Monday, 28 November 2016

Received Ideas (in Quotes) 3

Whenever you work in an area that challenges people’s wrongheaded, cherished beliefs, it can be difficult. But sometimes it can also be a matter of life and death. (Elizabeth Loftus on false memory)

You can’t tell a word processed novel from one dictated from the couch or typed on a vintage Olivetti. (Brian Dillon, Guardian July 4 2016 Word processors were going to corrupt our prose circa 1985.)

I must follow the people, for I am their leader. (That, or something very like it, has been attributed to Disraeli, Bonar Law, Gandhi, and Alexandre Auguste Ledru-Rollin, but I can't find a convincing source – and Harold Wilson.) (AG)

Not the Truth with a capital T, an omniscience, but truth that is the same as reality. (Hanna Segal quoted Guardian September 5, 2008 What is truth? That is.)

When you talk about things like dowsing most people only hear what they want (or expect, I'm not sure which) to hear. (RJ)

Karl Marx sarcastically critiqued the bourgeoisie yet was addicted to the trappings of their lifestyle. (Andrew Billen Times 2016-06-17 Conservatives have decided that all socialists should be poor.)

Does Ulm cathedral sport a sparrow statue? Martin Lampprecht: Well, it's one of those "can you believe how stupid the inhabitants of XYZ-ville are" stories. No idea how it originated, but it is very well-known, at least in the Ulm region and Southwest Germany. According to the legend, when the good people of Ulm built the cathedral (begun in the Middle Ages, but completed, like almost all Gothic cathedrals in Germany, only in the late 19th century), they once had to get a huge wooden beam in. But the portal was too narrow. But suddenly they saw a sparrow carrying a straw through a little hole, because the bird carried it lengthwise, unlike the stupid masons. (So they put a statue of it on top of the cathedral. The statue is actually a dove carrying an olive branch, but it’s so small the Ulmers called it a “sparrow”, and so the legend grew up.)

In Germany, it's a clear indicator of the religious history of a place: if the big church in the village has a cross, the village is traditionally Catholic, if it's a cock, it's Lutheran. (Martin Lampprecht)

Flying the Union Jack upside down is a covert distress signal
, so that if for instance your vessel had been captured by pirates and was being sailed into port you could signal to other British ships that something was amiss. Theory being any naval man would know the Union Flag was upside down but a pirate wouldn't notice. At least that's what we were told in the Scouts. If a Scout flew the flag the wrong way up he was asked “Are you OK? Are you in distress?” until he got the message. (Don Constance)

It is said that the Caryatids on Highpoint Two were added to the design by Berthold Lubetkin although they are not necessary structurally, since the cantilevers are self-supporting; however, the planners were unconvinced that the whole edifice would not collapse. In a witty response, Lubetkin added two Caryatids but did not actually attach the canopy to them, i.e. when first installed there was a nearly invisible gap between the two. (

This reminds me of that thing about cake that Marie Antoinette famously never said: Housing minister says first-time buyers should rely on inheritance from their grandparents. (M. v. Aufschnaiter ‏@mva_1000)

One of the most common theatrical superstitions is that green should be avoided at all costs. The tradition began in the days when stages were lit by limelights, which burned lime, producing a greenish light that made anything green nearly invisible. (

Surprisingly few "I've never been polled", "it's only 2k people", "polls got 2015/#EUref wrong", "lizard propaganda" or I've muted them all. (@JohnRentoul)

Jovan Jovanovič: Chemopetrol (today Prague Social Security Administration), 1974–1979 Originally the design had been a Yugoslav project for a complex of hotels in Saudi Arabia which was never realized. After an agreement between the Yugoslav and Czechoslovakian governments parts of the original design were built in Prague as office buildings for Chemopetrol. The pronounced concrete protrusions are remnants of the original need for sun protection. Because of the placement of the building and the exterior locals have nicknamed it "Vampire House". Special thanks to Oskar Helcel. (

