Mugs: two links

A couple of people asked where they can find the smart-ass, English-spelling-is-bizarre mugs that I posted pictures of in recent weeks (photos below). The answer is, they’re for sale in any number of places, but here are two: the “English can be weird” mug and the “I before E” mug.

Both sites give the price in pounds, which isn’t helpful if you don’t live in Britain, but don’t give up. You can punch the phrases in quotation marks into your least favorite search engine (I’m assuming that whichever one you use, it’s your least favorite, but maybe that’s just me). You’ll find the mugs in a range of typefaces and for a range of prices. In a range of currencies.

Order. Make tea or coffee. Locate cake. If it’s any good, share with your favorite blogger.

Thanks. Also sorry and you’re welcome. See how British I’ve become?

Stuff that happens in Britain

The VisitScotland website uses a Gaelic dictionary

The Danish concept of hygge–roughly translated as coziness; the promotion of well-being–has made a big impression on Britain, at least if you believe the newspapers and  marketers. I can’t say it’s had an impact on my life, but I won’t promote myself as typical of anything much, except possibly stubbornness.

Still, the publicity around hygge‘s drawn tourists to Denmark, so VisitScotland thought they might be able to cash in by adapting the idea. To Scotland, of course. So, quick, what’s the Scottish version of hygge?

Well, it’s not hygge, they knew that much, and they knew they needed more atmosphere than they could pull out of an English word. So someone ran to the nearest Gaelic dictionary and found the word còsagach. Which is pronounced a lot like còsagach, Sorry, I don’t know Gaelic. If the Scottish version of Gaelic’s anything like the Irish one, the letters don’t communicate much to an English speaker.

VisitScotland, apparently (and sadly), knows about as much Gaelic as I do. because experts say the word’s more likely to be used about wet moss or a wet, mossy place than about anything cozy. Unless you consider wet moss cozy.

It can also be used about fibrous ground or a place full of holes or crevices.

A very secondary definition is snug, warm, sheltered, etc., but that comes from a dictionary that’s some hundred years out of date.

So visit damp, cozy Scotland today. Spend money. Have a memorable experience. And stay away from out-of-date dictionaries for languages you don’t speak. They’re as dangerous as thesauruses. Or maybe that’s thesauri. I’d look it up but I’ve developed an irrational terror of dictionaries.

Irrelevant (but in season) photo: frost.

Amateurs run the country

Example 1. Starting in January, China banned the import of plastic waste, saying that a lot of it is too hazardous to process. (Anyone see a bit of irony there? I don’t. I’m just asking.) Since 2012, Britain’s shipped two-thirds of its total plastic waste exports to China—something along the lines of 2.7 million tons of the stuff.

So what’s Britain going to do with all the plastic its fleets of recycling trucks have been  collecting with such ecological fervor? Recycle it here? Ban plastic packaging? Use it to backfill Stonehenge?

Well, in December—which strikes me as kind of late to come up with a plan—someone asked the secretary of the environment, Michael Gove, about it and he said, “I don’t know what impact it will have. It is…something to which—I will be completely honest—I have not given it sufficient thought.”

So that’s our plan.

We’ll give him half a point for honesty. Then we’ll take it away for cluelessness.

Example 2. A slow-burning fuse of a story either exploded or fizzled out, but I can’t figure out which.

The government was under pressure from a parliamentary committee to publish its assessment of Brexit’s economic impact on Britain. (In case you need a translation, Brexit is Britain exiting the European Union. A lot of people are worried it’ll crash the British economy.) The government resisted. Sorry, it said, but the assessments were too sensitive to be seen by mere members of parliament.

More pressure.

Okay, MPs could read them, but first the government would have to bury them under six feet of plastic waste and the MPs could only read them after sundown, using a flashlight with a single, second-hand AA battery, and they mustn’t disturb the plastic waste because although the government still doesn’t know what to do with it, it might need to know which pieces were dumped first.

I exaggerate only slightly.

But David Davis, the secretary of state for exiting the European Union, assured the committee that the government had 58 studies that went into the question “in excruciating detail.”

Then in early December, Davis told the committee he didn’t have any detailed information to publish. At all. He never had. They’d misunderstood him.

What about an assessment of the economic impact of leaving the customs union? someone asked. Was one of those hanging around somewhere?

Um, no. “Not a formal, quantitative one.” The assessments didn’t “have numbers attached.”

I’d like, since this is a public forum, to let Dave know that it’s okay. If he’ll just write a general statement and I’ll make up some numbers. We can paste them in anywhere. Because after you’ve seen a few numbers, they all start to look alike.

A quick P.S.: A BBC Radio 4 news story quoted Davis as saying that he doesn’t have to be intelligent to be a good negotiator. He doesn’t even have to know much, he just has to stay calm. When I wrote this (I generally write these posts well ahead of time; it keeps me marginally sane), he was still doing an admirable job of staying calm. And, I’m reasonably sure, of knowing very little.

For the record, both Davis and Gove are long-time politicians, but somehow or other they’ve managed to bring a broad spectrum of amateur qualities to their current jobs.

Public statements are clear and to the point

Train fares went up on January 2. It was the biggest jump in five years, and since the fares are already high and follow a formula that sets a world standard for incomprehensibility, and since train service in many areas is godawful, passengers are ready to chew up the seats in frustration.

So how did the train companies defend the fare hike? An industry flak-catcher said it showed the industry was trying to keep down the cost of travel.

A reporter asked if the companies were taking any risk at all, since (to simplify slightly) funding comes from the government and profit goes to the companies. The flak-catcher said, “Rail companies operate under contract and they honour the terms of their contracts and provide for things to happen in different circumstances. That operator will continue to make payments until 2020 and then the new operator will continue to make payments.”

I don’t  know about you, but as long as they provide for things to happen in different circumstances, I’m happy.

Anything else you’d like to know?

The police have a quiet word with Jesus

The police in Exeter had a quiet word with a man who was running around dressed as Jesus. That is, he was dressed as Jesus except for his hind end, which either wasn’t dressed at all or wasn’t dressed enough to make an unnamed member of the public happy.

This raises a number of questions. One is what you have to wear to be dressed as Jesus. This particular guy was wearing a sheet. How did anyone know he wasn’t dressed as a ghost? Or one of the apostles, who would’ve dressed roughly the same way as Jesus?

Another question is what a quiet word is. It’s a very English thing, that’s what it is. Or possibly a British one. I lose my way in some of this stuff. It’s the solution to any sort of public awkwardness, and it may or may not be effective. If it’s not, it doesn’t matter, because the next public awkwardness will be handled the same way.

The final question is why I don’t give you a link. It’s because the story was in the Western Morning News and although they do publish online I can never find their stories.

One of the cops involved said the incident had scarred him “for about an hour.”

Everyone loves a feel-good story

A ten-year-old left his waterproof video camera on a beach in Yorkshire and the tide carried it 500 miles across the North Sea to the German island of Suderoog,

There’s an umlaut over the U–they like umlauts on islands in Germany–but we’re in the middle of an umlaut shortage here so we’ll have to do without one. Just make your pronunciation umlautish if you can.

No, an umlaut isn’t something from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. It’s two dots that go over a U in German for reasons I don’t understand since I never learned German. I’m sure that has something to do with the umlaut shortage. It’s hard to study German without them.

The island is a bird reserve with either one family or only two people living there (I read several stories and ended up knowing less than if I’d read one). Either way, I’m guessing they don’t have a lot to do in the evenings, so they took a look at what was on the camera and found some people fooling around on the beach and then the first few minutes of the camera’s trip—water, basically.

They posted something about the camera on the bird reserve’s Facebook page and eventually located the kid’s father. The camera’s owners have been invited to come pick it up, but they can only get there by boat from the mainland and they can’t stay overnight. And they have to bring their own umlauts.

