Friday 30 November 2018

Howlers: Misspellings

Predictive text turns definAtely into defiantly – it may be responsible for some of the following.

She plumed the depths. (It’s plumbed, from plumbum, lead. You measure depth with a lead weight on a string.)

The head-waiter was very swarve. (He was suave.)
Let's head off for sunnier climbs! (Climes.)
She saddled up to to me and whispered... (Sidled up to.)
Doths cap. (Doffs – the opposite of "don".)
This is under-handed, two-faced hippocracy! (Hypocrisy.)

She revealed a few unpalletable truths. (Unpalatable or distasteful.)
The head Tibetan Buddhist is the Dali Lama. (Dalai.)
Low and behold! (Lo!)
These trousers have an elastic acted waist. (Elasticated.)

I love the smell of Eau de Colon! (Cologne.)
A few foreign digitories attended Castro’s funeral. (Dignitaries.)
Tony Blair should be tried at the Haig! (Hague.)
Pinter was a famous playwrite. (playwright)

You find sea anomies in rock pools. (Anenomies.)
I can't be doing with all that polava! (Palaver.)
They were in the throws of moving house. (It’s “throes” or agonies, nothing to do with rugs.)
Pug ugly. (Plug ugly.)

The villain had a long wrap sheet. (Rap sheet. It’s a list of your crimes, as in bum rap, or beat the rap.)

I was hypmatised into spending too much. (Hypnotised.)
What better layer for Marvel Studios ' superheroes? (Lair.)
Viola! or Wa-la! for Voila!
The attack was viscous.  (Vicious.)
Portions were miniscual. (Minuscule.)

Barnier’s Brexit mantle-clock ticks. (A mantel goes over a fireplace; a mantle goes round your shoulders.)

Things have gone array! (Awry.)
You’ll be pillared if you don’t get your figures right. (Pilloried.)
They had vestige interests. (Vested.)

This person who sucks up new age ideas like a sponge and reagitates them when they are in the presence of others. (Regurgitate.)

We have many similar proprieties in the area. (Properties.)
Clothes were policed by presumptory laws. (Sumptuary laws.)
The curtains were decorated with cruelwork panels. (“Crewel woek” is a style of embroidery.)
My favourite genre is film nuar. (Noir.)

Their troubles were deep seeded. (Deep seated.)
Day today living. (Day-to-day.)
She was always shoving in her two penneth. (Two penn’orth, like two cents.)
The scene was like a dream - it was so real. (Surreal.)

Top hoe, 
old boy! (It’s top hole.)
Hey Preston, cured! (Hey presto! Phrase used by conjurers. Presto is Italian for fast.)
It earned him great cudoz. (It's kudos, and it's singular. You can't have one kudo.)

Until the day when desktop holography becomes a reality, 3D will remain the wholly grail of the graphics world. 
(Holy Grail.)

After a while you look like a bully or simply dilutional and arrogant. (Delusional – in a discussion about self-esteem.)

Grammar: Howlers 16

These howlers were all spotted in the wild.

We’ve got a written constitution – it’s called the Magma Carta!
artesian bakery
(Artisan – you’re thinking of an artesian well.)
That'll be just beachy! (Peachy.)
The Big Bag is a fairytale! (Big Bang)

This dealt the death knoll to the project. (Tolled or rung the death knell, dealt the death blow.)
We must addressing the route cause. (Root.)
To this day, I’ve never stepped foot back in the building. (Stepped, or “set foot”.)
It’s chalk-full of info! (Read it in an American accent.)

I’m anti-Zionist not anti-Semantic! (At least they’ve stopped saying anti-Semetic.)
He was fuming at the mouth with anger. (Foaming at the mouth with rage, or fuming with anger.)
But all and all, at the end of the day... (All in all.)

The Emperor was surrounded by psychophantic courtiers. (Sycophantic.)
Bring back hanging – we shouldn't have given up corporal punishment. (Capital punishment.)
We went through a ridiculous façade to get our passports back. (Charade.)

The will was complicated, with many benefactors. (Beneficiaries.)
We had a lovely time in Spain – we went to Seville and visited the Alcatraz. (Alcazar.)

It’s a doggy dog world. (Dog eat dog.)
Whatever floats your goat! (Boat.)
Hair-brained seems to have taken over from hare-brained. (Hares are supposed to be mad.)
Just because Krugman and his elk keep praising the virtues of Obamacare doesn't make it true. (That's "and his ilk" and it means "and his kind".)

It fell on death ears. (Deaf ears.)
beautiful gold-ringed hair (Ringleted.)
mentally efficient (Deficient.)
It's a home for old crocs. (Crocks – old people are like chipped crockery, not carnivorous reptiles.)

His money is stashed in a tax heaven. (Haven – it means "harbour".)
We were pawned off with an inferior product. (Palmed.)
He was smartly dressed in a shirt and bowl tie. (Bow tie.)
Rest your boots on this foot stall! (Foot stool.)
Their facile expressions were a study. (Facial expressions. "Facile" means "too easy".)

Hold and corner and grid up the lions. (Both from an “English-teaching” site. Shadowy activity is "hole and corner"; to prepare for action you "gird up your loins" - or tighten your belt.)

Woah betide them! (You are wishing "woe" upon them.)
I was tolled off to do it. (Told off.)
Pan-flat bike paths (It’s pancakes that are flat.)
That greyhound looks emancipated. (It hasn't been given the vote, it's "emaciated" or thin.)

It was a dumb fool thing to say! (Damn fool.)
The prophet was just a doom-mongerer. (Doom-monger.)

She was a botanist – she married again but she’d never got divorced! (Bigamist. Botanists study plants.)

The singer was a pre-madonna. (Prima donna or "first lady".)
Let's get this project underfoot! (Under way.)
Australopithecus was a bird! (Archaeopteryx is meant – australopithecus is a human relative.)

A religion exposing subservience to a deity. (Espousing – embracing, not revealing.)
The country is run by petty baccarats. (Bureaucrats.)
Their machinations are internecine. (Byzantine.)
She feinted interest in the boring saga. (Feigned or faked.)

The team is going paintballing next week – but you don't have to join us, it's mandatory! (Optional. Mandatory means compulsory.)

Nearly every time, it invariably... (Invariably means “all the time”.)
It was her favourite past time. (Pastime - it passes the time.)
We'll get this done quickly if everyone pinches in. (Pitches in.)
She was wearing a skirt with knife pleats. (The sharply ironed pleats are "knife-edge pleats.)

It peaked my interest. (Piqued - imagine being poked by a rapier.)
Passivists are always protesting against war! (Pacifists – they fight for peace, not supinity.)
I was presently surprised. (Pleasantly.)
We'll carry on shouldering on. (Soldiering on.)

The flight was nerve-wrecking. (Nerve-wracking.)
Virtual signalling (Virtue signalling, or complaining just to show how virtuous you are.)
He had a coterie of tics and quirks. (Assemblage - a coterie is formed of people.)
He disavowed his family, leaving them nothing. (Disinherited. Perhaps he disowned them as well.)

My cat is malting! She’s leaving hairs everywhere. (Moulting.)
I was miles away at the time – and my wife can collaborate that. (Corroborate.)
He had servants at his beckon call. (Beck and call - he could gesture to beckon them, or call out.)
He was treated as an escape goat. (The Bible has "scapegoat".)

This idea fell by the waste-side. (Also the Bible - Jesus was talking about seeds that fell by the wayside, or landed at the side of the road where they wouldn't sprout.)

Listen to the cooing of the collard doves. (Collared doves. Collard is an American vegetable like spinach.)

In real life the actor was the nice man he betrayed. (Portrayed. Traitors betray their country, painters portray their sitters.)

Exorcising of dogs
 not allowed in the course area (Exercising, not casting out evil spirits – but is it Photoshop?)

Wind from the Sea by Andrew Wyeth, tempura on hardboard. (The paint is tempera, the batter is tempura - both contain eggs.)

The housewives were perfectly quaffed. (Coiffed or coiffeured. You quaff mead at a medieval banquet.)

Their actions came in for some coruscating criticism. (Wit coruscates or twinkles. Perhaps you mean "excoriating".) 

Anyone with an itch for rigour in their plots might be unable to ignore the susurrous discontent... (It’s “susurrus of discontent” – a susurrus is a whisper, it’s a noun not an adjective.)

It begs belief. (Beggars belief. Shakespeare has “beggars description”. If you beggar someone, you make them so poor that they have to beg – as in the game Beggar My Neighbour. Means something like “strains credulity to the limit”.)

She was archly conservative. (She was an “arch conservative”. It’s arch as in archangel, not as in “She riposted archly”.)

Coercive control often involves gas-lamping. (It's "gas-lighting. In the film Gaslight, the villain tried to persuade his wife she was mad by going up into the attic and turning the gas lights up and down. She’d complain that the lights suddenly went dim, and he’d go “You imagine it, my dear!” Nothing to do with street lights.)

Boy Erased is well-intentioned but saccharine-inducing. (Saccharine means over-sweet, over-sweet food is nausea-inducing.)

People are so rude these days! It's the end of civilisation! (Or maybe just the end of civility, or politeness.)

acetycholine, tumeric, cardamon, longtitude, Epson Salts (Watch the spelling: acetylcholine, turmeric, cardamom, longitude, Epsom Salts.)

Louis XIV’s mistress – Madame Pompidou! (Paul Martin on Flog It! She was Madame Pompadour. Madame Pompidou was the wife of the French Prime Minister in the 1960s.)

Queue drums! (To queue is to stand in line, to cue is to signal someone it’s their turn to speak a line in a play.)

I had done it. I was no longer a tourist, but a modern European. Mozart’s Ode to Joy played in my head as fireworks lit up the sky. (EasyJet inflight mag. Ahem, Beethoven.)

The Italian visitors were such Anglophobes that they dressed entirely in tweed. (Anglophiles. Phobes fear, philes love.)

I didn't know – at least not conscientiously. (Consciously. And conscience – awareness of guilt – doesn't mean consciousness or awareness.)

Money talks: sporting events in Britain were once the prevail of the upper classes (Caption, Daily Telegraph Aug 2018. Province?)

Mr Satterthwaite was a little dried-up pipkin of a man. (Three-Act Tragedy, Agatha Christie, American edition Christie wrote that Mr S was a “dried-up pippin” – a withered apple. A pipkin is a small cauldron. The same 1961 edition misprints “mannequin”, a girl who models clothes, as “manikin” – a very small person.)

James Stewart raises the barre considerably. (The bar that’s raised is one you have to high-jump over, not one you hold onto while doing pliés and arabesques.)

It was a Plutonic relationship. (Chris Packham. Should be “Platonic relationship”, from the Greek philosopher Plato who recommended sexless relationships. Pluto was the god of the Underworld.)

Last night I dreamed I went to Manderlay again. (I'ts "Manderly". It's also the Forsyte Saga, not Forsythe.)

Flirty baby-doll flicks and high backcombed beehives triumphed in the 1960s. (Baby-doll pyjamas were fashionable in the early 60s, made in a flimsy fabric and consisting of a puff sleeved smock and gathered knickers. “Flick-ups” on your hair were never called “baby-doll”.)

Pressed with small gophering irons. (Gophers are American rodents, ruffs were pressed with “goffering irons”. Both from Lucy Adlington, Stitches in Time)

In truck to ("I'll have no truck with that” means that you do not wish to be involved with that in any way. If you are “in hock” to a group, you are held in pawn or in hostage in return for favours.)

These places were once rich in a diversity of trees, flowers and wild animals, which rubbed alongside small human settlements eking a sparse existence. (Times, 2018 If a couple or group “rubs along”, they get on OK most of the time, by tolerating each other. It doesn’t mean “lives next to”. And those settlements were eking out a sparse existence. If you eke something out, you stretch It to go round six, perhaps by adding breadcrumbs.)

Sir Winston Churchill laid in state in Westminster Hall for three days until his funeral on 30 January (Parliament Archives – he lay.)

They gazed on the picaresque scene as the sun set over the thatched cottages. (Picturesque. Picaresque novels describe a journey with a constant change of location and characters.)

So "official identity" is rather a nefarious concept in the UK unlike many other countries. (Nebulous, or cloudy, is meant. Nefarious means wicked or illegal.)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – A tale of poverty and hardship counterposed with greed and comeuppance for the lucky few. (Caroline Lucas, Guardian  “comeuppance” means “just deserts”, or “deserved punishment”, not  “upward social mobility”.)

