The silly-season, sorry, crop-circle season story of the man arrested in a crop circle for allegedly firing a shotgun to deter sightseers provoked the following thought:
There are those who marvel at the amazing complexity of some of the crop formations and find mathematical and symbolic meaning in them that, they say, is proof that they are not made by humans. Well, I’m in the “made by humans” camp but am willing to listen to those with sound, scientifically valid evidence who believe otherwise. However, what I’m not willing to do is marvel at how “advanced” these aliens are.
They are vandals that cause thousands of pounds worth of damage. If they really need to communicate profound insights into human destiny, surely it’s not beyond them to learn one of our major languages or send a radio broadcast? I mean, if I were trying to convey information to creatures on a remote planet, I wouldn’t thoughtlessly make cryptograms in their valuable crops, causing damage and costing the alien farmers money.
That would just be a display of selfish criminal damage akin to graffiti.
If extraterrestrials are making crop circles, they are certainly not gentlemen 😉
File this under in the “If true, it’s very important” category:
Col. Halt, famed in ufology for his taped commentary of strange sightings outside a nuclear weapon-packed US Air force base in 1980, has apparently stated in an interview cited in UFOWeek.com:
“I wish to make it perfectly clear that the UFOs I saw were structured machines moving under intelligent control and operating beyond the realm of anything I have ever seen before or since. I believe the objects that I saw at close quarter were extraterrestrial in origin and that the security services of both the United States and England [sic] were and have been complicit in trying to subvert the significance of what occurred at Rendlesham by use of well practiced methods of disinformation.”
The significance of this remark, if confirmed that he did indeed make it, is that he scores very highly on the credibility scale as the former deputy base commander outside which strange phenomena were observed over Christmas 1980. Much has been written and much pored over in the pursuit of the facts in this case, considered by some to be second only to Roswell in importance. This statement is completely at odds with those researchers who claim that what was seen by several people over three nights was simply a misidentified lighthouse.
If it isn’t already, this should be one of ufology’s stop-the-press moments and if the mainstream media would get out of snigger mode it would be breaking news.
“We call our islands by no less than six different names, England, Britain, Great Britain, the British Isles, the United Kingdom and, in very exalted moments, Albion. How can one make a pattern out of this muddle?”
In short England is used wrongly to refer to the sovereign state whose formal name is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This misuse went on in political circles until relatively recently, with Winston Churchill speaking during World War Two of ‘England’ when he was referring to the aformentioned sovereign state. Or was he? There’s an essay for a first year PPE student.
Recent devolution of some government powers away from the United Kingdom government and parliament in Westminster to Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland have served to make this issue more important to handle sensitively.
My guide for the uncertain:
Only use England when referring to the constituent country called England. Don’t use England if you mean the United Kingdom. If you are talking about someone or something from Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland and the constituent country is relevant, don’t say ‘English’. Say Welsh, Scottish or Northern Irish. If you’re not sure, see below.
Use ‘Britain’ or ‘The United Kingdom’, or ‘The UK’ when referring to the United Kingdom or if you’re not sure – or it’s not relevant – to which constituent country you are referring. The same goes for the adjective British.
Over the last ten years or so, I’ve been noticing changes in the words that speakers of British English use. Some of those changes are due to the adoption of American English words, others are simply through misunderstanding. Here is an utterly subjective and unscientific survey of some of the changes that I have noticed. Before I am accused of being a curmudgeon, I accept that language is always evolving, so to complain about all of them is pointless. One or two of the changes, however, do seem to me excessively PC or depressingly indicative of lowered educational standards.
Will all these words still be in common British English usage ten years from now?
“Problem” has a problem. It is just too negative for our upbeat, spin-obsessed age. It suggests that something is actually, er, wrong. Oh dear. Instead we have the blander issue. Consider a parent tutting about one of her children’s more badly-behaved friends: would she say “Kevin’s got problems” or would she be more tempted to say “Kevin’s got issues“? In the workplace, problems have been almost entirely banished. Great news! Now we are left with only issues and challenges which are not so bad at all, are they?
How often do you receive an invitation to a party these days? You’re more likely to receive an invite. This change of use of the word “invite” from a verb to a noun is, I believe, a result of the adoption of “invite” from American English. American software applications allow you to send your colleagues invites to meetings. In my workplace in the UK, I have not heard the word invitation used in conversation – in any context – for three years.
Take-out or takeout seems to replacing “take-away” as both noun and verb when referring to food that is bought to be consumed off the premises. In my local fish and chip shop, that most British of institutions, customers* can eat at tables instead of taking their battered cod and chips away. They are therefore asked “Is that to take out?”*Formerly known as patrons.
This is now becoming only a scientific term, now replaced in everyday English by bug. I have to give bug its due: it is a short and child-friendly word.
The verb exploit is probably too resonant of those non-PC times when exploitation was the norm, by men of women, by adults of children, by the first world of the third, by the haves of the have-nots. So it appears to have been substituted by the noun leverage. Thus, where previously one would have exploited a resource, it is now leveraged. It’s probably largely used in business but it crops up elsewhere.
Yes, sex will have disappeared in a few years time. But only in the sense of gender, which is now replacing it. Those with a schoolboy sense of humour will no longer have the innocent pleasure of writing “Yes, seven times a week” next to the parts of forms enquiring whether you are male or female.
No, we aren’t dropping the definite article entirely. Only in one particular context: in dates. These days “Friday thirteenth” is becoming more prevalent than the more old-fashioned “Friday the thirteenth”. Similarly “on”, as in “She went shopping on Wednesday” is beginning to be dropped too.
shop No more shops. Only stores. One type of shop, the chemist’s has been replaced by the pharmacy.
The decline of the teaching of classics has resulted in a generation who don’t know that borrowed Greek words ending in “-on” take the ending “-a” in the plural. “a criteria” and “a phenomena” crop up everywhere.
If I didn’t eat my greens when I was little, mum might have told me not to be fussy. Today, in the same situation, a child is picky.
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