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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: Language

Saturday February 06 2016

Today I have been what passes with me for busy.  By this I do not mean that I have been doing anything along the lines of work, of benefit to others.  Oh no.  But I have been paying attention to a succession of things, all of which involved me not being in much of a state to do anything else.

There was a game of cricket, there was a game of rugger, and a game of football.  England defeated South Africa.  England defeated Scotland.  And Spurs defeated Watford.  So, three for three. And then I went to hear a talk at Christian Michel’s, about The Unconscious, Freudian and post-Freudian.  Freud, it turns out, was right that there is an Unconscious, but wrong about a lot of the details.

On my way home from that talk, I took a photo.  Technically it was very bad photo, because it was taken through the window of a moving tube train.  It is of an advert at a tube station.  But my photo did the job, which was to immortalise here yet another assemblage of London’s Big Things, in an advert:

image

That’s only a bit of the picture, rotated a bit, lightened and contrasted a bit and sharpened a bit.

The advert was for these visitor centres, which sound suspiciously like what used to be called “information desks”.

I see: the Cheesegrater, the Wheel, the BT Tower, Big Ben, the cable car river crossing, the Gherkin, Tower Bridge, the Shard, St Paul’s, and the pointy-topped Canary Wharf tower.  I forgive TfL for plugging the embarrassing Emirates Dangleway.  If they didn’t recommend it, who would?

Because of all that busy-ness, I have no time to put anything else here today.

Tomorrow: Super Bowl!

LATER: AB de Villiers, talking about South Africa now being two down with three to play:

“I can’t help but think, shit we have got to win three games in a row to win this series. Shucks, I mean. But that’s the fact of the matter. In situations like this, whether you are 2-nil up or 2-nil down, you have to take a small step. The next game is important for us. Shucks.”

We all know what shit is, but now learn what a shuck is.

Wednesday January 13 2016

Oliver Wainwright of the Guardian can be grumpy but informative.  Of facadism, which I have here been calling keeping up appearances, Wainwright says this:

The practice of facadism emerged in the 1980s, when construction technology made it possible to retain a mere sliver of a frontage, and as the rise of the conservation movement increased pressure to preserve the historic streetscape – even if it didn’t care much for what happened beyond the surface.

And more to the point, there are some great photos.  Photos like this:

image

Wainwright is of course angry about this unequal style collision.  He writes for the Guardian, and being angry about capitalism (aka everything except Guardianism) comes with the job.  But I actually quite like it when big modernism rises up behind smaller ancientism.  To put it another way, in Ayn Rand’s novel, The Fountainhead, the architect-hero Howard Roark is disgusted when a committee seeks to stick an ancientist front door at the bottom of his modernist skyscraper.  But I think this front door, at any rate as shown in the film they made of The Fountainhead, improved things.  It certainly made it easier to see where the front door actually was, which is often hard with totally modernist buildings, and used for about a decade to be impossible.  Ancientism evolved a way of handling front doors in a way that makes sense to all, and there is no more virtue in destroying these ground-level conventions than there is in abolishing English and trying to replace it with Esperanto.

Besides which, buildings are often hated, to begin with, for the very thing that causes them at a later date to be loved, namely their distinctiveness and their oddity.  Think of the Eiffel Tower, which at first was greatly disliked.  My guess is that much the same will apply to the above Cardiff oddity.

I also believe that the Carbuncle-Cup-winning Walkie Talkie will in the fullness of time mutate from Carbuncle to National Treasure.  I visited that building today.  More about that visit Real Soon Now, maybe, I promise nothing.

Sunday January 10 2016

For the purposes of this posting, bike fishing means fishing for bikes.  Not: fishing while on a bike.

As already noted here before Christmas, Amusing Planet has become a regular internet spot for me.  I especially liked this report, complete with photos like this:

image

Favourite line in the report:

Bike fishing has become one of Amsterdam’s unique tourist attraction.

My immediate reaction was: So, anyone can do it?  Do you need a license?  But what they really mean, presumably, is just standing there and watching while somebody else does the bike fishing.

A bike fishing competition might be really something.  And it still might be if it was fishing while on a bike.

Other recent favourite Amusing Planet posting: The Lady of the North.

Friday January 08 2016

I’m still catching up with some of the things I did last summer, even though it is now next year.  My gaff my rules.  In particularly, I still have finished reporting on Richmond Park.

