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.