dissabte, 8 de desembre de 2018

AT, IN, ON (time)

I’ll see you at five o’clock.
The helicopter took off at midday and headed for the island.
What are you doing at the weekend? UK
What are you doing on the weekend? USA
At the New Year, millions of people travel home to be with their families (but we say on your birthday).

We moved into this house on 25 October 1987.
I’ve got to go to London on Friday.

The office is closed on Fridays. (every Friday)
In informal situations, we often leave out on before plural days: Do you work Saturdays?
What do you normally do on your birthday?


I’ll come and see you in the morning for a cup of coffee, okay?
We usually go camping in July or August.
The house was built in 1835
The garden is wonderful in the spring when all the flowers come out.
The population of Europe doubled in the nineteenth century.

dijous, 6 de desembre de 2018

In the airport or at the airport?


You are usually "at the airport."

The shops, etc. could be "at the airport" or "in the airport." "In the airport" actually refers to things inside of the airport terminal. "At the airport" describes a point where you are temporarily -- or at least supposed to be temporarily, but one never knows these days!

So you meet someone "at the airport." If, as in that old movie "Airplane," the plane actually crashes through the airport terminal building, it ends up in the airport.


I explain to my students that, in this usage, at means the general location and in means a specifically enclosed place. Here are some examples to juxtapose the two:

He works at the airport.
He works in the control tower (at the airport.)

My classroom is in Building C.
I teach at Lipkey Hopkey Technical College.

I'm having a party at my house this Saturday evening.
When you arrive, please leave the food you're contributing in the kitchen.

And here's an interesting idiomatic usage:

(on the phone)
A: Hi, Neil.
B: Hi, Jan. Where are you?
A: I'm at the hospital?
B: Oh? What's wrong?
A: I'm visiting my aunt. She's having some tests done.

(on the phone)
A: Hi, Neil.
B: Hi, Jan. Where are you?
A: I'm in the hospital.
B: Oh? What's wrong?
A: I need an operation. They're going to take out my gall bladder.

As you can see, at the hospital simply identifies somebody's location in this case. We would normally use this phrase for a hospital employee, too: He works at the hospital.

The phrase in the hospital usually refers to patients. Ah, the wonders of English!

dimecres, 5 de desembre de 2018

What a twerk by Marina Hyde


Martin Solveig says he is ‘especially’ respectful with women. What a twerk

Twerk or twerp: As sustantive: (slang, dated, US) A puny or insignificant person, generally male; a twerp. 

Marina Hyde

After his embarrassing question to Ada Hegerberg marred Monday’s Ballon d’Or ceremony in Paris, the French DJ didn’t pass up the chance to keep on digging 

Marred: To spoil something, making it less good or less enjoyable: It was a really nice day, marred only by a little argument in the car on the way home.
To keep on digging: Screw up more and more.

Tue 4 Dec 2018 18.09 GMT First published on Tue 4 Dec 2018 17.30 GMT

Enormous commiserations to French DJ Martin Solveig, the latest person to be filmed doing something in public that apparently doesn’t reflect who he is. The this-is-not-who-I-am defence gets a lot of run-outs these days, as cameraphones catch non-racist people being racist on buses, non-homophobic people screaming abuse at gay people outside a nightclub, or any of the other variants that increasingly adorn the age. The point is: this is not who they are.

Very occasionally, the person saying the thing is saying it on a stage, in front of a large audience and multiple television cameras, and is deploying remarks they have worked out in advance. But this, too, is not who those people are.

By way of a recap, let’s journey to Monday night’s Ballon d’Or award ceremony in Paris. As presenter, Solveig was on stage when Lyon’s and Norway’s Ada Hegerberg won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or. (Luka Modric picked up the men’s award, while Kylian Mbappé was honoured with a new under-21s prize, the Kopa Trophy.) Alas, no sooner had Hegerberg picked up the trophy than Solveig asked her if she could twerk. When she replied “no” and turned away from the podium, Solveig was shown laughing.

