Thursday 31 December 2020

Buzz Words for 2020: December

Times readers moan about “granular” for “fine detail”, complaining that it is all over the place during the year of Covid. It has been around for longer than that.

Astoundingly, optimists are saying “Brexit may not be so bad! Let’s wait and see! Let’s cross our fingers and hope for the best!” 

Brexit is a “dustbin issue” – voters threw in all kinds of concerns, like identity, immigration, poverty, queues at the GP, “They never listen to us”, unemployment etc. And at least one person “heard at work” that “special planes” were going to deport all brown people. (Originally, the day after the referendum. Now postponed to Jan 1.)

“[Something that isn’t violence] is violence” is popular the  week of Dec 9.

Everyone’s an expert on who should get the vaccine first.

Much talk of “chains” on Dec 12. Oh, supply chains. Food.

Spectators boo when footballers take a knee for BLM because the movement is “Marxist” and BLM is “now a political party”.

Some fans are putting a picture of Jeremy Corbyn on top of the Christmas tree. The further he gets from power, the more he is transformed into Superman/King Arthur.

Women with PhDs are being told they shouldn’t use the title “doctor” – again.

Many Brits are baffled and outraged by Nigella’s pronunciation of microwave as “meecro-wahvay”. (Perhaps that’s the correct pronunciation – have I got it wrong all my life?)

Several Tory MPs and many Brexiteers exhibit invincible ignorance about trade, tariffs and what we did with our fishing rights.

Conspiracy theorists fear the "Great Reset".

137,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine administered in the U.K. There have been 0 associated deaths, 0 people now with autism, 0 people dead, or walking around like the robot army Bill Gates is supposedly building, and 0 people now acting as a 5G antenna! (Via Facebook)

Anti-vaxxers respond “Well, I’ll wait and see.” Also blah blah dollars blah blah. An Italian nurse, one of the first to be vaccinated, closed all her social media accounts after attacks and abuse by anti-vaxxers.

Everything, from Covid to Google, has “rewired our brains”, and we are a different species now. And people only use the internet because of “dopamine hits”, not because our entire lives are lived through it now.

The Wellingborough Conservative Association newsletter told Tories to “say the first thing that comes into your head – it’ll probably be nonsense, you may get a bad headline, but if you make enough dubious claims fast enough, you can get away with it”. (The Week)

Some gourmets claim that “We don’t need to eat Brie and French sausages are horrible”. “The UK imports about 85% of vegetables from the EU. The Netherlands provide the bulk of tomatoes and onions while Spain sources most of the cauliflower and celery, the two fastest-growing commodities. France is the leading potato supplier,” says Google.

Hello, 911? Help, I'm trapped between "viruses aren't real" on the right and "penises can be female" on the left and I don't know which arm to gnaw off first. (@OsborneInk)

Apparently Twitter’s “stony wit” is getting us through the crisis.

Amateur historians Tweet that “Christmas is really pagan!” while historians respond “Actually, no”.

People are attacking Wonder Woman 1984 because Gal Gadot plays the name character.

There's a vogue for colourised historic photos – they look just as tacky as they did in the 50s.

The fan vault pictures keep coming.

The useful word “spite” is back.

We always dress the dog up at Christmas.” (Denise Van Outen)

Trifle is a Christmas lunch tradition?

And “luvvie” is back – Twitter is piling on Sam West for saying the current Conservatives are like the old National Front.

Some keyboard-tappers think socmed is all about sh*tposting. Do they wake up in the morning and wonder what to whinge about today?

Calls to “get behind”, “come together”, “move on” etc. Get lost.

Does anyone really believe that the Human Rights Act “took away all their rights”?

Today I learned the word “pleurant” for carved mourner on a tomb.

Radicalisation” now means “indoctrination with crazy and/or right-wing ideas”. And “radical” feminists want gender equality and women’s rights; “liberal” feminists just want to get degrees and professional jobs, and don’t want to rock the boat. I think.

People getting very clued-up about the vaccine and trying to make sure they get the best one.

Happy New Year! Stay safe, wear a mask, get vaccinated.

More here, and links to the rest.

Sunday 20 December 2020

Reasons to Be Cheerful 28

The Communist Manifesto of 1948 promised government investment in infrastructure, the development of suburbs, free universal education, the abolition of child labour. All these things came to pass.

1751 Gin Act eliminates small gin shops.

1902 The head of the Sistine chapel persuades the Pope not to hire any more castrati. He also forces his predecessor, the castrato Domenico Mustafà, to retire, ending a tradition that had lasted three centuries.

"You can have your own credit card, you can buy a house in your own name, you can sign your own documents - those things weren't even true when I was a young woman," says Karen Nussbaum, now 70, who campaigned for secretaries’ rights.

1965 The UK bans hunting with a bow and arrow.
1967 The British Phrenology Society disbands.

1987 Diane Abbott, Bernie Grant and Paul Boateng are the first black Londoners to be elected to the House of Commons (and Diane Abbott is the first black woman).

1988 Magdalene College Oxford admits women to the postgrad programme, and then goes co-ed. Some dons wear black armbands in protest. (Per an ex PhD student, the college is now mostly Asian, and largely female. And “its academic performance has soared now it’s not filled with Tim Nice-but-Dims".)

1990 Black South Africans can legally use the same public amenities as whites.
1991 Bill Morris becomes the first black British General Secretary of a major trade union.

The heads of parliamentary parties in Lithuania are all female – and they’re forming a coalition.

October Ministers plan to boost number of female-only toilets to protect women’s safety (Sun headline) The review will consider the ratio of female toilets needed versus the number for men, given the need for women to always use cubicles, and will address misconceptions that removing sex-specific toilets are a requirement of equality legislation. (Well, glory hallelujah!)

Nov Twitter permanently suspends David Icke’s account. A few days later it also bans Steve Bannon permanently.

Lynx may be released in Kielder Forest.
Waterhall golf course near Brighton is to be rewilded.
7 Nov Scotland makes smacking children illegal.

7 Nov Thailand’s Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta shut down Pornhub this week. He said Pornhub is “hosting illegal material from hidden recordings to non-consensual pornography, as well as sexual abuse of children, which obliges the ministry to block it.”

Nov Joe Biden wins the US election.

Early Nov UAE promises tougher penalties for family killings of women, and also decriminalises alcohol and lifts ban on unmarried couples living together. (Laws against honour killings have come into immediate effect.)

11 Nov Pfizer announces an effective vaccine to protect against COVID-19.

Morocco is the fourth country to make peace with Israel after UAE, Bahrain and Sudan.
Exercise therapy will no longer be prescribed to those living with ME in England.

Nearly all TV ads now feature mixed casts. (The only downside is that the ads are just as silly and humiliating as usual.)

Seven in ten pubs “could close in 2021” (Week headline)

Nov 30 Sudan says it will stamp out child marriage and enforce a ban on FGM.

Dec Argentina legalises abortion.

2020 Ministry of Justice drops “wealth rule” that denied legal aid to victims of domestic abuse (because they had a stake in the house)


1924 US Congress passes law excluding “inferior” immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe
1927 US Supreme Court ruled that sterilisation without consent was constitutional

2020 We are still racing greyhounds and allowing women to dance in pointe shoes, and there is still a global trade in donkey skins.

More here, and links to the rest.

Friday 18 December 2020

Predictions for 2021

I usually predict what people will write or argue about in the coming year – much the same as the previous year. But 2021 is different. Let’s be positive.

In case people can’t recognise you in a mask, introduce yourself – even to people you know. It’s harder to see emotions, so now's the time to revive the language of rhetorical gesture (pictured).

Women will inherit titles formerly passed down the male line.
(We’d get more sensible people in the House of Lords.)

As more people cycle to work, workplaces will  provide showers and clothes cupboards.

Firms will adopt a numbering system for job applicants, to disguise gender and “foreign” names.

Demolition is too polluting, so we'll reuse and retrofit buildings instead of destroying them.

Child benefit will be paid to all mothers, for all children.

We'll grow tea in the Scottish Highlands.

We'll build new houses with offices, and equip home workers with proper office furniture.

Better connectivity to allow more people to work from home. (Penny Mordaunt)

The centre for Cities suggests moving public sector staff into offices in disused shops. FE colleges, swimming pools, sports halls, libraries, yoga studios, care homes nurseries and health centres should return to the heart of towns. (Janice Turner, Times 2020-12-06. And all those workers will need supermarkets, sandwich shops, cafés, hair salons, shoe repairers...)