At least one artist takes his metaphor seriously

This happened in Belgium, not Britain, but it’s a good story. And both countries start with a B. It’ll do.

A—well, I guess we’ll have to call him a performance artist chained himself to block of marble to demonstrate the inescapable burden of history, including the history of art, which he was trying to free himself from by chiseling away at the stone.

After nineteen days, he had to be cut free.

Every fascinating moment was live-streamed. I’m happy to say, I didn’t watch it and I haven’t looked for a link. If you want to watch all nineteen days of it, I figure you’ve got the patience to find it yourself.

The story led me to realize that one nice thing about writing as opposed to performance art is that when you get trapped by your own metaphors it’s not quite as embarrassing.

At least one non-artist takes YouTube seriously

Someone from Wolverhampton decided to put his head in the microwave and have his friends fill it with cement. It being the microwave, not the head, in case that needs clarification. When they realized he was having trouble breathing (no, apparently this didn’t occur to any of them ahead of time), they poked an air tube in.

How? No idea. Every way I try to imagine doing this ends up with the breathing tube clogged with cement. Lucky thing I’m not one of his friends.

The BBC story mentions that the microwave wasn’t plugged in. I mention that in case you decide to try this and it’s not in the instruction book.

Why’d they do this? It wasn’t performance art and no metaphors were harmed in the process. They wanted to post the video on YouTube.

It took five firefighters an hour to get him loose, and they needed help from their technical rescue team to get the microwave apart.

Some people have trouble letting their pets go

Okay, this one’s pretty grotesque and I wrestled with what passes for my conscience over whether to use it.

My conscience lost.

Someone from Dundee offered to sell a rug she’d had made from her dead dog because her new dog kept trying to hump it. I’m not sure this tells you anything about British culture, but it did happen.

People are very polite 

The British really are very polite. Until they’re not. Because that’s the thing about polite people: When they lose it, they don’t have a wide range of back-up  behaviors. You know, things like saying, “Hey, asshole, don’t push.” Which isn’t polite but is well short of bloodshed.

Some people are so polite they’d find it hard to say, “Excuse me, but would you stop pushing, please?”

So in October, either two or three people on a train near London got into an argument over a phone call. One man was talking one the phone loudly, one man was complaining about that, and the third man–well, I don’t know if he did anything other than just sit there, but he was a friend of Guy #1’s, so he had a kind of peripheral involvement, so when an argument broke out, Guy #2 leaned over and bit Guy #3’s ear.

Job done. Guy #2 went back to his seat. Quite possibly with a real sense of having done the right thing.

What did Guy #1, the guy on the phone, do? No idea.

The joys of pre-metric measurements

Anyone who thinks I’m kidding around when I talk about the insanity of pre-metric weights and measures needs to read April Munday’s post on the medieval versions of the slippery little beasts.

I offer eternal gratitude to anyone who can explain why there aren’t a hundred of something–I don’t much care what–in a hundredweight. (I should warn you that eternity doesn’t last as long as it used to. It’s one of those inconsistent measurement things.)

What I learned from spam lately

Let’s go for a quick dip in the spam bath, everyone, because our lives aren’t absurd enough already.

But first, a health and safety warning. Britain’s big on health and safety warnings. One I heard recently consisted of, “Don’t do anything stupid out there,” and I appreciated how quickly it got to the point.  I’d been thinking of doing several stupid things at once and it saved me from all of them. The warning I’m about to issue is this:

A lot of spam is written by people whose first language isn’t English. (Some of it doesn’t seem to be written by humans at all, but that’s a whole ‘nother issue.) I don’t make fun of people for not writing or speaking perfect English–at least not unless they’re trying to correct mine, as one spammer did. I’ve wrestled with enough languages to have great respect for people who can communicate even marginally in languages they didn’t learn as kids.  But if you’re sending out spam–messages that are meant (I assume, although I’ve never really understood the strategy behind them) to appear professional, or at least coherent–then sorry, but everything’s fair game.

