I was reading a story on the BBC News website about parents trying to force schools to ban certain books.
The article features a quote from an author who wrote a series of books entirely in text-speak:
"It is so revealing to me the vituperativeness they address me with. They are angry,"
I could make a decent guess on the meaning of vituperativeness but I decided to google it to confirm my suspicions. Out of the first 20 hits on Google, all but one were dictionaries or similar word-related sites, most of them containing the same definition (harshly abusive censure). Google only found 3870 results, suggesting it isn't a word which normal people use in everyday conversation. I suspect the author, Lauren Myracle, said it to prove she knows longer words than those used in text-speak.
Proof that the Daily Mail is stuck in some kind of time warp. Apparently 1966 was only 33 years ago.
The rest of the column discusses other events of the year, such as John Lennon claiming The Beatles were more popular than Jesus, and the England winning the World Cup.
Q: When Halley's Comet reappeared in 1969, that winter a flu epidemic killed more than 60,000 people in Britain. In 2008 Comet Nostradamus (and others) passed by, and now we face a flu pandemic. Is this mere coincidence, or were the ancients right to fear comets as bad omens and bringers of pestilence? What other natural disasters have been attributed to comets?
An interesting question, and one which is wrong on almost every level. The question's author may be referring to the theory of panspermia, where micro-organisms or disease can be brought to Earth by comets. Unfortunately the question gets pretty much everything else wrong.
Halley's comet did not appear in 1969. It was around in 1910 and again in 1986. I can't find any record of a Comet Nostradamus. There is a bright comet every few years - they aren't that rare so claiming co-incidence doesn't really make sense. Also the Earth passes through comet dust several times per year. The major meteor showers are associated with dust and debris from comets. If comets were all full of germs and pestilence, then there would be major outbreaks several times per year.
At least the questioner didn't claim the world was going to end in 2012.
I spotted this on the BBC News site. From the page:
When officials asked for the Welsh translation of a road sign, they thought the reply was what they needed. Unfortunately, the e-mail response to Swansea council said in Welsh: "I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated".
We were watching the BBC Breakfast News this morning and there was a story about Tesco opening a supermarket in the USA. We had the subtitles on because it wasn't easy to hear the reporter over the crunch of cereal.
The story was about Tesco trying to break into the American market by offering a range of affordable and healthy foods. We saw a customer carrying a punnet of fruit. The subtitles referred to the Man with the neck tureens. I suppose they'd be handy for carrying soup around...
According to a local news story, adults in Coventry know more about healthy eating than adults in other cities.
Seventy-five per cent of parents in the city understand about the recommended five-a-day fruit and veg portions, compared to just 60 per cent in Manchester and Liverpool, and 67 per cent in London.
Only nine per cent of Coventry parents could not name anything that counts as one healthy portion.
I'm sure the ignorant 9% must shop in our local ASDA, where the cake and biscuit aisles are twice the length of the fruit and veg aisles. But seriously, how could a so-called 'grown up' not be able to name a piece of fruit? Have they not heard of an apple? a banana? an orange? It's a miracle we aren't in the middle of a scurvy or rickets crisis.
Recently I've been finding it ridiculously easy to eat 5 portions of fruit during the day. A glass of juice, a banana, a few pieced of dried fruit, and that's it. Whenever Julian Graves have their half price offers, I stock up with assorted packets of dried fruit. 2 dried figs, 3 dried apricots, 5 prunes: not the start of the 12 fruits of Christmas but each counts towards the 5 portions per day.
Earlier this year, a sculpture was erected in the middle of a roundabout in Stratford-upon-Avon. It depicts an armillary, which apparently is some kind of ancient astronomical tool.
For Christ's sake, it's only a sculpture. It's not obscene or pornographic or anything which should warrant such vitriol. The worst it could do is liven up a dull roundabout. Get a sense of perspective. If that's the worst thing happening in Stratford at the moment, then you are a very lucky town indeed. Otherwise, you are all a sad bunch of bastards and you should get a life.
I remembered reading a news story recently about how local councils plan to introduce 'Bin Police' to enforce strict recycling policies and to stop people from throwing away recyclable material. I was wondering how such a policy could be enforceable when around here, people regularly throw rubbish into our bin. It happened again this morning when someone had moved our bin a few yards down the road and filled it with cardboard.
Funnily enough, when I tried to check a reference for the 'bin police' story, the only mention I could find was the new newspaper where I originally read it, the good old Daily Mail. Now I'm not too sure about the veracity of the story. You can sum up a typical issue of the Mail as follows:
OUTRAGE FOREIGNERS OUTRAGE LABOUR GOVERNMENT OUTRAGE IMMIGRANTS OUTRAGE RESTRICTIVE LAWS OUTRAGE ERRODING CIVIL LIBERTIES OUTRAGE DESTROYING OUR WAY OF LIFE OUTRAGE
displaying a journalistic flair for working itself up in a lather with very little regard for any actual facts. So I think I'll take the story with a pinch of salt.
Good old Mail on Sunday, carrying the baton of outrage... After yesterdays story about people not knowing the origins of foodstuffs, we now get a story about the new 'Whole Foods Market' supermarket which has opened in London. I really wasn't expecting two completely different stories highlighting food ignorance and apathy in Britain.
To test out the new shop, they sent two people along:
Food writer Tom Parker Bowles, and the woman who shot to fame by shoving burgers through the school railings during the Jamie Oliver school dinners campaign. She claims to be championing freedom of choice when she really seems to mean freedom to feed unhealthy crap to their kids, freedom to fail to educate them about healthy food, freedom to encourage bad eating habits which will eventually kill them
There were some good quotes from her in the article. She seemed puzzled as to why more than one cheese existed, having only ever bought cheddar herself:
As for all those goat's cheeses, you must be kidding. Who would want to eat something that smelt of goat?
Hmmm. When even chavs-choice supermarket Asda manages to sell goat's cheese, how can someone who shops at Morrison's be so sceptical of it. I don't think Goat's cheese smells of goat - that's like saying ordinary cheese smells of cow. I don't know if she's been mis-quoted by the paper but when I read that I thought: 'what a moron'.
Further down the article she expressed incredulity that anyone would buy bread with fruit or vegetables in. Has she never heard of a fruit loaf? or bread with onions in? (I was going to mention olive bread but that's obviously foreign muck and she wouldn't be interested in that)
I won't say much about Tom Parker Bowles experience in the shop, suffice to say he seemed to drool over most of the specialist foods and liked the place.
There is a story in today's Daily Mail which reports how most adults have no idea where food comes from. According to the article, adults were asked if they knew whether the ingredients used to produce certain foods could be produced in Britain.
22% of adults didn't realise that sausages and bacon could be made from 'ingredients' produced in Britain.
One third didn't know that the same was true for omelettes. The article didn't elaborate whether they knew that omelettes were made from eggs or not. According to a similar study of children, which was also mentioned in the article, bacon comes from sheep and cows lay eggs.
OK, this was in the Daily Mail which is famous for it's We're going to Hell in a hand cart school of journalism but it's frightening to think that there are so many stupid adults in the country. Actually, a quick stroll around the streets near here would let you know that there are a lot of stupid people around, but even stupid people should know where bacon comes from.