More ideas:

Repurpose airports, cinemas, department stores, and city centre towers emptied by home working and post-Brexit flight.

Think of things to do for the two hours a day you are not commuting.

Force owners of investment flats to rent them out.

Build lower office/flat towers as the “four in a lift” rule makes tall towers less workable.

If the property market crashes, will an investment flat be such a good investment?

As Covid continutes, courtship rituals will return – including the “country walks” people used to include in their small ads along with “fine dining” as code for “am middle class”.

Post-Brexit, we'll need recipes for seakale, pigeon's eggs, American crayfish and Japanese knotweed.

We'll eat patriotic British food: all supermarkets will carry Bedfordshire clangers and Bakewell tarts.

British farmers will revive monastic farming and raise rabbits, doves and fish (eel, tench, bream, perch, roach) in ponds.

Zoom will become more user-friendly and we'll be able to sing in harmony.

In 2021, 2022, 2023 etc Tory politicans will announce that they are going to “reverse Beeching”.

People will announce on Twitter that they are “taking a Twitter break” or are “back from their Twitter break”.

A firm with a new plus-size range will announce "The big woman is back!"

Someone will write an article about the menopause claiming that women need no longer "suffer in silence".

A celebrity with a book to sell will announce "Craft is back!"

Broadsheets and magazines seem to have given up on “Can a woman eat alone in a restaurant without being seated next to the toilet?”

The Voynich manuscript will be decoded.

“Millennials are miserable because tech” is an article they write every month and how can one be so obtuse? We are living through one of the most economically unequal periods in human history; with the ravages of global warming a constant reminder of capital's contempt for us all. It just feels so lazy. Yes tech contributes to anxiety but guess what does more: debt, medical bills, rigged elections. It would be like saying that people in the sixties were anxious because of TV.

Why are all these young adults who can't afford to live alone, stay healthy, or have babies so miserable?... Must be tech! (@father_kipz)

Past years here.

Wednesday 9 December 2020

Hey Guys, It's Nearly 2021!

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

It’s 2020 and there are few checks on who can propagandize schoolkids.

It’s 2020 and people are whingeing that the Christmas ads are full of brown people. (Large supermarkets respond by hiring brown people for all their ads.)

It’s 2020 and people are still making presentations in a mumbled monotone, without moving their lips. (Get voice lessons.)

It’s 2020 and people are still making vegan jokes.

It’s 2019 and people are still saying “The Tate exhibited a load of bricks and called it art! What’s it of? What’s it supposed to be? Which way up is it meant to be? My six-year-old could do better. In the end it’s the public that decides.”

It’s 2019 and there still queues' for ladies loos everywhere. Architects – for every gents’, build two ladies’. (It’s 2020, and there are fewer ladies’ loos because institutions have turned them into shared facilities that women – and transwomen – don’t want to use.)

It’s 2019 and people are cross because a black girl has been cast as the Little Mermaid.

It’s 2019 and there are still segregated schools in Northern Ireland.

It’s 2019 and stab vests only come in “male”.

It’s 2019 and menopausal women “suffer in silence” as they have every year for the past 50.

It’s 2019 and doctors are still telling women “You’re imagining it! It’ll get better when you have a baby.”

It’s 2019 and someone on Facebook just made a “feminists have hairy legs” joke.

It’s 2018 and we’re still blaming victims of domestic violence.

It’s 2018 and we still don’t talk openly about “women’s things” – not even in all-female groups.

We just won our case to make a public charter school end a sexist dress code policy forcing girls to wear skirts and punishing them for wearing pants or shorts. It’s 2019. Women and girls have been wearing pants in school and professional settings for decades. (@ACLU. They mean "trousers".)

It’s 2018 and there are people whingeing about black presenters on Springwatch, women presenters at the World Cup and women with PhDs using the title "doctor". Well, really! (It's 2020 and they're still doing the latter.)

It's 2018 and the Education Editor of @thesundaytimes is describing being gay or trans as an "alternative lifestyle". An alternative lifestyle is living in a hut in the woods, not loving someone of the same sex. (‏@benjaminbutter)

It's 2018 and some cafe loyalty schemes are a physical card you mark in biro.

It is 2018, so why are we still debating whether women can do physics? (New Scientist headline)

We were repeatedly threatened with violence and these people were allowed to walk off freely whilst I had to console my crying kids. Racist woman even had the cheek to tell me she can say what she wants as its 2018! (@pocobookreader)

It’s 2018 and people still don’t get that feminism doesn’t equal hating on men sigh. (@ahchtoo)

Since it’s 2018, can we stop trying to hold wives/friends/colleagues accountable for the actions of abusers? Abusers will lie/gaslight/intimidate anyone in their circle precisely because you trust them. (@QofTU)

It’s 2018 and some people are still saying “Only idiots use social media and all they do is wibble”. (And all tweets are lies posted by loons says... someone with a Twitter account.)

It’s 2018 and there are still show bunnies, and men-only clubs, and “walk-on girls” at darts matches. But if we ban the grid girls, shouldn’t we ban PR girls, gallery girls, front-of-house girls, baristas and shop assistants chosen for their youth and looks?

It’s 2018 and people are still tweeting writers with: “Loved the article, but why did you give it that headline?” Writers do not write, or pick, headlines. Sub editors write headlines.

Just a reminder, this is 2018. Although I had to laugh at the thicko who thought his “sense of patience” grew after gawping at a mummified severed arm. (‏@peasmoldia. St Francis Xavier’s arm has been touring Canada.)

Can’t believe this word is still getting used for humor. It’s 2018, c'mon. (Via Twitter, re people joking about pasta called “fagottini”.)

More here, and links to past years.

Sunday 6 December 2020

Buzz-words of 2020, Part II

Middle-class Brits are moaning about finding churches shut due to Covid.

The Chinese are “toppling” Buddha statues.

QAnon followers are refusing to wear masks because there’s no track and trace app for paedophiles. In fact the people telling you to wear masks are all paedophiles, not doctors.

Some Twitter accounts have very beautified profile pics – try checking against Facebook.

Bill and Melinda Gates have been replaced by actors, Granny Smith apples plant vaccine seeds in your brain and the government is harvesting our DNA from Covid tests.

Orwell backlash. (He was in the Burmese police!)

“Why does the mainstream media ignore the problem of asylum seekers?” (The Daily Mail has talked of little else for years.)

A child is now a “kiddo”.

Flag Twitter: people with Union Jacks in their profile. FBPE means “follow back, pro EU” but there are a lot of false flags.

People on Facebook are posting screenshots of entire Twitter threads.

To some, masks are “muzzles”, and free speech advocates don’t want anybody to be “muzzled”.

It’s so hot in Europe that the Brits are actually talking about installing air conditioning at home.

A Tory Brexiteer suggests “taking back Calais” to deal with migrants crossing the channel in dinghies.

“Yes but what IS ‘hate speech’ REALLY?” It’s like saying “What is truth?” when your cherished belief doesn’t check out when compared against reality. (Classic trolling.)

We need to revive the terms “lunatic fringe” and “cranks”.

People are falling for QAnon - anti-Semitism and all - because they think it’s radical and progressive.

blocky: blocking people on Twitter
try-harding: also via Twitter – something you mustn’t do when playing games

There are teaching platforms? Of course there are! Teachable, Canvas, GoToTraining. And anybody can write anything on – no editorial control?

You can always accuse those who disagree with you of being a “nice white lady” or “simpering rich lady”.

#ownvoices means “This story about a bisexual teenager was written by a bisexual teenager”.

A lot of people are tweeting about saying tortoise “tortoys”.

“All white people are racist” is back.

David Frost is trending and he’s not saying “Hello, good evening and welcome”.

How many soft Londoners have given in and put the heating on? (Via Twitter. Protestant guilt in a nutshell.)

Leftwaffe,  refuging, trauma response, nifty

It’s getting hard to tell the progressives from the authoritarians. Who has stolen whose terminology this week? (2020-09-01 “Authoritarian” may mean “But they’re telling ME what to do!”)

