December 31, 2016

The ninme Guide to Surviving 2016

First off, don’t watch Reality Television. If fewer people did, imagine where we’d be right now, eh? That includes the news. Maybe it shouldn’t be compared to reality TV but if they’re going to treat it as such, then we should ignore it. Maybe if we picked a newspaper and stuck to the written word… Would things be less ridiculous? Anyway. Here’s how I got through it all!


There was so much great television this year, plus some stuff I caught up on from before, or finally finished. All of these have writers who got paid for writing words that were well written.

• Detectorists – It’s on Netflix. It looks like something you wouldn’t be into (it looks like something I wouldn’t be into), but it’s so, so good. It’s just lovely. We watched it in The Throes of That Voting Thing That Happened This Year and it was perfect. I miss it.

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee – Yes, Jerry Seinfeld’s web show. Each episode is between 16 and 23 minutes long. It’s just people being funny and nice. There’s ONE episode (I won’t name names; it would be mean) where she (I’ll narrow it down that much) seemed like kind of a fool and I took against her as a person, but basically it’s eight seasons of funny, talented people talking about the thing that they’re best at. We watched it during the summer, as That Voting Thing was going on, and it was a really nice reminder that people are fine, and funny, and the country is large.

• Wolf Hall – I actually watched this last year when it came out but I think more than any other show I’ve ever seen it just wants to be rewatched over and

The Night Manager – So good.

War & Peace – Gorgeous.

Wallander – I mean, you have years worth of a show, each episode being as long as and better than any movie. WHY would people watch the CRAP that’s on television? Kenneth Branagh is just so good. And in the early seasons Tom Hiddleston is in it as one of the lesser cops, and there’s this one scene when he and Ken Branagh walk into a murder scene and the level of acting, ahh, it’s so great. Then Tom Hiddleston got Loki and disappeared from future seasons.

Dicte – Transitioning from English Sweden to Danish Denmark, this show’s on Netflix, it’s got the girlfriend from High Fidelity in it, and it’s just lovely. Yeah there’s murders and crime and whatnot, but the way they look head-on with real honesty at social problems (immigration, racism, money and corruption) without being dicks about it is so unusual (for an American viewer), and all the characters are just really good, flawed, funny individuals trying their best, and every episode makes you feel happier about people.

Foyle’s War – It’s still on! So good.


Hah, I wish. I read some young adult fiction this year, one that I read as a kid and one that I bought at The Child’s book fair. I’m taking an epically long time reading an Icelandic novel (I think the style of writing isn’t working in English, but who knows until I’ve finished).

The Inquisitor’s Tale – The one I just finished. I really liked it. The pacing’s not great in places but you know what, Chaucer’s isn’t either.

Constance – This is a great book, I read it when I was young, but the copy that Amazon sells now is such crap. What’s with the cheap reprints of kids’ books? They don’t even spell Constance right in all instances. Godsake.

The Blackhouse – Scottish. Dark. Really good tho.

Riders – Teehee

Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy – One of these things is not like the other things… I actually started reading this in 2014 but then The Baby happened and I can’t read with that going on. But look! I finished it!

And then there’s a ton of books that I haven’t even cracked open yet. Oh well.

Scented Candles!

Is it the hygge trend? Who knows. Buy a nice one. Light it and put it on your bedside table while you watch TV shows in the middle of the day on your iPad. You’ll feel like Cleopatra. It helps enormously.


I’ve arranged for about 90% of my Christmas presents to be pajamas. I’m done with wearing crappy old t-shirts. Proper pajamas are excellent. You’ll feel like Myrna Loy.


I get that most of this is just a list of distractions from Real Life, diverting attention from What’s Really Important, but what’s really important (small letters) is more important anyway. So, you know what, buy yourself a gift set of miniature bottles of expensive skin care. Don’t save it for a single use before a party (it doesn’t work like that). Just use it. Every day. If you feel like you look better over time, you’ll feel like you’ve cracked some timeless mystery. If it does nothing, you’ll feel smug like you’ve figured that out too, and in the meantime your face, or hands, or elbows, will smell nicer for it.

Plus, it’s fun, and it keeps you in the bathroom for those precious extra minutes that might otherwise be spent wallowing in the misery on Twitter.


