Hit & Run: Let your finger do the talking

The dig to the ribs by the guy next to her told Rose Schlossberg her great uncle's funeral procession probably wasn't the best place to be seen giving someone the finger.

Footage shot during the ceremonies to commemorate Senator Edward Kennedy appears to show JFK's granddaughter raising a middle digit. It's not clear what provoked Schlossberg, 21, but the Harvard graduate joins a long line of pissed-off people who have raised eyebrows by "flipping the bird".

For rock stars or inebriated pop starlets, offering the universal and unequivocal signal (usually to the paparazzi) is no big deal but, in the wrong hands, the "one-finger victory salute", as George W Bush once called it, has the power to shock as well as embarrass. Bush gave the "salute" defence when he realised the cameras were rolling as the then Texas Governor flipped the bird at an aide (in jest, judging by his smile) before an interview. The clip emerged during Bush's presidency and provided ammunition for critics portraying him as a smirking frat boy.

As likely to be seen on the football terraces as in the Kennedy cortege, "the finger" has a remarkable ability to penetrate all levels of society. During a 1976 political rally, the then Vice President Nelson Rockefeller was photographed thrusting a particularly turgid finger at anti-Vietnam hecklers. Meanwhile in 2007, the Czech Prime Minster, Mirek Topolánek, had some explaining to do after he, too, was caught making a deposit at the finger bank – in Parliament.

Anthropologists have offered various histories of "the finger". Some authorities take the Freudian view that the raised finger is a phallic-aggressive gesture that predates Homo sapiens. More recently, there are records of raised fingers in Ancient Greece, and the Romans used a digitus impudicus (impudent finger) in much the same way we do. It does not, as countless websites attest, date back to the Battle of Agincourt, where British archers supposedly raised one or two digits at the French, who had threatened to cut off their bow fingers.

So if Schlossberg is compelled to explain herself, she can claim she is in the company of Roman emperors (Caesar is said to have dismissed entertainers with a wave of his middle finger), that she was satisfying a primal urge, or that she was being friendly; the Schlossberg-Kennedys have their home on Manhattan, where "the bird" is also known as the "New York hello". Simon Usborne

Marriage of convenience – and office essentials

As a way of raising the funds for starting a new business, it certainly beats having to plead your case in front of the bank manager. A Silicon Valley couple have decided to use their wedding as an opportunity to get their start-up off their ground, by asking their guests to forgo the usual wedding gifts – china, silverware, and a blender no-one will use – and instead donate money to the newlyweds.

Thankfully, Drue Kataoka and Svetlozar Kazanjiev, from Palo Alto in California, didn't abandon romance completely by demanding cash straight-up. Instead, their unusual wedding list consists of various items their new company, Aboomba, requires, together with a partnering price which well-wishers can then donate via PayPal. Therefore, guests are able to contribute the cost of their utility bills for a month ($53) or give them the money for a copy of Microsoft Office Professional Edition ($205.17).

They could also gift the rate for renting a friend's garage for a month ($250), or buying coffee for a week for a team of five (the price of this varies, depending on whether it comes from Starbucks or the slightly more expensive Peet's). Intriguingly the couple – who were married on Saturday at Stanford University – have not released any details regarding the company itself, although they say it won't be launched for several months. It's sure to be a success, though, with these keen business minds behind it. Toby Green

The Force will be with you... if you remember the batteries

Welcome, young Jedi. Today's lesson will be learning to control the power of the Force using only your mind. Oh, and a slightly dorky-looking headset plus a plastic tube with a ball in it. Confused? A Jedi is never confused. You see, these tools make up the 'Star Wars Force Trainer' (£99.95, Firebox.com), a kit that gives would-be Yodas the ability to make a polystyrene ball float using the power of the mind (EEG sensor technology it has). Hit & Run has spent some time trying to master the Force's secrets using it, but must confess that it didn't realise that the universe's metaphysical and ubiquitous power needed quite so many batteries to get going. Adventure, excitement, a Jedi craves not these things. But a packet of AAs would be nice. Rebecca Armstrong

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR and Payroll Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This dynamic outsourced contact...

Recruitment Genius: Production & Quality Control Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity for a ...

Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor - Kettering - £32,000

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor with an established...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Generalist

£40 - 50k (DOE) + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a HR Manager / HR Genera...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor