and racists will justify their opinions any way they can. There's no such a thing as racism, and I'm not a racist, and you don't belong to a race and...

A drunk solicitor on train who told a woman she didn’t belong in first class – or this country, claims “I’m not a racist. Now she’s going to say I’ve insulted her.” Calls her “you and your f***ing son”. How can he think he’s not a racist? Because he genuinely thinks people like her “don’t belong in this country”. In his mind, he’s not a racist, he’s right.

The Irish were enslaved along with Africans? They were indentured servants, and 19th century Americans treated them as an underclass, but they were not slaves. The whole point of this distorted history is to justify prejudice against black people. Look, the Irish were slaves, and they don’t moan about it, therefore black lives DON’T matter.

Saying you’re English is racist, says Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen.

Racists lost the argument over immigration, which is why they always have to present current immigration as somehow new and unprecedented. eg: "Yes, but this time it's the numbers"; "Yes, but this time they've got the wrong religion"; "Yes, but these ones aren't rich enough". (Daniel Trilling)

Weird how racists try and pretend there is no such word as "racist". Like a burglar insisting "burglar" isn't a word. (J-P. Janson De Couët ‏@jpjanson)

How odd folks are: "I'm not a racist because, although I targeted you on the basis of your colouring/ethnicity, you're not a distinct race." (Alex Andreou ‏@sturdyAlex)

Some of the things racists say:
I’m not a racist because I’m not a bad person, some of my best friends are black, why are you so angry?, there’s no such thing as race, I’m colour-blind.

Historians want to deprive white Europeans of their home!

There were no black people in Europe until recently
, therefore there shouldn’t be any here now. They should all go away again. (A small number of people of African descent have lived here since the Romans.)

OK so there were black people in Roman Britain - but they were a tiny minority and therefore they don’t count!

I’m not going to stop having racist ideas or saying racist things or doing racist actions, but you can’t call me “racist” because it’s just as bad as racism.

It's racist to have a black presenter talking about lack of diversity on Radio 4.

There’s no such thing as a “race”, so I can’t be racist.

The term 'racism' has no power any more.

You don’t understand our French/Danish sense of humour. We make fun of everybody. We’re making fun of the racists, really.

Racist. So overused it has lost all meaning. (Katie Hopkins)

Freedom of movement causes xenophobia.

Britain is racist because of the immigrants.
(UKIP councillor Trevor Shonk)

Yes, I called Michelle Obama an ape in heels but that wasn’t racist.

The father of one of Stephen Lawrence’s killers is shown the video of his son making outrageously racist remarks. He continues saying “My son isn’t a racist. I know him better than you do. He wouldn’t say a thing like that.

You’re the racist for talking about race (or racism).

If we all stopped talking about racism it would go away (“Hopefully, this isn’t your approach to fixing a leaky roof, changing a flat tire, or working out relationship problems”, someone commented.)

Racism doesn't exist because it has never happened to me or anybody I know.

Anyone who objects to racism is a snob who doesn’t understand the working class.

My ancestors didn’t make their way to this great country to have immigrants come in and take their jobs.
(Donald Trump)

I’m not anti-Semitic, I'm anti Zionist; not racist but anti-immigration; not racist or misogynist but anti political correctness; not a racist but a proud nationalist.

There aren’t any anti-Semites.
 Saying and doing anti-Semitic things doesn’t make you an anti-Semite.

The Jews aren’t the only Semites, so I’m not an anti-Semite.

Anti-Semitism isn’t racism because Jews are white.

And if there IS such a thing as racism, white people are the real victims.

More illogic here.

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Technophobia 5


When computers arrived in offices, some staff tapped keyboards as if under duress: hunched, peering, grim expression. And companies didn’t think you needed an expert on the premises – help desks were manned by one ignorant youngster. The unemployed were sent on inappropriate programming courses because those in charge thought you had to programme a computer in order to use it.

Them: Why would I want to send a file from one computer to another?
Me: So that you don’t have to retype it.
Them: But we have people to do that.

They moaned that they couldn't turn off spell checker, and the mouse was terribly slow. If you showed them how to fix it, they’d snap “But I don’t want to do that!” If you showed them how to do something the quick way, they whinged. They couldn’t see why they should want to do things faster. The way they first learned it WAS the way.

Me: If you open the menus, they’ll show you the keyboard shortcuts.
Third Party: Shut up! Shut up! She doesn’t need to know that!!!!!