A Facebook discussion of QAnon conspiracy theorists in Glastonbury leads to “Am I anti-Semitic for criticising Israel? Israel is bad because...” And so on for several paragraphs.

complicity theorists (what conspiracy theorists think the rest of us are)

What happened to all those optimistic Covid poems predicting that when lockdown was over the world would be entirely different and we’d all be nicer to each other? (None appeared during Lockdown II.)

What happened to “all you have to do is stand like Superman and you’ll feel powerful and will be able to do anything you want”? Perhaps it didn’t work.

An experiment shows that many people think a message that ends with a full stop is “harsh and passive aggressive”.

Some silly white people are still trying to change the Black Lives Matter slogan because it’s not about them and they’re not in control. You see they ought to change it because some people might think it means white lives don't matter.

Cupcake or buttercup for snowflake seems to have gone out. I hope.

Facebook users refer to it as “Faceborg”. (Presumably they want to indicate “I’m not one of those awful redneck hillbilly chav Facebook users”.)

Lots of sneering about the UK Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change ahead of their report.

Footprint” used for “impact on the environment”. How can you have a “plastic footprint”? It used to mean “space a computer takes up on your desk”.

Some people even think they’re “aromantic”.

Cognitive dissonance” is being used for denial, contradiction and dishonesty.

Someone in government says that “law is just a state of mind”.

nodding along (“I nodded along to her unbelievable tale.”)

Nuance is as popular as ever. It can mean: "My statement can be taken three ways, so that I can always switch to one of the other meanings if you start producing disconfirming facts".

wellness influencers (“Influencers” and “viral marketers” are shills – some of them on commission.)

Spelling “more” “moar”.

You can’t just claim anything you want to do as a “human right”. There’s an official list.

It’s rumoured that people are leaving cities. A backlash asks “Is this a good idea? Is it even happening?”

Someone points out that “inclusivity” is a box you have to tick to get your funding.

I'm 76, and I don't want to live what remains of my life span in a state of cowering fear. I follow the regulations, but let's "carpe diem" and live each day fully, not frightened. (Mary Kenny in the Irish Independent. The right noises having been made, we can comply with the guidelines. See also the man who says he follows all the guidelines but thinks people shouldn't be coerced.)

We need “real leadership” on Covid, not “hysteria”. (I’m not sure what they want, but it isn’t “more restrictions”.)

Debate is an imperialist capitalist white supremacist cis heteropatriarchal technique that transforms a potential exchange of knowledge into a tool of exclusion and oppression. (Prof Sunny Singh. I think she means it. The 80s never went away. Isn’t this just “It’s unfair that men have logical minds so we shouldn’t use logic”? Again? Or "You won! You must have used rhetorical tricks!")

Covid cases are rising again, restrictions are back, and a company is plugging “Hope-filled messages to slot into books”.

A depressing number of people tweet anonymously that they have to implement ineffective reading schemes, or teach the works of incomprehensible feminist theorists as part of English Language A Level, and they can’t protest or they’d lose their jobs.

Some people have done the sums and worked out that, globally, white people are in the minority. They feel very threatened by this fact, and imagine that brown people are trying to “replace” us. Projection?

"Pearl-clutching neurotics" is used as code for “Covid believers”.

I don't think terms like 'PC' and 'cancel culture' are particularly helpful - largely because they assume that the direction of traffic is all one way when it comes to the censorious times we live in. For every left winger determined to take offence over some minor verbal transgression, there seems to be someone on the Right who wants to police our education system, or weed out "Marxists" (whatever they're supposed to be). (Yougov contributor.)

“Laugh at this hilarious video of a small child being humiliated and distressed!” “Laugh at this hilarious video of a woman grabbing a champagne glass and dropping her baby.” “What’s the matter with you, where’s your sense of humour?”

You gloyte! (They're lower than plankton, apparently.)

Oh dear, the most popular “influencers” on Instagram are the ones who peddle meaningless uplift of the “You can have anything you want as long as you want it enough” type.

A Republican senator tweets: Generic tweet for after the debate. Couldn’t be prouder to have Mike Pence as America’s Vice President. Thank you for standing for freedom.”

ultracrepidarian: someone who gives advice on subjects outside their knowledge or experience (Armchair epidemiologists, men who “see no problem” with gender-neutral toilets.)

Who's a "mad raving anti-British racist"? Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, for criticising Laurence Fox for being racist. (2020-10-14)

Coy is word of the week. (2020-10-15)

Most of us are missing normal life.

Interesting that the right doesn't seem to be talking much about Sweden's hands-off approach to Covid anymore. (Don Morrison. Sweden is imposing restrictions as cases rise.)

“People think drinking is a personality.”

A dear, sensible friend posts a meme and asks us to copy and paste, then adds: “DON’T tell me this is a phishing meme! I’m an adult and I know what I’m doing and if I want to pass on this meme I will! Anyone who tells me this is a phishing scam gets unfriended!” (It’s a phishing scam.)

“They just don’t know how to budget. Food is cheap.” (2020-10-22)

We can’t give free food to poor children because it might lead to communism. We can’t stop drawing pictures of the Prophet Mohammed because it would be a slippery slope. (Pure Jeremy Bentham. A British Museum spokesman calls it "where-will-it-end-ism".)

“The language of this book is very 90s.”

Dominic Raab was a member of a secret Facebook group called the Ultras that advocated bringing back workhouses. (

RIP James Randi (2020-10-22), and there’s an immediate backlash. “He was just a magician!” “Randi wouldn’t let me believe in my favourite brand of nonsense!” (And he didn’t just expose working-class mediums, charlatan faith healers and showman spoon benders, he criticised serious middle-class professors with their own university departments! Those departments are shrinking to invisibility – no findings, lost funding. I’d love to hear him on the subject of magical thinking and positivity.)

I had a brief moment on TV to challenge the miserable horror of turning antisemitism into a factional battering ram against the left. (@BarnabyRaine. The EHCR report is out and is damning, and Jeremy Corbyn has been suspended from the Labour Party. Barnaby Raine is a Momentum member and “anti-Zionist”.)

Woke. Political Correctness. Cancel culture. Virtue-signalling. SJW. Snowflake. Identity politics. I guess “anti-racism has gone too far” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. (@Limerick1914)

People are still finding it “relaxing” to look at pictures of “beautiful” fan vaults.

That’s not anti-Semitism because... (Nov 2020)

"Cognitive dissonance” is being used to stand for the inconsistency, the discomfort AND what you do about it – denial, rationalisation etc.

6 Nov 2020 Words in the news: shenanigans, skulduggery, petulance, peevish. (@susie_dent)

Motorists whinge about cycle lanes taking up road space. Meanwhile it’s difficult to go anywhere in Hackney by bus or taxi as cars are banned from side streets. We can’t all ride bikes. Bring back the horse.

7 Nov Biden wins.
7 Nov RIP Jonathan Sacks.

Immediate parade-raining on Biden supporters celebrating, even from Trump loathers. Among warm tributes to Sacks, the odd piece of anti-Semitic bile.

Tailor” (verb) is popular Oct. and Nov. Seems to mean “make sure assistance only goes to those in genuine need and not to those who don’t deserve it”.

“Did they all have a meeting or is vacuous nonsense catching?” asks @hatpinwoman in response to a reference to “pregnant and birthing people”.

Intelligence agents working at GCHQ have launched a cyber-operation to disrupt anti-vaccine propaganda being spread by hostile states, says The Week. The wartime Rumour Department never closed.

Whatever happened to tempeh, kutia, freekeh and natto?

Q. “When did the one-minute silence become two minutes?” A. 1919. It has always been two minutes.

Bitter arguments about poppies on Twitter – more complex and intelligent than in previous years, but just as pointless. People wear poppies for the wrong reasons, they only wear them due to social pressure – meanwhile I can’t wear one because they have been co-opted as a symbol by the right. (Hang on – isn’t that social pressure? Presumably you don’t want to be lumped in with nationalists and neo-Nazis?) Someone makes the valid point that poppies have been commercialised – jewellers and T shirt makers send only a fraction of the price to the British Legion.

Trump refuses to concede.

Wokeness has become an arms race – there’s always someone out there woker than you, and the language policing resembles blasphemy laws. (Just like the 80s.)

More and more henhouses put in charge of foxes.

Vaccine hesitancy” is a thing, per the WHO.

Seamless, frictionless, oven-ready, sovereignty. (Still wrangling, December.)