Richmond Park is the very picture of unthreatening sweetness and light, especially on the sort of day it was when me and GD2 paid our visit to it.  But, as regulars here will know, I like to photograph signs, and maps, so that I will know where I’ve been.

In Richmond Park, there are big maps of Richmond Park, like this one:

image

This map is covered with the names of all the various places in Richmond Park.  Most of these names are quite nice, as you can see if you take a closer look (by clicking on it), at this closer-up view of the middle of the above map:

image

Prince Charles’s Spinney, Thompson’s Pond, Sidmouth Wood, and Queen Elizabeth’s Plantation, they all sound nice enough, in keeping with the suburban niceness of the place.  Although, I suppose “plantation” might suggest slavery.

But some of these names speak of a different and grimmer past.  How about, to take a closer look at some of them, names like these:

imageimage

Suddenly, Richmond Park becomes more like the sort of landscape that brings to mind, say, Vincent Price’s chilling enactment of the Witchfinder General.

Names like those two suggest interpretations that are probably far worse than the truth, of names like these:

imageimageimage

Spankers are probably just people who chase deer so that the upper classes can kill them for sport.  A saw pit is probably just a pit where sawing (of tree trunks) was done.  And Peg’s Pond is probably just the pond which Peg owned, and fished in.  But, I couldn’t helping thinking that Peg’s Pond was really the pond where Vincent Price made poor Peg swim, thereby proving that she was a witch.  And then she got hanged in one of the two hanging locations named above.

And how about these two names:

image

Bone Copse?  Killcat Corner? What on earth was that about?  Googling told me nothing, but that proves nothing.

Saturday December 26 2015

I did a Samizdata posting earlier today, soliciting help in decyphering a piece of text in a photo.  Earlier this month I photoed this lady holding up a message for the lady she was videoing to read.  Trouble is, the text was in something that looked like it was Russian.

According to Samizdata commenter Alex, the text is Kazakh.  It would appear that the lady being videoed was making a video message for her sister.  I expect further details to follow.

Ah, Kazakhstan.  Known in Britain mostly for being the home of Borat.

As it happens there’s a Borat photo I’ve been meaning to stick up here, of Borat on the back of a bus.  Here is that photo, on the right below, together with another Borat related photo which is one of my all time favourite snaps.  I took this Borats-plural photo, on the left here, in Piccadilly, on March 9th 2007, and it has been shown here already, on the day after it was taken.  The Borat on the bus photo was taken on March 14th, and is being shown here for the first time:

imageimage

Click to see these photos bigger.

When I googled for more serious Kazakhstan information, the most interesting info I found was definitely this.  Blog and learn.

Monday December 21 2015

I did a posting at Samizdata in 2012, about a trip I made to One New Change, but I don’t believe I ever displayed this photo, which I took soon after visiting the top of that excellent venue:

image

It is quite clear that this is a drycleaners.  Its name, alas, is not, in my photo, quite so clear.

Photo of this enterprise taken without my deliberate and rather malicious mistake here.

I have just got back from a party at Mchael J’s, having failed to do anything here before departing to it, and this was all I could manage.

But, I can add this.  During that party Michael said, while travel-talking about the Middle East:

The thing you have to remember about that part of the world is that Hezbollah are the good guys.

I think he was talking about Syria, but I could be wrong.  It was a good party.

Perry de Havilland also said something else very funny, but I have forgotten what it was.  It was a good party.

Good night.  Sleep well.  I will.

Saturday December 05 2015

Blatant quota photo, in the form of an interestingly informative vehicle snapped by me earlier this evening:

image

Shame about the superfluous piece of punctuation.

Earlier, my host and his guests were chuckling at a big flag host had in his living room, which said: DONT TREAD ON ME.  For DONT read DON’T.

Shame the apostrophe cannot somehow be transferred from the car to the flag, thereby bringING (see comment) the grammar universe into alignment.

Back to the car: COMERCIAL is missing an M.

None of which should be brought up if he is rescuing you and your vehicle from a predicament.

And, I bet this posting contains a grammar or spelling mistake, because this is one of the subsections of Sod’s Law.  Whenever you sneer at someone else’s grammar or spelling, yours goes wrong.

Tuesday December 01 2015

Photoed by me, earlier this evening:

image

This is my regular laundrette.

There seems to me to be something doom-laden about these messages. 