For the record: I speak Spanish just well enough to hear how badly I speak it. I panic in several other languages so effectively that all I can hear is the sound of my brain moving the furniture to look for lost words. I do not send out spam in any of those languages.

Enough of that. Here’s what I found in the blog’s spam folder recently:

“We spent most of my puerility and all of my teenaged holidays near Land’s End, and we visited a few of the ancient monuments.”

Now, I do know puerile‘s a real word, but I’ve never really been able to believe it means childish. I keep thinking it should have something to do with pork. (That’s probably because I learned the Spanish word for pork, puerco, long before I saw the English word puerile, and if the connection isn’t obvious to you, don’t worry about it; it doesn’t have to make sense.) Puerility‘s also a real word, although I’ve never seen it used or heard anyone breathe life into it, so I’m going to guess it’s not on anyone’s top ten most used words list.

In spite of that, I’m prepared to testify that it’s not supposed to be used this way.

Still, I might’ve thought this was a real (if awkward) comment if it hadn’t opened with “Because, permit’s font it, back then the suspect ones would give been those anti-social weirdos who (then as now) opt to sopor alone – always assuming that they could yield their own(a) beds, of class.”

To which I can only say, “Listen, buddy, some people like to sopor alone, in their beds or in the damned kitchen if the mood takes them, and who the hell are you to get all judgemental about it?”

Irrelevant photo: field patterns near the Cornish coast

Whew. I feel better having said that.

Next up: “naturally like your web site but you need to test the spelling on quite a few of your posts. Several of them are rife with spelling issues and I in finding it very bothersome to inform the truth on the other hand I will definitely come back again.”

I in finding it very bothersome myself. Will somebody hire this person as a proofreader, please? The English language will never be the same.

After that came: “It is essential that women that are pregnant make a labour program ahead of the wedding event arrives. It is because when a girl is at labor, she may possibly struggle to make selections like she generally does. Make sure you possess a handbag stuffed, opt for that you want in the room whenever you give birth.”

Whenever? Excuse me, but giving birth isn’t a whenever kind of event. I know some people have lots of kids–my grandmother had eight–but even then, it’s not something you do on a whim. It’s a big deal, people.

But there’s more here than just that. I wouldn’t swear to it, but I think the writer’s recommending that the woman give birth into the handbag. Or possibly in it. I admit I’ve never given birth, but neither of those seems like a good idea. I haven’t carried a handbag in decades, but I do remember what mine was like when I did. The backseat of my cab would’ve been more sanitary. So would the pavement at the corner of Hennepin Avenue and Seventh Street.

I don’t actually know anyone who’s scheduled a wedding for a time when she was likely to go into labor. But if you’ve got a wedding coming up, it’s something you might want to consider when you get to the part of the brochures that say, “Are you looking for a way to make your big day truly memorable?”

The next comment may be related to the previous one, in a backward sort of way: “Will not spend your money on bedbug bombs. Alternatively, get some good Alpine Dust or some Phantom Aerosol and apply these products to your mattress. These no-repelling merchandise is toxic to sleep pests along with other pest however are extremely hard to identify, which means the insect is not going to conceal from it.”

I’m past the age where it’s is an issue anymore, but there was a time when I’d have paid good money for a phantom aerosol that repelled pests from my bed. Where the hell was this advice when I needed it?

That survey cleaned the best stuff out of my spam folder, but (since we all know you hang on my every word) I thought I owed you more, so I dipped back in over the next couple of weeks and eventually I found this:

“A dog’s label must basically be employed when positively getting together with the animal. Contact the dog’s brand to have him to come to your part or call his brand while you are serving his supper. Don’t, even so, contact your dog’s name if you are unhappy with his or her measures. The canine would in a negative way relate by using penalty.”