“Yes anti-Semitism is bad and wrong but the problem in the Labour Party was exaggerated for factional in-fighting.”

There’s a lockdown puppy boom – especially those little fluffy things with humanoid faces. Look good on Instagram.

Migrants aren’t subject to lockdown rules, and they’re housed in 4* hotels." (They're being housed in World War II army camps.)

Latest whinge is “I hate it when interviewees say ‘Thank you for having me’.”

People are accusing each other of “seeing everything through the lens of... (something or other)”. Sometimes “prism”.

Depressingly, women and girls still think they have to come up with a witty put-down to a sexist remark. (“That’s rude!” or “What did you say?” will do. If they say “It was a joke!” say “But I’m not laughing.”)

And passive aggressive Brits are planning to go out wearing T shirts and masks with “amusing” wear-a-mask jokes. Others are boasting that they mutter “Stupid!” or “Selfish!” within the maskless person’s hearing. (Address them directly and say: “You need to pull your mask up – it goes over your nose”.)

“The Freeze Peach brigade” sneer those who are furious to find that free speech also applies to their opponents.

Corbynites compare their ex-leader to the other JC. (“He’s been crucified!”)

Luxury silk face coverings are available.

workation: Book a hotel room for a week and get some work done.

What is "the great Reset"? No doubt we'll find out.

More here, and links to the rest.

Friday 4 December 2020

All You Need to Know about the Olden Days

1. The Ancient Greeks couldn't see blue because they had no word for it.

2. Marriages were all arranged; romantic love was invented by 19th century poets.

3. Nobody washed, look at Queen Elizabeth I – she had a bath once a year "whether she needed it or not".

4. Nobody drank water, because it was contaminated; they drank alcohol instead and were drunk all the time.

5. Spices were popular – to disguise the taste of rotting meat. (Somehow at the same time food was unpalatably bland because only the very rich could afford spices.)

6. Medieval theologians argued about how many angels could dance on the point of a pin.

7. Parents didn't love their children because infant mortality was so high.

8. Everybody died aged 40.

9. People were much smaller – look at short beds, low-ceilinged cottages and tiny suits of armour.

10. Those tiny suits of armour were so heavy that a medieval knight needed a pulley to hoist him on his horse, and if he fell off he was as helpless as a beetle on its back. 

11. Apart from royals and aristocrats, everybody lived in a rustic cottage that resembled a stable inside with exposed beams, exposed stone and brick, and distressed wood.

12. Everyone was illiterate apart from priests and aristocrats. Paintings and sculpture were the books of the lower classes.

1. According to Goethe, Nietzsche and W.E. Gladstone, the colour-blindness of the ancient Greeks is proved by the paucity of colour words in Homer, and the fact the Greeks called the sea “wine-dark”. The Greeks had two words for blue: “cyanos” for dark blue, and “aethrios” for light blue.

2. Abelard and Heloise, Lancelot and Guinevere, Dante and Beatrice were famous medieval lovers. And there is plenty of romanic love in ballads, folk songs and the Song of Songs (circa 500BCE).

3. Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) wrote himself a memo: “Go every Saturday to the hot bath where you will see naked men.” Attempts to find a contemporary source for that quote about Elizabeth I have failed. Southwark was famous for its Turkish baths in the medieval period.

4. Our ancestors avoided dirty water and valued clean springs and rainwater, but didn’t know that diseases were water-borne. They blamed “bad air” until Dr John Snow halted an outbreak of cholera by removing a Soho pump handle in 1854. If nobody drank water, how could the polluted water from the pump cause cholera? And didn't they drink coffee, tea, chocolate, milk, lemonade, barley water? They also "took the waters" at holy wells and spas. In the medieval period wine was highly diluted – with water. Beer was between 1% and 3.5% alcohol. “The three best cooling drinks are apple water, goat’s whey and spring water,” says a medieval Welsh medical manuscript. 17th century diarist Samuel Pepys records that on a hot day he and his wife went to a dairy to drink whey (skimmed milk), but it ran out and they drank water. Charles II banned coffeehouses, and forbade people to sell coffee, chocolate, sherbet or tea from any shop or house. (Another version of this myth states that wine was added to water to disinfect it – but any alcohol strong enough to kill germs would kill you. Others say that alcohol was drunk because tea was too expensive – tea, made with boiled water, was also safe. If our ancestors were wise to this fact, why didn't they just boil their drinking water?)

If nobody drank water, ever, why did they repeat proverbs like these:

Adam’s ale is the best brew. (Water is the best beer.)

Drinking water neither makes a man sick, nor in debt, nor his wife a widow.

And 18th century tea caddies constantly turn up on Flog It!.

5. Wikipedia says that spices were expensive, and those who could afford them could afford fresh meat. Meat was eaten fresh; leftovers were smoked, salted or turned into sausages. The less well-off brightened up their food with sharp-tasting sorrel, quinces, crab apples etc, plus thyme, sage, mint.

6. says the first mention of the angel debate is in a 17th century book. After the Reformation, and especially during the Enlightenment, scholars loved to poke fun at the superstitious Catholic past.

7. See heart-breaking poems on the death of children by Victor Hugo (1802-85), Robert Burns (1759-96); Egil Skallagrimson, (910–990); Po Chu-I (772-846), and many others.

8. Many are confused by reading that “in the 18th century the average life expectancy at birth was 40 years”. It’s an average, and infant mortality was high. If you made it past 5, your chances of living to 60 or 70 (the Biblical life-span) improved. And if it was average age of death, some would die sooner and some later than 40.

9. Research by Richard Steckel of Ohio State University shows that Early Medieval men were taller than men of the 17th-19th centuries. Cottage floors have risen, and tiny suits of armour were probably samples. Beds were shorter because people slept propped up on pillows.

10. Someone's made a film of a man in armour, a firefighter carrying full kit and a soldier ditto running an obstacle course.

11. Country dwellers plastered and whitewashed walls, and painted wood – usually in cream gloss. They concealed everything they could conceal. If they couldn't afford pictures, they pasted up pages from magazines.

12. Until recently it was thought that the majority of people were illiterate in the classical world, though recent work challenges this perception. Anthony DiRenzo asserts that Roman society was "a civilization based on the book and the register", and "no one, either free or slave, could afford to be illiterate". Similarly Dupont points out, "The written word was all around them, in both public and private life: laws, calendars, regulations at shrines, and funeral epitaphs were engraved in stone or bronze. The Republic amassed huge archives of reports on every aspect of public life." The imperial civilian administration produced masses of documentation used in judicial, fiscal and administrative matters as did the municipalities. The army kept extensive records relating to supply and duty rosters and submitted reports. Merchants, shippers, and landowners (and their personal staffs), especially of the larger enterprises, must have been literate. (Wikipedia)

More myths here, and links to the rest.

The whole set are collected in What You Know that Ain't So: A Dictionary of Received Ideas.

Thursday 3 December 2020

Zoom Tips

I can’t see anything else while using Zoom!

There are some View Options in the centre top of the Zoom screen (100%, 50% etc).

On a Mac keyboard, ESC (top left of your keyboard) will exit full screen. Or View options at the top right of the Zoom screen offers "Exit Full Screen".

My audio and video symbols (bottom left of the zoom screen, a microphone and a cine camera symbol) keep disappearing! I have to mouse over the frame to get them to reappear!

Menu, Window, click "Always show meeting controls" and your audio and video symbols will never disappear again.

Everybody says I’m too quiet/loud!

Click on the arrow next to the microphone symbol to find Audio Settings. You can turn your volume up or down.

You can also check the box that enables you to mute and unmute using the Space Bar.

In Audio Settings, uncheck "Automatically adjust microphone volume".

You can also adjust your sound by going to Audio Settings, and clicking Advanced (bottom of screen). Now check "Show in-meeting option" to "Enable Original Sound". (I've just noticed there's a High Fidelity Music option.)

If you are going to be talking a lot over Zoom, it’s a good idea to get an external microphone - they’re not very expensive.

All I can see is a green telephone! That'll be someone joining the meeting via a land line – they're dominating the screen because they're talking. Go to View at the top right of the Zoom screen and select Gallery View instead of Speaker View.

My face is in shadow and I'd like to look more glamorous.

Click the arrow next to the cine camera symbol and select Video Settings. Check "Touch up my appearance". Also "Adjust for low light".

