mcgillianaire: (Default)
We are lucky in the UK to have free access to a government-funded local library network. Despite the swingeing cuts imposed by the coalition in the last parliament that forced the closure of hundreds of branches, they haven't disappeared completely. If you are resident in the UK, you can sign up with any public library in the country*. And perhaps due to the effect of the changes in recent years, several councils in London have partnered together to provide a broader set of resources, particularly online. Indeed, two of my favourite aspects of public library membership in London provides me with unfettered, free online access to The Times newspaper and The Economist archives, in addition to the latest editions of over 330 magazines and journals such as The Economist, The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, National Geographic, Newsweek, Businessweek and The Week. The great thing is that you can read the magazines on your computer, tablet and smartphone.

(* So long as you turn up once in person to prove your identity and residence, plus pick up your membership card.)
mcgillianaire: (Union Jack)

Slut

Sep. 20th, 2013 07:05 pm
mcgillianaire: (Union Jack)
c.1400, "a dirty, slovenly, or untidy woman," probably cognate with dialectal German Schlutt "slovenly woman," dialectal Swedish slata "idle woman, slut," and Dutch slodder "slut," but the ultimate origin is doubtful. Chaucer uses sluttish (late 14th-century) in reference to the appearance of an untidy man. Also "a kitchen maid, a drudge" (mid-15th-century; hard pieces in a bread loaf from imperfect kneading were called slut's pennies, 18th-century). Meaning "woman of loose character, bold hussy" is attested from mid-15th-century; playful use of the word, without implication of loose morals, is attested from 1660s.

Our little girl Susan is a most admirable slut, and pleases us mightily. [Pepys, diary, Feb. 21, 1664]

Sometimes used 19th-century as a euphemism for bitch to describe a female dog. There is a group of North Sea Germanic words in sl- that mean "sloppy," and also "slovenly woman," and that tend to evolve toward "woman of loose morals" (cf. slattern, also English dialectal slummock "a dirty, untidy, or slovenly person," 1861; Middle Dutch slore "a sluttish woman").

SOURCE: Online Etymology Dictionary

[This entry was inspired by this news story.]
mcgillianaire: (Portcullis Logo)
Judging by these letters written to the Guardian some years ago, we have every right to question whether the practice of using numbered ballots has been abused by the authorities (ie spooks) in such a way as to deny us a secret ballot during elections.
mcgillianaire: (Hooka Pipe)

My sister arrived in Oman a few days ago and is having lots of fun with our puppy. I can't wait to join them at the end of the week!
mcgillianaire: (Royal Coat of Arms)
So following on from my previous post, I don't think there's much doubt that the sexiest accents in the British Isles, particularly when piped from someone of the fairer sex, are Welsh and Scottish, followed closely by Irish and anything else Northern. No offence, Brummie, West Country and London, but your accents do not stimulate the senses. Especially Brummie. I've never heard anything more depressing. Even when someone's chipper, it sounds like their whinging. Of course, it's a personal preference. Nothing does it more for me than a pretty lady with a Glaswegian or broad Welsh accent. Or man, if I'm brutally honest. There's just something about the broad Welsh lilt that makes my nerves tingle. Even just thinking about it... *mmm*
mcgillianaire: (Royal Coat of Arms)
One of the most fascinating aspects of the British Isles, is the variety of accents in such a small geographic area. It has been one of my informal missions to identify as many of them as possible simply from hearing a few words from a new speaker. After more than four years I can confidently pick out the following accents: Scottish, Irish, Geordie, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Scouse, Welsh, Brummie, Multicultural London, Cockney, Estuary, RP and West Country. Within those I can pinpoint Glaswegian, Lancashire accents from the Bolton area and on a lucky day, Northern Irish. But I've a long way to go because I sometimes find it difficult to distinguish Cumbrian (I often find it to be a mix of Geordie/Lancashire/Scottish, particularly depending on where the speaker's from/used to live), East Anglian, Mancunian and West Midlands. I've also spoken to very few people from Lincolnshire so I have little idea what they sound like. More Northern than Southern, I'm sure. In any case, I've got a good platform to work from. In the next four years I want to fine-tune these skills and hone down on actual places where people come from. That would be pretty nifty. So far I can only do that with cities like London, Liverpool, Newcastle and Birmingham.

Turquoise

Nov. 30th, 2011 09:00 pm
mcgillianaire: (Hooka Pipe)
Precious stone, 1560s, replacement from Middle French of Middle English turkeis, turtogis (late 14c.), from Old French turqueise, feminine adjective "Turkish," in pierre turqueise "Turkish stone," so called because it was first brought to Europe from Turkestan or some other Turkish dominion (Sinai peninsula, according to one theory). Cognate with Spanish turquesa, Middle Latin (lapis) turchesius, Middle Dutch turcoys, German türkis, Swedish turkos. As a color name, attested from 1853.

Source: Online Etymology Dictionary
mcgillianaire: (Scale of Justice)
"The campaign to set up the International Criminal Court to prosecute crimes against humanity involved NGOs’ organising international conferences and meetings, supporting Southern CSOs and State participation in the process through funding and information dissemination, and lobbying throughout many countries, including lobbying US Congress and the EU Parliament. The result was the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court of 17 July 1998, ratified by 120 states and finally coming into force on 1 July 2002. The international system would not have been sufficiently equipped to bring to justice those, such as Slobodan Milosevic, responsible for human atrocities, without this success on the part of NGOs." [LINK]
mcgillianaire: (Ari G)
Its database alone is worth the £10 monthly fee. But imagine if someone had created a public playlist of every composition in chronological order by your favourite composers? Or if you could listen to audiobooks on the life & works of the same composers, or an audiobook dedicated to a single work by the composer? Or a playlist of the best works by British composers, the best Trumpet solo tracks, pop songs based on Classical works, your favourite Operas, the list goes on. With Spotify, your dreams come true. Or mine at any rate. And worried you'll miss the latest Classical tracks added to Spotify? There's a playlist for that too. And a blog to go with it. If like me you love Western Classical music, look no further than Spotify.

