Sunday, 11 February 2018

Euphemisms (in Quotes) 9

I am firm, you are obstinate, he is a pig-headed fool.
I am righteously indignant, you are annoyed, he is making a fuss over nothing.
I have reconsidered the matter, you have changed your mind, he has gone back on his word.
I have an independent mind, You are eccentric, He is round the twist.
I give confidential press briefings; you leak; he's being charged under section 2A of the Official Secrets Act.
(Bertrand Russell)

"Independent" is the new word for "extremely opaquely-funded". (@mrdavidwhitley)

I guess “overly offended” means not a racist, homophobic douche? (FB)

"We don’t know what the rules are” is always, always code for “your rules don’t matter to me”. (Charlotte Lydia Riley @lottelydia)

I used to describe him as exciting and dynamic, but now I feel flaky and selfish fits more. (

Why even bother using phrases like “the standing of western civilization and it’s classical roots”? By this point, we all know that’s thinly veiled code for “white supremacy.” (@donnazuck)

Now that my retirement is coming up, she has been making noises about “Grandma bonding with the grandbabies,” meaning they want to stop paying for their expensive day care by making me do it for free. (

Multilingual white children: oh so clever!
Multilingual brown & black children: a burden on schools etc.

I invested in @VirginCare to help transform the NHS for the better and to improve patient and employee experience. (Richard Branson He means “privatization”.)

God, tweeple today, you're a nasty bunch of moral fascists with no belief in redemption, shades of grey, irony or forgiveness! (Libby Purves on the Toby Young scandal. According to Andrew Lilico, Toby Young is “edgy” and “gauche”. He tweeted about w***ing over pictures of starving children.)

Consult: To perform a con trick that insults the people on the receiving end. (@cowanrob)

Alex Salmond to MP Mhairi Black: I’m sure Taz will take you out to go shopping or something at some point and you’ll find your own style. (Translation: Wear a skirt.)

How brands repurpose influencer content, Five unique ways brands can repurpose evergreen content, How to Repurpose Video Content Marketing Ideas for Brand Awareness… Is it anything like rebooting a franchise? Oh, “influencer content” is pix and videos by people you pay to boost your products in an apparently neutral forum like Instagram, Youtube etc.

Time to speak ill of the dead. I was once at a fundraiser dinner with Max Clifford. Having asked me if I was gay, he spent a few minutes being slightly old fashioned (well, massively homophobic). So I asked him “And what do you do?” and he got really cross that he had to explain. (Adam Kay‏ @amateuradam)

Stephen Ward, the society osteopath, introduced lucky young women into polite society, or in harsher terms procured girls like Christine Keeler for his rich clients such as Lord Astor. (Jane Kelly on Conservative Woman)

Executive Homes are never in Vibrant Areas. (Jaimie Shorten)

Dastyari says the tape of press conference “shocked me” because it didn’t match his recollection. (@PatsKarvelas)
Code for: 'I was shocked that someone recorded what I actually said so it hasn't allowed me to deny it.' (@RodgerShanahan)

I covered the campaign last year. Over and over men insinuated that women's analysis of HRC's candidacy were "biased," or "subjective," or "opinion." When women wrote about Hillary, it was a "feminist take." When men wrote about Hillary, it was "the truth." (@CharlotteAlter)

"I have some concerns" = I will vote yes
"I'm not yet satisfied with this bill" = I will vote yes
"I’m not opposed to tax reform, but we need to do it right" = I will vote yes
"I am currently a no vote" = I will vote yes

Business analyst Emma Sheldrick offers some useful translations. "Manage our stakeholders," she explains, means "placate the people who are asking the intelligent questions about why something is being done"; while "Update our stakeholder matrix" really signifies "we need to take off the people who disagree with the task at hand and find some new ones who agree." (Guardian Nov 2017)

Miss Markle is a very interesting person. (Sky News Royal Correspondent, adding that she’s biracial and anti-Trump.)
Meghan grew up in the Valley, a leafy middle-class area. (Sky News)
And here are the Daily Mail's euphemisms for "black" today... (Alex von Tunzelmann) “Gang-scarred home of Meghan’s mother revealed… gangs… bloods… territory… run-down area… social worker… gang-afflicted…”

If you’ve already seen a significant sample of “borderline-racist” (which is usually just racist) posts from her public profile… (Mallory Ortberg)

You really have to laugh at the Tories as they say we can have better employment rights, higher environmental standards, improved citizens rights when we leave EU. These Tories have been attacking these rights and standards for years calling them red-tape & burdens on business. (@AngelaRayner)

I have been called ‘bubbly’, ‘peppy’, ‘cheery’, ‘excitable’ by male academics. I do not think I am actually especially any of these things. (Charlotte Lydia Riley‏ @lottelydia Women were also told they “came across as abrupt” and “masculine”.)