Recap: Repetition

I would say that he engaged in this skit for reasons best known to himself – except it seems Martin doesn’t actually know the reasons why he did this. Indeed, they are not even dimly grasped by him.

Skit: Parody
Dimly grasped by him: Barely understood by him

The aforementioned reasons did appear known to Mbappé, who was shown in a cutaway shot wearing an expression we’ll call straight-to-GIF. And they were certainly known to Andy Murray, who promptly took to social media to declare: “Another example of the ridiculous sexism that still exists in sport. Why do women still have to put up with that shit? ... And to everyone who thinks people are overreacting and it was just a joke… It wasn’t. I’ve been involved in sport my whole life and the level of sexism is unreal.”

Aforementioned: Before mentioned
Cutaway shot: Cinematographic technique that shows a very short image.

For her part, Hegerberg got through it graciously, though wearing the unmistakable expression of a woman realising that it is somehow going to be on her to manage the situation in a way that causes as few ripples as possible. It won’t have been pleasant having to do this even at one of the very highest points of her professional career so far, but it certainly won’t have been unfamiliar. Not making dickheads feel like dickheads is one of the earliest ingrained lessons.

Got trhough it: Got over it
Ripples: Waves
Dickheads: A stupid person

As for Solveig, he has apologised “to anyone who may have been offended”, which as everyone knows is the boilerplate non-apology. He went on to say: “People who have followed me for 20 years know how respectful I am especially with women.”
That “especially” is a bit of a tell. Why would you be any more respectful with women than with men, unless you thought there was something patronisably different about them? There was a classic Tom Cruise interview where the star was banging on about how he really respected women, and when the interviewer asked him what in particular he respected about them, he replied: “They smell good. They look pretty. I love them. I do.” 

Boilerplate: Repetitive
A bit of a tell: A way of confession
Patronisably : Stereotyped

Yup, “I especially respect women” is a close relative of “I love women” – that weirdo blanket statement embraced by men who prefer to homogenise everyone who shares the same pronoun. Guys, how can you love the entire classification “women”? Loads of women are horrendous, same as loads of men are. If you Google celebrities saying “I love women”, you always get some Mel Gibson interview from a couple of years after he called a female cop “sugartits”, or a Chris Brown interview from a few months after he was arrested for beating up his then-girlfriend, Rihanna. Or a Silvio Berlusconi interview from basically any time. Pro tip: guys in or out of the public eye who say: “I love women,” always turn out bad, or, more usually, have already done so.
As for the organisers, they suggested a landmark had been reached with the first ever Ballon d’Or Féminin. But with a sexism controversy breaking out at the very moment of presentation, perhaps the real takeout is how far there is left to go.

Weirdo [wɪəʳdoʊ]: A person or thing that is weird, strange, odd, bizarre, etc.
Blanket [blæŋkɪt]: You use blanket to describe something when you want to emphasize that it affects or refers to every person or thing in a group, without any exceptions.

Another Spoty of bother

Spoty: Sports Personality of the Year 
Bother: Trouble, problem

As predicted, the annual Sports Personality of the Year award row has rolled round again – a tradition as sacred as November’s Premier League poppy row, and as moving as the rows about why England players didn’t visit a first world war memorial when they had a game within 100 miles of it.

Row: A row is a serious disagreement between people or organizations.
Poppy: In Britain, on a particular day in November, people wear an artificial poppy in memory of the people who died in the two world wars.

Making an incredible comeback to the Spoty row is Tyson Fury, who last starred in one in 2015, when 130,000 signed a petition demanding he be removed from the shortlist. This year, the opposite sort of outrage is being worked up, with suggestions that because the panel of experts who decided the Spoty shortlist met in November, they will not have been able to take Fury’s sensational weekend draw against Deontay Wilder into account.
Sort of outrage: Kind of indignation

According to the BBC’s published terms and conditions for Spoty: “The Panel have the right to amend elements of this or other awards … provided such changes remain within the spirit of the award.”

