Wednesday 23 September 2020

Technophobia 7

My dear father always said that when everybody had a telephone nobody would have any manners, because there wouldn’t be time for them. (Character in Patricia Wentworth’s The Chinese Shawl)

My mom literally retired from her job in 1993 (age 53) because she was going to have to learn to use a computer, and she refused. (Via FB)

Remember when choosing not to own a TV was considered cool? (@OhNoSheTwitnt) 

A colleague had to write a letter and then get the boss to sign it (in the 80s). He wrote it on the word processor. The boss (who was an ex-programmer) marked up some changes and gave it to his secretary, who re-typed the whole thing. (PD)

When I joined the civil service this century, the office I worked in still had a typing pool. They used to email round asking for us to send them things to be typed up... They were waiting for the typists to retire. Any that could be moved on to other tasks were, but there were still a few typists left for a while. (@beardybanjo)

The 10th level of Dante's Hell is reserved for Academics Of A Certain Age who do not BCC with 40 recipients. "Do I Reply All to tell them to stop Reply All-ing?" is the eternal question.
(Sarah Parcak @indyfromspace)

I helped type out some text in Word for a prof back in college incorporating some corrections from a printed sheet. Prof wanted some re-ordering of paras and I told him I will cut and paste but he was insistent that it has to be neat and clean. (Via Twitter)

I have a Twitter account, but I'm not 'on Twitter'.
I read it, but I don't reply or say anything.
Work tells me I've got to tweet about my articles.
I hate Twitter! I'm leaving this hellsite.
I'm still here.

Can anybody remember the unbelievable fuss when computers hit offices?
Fears of radiation from VDUs. Talk of "non-reflective” desks and special ergonomic workstations that never appeared. Scares over RSI, eyestrain. Instructions to take a break from the screen every hour. Union involvement. Deep suspicion that computers would make jobs more difficult, or unpleasant, or impossible.

Some roles, of course, disappeared, to be replaced by others. And some became far, far easier. No more Tippex! You could type as fast and as badly as you liked.

For too long, firms thought they didn’t need an IT department. They’d been sold the equipment and told that it would do everything. They wouldn’t spend anything on training, either. Some staff trained each other by swapping knowledge, and some were impervious. I used to sneak round after people had gone home and increase their mouse speed.

Another syndrome from those days: an organisation pioneeringly introduces computers but then doesn’t update the machines or the software for the next 30 years. And some people wouldn’t move on to more modern, better software because they’d struggled to learn their early, clunky package and expected all software to be the same.

Some were furious that they had to use new terminology. “Why do I have to ‘download’ something? Why can’t I just ‘get’ it?” They now have laptops and smartphones.

People used to say “How can you enjoy working on a computer? It’s all noughts and ones!” They thought everybody was programming their own computer from scratch – they didn’t know about software. They didn’t know what computers did (back then, mainly spreadsheets and word processing). Even if they used a computer they’d say wonderingly: “But why would you want to connect two computers together?” (So that nobody has to retype this document, that's why.)

Some had a great incuriosity about how anything worked, or colleagues' roles in the organisation. One didn’t even know there was a stationery cupboard. If you showed them how to do something on the computer, they'd say: "But I don't want to do that". After a software upgrade, they'd say: "I just want my computer to go back to how it was".

Times have changed, and now people talk about social media, smartphones and wifi as if they are somehow sinful or contaminating.

Times have changed, and it’s getting harder to have patience with the people who explain at great length the complicated ways they bypass Amazon, while claiming that their way is somehow “better”. Or else they'll buy a cheap refurbished smartphone and restrict its use to staying in touch with their elderly parents.

And social media is bad because people are addicted to likes thanks to dopamine, or somesuch nonsense.

It’s 2018 and some are still saying “Only idiots use social media and all they do is wibble”.

It's 2018 and people are still “losing a morning’s work”. Save your document every five minutes (using the keyboard shortcut), or set up autosave. And back up all your work in the cloud (Dropbox or similar). And don't keep the only copy of your PhD on a laptop. (Look at the menus – all the keyboard shortcuts are there.)