No-one says "Islam isn't a race" unless they're trying to negotiate some points-free racism. (Keir Hardie‏ @scatterkeir)

“Layers of crude and distorting old overpaints were removed and losses were sensitively and minimally inpainted,” says Christie’s report on Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi. The restorer stabilised the picture, removed most of the later overpaint and fillings, and made cosmetic changes to bring it back closer to Leonardo’s original. (

Those who voted Leave largely didn’t do so for economic reasons. It was a question of values: a desire for steady work, family and community. The majority of people are quietly conservative. Labour won’t win until we understand that. @blue_labour (Family: heterosexual nuclear family. Community: white people. Perhaps.)

More here, and links to the rest.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Received Ideas in Quotes 7

Visiting Blenheim Palace over Christmas, some friends were shown a portrait that contained not only the man who commissioned it but another person who had been added to enhance the atmosphere. The guide explained that the man who commissioned it had refused to pay the artist because portraits were charged by the limb and the more limbs, the more expensive the picture. This, he said, is where the expression “it costs an arm and a leg” comes from. (Daniel Finkelstein Times Jan 2018)

One of the Eurostar tunnelling machines lies buried off to the side halfway across. They drilled from each end with different machines because of different predominant geology and had to get one machine out of the path of the other. (FB)

13th century Scottish philosopher and theologian Duns Scotus recommended wearing a conical hat to stimulate your brain and increase your intelligence. This could be why wise wizards are often portrayed wearing pointy hats and why a dunce cap is pointed. (Adam Pidgeon @CineLore)

Dessert is for nuts and fruits after the table has been cleared. Deserted. (FB)

I took a class once on Classical Chinese where we learned how the Dao de Jing didn’t start out that gnomic and mysterious, it’s just that scribes kept dropping out “filler words” to save their hands cramping. (Arthur Chu ‏@arthur_affect)

The ‘h’ in ‘ghost‘ is a historical hiccup. William Caxton, having first practised his trade in Flanders, brought Flemish typesetters back to England to help set up his printing press - they lobbed an ‘h’ into English ‘gost’ because their own native word was ‘gheest’. (@susie_dent)

The most known theatre superstition, "Don't whistle on stage – you'll blow yourself out and the devil in", has its background in lighting. In the baroque era you could mess up the whistled lighting commands, and and in the gaslight era that could mean danger of explosion. (@EevaTenkanen)

Vegetarians just love to be asked “But what do you actually eat?” and quizzed over and over about which meat products they miss the most. (They always answer bacon sandwich; it’s a stock reply.) (

A lot of my clients… thought they were getting bad service because they’ve been told “everyone knows Parisians are rude”. (

Orwell’s guide to the English language is a “misconceived and blundering polemic”. (Oliver Kamm)

Flint was brought North as ballast in ships and dumped in the sea to make way for a return cargo - coal. (Wouldn’t it be more cost-effective to take a cargo north?)

Chasing 'masculine' work goals can prevent women from conceiving, warns fertility guru Fiona Kacz-Boulton. She says women's bodies cannot behave 'in feminine ways if they act masculine' Female bankers and software engineers struggle to conceive, figures show. (Daily Mail)

Others place the toes on a line drawn on the floor of the House of Commons intended to keep at a safe distance opposing gents with swords. There are such lines, but no Speaker has ever been recorded ordering Hon. members to ‘Toe the line!’ (Spectator)

Typos? They're good. Think of medieval cathedrals or Islamic carpets left deliberately imperfect, against hubris of imitating God... (Prof Jackie Cassell‏ @jackiecassell)

Catherine Elwas Thomas, writing in Boston around 1830, went to great lengths to prove that nursery rhyme characters were based on real people. (

In the 19th century the story began to gain currency that the rhyme is actually about Thomas Horner, who was steward to Richard Whiting, the last abbot of Glastonbury before the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII of England. The story is reported that, prior to the abbey's destruction, the abbot sent Horner to London with a huge Christmas pie which had the deeds to a dozen manors hidden within it as a gift to try to convince the King not to nationalize Church lands. During the journey Horner opened the pie and extracted the deeds of the manor of Mells in Somerset, which he kept for himself. It is further suggested that, since the manor properties included lead mines in the Mendip Hills, the plum is a pun on the Latin plumbum, for lead. (Wikipedia)

According to Bobby Pickett himself, the “graveyard smash” part of Monster Mash is explicitly about vandalizing military cemeteries. (Stefan Heck‏ @boring_as_heck)

Wilfred Pickles was chosen as a BBC announcer during the war because the Germans would have difficulty imitating his accent if they tried to broadcast pretending it was genuine BBC material. (Via

Posh people go and see Shakespeare and come home talking in iambic pentameters. (youtube)

More here, and links to the rest.