So it’s only a matter of time before you spot your first “will of the people”, and people start demanding the BBC release the Spoty legal advice. All the worst timelines of public life are converging this December, and you should stockpile eggnog accordingly.

Eggnog: Eggnog is a drink made from egg, milk, sugar, spices, and alcohol such as rum or brandy.

dimarts, 4 de desembre de 2018


A “jiko bukken” is a property where the former occupant died of unnatural causes, such as suicide, murder, fire or neglect. They can be rented or purchased at very low prices, provided you are okay with the ‘history’ of the home or apartment. There are a growing number of individuals and companies that specialize in purchasing these properties at huge discounts, and either renting them out of re-selling in the future. In the case of a house, the house may be demolished and the land re-sold.

Under the Real Estate Transaction Law, the real estate license-holder has a legal obligation to inform the tenant or buyer of any known unnatural deaths that occurred in the property. The details of the accident must also be explained in the “Important Details and Particulars” document that is signed at the time of contract.

For properties for sale, although the law is not specific about time lines, it is generally assumed that the agent will inform the buyer if the death occurred within the past 10 years. To be on the safe side, some agents will inform buyers regardless of how many years have passed.

For properties for rent, the real estate agent is obligated to inform the very next tenant who moves into the property after the incident, but there is no obligation to inform any future tenants. Some less-than-ideal real estate agencies may rent the apartment to one of their staff for a short period before re-listing the apartment at the full market price.

For a death by natural causes (with the exception of the body not being discovered for a long period of time), in some cases this may not be considered a psychological defect to the property and may not be disclosed.

If the incident occurred in a different apartment within the same building, there is no obligation to inform the tenant or buyer. However, if the death did not occur within an apartment but was caused by someone jumping from a high floor, agents tend to inform all new occupants in order to avoid any troubles from arising.

If the seller/landlord or real estate agent intentionally omits this information from the rental or purchase contract, the contract may be nullified (there have been court cases where the contract has been voided). In almost all cases where the agent has been taken to court because of concealing the history of the property, the court has ruled against the real estate agent.

The risk of being caught is high, and legitimate real estate license holders follow the law very seriously so the chance of being tricked into renting or buying a ‘jiko bukken’ should be very low if you go through a proper real estate agent. (...)


dilluns, 3 de desembre de 2018

Josep Lluís Núñez

Avui ha mort Josep Lluís Núñez.

El març de 1968, la seva empresa, amb l'ajut de l'alcalde Porcioles, va enderrocar la Casa Trinxet, obra d'en Puig i Cadafalch.

Va intentar enderrocar la Casa Golferichs (Gran Via-Viladomat) però no ho va aconseguir per l'oposició veïnal.

També va ser destacat el seu intent de construir una urbanització al peu de Collserola.

"Una sentencia puso final a la carrera de éxito como constructor de Núñez, lo que le obligó a entrar en prisión cuando tenía 81 años por haber cometido los delitos de cohecho y falsedad documental en el denominado caso Hacienda. Salió de ese macroproceso que se prolongó durante más de una década como culpable por haber comprado a inspectores de Hacienda para que alteraran sus actas de inspección a cambio de sumas millonarias y la venta de pisos a precios muy ventajosos. La implicación del responsable del Fisco en Cataluña de la época, Josep Maria Huguet, provocó el fin de la carrera de Josep Borrell como candidato a la presidencia del Gobierno español, con quien tenía relación Huguet." (El País https://elpais.com/ccaa/2018/12/03/catalunya/1543843106_492951.html )

Dins el FCB es pot destacar algunes actuacions curioses:

"Home ambiciós, segons el periodista Josep Maria Huertas –que sempre deia que Núñez havia somiat ser alcalde de Barcelona–, "mai va creure en la ciutat, només va creure en el seu negoci". I, quan el seu negoci va ser el Barça, el club va guanyar diners i títols. Una de les obsessions de Núñez va ser evitar que els jugadors aconseguissin massa poder, i va tenir baralles sonades amb Diego Armando Maradona –com el dia que va retenir el passaport de l’argentí per evitar que marxés a jugar un partit d’homenatge a Breitner–."

