The Inky Fool on English place names

Silent for too long, the wonderful Inky Fool returns with a handy guide to decoding English place names: Borough = Fortification Burn/Bourne = Stream Bury = Manor or estate, i.e. a big farm By = Viking town (that’s why they’re only in the North in the old Danelaw) Read the full article, here.   Photo by Reuben Hustler on Unsplash

Evil laughs and free-riders – how to craft your villain

All stories need a villain, an antagonist. This piece from the British Psychological Society tells you how to create yours. one of the core traits a villain should show is a low “welfare trade-off” ratio: they are free-riders who cheat and steal, taking from their community while contributing nothing. Such behaviour is undesirable for societies […]

Sans Forgetica – the true font of all knowledge

We’ve talked a lot about how a little cognitive “friction” can aid learning and recall. Now, researchers at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology have produced a font designed exactly for that: Sans Forgetica. I think I first came across the research through the Harvard Business Review. Here’s a blog post from 2012. It’s also […]

The Hollow Crown

Michael Wade, at Execupundit, reminds me I have this – The Hollow Crown – on DVD … and have only watched Ben Whishaw’s excellently foppish Richard II. Three more to go. And then, of course, there’s the second series. I need to block out some time and get my Shakespeare head on. You can, of […]

Our affinity for stories is deep-rooted

This is interesting. Jordan Peterson on perceptions of reality: Scientific truths were made explicit a mere five hundred years ago, with the works of Francis Bacon, René Descartes and Isaac Newton. In whatever manner our forebears viewed the world prior to that, it was not through a scientific lens (any more than they could view […]

Odysseus and his real-life friends – The Conversation

Researchers find that the relationships between characters in Homer’s Odyssey are more realistic than generally found in fiction, suggesting the epic is founded – at least in part – on historical events. Fascinating science reported on TheConversation.com, here, and coming to me via The Times, here: In fiction – the Marvel universe or Lord of […]

Ad, ab … odd. The lasting grip of Latin

The Economist’s Johnson column on the lasting influence of Latin on our language. Ad and ab are workaday prepositions in Latin, the former usually meaning “towards”, or “at” (think of ad hominem) and the latter meaning “from” (think abscond, abdicate and such). Iurare means “to swear”. So in Latin, adiurare meant to swear to do something, and abiurare meant to swear off it—the ab and ad clear as day to your average […]

Don’t say that!! – An official guide to profanity

The Inky Fool points us to telecom regulator Ofcom’s official, Quick Reference Guide to offensive language and gestures. It’s a strangely compelling, rather British, bureaucratic wonder… Ginger – Mild language, generally of little concern. Typically viewed as a humorous insult, however more aggression or specific intent to hurt heightens impact. God – Mild language, generally […]

One space good, two spaces better?

The great space debate continues. For years, I used two spaces after the full stop (or period, if you prefer). Then, I learned and understood the rationale: modern typography requires only one space. Partly in deference to the designers and editors who pick up my stark copy and convert it into beauty, I switched. Now […]

Jody Sabral

Digital disruption in the sleepy world of publishing – @jodysabral

More than just a digital copy of the printed page. Author Jody Sabral has a fascinating piece on the world of digital publishing (on BBC.co.uk). I was particularly struck by two aspects. Firstly, how the absence of a physical product is driving fresh approaches to marketing – no longer a lonely book-signing in the darkest […]

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