LAST WASH: 6.45PM

CLOSE: 8PM

MERRY CHRISTMAS.

And may God have mercy upon your soul.

It’s the severity and coldness of the machines and the negativity of the news about that wash, after which no further washes may be washed, and about the close, after which the rest is silence.  In most other circumstances those merry wishes would be cheerfully inconsequential.  But not these ones.  They too seem to be spoken with funerial gloom, in a way that portends a Christmas which will, this time, be anything but merry.

Christmas is coming and you’d better watch out
Milo Yiannopoulos
Bell end?
Architecture as modified cliché
Van Morrison
Memo to self about not letting blog postings get out of hand inside my head …
Now I know what a Mews is
Londres
Trois Citroens (et deux chevaux)
Where punctuation might have helped
Credit where credit is due (in France)
A man taking a Selfie before it was A Thing (and me taking a picture of him)
Out and about with GD1 (3): Baritone borrows my charger
Paul Johnson on Mozart and Da Ponte
OK
Another quota sign
Magic clarified
BMdotcom abusive comment of the day
Photoing the old London model
Anthrozoology
BMdotcom What if? of the day
BMdotcom (mathematical (and sporting)) quote of the day
Database blues
Early tries by my guys
Pavarotti could not read music (very well)
Fuck the duck until exploded
MicheldeMontaigne.fr
Is it practise or practice?  (And: would perfect communication actually be perfect?)
Sign with sarcastic sneer quotes
Xxxx-ie outside Xxxx-ridges
God was overheating and now needs radical transplant surgery (and Dawkins now has to do my email)
Quota selfie from 2006
What to call the sneerquote Salesforce /sneerquote tower? (plus a quite profound tangent)
TfL electronic signs (etc.)
GARBAGE SHED AND JUMP INTO THE SEA IS PROHIBITED
Emmanuel Todd talking in English (about how the Euro is doomed)
The joyful excitement of the Festival lyrique international de Belle-Île-en-Mer
Chinos?
Premier League soccer news
Two badly lit views of “Victoria Tower” and why Big Ben is not St Stephen’s Tower or Elizabeth Tower
Sorry for the outage last night
JK Rowling describes two rich girls
Boris Johnson’s London
Big Things on a better day
Comrade Blimp
Friend on telly
Sidwell (and me) on selfies
Fat bastard!
Heroes?
Hampers can be annoying
TIL
Monty Panesar: “I piss on your short pitched fast deliveries aimed at my body!”
The Alex Singleton blog
The right sentences but not necessarily in the right order
There are cranes and there are cranes
BMdotCOM mixed metaphor of the day
So painters also used to “take” pictures
The ups and downs of English
Kissa yrittää mennä laatikkoon
Literally the light switch of leadership
BMdotCOM Headline of the week
Thrashing India
Choosing a Clean Food Outlet in Lawas is as easy as ABC
Emmanuel Todd’s latest book - in English
Misspelt (correction: Italian) signs of the times
Multilingual signage
Excellent new word
Pronouncing on the Six Nations
BM.com quote of the day
More signage
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom spam comment spelling mistake of the day
The Humpty Dumpty Learning Channel
Obamanomics dod not work
English will not last for ever shock
Another strangely punctuated headline and a depressing television play
K Street - metonym - synecdoche
To Serve Man
Reading various bits of Roger Kimball
I flipping told him
Brian Sickle-feather?
Sounds like a brothel with film star lookalikes
One of the many signs of aging
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom modified cliche insult of the day
Stepping forward into the abyss!
Old-school media versus (or becoming) new-school media (again)
All your Quite Interesting questions answered
What a difference a g makes
Spelling Micklethwait wrong and Googling for Brian Micklethwaite
Inappropriate?
Long platform ticket
I am not drunk - I just didn’t know what to put so I just started
Some neologistics
Excellent mixed metaphor
I need to get out less
“I will cause a boy that driveth a plough to know more of the scriptures than thou dost.”
Metaphor muddle alert
Brought?
Today I have been blogging elsewhere and also doing other things
Computer blues
Signs of civilisation
It’s true what they say about how hard it is to pronounce Chinese – oh beansprouts!
New word alert
Robots will transform education
On the appeal or lack of it to Young Europeans of “capitalism”
When inimitable means very imitable
Today I ate something that disagreed with me
Refuting decimation