In 2018, an author wailed on Twitter that he’d lost his notebook at the airport containing the entire draft of his next book – after the worst hour of his life, it was found at Lost Property. He got plenty of helpful advice about saving and backing up. Oh no, he explained, this was a paper notebook, with the entire first draft written in longhand.

It’s 2019 and some are still hitting “reply all” when the original writer has CC’d instead of BCC-ing recipients. (And we’re still calling a copy of an email a “carbon copy”.)

It's 2020 and if you email out a document for approval, some recipients alter it and send it back, without flagging their changes. What if everybody did that? Do they think you can somehow merge all the versions? (Tip: Only send out PDFs.)

It’s 2020 and some still don’t know how to create a Twitter thread by replying to their own tweets.

It's 2020 and some don't know about Undo.

It's 2020 and they scroll through a PDF because they don't know you can search for a keyword (Apple or Control F).

It's 2020 and they don't know you can turn off notifications.

It’s 2020 and someone’s tweeting “I don’t really do the YouTube thing...”.

It's 2020 and an old friend says: I don’t use Facebook – at least, not yet.

In 2020: "I haven’t succumbed to a Kindle yet, but I’m tempted."

It's 2020 and some never watch TV because they don't know how to turn it on. (Ask your children.)

It's 2020 and people are still whingeing about text speak and uptalking. (Both about 20 years old.)

And now with Zoom meetings I have to sit and look at someone else's untidy desktop and not say anything.

It’s 2018, and there may just be some software that will turn a sound recording into a text file – 30 years after this was predicted.

Oh, so you go to your own FB page, look at your activity log and you can find all the conversations you’ve had recently... Well, well! And smartphones have a pull-down menu (it’s where they’ve hidden the torch)? Who knew?

More here, and links to the rest.

Sunday 20 September 2020

Writing Tips: My Memoirs

So, you want to write your life story? An ordinary person’s autobiography is very unlikely to be published – but look at Sylvia Smith. She wrote about a life devoid of incident in a deadpan, direct manner that is both poignant and funny. 

If your life has been unusual, if you can take the reader into an unfamiliar world, if your experience is relevant to a topic of the day, publishers are more likely to be interested. Give the reader the inside dope about life as a stripper, lumberjack, circus artiste, zookeeper, nun, butler, tutor to rich children, cab driver. Early struggles are more interesting than the record of a successful career. Joan Rivers ends the first volume of her autobiography on the eve of her big break.

It helps to keep a diary, or have a good memory, or both. Some people use Facebook as a “blog” about their lives – I would read a compilation. Books have been made out of diaries found chucked in a skip.

Be particular, not general. Recount specific incidents, rather than "Every day we..." or "We always..." or "Mother used to...". Junk adjectives like "wonderful, marvellous, amazing". Avoid clichés like “her smile lit up the room” or “she was a tower of strength”. Prune similes ("It looked like..."). You don't have to be “literary”. There's no need to exaggerate incidents until they become “amusing” anecdotes. (And don't borrow anecdotes from others and pretend they happened to you.)

Recall sounds, smells, textures. Give details such as brand names. What happened on your first day at school? What games did you play outside at break? Who were your schoolmates? What did they wear? What was the pattern on the sitting-room wallpaper, your mother's apron? Margaret Forster recalls her mother getting a job during the war and being able to buy herself some smart clothes – like a navy edge-to-edge coat. What did you eat for lunch? Chef Nigel Slater describes his childhood and youth through food.

Write as you speak. Why not record your memories and then type them up, or have them transcribed? Include conversations.

When you've finished your story, get it proofread by a professional. Once it's all shipshape, send it to an agent: they're listed in the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook. If none of them wants to take you on, or the agent can't interest a commercial publisher, you can still publish your book yourself (self-publishing) by uploading it to Amazon. 