In a big Zoom meeting, the sound keeps going funny and I can't hear the speaker.

All those who aren't speaking should mute themselves. It doesn't matter if you're sitting there in silence, if you're unmuted, the sound will be affected.

You don't need to wait for the next Zoom meeting to make all these adjustments – you can start your own meeting of one!

Sunday 22 November 2020

Outrageous Excuses 11

22 November 2020: it has been a good week for excuses.

It's BullyingAwarenessWeek and @10DowningStreet have chosen to validate every bully defence:
It's a pressurised environment.
She's good at her job.
The complainants are too sensitive.
She's always been courteous to me.
Who can know what really happened.


Could have at least done the bare minimum of "we'll send her on training". (@mishkab)

You missed out "unintentional". (@buchanan17)

Someone notes: Of course she’s always been courteous to you – you have power and influence over her.

These are same types of comments made about bullies all over the world. (Mark Stacey)

Ex-top official questions inquiry’s finding that home secretary was not “aware” of impact of behaviour. (

Johnson says she was ‘not aware’ she was bullying. No, for her it was perfectly normal behaviour. Most bullies think like that.

Most gymnastic of today's Tories, @neill_bob.
Do you support PM overruling a finding of bullying?
I haven't seen the evidence. Nobody has. So we can't reach a conclusion.
Will you be asking to see the evidence?
No. Because then I'd have to reach a conclusion.

Somersaulting Tories say "She's being attacked because she's a strong woman of colour".

Twitter claims "short people can't be bullies".

Boris pronounces “the matter is closed”.

"I'm just asking questions," is the rallying cry of the conspiracist and scientifically illiterate. (@francesweetman)

Those behind the truly awful monument to Mary Wollstonecraft on Newington Green say some version of “We just wanted to provoke debate”.

If you’ve been caught out doing something really crass, like using a puppet to represent an autistic boy in a play, say “We just wanted to start a conversation”.

A woman curator who removed a Victorian painting of nudes explained: I was just trying to provoke a discussion, in a playful way. (Predominant reaction: Feminism gone mad again, political correctness is fascism blah blah. She rehung the painting, but she gained a lot of publicity which was probably what she really wanted.)

Commenting on a school in Mansfield, Ben Bradley said that “one kid lives in a crack den, another in a brothel”. Another Twitter user wrote back that “£20 cash direct to a crack den and a brothel sounds like the way forward with this one”, to which Mr Bradley replied: “That’s what FSM vouchers in the summer effectively did...” (BBC News)

After receiving a lot of flak, Bradley now (2020-10-24) says his remarks were “taken out of context”,  and the Tories have “an image problem”. Angela Rayner screenshotted the exchange, which Bradley has now removed. He tweeted Angela: That’s 100% NOT what I’ve said. Other Tories explain that they are not withholding food from hungry children, they are encouraging parental responsibility.

Fr Kevin M. Cusick, who asked a woman in church to cover her shoulders: By the way: I’m not backing down from this. I’ve thought about it, I’ve prayed about it and I’m not going to engage in the endless Vatican II style debate that goes back and forth constantly and ends up nowhere.

A man sacked from Lidl for making racist remarks claimed he can say what he likes, even if it causes offence, “because he’s a Stoic”, and that his religion should be respected. He also claimed his dyslexia prevented him apologising properly.

“Without a journey to work, we miss the chance to unwind, be creative or even find a partner.” Someone advocates a return to commuting, Sunday Times, Sept 2020. Also “commuting is part of who we are”.

We wanted our ad to irritate people because then the product name will stick in their minds!

If someone complains that your cartoon is offensive, explain: "We make fun of everybody! It's our Danish/French/British sense of humour!"

Conservative arguments are generally too nuanced to fit into 280 characters.
(Spotted on Twitter)

The Bible has good bits – but they’re not original. (@NoHolyScripture, paraphrase)

Yes, we’re breaking the law, but in a “very specific and limited way”. (Sept 2020)

@NorfolkCC: "Scheme will enhance character of Wensum Valley through the viaduct creating a beneficial focal point in the valley." (@StopWensumLink. TPTB want to run a motorway on legs through the Wensum Valley.)

A Eurosceptic is now claiming that Brexit was an EU plot.

My brother voted Brexit... 'for a laugh'. He didn't (still doesn't) understand the first thing about the EU or how it works. He thought it might give Cameron a shot across the bows, he didn't think 'leave' would win. (@timolarch)

I know a lefty activist who voted Leave 'in protest' because she was sick of posh toffs telling her what to do. So she decided to side with... Farage?! (@kirstysees)

A key reason I voted Leave was because progressives render the UK such a bloody soft-touch, and people like me wanted to get our own backs on arrogant liberals, in the only way we could. @butlerrichard2)

Someone on the day after the vote told me they voted to leave because “they fancied a change.” I kid you not. (@astrataz)

I spend a great deal of time fact finding and I voted leave because of the very subject of immigration. (@AnneForster19)

I voted Leave because I believed there would be little difference. (@tux1234)

The working class voted LEAVE. We told you not to underestimate us just because you were "educated", i.e. middle class and rich. You told us we wanted a people's vote instead of Brexit. We educated you by voting you out. Not so clever now, are you. (@BBCPropaganda)

I know someone who voted Leave cos they didn’t think it affected them cos they sell and import to countries outside the EU. They’re very angry with the new Customs paperwork coming out 1st Jan because it’ll clog the ports and airports and their stuff will be held up with everyone else’s. (@namott)

My Dad has a holiday home in Spain.  He voted leave because "I don't like being told what to do". (@AND1959REW)

More here, and links to the rest.

Friday 20 November 2020

Clichés about Golden Age Mysteries

In Who’s Next?: Decoding the Reasons behind the Lack of Female Detectives in Literature (, Srijani Roy raises some interesting points. I'd love to read some of those Bengali mysteries she cites. However, she makes many sweeping statements.

“Working women in the early 18th and 19th centuries who worked outside the “domestic sphere” were naturally considered to be predisposed to crime.”
Including street sellers (see “Cries of London”), shop staff, seamstresses, lacemakers, barmaids, agricultural workers, actresses, dancers, singers?

She claims that in the late 19th and 20th centuries "there were no female literary detectives". She then admits that oh, well, yes there were, but we – I mean I – have never heard of them before. Therefore there were no female literary detectives.

Rational thinking for centuries was perceived to be the sole possession of men.” She’s right about that - this received idea was still current in the 70s.

What is surprising is that female authors like Agatha Christie despite being a woman herself prefer to have male protagonists,” Roy opines. Apart from Miss Marple, see Victoria Jones in They Came to Baghdad, Hilary Craven in  Destination Unknown, Emily Trefusis in The Sittaford Mystery. Anne Beddingfield in The Man in the Brown Suit. Ginger Corrigan in The Pale Horse. Bundle Brent in The Secret of Chimneys and The Seven Dials Mystery. Lady Frances Derwent in Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? Egg Lytton-Gore in Three Act Tragedy. Jane Grey in Death in the Clouds. Mary Drower in The ABC Murders. Maude Williams in Mrs McGinty's Dead. Jennifer Sutcliffe in Cat Among the Pigeons. Dame Adela Lestrange Bradley, Gladys Mitchell's series detective. Miss Marple stars in 12 novels and many short stories. Tuppence Beresford is no shrinking violet. Dorothy Sayers' Miss Climpson (Strong Poison and other titles) is a professional detective, as is Patricia Wentworth's series character Maud Silver.

Roy even asserts that women can’t be detectives because detectives smoke! “However, for a woman who is beautiful and uses her charm and wit to get her way is a strict no-no. A woman as always prescribed by society should be docile and silent with no voice of her own.” Tell that to Lily Langtry, Dorothy Parker, Mae West.

She quotes Glenwood Irons: “Women detectives created in the past thirty years are outgoing, aggressive and self-sufficient sleuths who have transcended generic codes and virtually rewritten the archetypal male detective from female perspective.” So to succeed as a detective a woman must be an imitation stereotypical MAN? (And did he mean to say "gender codes"?)

More here, and links to the rest.

Friday 13 November 2020

Grammar: Verbing and Nouning 5

Verbing weirds language?
(Calvin and Hobbes) Have you never pocketed your change before buttonholing a friend? Or handed anyone a plate of food? Fingered the goods on display? Headed a team? Shouldered a burden? Skirted a problem? Collared a criminal? Boxed up a gift? Grassed on a mate? Leafed through a book? Booked a holiday? Holidayed abroad? Housed a guest? Shelved a topic?