You know, if you don’t like someone, and you’ve already made up your mind not to vote for him, or her, you don’t have to read every bad thing written about him, or her. It’ll just make you miserable. Sure, you run the risk of thinking less badly of the person, but who wants their heads filled with poison for another human being? Because it doesn’t really matter what we think. None of us are individually responsible for what happens, and none of us are going to be affected that badly by what happens as a result of what we think. And if we are, we’re in a different sort of trouble entirely.

Basically, I think my credo for 2017 is going to be that we can do better. We don’t have to settle for crap. If the stuff on TV sucks, find something on Netflix. If the politician on TV is upsetting you, turn it off and find someone you like instead. If your house is ugly, plant some roses. Just do something better.

October 15, 2016


Long read:

Commentary – Why College Kids Are Avoiding the Study of Literature
Students wisely reject the humanities when they’re taught badly. There’s a better way. By Gary Saul Morson

Now. Do we think that the (proper) study of literature teaches empathy? Or that the naturally empathetic appreciate literature.

June 24, 2016


We return to this space (hallo! I yet live! my login still works!) to post two links, which, taken together, can, I believe, explain everything that’s gone wrong with the world (and more!).

Vox – The smug style in American liberalism (April 21, 2016) by Emmett Rensin

The Atlantic – Brexit Right (today, June 24), by Yoni Appelbaum

These are both really good and I’m not going to quote either one because RTWTs.

January 17, 2015

Tinsel Town Tops Ten!

Dear god. Ten years.

Anyhoo: I’ve decided to make it easier on myself and just list the ones I have seen. It saves on formatting.

Best picture: The Grand Budapest Hotel. It was good!

Best Director: Wes Anderson. He did a good job!

Best Actor: Nope

Best Actress: Nope

Best Supporting Actor: Nada

Best Supporting Actress: Niente

Best Adapted Screenplay: Nyet

Best Original Screenplay: The Grand Budapest Hotel. I enjoyed this film immensely.

Best Animated Feature: Big Hero 6. It was good. Not as good as The LEGO Movie.

Best Animated Short: Nicht, bitte

Best Cinematography: The Grand Budapest Hotel. It was gorgeous to look at.

Best Costume Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel. Sumptuous.

Best Documentary Short: いえ

Best Film Editing: The Grand Budapest Hotel. It moved along at a great clip.

Best Foreign Language Film: ぜんぜん

Best Make-Up and Hairstyling: The Grand Budapest Hotel AND Guardians of the Galaxy. I’m sick of hot chicks in body paint (“Look! Now she’s an ALIEN!”) so I’ll go for Budapest here, hands down.

Best Music: The Grand Budapest Hotel. Ol’ Wes Baby is good with scores.

Best Production Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel. As I say: Sumptuous.

Best Song: Everything is Awesome. So would have been nominating this film for more awards.

Best Sound: *crickets*

Best Visual Affects: Captain America, Guardians of the Galaxy. Captain America was AWFUL. Guardians was pretty spectacular. So there you go.

Oh and thanks to RC2 for the prompt.

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January 16, 2015


Mark Steyn:

Thus, posterity’s jest. Pre-war Europeans would never have entertained for a moment the construction of mosques from Malmö to Marseilles. But post-war Holocaust guilt, and the revulsion against nationalism and the embrace of multiculturalism and mass immigration, enabled the Islamization of Europe. The principal beneficiaries of the Continent’s penance for the great moral stain of the 20th century turned out to be the Muslims — with the Jews on the receiving end, yet again.



Wheat & Weeds – Hoist By Their Own Petard

It’s only January but we may have the feel-good headline of the year:

Vagina Monologues cancelled because it Excludes Women Without Vaginas.

It seems trans-gender persons feel excluded, so no more of this talk will be tolerated.

So, in this instance, Pre-post-feminism would never have entertained for a moment the construction of an episodic feminist play about men, but guilt and the revulsion against unsafe spaces and the embrace of checked privileges enabled the masculinization of feminism. The principal beneficiaries of new feminism turn out to be men — with women on the receiving end, yet again (as their shows get cancelled).

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October 27, 2014

No Godzilla Jokes Were Made in the Making of This Flood Defense Video

This is so cool (and omg I wouldn’t spend too much time standing in those tunnels):


Fifty metres beneath the teeming megacity of Tokyo is an underworld river system – 6.4km of tunnels, colossal water tanks, massive pillars, giant pumps that remove 200 tonnes of floodwater every second. It’s an engineering marvel built to protect Tokyo against the increasing threat of flooding.