Sculptor Alfred George Stevens spent most of his life and energy creating the Wellington memorial in St Paul's Cathedral. The railings with lions (also by Stevens) around this were originally, 1852, part of the British Museum boundary but some 1895 pavement improvements caused them to be removed.  Some of Stevens' BM lions also ended up on the railings outside the Royal British Society of Sculptors, 108 Old Brompton Road.  Others, possibly smaller copies are outside the Law Society in Chancery Lane. (

Does a section of the wrought-iron fence from St Paul’s surround a tomb for John and Jemima Howard in Toronto? (It was retrieved after the boat carrying it sank in the St Lawrence.) Some are also at Hoathly Town Hall (where they were originally made).

“There are amphorae full of oil and wine... with pointy bottoms to fit between the ship’s boards... Grotesque sculpted heads... might have been made by an apprentice [and] used as ballast.” (Nancy Durrant Times June 2016-06-17 on Storms, War and Shipwrecks at the Ashmolean. Amphorae were stacked on their sides in racks.)

Sir, Jonathan Sacks and the four intellectuals he quotes follow a long tradition of seeing only decline and collapsing discipline; Aristotle grumbled that the youth showed no respect. (“Bin Laden saw that the West was in decline”, Opinion, Sept 8).

Thank goodness for the Normans, who apparently dragged poor benighted Anglo-Saxon England out of the Dark Ages one day in 1066. (Eleanor Parker ‏@ClerkofOxford)

There's a tale about a young man from the south who was put in charge of a Glasgow department store. He noticed, with surprise, that there were no ladies' umbrellas on sale, and his staff didn't like to tell him that, at that time in Glasgow, the umbrella was regarded as the tart's advertisement, which was why the store didn't sell them. So he ordered several hundred of them -- and they sold out within a few days. (WS)

A belief widely held in Tory circles: the social sciences... lacked rigour as a discipline, producing results “everybody knew”. (London Review of Books, May 2016)

The commonly held notion, as Szalavitz describes it, “that people with addictions must ‘hit bottom’ before they can recover — and that harsh and humiliating treatment facilitates this process, while ‘enabling’ or being loving and kind is counterproductive.” (Unbroken Brain, Maiya Szalavitz)

It's little-known that France also gave the US statues of fraternity and equality but they were considered un-American and were hidden away. (Karl Sharro ‏@KarlreMarks)

More here, and links to the rest.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Art Shows in London, Paris and Beyond

The Menin Road

Tate Britain
To March 5 2017

Paul Nash was an English Surrealist and war artist in two world wars. This show at Tate Britain gathers up some of his lesser-known inter-war surrealist works, and those of his contemporaries. Nash was a variable artist. He was not a naturally gifted draughtsman, but he worked at it. He planned large compositions carefully, assembling them from sketches and photographs. His brushwork is sometimes dry and loose, sometimes heavy and stiff. He juxtaposed colours: pale blue, apricot, Indian red, airforce blue, grey, terra cotta. Shadows are not a contrast but a darker version.

Before World War I he was drawing landscapes and gardens in an avant-garde style, somewhat influenced by Samuel Palmer, but peopling them with drippy young girls left over from the Pre-Raphaelites. These maidens disappear with the outbreak of war. He reached the front in 1917, and what he saw there gave to rise to some of his greatest work – canvases showing the trenches and the devastated landscape pitted with shell-holes. His figures, toiling across mud or lying prone, are schematic patches of khaki.

There are Futurist or Vorticist motifs – diagonals and lightning flashes – but they are snaking ditches, star shells or searchlights. In the background are shattered trees, in the foreground the abstract shapes of warfare: chicken wire, barbed wire strung on queues de cochon, a food tin and a helmet submerged in a puddle, curves of pink corrugated iron, concrete blocks. (The Menin Road)

After the war he retreated to the coast, where he painted sea defences, taming the beach with concrete embankments and black groynes. Curves become straight lines and zigzags and the land is as flat as the horizon.

He and other British artists created their own Surrealist movement, making a feature of "found" objects looming against the Sussex Downs and white cliffs. The ironmongery of the trenches is replaced by pylons, picket fences, bare trees. They tried hard to make rocks, bones, giant eggs and megaliths portentous, but the results are pallid. Eileen Agar succeeds – but she was off on a journey of her own, and her collages of dead leaves, masked faces and plastic doilies are genuinely Gothic.

Then war broke out again, and Nash produced some of his most impressive work, based on pilot's eye views of the English landscape with contrails and bursting shells, and Totes Meer, a Friedrich-like frozen moonlit sea of broken-up German planes.

After the war he turned again to the English landscape, infusing it with meaning and an immanent horror. I don't buy whirling sunflowers as a sinister force, but he synthesized his war pictures into lurid visions of Whittenham Clumps – trees huddled on a hilltop, guarding the bones or unquiet spirits of earlier Britons.

Magritte: Le Trahison des Images
Pompidou, Paris

To 23 January 2017
The Belgian Surrealist is famous for confronting bowler hats with Granny Smiths and setting tubas on fire. The 4.50 to Paddington will be leaving by the fireplace.

Daubigny, Monet, Van Gogh: Impressions of Landscape
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

To 29 January 2017
The satirical magazine Punch used "Daubigny" for any pretentious painter (he produced "daubs", what a hoot), but Charles-François Daubigny (1817-1878) was a fine landscape artist and a member of the Barbizon School. Wikipedia patronisingly says he is regarded as "an important precursor to the Impressionists".

Australia's Impressionists
National Gallery, London

Dec 7-26 March 2017
Should make Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, Charles Conder, and John Russell better known in the northern hemisphere. Not just the bush, but railway stations, docksides and steamships.

Les Temps Mérovingiens
Musée de Cluny

26 Oct-13 Feb 2017
Early medieval French culture (their reign ended in 751). They were the first French tribe to become Christian and produced beautiful metalwork and illuminated manuscripts.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Inspirational Quotes (about Politics) 90

Angela Davis

Snowflakes? Political correctness? Get over it? Make nice? A lot of people want us to shut up.

Seriously though, it’s amazing how annoyed people get by student politics stories which affect basically nobody. (@AdamBienkov)

I think a 'safe place' or safer place is one where the people don't demand the 'right to bear arms'. (@DuncanMcNab Nov 10)

"Safe spaces! Grow up and face the real world, snowflake" - People who voted to wreck the country just to avoid sharing it with foreigners. (Dean Burnett ‏@garwboy)

“Political correctness gone mad” – It just means they feel they feel they can't express their intolerance without being made to feel awkward about it. (Commenter on

Why is it that those who complain about political correctness seem to be asking for protection from speech they dislike? (Katherine Cross ‏@Quinnae_Moon)

The whole point of using the phrase ‘political correctness’ is to deal with all the pro-diversity efforts using one big insult. ( ‏@Brimshack)

I really really wish that supposed free speech absolutists would stop declaring speech they don’t like a threat to free speech. (Angus Johnston ‏@studentactivism Oct 2015)

Some white people genuinely believe they have the right to police minorities' feelings about oppression. It's a form of social insanity. "I'm going to oppress you, then deny I'm oppressing you and shame you for resisting oppression." (professor baé ‏@alwaystheself)

When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression... They’re angry about being labeled a “racist,” just because they say racist things and have racist beliefs. (Huffington Post)

"How is that racist?" White Proverb (@danarel)

The first thing they'll tell you is that calling out racism and sexism is what lost the election. That's how it's given a free rein. Then they'll tell you that pointing out racism or sexism or standing up for liberalism is 'sneering' and 'elitist' and 'out of touch'. And they'll still be saying that when they're rounding people up for deportations. (‏@IanDunt Nov 9)

