Twitter evidence that GCSEs are easy

Evidence from Twitter that GCSE exams are easy:

Twitter trending topics from 27 August 2009
Among Twitter's trending topics a few hours ago were GCSE, A's, B's and C's - but not D's and E's.

Or it could be that there's a correlation between Twitter use and academic excellence...

Partner with Verizon. Why aren't we?

Slightly clunky wording in this advert for Verizon, as seen on

Computer Weekly advert for Verizon
'Partner' is being used as a verb here, so I would have opted for 'why don't we?' rather than 'why aren't we?'.

I wonder whether the fact that 'partner' can be a noun or a verb caused some confusion. Or was the confusion over tenses: present simple ('partner') followed by present continuous ('why aren't we [partnering])?

Lamb rag out

While I'm on a food theme, I thought I'd share with you an email that dropped into the Engine Room inbox a while back (OK, March 2008):

I was looking at our work menu today and found 'lamb ragout'. I was like: "Lamb rag out? That sounds awful - what's that?"

I was promptly advised it was pronounced 'ragoo' and I felt a bit stupid. Why ragout is spelt with a T I don't know - it's a waste of a letter and only causes confusion.

I suppose the 'T' helps differentiate ragout from RagĂș pasta sauce. Or Raghu, the Hindu King.

Cockney cash machines in East London

I was amused to read a news story today about cash machines in East London programmed to display messages in Cockney rhyming slang.

It's disappointing, though, that the cash machines give the entire rhyming phrase rather than just the first part of it: 'sausage and mash' for 'cash', for example, rather than just 'sausage'.

Mind you, dropping the first part of the phrase would make some of the messages indecipherable to the uninitiated. But isn't that part of the point?

The company behind the initiative, Bank Machine, "hopes to follow the Cockney cash machines with Brummie, Geordie, Scouse and Scots ATMs" and "keep these dialects alive in Britain", according to the Times article.

There's a lot more to a dialect than a few hand-picked, money-related phrases...

Savoury cheese on a soft white bap

As you can see, we have here a savoury cheese bap:

Savoury cheese on a soft white bap

Presumably it's savoury primarily in the sense of "pleasing to the taste; appetizing; agreeable" (OED).

For me, though, the first meaning of savoury is 'the opposite of sweet' - and as I would always expect a cheese bap to be savoury rather than sweet (without the need for it to be stated), the label made me do a double-take.

That probably says more about me than the bap, though.

Quick quiz: media studies

Today I took a BBC News Magazine quiz on media studies. I scored six out of seven, which made me a "copy sub". How appropriate!

For the record, the question I got wrong was the one about the 30° rule.

CAPTCHA a Gimpier Clive

So I was registering with the Eggcorn Forum so I could tell everyone there about Dina's brown flakes when I was given this great CAPTCHA:

CAPTCHA gimpier clive

Just who is the mysterious 'gimpier Clive' (or rather, 'gimpier CLIVE'), and who is he gimpier than?

According to Wikipedia
, one of Yahoo's early CAPTCHA programs was called EZ-Gimpy. I'd really like to know the connection between gimpiness and CAPTCHA...

Eggcorns: brown flakes

There was a nice eggcorn on the BBC TV show Young, Dumb and Living off Mum on Sunday night.

One of the remaining contestants, Dina, was surprised to learn that bran flakes are indeed called bran flakes and not 'brown flakes' as she had always thought.

It's an easy mistake to make, seeing as bran flakes are, well, brown...

Dina from Young, Dumb and Living off Mum - photo courtesy of the BBCDina: Young, Dumb and Living off brown flakes

'Swedes miss Capri after GPS gaffe'

I meant to blog about this news story when I first saw it, a couple of weeks back:

Swedes miss Capri after GPS gaffe

It begins:

A Swedish couple in search of the isle of Capri drove to Carpi, an industrial town in northern Italy, because they misspelt the name in their car's GPS.

And I especially like this:

"Capri is an island. They did not even wonder why they didn't cross any bridge or take any boat," said a bemused tourism official in Carpi.

Does the story illustrate the importance of correct spelling or the importance of common sense? Probably more the latter...