"La llegenda diu que un dels primers cracs que van marxar va ser Johan Neeskens, el 1978, a qui no va voler renovar perquè l'holandès no va acostar-li paper de vàter al vestidor del camp de l'Hèrcules, on Núñez va tenir una urgència."

"El president volia decidir-ho gairebé tot, llavors, amb situacions estranyes, com quan va forçar el brasiler Cleo, fitxat per ocupar el lloc del lesionat Schuster, a casar-se per silenciar rumors sobre si era homosexual. El mateix Núñez faria de padrí del casament."

( https://www.ara.cat/esports/barca/Mor-Josep-Lluis-Nunez-Barca_0_2110589183.html )

dimarts, 13 de novembre de 2018

How to avoid losing your memory in the digital age by Daniel Lavelle

How to avoid losing your memory in the digital age
With Google taking the place of memory, many worry that a vital faculty is eroding. Can memory athletes – who can retain hundreds of numbers in seconds – show us how to get it back?

Daniel Lavelle
Tue 13 Nov 2018 07.00 GMT

Alex Mullen has an extraordinary talent: after just 16 seconds of flicking through a pack of cards, he can recall their exact order. The 26-year-old medical student began using memory techniques to help with his university degree, but he picked them up so quickly that soon he was entering competitions, eventually becoming the International Association of Memory world champion in 2015. At the championships, which take place again this December, “memory athletes” compete to remember the most in the shortest time, in categories that include card sequences, names, faces and dates of historic events.

“My first world championships win was very surreal. I was training hard, but winning was never really on my radar,” Mullen says. “When I won by literally one second, on the tenth and final event, I didn’t really process it.” Yet he went on to win the championships again in 2017, is ranked No 1 in the world and holds multiple records for his recall skills.

People like Mullen raise important questions in a world where digital databases, whose powers of retention are far greater than our own, are increasingly standing in for human memories. If we no longer need to keep a mental note of facts, figures or dates, might we lose our ability to retain information?

We know that the brain is malleable. A study in 2000 showed that the hippocampus, a region of the brain that plays an important role in memory, was larger in London cab drivers than in the wider public, perhaps because they had to learn and retain the “knowledge” – the quickest routes through the capital’s streets.

Emma Ward, a senior lecturer in psychology at Middlesex University, says that the internet hasn’t been an integral part of our lives for long enough for scientists to fully comprehend its long-term effect on people’s brains. She adds: “There is evidence that memory training is beneficial – and the very idea behind this is practice and rehearsal, so that neural pathways become strengthened.
Rehearsal: a time when people practise a play, dance, etc. in order to prepare for a performance

“One may argue that the more we become reliant on memory aids and technology as reminders, the less efficient our memory processes become. It will be interesting, in years to come, to examine children who grew up with such available technology, to see the effect it has upon memory and cognition.”

Dean Burnett, a neuroscientist and author, believes that memory needs to be exercised. “It is a biological function, like most others, and so not using it would mean it’s less robust and less reliable than in someone who uses it often,” he says. “Memories are essentially connections between neurons, and it is widely agreed that, to keep these connections intact, they have to be ‘activated’ regularly. Retrieving a memory activates it.” Yet he cautions against the idea that we are “losing” our memories because we have outsourced them: “It’s not that they fade away, degrade or anything like that; it’s just that our brains struggle to find them if they are seldom used.”

Retrieving: to find and bring back something
Fade away: to slowly disappear, lose importance, or become weaker

Technology may affect us in more subtle ways, Ward believes. She cites a study in which participants who were shown a faked photo of themselves as children in hot-air balloons later “recalled” the nonexistent event. “Memories are not like filing cabinets,” she says. “Our brains adapt a lot of what we experience so that we can make sense of the world around us, and our memories are quite often representations or distortions of reality. Being bombarded with vast amounts of information and photos online may create what we call false memories.”