See also: republicans saying there wasn't racism until Obama. Like he caused it instead of pointing it out. (Jamie McKelvie @McKelvie)

Poor white racists (as a social group) do not rage at poverty as-such. They rage at poverty as inappropriate to their white race. (Ivan ‏@p0stcap Nov 11)

We've reached the point where decency and respect are portrayed as out-of-touch "elite" urban values compared to more "authentic" bigotry. (Bernard Keane ‏@BernardKeane Nov 13)

Probably worth remembering that a lot of "left behind" people have straight-up been left behind by public racism becoming less acceptable. (John B ‏@johnb78 Nov 15)

You get the sense that white supremacists genuinely believe that other cultures and races were recently created just to spite them. (Karl Sharro ‏@KarlreMarks Nov 13)

At what point does "Emotional concerns about immigration that has no impact on me" become racism? How low does the bar have to go before you'll say "Yeah, actually, that constituent is probably being racist?" (David Whitley ‏@mrdavidwhitley)

People come here because Britain went there!! (Stuart Hall)

If you're told Brexit wasn't about immigration, you can be certain it's an Outer regretting their pact with racists. (@AaronHEllis)

They are not anti-establishment. They are the far-right. (‏@IanDunt Nov 14)

If you support migration you have to personally house migrants, just like if you support borders you need to brick up your front door. (Joseph ‏@JosephKay76 Nov 14)

If by 'elitist' you mean 'doesn't automatically hate other humans and every other aspect of the world that isn't me' then yes, I guess I am. (Dean Burnett ‏@garwboy)

It's like there's a load of white men just looking for reasons to attack vocal students, women, those regarded a threat to the status quo. (@ThatSabineGirl)

“'Black Lives Matter' does not mean 'Hate Whites, kill whites'.” (Chris Tummings)

It's amazing how often people with amazing amounts of privilege & power complain about people "deciding to be victims". (Polly Putnam ‏@CuratorPolly)

Non-white people get much the same rubbish about how there isn’t racism and they don’t get treated differently and race doesn’t affect any of us, because who knows better than white people who are trying to silence people of color? (Rebecca Solnit)

Rage does not work as political opposition. Moral high ground, peaceful engagement, asking respectful questions of opponents. These work. (
Kurt Eichenwald @kurteichenwald)

As a historian, I would like to say: THIS IS TERRIBLE ADVICE. My evidence is: ALL OF HISTORY. Honestly, saying ‘just ask respectful questions’ is the biggest, most obvious tell for white male privilege that I can think of right now. (
Charlotte L. Riley ‏@lottelydia Nov 14)

“Don’t fight hate with hate” is an example of subtle gaslighting, where our legitimate hurt and anger at the injustices we suffer is being equated to the bigotry and abuse of our oppressors. Being angry doesn’t mean you are being hateful, it means you love yourself enough to get upset at your own mistreatment.” (frontier-heart)

I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept. (Angela Davis)

We protest and demonstrate and speak up precisely because we know we can make things better, and activism works. (@anildash Oct 2)

We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. (Elie Wiesel)

PLEASE, people, let's not POLITICISE the political assassination of a politician over a political issue by a gunman who opposed her politics. (@AmeliaMangan)

No surprise that people's reluctance to have their views ridiculed is often linked to the weakness of the evidence for those views. (Damian Counsell ‏@DamCou)

All views are not equal. Some are based on reason and evidence. Some are based on [redacted]. (@IanDunt Nov 14)

Paraphrased: "Didn’t think £12 billion welfare cuts would affect me. I’m not one of those scroungers. I’m a Tory." #bbcqt (@trabasack Duncan E)

The worry in Orwell’s writing is that we will not even be able to think [about rebellion] or have the language with which to articulate our opposition. The victory of the Thought Police will be when behaviour is so self-regulating that no Thought Police are required. There is one installed in every mind. (Darran Anderson, Imaginary Cities)

The worst form of apology is "I'm not perfect". As if this is some kind of astounding revelation. (@BDSixsmith)

More here, and links to the rest.
They really want us to shut up, don't they?