There are companies that promise to publish your book for a fee, making it available on Amazon and a few similar outlets, but this is not the same as commercial publishing. Your book will not be distributed to shops, or reviewed. They are what we used to call "vanity publishers".  Self-publishing is just as good!

If you want the chance of a review, you need to send out copies yourself to publications that review books: newspapers and magazines. Accompany the book with a press release on a single side of A4. Address the parcel to the books editor (see Writers' and Artists again, or look for the publication's "masthead" giving names of staff and their various roles – usually on the first page). Give the press release a large, bold, informative headline (LIFE OF A LUMBERJACK, or STRIPPER REVEALS ALL). The first paragraph should give all vital information: book title, author, price, where available. Next paragraph should tell exactly what the book is about. Continue with background on the author, plus a few quotes from him or her, and from people who've read the book. Say that the author is available for interview, and give contact details.

Reading list
Sylvia Smith Appleby House
Betty Macdonald Anybody Can Do Anything
Joan Rivers Enter Talking
Jilly Cooper The Common Years
Margaret Forster Hidden Lives
Nigel Slater Toast
Agatha Christie An Autobiography

Tips on writing fiction here.

Rookie writing mistakes here.
A Short Guide to Writing Well
Writing tips here.

Wednesday 16 September 2020

Snobbery in Josephine Bell's The Seeing Eye

I'd never heard of mystery writer Josephine Bell, who published in the 50s and 60s, but was told this was not one of her best, her output was variable and she was "snobbish". The Seeing Eye came out in 1958, and reveals quite a lot about the era. The book is quite short, as paperbacks were back then, and the prose is spare and almost bald. No "fine writing", no "this is a novel that happens to be a mystery".

Her series detectives are a couple, David and Jill Wintringham - he's a doctor, their children have left home, and their Nanny has stayed on as housekeeper. The story is fast-moving and fairly melodramatic, starting at an exhibition in what is clearly now the Tate Britain. Jill and David are there, the first victim – a severe art critic, a young artist (Tom), his rather flakey friend Chris and Chris' therapist, a dubious fellow called Hugh Lampton. Chris Felton is very close to his mother, who is not out of the top drawer.

The characters' gullibility about psychoanalysis is of the period. "Chris went to Lampton to find out if there was anything the matter with his subconscious to stop him painting abstracts." Later, Tom is torn between painting "lifeless" portraits that sell, and expressionist canvases that he really "feels". This a common Golden Age Detective trope – his girlfriend even tries to persuade him to follow the money.

Another character is dismissed glibly as a "nymphomaniac", a dead diagnosis that persisted into the 70s. Symptoms include becoming serially infatuated with men other than her husband. (There's a hint that she suffers what we'd call Munchausen's Syndrome and is poisoning her son.)

Snobbery? "Jill was lucky enough to have one retainer left from the days of pre-war domestic comfort." Jill notices Mrs Felton's sparkly turquoise hat, and house filled with tasteless nicknacks and mahogany furniture. She also meets the dead man's wife, Mrs Burke, who gives nothing away. "Well-bred women of her generation kept their emotions to themselves in public." Mrs Burke herself later remarks perceptively: "I suppose some men like to have a woman infatuated with them, though most just find it a bore, don't they?"

Jill is not too keen on Tom's girlfriend, Pauline, who turns up in a ponytail, narrow tartan slacks and a loose black jacket – but her first impressions turn out to be wrong more than once. Pauline dismisses Tom's mother, who is married to a self-made man, himself the son of a bricklayer: "She spends the earth on her clothes. The flashy cheap kind, but lots of them. And costume jewellery, you wouldn't credit!" There is a slight hint that someone of "peasant stock" is more likely to lose their temper and kill somebody, but this is just one of many red herrings.

An old lag is picked up for the crime, and Mitchell, the Scotland Yard man, visits his wife. She drops her aitches, and lives in a prefab, but she provides for her children with several cleaning jobs and is allowed a rock-like dignity.

David at one point explains "I haven't got television", like someone saying they "don't get Twitter".

More about snobbery here, and links to the rest.

