Wikipedia vandalism and old folks in Tolworth

I use Wikipedia quite a lot, and only occasionally spot acts of vandalism. But here's one possible example, from the entry on Tolworth (check out the final sentence - and click on the image to see a larger version):

Yes, it says: "I have been here and its not all that to be honest just a bunch of old folks".

Wikipedia defines vandalism as "any addition, removal, or change of content made in a deliberate attempt to compromise the integrity of Wikipedia". However on the same page it also makes reference to "unintentional vandalism". Huh?

Anyway, I'm not sure whether the Tolworth edit is deliberate or unintentional vandalism - or whether, in its own way, it actually adds to the article.

'I assumed that it was a suicidal note'

BBC News is running a story today about a French love letter in a bottle that washed up on a Cornish beach.

The man who discovered the bottle, Martin Leslie, is quoted as saying: "I assumed that it was a suicidal note that we came across."

Suicidal note: a note that tries to kill itself...

Bags of fun at Marks & Spencer

So Marks & Spencer charges 5p for each of its regular carrier bags, partly "to encourage customers to reduce the amount of bags they use".

Today I bought a few groceries at Marks & Spencer, and the cashier persuaded me to pack them in two small carrier bags "because they're free" rather than in one regular bag.

Go to Marks & Spencer and use more plastic bags!

Image courtesy of

My metrics tool is feeling optimistic

So the tool we use at work to track our website's page views is feeling wildly optimistic today (click on the image to see a larger version):

Click to see a larger version of the image
There's a clear weekly pattern, and when I took the screengrab at 3pm today we were on track to hit (or slightly exceed) the average for a Monday. Where the forecast of 50,000+ page views came from I don't know. Not least because it would be 14,000 page views above our site record...

Nihari is best eaten

So my local Indian takeaway has an interesting item in the 'specials' section of its menu:

Nihari £9.95

Lamb on the bone is slow cooked to release all its flavours making a rich, very distinctive curry. Best eaten.

"Best eaten"? Does that mean that the other dishes are best avoided?

Funny, but I've found a very similar description on another restaurant's menu - only this one ends with "Best eaten with garlic naan"...

A Generation Hat is Ignored and Scorned

I did mention this great typo on Twitter yesterday but I think it's worth recording for posterity on the blog. You never know, the Daily Express might get around to fixing it at some point:

Headline reading 'A Generation Hat is Ignored and Scorned'

Daily Express: A Generation Hat is Ignored and Scorned

2000A post may have at most labels.

Two things have annoyed me recently.

Firstly, the discovery that Blogger blogs can only have a maximum of 2,000 tags (or 'labels', if you prefer).

Secondly, the error message that Blogger gives you when you exceed that number:

2000A post may have at most labels.
"2000A post may have at most labels." Very clear.

Free translations, guides, books and, er, sex

I've been meaning to share these links for a while: Phrases: translations of useful phrases to and from any two of 14 languages - with a special focus on formal writing (business and academic). is also offering downloadable travel survival guides - but they don't contain any information on pronunciation, so in my view their use is limited.

Lit Drift: a website about fiction-writing, notable for its 'Free Book Fridays' - "the best titles in indie publishing for the low low price of nothing". Oh, you can also follow Lit Drift on Twitter. Somewhat surprisingly, the site is blocked at work:

The Lit Drift website is blocked because it falls into the category of 'sex'

Photo special: infer / imply

Today I took an online course on competition laws ('antitrust' to some of you), and I was pleased to see it contained this example of infer/imply confusion:

Caption reads: You should avoid using terms that infer power

Great photo too.

Workplace outing

Recently I overheard this piece of office humour:

Colleague A: "We need a workplace outing."
Colleague B: "OK - your magazine's gay!"

(For those who don't get the joke - 'outing' can mean either "an excursion" or "the disclosure of the undeclared homosexuality" (both OED). I'm not sure whether the former meaning is widely used outside British English...)

Leona Lewis attacked by fan / buck-toothed nut

So singer Leona Lewis has been punched in the head at a book signing. Here's the BBC News headline and intro:

Even if the man who attacked Lewis bought a copy of her autobiography and queued up nicely for a signature, I still think it's a bit of a stretch to assume he is a "fan".