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Inspirational Quotes 89

How to deal with a colleague who ignores you:
This person could be threatened by you. This is usually why someone is extremely rude or ignores a co-worker, unless they have a defective personality. Take comfort in the fact that you have something that your ill-mannered co-worker wants, eg approval of a higher-up, knowledge, wardrobe, good looks etc. the only way to handle a person such as this is to kill them with kindness, especially when your superiors are nearby. It is so much fun to make the other squirm when they have to be nice! (Dear Jeremy, Guardian)

When my daughter was eight, a former friend of hers (B) suddenly turned into a bully and gave my daughter no peace. There was nothing physical – just meanness and rudeness. I told my daughter one thing bullies hate is cheerfulness and politeness. We practised her responses to things B would say. This REALLY helped – kind of like studying for a test. Pretending to be B, I’d say something rude to my daughter and my daughter would respond by being perky and cheerful. Our two favourite and most effective responses to anything B would say were “Thanks for letting me know!” and “Sorry you’re feeling so crabby today!” It worked WONDERS and drove B crazy enough that within two or three days, she started avoiding my daughter! (Top Tips for Girls)

General confidence is not a really a thing. We're confident when we're placed in a situation where we genuinely feel we are likely to do well, meaning that confidence is situational. (reddit)

In week two, half the contestants have been driven away by the constant regime of knackering running, jumping, carrying each other around, and generally being shouted at. Those who remain have lost all their cockiness. (Hugo Rifkind on SAS: Who Dares Wins)

Partners should be able to cheer you up after a tough day, and they should be able to provide you with love and support. (

In spite of her injuries, she did not forget to give the forced laugh which had been drilled into her, at school, as the accompaniment to any game's casualty.

Their formal bow, when Iris squeezed by them, was conditional recognition before the final fade-out. "We'll speak to you during the journey," it seemed to say, "but at Victoria we become strangers."...
She met the unfriendly glance of the ladies. Miss Rose's was perceptibly more frigid, as though she were practising gradations, in preparation for the cut direct, at Victoria Station.
(The Lady Vanishes, Ethel Lina White)

"These good looks of yours... are worth money, and you shall make money of 'em."
“Some beloved companionship fades out of most lives, my dear.”
(Our Mutual Friend)

Another voice, high and rather hard, but nonetheless feminine, was saying with experienced raillery... 

Nobody here [at a séance] was standardized; in tea-shops and theatres people are cut to the pattern of their environment.

His chubby, smooth, innocent appearance was a reason for his being always treated with condescension when he was not put down.

(Graham Greene, Ministry of Fear)

You seem to have passed through all the usual vague longings and somewhat wild aspirations of every girl's life. (Girls' Own Advice ‏@GirlsOwn)

The cameras show the kids as they learn to make friends. Friendship is becoming a big deal and it’s about best friends... Six-year-olds are like mini-teenagers. It’s all about impressing their friends. (BBC Breakfast)

Anything people say will be put in perspective according to their level of importance. (Old Flemish proverb)

More here, and links to the rest.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Inspirational Quotes 88

"Can't touch me!"

The straight dope about social relations:

I went to a very bad school where anyone intelligent was ostracised and bullied. (Man quoted in Obs, Sept 2015)

Kenneth Williams was not bullied – his friendship with the school captain, Reefy, kept him safe. “Anyone who threatened even remotely to bash me, I’d say, Reefy, Reefy, they’re going to bash me, and he always came to the rescue... I loved all that. Can’t touch me!” [In the army] as at school, he cultivated friends to be his protectors. (Born Brilliant)

Standing up to any victimising scenario is beyond difficult, and it can all too easily lead to shunning, vilification, and isolation. (

