CHRIS COOPER'S BLOG - infrequent forays into fun, freedom, fysics and filosophy...

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Blogosophical Investigations
Monday, June 27, 2005  

Late last Friday night I was on a Thameslink train heading north from King's Cross. A young bloke walks down the aisle of the crowded train. Into his mobile he says – not "I'm on the train!" but – "I'm wearing a blue shirt and jeans." The rest of the conversation is lost as he vanishes, in his blue shirt and jeans.

Was he having phone sex?


On Saturday, in the public library's reference section: I was reading Stein Ringen of Oxford in the TLS, reviewing books on ending poverty:

The IMF is the world's committee of poor-law custodians. It orders those who depend on it to live as it decrees. ... It is, as poor-law custodians always were, more concerned with the behaviour of the poor than with freeing them from poverty. ... We want to relieve poverty but have not grasped the imperative of eradicating it.

And how is the IMF supposed to go about the task that Ringen accepts for them, of freeing someone from poverty without specifying their behaviour? Are they supposed to give money unconditionally to recipients who have not been able to achieve that? And if instead they impose conditions - why then presumably they're concerning themselves wih the behaviour of the poor.


The sound of a demonstration draws people to the windows of the reading area. Moslems are marching. There are a few identical printed placards to the effect that only the khilafah (I think - perhaps khalifa?) can defend Islam. There is a reference to the desecration of the Koran. Marchers read their responses to the cheerleaders from printed sheets. The march is orderly, escorted by stewards in visibility vests and a few police, with the rear brought up by a police van. The demo is very traditional in one respect: the front of the march is taken by the men, the rear by the women and children.


From 'The week on the Web' in the Times the other day:

If you plan a business trip to Chicago soon, be careful about to whom you speak.

How many hands were involved in creating that syntactic dog's breakfast? It has all the hallmarks of the crass subeditor – or the author who's been intimidated by a crass subeditor in the past.

I can imagine the stages of this utterance's descent:

... be careful who you speak to.

(the natural spoken phrase – but I wouldn't write it, in my own persona)

... be careful whom you speak to.

(I would probably write that and have to admit I might even say it.)

... be careful to whom you speak.

(If I caught myself, as editor, torturing someone's words into that shape, it would be time to Tipp-ex out the red pen and start again.)

... be careful about to whom you speak.

Whaat? Who ordered the 'about'?

Somebody tried altogether too hard on that one.

1:32 PM

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