Honesty on Google vs Facebook – a footnote from John Lanchester

An essay worth reading in full on Facebook which contains this amusing footnote:

Facebook already had a huge amount of information about people and their social networks and their professed likes and dislikes.​2

2. Note the ‘professed’. As Seth Stephens-Davidowitz points out in his new book Everybody Lies (Bloomsbury, £20), researchers have studied the difference between the language used on Google, where people tend to tell the truth because they are anonymously looking for answers, and the language used on Facebook, where people are projecting an image. On Facebook, the most common terms associated with the phrase ‘my husband is …’ are ‘the best’, ‘my best friend’, ‘amazing’, ‘the greatest’ and ‘so cute’. On Google, the top five are ‘amazing’, ‘a jerk’, ‘annoying’, ‘gay’ and ‘mean’. It would be interesting to know if there’s a husband out there who achieves the full Google set and is an amazing annoying mean gay jerk.

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Elizabeth Taylor’s Gloomy Sundays

Elizabeth Taylor’s Gloomy Sundays

From Elizabeth Taylor’s “Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont”:

On Sundays – especially p.m. – Ludo was always depressed. Something lowering was in the air : at least three times during the day, for instance, the dreadful clanging doom of neighbourhood bells, the sauntering, church-people’s legs beyond the area railings. He squatted and squinted up at them, at the boring hats of the women going by – they were mostly women – and he was enraged with them for lowering his spirits. They did so to the extent that he could not workL and he could not go to work.

From somewhere – most certainly not from his mother – he had inherited a feeling that Sunday was a day of rest, and so he fretted through it, and always came to the end of it with a sense of wide ennui and wasted time.

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From The Soul of Kindness:

It was a Sunday afternoon and she was lonely. He knew well that she reached her lowest level on Sundays, or did, rather, as soon as lunch was eaten and she had washed up, Then the day heeled over into a frightening sea of boredom. She floundered in it, letting herself, as the hours went by, sink dully under, with the sound of church bells in her ears.

Religious people were a vexation with their selfishness. They took one whole day out of seven – out of every seven – and put a curse on it for other people. Even abroad, even in non-Christian countries, Elinor had always known when that day came round. It carried its staleness with her wherever she went.

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#Inktober 2017 – The Art of Susan Alman

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“One of the joys of Inktober was discovering illustrators of unique, strongly personal vision. One such is German artist Dolphiana AKA Susan Alman whose Inktober works were visually striking stylised animal themes:

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The Empathy of St. Francis

A wonderful essay by DeForest London on St Francis (of Assisi) and the power of empathy:

“When people were around St. Francis and his empathy, they felt this lightening of their burden because they knew (they felt deeply) that someone was sharing the load with them. They found rest for their world-weary souls in a similar way that the followers of Jesus found rest in his empathetic presence.

The beauty of this quality is that we do not have to be especially intelligent or wise or wealthy to cultivate it. In fact, according to the Gospel, this quality often eludes the wealthy and the wise. Jesus says, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants.” The Greek word for “infants” is nepios, which can also be translated as someone who does not speak or someone who needs training (which sounds kind of like our pets).

Empathy is a quality available to all and is often found among those from whom we least expect it (or don’t expect it at all). Empathy is available not only to humans, but to all sentient beings (Francis might even say to all of creation). Personally, one of my most profound experiences of empathy was not from a human. Several years ago, my cat, Frisky London, passed away at the ripe old age of 20 (which would be equivalent to about 96 in human years). Before she passed away, she comforted me. The last time I said goodbye to her at my parent’s house, I cried, knowing that I might not see her ever again. She was not really eating or drinking and was very unresponsive. But when I cried, I cried into her beautiful fur coat. And as I was oozing out my sadness onto her, she responded by licking my tears. And, I felt, very powerfully, that she knew she was going to die and she knew that I was going to miss her and she showed me empathy and she comforted me and she eased my sadness. Frisky was my St. Francis.”

DeForest London

There was a discussion in a First Grade religion class focused on St. Francis of Assisi. After school, a First Grader came home very excited about what he had learned and blurted out to his mother, “Guess what, Mommy? Today, I learned that St. Francis was a sissy!” Now one practical way to ensure that we don’t go home thinking that St. Francis was a sissy is to practice the proper pronunciation of the saint’s hometown: Not “Asisy” but “Aseesee.”

However, even with the proper pronunciation of his hometown, I wonder if many of us still do think of this saint as perhaps a little too kind and too gentle for his own good. He was known to have cried every day, he preached sermons to birds, he rubbed sticks together as if he were playing the violin, he called the sun his brother and the moon his sister, and…

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Rothko on loan to the National Gallery of Ireland

Rothko on loan to the National Gallery of Ireland

From my brother’s blog here is a post on, as he says, another reason to visit the National Gallery of Ireland!

the future is unwritten

“We favour the simple expression of the complex thought.”