Tuesday 15 September 2020

Euphemisms about Racism in Quotes 15

The following are both red flags and dog whistles: “shoved down our throats”, “identity politics”.
(Translation: mentioned at all, minority fighting for equality.)

A woman yesterday told we we’ve gone too far with the whole diversity thing and why can’t we just see ordinary, normal people on our screens? I asked her to define ordinary and normal and she went silent. (@TweetsByBilal, 2019)

Let’s face it, the term “working class” in British political discourse is shorthand for “white, nationalist, anti-immigration, xenophobic” and has been for about 20 years now. It has nothing to do with anything resembling actual class analysis. (@Francoooombs)

When a working-class person is racist, it's described as such. If you're a higher class, you're more likely to be "outspoken", "contrarian", "traditional", "a maverick", "controversial", or other words that mean you deserve your own radio show. This sort of thing leads to the (surreal when you think about it) status quo where we have many unpleasant types praised and rewarded for "speaking up for the common man", while actual 'common men' are kept far away from positions of influence. (Dean Burnett @garwboy)

Boris launches inquiry into systemic racism. But his words show his focus is to "change the narrative", stop the "victimisation" and create the "expectation of success". Dog-Whistle translation: It's black people's narrative of being victims that makes them feel success is harder. (@Femi_Sorry)

"This sense of victimisation". Spoken like being a victim is their fault. All from the man who wrote about colonialism as a good thing. (@GarethRavenhill)

Still trying to colonise people’s minds. (@stevenallbutt)

Hey Massey College, when you say Margaret Wente has ‘helped shape Canadian opinion for 40 years’ did you really mean ‘has been a vile racist mouthpiece for a national paper for decades’? (Brendan Cormier on FB)

Hey @BBCNews, you seem to have a semantics problem. "Anti-racism critics" = "racism apologists," or alternatively "racists." (@ElliotElinor)

All around us, in our courts, in the oppressive liberty-destroying Bills being rushed through Parliament, we see the disasters of multiculturalism, the system by which too many Muslims have been allowed to grow up in this country with no sense of loyalty to its institutions, and with a sense of complete apartness. (March 2006, Boris Johnson’s column in The Telegraph. At least he is open about what Conservatives mean by “multiculturalism”, usually an undefined boo-word.)

Writers - please retire the word “VIBRANT” when writing about “ethnic” areas, communities or in the copy for your gentrifying apartment development. I beg you. (@marcusjdl)

In British anthropologists’ books we were whatever they needed us to be. They called us “violent” when we resisted occupation; “cunning” when we won arguments; “stupid” when we scoffed at them; “childish” when we trusted them; “noble” when they stole our freedom. (@SiyandaWrites)

The Roma violin busker on Cavendish Sq was playing a squawky Hava Nagila this morning in an outfit straight out of Fiddler on the Roof. Cultural Appropriation. Oh no, hang on, that crime is only to be perpetrated by the white majority... Otherwise it’s cultural “translation”. (@Furmadamadam)

People don't trust the BBC any more because they have their 'woke' agenda plus social engineering with diversity in everything. Outside London that's not what we care about. You and your ilk should leave your bubble and see how the majority live and we need to bin the licence fee. (@Oftheforest2. Cliché bingo. I think they mean “We don’t have to accept brown people on our screens because they don’t live here and never will.”)

This year has seen a relentless assault on free speech from the educational and media establishment, but the worst and most insidious of these attacks has come from the “Ruling Classes” particularly the so called center left, who have held sway in the corridors of power for the last 20 years. This privileged and pampered class are contemptuous and terrified of views that differ from theirs particularly if the views are deemed to be right wing. The new definition of right wing would include such heinous sins as believing in national sovereignty, opposing totalitarian religion and worst of all wanting a sensible immigration policy. These “crimes” are the new heresies against the “progressive” orthodoxy of multiculturalism and “no door” immigration. The fact that most people disagree with these policies that have been enforced upon the British people for the past 40 years is ignored by the elite and any who speak against it are silenced as heretics! The modern martyrs to the 21st Century witch hunt are people like Jordan Peterson, Robert Scrutton [sic] and of course public enemy number one Tommy Robinson." From the UK Freedom Movement website. The spelling and the phrase “held sway” suggest cutting and pasting from an American site. I think they mean “open door” immigration.)