Oh, and here's a photo of Capri (not Carpi):

Barnet soup

A couple of times recently our work canteen menu has featured 'Barnet soup'. At first I thought that was simply soup with hair in it - but it turns out that Barnet soup is a type of soup made with beetroot, potatoes and parsnips. The hair is optional.

The only real information I could find about Barnet soup (apart from a couple of recipes) was on the blog Eating for One, Cooking for Two. It says the soup was named by London chef Oliver Rowe "after the north London borough from which the ingredients came".

Blog recommendation: Awful Library Books

Today's blog choice is Awful Library Books, which lists library holdings that are "amusing and maybe questionable for public libraries trying to maintain a current and relevant collection". Most of the books aren't actually awful, just dated...

Sarah recommended this blog to me, and one of the books that caught her eye is Clothes for Disabled People (published 1981):

'You can't even trust the establishment'

From the BBC News website yesterday:

More than 1,000 police officers and staff who misused corporate credit cards will not be punished, a police watchdog has decided.

The Metropolitan Police Authority found 1,183 Met employees used the American Express cards for personal spending.

From Metro's letters page today:

What is the world coming to when you can't even trust the establishment itself?

I'd say it's pretty much business as usual.

Ex-minister Blears' car attacked

I didn't know that Hazel Blears' car used to be a cabinet minister:

Screengrab from BBC News website

According to a BBC News story today:

Former cabinet minister Hazel Blears' car has been attacked while she was out canvassing voters.

I wonder whether the car fiddled its expenses. Sorry, I mean her expenses...

I'm not moving to Guatemala any time soon

I have a new favourite spam email. It was sent to The Engine Room email address and consisted of 23 jpeg attachments detailing luxury properties for sale in Guatemala. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was also in Spanish.)

Even if I had $1.8m to spare, what are the chances that I would blow it on a lakeside property in Guatemala as the result of a spam email? About the same as me wanting an 'Israel GPS Navigation System', I should think.

Anyway, here's an extract from the email:

Spam email detailing properties in Guatemala

Nuts 4 Beer

I didn't blog yesterday because I was at the Great British Beer Festival.

Talking of which, you'd have to be desperate for a pint to take up this offer:

Terrace house or terraced house?

A couple of style questions for you today:

Terrace house (as seen in today's London Lite) or terraced house?

Teenage employee (as seen in raw copy) or teenaged employee?

Once cooked, serve

The four-step cooking instructions for Sainsbury's 'Taste the Difference' Moussaka climax with:

4. Once cooked, serve.

I'd like to think that's what I would do unless specifically told otherwise.

And yes, there have been a lot of food-related posts on The Engine Room recently...

Paws for thought

There's a bizarre little story in today's Metro, under the headline "Cats know their right from left". Here it is in full:

Cats can tell the difference between left and right, scientists say. And like humans, male moggies are more likely to use their left and females their right. Researchers studied which paw cats used for various tasks.

I'm rather confused by "male moggies are more likely to use their left". Does this mean that male cats are more likely to use their left (paw) than they are their right (paw), or that they are more likely to use their left (paw) than female cats are?

The latter, I would presume, seeing as human males are actually less likely to use their left (hand) than their right (hand) - for most tasks, at least.

But the Daily Mail version of the story indicates it is the former: 21 of 21 male cats favoured their left paw for the 'jar test'.

McCoy's Sizzling King Prawns

Yesterday, my girlfriend and I spotted a new flavour of crisp (AmE: potato chip): McCoy's Sizzling King Prawns.

From the name, my girlfriend got the impression that the crisps would be spicy. I didn't get that impression at all (after all, bacon sizzles but isn't spicy). So two questions:

  • Would you expect a 'sizzling' flavour of crisp to be spicy?
  • Have you ever tried McCoys Sizzling King Prawns, and were they spicy?

Should I buy a Fokin teapot?

I went to the Chinese supermarket recently to buy a teapot, but couldn't decide between a Fokin teapot or a Fukang teapot. What do you reckon?

Fokin teapot

Fukang teapot
And yes, I am very immature.