Now I do understand that a lot of people on the internet think of themselves (or their pets) as brands and have vague hopes of money flying through their windows if they sell themselves (or their pets) hard enough. And we have two dogs. So far, though, they’re completely innocent of all commercial activity and don’t think of themselves as brands. And for good goddamn reason. No one’s going to look at them and think, If only I had a dog like that my life would be complete. They’re dogs, and most of the time, they smell like dogs. Give them a chance and they’ll roll in dead fish and steal dirty underwear. If they can do both at once, they’ll be in ecstasy.

The point is, I don’t want to contact my dogs’ brand. I’d rather deal with the dogs directly: Bad dog. Put the underwear back where you found it, and no, we’re not going to negotiate this through your agent. Until you learn to dial the phone yourself, you don’t have an agent.

A survey of British surveys

Let’s take a quick survey of the stuff people survey in Britain. It won’t tell us much about the country, but it might keep a few of you from hanging out on the street corners and getting into trouble.


Anytime stuff gets collected, someone has to come along and report on everything that shouldn’t be part of that particular collection. What this means is that, no, you’re not invisible. The entire world knows about the purple lipstick the dog chewed that you tossed in with the recycled paper because it seemed to makes sense at the time.

But other than your purple lipstick, what else do people in Britain try to recycle?

Vaguely relevant photo: A bunch of junk I collected on a local beach. We have a village beach clean every week, and once you start noticing plastic junk on the beach, you find yourself collecting it everywhere. This is from a different beach–one that’s hard to get to and rarely cleaned. Nobody tossed this stuff into the recycling bins–they just tossed it into the sea instead.

The Guardian reports that recyclers found a car door, a full Christmas dinner (plates, tablecloth, dessert, and everything else; if I’d been invited I might’ve been dumped in with it), and (yes indeed) 1,000 Greenpeace buttons, which are called badges here. Somebody sat down and counted them. Or made up the number as a poetic way to convey the idea that there were a lot of them.

Business Waste’s website (do I read the exciting parts of the web or what?) lists a human skull (the cops said it was from a play and called off the hunt); a voodoo doll covered in blood (allegedly; convince me that the people who found it really recognize a voodoo doll; or blood); money, in both large and small amounts; dead animals (pretty common, they say); a box of Free Nelson Mandela tee shirts that were thrown out long after he was not only free but dead, making the call to free him, um, problematic; a wedding dress, together with an engagement ring and a wedding cake (who says romance is dead?); a box of breast implants (unused, mercifully); a box of equally unused condoms (not, presumably, in the same place); and winning lottery tickets.

Most of us, I’m going to assert, since none of you are here to argue as I type this, would agree that recycling’s a good thing. So what this proves is that no idea is so good that someone can’t come along and screw it up.



The rule of law is also generally considered a good idea, and it’s easy to screw that one up too. Someone’s collected a bunch of obscure laws that are still on the books  in various parts of Britain. People all around the world love to do that. The ones here ban:

  • MPs from wearing armor in parliament. 1313.
  • Carrying a cask, tub, hoop, wheels, ladders, planks or poles on a footway (that’s what I’d call a sidewalk) unless it’s to load or unload a cart or carriage. 1839.
  • Being drunk in a pub. 1872.
  • Being drunk while in charge of cattle. 1872.
  • Handling salmon in suspicious circumstances. 1986. I’ll leave you to interpret that. The salmon consider all human handling suspicious.
  • Beating carpets on the streets after 8 a.m.
  • Getting into a “public conveyance” with the plague and not warning the driver. I don’t have a date for this one. I suspect that being on the wrong side of the law won’t be your most immediate problem if you find yourself wandering around with the plague.
  • Causing a nuclear explosion. 1998. Being on the wrong side of the law isn’t going to be your biggest problem here either. Or anyone else’s.
  • Honking to let someone know your opinion of their driving. You’re only supposed to honk only in dangerous situations. If this were enforced everywhere, I know of entire cities that would be in jail.
  • Jumping the queue (that’s called butting into line in the U.S.) on the London underground (and possibly overground) trains. Seriously. But getting arrested isn’t half as bad as being tutted—and if you butt into line anywhere in Britain, you will be tutted.

