Words Words Words

This is a great post from Valerie Davies – a journalist of 50 years experience, celebrating some of the great phrases which surround us in daily life:

William Shakespeare was ‘the onlie begetter’ of those words, which have been in my mind in this month of poetry.

I’ve discovered that in the United States, very few children learn poetry by heart any more, and I suspect that the same is true of education in most Anglo- Saxon cultures. I think it’s a shame… my mind still teams with the phrases and rhymes,  and the glorious words of poets and prayers learned throughout my distant childhood. They sustain me in good times and in bad… and though there’s so much beautiful ....

Nutrition Trend Nonsense

Joe Bennett this week on nutrition, as published in the Otago Daily Times:

I WAS going to write something earnest about I no longer remember what —Venezuelan architecture, perhaps, or the moral ramifications of string theory (and, boy, does someone need to address that some time!) — but then I remembered my vow.

Last week, you see, I was asked to talk on the radio about this and that. The this turned out to be Trump, which was fine, but the that turned out to be — wait for it — ‘‘ the healthy food trends predicted for 2017’’ .

And I’m afraid that when I heard that sentence I felt a surge of such strong emotion that it overwhelmed my little hippocampus, and the hipp....

A Note on "adjacent humour". Almost puns that scorch

Sunken flagship: Samsung’s meltdown

Having failed to fix the problem, the world’s largest smartphone-maker now must limit the damage. Samsung yesterday ended production of its troubled Galaxy Note 7 handset, which had a tendency to overheat and catch fire. The fiasco harms the South Korean giant in three ways. The first is financial: Samsung had expected to sell as many as 20m units of the large-screen Note 7 over its lifetime, worth $17 billion. Now it must pay to sort out the mess. Second, the popular Note sub-brand is toast, and Samsung’s reputation for quality, reliability and manufacturing expertise has been burned too. That may dent sales of its other products. Third, Samsung....

You say Potato…..

Similarities in Language

IN ENGLISH, the object on your face that smells things is called a “nose”, and, if you are generously endowed, you might describe it as “big”. The prevailing belief among linguists had been that the sounds used to form those words were arbitrary. But new work by a team led by Damian Blasi, a language scientist at the University of Zurich, and published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that may not be true—and that the same sounds may be used in words for the same concepts acro....

Shakespeare in China

Karl Marx loved Shakespeare; his writings are peppered with quotations, analogies, and references to the Bard’s work. But Communist China did not. Shakespeare made his way to China first in the early years of the 1900s as Tales from Shakespeare, which the book author styled as stories of “gods and spirits,” and which enjoyed a fair amount of popularity with the cultural elite. That all changed with coming to power of Chairman Mao and the simultaneous beginning of the “Cultural Revolution”: his wife, the unofficial cultural secretary began a swift campaign of excising any work of art that did not meet ideological standards. The ban lasted ten years.

On this day, May 25, ....

Oxford English Dictionary–First Volume–Published

1884 – 1st February – The first volume (A to Ant) of the Oxford English Dictionary was published. James Murray was its most famous editor but he had only reached the letter T after working 44 hours per week for 35 years, so hundreds of people sent in their own contributions.

Back in 1857,  members of the Philological Society of London decided that existing English language dictionaries were incomplete and deficient, and called for a complete re-examination of the language from Anglo-Saxon times onward.  They knew they were embarking on an ambitious project. However, even they didn’t realize the full extent of the work they initiated, or how long it would take to ac....

Are Millennials the Slouching Beast?

The widening gyre of heavy-handed allusions to Yeats’s “The Second Coming.”


An undated photo of Yeats by the Bain News Service

A recent Russia Today headline suggests that Europe is “slouching towards anxiety and war.” According to the title of Robert Bork’s latest best seller, the United States is Slouching Towards Gomorrah. A new book by W. C. Harris, an English professor, claims we’re Slouching Towards Gayt....

Not Just a Writer

118 years today since Lewis Carroll passed away.  The author of the quirky Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, he also penned the poem’s Jabberwocky and The Hunting of the Snark, examples of the genre of literary nonsense. His writing was all under the pen name of Lewis Carroll, although his real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson.

During his early youth, Dodgson was educated at home. His “reading lists” preserved in the family archives testify to a precocious intellect: at the age of seven, he was reading books such as The Pilgrim’s Progress. He also suffered from a stammer – a condition sh....