In journalese, phenomena constantly "mushroom" or "balloon". In the 18th and 19th centuries, bankrupts were “gazetted” – their names were published in a gazette. Disgraced army officers were “cashiered” – the cashiers kept the amount they’d paid for their commission.

Some people despise verbings (where a noun begins to be used as a verb) on principle, though who knows what they say instead of "texting". (Steven Poole, Guardian)

Journalist Lucy Kellaway doesn't like: "To effort", "to potentiate", "to future", "to language" and "to town hall". Global managing editor of Reuters news agency Simon Robinson disagrees: Australia must be the only place in the world where the word "cruel" can be a verb. This wonderful inventiveness should be more widespread.

Every time you use “impact” as a verb, an angel loses its wings. (@blakehounshell)
I'll cascade this down to my team. (@markoshea75)

I marathoned the entire box set.

Has this patient been clerked in?

Don’t worry, we can expense our lunch.

These mountains have already been summited by the Incas.

We need to foreground the problems.

Bill's been bowler-hatted. (Demobbed.)

She's not the weekending type.

I don't want to spoiler the plot.

I journal every day.

I can’t stomach it!

Eyeball this!

We were winched on board, while the containers were craned onto barges. (“Hiab” – a make of cranes – is also a verb.)

She pursed her lips.

He’s due for a handbagging.

She hot-footed it to the off-licence.

She’s still stressing about the party.

Like this T shirt I thrifted yesterday?

Flinders Island farewells dirty diesel.

The new CEO was parachuted in.

Ski-ing and skating are almost as popular as bicycling.

We'd better cart the shopping home.

I'll Uber my way to the rendezvous.

You can’t bubble-bath out of a depressive mindset.

We are actually proof-of-concepting that at the moment. (via BBC News, re running ships on ammonia)

Kay Birley empty-chaired James Cleverly – she interviewed his chair when he didn’t turn up.

Someone on Facebook uses “large white bearded male” as a transitive verb. Nice!

You can't barrier out a problem. (June 2019)

I want to get something I can shabby chic. (French Collection)

High pressure is ridging in. (Weather forecast)

These things shouldn’t just be cotton-woolled in museums. (Antiques expert Philip Serrell)

Prozac totally blands you out. (Dom Joly)

Was I weirding again?

Meghan megawatted through the whole thing. (Times 2018)

He jealoused on her. (Unsolved Mysteries)

I’ll mental-note them.
(Charles Hanson on Antiques Road Trip)

The Disappeared are people believed to have been abducted, murdered and secretly buried in Northern Ireland. (Wikipedia)

Nowadays one’s supposed to say debbing was ghastly, but it wasn’t like that for me.
(Julian Fellowes on the London debutante season)

This Victorian mansion in Cheshire has been footballered out of all recognition. (Meaning that the interior has been stripped of panelling, cornices and fireplaces which have been replaced by modern, “luxury” style.)

The 116th Congress gavelled into session Thursday swathed in history, returning Nancy Pelosi to the House speaker’s office. (AP)

We’ll better the environment outside the walls of the farm. (Welsh farmer moving to a remote island.  But isn’t “better” for “improve” a ghastly Americanism?)

Brilliant news - really fantastic development from a great developer. Shows the importance of good clienting skills! (‏@RachelAFisher)

The Brighton Criteria have been obsoleted by the 2017 Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome nosology. (@H2OhTwist)

What happened here was that the parents made a massive fuss about the child being selected for a pat-down screening - which wasn't a random screening, but because the child's laptop had failed an explosives trace screen. Then after failing to middle-class their way out of the screening, they insisted on calling police officers to watch, and filming the screen. At which point the screener did a very careful full screening by the book and frankly I can't blame him. (via Facebook)

We invited the Prime Minister to publish the third direction – redacted, summarized or gisted as appropriate. (Millie Graham Wood, legal officer at Privacy International)

If you want to moan about language change, why not whinge about nouning? Turning adjectives into nouns is a current fad.

A glimpse into just a few of the moments where Extraordinary happens.

Undo My Sad (Sweden’s Eurovision entry)

Find your happy at Rightmove.

The Science of Stupid, For the Love of Odd. (Cable programmes)

Welcome to delicious.

We have an ask to make. (Dominic Raab)

Amazing starts here.

More here, and links to the rest.

Sunday 8 November 2020

Inspirational Quotes 102

Be yourself, be spontaneous, live in the moment, there are no rules any more, don't copy other people:

Allowing a student with a hidden disability (ADHD, Anxiety, Dyslexia) to struggle academically or socially when all that is needed for success are appropriate accommodations and explicit instruction, is no different than failing to provide a ramp for a person in a wheelchair.

Using the right amount of eye contact, knowing when to say the right thing and gauging the tone of a conversation... You can teach your child to be better at social interaction. Techniques include encouraging kids to think about how other people view their behaviour, practising conversation and thinking about what it takes to be a good friend. (Times 2019)

“I moved to another state boarding school in Norfolk. I was really on my own then. I had a choice to sink or swim, basically.” At school, when he saw boys who were popular, he worked out what it was about their behaviour that made them so. Ditto with forceful boys who always got what they wanted. “I suppose it is a bit of cod psychology to say I was learning to take on a role. But there was no safety net.” (Times Sept 2019)

All kids benefit from being taught social skills and an understanding of emotional literacy... my son likes to have a few 'scripts' for specific situations...starting and ending conversations is hard so we script that. (CH via Facebook)

They train you to be socially retarded. (Cult escapee)

I see too many kids who are smart and did well in school, but they’re not getting a job because when they were young, they didn’t learn any work skills. They’ve got no life skills. The parents thinks, ‘Oh, poor Tommy. He has autism so he doesn’t have to learn things like shopping.” Temple Grandin was raised by her mother in the 1950’s, a time when social skills were “pounded into every single child. Children in my generation, when they were teenagers, they had jobs and learned how to work. I cleaned horse stalls. When I was 8 years old, my mother made me be a party hostess – shake hands, take coats, etc. In the 1950s, social skills were taught in a much more rigid way so kids who were mildly autistic were forced to learn them. It hurts the autistic much more than it does the normal kids to not have these skills formally taught. (

One 18th century German child-raising book said: "These first years have, among other things, the advantage that one can use force and compulsion. With age children forget everything they encountered in their early childhood. Thus if one can take away children's will, they will not remember afterward that they had had a will." (Wikipedia)

Childhood leaves a lasting imprint on our lives.

You carry forever the fingerprint that comes from being under someone's thumb.
(Nancy Banks Smith)

Good mental health is about being with your friends, and feeling valued. (
Pundit on BBC Breakfast)

Middle school is the point in life where we start trying to figure out who we are... We eat our lunch with people we hate just to feel included; it’s the time our self-esteem is at its lowest; it’s the time we try so desperately to fit into a clique, only to realize that we never truly will.

When you create a reality for a child, they have no reference points. There was no competing narrative.
(Ben, who was raised in a closed doomsday cult until he was 15)

At the time, I was unaware that there was anything to cope with, because it was my life and I had nothing to compare it to, so I just sort of battered through and got on with it.