Now they're complaining about Linked-In’s endless emails – which you can turn off. If you tell them that, they say “I quite like it really!” Do they mean “But I have to have something to complain about”? Or perhaps it’s OK to use computers and the internet as long as we moan about them the whole time.

Since computers entered our lives, non-geeks have become much better at following instructions. Back then, they’d never read a knitting pattern, followed a recipe, sewed a dress, knocked together a rabbit-hutch. And they were officer class. THEY gave the orders, and the geeks showing them how to use one of these newfangled computer thingies were way down the pecking order. And they couldn’t, as usual, show off their superior education and creativity. They had to do it the computer’s way or it wouldn’t work. They were quite resentful that they had to clear their OWN cache, tidy their OWN desktops and find their OWN files. “Housekeeping”? They’d always had people to do such tasks for them. Society has become less hierarchical since then, fortunately.

At parties in the late 80s:
Fellow guest: And what do you do?
Me: I work at a computer magazine.
Fellow guest: [terrified look] I’m afraid I know nothing about computers!
Me: Oh, I just put in the jokes!
Fellow guest: [puzzled expression] How can you make jokes about computers?

He said “these are your cursor buttons” and I didn’t know what a cursor was! (Did she ask? No!)

No-one ever worried about the poor old manual typist getting RSI. What happened to all that fuss over glare from VDU screens? Employers were supposed to supply non-reflective desks, and free eye tests, and special computer glasses... They installed blinds for windows, and in some cases these got stuck in the "down" position and were never raised again, because nobody knew how to work them.

Newbies all put up the "legs" on their keyboards, and rested their wrists on the desk, risking carpal tunnel syndrome. If the legs were necessary, why don’t laptop keyboards slope? (Because then you couldn’t shut the lid. Doesn’t seem to bother anybody.)

Some bright spark invented protective wear for pregnant computer users (a light chain-mail tabard).

But the RSI flap did some good – it hastened the provision of comfortable working conditions. Adjustable chairs (the technology improved), wrist wrests, enough desk space. Employers had got away with providing terrible conditions for years. Laptops seem a step backwards. People use them awkwardly, sitting on the wrong kind of chair, at the wrong kind of table. And NONE of them can touch-type properly!

If you want to review a book on Goodreads, you have to rate it first. As they don't tell you.

You can type your shopping list into your phone! As a memo! (Bins post-its.)

And for the last time: Edit/Preferences/Spelling and Grammar.

More here, and links to the rest.

Technophobia 4

It’s 2017 and 
Ian Hislop is still making jokes about Instagrams of food. Paul Merton doesn’t have a smartphone or use email. And I’m telling people how to link their tweets, and how to keep saving their work so that it doesn’t disappear when their laptop battery dies. People tweet that they have lost their laptop and it contains all their research for the past 18 months. (In the olden days we backed up on floppy disks, now it’s the Cloud.)

The NHS is still using the same system it installed in 2002, running on Windows XP (an outmoded OS). It got hit by a cyberattack. Amber Rudd says “I hope they backed up – they’re supposed to.” An NHS bod on BBC Breakfast says she’d visited the IT department and “It’s amazing how hard IT people work!” Sally Nugent added: “Some people didn’t know updates were available, or that backup was possible.”

If you use computers …you are going to turn into a computer. (Professor Susan Greenfield)

Went to the local Moorfields Eye Unit last week, which has finally stopped using paper files and turned on the PCs that were always on every desk. The consultant entered a few fields in a complex app, and out pops my copy of the review letter, addressed to my GP. He said it's all much better than when they dictated letters and sent them off to India for transcribing, then had to correct all the errors. (via

Staggered to learn that on receipt of an email my online bank prints it in Leeds, deletes it, then posts the print to Coventry to be scanned. (@SELondoner)

Spoke to primary school IT guy today who had parents refuse tech in school as they feared radiation from wifi. Complaints came in by email. (‏@DonaldClark #redtech)

My Dad went to his grave believing that computers in banking were an aberration that would eventually go away. Then we'd go back to real banking [leather bound ledgers, cosy chats with the Bank Manager (him)]. (KJ)

People who still leave two spaces after a full stop agree – one day the world will be in sync with them again. It used to be thought rude to type a personal letter. That changed.

It's OK if you're older and hate millennials that's fine but next time you can't figure out how to print a Word doc DONT ASK ME CAROL (loni del rey‏ @LoniBryantt)

Some still view Twitter in the same way as they viewed “surfing the net”, 20 years go. I mean, what’s it FOR? What’s the POINT? And you might get addicted! Socmed holdouts now think Facebook and Twitter are only about plugging your product.