The Sun, on the other hand, calls the attacker a "geeky bumpkin", a "maniac", "warped" and a "buck-toothed nut".

Cambridge: Home of Anglia Ruskin University

I spotted this sign while on the train to Ely recently:

Sign reading Cambridge: Home of Anglia Ruskin University

Cambridge, home of Anglia Ruskin University.

Wait a minute - isn't there another university in Cambridge too? I can't for the life of me remember what it's called...

The Nordics - and Scandinavia

A recent email from our CEO talked about "plans to sell our businesses in the Nordics". The Nordics?

I'd thought that 'the Nordic countries' and 'Scandinavia' were synonyms (if I'd thought about it at all), but it appears that the former term almost always includes Finland and Iceland, while the latter term often doesn't.

As Wikipedia says (referencing the brilliantly named Kenneth R Olwig):

"Scandinavia" has no official definition and is subject to usage by those who identify with the culture in question, as well as interpretation by outsiders who attempt to give the term their own meaning. The term is, therefore, often defined according to the conventions of the cultures that lay claim to the term in their own usage

The OED Online defines 'Nordic' (adjective) as "of or relating to Scandinavia, the Scandinavian people, or their languages", which doesn't really clarify the matter. I'm sure my Concise OED gives different definition, but I'll have to check when I'm back at work.

James Brown's latest request

As regular readers of this blog will know, a couple of weeks ago I received an email from James Brown wanting to know if I had sun loungers for sale.

Undeterred by my lack of response, Mr Brown has written to me again - and now he's after some asymmetric bars:

Spam request from James Brown

I'm surprised he isn't asking for a brand new bag to put them in...

Headline: Grant seals return to Portsmouth

Grant seals return to Portsmouth
I first saw this headline out of context - in a giant news ticker in the window of my local Sainsbury's supermarket. It left me wondering what Grant seals were, and why they had abandoned Portsmouth in the first place. Perhaps the water was too polluted?

It was only when I got home and Googled 'Grant seals return to Portsmouth' that I discovered the headline was from a BBC Sport story about Avram Grant's return to Portsmouth FC (as you can probably tell, I'm not much of a football fan).

The Turner Prize and Enrico David Enrico

On Monday the London Lite ran a short piece on the entries for this year's Turner Prize. Here's part of it:

Clipping from the London Lite
I feel sorry for the caption-writer on this one. David Enrico sounds a more plausible name than Enrico David (in my opinion).

At least the London Lite is less critical of the Turner Prize than the Daily Mail...

Word of the day: microperfed

The notebook I use at work is "microperfed", which I assume means it has tiny perforations.

To my surprise, the word throws up a respectable 25,400 results on Google (and that's not including variations such as "micro-perfed").

It's not only paper that can be microperfed - plastic bags and shoes are also microperfable. And, er, shapes.

I've just checked again and my notebook is actually a "jotta". That's the description, not the product name...

JD gets Wired

Wired magazine coverFor the first time since I was at school, I'm a magazine subscriber. I've been bought a subscription to Wired UK as a birthday present, and my first issue dropped through the letterbox today. I haven't read it yet, but it does smell nice.

Incidentally, the magazine (or rather, comic) that I subscribed to during my schooldays was Eagle. It folded in 1994. I hope I have a better influence on Wired...

It's 0 Aug 2009

Pete Docherty Doherty sang about the 32nd of December, but my web mail seems to be inventing dates of its own:

Website Failure Alert (NSFW?)

More correspondence, this time an email I received in my official capacity as web production editor. It was from our, um, "obscenity checker" at work. I'm assuming that's a program rather than a person.

Anyway, under the heading Website Failure Alert (in red, with initial caps), the email warned me:

Obscene Word: A word contained in our library of obscene words has been found on your web page.

The word found is bollocks.

Made me laugh certainly. It turned out that one of our reporters had used the word on Twitter; it had then made its way into an aggregated feed of all our staff writers' tweets and then on to our website's homepage. Whoops.

Or should I say, bollocks.