Regale

Oct. 10th, 2011 04:15 pm
mcgillianaire: (Default)
1650s, from French régaler "to entertain or feast," from Old French rigale, from gale "merriment," from galer "make merry" (see gallant). Influenced in Old French by se rigoler "amuse oneself, rejoice," of unknown origin. Italian regalo is from French.

Source: Online Etymology Dictionary

Stalwart

Oct. 6th, 2011 02:25 pm
mcgillianaire: (Royal Coat of Arms)
Late 14th-century, Scottish variant of Old English stælwierðe "good, serviceable," probably a contracted compound of staðol "foundation, support" (from Proto-Germanic *stathlaz) + wierðe "good, excellent, worthy" (see worth). Another theory traces the first element of stælwierðe to Old English stæl "place," from Proto-Germanic *stælaz. In U.S. political history, applied 1877 by Blaine to Republicans who refused to give up their hostility to and distrust of the South.
mcgillianaire: (Changing Guard London)
mcgillianaire: (Changing Guard London)
I had honey on toast for brekkie this morning and it's absolutely delicious. So I decided to google it and clicked on the first link, an article in the Daily Telegraph from last December titled, Secret to a smooth hangover – honey on toast. Naturally I was intrigued by this and having read the article I've even picked up a couple of other useful tips such as drinking a glass of milk before a night out on the lash. However what really surprised me was the first comment after the article which said:
The commenter had linked to a press release from 21 December 2005 on the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) website which was obviously the source of the Telegraph article (dated 23 December 2010). To make matters interesting, look under Press Releases in December 2010 on the RSC website and you'll find one about the exact same issue dated 23 December, the same date as the Telegraph article. The two press releases are almost identical, although it looks like someone copied the 2005 press release and intentionally changed the formatting in the 2010 version. They've also re-worded the title and made subtle changes to each paragraph. Makes you wonder what actually happened! Did the RSC think no one would notice?

Stickler

Sep. 24th, 2011 12:30 pm
mcgillianaire: (Default)
1530s, "moderator, umpire," from stickle "mediate" (1520s), probably a frequentative of Middle English stihen "to arrange, place," from Old English stihan "to arrange order," which is cognate with Middle Dutch stichten, German stiften "to found, establish," probably from Proto-Germanic *stihtan "to place on a step or base," from Proto-Indo-European base *steigh- "to stride, step, rise" (see stair). Meaning "person who contends or insists stubbornly" is first recorded 1640s.
mcgillianaire: (Ari G)
From Wikipedia:
    "Fanta originated when ingredients for the production of Coca-Cola became difficult to import into Germany during World War II. As a result, Max Keith, the man in charge of Coca-Cola Deutschland during the Second World War, decided to create a new product for the German market, using only ingredients available in Germany at the time, including whey and pomace – the "leftovers of leftovers", as Keith later recalled. The name was the result of a brief brainstorming session, which started with Keith exhorting his team to "use their imagination" ("Fantasie" in German), to which one of his salesmen, Joe Knipp, immediately retorted "Fanta!"
(via Dan Snow's History Fact Twitter)
mcgillianaire: (BBC Logo)
Here's how Wikipedia describes it:
    "Four regular panellists discuss moral and ethical issues relating to a recent news story. The debate is often combative and guest witnesses may be cross-examined aggressively. The programme is hosted by Michael Buerk. The format is loosely based on the Select Committee procedure at the House of Westminster, in which invited guests on a particular topic of discussion are mercilessly grilled (often to the point of humiliation) by a regular (and carefully chosen) panel (such as the MPs on the Select Committee).

    Michael Buerk delivers a no-holds-barred (often irreverent) preamble launching the topic, then introduces the first witness. In the ensuing interrogation, the witnesses are teasingly goaded into philosophically tripping themselves up (contradicting their own beliefs). Platitudes are quickly exposed for their fragility. Witnesses taken unawares by the incisive, unceremonious questioning, may then replace civility for discourteousness - usually when their arguments have been hit for six. When being briefed for their appearances, witnesses were encouraged to be as aggressive as you like."
With a passion for politics and as a budding lawyer, The Moral Maze should've been essential listening every week. But for some reason I hadn't appreciated its value until recently. Better late than never. Each forty-five minute episode examines the moral issues behind one of the week's news stories, and in the past month we've had discussions about the morality of income tax, the point of having prisons, science & morality, public figures & public morality, and slut walks.
mcgillianaire: (Football player)
Wow! That was worth staying up for. It was certainly a classic and among the best I've ever seen, even though it didn't last the distance. Novak even had an opportunity to serve for the match in the third set itself, and even if it had ended there I would've still described it as a classic. The quality of tennis was mind-boggling and though it was one-sided, in the sense Djokovic outplayed Nadal, it wasn't an easy-ride. Think of the 2008 French Open Final between Nadal and Federer as a contrast in which the Spaniard won in straight sets by pulverising the Swiss into submission and wiping the red clay with him. This match was brutal, lasting 4h10 but it could easily have lasted over five hours had Nadal maintained the momentum he gained in the third. As it was, the last set was a bit of an anti-climax as the Serbian World Number 1 streamrolled his way to a third Grand Slam singles title for the year and sixth consecutive victory over Rafa in 2011 (all of them in finals). With just two losses all season (one of them in which he retired, the other to Federer in the French Open S/F), it's fair to say this has been one of the greatest achievements in the history of sport. And to cap it off, he marries a gorgeous lass next month!

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