Among the first modern “emotions workers” (the name sociologists give to those who are explicitly directed to control their feelings to influence those of other people) were American housewives. (Guardian on a dictionary of emotions)

I am human and I need to be loved, just like everybody else does. (@slowboring)

People have always gone to great lengths to appear happy+normal to others. (Christopher Mims ‏@mims)

You wanted to help, which is an encroachment upon the will of others. Your attitude ought to be that of one who offers an opportunity that can be taken or rejected. (CG Jung)

Humans tend to care greatly about their status within a group, even if it is on a subconscious level, so in any scenario where they believe they will be evaluated or judged (rightly or wrongly), they’re going to be motivated to do well. And here’s where performance anxiety can kick in. (Dean Barnett, Guardian)

It sounds like a cruel experiment: what happens if you put a cripplingly shy young man in an invasion reality-TV show that stages a succession of blind dates? Oddly, the answer is that it radically improves his life, boosts his self-confidence and creates a social media hero. (Observer on Blind Date)

I’m sorry I brought politics up, because people don’t like talking about it. (Louis Gill of Blind Date)

The seemingly daring British avant-garde, Brian Sewell loved to point out, was actually dated and provincial. (Daily Telegraph)

They seem to have got hold of the idea all over the north that all you have to do to bring down the price of bread, and improve the economy at large, is to erect vulgar, idiotic pieces of sculpture. (Brian Sewell)

When your eldest first goes to school, the mothers of children who are in your child’s class offer a new injection of social possibilities that years at work with the same people and geographically distant school or college friendships cannot match... they live close, they tend to be your age, and they have the same problems and concerns. (Times Sept 2015)

Only one thing stands between you and your dreams. Feasibility. (India Borden-Wuornos ‏@AnemoneOh 3 Sep 2014 )

Single women without family or “introductions”, especially in the fifties and early sixties, could feel pretty firmly closed out from even the casual rituals of social life. (Howard Malchow, Special Relations)

Do you (esp young ppl) feel who you find attractive is ‘policed?’ You say you fancy x, friends go ‘eww’ if not ‘conventionally’ attractive. (monstrous ‏@marcuswstow)

A man can easily ascertain whether a woman is partial to him through a mutual friend, before paying addresses to her. (@GirlsOwn)

The Times hires a couple of older men as interns for the day. One is ex-RAF, treats it like a mission, and makes helpful suggestions. The other is an ex-lecturer. “The moment we send him to the kettle for a round of teas is the real epiphany. ‘I’m not used to taking orders,” he says. “It’s very curious. This really is a feast of fools.” (He spends the day whingeing about social media, which he’s never used. “It’s the pursuit of like, isn’t it? I despair, I really do.”) (Oct 2015 At the feast of fools, society was turned upside down, and masters took orders from servants.)

The moment when you become your parent’s parent... I was 16 and it was too much for me to bear. (Nick Frost, Obs Oct 4 2015)

Every age finds a great deal to condemn in the manners and customs that differentiate the rising generation from its own. The country... has always been going to the dogs, but it has not quite arrived at the dogs yet. (EF Benson)
More here, and links to the rest.

Grammar: Howlers 15

In the metropolitan bubble

Late 2016, and many are using “elite” to mean “member of an elite”. Metropolitan elites, liberal elites. Some use “elitist” with the same meaning. For some, it is code for “people in power with the wrong ideas”.

An “elite” is a privileged, or powerful, group of people. “The Ritz – where the elite meet to eat.” An elitist is someone who thinks that members of the elite really are superior.

The same goes for “minority”. A single person can be in the minority if 99% vote the other way, but he can’t be a minority. But the word is often used to mean “member of a minority”. In Europe and the US, people of colour and LGBT people are in the minority. Not women – in the UK we’re in the majority, about 51%. In other countries, men predominate. (And in Africa, white people are in the minority.)

