Who Should Replace Sandi Toksvig On BBC Radio 4’s News Quiz?

I’m an American.. Texan, specifically. I’ve been listening to BBC Radio 4’s News Quiz for 12 seasons now and Sandi Toksvig’s voice has become a staple in my household. Her voice has become a comfort (whenever the bizarrely-spaced “season” scheduling allows it to air, that is). I’ve been thru the News Quiz panto performed in season 76, endured countless quickly-rattled rants by Jeremy Hardy, heard more than enough about Susan Calman’s cat antics..

After hearing Sandi’s final episode (found here, if still available for listening), and googling who might replace her, I found this Telegraph article listing a few proposed hosts to replace her, so these are my votes from that list.

I’m aware I probably have no real say in the matter. I listen to quite a bit of Radio 4’s “comedy club” shows, for about as long as News Quiz. I make every effort to hear each episode of The Unbelievable Truth, Dilemma, I’ve Never Seen Star Wars, Heresy, the Museum of Curiosity, So Wrong It’s Right, Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, Wordaholics, and recently the new Holly Walsh show Best Behavior (which is fantastic). I really like all of the permutations of Milton Jones (Another Case, and Thanks A Lot) but most of them seem to be repeats.

Jeremy Clarkson – No way. He might be a decent guest host on occasion, but under no circumstances would I vote for this guy. I’ve seen maybe 2 episodes of Top Gear and frankly have zero concern for whatever BBC producer tumult he caused.. but the guy’s voice and way of speaking in general does not even vaguely approach comedic to me.

Jeremy Paxman / Emily Maitlis / Michael Deacon / Rory Brenner / Armando Iannucci / Paul Merton – No idea who these are. I just simply can’t comment on them. I’m sure if I heard their voices I might recognize them, but I don’t think I can credible vote for any of them being so unfamiliar.

Jeremy Hardy – He would be okay as a host, but I think he makes a really great regular panelist, and I think the gap he’d leave from no longer being a member of the panel would not be justified in moving to the desk. I really like his lengthy rants that leaves everyone agiggle, especially by making outlandish comparisons. He’s a little like how David Mitchell would get a kind of “upset by smiling about it” on comedy TV shows like 8 Out of 10 Cats, except the rants are seemingly less impromptu and more frequent but no less delightful.

Susan Calman – Oh please please no. Her regional accent isn’t a bother, but just certain ASMR-like elements of her voice are on the cusp of super annoying, but still within the range of tolerable enough to legitimize her remaining as an less-frequent-than-Hardy regular panelist. And really, please, enough with the cat stories. It’ll be the Cat Quiz soon enough and everyone will be reading clippings from cat fashion industry news from around the world before long.

Jack Dee – Oh my goodness yes please. Huge fan of Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, with its delightful writing thereof that introduces the panelists in passive dark humor and silly way of speaking. The Telegraph article mentions having his ‘hands full’ already with SIHAC but how much writing does News Quiz really require? The topics involved are for the week of airing, not for the news that happened between seasons.

Jo Brand – Jo is a good contender I think. I like her style of blunt humor from her appearances on other TV panel shows like QI, and I think she may have actually subbed for Sandi once if I recall. She has a slower way of speaking than Sandi, but a level amount of snark I think.

David Mitchell – My delight at any opportunity to hear David speak, for any reason, is nearly limitless — but I don’t think I’d rather him host the News Quiz. I think he’d do a great job at it, but I don’t want the chance for anything else he currently does to be sacrificed in order to pursue News Quiz. If he could still do what he does now and do the News Quiz, I’d extend my vote to him in that circumstance.

Sue Perkins – I really like Sue Perkins, both in super-prettiness and for commanding vocal humor. Sue Perkins to me has a very similar carrying-of-voice as Sandi does, and I think would be a very even match with Sandi’s style as far as my ears can tell.

Marcus Brigstocke – Marcus seems a little too prim-and-proper to be a News Quiz host. His humor is great, and I would like to hear him as a host for a different show aside from I’ve Never Seen Star Wars. I get a vibe of ‘trustworthy’ from him, moreso in a sense if he were a

Sarah Millican – Arguably my favorite female British comic, possibly tied with Sue Perkins. Not sure she’d make a great host, but certainly a delight to listen to as a panelist (and should be invited for more panel shows)..

Others I really like and would nominate: Victoria Coren Mitchell, Clive Anderson, John Lloyd, Bill Bailey, Phill Jupitus, Rhod Gilbert, John Bishop, Jason Manford, Rachel Riley..

