The daily catch-up: heatwave update; duck tape and market socialism

A handful of gems selected from the bran tub of the internet by our political columnist
  • @johnrentoul

1. “It is too hot in Britain. The annual golden retriever migration has begun.” Technically Ron via Clive Davis.

2. Surprisingly, to me, David Ward is still a Liberal Democrat MP. I am confirmed in my belief that I would rather vote Labour or Conservative than Lib Dem. David Aaronovitch wrote a fine column in The Times yesterday (pay wall) on the cycle of reinforcing violence and mistrust in Gaza and then asked himself:

“What would I do? That is Mr Ward’s question to which he answered ‘Try to kill someone’ and I think we can do better.”

Aaronovitch went on:

“Situations such as Gaza ... end all thinking. Even the best reporters there are so caught up in the horrors that there has been no time for analysis. I’ve seen adult journalists using the unequal death toll as a weird form of scoring the conflict. Whoever loses the most people is, somehow, the good guy ...

“We have light at the end of the tunnel, Shimon Peres famously said, but unfortunately there is no tunnel. To get an agreement and make it work involves not just marginalising the rejectionist opposition, but overcoming the deep sense of humiliation felt by Palestinians and the just-as-deep existential fears of the Israelis. They both have to know – properly know – that the other is never going away ...

“None of this is likely, of course. And that will mean spending more time in David Ward territory, where stupidity increasingly seems preferable to silence.”

Ward's latest statement yesterday sadly confirmed Aaronovitch’s assessment: “If I had personally lived year after year after year, hemmed in by air, land and sea by a mighty military force, I might well resist. Wouldn’t you?” Well, if you define resistance as trying to kill Israeli civilians, I hope not.

3. Most extraordinary discovery of the day. I am collecting a list of the Top 10 Eggcorns – words or phrases misheard which have become often used, such as card shark for card sharp (named by linguist Geoffrey Pullum in 2003 from the substitution of “eggcorn” for “acorn”, and not quite the same as a mondegreen). Ben Stanley warned me against including duck tape for duct tape, because, he said, duck tape is the original and correct version and duct tape is the eggcorn. I could not believe it, but he pointed me to the Wikipedia entry for cotton duck, a canvas, from Dutch doek, which was used to reinforce adhesive tape.


Here is the proof that “duck tape”, which started to be used in about 1938, preceded “duct tape”, from Google Ngram’s graph of usage in digitised books.

4. Quotation of the Day: “One man’s fish is another man’s poisson.” Traced with the help of Nick Stanton to Carolyn Wells, 1904.

5. Nice detail via Conservative Home from Pew and Reason Foundation surveys in America that found that at least 22 per cent of young people prefer “socialism” to “capitalism” but also prefer a “free market economy” to a “government-managed” one. As a market socialist, I am delighted by the success of our US recruitment drive.

6. Finally, thanks again to Chris Heaton-Harris for this:

“Bicycles can’t stand on their own because they are nearly always two tyred.”

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