And "majority" doesn't mean "huge number of people". The picture is clouded by the way people often stick the word "vast" onto any majority. A majority of people in the UK voted to leave the EU, but they didn't win by vast majority – it was 4%. 17 million voted to Leave, but the population of the UK is 64 million.

More howlers:

With all the props required, children will spend hours pretending to scour the isles for the best grocery bargains with the Toyrific Shopping Trolley Play Set! (aisles)

refreshers’ fair for freshers’ fair (It's short for “freshmen”.)

with importunity
for with impunity

Their wishes take president. (take precedence)

Richmond VA described as a magnet for "craft-beer coiffing" millennials. (quaffing)

are forced to reign it in... (Horses have reins, Queens have reigns.)

Jesus was crucified on Calgary. (Calvary)

nip it in the butt (It’s “bud” and refers to frost “nipping” a flower in the bud so that it never blooms. When it's freezing cold in the UK we say it's "a bit nippy", with our usual understatement.)

grant it for granted (Americans pronounce it “granite”.)


well-known fictional author for well-known fiction writer

recess monkeys (autocorrect for Rhesus)

old-fashion pasties, process cheese etc. (old-fashioned, processed)

espousing for plugging: "By the end of the book the author is clearly espousing his critical opinion of the radical Irish, the revolutionaries and terrorists who have sullied the reputation and history of the homeland he is proud of."

Nice to know you think my costumer care is up to your standers!

Flog It! is selling a Chinese censor. (Censers burn incense, censors ban books.)

No one will batter an eyelid. It beggars the question. (You bat your eyelids or flutter your eyelashes – it's supposed to be flirtatious, but does it work? Shakespeare said that an appalling sight “beggars belief”, ie makes belief as poor as a beggar. If you "beg the question" you carry on as if the question under discussion had already been settled. Your way.)

gaffe for gaff (The first is a solecism and the second a home, or is it a net for landing fish?)

Someone in Inverkeithing asks why Dunfermline doesn’t have even on inconvenience store? (Also spotted recently “It wasn’t non-negligible”.)

going by the weigh side for falling by the wayside

epitath for epitaph

Quentin Crisp was a naked civil savant. (He had to join the Civil Service to do his job as a nude artist's model, and he called his autobiography The Naked Civil Servant.)
Site and sight are easily confused: a moving site, get it in your sites, building sight. (Think of eyesight and caravan site – a sight is what you see, a site is where you’re SITuated.)

He ate a cough pastel. (Pastille – pastels are coloured chalks, or pale colours.)

on the cusp for on the brink (The cusp is the join between two zodiac signs. Very popular June 2016 – we’re on the cusp of disaster, no kidding.)

I like anything with equestrian horses on! (Bargain Hunt)

Hi Hitler! (Scrawled by a very dim white supremacist.)

Find the writers you admire and immolate them. (Student howler, allegedly, for emulate or imitate. Heretics were immolated, or burned at the stake for their views, back in the Good Old Days.)

These men who obsess with feminism and then name calling, threatening to rape and murder are the lowest form of Homo Saipan ever. (They are, though it's "Homo sapiens", and it's a singular, not a plural. All humans are members of the group Homo sapiens, and all of us apart from Africans have a bit of Neanderthal as well.)

beaurocrats for bureaucrats

I'm sure the rich all have personal helicopters to take them to their secret mountain layers! (lairs)

More here, and links to the rest.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Outrageous Excuses 2016 (2)

But you can in the Isle of Man

...and silly reasons for not doing things.

I'm not getting married because:

Marriage brings a lot of Victorian baggage with it about treating a woman as a chattel, and the man being head of the household.
(A wife was once a man's possession, as were his children – the law has been changed.)

We can’t afford it – a wedding costs £25,000.
(A registry office wedding costs about £100.)

It’s just a bit of paper. (Yes, it's a legal contract.)