Others I really like but would not nominate: Robert Webb, Henning Wehn, Jon Richardson, Milton Jones, Hugh Dennis, Frank Skinner, Nicholas Parsons, Sean Lock, Dave Gorman, Jimmy Carr, Barry Cryer, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden, Stephen Fry, Rob Brydon, Alan Davies, Michael McIntyre, Frankie Boyle, Russell Howard, David Walliams, Ross Noble, Chris Addison, Kevin Bridges, Dave Gorman, Andy Parsons, Mark Watson, Rufus Hound, Jack Whitehall, Lee Mack, Miranda Hart..

When or What Day is TaeNy Day? It’s the 27th of Every Month. Here’s Why.

The 27th of every month is TaeNy Day, a commemoration of the ‘ship’ between SNSD members Taeyeon and Tiffany.

When SNSD first debuted in July 2007, each member was announced one day at a time with a teaser image officially confirming their inclusion into the 9-girl K-pop group. Yoona’s teaser image was released on July 6, making her the first confirmed member.

The next day, Tiffany’s teaser image was released, making her the second confirmed member. In following days each of the 9 members were announced, and Taeyeon was announced seventh. TaeNy day on the 27th, therefore, corresponds to the “debut numbers” of 2 and 7 for Tiffany and Taeyeon.

‘Shipping’ is a fantasy/dream relationship of any variety (best friends, romantic, etc) about 2+ people, fictional and real people alike. To ‘ship’ is to have a joy for the idea that such a relationship exists, and ‘shippers’ are those who follow along with others who ship them, and find interesting coincidences that seem to confirm the ship. Similarly, “OTP” for One True Pairing, can describe the ship that one most fondly adores, from among multiple ships.

The following image celebrating TaeNy Day is by artist Luz Arce Matias from Peru, who currently publishes all of her official artwork releases (including lots of SNSD-related) on instagram here:

Did Spray Sunblock Cause 3rd Degree Burns to A Child? Doubtful.

I recently encountered a Facebook post of a concerned parent, advising against the use of suntan sprays:

(post in question)

I am not a medical doctor but there are a couple red flags with this story that lead me to call shenanigans, which discussion on this Snopes message board post reiterates in line with my thinking:

1. It seems like the kid would have had to have been wearing a motorcycle helmet, a cummerbund, ladies’ evening gloves, and long pants with no shirt while playing outside in order to not get burned on the areas not covered by bandages, and have no other burns elsewhere than the t-shirt area the Ace bandage covers. That, or he did actually get good coverage while wearing a shirt but then took the shirt off without covering the areas the shirt covered.

2. If the parents re-applied every 30 minutes-1hr, would they not have noticed increasingly incredible and extensive burns on his body, and prevented it from getting up to even 2nd degree?

3. Third-degree burns are “full thickness” burns down to the muscle or bone tissue that sometimes require plastic surgery or IV fluids according to several medical sources (U.Rochester, U.Maryland, Boston Children’s). Don’t bother looking it up on Google images unless you have a strong stomach — none of those wounds seem like they could be so easily concealed by an Ace bandage as shown in the photograph, much less would allow for the kid to walk around without being in an ICU. I wonder if the woman means “first degree” burns which are at the other end of the spectrum and are typical for sunburns.

4. “When you have to listen to your child scream in pain from them pulling his skin off is the most painful thing to see an experience!” Odds are doctors are not going to need to peel off skin from a third-degree burn, but rather complete skin grafts (under general anesthetic), extensive cosmetic surgery, physical rehabilitation, possibly lifelong assisted care and counseling (reference). You’re not going to walk out the door the same day you went in.

Why Did the Dictionary Change The Rules For “Literally” and “Marriage”?

In 2013, a number of dictionaries altered the entry for “marriage” to include same-sex relationships, as well as altering the entry for “literally” to also include “figurative” meanings.

“Why do dictionaries keep changing the rules? Who can I write to, to express my distaste for their blatant political pressure-bowing?” you might ask.

Well, you can write a letter to yourself, because you have no idea what you’re talking about.

You might currently believe that dictionaries are playbooks by which the rules of English are plainly listed, neatly, and in official proper forms that all other English users must abide by in order to remain within the correct usage. You might believe that dictionaries describe the limited options available to those who wish to use a word, so that when trying to use it properly, users can consult the dictionary for the official ways to spell, pronounce, or the narrow contexts that are permitted for that word to be used.