What on earth possesses people to leave online reviews for things? Baffling behaviour. (@thhamilton)

I have officially entered the 21st century. I apologize in advance for my slow learning curve. I have yet to discern Twitter's purpose. (And we never heard from Helena Bonham Carter again.)

Twitter is 11 years old today. Five years ago I was advised that people in prominent positions don't use it. How the world changes. (@JonathanFoyle, 2017)

Facebook corrodes the bond between men and women. (Via Conservative Woman ‏@TheConWom)

My old boss famously announced 'we don't do Twitter'. Now has an official Twitter feed. (‏via Twitter)

Now it’s “I don’t do threading”. (And you only need to retweet the first tweet of a thread.) Some still think that if you join Twitter, you instantly see everything posted by everyone who’s on it. (You only see posts from people you follow, and you can unfollow or block them.)

Facebook users like to tell you that Twitter is populated by rightists/leftists, baby pictures and morons. Twitter users say the same about FB. Twitter has an update – and users wail that it’s “turning into Facebook”. (The update consisted of non-linear timelines based on an “algorithm” that decides it knows what you want to see – but when Twitter installs the feature it gives you the option to turn it off. Everybody hated it, and turned it off.)

The whole Facebook 'friends' and instant chat thing is so stifling. (via Twitter)
The casual ‘clicking’ and ‘liking’ of social media... (Ellen Turner)

Fads like chasing followers online are leaving us lonely and isolated. (Pope Francis, with 13.6m followers.)

If you want to write about socmed in the right-wing broadsheets, you have to add a bit of denigration, and use the word “like” somewhere. But the real downside is that every time you “like” something, the info goes to advertisers. FB and Twitter want to show advertising companies that they can predict what their users want to read about. The companies will then buy advertising space.

To some, I suspect, FB and Twitter ARE the internet, and they’re just “on your phone”.

A Facebook user has a historical question: “Don’t use Google or the net etc, but where was the place called…?”

And a friend’s mother has a query: “I don’t do Goodreads, but…”

“I've never really experimented with any of the shortening services”, says another, apologising for long URLs.

"My Facebook feed is full of...." Click on the faint grey down arrow, top right of the post, and select from the options to hide or unfollow. And you can put your family or friends in a group, and choose to see posts from that group only. Some users moan what a terrible thief of time it is. Try hiding all clickbait memes, and not passing them on. They’re designed to find out about your networks.

“I don’t want a smartphone because I don’t want to have Facebook on my phone." Get a smartphone, don’t put Facebook on it.

“You get news alerts coming up on your phone all the time”, says the editor of new paper-only daily.
According to Rachel Johnson in the Times (2016), one of the new status symbols is a mobile that isn’t a smartphone – because you don’t want to be “connected” all the time.

“This is why I refuse to install the Facebook app!” I don’t have FB on my phone either, but I didn’t “refuse to install it”. I installed it and then deleted it (I prefer to scroll FB on my desktop). You don’t just decline to join FB – you “are determined to have nothing to do with it”. And you don’t just join it – you “give in and join it”, or even “submit”.

Some people who have Twitter and FB accounts, write blogs, and chat to people in comments, are convinced that they “don’t use Social Media”. Reading Twitter ("for news and updates") without Tweeting isn’t “using” it.

But there’s really no need to read the comments under newspaper articles. And you don’t have to join Whatsapp, Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr…

A prominent lawyer was laughed at when he said in 1996 that one day lawyers would communicate with clients via email.

The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys.
(Sir William Preece, Chief Engineer, Post Office, 1876)

Btw, remember when a couple of years ago everyone was convinced that "e-mail is dead"? Well, no. (M. v. Aufschnaiter ‏@mva_1000)

Companies flogging alternative “solutions” are attacking email, Aug 2014: “Imagine telling your team they never have to email each other again!”

The email era is over, says Carol Midgley (Times 2016). “Companies are realising that while email saves time and paper it also turns employees into drooling screen slaves. Wading through 100 messages a day about Ron’s lost coffee mug or how to enlarge your penis kills productivity so some firms are weaning their workforces off it.” How are they going to organise meetings without email? Typed memos taken round the office? Pigeonholes? Are they going to go back to time-wasting phone conversations? Which aren’t recorded, so you have to take notes, and then type them up? Solution: Set up a spam filter. Tell your staff to go easy on the trivia and not to “reply all”. Hire someone to read the emails, pick out the important messages and answer them. You could call them a “secretary”.