An Interesting Tool

This tool is produced by Gnod (The Global Network of Discovery) In its own words it is a “self-adapting system that learns about the outer world by asking its visitors what they like and what they don’t like.”

There are three sections, music, literature and movies.

Put an author in the search bar and it will give you a map of authors with a similar style who other people read. When you choose another author on that map, it refines the search in that direction.

The music section is a search engine for music you don’t know about. It will ask you what music you like and then think about what you might like too.

The same applies with movies.


A Plea regarding “Liberal”


This essay appears in the Summer 2015 issue of Modern Age.

Here I make a plea, addressed to conservatives and libertarians, regarding the word liberal: please do not describe leftists, progressives, social democrats, or Democrats as “liberal.” I do not ask that you describe yourself as “liberal.” Continue to call yourself “conservative” or “libertarian.” I propose only a single step: don’t call leftists “liberal.” By this single step, we can make ....

Jay Gould – Surprisingly Unsurprising

“Dark Genius of Wall Street: The Misunderstood Life of Jay Gould, King of the Robber Barons” 2006
by Edward J. Renehan Jr.

Few businessmen – ever – and that is not an exaggeration or statement made for effect – have been as roundly vilified over every aspect of their existence as US gilded era success story Jay Gould. Quite simply the man was scorned and derided as the most evil monster US business had ever produced.

Now perhaps long forgotten and, outside of those with an interest in US financial history and the origins of modern Wall Street few know much of him. Yet his wealth upon his untimely death matched that of Bill Gates today and his ....

Active Active?

This article by Gina Barreca takes a proactive, impactful look at words she despises:


Although I love language, there are certain words that make me break out in hives. I have an allergic reaction when I see or hear them: I shiver as my temperature rises, I turn a mottled shade somewhere between mauve and crimson and my jaw clamps shut.

Like poison ivy, these often appear in clumps. Most recently, I’ve walked into thickets and groves of the following toxic terms: “disrupt” “cohort,” “synergy,” “lifestyle,” “wheelhouse” “iconic,” “branding” “curated,” “vocali....

The Owl and the Pussycat

BWG’s Moments in History

1812www.beautifulbritain.co.uk– The birth of Edward Lear, English artist, illustrator, author, and poet. In 1846 Lear published A Book of Nonsense, a volume of limericks that went through three editions and in 1867 he published his most famous piece of nonsense, The Owl and the Pussycat.

Known principally for his popular nonsense collections of poems, songs, short stories, botanical drawings, recipes, and alphabets, he also composed and published twelve musical settings of Tennyson’s poetry.



Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor

BWG’s Moments in History

1597 – The Merry Wives of Windsor is first performed on the 23rd April,  with Queen Elizabeth I of England in attendance.

A comedy, it was first published in 1602, though believed to have been written prior to 1597. The Windsor of the play’s title is a reference to Windsor Castle in Berkshire, England, and though nominally set in the reign of Henry IV, the play makes no pretence to exist outside contemporary Elizabethan era English middle class life. It features the character Sir John Falstaff, the fat knight who had previously been featured in Henry IV Parts 1 and 2.  It has bee....

What immortal hand or Fry

In a recent well circulated interview (broad circulation via social media) Stephen Fry recently laid out in strident tones key arguments as to why the standard notion of God and his or her character is largely preposterous.  In at least some senses the romantic poet Blake may well have preceded him by several hundred years.

The Tiger

TIGER, tiger, burning bright

In the forests of the night,

What immortal hand or eye

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?


In what distant deeps or skies


Best Do More Reading

Robert F Bruner is Dean of the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia and a renowned commentator. He is erudite in the extreme and ever stimulating to read. He is also, unsurprisingly an avid reader. This piece explains his how and why in respect of the critical need to be “a reader”.


There once was an enterprise leader who boasted that he read nothing: no books, periodicals, blogs, nothing. He claimed that this kept his mind pure of the conventional thinking that would be inimical to his foresight and originality. He was a boring dinner companion: highly opinionated on a narrow range of subjects and given to superficial exclamations on important issues beyo....

History as a work of fiction–does it matter?

In the years following world war II a large number of writers wrote a large number of books chronicling numerous aspects of the war and various “adventures”. Amongst the most prolific of authors was Paul Brickhill and arguably his two most read works were The Dam Busters and The Great Escape with the latter becoming an equally popular film. These works formed something of a cornerstone in the WW II value set as well as imprinting “versions” of events associated with each escapade.