The daily catch-up: art of the unapology, a bet on UKIP and printer ink molecules

Bits and pieces of shiny interest collected from the internet by our cyber-jackdaw
  • @johnrentoul

1. David Ward's non-apology apology yesterday was a classic of the form. “My comments were not in support of firing rockets into Israel. If they gave the opposite impression, I apologise.”

His comment, in a tweet which has not been deleted, was: “The big question is - if I lived in Gaza would I fire a rocket? - probably yes.” You decide what impression that gives.

Any statement that needs “this is a categorical apology” from a press officer is not a categorical apology.

In an earlier attempt at clarification yesterday, Ward told the Evening Standard: “I am not saying I would do it.” This is an interesting way to construe a sentence in which he said he “probably ... would” do it.

Robert Hutton wrote about “How To Give An Unapology” in his excellent book on journalese, Romps, Tots and Boffins, a guide that will be relevant for ever.

2. “At least half the mystery novels published violate the law that the solution, once revealed, must seem to be inevitable.” Quotation of the Day from Raymond Chandler, via the A Word A Day email.

3. This week's Ashcroft poll of marginal seats has been number-crunched by Robert Ford, one of the leading academic students of UKIP. It suggests that Nigel Farage's party is outperforming Ford's model for predicting UKIP's general-election vote in a handful of target seats. Ford has accepted two £50 bets with John McTernan, Tony Blair's former political secretary, who says UKIP won't win any seats at the general election.

4. “Suppose you were to print, in 12 point text, the numeral 1 using a common cheap ink-jet printer. How many molecules of the ink would be used? At what numerical value would the number printed approximately equal the number of ink molecules used?” Great question asked of What If? and another wonderful science-maths answer, which comes up with “an 18-digit number".

5. Just before finally, thanks to Peter Evans for this:

“Looked out window to see man stealing my gate. Did not say anything in case he took offence.”

6. Finally, this YouGov chart of how party leaders have been seen on the left-right spectrum since 2002 is a thing of beauty and a joy for ever.