Branding, the pillory and the ducking stool were used to shame the perpetrators and frighten the populous. (Guardian 2017. If you mean the people, it's populace.)

Africa’s Great Green Wall is already reaping benefits. (It is producing benefits; people are reaping the benefits it has produced.)

In 2018, "lionise" is being used to mean “big up” or even “whitewash”. (“Lions” were celebs in the mid 19th century. If you “lionised” someone you boosted them and also fawned on them.)

You ever met someone who is needlessly cold or even outright rude to those who deign to engage with them? (Dare. "Deign" means "condescend".)

A woman I met had one book group she attended for the purposes of frivolity, and another for the meditated consideration of the literature du jour. (Rachel Cusk. Surely “mediated”?)

She was voicing her personal views in her inimical and jocular way. ("Inimitable” or unique. Inimical means hostile.)

Some schools have an accountant on their pay role. (It’s roll, as in roll of parchment, not role as in part in a play.)

Explore Normandy's history in Rouen with its half-timbered houses and infamous cathedral. (The cathedral is famous, not notorious.)

These mountains have borne witness to this sound for millennia. (Footage of belling stags. They have “witnessed” the sound. If they “bore witness” to it, they would be testifying that they had heard it.)

An example of that lesser-spotted sub-genre, arthouse fashion horror, Personal Shopper is unusual and unsettling. (Times Mar 2017 The Lesser Spotted Woodpecker is a smaller version of the Greater Spotted Woodpecker.)

These are clear examples of pseudo-science run amok in which the proponents are both ignoring and violating a whole gauntlet of scientific laws. ( Gamut. You run the gauntlet – you run between two lines of people flicking you with leather gloves. A gamut is a musical scale.)

The taught, yet flexible line. (Taut meaning “tight” has nothing to do with teaching and being taught.)

But that realisation will come too late, after the nets have been pulled away, and they've been allowed to fall unimpinged. (Unimpeded.)

It's nearly the bewitching hour! (Witching hour – like belabouring the point for labouring the point.)

Dietrich was not merely reactionary in her reading: she was engaged in final attempts to shape the record. (New Yorker. “Reactive” is meant.)

It looks a bit niche, possibly not a vibe quite up my strata. (Not up my street. "Strasse" is the German for street, strata are geological layers.)

More here, and links to the rest.

Wednesday 28 November 2018

Contradictions 6

The more things change, the more they stay the same. The times change and we change with them.

It's all the victims' fault.

People shouldn't be encouraged to see themselves as victims.
Actually, I'm the victim here!

Use Facebook, but complain about the ads that fund it.
Looks don’t matter, but there’s a fitness and beauty industry.
Be original, and wear the choir uniform.

Don’t think about what other people are thinking about you, but first impressions count.

Live the dream, but don’t over-challenge yourself.
Don’t compare yourself to others, but try and be top of the class.
Live in the moment, but learn from experience.
Live in the moment and make a revision calendar.

Kids today have a three-minute attention span and play Fortnite for hours on end.

Get good marks and pass exams, but don't be too clever or people won’t like you.

Children should “learn to manage risk”, but teenagers should not indulge in “risky behaviour”.

We shouldn’t cram children with facts, but none of them knows what a wren is!

Move to the remote countryside to stop your children mixing with the "wrong" people, then worry that they will “never leave home”, and try to get rid of them as soon as possible.

Make people dependent on you, then blame them for having no initiative.

Nobody's perfect, and it's a wicked world, but astrologers' character descriptions are uniformly positive.

Class has disappeared, but look at those awful chavs taking over town centres. Why we can’t we do street life like on the continent?

Riches don’t bring happiness, but posh people have perfect lives. (The BPS Digest talks about a “subconscious rose-tinted view of rich people”.)

Formal manners are a thing of the past and there are no social codes any more, but it's very rude not to say thank you, or good morning, or good night, or goodbye, or remember people’s birthdays.

Leftists: simultaneously whiny, weak snowflakes who want to be protected from the real world; also brutal, unstoppable cultural revolutionists ruining our pantos. (@joncstone)

Nadine Dorries just complaining that post-Brexit we’ll have no voice because no MEPs, commissioners! (@ProfJeffKenner)

According to Leave voters, there is nothing to worry about from No Deal as nothing will really change. (@CyrusBales So why were they so keen to leave?)

“It’s just so undemocratic to ask people to vote again.” Theresa Villiers response to calls for a #PeoplesVote on #bbcsp. Wow. (Alex Andreou ‏@sturdyAlex)

UK says its Brexit aims are to secure the rights of its citizens, minimise financial impact and protect its borders, while simultaneously suggesting the EU's aims to secure the rights of its citizens, minimise financial impact and protect its borders are tawdry and unreasonable. (@sturdyAlex)

A lady at work today told me she can't wait for Brexit so all the Eastern Europeans would leave the country and stop stealing jobs. I asked her if she knew I was Italian. She said she loves Italy and is looking to retire there.

Had a neighbour who complained there were too many Asians (in the Bay Area!) but loved the good Chinese food. (@amydipa)

I wish all the Brits who moan about how people "coming over here" should "learn our language first" could meet all the Brits in Beijing who need help paying their water bills in Chinese.  (‏@YuanfenYang)

I've got an aunt who lives in Spain and doesn't speak a word of Spanish but will always comment on immigrants to the UK not trying to fit in with the culture. (via Twitter)

UKIP warns of Schrödinger’s immigrant who ‘lazes around on benefits whilst simultaneously stealing your job’. (@marmite_)

Crazy how so many British people can walk into Tesco, see 20 self-service checkouts, and still believe that it's immigrants who are taking all the jobs. (@evolvepolitics)

Seems Schrödinger's Germany is a thing now. Simultaneously "brought to its knees by migrants refugees and no longer a recognisable nation", while also being "An evil economic powerhouse that will dominate Europe". (@Far_Right_Watch)

“Immigrants ought to assimilate” say the people who went to exclusive schools, live and holiday in their own areas, and never mix with the rest of us.