You can download the video here, in case that link breaks later (although then I suppose this link would, too).

(Isn’t it nice how the Australians let the Japanese speak, rather than dub over them?)

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August 11, 2014

That One Plus the Fourth One


I woke up this morning thinking, given current events, it would be nice if not too many people died today.

Poor Robin Williams.

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August 6, 2014

Sniffle XLXIV: Morning Commute Edition

perth train stuck leg

A man in Perth gets his leg wedged between the train and the platform, and ERRBODY rushes to help with their own brute strength (rather than shutting the rail system down all day until men in hi-viz jackets, hardhats and walkie-talkies arrive to dismantle the thing at enormous public cost, as one would imagine happening here, or anywhere else).

“He seemed to be a bit sheepish, because right where he fell was the ‘mind the gap’ writing.”


August 5, 2014


This is such a beautiful idea:

Making the poppies – The Tower of London Remembers

Installing the Poppies – The Tower of London Remembers Project

I suppose if we did it here it would be some sort of ridiculous “crescent of embrace”, or in this case, the “imperial eagle of remembrance,” or something.

Speaking of memorials, I found out about this, for the first time, watching a history documentary the other day, and it made me hideously depressed about our ability to find or create solemn beauty in anything anymore:


It’s hard to read and I can’t find a bigger picture, but it’s the Bayeux Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery, and says, in latin, “Nos a Gulielmo victi victoris patriam liberavimus,” or “We, once conquered by William, have no set free the Conqueror’s land”.

How’s that for a beautiful, solemn and thoughtful grasp of history? (It also strikes me as a very complicated tense structure for the Latin scholars at the time. I wonder if there were fights about the wording?)

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June 26, 2014

Peter Recommends CXLVIII

This is about the bestest thing in the world right now (the story, not the beer, per se):

Stella Artois: Perfectionists: Rufus – The Real Hawk-Eye

More here: Wimbledon Hired A Hawk To Scare The Pigeons Away

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Oh Mo

Preemptive Update!

I wrote this post over a month ago, but then got lazy and didn’t finish the last couple of links (still haven’t, but honestly I think I’ve got the basics covered), but then this morning I saw this Tell Mama link posted below, which made me think a) Oh that’s hilarious, who COULD they mean? and b) I guess the story isn’t totally over so I should just post the damned thing, and not let all that archiving for the ol’ External Memory Drive go to waste.

Tell Mama – A Clarification On Our Work on Anti-Muslim Prejudice

It goes without saying that we at TELL MAMA think anti-Muslim prejudice is a very serious issue. We have seen the impacts on victims of anti-Muslim prejudice first hand and particularly on women and young people. We therefore take all reports of anti-Muslim prejudice very seriously. We also do our very best on the limited resources that we have, to offer the right kind of support for those who have suffered from discrimination on the basis of their faith. However, our work is currently not being helped by those who seek to abuse this social issue for their own political or egotistical ends. …

Nothing fuels the far-right more than the notion that Muslims are seeking a special privileged status for themselves and their religion. It is, therefore, vitally important that Muslims don’t inadvertently give fodder to the far-right by using our organisation to pursue personal vendettas against individuals whom they have had disagreements with.

Anyway, back to the 16th of May…

I don’t usually post about stuff that has little to nothing to do with the US/wider world (I don’t usually post much at all, lately) but I think this story, which I’ve been enjoying immensely on Twitter, is so interesting because the man at the heart of it seems to have invented himself (literally) entirely on Twitter. (And, incidentally, plucky, wonderful Tweetbot has been getting a lot of shoutouts for saving deleted Tweets for later cataloging.) And yet here is a list of media appearances he’s made since his self-invention, taken from his website:

(TV) BBC’s The One Show, Newsnight, ITV Daybreak, Daily Politics, The Big Questions, Sunday Morning Live and Sunday Politics. He has been interviewed on Sky News, BBC News, Channel 4 News, Channel 5 News, BBC World News and a wide variety of international outlets including CNN, ITN, RT, Reuters, Al Jazeera, RTL, France 24 and Australia’s TEN News. (Radio) BBC Radio 4 Any Questions, Claire Balding Sunday Show, the World At One, PM, The Sunday Programme, Beyond Belief, Daily Thoughts, Faith Dialogues, The Asian Network and extensive local/regional programming. 

Some recap for people who haven’t been following, and also, for the external memory drive:

Harry’s Place (June 5, 2013) – Exposing the Pseudo Moderation of Mo Ansar

The Rationalizer (February 19) – Is Mo Ansar an Islamophobicophiliac?

Adrian Hilton (April 15) – Education? Qualification? Publication? No answer from Mo Ansar

(Iain Dale (May 4) – The Truth About Mo Ansar](

Storify (May 8) – .@JeremyDuns and a series of charges against Mo Ansar

Jeremy Duns (May 14) – The Dangerous Mr Ansar (cached version is here)

Milo Yiannopoulis (May 15) – Mo Ansar, the bogus Muslim ‘theologian’ who defends slavery and says Muslims discovered America in AD1000… while claiming benefits and appearing on the BBC

The Rationalizer (May 15) – Who and what exactly is Mo Ansar? <– amazing research.

Spectator podcast (May 15):

And The Spectator (May 17) – How did Mo Ansar become the voice of British Muslims? By Nick Cohen

And here’s a list of qualifications he’s claimed (just to provide symmetry with his list of media appearances, above), as compiled by Milo Yiannopoulos:

• Lawyer
• Lecturer
• Banker
• Imam
• Marriage counsellor
• Visiting lecturer
• Political and social commentator
• Legal advocate
• Educator
• Educationalist
• Speaker
• Grass roots activist
• Civil rights activist
• Social justice activist
• Peace activist
• “Interfaither”
• Theologian
• School governor
• Girls’ cricket team coach
• England and Wales Cricket Board coach
• Equality specialist (“15 years”)
• Equality practitioner “in Parliament”
• Communication specialist
• Child protection expert
• Prison chaplain
• College chaplain
• Professional logician
• Professional Association of Diving Instructors-qualified scuba diver
• “The Muslim Bishop of Southampton”
• Community organiser
• Diversity consultant
• Religious Education practitioner
• School governor
• LGBT activist (“almost a decade”, “15 years”)

Oh and the other reason I’m so happy about this is because nearly the day before it all blew up in his face, he tried turning his followers against India Knight who was in a slightly tipsy rage against some idiot on Twitter and in a single tweet (limit 140 characters, less the amount given to the @names she’s replying to) used the abbreviations “Scot” and “Paki” which (the latter, obvs) he jumped all over her about in at least three separate tweets to make sure everyone heard him, because it’s appallingly racist and whatnot. This included saying he’d written to The Sunday Times and her publisher that they should drop her as a writer. He seems to have deleted those tweets, as well. Asshat.

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June 6, 2014

D-Day 70

click to enlarge

watch big and make sure it’s in HD

Curtsy: CDR Salamander for that Stock Footage video.

The best story today:

[A]n 89-year-old veteran was reported missing by his care home after being told that he couldn’t go to Normandy. …

Sussex police say that the man, who has not been named, was reported missing last night by a nursing home in Hove. He had gone out at 10.30am wearing a grey macintosh and jacket with his war medals.

Police searched the area and checked with hospitals and then the nursing home had a phone call from a “younger” veteran who said he had met the man in question on a coach to France and they were “safe and well in a hotel in Ouistreham”.

Perhaps his “young” friend is a veteran of the Korean war? Anyway, what a guy. Grabbing his medals and sneaking out of his old folks home to turn up on a beach in Normandy.

Honestly, I don’t know how all the wives (not to be sexist, but since Angela Merkel seems to be busying herself elsewhere, and since presumably their husbands have learned how to suppress any residual human emotional impulses in their day jobs, it is mostly wives) go to these D-Day Remembrance ceremonies without messy crying throughout.

Speaking of wives, just to be slightly frivolous here, but I really love what SamCam’s wearing:

samcam dday

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April 24, 2014

Peter Recommends CXLVII

Formula 1 Pit Stops 1950 & Today

Very funny.

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March 27, 2014

Absolutely the Funniest Item of the Day CCCXI

Do It For Denmark!


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March 25, 2014

Absolutely the Funniest Item of the Day CCCX

Peter sent me this last week and it is amazing. Keep watching, because the first part is funny but the punchline is in the second part. Then after the second part, there’s a third part, also funny.

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