Mental imagery helps us anticipate the future, and vivid mental pictures inject emotion into our thought processes. (BPS Digest)

“Behavioural Ecology View requires shaking off a romanticised view of human nature…that makes the face a battleground between an interior ‘authentic self’ and an external, impression-managed ‘social self’…Both ‘selves’ are illusory. We are unified organisms, and like our words, voices and gestures, our facial displays are part of our plans of action in social commerce. (

Uncertainty is one of the hardest things for human beings to deal with. We usually like to know where we are in the present, and what to expect in the future. We don’t want worries, doubts, or unpredictability. (Tom Shakespeare)

Abraham Maslow also claimed that people are more likely to flourish when they hold self-actualising values like spontaneity, positive self-regard, and acceptance of paradoxes. (BPS Digest)

What other people think – what is deemed to be acceptable behaviour – is probably a key determinant in shaping behaviour. (Gaby Judah, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)

There is a danger of your being generally disliked by your colleagues and subordinates because of your rough sarcastic and overbearing manner... I cannot bear that those who serve the country and yourself should not love as well as admire and respect you. Besides you won’t get the best results by irascibility and rudeness. (Mrs Churchill to Winston Churchill)

A big part of the evangelical church is "giving testimony," basically, showing off how god saved you and made you great. People become quite skilled and persuasive as they hone their story through the years. (@pattersonjeffa)

She rose at last to almost complete normality, acquiring as many Best Friends to slip an arm into, and whisper against the world in general with, as anyone else... Polishing her technique with each adventure until she had reached a consummate mastery of manner in every crisis. (Patrick Hamilton, Craven House)

I’m not sure you need much in the way of a script to say no to her—just say no and that you’re not available next time. (Danny Lavery,

Hector Puncheon usually thought articulately, and often, indeed, conversed quite sensibly aloud with his own soul. (Dorothy Sayers, Murder Must Advertise)

Judith Hart writes out all of her outfits in advance for every one of her overseas trips, which I also do, but all of her dresses come from Liberty. (@lottelydia)

We had to learn the rules of clapping. I didn’t know there were rules for clapping. It turned out that there were rules for everything. (Rob Chapman, Ad Lib, on arriving at grammar school)

She thought a lot about what she’d say to him when they met again. (Guardian on a break-up guru)

The despotism of custom is everywhere the standing hindrance to human advancement. (John Stuart Mill)

Social life is all about acting, pretending, impersonating and, where necessary, lying. (London Review of Books)

The enforcement of social norms is the fabric of a functioning society... Our findings suggest that norm enforcement can be successfully nudged and thus represent an expedient alternative to more costly, incentive-based interventions. (Eugen Dimant, University of Pennsylvania)

It's not just anger – it's any strong emotion that hasn't been sanctioned in advance by the lemmings in closest proximity. You are only allowed to raise your voice in chorus with everyone else. The moment you stand alone, do something different, or voice an idea of your own, you're toast. (Via FB)

I lie by embellishing a story that, with a little added glitter, makes me seem a more interesting person than I actually am. (Amazon book reviewer)

Nice people are more likely to share epistemically suspicious beliefs (like ‘naturopathy works’), because they want to show others how nice they are—so not quite irrational, and may explain the success of these beliefs. (@koenfucius)

Suffering on its own doesn’t lead to strength, just like demanding someone to lift a 300-pound weight doesn’t build muscle mass. Independence, like muscle, requires careful training on the trainee’s terms. Without that, all you get are serious injuries. (@golvio)

I learned the facts about myself, as unpleasant facts often are learned, by overhearing two girl friends talk about me. (20s deodorant ad)

Based on the optimistic belief that love, as opposed to fame and fortune, is out there for everyone, the producers have done a great job matching up potential partners. (Times Sept 2019)

I live in a tiny studio with no significant other, a good but low-paying job, and little to no idea about
how to change either of those. At a year younger than me, my brother has already purchased his own house, settled into a well-paying government position with a ton of upward mobility, found a life partner, and started his own company.
(Dear Prudie,

The best liars are often highly intelligent, quick-witted – and attractive. “The hotter you are, the more you can get away with.” (Times review of Duped, by Abby Elllin, Jan 2019)

I make sure to dress appropriately and conservatively, wear makeup, and keep my hair short in an effort to look the part.
(A young lawyer.)

Unattractiveness is probably the leading axis along which there is discrimination in our society, but it’s the least studied. Sexual advances are more likely to be treated as harassment by coworkers, and complaints of pain less likely to be taken seriously by doctors.

Anna, a 30-year-old student based in Philadelphia: “I lost a ton of weight in my early 20s and started taking care of my appearance, and suddenly, the world got so much kinder.”

What no one tells you about major weight loss is the way that everyone treats you differently. Strangers will meet your eyes, smile back, laugh at your jokes. (

I’m still processing how much better people treat me now that I’m thin. (

Miss X was denied promotions and a partnership because she didn’t look, dress, or behave in a stereotypically feminine enough manner. Her bosses instructed her to wear more makeup and skirts to work in order to get the promotion.

Writer Madeleine St John started off as an actress. ButHer odd appearance contrived to prevent her performing in anything other than minor theatrical roles.” She and her boyfriend had lived in San Francisco for a few years, where he studied film. Once his course was completed they decided to go to London. Madeleine went on ahead but "he never arrived". (From the introduction to her book The Women in Black.)

“I would show up at departmental council meetings with black makeup and pigtails, a mini skirt and ripped tights. No one gave me a dime of funding, not with that look.” ( From a story about the regeneration of a village emptied to create a dam – it was never flooded but just fell to ruins. She also says “Some people have been angry for 50 years.”)

Traditionally “attractive” people earn more money; taller men are afforded more respect. (

She is met by sneering indifference... until she gets a Keith Richards style haircut. (Will Hodgkinson on Patti Smith’s memoirs, Times 2020)

You get a simple portrait of a proud, attractive, successful man who has gotten used to being attractive and successful ... and in having things more or less his own way. ( on Ira Levin’s A Kiss Before Dying)

The fact is, if you are not seen as conventionally attractive, you are treated differently. Your experiences of socialising are different. (Romesh Ranganathan)

One consultant I know body-builds in his spare time, and when he’s not having to look official he prefers to wear T-shirts that leave his muscular arms exposed. In T-shirt mode, he says that commissionaires in office receptions treat him with indifference, scarcely raising their gaze, pushing passes across the desk: “Here you go, mate.” Commuters give him a wide berth on the Tube; nobody smiles. In restaurants waiters or waitresses rarely attempt to charm. Service everywhere tends to be brusque and a little wary. People assume that since he’s presenting physical strength rather than professional status he won’t offer or expect the courtesies of that world. In a suit it is a different story. Receptionists smile, say “Good morning, sir”, and hold barriers open for him. Old women ask him to carry their cases up stairs on the London Underground. Waiters beam, are solicitous, act out the hospitality ritual in the confidence that it will be appreciated and reciprocated. They understand his role and so does he. (Jenni Russell, Times)

I’ve always put my child in a lower age group for extracurricular stuff.,. she’s small for her age so it doesn’t notice. She’s much happier with kids a few years younger and can keep up. (Via FB)

I do the "I'm OK" face all the time, so when I'm not OK, I just get accused of faking or being over dramatic. (Via FB)

The qualities routinely assigned to autistic people – lack of empathy, unworldliness, humourlessness, the inability to love – are the exact inverse of the qualities that a neurotypical society most prizes... DSM’s descriptions appear to favour the offence to the sensibilities of the practitioner over the challenges faced by the autistic subject. They highlight effect over cause. (

Be careful before insulting someone with Asperger’s. We have very detailed, very specific memories. And we take them everywhere, all the time.

You might not be depressed, you might just have a really terrible life. (
Jordan Peterson)

The "positivity" cult is a tool of oppression by the privileged. They want you to suffer and say nothing about it.

There’s a lot of value placed on forgiveness in religious settings, as well as in a secular therapeutic context, but all too often what that means is that someone who was victimized or harmed in a profound way is encouraged to paper over their pain, offer unearned absolution, and perform happiness.
(Danny Lavery)

Positivity has to have some basis in reality or it’s just delusion. I didn’t get where I am through being negative, trust me, but my positivity is based on consideration of facts.

People look out for their peer group. I don't think we (oldies) become invisible so much as other peer groups become unaware of us and we of them. (SF)

Fifteen years ago an outgoing couple I know sold up in Newcastle and joined the grey migration to Port Macquarie, but three years later they were back. "We couldn't make any friends", the retired business manager told me... It's perverse that those who especially need a friend can be too earnest to form a friendship readily. Just as it is much easier to get a job when you have a job, it is much easier to make a friend when you have a friend.

For me, home means an accepting and non-judgemental place.
St Mungo’s spokesperson)

“Judging” isn’t the worst thing a person can do to another; if you saw her do something you think is wrong, judging is a pretty appropriate response.
(Danny Lavery)

If you can't understand why someone is doing something, look at the consequences of their actions, whatever they might be, and then infer the motivations from their consequences. For example if someone is making everyone around them miserable and you'd like to know why, their motive may simply be to make everyone around them miserable, including themselves.
(Jordan Peterson)

Even when a secret is kept, its existence carries an aura of unease that most people can sense.
(Social worker)

This “model of the self as independent and freely choosing” is so pervasive in middle-class U.S. culture that it’s invisible.
(JSTOR Daily)

More here, and links to the rest.