It’s weird how people will say it’s “unrealistic” to have people of colour in period pieces set in Europe, but will find any excuse to make a white dude the protagonist in films about a Lakota Sioux tribe, feudal Japan, or 11th century Imperial China. (@Jennifer_deG)

Libertarians want to stand alone and pay less tax and shrink the government, while benefiting from libraries, hospitals, policemen, street lighting, piped water, sewers

People live peacefully thanks to science, government and law – but Brian Cox smiles too much; why isn’t there a “none of the above" vote; and we don’t need laws – just manners and civilized behaviour.

Seems the famous "British sense of humour" doesn't extend to Jean Claude Juncker dancing like Theresa May. (@Otto_English And aren't we told to "dance like nobody's watching"?)

A fundamentalist christian calls LBC to complain about 'thought control' in modern secular societies. (Frederic Moreau @goodclimate)

Sex and City sold the “freewheeling” single lifestyle as preferable to “settling down” (note euphemisms). Meanwhile there is pressure to pair off, marry and have kids by the time you’re 30. At the same time your friends say “I never got that! Where did you hear that from?”

Attack Angela Rayner for having a baby at 16, and attack women who reach 40 without having children.

People don’t want to commit, but at the same time they despise the single.

Being single is wonderful - you know, find out who you really are, do what you like, stronger on your own - but few people choose it, and having a partner is an index of normality.

Genuinely not sure why so many parents try to big up how horrendous it is to prospective babyhavers?

“Sex workers are slaves BUT ALSO dangerous perpetrators who will steal your man and ruin the planet! Save them! No wait... shame them! No wait... what’s our platform again?” (@juniperfitz)

If sex is all in the head, why is “loss of libido” an official side-effect of many drugs? Why does anybody buy Viagra? (Actually, if sex is all in the head, how did we get here?)

If all women are lying about sexual assault, why do young women get such a lot of advice about how to avoid it?

In the 50s and early 60s, you couldn’t be frank about sex but there was a subculture of dirty jokes.

If you are pro-choice, how can you be opposed to abortions where the choice is based on the gender of the foetus? (@mrjamesob)

Those complaining that the predicted storm wasn’t bad enough, and alarmist forecasters “terrify” the public, are the ones who call a few traffic jams or grounded planes “carnage”,  “chaos” and “mayhem”.

We don’t have free will because we are influenced by circumstances and other people – but we create our own reality and we are responsible for our own happiness.

Britain First wants a free speech law with no exceptions, but wants to ban Islam.

It’s rather fascinating that many people who go on about how much they love ‘free speech’ also deplore the use of Twitter by people they disagree with. (@PaulbernalUK)

There is too much CCTV, we live in a big brother state!’
The burqa should be banned so we can see their face on CCTV!’
Make your mind up.
(QuestionEverything ‏ @Challengeitnow)

Yet another fundamental contradiction underlying Jordan Peterson's worldview: 
Claim 1: No one is actually atheist, everyone is by nature religious.
Claim 2: The Soviets were murderous atheists/secular humanists.

Common alt-lib tactic: tell us to accept "intellectual diversity" (i.e. more bigotry, white supremacy, etc.) but at the same time their entire schtick is telling everyone how dangerous "postmodernism" is and how it has to be vanquished from the university. (M.P. ‏@OmanReagan)

Interesting that historians have been charged with both a failure to engage and luring a generation towards communism in the past 48 hrs. (@MauriceJCasey)

Edward VIII couldn’t marry divorcee Wallis Simpson and remain king because it would be “unconstitutional”. Henry VIII was divorced and remarried twice, and remained king.

The Bible was written by “barefoot nomadic goatherds” who built cities and a temple. (Also "over Edom have I cast out my shoe".)

If loose, light layers keep you warmer than tight, thick ones, why do skiers wear tight-fitting padded body suits?

Old-fashioned schoolmasters preached the Christian values of forgiveness and loving your neighbour, while flogging pupils.

Agatha Christie, famous for stories like Death on the Nile, Murder on the Orient Express, They Came to Baghdad and Murder in Mesopotamia, can be dismissed because she only set novels in English country villages.

Therapists want you to “get in touch with your anger”, but don’t like it when you’re angry with them.

We're all on the spectrum, but you should try to fit in.
Stand out of the crowd – but don’t be 5’9”.
Be yourself – but only if you’re neurotypical.
Rebel against the status quo – no, not like that!

Why is it that we tell the “normal” kids to shine and stand out but tell kids with disabilities they need to blend in? (Herding Cats

We are normal.
We don’t have labels.
The others have labels.
They are different.
But we’re all different.
Nobody is “normal”.

We’re all individuals! (Monty Python’s Life of Brian)

More here, and links to the rest.

Sunday 18 November 2018

Great British Understatement 3

Brits hide their secret optimism via language, namely in understatement. If you ask how someone is and they reply, “Mustn’t grumble”, then it means they are elated. Conversely, if they reply, “I’ve been worse, I suppose”, they are practically at death’s door. When we say an experience is “not bad” we mean it’s “very good”. If we say a meal was “disappointing”, it’s quite possible that three members of the party died in agony from food poisoning. If someone makes a mistake and a Brit says, “It’s fine — forget it”, then be assured that it is as far from fine as things could be and that they will never, ever forget it. “No harm done” is equally passive-aggressive and means much harm is done and you are now on the shit list. “That’s an interesting perspective” should continue: “only if you happen to be an utter moron”. If you hand in a piece of work and your boss replies, “It’s mostly great”, be assured it’s definitely not great (in newspapers “mostly great” means: “rewrite it from start to finish”). Just as in business “We’ve hit a bit of a snag” probably means the entire project is a screw-up and a possible fraud and we may all be going to prison.
 (Carol Midgley Times 2018)

The house was “fairly unbothered by the 20th century”.

In a piece for the online journal The Conversation rather frankly titled “Racism is Behind Outlandish Theories about Africa’s Ancient Architecture”... (

“My mother was one of the most horrible people that ever lived,” said Gore Vidal, not entirely hedging. “I can’t ever remember her kissing me or hugging me or anything.” (Andrew O’Hagan on Jean Stein's Hollywood exposé West of Eden)

Not many 99s were sold in Derbyshire (during the cold snap). (Times 2018)

Bishop Guo Xijin of Fujian was detained for three days “under the supervision of Communist party officials”. “I can’t say I was forced,” said Mr Guo, “But under certain circumstances there is no other option.”