All beached whales and sturgeons found in Britain belong to the crown. 1322. What the queen does with them I can’t imagine, or where she keeps them, since they’ve got to be smelly by the time they reach her. Maybe someone will report on odd stuff she sneaks into that collection–all those feathered hats and busted washing machines that someone dumped on the beach.


Parenting books

An academic study from Swansea reports that reading a lot of parenting books correlates with depression and anxiety. It doesn’t prove that the books cause the problems, but it doesn’t prove that they don’t, either. I edited a couple of self-help books during my career, and they depressed the hell out of me. I was also part of a group of freelance editors who planned to write a self-help book for recovering self-help book addicts. We had one hysterically funny meeting about it, after which we couldn’t figure out why the joke had been funny.

No, we were sober.


Kids’ birthday parties

The average kid’s birthday party in Britain cost around £218 in 2016. One sixth of British kids, though, never have a birthday party, and only a third have one every year. Figure them into the average and the spending’s got to be pretty wild at the top end.

I had a link to that but who really cares?

The kids’ parties I’ve seen around here are on the reasonable end of the spectrum, involving a cake, a bit of real food, and a free and active germ exchange.


Awkward street names

Oxford has an Isis Close. That doesn’t mean the organization called Isis is close. A close is a cul-de-sac—a dead-end street. And the stretch of the River Thames (pronounced “Tems”: don’t ask because it won’t help) that runs through the city is called the Isis. Figuring out why is as much fun as figuring out why Britain’s called Britain.

Wikipedia said, when I checked, that “’The Isis’ is an alternative name for the River Thames, used from its source in the Cotswolds until it is joined by the Thame at Dorchester in Oxfordshire. It derives from the ancient name for the Thames, Tamesis, which in the Middle Ages was falsely assumed to be a combination of ‘Thame’ and ‘Isis’”

Another site warns us not to “blindly accept the authority of something that you find on the internet” (very wise; you might want to give that some thought before you take me too seriously) and offers two apparently authoritative and conflicting derivations: Isis is Celtic for “Tranquil River” or “Smooth River” and it’s Celtic for “Dark River.” It goes on to mention rivers with similar names: the Tamar (dividing Cornwall from Devon) and the Tame (in the Midlands). Tame, it says (repetitiously repeating itself), is Celtic for “‘Dark One’ or ‘Dark One.’” Or quite possibly for “Dark One.” You can never be sure with these ancient languages.

It all gets weirder from there, with side trips into Sanskrit and Magyar (that’s the language of the Magyar people, who settled in what’s now Hungary) and words whose pronunciation is nowhere close to Isis, so we’ll stop.

Oh, hell, I can’t let us stop there. It’s all too weird to walk away from. The Magyar word Nedű, means “liquid,” it tells us. Why does it tell us that? I have no idea. Then it mentions the Szamos, which seems to be a river in Transylvania. It has problems with cyanide pollution and doesn’t, as far as I can figure out, sound a whole lot like “Isis.” Or “Thames.”

Then we get to unexplained mentions of the rivers Don and Danube, which clearly do sound a lot like “Isis” in spite of not having a single letter in common. Or maybe they sound like “Thames,” which they share a silent E with. It’s hard to tell.

At this point, folks, it really is time to leave and go back to cozy old Isis Close, where PayPal’s algorithm says you can’t buy anything online because you’re a security risk.

Somebody else’s algorithm has now added me to a new watch list because I’m writing about Isis. Oh, Great Algorithm, please know that I’m a Jewish atheist lesbian. I can be a lot of trouble, but I’m really not a natural fit for Isis the organization.