More here, and links to the rest.

Wednesday 9 September 2020

Received Ideas in Quotes 17

The "hive mind" seems to be so active in societies/communities. People just seem to repeat the norm rather than think outside the box. I see this in lots of different aspects of life including sports, music, politics, etc. People seem to just go with the status quo and repeat what is familiar, perhaps as a way to relate/fit in. (Matt Robillard)

Sometimes folk wonder why most academics are left-leaning. It's because the lifeblood of conservatism is currently 'it's only natural', 'it's hard-wired', 'it's always been that way', 'it'll work out for the best' & 'leave it alone'. Received truths are antithetical to the job.

ABBA wore those wild costumes because Swedish tax law would only let you write off costumes/clothes as business expenses on your taxes if you couldn’t possibly wear them on the street.

According to legend pirate mutineers invented the 'round robin'. A contract with the signatures arranged in a circle. If the mutiny was discovered, it was impossible to know who the leader was! (@GoldenHinde_)

Tory: The name originated in mid-16th century Ireland and derives from the Gaelic word Toraidhe, meaning, plunderer, robber, thief, barbarian, yobbo. (Via yougov)

A spinster was a woman who had a sufficient level of skill at spinning that she did not need to marry if she did not feel so inclined. (SB via Facebook. Surely a woman forced to spin for a living because nobody wanted to marry her?)

The facade of St. Botolph's Priory, Colchester reads like a text book diagram of how intersecting rounded Norman arches lead to the discovery of the structurally stronger, and more heavenward aspiring, pointed Gothic arch. (@QuintinLake)

I'm told that Boarhunt in Hampshire is pronounced Borant. But some would-be scholar in the eighteenth century decided that name was derived from a boar hunt being there and changed the spelling. (PD via

Ever wonder why there are so many pirates buried in our old grave yards? The skull and cross bones was the sign used to show the person buried beneath it was a merchant, or had died of the plague. (Via FB. (And a skull and crossbones on a crucifix shows that it was made during WWI. It is Adam’s skull: Jesus was crucified on the same spot that Adam was buried.)

The literal meaning of the verb 'to pray' is 'to work on oneself'.
(Via FB)

Briceville Church in Tennessee was built in 1888 by immigrant Welsh coal miners. The church has twin steeples and entrances because the Welsh miners and their families had reportedly broken into two factions. Each faction entered through its own door. (@ChicagoTafia)

They drank ale for breakfast because tea was so expensive. (Margie Clarke, Antiques Road Trip)

The only things that change minds are stories; not ideas, much less arguments. (@ChicagoTafia)

[The pandemic] is exposing fallacies and falsehoods everywhere: the lie that free markets can deliver healthcare for all; the fiction that unpaid work is not work; the delusion that we live in a post-racist world; the myth that we are all in the same boat, because while we are all floating on the same sea, it’s clear that some are in superyachts while others are clinging to the floating debris. (Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General)

I've been told that skewed panelling was sometimes deliberate in order to repel or confuse witches and evil spirits. I'm not sure if there is any truth in it; but there does seem to have been a belief throughout the middle ages that perfect symmetry was hubristic. (Austen Redman)

It appears as though the plumb bob and spirit-level were only "discovered" about the time that Dutch architects began influencing our builders, bringing the "Flemish Bond" method of brickwork with them, and also straight lines... in the 17th century? (Chris Bland via FB. The plumb bob and set square were known to the Egyptians. Wonky old houses have settled and warped over time.)

Hungarian grammar is widely claimed to be a resistance tactic to make foreign occupiers lose their nut and run away. (@DanKaszeta)

The 'sn' in 'sneeze' is a historical hiccup. The original word was 'fnese', but someone in the Middle Ages mistook the f for the old form of s, ſ. Fneezing would be a much better sound match. (@susie_dent. There was no long S in medieval Gothic or Uncial script.)