If the above paragraph describes you and you are not bound by a specific employer/class-mandated style, then your understanding of dictionaries is utterly backwards, and the dictionaries themselves are precisely the sources by which your false philosophies will be thoroughly unraveled.

The stray dog leapt over the fence.

The = dog quantifier, fence quantifier
stray = type of dog
dog = something which leapt over the fence
leapt = something the dog did in relation to the fence
over = technique of leaping employed by the dog
fence = something the dog leapt over

The above is a sentence in bold, followed by a dictionary which makes observations about the sentence. The scope of the dictionary is limited specifically to the sentence, not observations of English itself. The dictionary does not limit the ways in which the sentence is permitted to use the words, but rather observes the pre-existing sentence and offers proposals of what the individual words of the sentence could mean, as interpreted by context.

A dictionary is, at its fundamental core, precisely the above scenario — except observing all of the types of observable content produced by the ordinary common word users. Dictionary researches called Lexicographers examine loads and loads of observable word usage from newspapers, websites, magazines, TV scripts, Facebook, Twitter, novels, video games, and other such forms, to observe how those words are used. Those observations go into a tallying system called a Corpus. The corpus is then analyzed for the greatest number of repeated ways (“often enough”) people have been observed to use words. The words with the highest frequencies of usage, and the ways in which those words are used most frequently, are included in the dictionary.

If the threshold for the stray dog dictionary above were arbitrarily limited to only the most frequent words as most dictionaries are, and since “the” is the only word to appear more than once, “the” might be the only entry in it — and perhaps less useful as a dictionary. Dictionary producers rely on frequency as the primary meter for what is included or excluded, and do so at a threshold in which not every observed usage is listed, but enough usages are listed enough to be helpful to the common reader.

That said, consider a dictionary to be an assistant who summarizes observations of the multitudes of text in existence to provide insight about what a user of a word similar to it might have meant, rather than the ways in which the user of the word failed to conform to the dictionary’s non-existent standards. Word usage outside of a specific style are therefore not correct or incorrect, but merely typical or atypical. The dictionary does not validate a word’s existence, but merely observes when a word’s usage has breached a threshold of “common enough” usage to be included.

Dictionaries are therefore outside of the political spectrum. The entry for “marriage” was altered to include same-sex relationships in the same way that the exclusively different-sex relationship definition found its place there before. “Marriage” was used by the largest numbers of people to describe both different-sex and same-sex relationships but recently has been observed within those same masses that previously established the entry’s former status. Haven’t you ever wondered why the definitions are numbered, and why in that order? Because one has been observed more frequently than the next. The final definition is the lowest frequency of observed usage that still meets the threshold of “often enough” to be included.

The alteration of the entry for “literally” to include “figurative” meanings is the identical method by which “literally” itself even had been understood to mean “actual” circumstances to begin with.

Consider the following scenario:

“Why does Bill always take so many doughnuts from the breakroom table?”
“What do you mean?”
“Whenever we get doughnuts, Bill always takes a bunch of them and the rest of us don’t get many to pick from.”
“Bill buys the doughnuts himself. They are his. He’s sharing the extras.”

The fact that a word appears in a dictionary at all, is by the identical process in which alterations are made to the entries in a dictionary in the first place. To suggest that a word or way to use a word be disallowed into a dictionary for a political reason or otherwise, itself, demonstrates a grossly erroneous understanding of dictionaries in the first place. Bill gets as many doughnuts as he wants because he bought them, and they are his to take. The very fact that any of the other employees had doughnuts at all was because Bill bought them. The fact that a dictionary even had the current “standard” you maintain must be obeyed, is precisely because of being reflective of the widest observed usages.

Prescriptivism does have its place within styles, but like how baseball rules do not govern Sports in general, styles do not govern English. The way certain people use words might be governed, such as by those in the medical or legal fields. Those styles do not govern English itself, but rather specifically those bound by those styles. I have a degree in English and journalism. During my studies, I was tasked with in a severity of pass or fail, in the limited ways in which I was permitted to write a paper, in conflicting ways depending on which class. In journalism classes, we obeyed the rules of the Associated Press Stylebook. In English and literature classes, we obeyed the rules of Strunk & White’s Manual of Style. Each class was bound by its own unique set of styles, but neither of them mandated that English itself was governed by any style at all — because there is no evidence to support such a conclusion.

There is no such cabal of experts that pre-ordain the limited ways in which words are permitted to be used in English — but people who create or maintain specific codified styles do. A dictionary may be used as a playbook for the enforcement of a style by those bound by the style, but that is not the actual role of a dictionary. Similarly, if you are taking a class on how to play the spoons as a percussive musical instrument, the lessons learned thereof apply to the musical techniques as graded by the class rather than to the genuine manufacturer’s purpose of spoons.

