Bring out your dead

At last! Via Annie Mole of London Underground blog, the pest level of London’s free "newspapers" is finally being realised. Nine and a half tons of the pesky things are left behind every day on the tube trains alone; add the amount that must be abandoned on the much more extensive suburban train lines and you begin to get the picture. Ever since the IRA bombs of 20 or so years ago, litter bins on stations or trains (tube or overground variety) are hard to come by, so passengers just leave these horrid parasitic publications wherever they finish with them, rather than taking them away and disposing of them in a responsible fashion. I find the sociology interesting in a repellent kind of way, because you hardly ever see paid-for papers left on the train or tube, only these awful travesties. Will the bins make a difference to behaviour patterns, I wonder?

To return to the news: according to Annie’s post, the publishers, under threat of council fines, are underwriting the installation of 35 recycling bins outside central London stations at a cost of £500 each. These papers even plague us in Kingston, at the outer reaches of zone 6 beyond even the reach of Oyster cards, but we’ve had a recycling bin outside our station for a while now – so although we are in the styx, we are ahead of our metropolitan neighbours in at least this sense.

I hope phase 2 of the paper clean-up project is to ban the distributors of the rag sheets jumping up and waving them in your face, times three, at every station entrance and exit on your journey to and from work. Otherwise, innovative uses of the recycling bins might begin to come to mind.

Shaken, stirred or on the rocks

Linda L. Richards at January Magazine reports on the Bookseller talking-up a publishing war this Autumn, as it turns out that both Sean Connery and Roger Moore are publishing their memoirs simultaneously. Already, the billing is "battle of the Bonds".

Can it really be a "battle", though? Not that I’m going anywhere near either book, but if I were the sort of person who liked celebrity memoirs, there is absolutely no difficulty in making a decision between whether I’d prefer to read the words of the darkly fascinating, ruggedly handsome, dangerous Sean Connery or those of the, er, suavely eyebrowed Roger Moore.

Describe yourself in one word

So writes Scott Adams (Dilbert). "Suppose you had to pick one word to describe yourself. Your first reaction, I assume, is that it is impossible. You are so many different things, in so many different contexts. No one word can capture more than a tiny slice. Now suppose I ask you to think of people you know, and see how many of them you can describe in one word. Suddenly it gets a lot easier. He’s a jerk, she’s hot, he’s a loser, she’s a nerd, etc."

Scott’s readers, and there are a lot of them, most commonly described themselves as: complicated, curious, eccentric, flexible, misunderstood, determined, inscrutable, fabulous, eclectic, oblivious, moist, provocateur, skeptical [sic], awesome, enigmatic or clever. Scott finds it "fascinating" that few if any of these adjectives are on a list of "positive personality attributes" that he found on the Internet. ("Fascinating" was another word his readers did not use to describe themselves.) He does not, however, reveal the word that was most commonly used by his readers to describe him: maybe that is for a future post, or maybe you have to dig around in his comments and find out for yourself. Me, I think I can resist the temptation to describe myself in one word, but don’t let me stop you.