There is a story that the many pubs named after the Marquis of Granby were set up by the old general to provide jobs for wounded soldiers, and to make sure that wherever he travelled he could get a free drink. (Via FB)

My sister in law's home in Tasmania was built in the early 1800s from timber used as ballast in tea clippers.
(Via FB)

Carol Prisant writes, “But Canton export porcelain was affordable – so inexpensive in fact, that the merchant ships carrying it from the Orient to America and England used it as ballast.” (Antiques Roadshow Primer, 1999)

It’s complete myth. Bricks and cobblestones... cost money to produce – ballast is free. When a ship needed ballast they sent the sailors and the ship’s boat over to the shore and started digging. I can’t say with absolute certainty that cobble rock (round smooth rocks found on beaches) was never loaded as ballast and then dumped on a street, but it doesn’t make good paving material. If you want a good road surface, the stone must be cut and fitted closely – again requiring that somebody be paid to do so which eliminates it from the ballast category. Bricks and cobblestones might get a cheaper shipping rate if the main cargo wasn’t heavy enough, but they were still cargo, NOT ballast. (Joe Greeley at As another poster says, why import bricks when you could make them near the site?

Some say the prayers are difficult
And hard to understand,
That they are out of date; or that
The language is “too grand”.

Yet when my mother prayed those prayers
They seemed quite plain to be.
And so the Prayer Book that she used
Is clear enough for me!
(Girls’ Own Annual, 1920)

Some plague rats escaped to the sewers a decade ago in New Jersey after animal rights terrorists freed them. (Ty Larson)

Years ago show houses would be furnished using specially-made furniture that was a bit smaller than standard. (GL via

Was the Union Jack flown upside down as a covert distress signal?

The problem with the theory is that ships at sea don't actually fly the Union Jack – they fly one of the Red (merchant navy), White (Royal Navy & Royal Yacht Squadron, plus Trinity House on royal escort duties) or the Blue Ensigns (some other yacht clubs). The Union Jack is normally only flown by naval ships in port, from the jackstaff on the bow of the ship, in addition to the ensign on the stern. Otherwise, the Union Jack is only normally seen on visiting ships who don't understand the somewhat arcane rules concerning courtesy flags and don't realise they should be flying the Red Ensign. (RM via

Social historians are in the habit of informing their readers that in any epoch with which they happen to be dealing Society is no more. The rigid hierarchy of yesterday is gone; the influx of the nouveaux-riches has blurred the old aristocratic demarcation; only money and not birth now counts. The curious thing is that this seems to have happened so often. (James Laver, Taste and Fashion)

Just made myself a steaming hot coffee, and reminded of my mum's unshakable belief that a hot cup of tea "cools you down" on a hot day, despite logic, physics, etc. (@KeefJudge)

I am Swedish and in some older cemeteries (18th century and older) we have stairs over the wall next to the entrance with gates. The stairs have been the only entrance for those not worthy to walk through the gates - doomed or homeless people, or even women who have just given birth. (LM via FB. The gates were for carriages, the stairs for pedestrians?)

Lars Tharp on Antiques Roadshow says that in Denmark the wives of fishermen would keep Staffordshire dogs on the windowsill. When their husbands were at home, the dogs would be turned to face the room. When the men were at sea, the dogs would be turned to face out of the window. “You catch my drift?” says Lars.

It's 1839, & our Batley mill owner is unhappy with The Youth of Today: 'They work hard and drink hard and seems to care little for the futer... have all risen from the lower ranks and they ride their gigcarts and their horses and goes to spars and drinks and trifles most of their time'.

Children be so brought up, that if they be not all daie by the fire with a toste and butire, and in their furres, they be streight sicke. (John Caius, 1552. A Boke or Counseill against the Disease Commonly Called the Sweate or the Sweating Sickness)

Culturally our stories are of plucky underdogs, but actually our national story was of massive expenditure on the world’s most complex weapons systems and smashing the s**t out of less fiscally [secure] and technological societies. Dan Snow (Secure?)

