A regular spot to share some ideas about what’s good and what’s not on the interwebthingy. But, you know, it’s your life, so feel free to agree, disagree or ignore what follows.
What caught my attention last week
The Wit To Mock Rather Than Censor
It’s a tricky thing to uphold the principle of free speech when that speech is hateful and ignorant.
A small town in Germany, where Rudolf Hess had been buried and which therefore attracts neo-Nazi marchers every year, has managed to turn the nasty nonsense to good effect.
Without the marchers’ knowledge, local residents and businesses sponsored the 250 participants of the march on 15 November in what was dubbed Germany’s “most involuntary walkathon”. For every metre they walked, €10 went to a programme called EXIT Deutschland, which helps people escape extremist groups.
My favourite piece of theatre was the person who handed out bananas for the marchers with the slogan “Mein Mampf” (my munch). Nothing hurts the braggarts more than being laughed at.
Useful Foreign Phrases
Back in 2012 Sam Dean performed a useful public service by bringing together various terms for hangover used by people of a foreign persuasion:
The Scandinavian hangover metaphor of choice is getting whaled upon with a hammer, whether it’s by a Danish tommermaend (carpenter), an Icelandic timburmenn (ditto), or a Swedish kopparslagare (coppersmith). The Swedes also have the evocative baksmalla, which translates to something like “a whack on the ass,” while the Icelanders have the wistful thynnka, which just means “thinness.”
Spanking Is Stupid
The Economist reported on studies compiled by the Brookings Institute that showed “that young children in homes with little or no spanking showed swifter cognitive development than their peers. Other studies find that children in physically punitive schools perform worse.”
American teachers are still allowed to whack children with a paddle (a wooden bat only a little shorter and thinner than a cricket bat) in 19 states, mostly in the South—a practice that is banned in over 100 other countries. More than 216,000 pupils were beaten at school during the 2008-09 school year, according to the Department of Education.
There is something terribly deranged about having laws that allow people in authority to treat children worse than they could adults.
What I’m Trying To Ignore Next Week
Christmas Carols – bah humbug.