Thursday 29 October 2020

Inspirational Quotes: Politics 101

We’ve been socialized to believe that poverty is a personal failure rather than our systems failing us. (Mariah Carey for V Magazine)

For Jacob Rees-Mogg, the sovereign individual really is able to master their own destiny. Nothing – poverty, ill-health, institutional racism – can stand in the way of someone with the right attitude and work ethic. Most people grow out of this fantasy of omnipotence by the age of five, about the same time they realise that Superman isn’t real. (Guardian 2019)

One crucial reason why we have done so little to reduce inequality in recent years is that we downplay the role of luck in achieving success. Parents teach their children that almost all goals are attainable if you try hard enough. This is a lie, but there is a good excuse for it: unless you try your best, many goals will definitely remain unreachable. (Guardian June 2019)

Anything that offers success in our unjust society without trying to change it is not revolutionary – it just helps people cope. In fact, it could also be making things worse. Instead of encouraging radical action, mindfulness says the causes of suffering are disproportionately inside us, not in the political and economic frameworks that shape how we live.
(Guardian, 2019)

Both the World Health Organization and the United Nations have made statements in the past decade that mental health is a social indicator, requiring “social, as well as individual, solutions.” Indeed, WHO Europe stated in 2009 that “[a] focus on social justice may provide an important corrective to what has been seen as a growing overemphasis on individual pathology.” (

Stop commending people for being resilient and instead redesign the systems that inherently make people suffer. (@TweetsByBilal)

The most overused word over the last 15 years is resilience in terms of popular culture.(@LincolnTapper)

Illness is neither an indulgence for which people have to pay, nor an offence for which they should be penalised, but a misfortune, the cost of which should be shared by the community.
(Aneurin Bevan)

Whether it's claiming George Soros is paying protesters, or saying a student-conceived, student-led day of national protest is an insidious liberal scam, the right just can't believe anyone would stick their neck out for someone other than themselves. (@AndyRichter)

I dislike the hierarchy that determines how many oppression points each particular group gets. (AT via Facebook)

"Victim: a person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action." I have no problem saying I'm a victim. It doesn't mean I'm weak or silent or passive... There's no shame in that. None. (@CIssyvoo)

No one knows how to be more of a victim than people who are always whining about other people being victims. (@ctk86)

One of the weirdest things about US culture is when people say things like "I am not a victim" or treat the status of victim as if it is morally reprehensible. It says a lot that this culture holds so much contempt for the harmed and so much justification for the harmer. (Kaitlyn Greenidge @surlybassey)

I find that a lot of my feminism is actually not about arguing that women are people, but arguing that men are—that men have moral agency, that they make choices, and that we can and should expect them to make better choices. (@MoiraDonegan)

Two feminist mantras that changed my life: Everybody has a choice. Go for what's winnable. 70s feminists talked as if men had no agency (unhappy childhood, anger problems). And their aims were very blue-skies. (@MagDods)

Feminism gained a bad name all by itself for getting snarled up in internecine warfare and bickering over linguistic use, which put people off. (LW)

Women have not, as a sex, or a class, the calmness of temperament or the balance of mind, nor have they the training, necessary to qualify them to exercise a weighty judgment in political affairs. (Lord Curzon, circa 1910)


So much of the "safe space liberal snowflake" thing comes down to asking people for kindness and consideration of others, in ways that are, by and large, almost entirely cost-free. How broken do you have to be to get angry at that? (@Mc_Heckin_Duff)

Not broken, I don't think. More a sense of a wound inflicted by people unlike you demanding the same safety and autonomy that you've always had, and it brushing up against yours. Since you never thought of it as domination (or at all), the contact of theirs with yours – the sense that there's a room you might not be welcome in, just as you've always maintained (intentionally or not, by explicit or tacit consent) rooms into which they might not go – feels like a threat to your own security, rather than a levelling-up. (@pdkmitchell)

Were I feeling generous, I’d suggest it maybe originated with a generation of people who were brought up being told to stoically maintain stiff upper lips, learn to stand on their own two feet, etc etc. And then they don’t know how to react to this sort of stuff because it’s whipping the rug out from under their entire worldview. (@RJMrgn)

90% of the time I’ve heard ‘trigger warning’ or ‘safe space’ it has been from the mouth or pen of an ageing, spluttering commentator who hasn’t been on campus for 40 years, and I am an actual lecturer. (@lottelydia. Someone in the conversation adds that her students say “What are trigger warnings?”.)

Well, there's also the issue that freedom of speech has never meant 'freedom of speech anywhere and anytime you choose and expecting no consequence', which is what a lot of people shouting 'censorship' from the rooftops absolutely think it means. (@R3v0lvr0shawott)

It's easy to defend 'free speech' when the speech in question doesn't directly affect you. Yes, people may defend those they disagree with, even people who mean them harm, but show me someone happy to defend words with the power make their own life harder and you'll show me a fool. (@parislees)

I really hate this woke climate where it is so forbidden to utter something offensive that you have to say it in quiet shadowy tucked away places like
Question Time and breakfast TV and every mainstream newspaper. (@matthaig1)

Cancelled is depicted as if it in some way places a barrier across the flow of your entitlement to say what you want without consequence ... If we can hear you whine, you're not cancelled. (@oxymoronictimes)

Every harm-reduction org always gets public outrage for "encouraging immoral behaviour," be it drugs, safe sex, or anything else. Deep down, this is because those doing the moral policing need the harms to stay in place to make their points. (@Mc_Heckin_Duff )

Training as a historian teaches you quickly that to find the oppressor, just find who is most strenuously insisting everyone be polite. (@meakoopa)

There is a certain politics of ineffectiveness that some people refuse to let go of. It's a politics that assumes rules and decorum will be enforced even without a governing body in power that cares about those rules.

People tend to vote the same way as other people like them. Social groups make rough judgments about whether a party will govern in the interests of people like them. And they look around to see if other people like them agree, before the whole lot of them jump together. (Danny Finklestein, Times 2020)

The more power the right has, the more it thinks the left controls everything. (@PaulbernalUK)

After the war a nation that had got used to doing what it was told through things like rationing and blackout curtains believed for decades in public control: council houses, not slums; the NHS, not charity hospitals or hard cash; bodies like the Milk Marketing Board. Nowadays the unshakable faith resides in the exact opposite: in competition and privatisation. It's believed with fundamentalist zeal that making people compete, preferably for money, must work better than people trying to co-operate. (Katharine Whitehorn)

The Tories in England long imagined that they were enthusiastic about monarchy, the church, and the beauties of the old English Constitution, until the day of danger wrung from them the confession that they are enthusiastic only about ground rent. (Karl Marx, 1852)

The notion that anything funded for queer and/or people of colour is a frivolous waste of money is a pernicious theme the Mail has loved to push
. (@marcusjdl)

The left say that there's no certainty - there's always a get-out and logic doesn't apply - while the right says that there is certainty and then goes further by pushing its own view of the universe. (MT)

Pay-gap deniers are the new flat earthers.
(@hansmollman. The pay-gap deniers have gone quiet, 2020.)

From the open nepotism of the East to the slightly more concealed nepotism and ‘old boys’ club’ of the Western democracies. (Agatha Christie, An Autobiography)

One cannot pretend that differences in income do not separate people. (Agatha Christie, An Autobiography)

Most people who identify as 'centrist' have absolutely no concept of a political spectrum and just assume their personal views are the views of a sensible, non-extreme majority. (@mrdavidwhitley)

It is often said that people on the left judge purely on whether others are for and against America and the West in general. (JP)

You only look at masks as oppression if you’ve never experienced any. (Via the Web)

It's always other people who are the 'powerful elite', isn't it? (@WhenisBirths)

The abstract goods of “freedom” and “control” are, at every point, put above the concrete goods of people having jobs, food on supermarket shelves, peace in Ireland, people not dying for lack of medicine etc. And instead of admitting they goofed, they’re — backfire effect! — doubling down.
(Sam Leith on Brexit)

So far, this thread on the Remain and Leave campaigns has extensively considered the nature of truth, metal fatigue in aeroplanes, proprioception, the shape of our planet, the use of Aramaic in the New Testament, and jelly. (SP at

More here, and links to the rest.