Email has made secretaries of us all. (Expert quoted in The Guardian, 2014)

Email would be much easier and quicker if everybody could touchtype. It would improve productivity, and we might all get richer.

More here, and links to the rest.

Sunday 24 September 2017

Outrageous Excuses 2017 (2)

A bison ate my homework

I still leave two spaces after a full stop because:

It’s what I was taught 30 years ago – I’d have been fired if I didn’t comply!
It’s a hard habit to break.
My mother told me to and I want to retain a link with a loved one.

Princess Margaret said that Boy George looked like an “over-made-up tart”. Her office explained that she said he was “commedia dell’arte”.

Jacob Rees Mogg says increased use of food banks is due to the previous Labour government not telling people they existed. He also says the phenomenon is "uplifting". (Sept 2017)

Poor people only go to food banks because they don’t know how to cook. (Baroness Jenkins)

Bannon trying to spin his departure as a good thing is like the guy who just got fired talking about how awesome his own business will be: “Now I don't have to come here every day I can devote all my time to working on my screenplay!” (Ian Rennie‏ @theangelremiel)

I accept theoretically we didn’t win. But in a way we won an awareness. We won the opportunity for our manifesto to be heard. If the timespan of the campaign was longer I think we would be in government now. It wasn’t because Theresa May won why she is still prime minister. It wasn’t because Jeremy lost. Jeremy, in a sense, didn’t lose, the Labour party didn’t lose. And the Conservatives didn’t win. (Claudia Webbe)

Gay Porn Star Turned German Spy Accused of Being Jihadi Mole Says He Planned Attack Online Because of Boredom (Newsweek)

Boots claim the morning after pill is so expensive to discourage ‘inappropriate’ use. (Metro)

Councillor Rosemary Carroll had claimed she had meant to delete a racist post but ended up publishing it by mistake.

Department for Communities and Local Government: "Translation undermines community cohesion by encouraging segregation" (Dec 2012)

Turkish schools will stop teaching evolution because: "We believe that these subjects are beyond students' comprehension."

A pub landlord who posted a message on Facebook calling for the deportation of everyone with the same name as the Manchester bomber says he doesn’t “understand how Facebook works”.

UKIP wants to ban the burka because it prevents absorption of Vitamin D.

A woman in the US tried to persuade other parents and children on a camping trip to act as if the Easter Bunny was real because her eight-year-old son still believed in it, and she wanted to “keep the magic alive”. (Via Mallory Ortberg,

Conspiracist Alex Jones of InfoWars is trying to get custody of his kids, but in court couldn’t answer questions about their lives. He blamed it on the “big bowl of chilli” he ate for lunch.
In the last year, two people have told me they're voting Tory because Britain can't deport Abu Hamza. Hamza was extradited to the US in 2012. (@flying_rodent)

Global warming is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. (Donald Trump)

God doesn't send people to hell. He honours their decision to live without Him for eternity. (@ImSowFull)

Theresa May says she backs fox hunting because other methods of killing foxes are 'cruel' (Business Insider UK‏ @BIUK)

The Polish government wants to chop down a forest which is home to European bison in order to “protect it”.

More here, and links to the rest.

Friday 22 September 2017

Hyperbole, Overstatement, Catastrophising 8

We have lost our connection to Nature!
(Because only old Asian ladies, and not Brits, are collecting chestnuts in Hyde Park. “Our ancestors” would have “harvested” them. From Twitter.)

Feminism poisons relations between men and women. (Belinda Brown. Here's another headline from her blog: "Teaching little girls about breastfeeding robs them of their childhood.")

The Ghostbusters reboot will ruin my childhood! (It has been remade with a cast of women.)

We can’t have women priests in the CoE, it would lead to a return of paganism! (Bishop of Exeter, 1974. Still waiting, 2017.)

Has the fact that we mourn more for Prince than 500 drowned refugees mean that we have lost all sense of proportion?

Bloke wails that London is now Muslim, in a year Buckingham Palace will be a “mosk” and the Queen will be forced to wear a “burker”. (May 8, 2016. Wish he had said, “Or I’ll eat my hat”, 2017.)

