Miep Gies dead vs Lady Gaga ill

15 January 2010 0
In a BBC news report on the death of Miep Gies last week, the reporter decided to cite the fact that Gies’s name was among the days “trending topics” on Twitter as evidence of how she helped keep the story of the persecution of the Jews by the Nazis alive. I’m not railing against this, ...

Learnings from sci fi

14 January 2010 0
Watching Spider-Man recently, I noticed that it’s an interesting example of the evolving language of sci fi. In the original 1960s comic books, Peter Parker got his spidery powers after being bitten by a “radioactive” spider. In the 2002 film (which, by the way, I hold to be awesome), the spider is no longer radioactive ...

All I want for Christmas is swearing

17 December 2009 0
I’m glad to see that Rage Against The Machine are lapping up the publicity from the impromptu internet campaign for their 1992 song Killing In The Name to beat that boy off the X Factor to the Christmas number one. There’s a great clip here of Rage performing the song on BBC Radio 5 Live. ...

Euphemism corner

15 December 2009 0
Is condom a rude word? If I go into Boots to buy condoms, I have to go to the “Family Planning” section, then when I get my receipt it lists them as “Chemist Goods”. “Family Planning” is a particularly interesting euphemism. The point of condoms is quite the opposite of family planning, surely? It should ...

Taxing stuff

09 December 2009 0
The Guardian is asking for the help of tax experts among its readership to help unravel Tony Blair’s finances. He’s earned millions since leaving office, through what the paper delicately describes as “an unusual mix of income streams”. Others, it claims (not sure who) have described his finances as “opaque” and “Byzantine”. I’m not that ...

Branding abuse

27 November 2009 0
When you give something a name, you don’t necessarily get to decide what people are going to call it. It’s more a case of proposing a name, which the public can then accept, reject or subvert. Recently Newcastle United’s hallowed ground St James’ Park was renamed Sportsdirect.com@ St James’ Park. There are plenty of better ...

There’s no alternative

20 November 2009 2
Dominic Lawson has some interesting points to make about offensive comedy, which I was writing about a couple of weeks back, in this Independent article. But my favourite bit is his aside about alternative medicine: “Either medicine works, having passed the usual tests, or it doesn’t. If ‘alternative medicine’ works then it isn’t alternative; and ...

Thinking much too hard about a lower case ‘h’

05 November 2009 0
I received a text message today from the National Blood Service. It reads as follows: hi, really hope you can give blood again… see our mailing or visit our website for details… thanks for your support! I’m guessing the nice people at the NBS wanted me to respond by thinking, “I’d better go and give ...

The offence epidemic

03 November 2009 0
Never mind swine flu, it seems to me that the major public health threat of the day is an epidemic of taking – or claiming to take – ‘offence’ at things we see and hear in the media. Mass offence has been triggered in recent months by the writings, utterances and actions of Russell Brand, ...