I am fascinated by the BITCOIN and the fact that it is being dismissed as being ‘virtual currency’ because ALL currency by definition is virtual. It is simply an accepted standard – whether it be euros, dollars, pounds sterling or lollipop sticks for baby sitting services, these have no absolute value; simply, an agreed value. In the beginning, we had barter – the exchange of two objects or services at a mutually agreed valuation. It was not always a simple matter, and may have often have ended in difficulty with a conversation that ran: ‘have you change of a suckling pig, my fine fellow? followed by the inevitable sharp intake of breath, and the response . ‘Nay sir, I am fortunate only to the level of a ferret and two small but ripe and tasty damsons.’ So progress brought us to the gold Standard – a much more sophisticated level of exchange, taking as the absolute unit of wealth a substance recognised as valuable because it was shiny. This I feel, says something about the level of sophistication to which humans have evolved, and clearly defines Bankers are magpie’s with briefcases ‘Unkind’ you say? see Dante for much harsher condemnation. Of course, this did not simplify commercial transactions a great deal as the enquiry ‘Have you got change of an ingot?’ would still have been problematic. However it was convenient (and shiny) enough to be used until 1971.
Thus we had arrived, slowly and unsteadily, to the currencies of today ranging from the staid sterling, to the continentally stylish Euro, and the flashy ‘buck’; the unpronounceable Polish Zloty, and Bhutanese ngultrum; the appropriately lengthy konvertibilna marka of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the terse but no-nonsense yen, and finally the dong of Vietnam.
And now we have the Bitcoin BUT why is it that the Bitcoin is causing so much fuss? Could it simply be the fact that it is not under the control of the Banks? No …….. surely not. Mind you, I wouldn’t bet my last dong on that.
‘The pen is mightier than the sword, if the sword is very short and the pen is very sharp.’
A short while ago, I had two entirely different cinematic experiences.; first watching the new Bladerunner film at a multiplex and secondly watching ‘Loving Vincent’ at Home, an arts complex in Manchester.
Both being of a certain age, Lesley and I are entitled to reduced price seats and have the freedom to watch films at off-peak times. So far, so good. It was with some amusement and delight we discovered that we had a 256 cinema to ourselves! The show starts and the interminable ads and trailers which have long replaced the B-movies of yesteryear commence. It is during this time that some other people arrive and being Brits, follow the numbered seats routine and sit next to us. At this point, I realise between them, this family of three, are carrying sufficiently large quantity of snacks and fizzy drinks to dress the set for a 21st-century version of Belshazzar‘s feast or even ‘La grande Bouffe’!
Immediately the person sitting closest to me begins to shovel food into her mouth with a metronomic and robotic movement whose timing is so precise that the next portion arrives at her mouth at exactly the moment she’s completed the deafening process of masticating the previous dose of food substitute. I am galvanised. I tolerated it for more time than I should’ve done as by the time we’ve moved I am a twitching wreck unable to enjoy the cinematic pleasure.
In contrast, the arts cinema was small, full and was completely lacking in earth-shatteringly loud snacks. I enjoyed the film except for the presence of two women sitting to my right who constantly laughed at on screen events which were NOT particularly funny in that superior way that implies they had noticed a set of nuances which us mere mortals were unable to discern. This flaunting of faux discernment was a conceit is clearly underlined by the fact they sang along to the odious ‘Starry starry night’ which the producers had predictively chosen to end the film!
So: which is it to be ?
I once saw on a freelancer site, a request for a ‘a painting of Jesus cuddling a baby dinosaur’, along the lines of the photo attached. The fact that there was already such a photo in existence is itself a little scary . . . .
Overheard in the pub: ‘Modern chainsaws are so safe they’d only cut half way through your arm before they cut out!’
My questions is this: what sort of mentality is required to put the word ‘only’ in this statement?
OK- so to christen the new site, here’s a number of gripes I have with the misuse of language. If anybody dares say ‘yes but language is a living, breathing and evolving structure’ I fully accept and understand this much quoted phrase, however evolving is by definition a smooth and relatively slow process, whereas many ‘changes’ in usage come about through sheer ignorance of correct usage – personally I’d rather not have errors ensconced as a sign of verbal progress. The high horse having being well and truly exercised, here are a few examples
1 Using ‘should of been’ when it should have been ‘should have been’
2 Using ‘bartering’ when they mean ‘bargaining’ or ‘haggling’ : ‘bargaining’ is a process of reaching a price (or out come) which suits both parties. ‘Bartering’ which many people say they are good at, would mean convincing a sofa salesman that they should accept in exchange for the latest lounging luxury your old sofa, which only has a few springs showing, and lacks only one of the cushions, plus some random objects which you found in your attic. Obviously, this is entire hypothetical as sofas seem to always be at “Outrageously Good Sale Prices!”
3 Using the word ‘riffing’ in any context! The word refers to a series of notes; a musical phrase originally and usually applied to guitarists. I have NEVER heard a musician say ‘riffing’ – a riff is a thing. Somebody – and I am tempted to blame Will Self for this – has purloined the word and transmogrified it into a conjugatable verb to be used outside of a musical context
I riff, you rifff, he riffs . . . . No, I don’t, you don’t and he bloody doesn’t!
As an aside, I cannot resist blaming Self for many things (this is clearly not severe self-deprecation) and I did delight in his error of using the phrase – ‘having cardinal knowledge’ – unless he knows more than we do about the habits of the Catholic church.
Here endeth the first of many. . .
In yesterday’s Independent, Simmy Richman was looking at how the British perception of queuing has changed. Apparently Aaron Gillies in his new book suggests that: ‘Get to the back of the queue, you prick’ as the modern response. But how much more comforting to read Guy Browning’s description of the British way from his book ‘The British Constitution :first draft:
” In the event of a verbal warning failure, the queue is allowed to seethe with resentment accompanied with barely audible muttering.”
As British as it comes— but then what else could one expect from a man who is named after the leader of the Dambuster’s from a family named after a gravy making ingredient?