The Australian author of this lively collection of essays about language is an amiable guide to his subject. "Amiable" is, however, a stiff adjective to use when describing Julian Burnside, QC, who praises HW Fowler, author of A Dictionary of Modern English Usage (1926), and Samuel Johnson for allowing their personalities to colour their writings about words. He mocks philologists for their dryness, dismisses "cherished superstitions" that remain popular with conservative querulists and describes an attempt to ban the use of "mate" from the Australian parliament in appropriately matey style.
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Wednesday 11 May 2011
Nick Clegg began the task of creating distance between his Liberal Democrats and their Conservative coalition partners today by declaring that the current Government is a "coalition of necessity, not of conviction".
Wednesday 27 April 2011
The Republican Governor of Mississippi has unexpectedly bowed out of presidential contention just as the 2012 campaign was beginning.
Tuesday 12 April 2011
Monday 14 February 2011
The libertarian Republican Congressman Ron Paul won a presidential straw poll of conservatives at the weekend in a result that showed Republicans still a have long way to go to pick a challenger to President Barack Obama in 2012.
Tuesday 08 February 2011
Sunday 06 February 2011
The Prime Minister delivered an important speech in Munich yesterday. He was careful to distinguish between Islamist extremism and Islam. He was of course right to do so. He said that the Government had been too passive about extremists recruiting in publicly funded institutions such as universities and prisons. He was right. He said that public money should not be available to organisations that "seek to present themselves as a gateway to the Muslim community" if they are opposed to democracy and universal human rights – including for women – or if they encourage separatism. He was right again.
Saturday 05 February 2011
No funding for Muslim groups that fail to back women's rights
Tuesday 18 January 2011
Labour was accused of "bullying" journalists today after the party's new chief spin doctor appealed to broadcasters to change the way they describe the Government.
Monday 03 January 2011
There are clearly deficiencies in the management of Ford prison in west Sussex. We must wait on the results of the official investigation into the events of recent days to get a clear picture, but early reports suggest that prisoners had been drinking on New Year's Eve and went on the rampage after staff attempted to breathalyse them. The damage has been considerable. Rioters burned down six accommodation blocks, a gym, a mail room and a snooker room. Around 160 prisoners will now have to be transferred to other jails.
Friday 29 October 2010
Labour leader Ed Miliband said today the party's fightback to power had begun.
Friday 22 October 2010
Music: I don't really like music any more. I bought The Coral; the single's brilliant but the album's OK. I bought David Rawlings because he's Gillian Welch's guitarist – I heard one of the songs called "Method Acting" and it's a cover of a Conor Oberst song. But the album's not very good. The one record I liked this year – and I'm shocked to say it as I managed them for years – is Carl Barat's album – it's a complete departure. It's like Scott Walker and Kevin Rowland –it's the best record Carl's ever made.
Monday 04 October 2010
Monday 13 September 2010
Wednesday 08 September 2010
Dressed casually in jeans, Doug Stanhope looks less uncompromising US stand-up and more potter about to start work on some clay. Meanwhile, the trademark alcoholic haze that steadily creeps up on Stanhope (his poison for this performance is a double cocktail of beer and Jagerbombs) makes for the usual mix of the unfocused and the inspired.
Friday 03 September 2010
Prime Minister Julia Gillard edged closer to retaining power in Australia yesterday when an independent lawmaker said he would support her centre-left Labor Party to form Australia's first minority government in almost seven decades.
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'
Ed Miliband's 'north London set' must be demolished to save Labour, say critics
Sarah Vine criticises lesbian mother Jack Monroe: 'If she was unsure about her sexuality, she should have taken greater precautions'
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