When history records what has happened before/after the referendum it will not report it glowingly. (Anna Soubry March 2018)

Border guards are not selected for their charm and sense of humour in Russia, in my experience. (BBC Breakfast)

“Guns are my hobby!” well I like knitting but if knitting killed 9,747 people so far in 2017 I would at least consider switching to crochet. (@katefeetie Nov 6 2017)

Brigadier Brodie, dealing with a massive Chinese attack on the Imjin in '51 reported that things were "a bit sticky". A Battle of Britain Spitfire pilot told me once that allied defeat & France's occupation in 1940 was "a bit unsettling". (Via Dan Snow If things are really bad, you say "There's a bit of a flap on.")

Comedy is not my field of specialty, but it seems like a reference to karate is not enough to qualify as a joke. (

New Bearings, devoted principally to Gerard Manley Hopkins, William Butler Yeats, TS Eliot and Ezra Pound, was [FR Leavis’] attempt to identify the essential new achievements in modern poetry. It also discussed at length and praised the work of Ronald Bottrall, whose importance was not to be confirmed by readers and critics. (Wikipedia)

While not possessed of the most sophisticated voice, her small frame could certainly belt out the hits. (BBC on Cilla Black. Stallholders at her local market used to shout out "Yer not a patch on yer mutha!")

Asked whether she believed a white man would have received similar levels of hate, Gina Miller laughed, not entirely mirthfully. (Guardian)

Mark and Joe first tried metal detecting about 20 years ago, but, as The Guardian reports, the two friends “became so bored that they gave up the hobby.” Instead, they turned to the slightly more scintillating hobby of fishing. (Atlas Obscura)

His neighbours observed an odour – not of sanctity – on his garments. (19th century)

"I wanted always to be famous, but not famous like this," Andre Bauth said. "I won an Emmy three months ago and nobody talks about it. But I make one mistake — I guess that's how Hollywood works." (October 2015 His “one mistake” was to stab his flatmate.) He added in an email "I guess all of you already know about the unfortunate situation I am passing by. Finally the Media present my self as the Emmy Winner and talk about my life and career. Because of something negative is on my curriculum. So sad to see the reality of Fame and what the Hollywood industry is looking for." (He also made a film about a landlord who murders his tenants.)

It would be fair to say that the unpopular Dearlove, “C” at the time, does not emerge from this account unscathed. (Spy story writer Charles Cumming. Richard Dearlove was head of the British secret service 1999-2004.)

‏Calling another Christian a wanker doesn’t work for me as a priestly response. (The Church of England’s head of PR, June 2013)

The rest of the world manages to drink Buckfast very happily without feeling the urge to smash the bottle and carve pretty patterns on the face of the nearest passer-by. (Daily Mail trying to persuade us that high-strength alcohol does not cause violence)

A bit of a pickle. Translation: A catastrophically bad situation with potentially fatal consequences. (via LC)

More here.

Wednesday 14 November 2018

So, Was Josephine Tey a Snob After All?

Prepare for shocks – The Singing Sands was written in the middle of the last century, and any opinions are Tey's or her characters', not mine.

Tey writes of "nice little girls from Balham" who have been given new eyebrows by film producers and become "mysterious creatures from Omsk" - which might anchor this book in the 30s (it was found and published after her death in the early 50s). Her detective, Inspector Alan Grant, is quick to spot received ideas and "fake news", but he believes a lot of tosh about what facial features – like eyebrows – or handwriting tell you about a person. ("Large women are sexually cold" is a gem from The Daughter of Time.)

Grant takes the night train to Scotland to get away from it all, only to find a dead man in the next compartment. He is supposed to be having a holiday (and a nervous breakdown), but he becomes obsessed with the man in B7.

Grant arrives at the "clean" Highlands and there is a lot of blether about "clear" trout streams. Like Tey, Grant is a native Scot, and he stays with his Scottish cousin Laura and her husband and son. The adults speak the Queen's English, having been to the right schools, but the little boy proudly speaks the local accent. According to Laura, "the Gaels" are "the only known race who have no word for no". Out fishing, Grant and the boy meet a preposterous, kilted Scottish nationalist known as "Wee Archie" – who is actually English.

Inspired by a poem scribbled by the dead man, Grant ploughs through books on the Hebrides - it seems everyone has written one, of varying value. The librarian opines that the authors have a "tendency to idealise a primitive people".

Grant sets off for the Hebrides on the track of B7. He finds it's blowing a gale that never lets up (it's March). There's a hotel, but the islanders import all their — inadequate — food, he has to beg for bed clothes, and the chambermaid doesn't know how to build a fire or cook. Plus her legs are short!

Grant finds the "singing sands" (it's more of a squeak) on a windswept beach. Returning, he decides to go the ceilidh (dance) and enjoys himself reeling with the stumpy chambermaid, who is a good sort. But then up pops Wee Archie to give a separatist speech in Gaelic.

There are songs, and Grant doesn't think much of the tunes – "musically negligible, some of them deplorable". Girl singers have no expression, a flaunting tenor hasn't bothered to have voice lessons. "The few inspired songs had... gone over the world on their own wings. It was better that these feeble imitations be left to die."

Grant hopes that Laura won't wait too long before sending her son to school in England: "The quality of Scotchness was a highly concentrated essence, and should always be diluted. As an ingredient it was admirable; neat, it was as abominable as ammonia."

As Grant flies over France in search of clues, Britain is obscured by cloud. What would the world be like if the place had never existed, he asks himself. "An all-Spanish America, one supposed. A French India; an India without a colour-bar and so racially intermarried that it had lost its identity."

The story ends abruptly and rather melodramatically. B7's attractive American buddy seems ready to settle down with the ladylike Daphne – but he could never have aspired to the aristocratic Zoe, whom we are supposed to admire. She is so beautiful that she can stand a plain hairstyle. I hate her already.

And I'm rather disappointed that Wee Archie doesn't turn out to be planning a Riddle of the Sands attack on England. What would Tey make of Nicola Sturgeon? She thinks nations should keep their "identity", but looks down on "primitive" Scots. She herself was no aristocrat.

Buy any book at Amazon!

More here, and links to the rest.

Monday 12 November 2018

Euphemisms in Quotes 13


And that turned out to mean...

Moderate? Acceptable. As in socially acceptable. He earns a moderate wage. They live in a moderate house. My drinking is moderate. It can be any size or amount, as in "The Apollo program was a moderate expense". It nearly bankrupted the USA, but was accepted, by the whole world, as worth it, due to its anticipated outcome. Whereas the pay rise for the House of Lords is immoderate in today's climate. So I would think 'moderate' is a social acceptance word, not a measurement word. (Mark Fisher)

Male Tindr bios, a glossary of terms: 
old-fashioned: misogynist
entrepreneur: unemployed
rakish: sleeps around
sapiosexual: pretentious liar
adventures: unplanned hikes
gentleman: race, gender, and social values 200 years out of date

My whole life people have told me I could get any man I want, meaning a rich man. (

I’m thinking that anyone talking about “traditional values” or “traditional roles” is really talking about straight white male dominance. (@junodawson)

concise: small
boutique: small and expensive
cacao: expensive chocolate

Kooky: wears a hat
Japester: puts hats on dogs
Wacky: takes whoopee cushions to meetings
Wag: says poisonous things (“She’s a slut!”), and then adds, “Only joking!”
Jocular: laughs uproariously when people are upset/hurt
Droll: bitter and depressed person who quotes Dorothy Parker’s poem about suicide
Clown: conveys simply terror
Humorist: professional

unbiased journalism: protect the status quo (David M. Perry ‏@Lollardfish)

A brand I consulted with asked me to inquire about working with a top-level beauty influencer. (I think this means: "A manufacturer who employed me to advise them asked me to inquire about paying an influential product shill.")

I am firm, you are obstinate, he is a pig-headed fool.
I am righteously indignant, you are annoyed, he is making a fuss over nothing.
I have reconsidered the matter, you have changed your mind, he has gone back on his word.
I have an independent mind, You are eccentric, He is round the twist.
I give confidential press briefings; you leak; he's being charged under section 2A of the Official Secrets Act.
(Bertrand Russell)

He mentions on most pages that Dodo had abundant vitality, energy, wit, but for all he shows you, she's just a chattering bore. (Goodreads on EF Benson.)

You may well have noticed the extent to which Counterpoint has been dumbed-down (no doubt the BBC-speak word is 'refreshed') for this series. (efrog@cix)

John Lewis department store cuts 270 jobs as it rebrands. (Guardian Sept 2018)

Players from both sides of the equation ... use the term “deannexation” to describe the process of re-appointing land from Stockbridge to Eagle’s Landing. It’s rather anodyne terminology for referencing what could be called a ... land grab unfolding in real time and with the state’s approval.

In non-autistic people it's called 'flow' and a good thing. In autistic people it's known as inflexible thinking/special interest hyper focus and pathologised as undesirable. (Becca Lamont Jiggens @beccalamjig Honesty, integrity and conscientiousness are similarly pathologised.)

People won't walk to the station, they will drive as that's what they are used to doing; hence traffic mayhem and car park hell for us. (Isabel Thurston via FB Who are "we", again?)

A gynaecologist at a private hospital refers patients to facilities abroad that provide IVF embryos of the desired sex. She explains: “These parents don’t want a ‘designer baby’.” They just don’t want to have “more children than they would ideally like” to achieve one of the “right” sex. She said it might be time to rethink laws to allow “the modern UK couple an opportunity to take a very pragmatic, responsible attitude to parenting.” (Times)

I tend to translate 'delicacy' (as in food) as 'something vile that posh folks and/or foreigners can be persuaded to part with good money for'. (AG)

We need critical feedback... Woah not that critical... (Jessica Eaton)

The course was called “Outrageous Texts”... In practice, “outrageous” mostly meant some dead white dudes with weird sexual hang-ups. (


Remember, "Identity politics" just means being black. Or being gay, or trans, or being female and stepping even a little bit out of line. All you have to do to commit the loathed "identity politics" is to exist. And they seem to truly seem to want to stop "identity politics". (@mcclure111)

If you find yourself about to decry the rise of "tribalism", the word you're looking for is probably "factionalism". Tribes aren't defined by opposition to one another. A group can't splinter into tribes. The reason "tribalism" gets used is because of the negatives that the word "tribal" evokes in civilized western thought, which is a legacy of colonialism and racism. (@alexandraerin)

Turns out you can sell multiculturalism to racists by calling it cultural appropriation and letting them think they're annoying someone. (@coso9001)

“Current crop of professionally outraged right-wing pundits” is a lot of words for “white ethnonationalists,” and “willingness to get physical at times” is a wild euphemism for “inciting violence and brutally assaulting people” but okay. (zoé samudzi @ztsamudzi)

On BBC news; 'The problem with Freedom of Movement is that you don't have control... over the mix of migrants' - pray, what does this mean? (@stephendurkan)

Peter Willsman taking the final place in the NEC race – despite his losing the backing of many – shows that despite media portrayals Labour’s membership won’t be told what to do. I said this in the teeth of the 2016 coup. Power no longer rests with relatively small groups of people. (Aaron Bastani)

What people generally mean when they say “don’t bring politics into (x)” is “don’t question the prevailing cultural narrative around (x)” and by doing so are supporting the existing cultural and political status quo, which is itself an inherently political act. (Conrad Nightsocks @RJMrgn)

If you want to claim “the people” are on your side, you need to figure out how to carefully curate and manage who counts as people. You can’t actually come out and say, “The only people who count are the ones who agree with me,” so you need to invent a cleverer way of saying that, using code words such as “the white working class” or “the heartlands”. (

When a politician like Esther McVey says they have made a "tough decision", they invariably mean tough for other people, not for tough them. (@GeorgeMonbiot)

As someone else said, it's "civility" when you demand respect for white men. Demanding respect for others is "PC". (@daveexmachina)

We are all familiar with Sir Humphrey labelling decisions as brave. I have just heard Dominic Lieven say that if anyone on the relevant cabinet committee had said in 1985 that the USSR would collapse, their view would have been called "distinctly original". (JP)

Why does the “marketplace of ideas” always end up requiring that you listen to people who you’ve already heard from a dozen times before and aren’t saying anything new. (@jesseltaylor)

There's a thread I saw on my phone that's an anime fan going to a con for the first time and being alarmed by the "politics" (queer people existing) and "degenerates" (queer people existing). (Alexandra Goblin @alexandraerin)

Likewise, "problematic" and "toxic". (Miguel @_YerMom)

In the east, Operation Todt took part in the thinly disguised “anti-Partisan” combat operations that really meant killing Russian civilians and Jews. (

Middle-class people have implicit biases; working-class people have Genuine Cultural Concerns. (

A priceless opportunity to transform a genuine Arts and Crafts property into a family home for today. (Translation: gut the interior and remove walls.)

