Josh, Julie and the Iraqi English accent

Josh and Julie were my parents-in-law. They were brought up in Iraq, but were expelled when they were in their 20s, went to Israel for a while, and ended up in London. They spoke English with a strong accent and different syntax. During the first gulf war, many Iraqis were interviewed on the radio, and they … Continue reading Josh, Julie and the Iraqi English accent

Some writing principles and the style guide that I haven’t written

A discussion about ableist language stimulated by this article has made me aware of my habitual use of words like idiot and stupid. If that’s offensive (as the article suggests) then I’d prefer not to use them. Also they are a form of thought-stopping; they reject the person or behaviour that is described without explaining … Continue reading Some writing principles and the style guide that I haven’t written

Astronomy and lightning

Some memories are created by family myths. This story about my father, FDK, may be an example. In the early 60s FDK spent a few months at the National Radio Astronomy Obervatory in Greenbank, West Virginia. An emissary from the Sterrewacht in Leiden came to Greenbank to give a seminar about Professor Jan Oort’s latest theories. Oort was … Continue reading Astronomy and lightning

Grammar and the Grammar Police

[This post was originally titled Grammar and the Great White Males. This offended some of the people it referred to. I think they are right. Hence the new title] The Grammar Police keep on picking me up when I discuss good grammar, spelling and punctuation, saying things like “I thought you said grammar doesn’t matter.” I … Continue reading Grammar and the Grammar Police

Top memory tips for old gits

Root of a wisteria tree that looks like a face

I don't remember things as easily as I used to. I could have shrugged and accepted the loss. Instead I decided to do something about it. So here are some simple tricks I use which make my memory feel more focussed. I'm not claiming any scientific basis to this. I find these tricks useful. Your … Continue reading Top memory tips for old gits

How (not) to be an asshole

My dictionary suggests that asshole means a stupid or vulgar person. But that doesn't capture the current usage. An asshole is a person who puts their own interests ahead of the people around them. Assholes push into queues, threaten you if you call them out, perv on vulnerable people, take up three seats on a … Continue reading How (not) to be an asshole