Being able to capture your holiday entirely on a smartphone is convenient, for instance, but experiments have suggested that if you are doing this, you are not paying attention to your environment. If you are distracted, neural pathways in the brain are not being exercised in a way that would strengthen the memory, leaving it vulnerable to distortion.

Being able to capture your holiday entirely on a smartphone is convenient, for instance, but experiments have suggested that if you are doing this, you are not paying attention to your environment. If you are distracted, neural pathways in the brain are not being exercised in a way that would strengthen the memory, leaving it vulnerable to distortion.

It is not all bad news when it comes to our reliance on Google and co, though. Other studies have shown it could benefit short-term memory and problem-solving. Gary Small, a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioural sciences at UCLA, compared the brains of “internet naive” and “internet savvy” older adults and found that neural activity increased among the naive group after they had spent a week searching for things online. “We saw significant increases, particularly in the frontal lobe – the thinking brain, the part of the brain that controls working memory.”
Naive: If someone is naive, they believe things too easily and do not have enough experience of the world.
Savvy: practical knowledge and ability

He believes that this study shows that people can develop cognitive efficiency, and likens the memory to muscles. “It’s similar to what happens if you work out at the gym. At first, it takes a lot of energy to lift weights, but with training you can lift a lot more weight and exert less energy.”
Exert: to use a lot of physical or mental energy to do something

If you feel the need for some of this training, the memory athletes say that anyone can learn their techniques. Mullen says that before he was breaking world records, he had an average memory. That started to change after he read Moonwalking With Einstein, Joshua Foer’s book about his attempt to become the US memory champion. “You need to do a lot of practice,” Mullen says. “It just depends on how much you’re willing to put into it.”

The most common technique used by memory athletes is the “method of loci”, better known to fans of the TV series Sherlock as the “memory palace”. The idea is that when memorising a list – such as a to-do list – you associate an image with every item on it. The images, which can be as absurd as you like, are then placed in the rooms in your “palace”, which will typically be your home or another familiar building. To recall the list, you imagine walking from one room to the next.

Katie Kermode, from Cheshire, holds two world records: for memorising 105 names and faces in five minutes and for memorising 318 random words in 15 minutes. “I have a journey that goes around my house and other houses I have lived in,” she says. “I put two words in each room and I just associate those two words in a visual way. Then I walk back in my head through the different routes and I remember which words I saw.”

Boris Nikolai Konrad, a Netherlands-based neuroscientist who is also a record-breaking memory athlete, says he has “60 or 70” memory palaces. “One is on the Thames in London, one is at Buckingham Palace and one is my former student house in Reading,” he says. But he uses a different technique to memorise long strings of numbers, creating an image for every two digits in what is known as a person-action-object mnemonic. The number 19, for example, could be represented by a giraffe (the “person”) eating (the action) leaves from a tall tree (the object). As one image follows another, a story or journey builds up, which helps somebody to recall the whole long series of numbers.

Mullen uses a similar device, only with each image representing three digits. He asks me to provide him with six random digits. I offer 876518. “For me, 876 is like a large palm tree – a classic palm tree that you’d see on a beach,” Mullen says. “And 518 is a Twinkie [a popular American snack]. So the trunk of the palm tree is all made out of Twinkie, all the coconuts are weighing down on the trunk and the creamy filling is spilling out.”

Yanjaa Wintersoul, usually known as Yanjaa, is a Mongolian-born Swedish memory athlete based in New York, and is one of the more exciting figures in a sport that is hardly spectator-friendly. (“It’s a bit like a school exam with everyone sitting at their desks staring at paper,” is how Konrad describes the championships.) Like Mullen, Yanjaa was initially drawn to memory competitions after reading Moonwalking With Einstein. Yet she believes the techniques can help in other areas. “At the beginning, it feels elaborate and complicated, but in the end, it’s automatic and faster than anything you can possibly do any other way,” she says. “People see this as a wacky party trick, but the truth is it’s so helpful for mental health and focus.”
Wacky: unusual in a pleasing and exciting or silly way

She has seen that at first-hand. “In my case, the battle was with depression and anxiety. During the memory training, you’re spending all your time thinking about happy things – if you choose your imagery correctly.”