A quaint 1920s family home has been drastically altered in a total home transformation. (Pricey Pads)

Modernised... beautiful... luxury, style... amazing additions... fabulous family home. (Translation: An old vicarage has been disfigured with vulgar bad taste.)

More here, and links to the rest.

Wednesday 7 November 2018

Reasons to Be Cheerful 22

They say you can't change minds by changing the law, but the Romans in Britain outlawed human sacrifice and we no longer approve of it. Women are no longer presented with “ladies’ menus” without prices, and you can't buy a can of lager with a naked woman printed on it. But people with depression are still being told “take a glass half-full attitude” and “change your mindset”. And can we outlaw giving puberty-delaying hormones to children “in their best interests”?

17th century The torture of suspected witches is banned. (Executions for witchcraft declined as rules of evidence became more strict.)

1678 Elena Piscopia becomes first woman Phd in Europe, in Padua.

1778 In December 1778 Marie Antoinette had a royal baby. She was required to give birth in public to ensure a transparent succession. Hundreds of courtiers were present. Two people climbed on furniture to get a better view. Such an appalling experience that the King banned public birth. (Dan Snow)

1795 The government introduces a heavy tax on hair powder, ending the 18th century fashion for wigs.

1834 The 1752 Murder Act... required bodies of convicted murderers to be either publicly dissected or gibbeted. Between 1752 and 1832, 134 men were hanged in chains. It was formally abolished in 1834. (Atlas Obscura)
1851 Window tax repealed in the UK.
1849 Elizabeth Blackwell becomes the first woman to qualify as a doctor in the United States.
1870 Elizabeth Garrett Anderson becomes the first woman to qualify as a doctor in England.

1878-1962 Frances Glessner Lee was the first female police captain in the US, and is regarded as the "mother of forensic science". She created miniature dioramas of crime scenes, and helped to found the Department of Legal Medicine at Harvard University. 

1888 Slavery abolished in Brazil.
1892 Rowton House, the first hostel for homeless men, opened in Vauxhall, London.
1918 The Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act allows women to be elected into Parliament.
1922 Soviet Russia became one of the first countries in Europe to decriminalise homosexuality.

1923 British women are given equal divorce rights with men for the first time under the Matrimonial Causes Act. The only ground for divorce is adultery.

The Anglican Church cautiously accepted artificial contraception in the 1930s at a conference of bishops. (BBC)

1930 Mixed bathing introduced at the Serpentine.
1937 Dance marathons banned in Washington State.
1960 First Nations in Canada get the right to vote.

1960 Sirimavo Bandaranaike becomes Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, the first non-hereditary female head of state or government in the world.

1962 All Aboriginal Australians get the vote.
1964 Local councils are required to provide libraries.
1973 Women allowed on the trading floor of the London Stock Exchange.

It wasn’t until October 1946... that the Civil Service marriage bar was abolished – a ruling that prohibited married women from joining the Civil Service and required women civil servants to resign when they married... Incidentally, the marriage bar for the Foreign Office wasn’t lifted until 1973
(High Buildings, Low Morals, Rob Baker)

1977 Charlotte Brew is the first female rider to compete in the Grand National.
Late 70s The UK stops virginity-testing female immigrants.1980s Divorced people are allowed in the Royal Enclosure at Ascot.
In 2017 women hung wedding dresses along Beirut seafront in protest at a law allowing rapists to escape punishment if they married their victim. The law was eventually repealed after pressure from Arab women's groups
1990 Married women in the UK are taxed separately. 
1992 Shamanism is protected by Mongolia’s constitution. 1993 Homosexuality decriminalised in Ireland.

Age-of-consent laws were historically only applied when a female was younger than her male partner. By 2015 ages of consent were made gender-symmetric. Until the late 20th century many states had provisions requiring that the teenage girl must be of previous "chaste character" in order for the sexual conduct to be considered criminal. In 1998 Mississippi became the last state to remove this provision from its code. (Wikipedia)

1998 Treason no longer incurs the death penalty.
1999 Independent schools become subject to inspection.
2000 Parental right to discipline is abolished in Germany.
2000 UK bans fur farming.
2005 Downside Abbey school admits girls.

2008 Poisonous, flammable mothballs banned in Europe. (But you can still get them from the internet, and once we Brexit we'll repeal all these nonsensical laws that restrict our freedom.)


1786 Ireland’s last wolf shot.

1870 Riot at Surgeons' Hall Riot in Edinburgh when  women try to sit an Anatomy exam. And in 1897 Students rioted in the streets of Cambridge in protest at the admission of women to the university. (They lost, but in recent memory, we have seen similar scenes.)

1920 In Mississippi it was a criminal offence to even make "suggestions in favour of social equality" between races.

In the 1940s, when women married foreign nationals they surrendered their British citizenship and assumed their husband's nationality.

1838-59 Lower-caste women in the southern state of Kerala in India fought against the “breast tax”. They had to pay it, or go topless as a sign of respect to higher castes (the Channar Revolt).

1960s 3,400 plus US Native American women were forcibly sterilised.

It's been 60 years since the introduction of life peers meant that women could enter the House of Lords – yet in 2018 only 26% of Members are women.

The use of homeopathy has been declining within the NHS, to the point that in 2017 it finally proposed a ban on prescriptions... Researchers, led by Ben Goldacre, senior clinical research fellow at the University of Oxford, found that determined GPs, in over 600 surgeries, were still, regardless of the official “rubbish” verdict, prescribing homeopathic remedies in 2016-2017. (Catherine Bennett)

In 2018, Bristol and North and South Somerset are the last NHS areas where homeopathy funding is “under review”. All other regions have ceased funding it. Update! August 7 2018 Bristol NHS will no longer fund homeopathic remedies, “finally ending the vestigial remnants of a once large homeopathic presence”, says @lecanardnoir.