But we were doing surveys, weren’t we?

An assortment of names and words get blocked on the internet because they contain hot-button letter groups, and all sorts of people like to make lists of them, so let’s play Find the Naughty Word. Blocked words include: shitake mushrooms; the family names Cockburn and Callahan (I’ll give you some help with the second one; it contains the letters allah; really; that’s enough to get it blocked; what happens if you’re actually writing about religion I can’t imagine); Superbowl 30 where it appears as Superbowl XXX, making it sound like it’s triple X-rated; the Horniman Museum; and the town of Penistone. A blogger friend who worked at the University of Essex used to run into trouble as well. As have specialists whose resumes—because, you know, they’re specialists—(I’ll give you some help here too) include the letters “cialis.”

Devon has a town called Crapstone. I don’t know if that gets blocked or not. I just thought it belonged on the list.

In Britain, this is called the Scunthorpe problem, after a city whose name contains an awkward assemblage of letters. Lord Google defines the Scunthorpe problem as “the blocking of emails, forum posts or search results by a spam filter or search engine because their text contains a string of letters that are shared with another (usually obscene) word.”

Oxford’s Isis Academy gave up the fight and changed its name to Iffley Academy.

Other problematic addresses include Crotch Crescent in Oxford, The Butts (you’ll find them everywhere in Britain, presumably because butts were where people practiced archery), Hooker’s Road in Walthamstow; and Gropecunte Lane (now called Love Lane) in London. A Gropecunte (I’m not sure about the spelling there) Lane in York was changed first to Grope Lane and then to Grape Lane. Sherbourne Lane was once Shitteborn Lane, and since we’re going historical here, Shoreditch once had a Sound Arse Alley.

The list goes on, but having grown up with a different set of insults, euphemisms, and forbidden words, I didn’t get half the jokes so I won’t repeat them.

The Christmas cards Facebook banned

A British artist’s Christmas cards were recently banned from Facebook for having “adult content.”

Adult content? That’s prude-speak for sex.

The banned cards showed a robin, a stag, and a squirrel, none of them doing anything unconventional for Christmas cards, although in fairness these are creatures who, in the normal course of their lives will either have sex or at least try to.

So why the ban? The artist says she didn’t even describe the robin as being a red[gasp]breast, just a robin. She’s tried to get Facebook to reconsider but you can pretty well guess how well that’s worked.

It could be that the decision-making algorithm looked at some of her other cards. One reads, “No / Fucking / Ho.” But that’s not the one she was promoting, Still, thought the algorithm, There’s got to be something wrong with that robin.

The artist has a disabled husband and selling her work is a major source of income, so however funny the ban is, it’s also serious. If you’d like to see her work–or even buy some in the interest of supporting her and annoying Facebook, you can find it here.

And if that link doesn’t work, try this one. It’s her Facebook page, with no robin except where it’s part of an article on this whole flap. The link in the last paragraph worked when I first put it up, then when I checked took me to something completely irrelevant. I’ve corrected it but don’t know how long it will work this time; it’s not just Facebook; Google’s also got it in for this woman.

How to boost your stats by screwing up

Bloggers, do you want more views on your blog, preferably without putting any work into it? I’ve discovered the secret, and it’s not one that any of the experts recommend. It’s simple: Screw up.

On Tuesday, I posted a blog I meant to schedule ahead, for November. Life’s a mess right now. Giving myself some leeway looks like a smart move. So within a minute of posting it, I took it down a tucked it into the schedule, where it can slumber till the world’s ready for it–or at least till I am.

But–semi-responsible blogger that I try to be–I thought I’d let followers know what happened, otherwise I’d get helpful messages saying one of my posts had disappeared. I’ve sent a few of them myself. So I put up a three-sentence post titled “Oops.”

And what happened? It got more views than my (admittedly very long) post of why Britain’s called Britain, which I poured a shitload of work into.

What does it all mean, bartender?