Kenneth Branagh talked about his upcoming Agatha Christie mystery film, Death on the Nile, and why it might be much darker than people are expecting. ( What To Say About all Agatha Christie remakes.)

I personally come down somewhere in the middle between “Dreams are meaningless, ignore them” and “Only dreams tell us what we really want and feel—do whatever your dreams tell you to do.” If your goal is to “figure out the reason why” you dream the way you do, you may be at it for a long, long time. There’s no single established reason for dreaming or for assembling meaning or structure out of dreams; you really do have the freedom to make meaning for yourself. (Dear Prudie,

This is one of the most iconic buildings in Bradford: Listers Mill. The local legend says you could drive a horse and cart round the top of the chimney.
(Angie Taylor Petty)

The monks of mediaeval Kilwinning Abbey constructed a 2 mile long tunnel to Eglinton Castle, big enough for a coach and four! (Heather Upfield)

I was taking a trip right back to the very origins of what we define as human! ... Around 40,000 years ago, the ancestors of many of us found these caves to be the perfect location to not only camp, but stay for prolonged periods, playing, making music and worshipping. For the first time, we begin to see something beyond existing. (@MikeStuchbery_)

Gallileo introduced the revolutionary departure from the medieval, ludicrous notion that everything worth knowing was already known. (Mario Livio)

Magna Carta is an obscure Latin text... Essentially a document produced by a bunch of baronial millionaires in their own interest. (Lord Sumption)

If people from poorer parts of East London, also known as Cockneys, dropped their ‘h’s, in words like happy, then anyone wanting to be thought cultured would not do so. If people in the South-West of England pronounced the ‘r’ after a vowel, in words like cart, then cultured speakers would not. If people ‘up north’ said bath with a short ‘a’, then cultured speakers would make it long: bahth. (David Crystal, making out that Received Pronunciation is just "not Cockney".)

Apparently all new cars record sound in case “it‘s helpful after an accident” and location “in case it’s stolen”. I know because a friend was told how to turn it off by the garage and the guy who told her got told off resoundingly. (CW via FB)

Beer, small, an undrinkable drink, which if it were set upon a colander to let the water run out, would leave a residuum of – nothing. Of whatever else it may be guilty, it is generally innocent of malt and hops. (Victorian joke. “Small beer” was low or lacking in alcohol.)

Perfumery: An article that indolent young ladies make use of to supply the place of clean water and soap. (Victorian joke)

It was the custom of the higher order of Teutones, a people who inhabited the northern part of Europe, to drink mead or metheglin, a beverage made with honey, for 30 days after the wedding. From this custom comes the expression, “to spend the honeymoon”. (Victorian fascinating fact)

Freud was startlingly correct in his assertion that we are not masters of our own mind. He showed that human experience, thought and deeds are determined not by our conscious rationality, but by irrational forces outside our conscious awareness and control. (George Dvorsky, He doesn’t produce any evidence, just says that “everybody accepts it now”.)

A “surprising source of misinformation is literary fiction”. (Misinformation and Its Correction: Continued Influence and Successful Debiasing, Stephan Lewandowsky, Ullrich K. H. Ecker, Colleen M. Seifert et al., 2012)


Okay, so according to the latest from a certain prime minister, the reason for the Soros network to "generate" the "migrant crisis" is that the crisis forces governments to take out loans "with huge interest". Who gives these loans? You-know-who. Yes. That's the official line.

We can't believe we have to say this in 2020 but here we are. The claim that Jews dominated the slave trade is a libel made up in 1991 by Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. (@TheMossadIL)

I had an Irish uncle who was a Dunkirk veteran. He told me that when the “Great English flotilla of small boats” went to pick up the soldiers they deliberately left the Scots and the Irish. (@no1_nicola)

More here, and links to the rest.