Conversely, Quackery tourism is becoming a thing, as is crowdfunding quack cancer remedies.

In India, after the Sepoy Rebellion in the 1850s, multicultural relationships were outlawed, except for members of the army. (RP)

In 2018, it’s illegal for Iranian women to dance in the street – but there’s a youtube video protest.

2018 The $70 billion [baby milk] industry, which is dominated by a handful of American and European companies, has seen sales flatten in wealthy countries in recent years, as more women embrace breast-feeding. Overall, global sales are expected to rise by 4 percent in 2018, according to Euromonitor, with most of that growth occurring in developing nations. (

2018 A Tokyo medical school admits changing results to exclude women. The University manipulated test scores for more than a decade to ensure more men became doctors (Guardian)

When Oregon was granted statehood in 1859, it was the only state in the Union admitted with a constitution that forbade black people from living, working, or owning property there. It was illegal for black people even to move to the state until 1926. (

A "Papist" could not be guardian to any child, nor hold land, nor possess arms. He could not hold a commission in the army or navy, or be a private soldier. No Catholic could hold any office of honour or emolument in the state, or be a member of any corporation, or vote for members of the Commons, or, if he were a peer, sit or vote in the Lords. Almost all these personal disabilities were equally enforced by law against any Protestant who married a Catholic wife [Catholic law would have the issue be Catholics]. It was a felony, with transportation, to teach the Catholic religion, and treason, as a capital offence, to convert a Protestant to the Catholic faith.

For most of its history, Sweden was a rather authoritarian society. A web of formality and obligation, codified only partly by law, kept everyone in their place and very conscious of their relative social position. Personal liberties were strictly curtailed. From 1919 to 1955, alcohol was rationed compulsorily, with the quantities doled out varying by age, class, and sex. (Men were allowed 3 liters a month. Married women had no ration at all, but unmarried women could, if they were lucky, get half a liter of spirits every three months, though only 1 in 10 women had ration books.) And until 1951, it was technically illegal to be an atheist (though one could choose from among 11 officially approved beliefs). (Andrew Brown,

2018 In the UK, religious organisations are exempt from anti-discrimination and equal pay laws.

2018 Twenty-two US states still allow corporal punishment in school: 15 expressly permit it while another seven do not prohibit it.


March 8 2018 On Monday, Israel’s Attorney General revised decades of state policy when he removed part of the Western Wall plaza from the authority of the ultra-Orthodox rabbinic establishment and declared progressive Jewish prayer at its southern end to be a fundamental right. (Yair Rosenberg)

Trinidad and Tobago plan to decriminalise homosexuality after a judge rules that the colonial-era law banning it is unconstitutional.

BBC News reports that teen pregnancies have fallen by 50% in the last ten years. It's because teenagers spend more time with their families these days, they say. (Contraception? Sex ed? Information from the internet on smartphones?)

A New York State law forces all domestic abusers to surrender their guns.
The UK proposes to ban “conversion therapy” and an Irish MP wants to ban it in Ireland.
The giant panda is no longer an endangered species.
The Isle of Man scraps the fitness-for-work test for the disabled.

are allowed on the Senate floor in the US.
First successful prosecution for forced marriage in the UK.
The Church of Scotland is drafting new laws to allow same-sex marriages in church.
Cuba will allow gay marriage in the first change to Castro-era laws.

Sumo wrestling
could lose its tax-free status unless it allows women in the ring.
Jersey introduces same-sex marriage.
Sweden bans religion from schools other than as a study subject.
Scotland is introducing a minimum price for alcohol.

US Boy Scouts are dropping the word 'boy' from their name as girls prepare to join.
Delaware is first US state to ban child marriage.
Gurkhas prepare to admit women – but standards of toughness are high.
No-fault divorce mooted in the UK.

Ireland, France, Germany and Bulgaria ban fracking.
Academy schools are failing.
The Irish Republic says women from the North will be allowed access to abortion.
600 rabbis back LGBT rights, in response to 200 rabbis who condemned gay 'perverts'.

An unmarried mother in Antrim gets widowed parents’ allowance.
Indian’s supreme court decriminalises homosexuality.
Scotland to debate a bill banning smacking, likely to pass.
Dr David Nutt suggests that MPs should be breathalysed before voting.
Stella Creasy puts forward an amendment to the Voyeurism Bill that would criminalise misogyny.

Sadiq Khan reselected as Labour's mayoral candidate.
Big Brother cancelled.

Universities are cancelling freshers’ week and reducing night club hours, organising café crawls and pottery demos instead. Aberdeen, St Andrew and Chester universities introduce booze-free student halls.

In October alone...
Washington State has abolished capital punishment – the 20th state to do so.
The Romanian Orthodox church fails to get gay marriage banned.
The EU votes to ban single-use plastics.
Ethiopia votes in first woman leader.
Ireland holds referendum on whether to decriminalise blasphemy (decriminalised in UK 2008)
India’s supreme court rules adultery is not a crime (striking down a 158-year-old law).

Teenagers’ drinking falls by 80%. (Teenagers say “Drugs are easier to get now”, but let’s hope they’re joking. Some of the time.)

Ruth Davidson becomes the first party leader to have a baby while in office.
UK plans to make it possible to get married anywhere.
All frontline military roles are now open to women in the UK.

Formula One organisers have announced walk-on grid girls will no longer be used before races.
Norway announces it will phase out fur farming by 2024.
The UK has banned plastic microbeads in products.
Wolf spotted in Belgium – first for a hundred years.
Hong Kong bans ivory trade.
Wales bans sky lanterns.

Ulster University student council votes to remove emeritus professor status from eugenicist Richard Lynn.

Israel lifts ban on black Palestinian goats.
Tasmania is the first state to return a female-majority parliament.
Four female jockeys competed at Cheltenham – the highest number ever.
India rules sex with a child bride is always rape.
Pakistan employs its first transgender newcaster.
Scotland and Wales allow voting from 16 in local elections.

And in November...
Tonight's wins include:
~@NancyPelosi is Speaker again
~More than 100 women elected to the House, including:

~3 lesbians  
~1st Native American woman in 242yrs
~1st Muslim woman
~two youngest women ever


~1st gay male governor and 1st bisexual woman governor