Even in a registry office, marriage has “religious connotations”. (You are not allowed any mention of religion. Today, marriage is an equal partnership, but there may be lingering, erroneous beliefs that, for instance, the man is boss. "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Ephesians 5:23)

Living together gives you the same rights – after two years, or when you have children. (Not since 1753.)

Talking about death and money and who gets the house isn’t very romantic.
Love is too precious to burden with marriage.
(Words fail.)

I’m not getting married until heterosexuals can have civil partnerships.
(There are some differences, but you could just cross out the word "marriage".)

It’s an outdated institution. (It has been constantly updated over the last 200 years.)

Divorce is too expensive. Marriage only enriches lawyers. (It might be a lot more expensive if you broke up or your partner died and you found you had no money and nowhere to live, and – men only – few rights over your children.)

Why should the state be involved? (To protect your rights.)

“There is no such thing as common law marriage or common law man and wife.” (
The rights gained on marriage or civil partnership (they differ) are explained here.

We should teach children "whole language" because:

Phonics is mind-boggling and mind-numbing.
Phonics tests make children read non-existent words.

We should teach children to memorise and recognise every individual word as if they were logograms or ideographs.

In Finland they don’t teach children to read until they’re seven.
Yes, they can decode, but do they understand what they’re reading?

Just give children books and they’ll work out how to read.
English spelling is anarchic – how can there be any rules?
Children have different learning styles.

Phonics is old-fashioned.
Phonics is conservative.
Phonics is right-wing.

“A phonics rule has to operate 75% of the time with the corpus of words you’re using or else you shouldn’t teach it.” Ted Clymer, 1960s

“What we should probably do, my evidence says, is teach as many possible  phonics rules as we can, to completely load the child up with this kind of information and understanding and ability to use the se kinds of things and he or she will do the rest. They’ll come up to a word and make a fairly good guess, and if it doesn’t hit it right on the nose — whatever the phonics rule they’re trying to apply — they’ll go ahead and do it on their own.” Don Potter

I'm not wearing a poppy because....

Virtue signallers! Fascists! Jingoists! Jobsworths! Too big! Too small! Forbidden! Imposed!

“I loathe the mission creep turning remembrance day into some 'armed forces appreciation day'. I loathe it with every fibre of my being.”

The British armed forces are underfunded.

“I’m not going to wear a poppy because politicians wear them earlier every year.”

“I find the modern day ‘celebrity endorsement’ of poppies sickening!”

“I don't wear a poppy because it seems to be open to all sorts of misinterpretation these days.” 

I don’t wear symbols at work.
The poppy has been misappropriated to support illegitimate wars.
Poppy fascism – people are insisting I wear one, so I won’t.
I’m a pacifist.

Outrageous excuses

Murderer Michael Danaher claimed his hit list was kept by another man and the victim attacked him first.

Abusive UKIP tweeter Raheem Kassam says "I am not that guy".

Charles Van Doren, accused of cheating in a quiz show, said that "while he had always known that what he had been doing was wrong, he had done it anyway, 'because it was having such a good effect on the national attitude toward teachers, education, and the intellectual life'.” (Florence King, Wasp Where Is Thy Sting?)

(See also the paedophile we can’t report to the police because “everybody looks up to him”, and the miracles of Lourdes and the visions at Fatima, which may be illusory “but have brought so many back to the church”.)

Right-wing politicians in France called for a swimming pool’s “burkini day” to be banned as it was “incompatible with French traditions and lifestyle”. Burkini objections continue, and burkas are an “act of provocation”, not a costume.

Owen Smith says he can’t be sexist because lots of women work for his campaign. (And others on this model: “Some of my best friends are Jewish”, “I can’t be racist because I’m gay” etc.)

Corbyn campaign says list [of party members who have “attacked Corbyn”] was issued by junior staffer and was not intended for official use.

Barrister says gang member who stabbed rival with a wine bottle and was then shot in the foot "just fell in with the wrong crowd."

More here, and links to the rest.
More silly reasons for not getting married.