If you are playing Scrabble, you may opt to employ a specific dictionary as a limited word bank from which you may draw playable tile configurations, and add that proper names, places, abbreviations or “foreign” words are also ineligible for playable moves. If you work for the Associated Press, you have an AP Style Manual to draw from for ways in which you must phrase or otherwise use words in materials you publish under AP’s banner (and if you don’t, your editor will correct them on your behalf and your job may be in danger). If you are in a class, you are bound by the limitations of the specific style prescribed by the classroom. None of these are bound by any rules of English because English is entirely ungoverned with the exception of styles.

English itself has no rules. Dictionaries do not prescribe rules by which users of English must abide. People who insist that dictionaries are the official or only acceptable tome of law by which all users of English without specifying which style by which they are mutually governed, are like a person who gazes into a mirror and when seeing a large zit on their forehead, become upset with the mirror.

Another way that a dictionary is like a newspaper, is that newspapers do not ordain or codify the way a murder must take place, but rather describe how a murder in the past is believed to have transpired. If a basketball match results in a score of 77-112 between two teams, the newspaper does not mandate that all future matches between those teams must result in that score — they merely describe observations of a past event whereas future similar events will also be reported in future editions as the opportunity to observe changes.

A dictionary is also like a hash-tag search on Twitter. If you visit Twitter and search for hashtag #catchgg, you will be presented with a list of ways in which other people have used #catchgg, not a list of the limited ways in which you are only permitted to use #catchgg. In the dictionaries’ case, every word is a hashtag as long as it meets the threshold of observed usage frequency. When you compose a tweet using #catchgg in it, your tweet will go into the body of evidence that the hashtag search on Twitter will bring back for results. A dictionary is reflective of the commoner’s actual usage, rather than a proposed, limited, or restrictive usage. A *style* may propose a limited usage within a set that ensures minimal confusion, but selection of that style is arbitrarily decided by the employer of that style and is limited to those who the style chooser is able to enforce (such as employees of a specific company). There is a medical style, legal style, scientific notation style, MLA style for literary citations, Strunk & White which many American classrooms abide by, and several other styles by which specific those within its reach are bound, but English on the whole, at-large, in general, is not constricted by style or rules.

It may be your personal philosophy to use only words that the general audience would find most readily understood with a minimum of clarifying questions, but that is merely a personal philosophy or strategy — but no single philosophy or strategy governs English usage. The lauded poet ee cummings would be hauled out into the street and beaten for as inefficient and atypical his poetry arrives to the reader, if prescriptivism were the law of the land.

You should perhaps take note that the US has no official language — because English is not governed. Those who propose the US should insist that English be the official language are typically those who believe that English itself is somehow governed — but it isn’t. No dictionary encompasses all of English — only the body of evidence that its own researchers encounter. It would be impossible to impose English as a governed entity without citing a specific playbook by which eligible usage may be scrutinized.

Think about it. A four-year university degree in English is described as a Bachelor of Arts. It is impossible to objectively grade art. If you are taking a class on how to draw, the class might be graded on techniques learned in the class, but does not govern the multitude of other styles of drawing the class didn’t cover. Just because you learned one way to draw in a drawing class, and were graded on how well you could replicate those techniques, you are not therefore a legal expert in what does or does not constitute drawing, nor even for that set of techniques. Your proficiency has application within that class, or within an employment scenario (for instance) by which those techniques are limited in availability for use. Likewise, the way you learned English does not constitute the rules of English.

Hopefully you are now on your way to becoming someone who is stepping in line with the facts as a descriptivist, rather than your former evidenceless prescriptivist roots.

Further Reading:
A student asks a former Oxford English Dictionary researcher about how words get approved by experts to enter a dictionary, but receives a different answer than was bargained for, in “How Words Enter The Language” by Michael Quinion, who is/was a New Words columnist for the Daily Telegraph and penned a third of the entries for Oxford Dictionary of New Words.

The editors of Merriam-Webster tackle the question directly with their article, “How does a word get into a Merriam-Webster dictionary?” noting that the words in their pages speak with “authority without authoritarianism” to clarify.

The current staff of the Oxford English Dictionary, by way of Oxford Press, reiterate Michael Quinion’s experience above with their own entry, “How a new word enters an Oxford dictionary,” virtually mirroring Merriam-Webster’s input.