Likewise, man worried for his 7-month-old son because there are so many immigrants to the UK that white people will soon become an endangered species. (DM comments 2016)

And others saying that “London is now entirely Islamic”, “You have to go outside London to hear English spoken”, and "Come to Kings Cross – you'll be shocked!". 

Impactful... now there's a word that completely destroys the language. (That's also a self-denying statement.)

Saudis fear there'll be no more virgins and people will turn gay if female drive ban is lifted. (via Nevine Zaki December 2, 2011)

Letting women drive would increase prostitution, pornography, homosexuality and divorce. (via Ian Shuttleworth)

Mike Stuchbery is destroying our past! (Translation: Mike Stuchbery is pointing to evidence that the history of the British Isles has not been a 2000-year history of white people.)

Once you end people's right to buy something and do as they please with it you have a police state. (Estate agent Trevor Abrahmsohn, Guardian June 2017)

Entitled millennials “are trying to destroy the United States”. (via Twitter)

All men are hated by females now. (Twitter)

We are in the dictatorship of the super intelligent. (FB comment on the female student who stabbed her boyfriend and got a suspended sentence because “she has a brilliant future ahead of her” – paraphrase.)

Guy sues date for texting during movie, calling it, "A threat to civilized society." (

Civilization is truly over: Harry Potter Creative Producer vacancy at the British Llibrary. (‏@sarah_shin_)

"White genocide!"
"All Muslims are rapists!"
"PC is destroying UK culture!"
"EU costs £350m a week!"
(Delicate Snowflake‏ @AndyBodle)

Tesco chairman, John Allan – one of nine white men who sit on the executive board – said that men have become an "endangered species" at the top of British business. (Grazia, March 2017)

The EU has destroyed every country in Europe!

Southern England is so flooded with immigrants that everyone in London speaks with an Indian accent!

Look at this picture of schoolchildren in the local paper, not a white face! So Bradford is now a no-go area for white people!

Headline: Germany: Nearly 40% of under fives now “migrant background”. 
Comment: Demographics at work. Germany is finished.

American cultural dominance! (One Macdonalds in Moscow.)

BBC ensuring 50% of all shows are about Gay relationships. First Holby, then Casualty & now Dr Who. Are there no heterosexual people left? (Matt @mtavp)

That student who burned a £20 in front of a homeless man – leave him alone! It was uncharacteristic! His life is ruined!
Same-sex marriage will “destroy the whole human race”, Australian parliament told. (Feb 2017)

One young woman this morning with such a passion for fruit that she piles her plate with melon, pineapple, grapes and kiwi fruit and fills her pockets with tangerines to the extent that in the process nature itself is demeaned. (Alan Bennett, LRB on hotel breakfast buffets.)

Pope Francis says capitalism is ‘terrorism against all of humanity’.

Gays don’t want marriage equality, they want homosexual supremacy!
Gun Control Efforts Are “Exactly How Satan Works”(Bryan Fischer)

More here, and links to the rest.

Saturday 16 September 2017

My Novels

Stuck for something to read? Try these...

WITCH WAY NOW? 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.

And here's the sequel:


Anna never wanted to be a witch, but she has to protect herself from some old fiends, while wondering if there is more to life than being a temp secretary. She tries stints as a model, and mixes with college students while beating off hell-hounds and wizards.

Tuesday 12 September 2017

Grammar: Latin, French and English

The English language is full of synonyms (words that mean the same). The British Isles were invaded by the Anglo-Saxons, who brought their language. Then we were invaded by the Normans (pictured), and French was the official language until the year 1600. Educated people learned Latin and Ancient Greek so that they could read classical literature, and imported a lot of Latin and Greek into the language. That's why we often have a choice between a Latin, Greek or French word from the educated establishment, and an Anglo-Saxon word as used by the common people: between a word that sounds official and impressive, and one that sounds warm and everyday. Would you rather someone was amicable, or friendly?

Official words tend to have many syllables, with endings like "-atively" and "-ification". If you want to sound informed, domineering, impressive and pompous, and if you want to disguise your meaning, choose from the left-hand column. If you want to sound matey and get your meaning across, choose Anglo-Saxon words from the right.

arrive/turn up



incisive/cutting, biting

opposed to/against

previously, subsequently/earlier, later
prior to/before

relinquish/leave off
renounce/give up
replenish/stock up


In the 18th century, formal prose was very Latinate. For example:

However incredible the following particular may appear, you may be assured of its veracity

Translation: However unbelievable the following story may seem, I can swear to you it's true.

More Latin here.