— Mark Rothko with Adolph Gottlieb, New York Times, June 1943

If you haven’t been to the newly renovated National Galley of Ireland yet, then here’s another great reason to go: there is a Mark Rothko proudly hanging in the Millennium Wing, which to the best of my knowledge is the very first time an original Rohtko has ever been on public view in Ireland. CORRECTION: Donal Fitzpatrick informs me on Twitter that there was a Rothko entitled The Green Stripe on view in IMMA in 2010.

Black and Red on Red (1963) is on a temporary loan from a private collection, so it will be worth your while making it your business to see it sooner rather than later, as the Gallery are unsure about the duration of this loan.

Rothko was an American painter of Russian Jewish descent who…

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Great facts-of-life scenes: Elizabeth Taylor, “At Mrs Lippincote’s”

I read somewhere that someone (bear with me) explained the facts of life to their son by reading them a chapter of Richard Llewellyn’s “How Green Was MY Valley” wherein a father explains the facts of life to his son. I don’t think I, or anyone else, will be using this from Chapter 8 Elizabeth Taylor’s “At Mrs Lippincote’s” (by the way, Oliver is seven … and this Hardy, Brontë and Stevenson reading child is regularly referred to as ‘backward’ without apparent irony by other characters):

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“I still don’t make out where babies come from,” said Oliver, when he closed his book, Tess of the D’Urbervilles. “Oh, where from. I know that. But not how that began.”

“Oh,” said Julia. “I see. Well, now,” she assumed an expression, controlled her mouth. A flat and unemotional tone, she had read once in a pamphlet on sex-instruction. He wondered what was wrong with her voice. “This bores her,” he decided. She sounded unutterably fatigued. “It bores her more than anything else in the world.” Julia, busy drawing on the back of an envelope, seemed to be conveying a wrong impression and leaving out the most important part. She had never been good at drawing and had in any case only a hazy idea as to how such things are arranged. Bladder, then some loopy tubes, glands. ‘It looks like a picture of a Sheraton chair ‘, she fought, discouraged Half-way through , curiosity made her give a glance at him. His gaze slanted down away from her, at the table. When she stopped speaking, his eyes swept down under the lids and took a narrow peep at her. He rolled up his handkerchief and stuffed it into his mouth.

The door opened. “What is it?” asked Roddy.
“As, there you are!” She rocked and sobbed, than stopped and dabbing her eyes, rose briskly. “The facts of life,” she explained.

Roddy, who had also read a pamphlet on how babies are born, was appalled.

“Don’t look so hurt! She cried. “You are not responsible. You are only a victim.”

She stacked up the tray. “You are home very early, Roddy.”

“Yes. The Old Man’s gone to a conference, so Is skipped off. I thought I might be able to give you some help for the party.”

“Ah, how kind of you. We’ll twist the furniture round in the drawing-room and see what we can make of it.” She went out with the tray.

Roddy, who as a leader of men disregarded the intricacies of his own body, looked at Julia’s drawing without recognition; then, conscious that his son now regarded his parents in a new light (and hilariously at that) he murmured “Well, then,” rocked on his heels uncertainly for a moment and followed Julia.

Oliver, when his amusement had died down, began to feel he owed his parents some kindness. He was touched that his father had gone to such lengths to bring about his existence and that Julia should have been so bored. ‘I must try to be a better son,’ he thought. ‘I will run wild more and please them.’

Participants needed for Ireland’s Holy Wells County-by-County Project

Participants needed for Ireland’s Holy Wells  County-by-County   Project

Here is a project which sounds fascinating, and straightforward to get involved in!

Pilgrimage In Medieval Ireland

Ireland’s Holy Wells County-by-County  is a very exciting project set up and run by Dr. Celeste Ray  Professor of Anthropology at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee.  Celeste has been carrying out research on Irish holy wells since 2000 and has spent a lot of time researching Ireland wells.  The project came about thanks to National Geographic Funding  and Celeste is currently in Ireland carrying out  fieldwork and research and promoting the National Database to be given to the National Folklore Collection.

L3 Holy well at Ahadagh Co Cork photo by Amanda Clarke

What is Ireland’s Holy Wells County-by-County  Project?

Ireland’s Holy Wells County-by-County  is a community-sourced survey of Ireland’s holy wells and their associated traditions. This citizen-research initiative encourages young people to interview their older neighbors and relatives and add their knowledge of well lore to a national database that will be given to the National Folklore Collection.

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