According to the writer Gyles Brandreth, the average person says around 860,341,500 words during their lifetime. If you start speaking at one and live to be eighty, that’s about thirty thousand words a day.
Most of those words will be forgotten by everybody, including you, as soon as they’re out of your mouth. Others will stick around for a few weeks before drifting into obscurity. But now and then, somebody says something we remember for years or even generations afterwards. Something which expresses just the right idea, in just the right way, at just the right time.
If you ask…
I was pretty easy to entertain as a child. All I needed was a TV, an irresponsible amount of sugar, and some cartoons.
It didn’t even matter which cartoon it was, because let’s face it, they’re all pretty much identical. The good guys win, the bad guys get away (so they can do battle again next week), and everybody learns a valuable lesson in the end. The details change, but the story stays the same.
There’s something irresistible about clicking on an article that I know I’m going to hate. Where the headline alone is enough to make my jaw tighten and my shoulders tense. A more mature person would ignore the bait. Or at worst, skim over a few lines, roll their eyes, and move on like a mentally well-adjusted adult.
But I am neither mature nor mentally well-adjusted. Which is why I’ve been commenting.
It started with the occasional snarky comment or a cherry-picked takedown aimed at one faulty sentence. But it steadily matured into thoughtful counter-arguments to the whole piece. I read…
You’re not supposed to talk about how frustrating it is to watch children screw things up. You’re supposed to be patient when it takes them seventeen minutes to tie their shoelaces. You’re supposed to applaud their migraine-inducing attempts to play the violin. You’re supposed to give your undivided attention as they tell stories that somehow lack a beginning, a middle and an end.
But worst of all is when a child wants to “help” you with something. You know that accepting their help will quadruple the time, energy and resources required to get anything done. You realise that it’d be…
There’s a snippet from a 2013 interview which perfectly sums up the challenge Joe Biden faces in uniting America.
In the clip, Charlie Rose asks two well-known designers, Jony Ive and Marc Newson, to explain why they work so well together:
“I think in some ways that’s why we’re the close friends that we are,” says Jony. “We share the same view of the world and the same taste, and we relate to the same attributes or aspects of an object.”
There’s a brief pause, then Marc smiles.
“Most importantly,” he adds. “We really hate the same things.”
I’m tempted to begin and end this essay about what “multiracial whiteness” is, with the word “stupid”. But given that my New Year’s resolution for 2021 is to be more charitable, let’s look a little deeper.
I first heard the term a few days ago, when a friend sent me this article entitled “To Understand Trump’s Support, We Must Think in Terms of Multiracial Whiteness” (I swear she only sends me these things because she enjoys seeing the little vein in my temple throb).
The more I read about the events which led to last week’s attack on the Capitol, the more I’m reminded of one of my favourite 90s movies, Falling Down. The story follows a man, named William Foster, through a series of increasingly violent events.
When he gets into a petty argument over his change in a convenience store, the owner pulls out a baseball bat. William wrestles the bat away from him, smashes up the store, takes the change (and a Coke), and leaves.
As he sits quietly drinking his Coke, two gang members pull out a knife and try…
The day after Donald Trump’s cheerleading encouraged a troupe of YMCA rejects to storm the Capitol and prompted Twitter and Facebook to suspend his accounts, New York Times columnist, Aaron Ross Sorkin, made the following observation:
So Trump has access to the nuclear codes but he can’t Tweet or post to Facebook.
He has a point. It seems like a strange failure of priorities to allow a man who we’ve deemed too irresponsible to use social media to retain control over weapons which could end all life on the planet. …
The chain of events which led to yesterday’s attack on the Capitol began with the pettiest of lies. Donald Trump, his ego bruised by the fact that the crowds at his inauguration were (far) smaller than Barack Obama’s, encouraged the then press secretary, Sean Spicer, to say that Trump’s swearing-in, had drawn “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration.”
When reporters challenged this trivially falsifiable claim, Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s senior counsellor, argued that Spicer had merely presented “alternative facts”. Many commentators were quick to laugh at this ridiculous attack on our shared reality. …
One of the most memorable characters from my school was a boy named Shaun Jones. The boy was a cheating savant. Whenever we had a big exam, he’d manage to get a copy of the questions ahead of time. He paid the smartest kids from the year above us to write essays for him. He invented elaborate methods to sneak cheat sheets into exam halls. The teachers suspected he was up to no good, but they couldn’t catch him.
Even worse, Shaun had the kind of parents who wouldn’t hear a word against him. He was a good actor, he’d…