With the right approach, even Kermode’s five-year-old can memorise shopping lists. “If the first item on the list is bread, I tell her to imagine that on her head,” Kermode says. “The next item, she imagines on her eyes, the next one, on her nose … and you just work down the list. When we get to the shop, she can tell me what we went to the shop for.”

That must make visiting the supermarket more fun. But do the memory champions’ techniques help in more profound ways? Would we all benefit from retraining our brains? Burnett isn’t convinced. “It doesn’t actually help you understand anything,” he says. “It just helps you remember things. If you do crosswords every day, then you will become very good at doing crosswords. That doesn’t mean your brain has improved; it just means your brain is now good at doing crosswords because it has the ability to specialise like that.”

The neuroscientist Susan Greenfield argues that children should be taught to join up the dots rather than just recall them. She asks: “What is more important? Remembering the date of a battle, or understanding why the battle is important? We mustn’t confuse those quick memory tricks with understanding. If you understand something, you don’t have to make an effort to understand it – it’s just there.”

Even the memory champions admit their hard-earned abilities have their limits. Mullen and Kermode say that if they don’t practise some of their skills, they begin to fade with time – and they still regularly have lapses in memory. “Despite being able to memorise names really well in competitions, I do forget them in real life,” Kermode says. “The other day, I not only forgot the name of someone I met, I also wasn’t sure if it was even the same person.”
Fade: to (cause to) lose colour, brightness, or strength gradually

Still, there is one benefit that even the sceptics can’t quibble about. “Memory training has helped me remember where I put my keys much faster,” says Yanjaa.
Quibble: to argue about, or say you disapprove of, something that is not important

• This article was amended on 13 November 2018 to make it clear that the five-year-old mentioned was Katie Kermode’s daughter.

dilluns, 12 de novembre de 2018

Richard Madeley goes commando in every telly show by Antony Thrower

Richard Madeley goes commando in every telly show: 'I nearly choked on my cereal’
TELLY host Richard Madeley has admitted he presents shows with no underpants on.
By Antony Thrower / Published 20th October 2017

The 61-year-old stunned Good Morning Britain viewers when he cheekily confessed he was going commando.
Cheekily: If you describe a person or their behaviour as cheeky, you think that they are slightly rude or disrespectful but in a charming or amusing way.
Go commando: to not wear any underwear

Richard and the show’s Kate Garraway had been discussing a pair of jeans which shows off the wearer’s exposed bottom when all was revealed.

Mum-of-two Kate joked: “You’d have to be proud of that rear end to wear those.”

Richard snapped he would not wear the saucy garment, when Kate replied: “Well, you have already said you go commando!”
Saucy: eferring to sex, especially in a humorous way
Garment: a piece of clothing

Stunned co-host Sean Fletcher said he would not have sat so close to the ex-This Morning host if he had known, prompting Richard to add he would “go home”.

The revelation disgusted many fans on Twitter.

One said: “Richard Madeley isn’t wearing pants. I may never eat again.”

Another added: “That is far, far too much information!”

Another posted: “Richard goes commando! I near choked on my cereal.”
Chock: When you choke or when something chokes you, you cannot breathe properly or get enough air into your lungs.

Some fans stood up for Richard, one adding: “It’s just more comfortable.”
Stand up for: If you stand up for someone or something, you defend them and make your feelings or opinions very clear.

Richard presenting without his pants would not have surprised some fans.

The dad-of-two had previously told Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch crew he goes commando every day.

His love of going underpants-less also extends to the bedroom as he said on Would I Lie To You that he and wife Judy Finnigan sleep naked – even in winter.