Wednesday, 28 September 2016


Denmark is the home of hygge:

7 reasons Denmark is the happiest country in the world

Happiness expert Meik Wiking hails from Denmark, the happiest country in the world.
His newly released book, “The Little Book of Hygge,” explores a word he believes is central to that happiness.
As Wiking says, “hygge” (pronounced hoo-gah) has no direct translation: It means cosiness, it means intimacy, and it means warmth — but it means many more things than just these points.
We looked at some of the components that make up a Danish lifestyle, as explored in “The Little Book of Hygge.”
For references in the piece, hygge is a noun, hyggeligt is a singular adjective, and hyggelige is a plural adjective.

7. Togetherness

“In all the work I have done within the field of happiness research. This is the point I am surest about: the best predictor of whether we are happy or not is our social relationships,” Wiking says in his book.
Wiking cites the journalist Cathy Strongman, who moved from London to Copenhagen and who wrote in The Guardian: “Work later than 5:30 and the office is a morgue. Work at the weekend and the Danes think you are mad. The idea is that families have time to play and eat together at the end of the day, every day.”

6. Food and drink

“Sweets are hyggelige. Cake is hyggeligt. Coffee or hot chocolate are hyggeligt, too. Carrot sticks, not so much,” Wiking says.
He believes that the high level of meat, confectionary, and coffee consumption in Denmark is directly linked to hygge.
“Hygge is about being kind to yourself — giving yourself a treat, and giving yourself, and each other, a break from the demands of healthy living,” he says.
Wiking's compatriots seem to agree: The average Dane eats 3 kilos of bacon a year.

5. The home

Pictured here: Queen Margrethe (3rd L), Prince Henrik (5th L), Crown Prince Frederik (L) and Crown Princess Mary (6th R) and their children, Prince Christian (4th L), Princess Isabella (2nd L), Prince Vincent (6th L) and Princess Josephine (5th R). Also pictured: Princess Alexandra (4th R) of Berleburg and Count Jefferson (3rd R) with their children Countess Ingrid (Reuters)
The home is “hygge headquarters,” Wiking says. They even have a word for it: hjemmehygge (home hygge). This may explain the Danish obsession with good design.
They also have the most living space per capita in Europe.

4. Christmas

Christmas, Wiking says, is the most hyggelig part of the year. “Even though it is possible to hygge all year round, only once a year is hygge the ultimate goal of an entire month,” he says.
Christmas traditions in Denmark are not wildly different from those in the UK or the US, but the difference is that “a Danish Christmas will always be planned, thought of, and evaluated in relation to the concept of hygge.”
There is even a word for it — julehygge (Christmas-hygge).

3. Lighting

From its iconic lampshades to the staggeringly widespread use of candles, Denmark is a country obsessed with lighting. The Happiness Research Institute's studies shows that 85% of people associate hygge with candles; 28% of Danes light candles every day.
Wiking quotes the American ambassador to Denmark, who says candles create “a kind of emotional happiness, an emotional cosiness.”

2. Copenhagen: The happiest city in the world

People fight with pillows during World Pillow Fight Day in front of the City Hall in Copenhagen, Denmark ()
Appropriately enough, the happiest country in the world has the happiest capital city in the world. And it is full of hygglelig destinations — from restaurants selling pickled herring in the New Harbour to the iconic Tivoli Gardens, which is transformed every Christmas into a spectacular festival of light.

1. The welfare model

While hygge clearly plays a major part in Denmark's happiness, Wiking is keen to emphasise that the welfare model is what fundamentally underpins the nation's well-being — they have high taxes but receive social security, universal healthcare, and a universal pension in return.
Wiking says there is “wide support for the welfare state.”
“The support stems from an awareness of the fact that the welfare model turns our collective wealth into well-being,” he says.
Critics often point out that antidepressant consumption is very high in Denmark for a country that claims to be the happiest in the world. According to the OECD, Denmark ranks second in Europe for antidepressant consumption per capita.
Wiking told Business Insider in an interview, however, that this supposed “paradox” was nothing of the sort.
“The real story is, these countries recognise mental illness and try to treat it in some way,” Wiking told Business Insider. “Being a society that acknowledges that people suffer from mental illnesses, and that we should try and do something about them? I think that's a good thing. A lot of people miss that — they just think it's a paradox.”

7 reasons Denmark is the happiest country in the world | The Independent

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

conceptual art

Modern art is mostly 'conceptual':
Jay Doubleyou: art
Jay Doubleyou: art questions
Jay Doubleyou: turner prize nominee: duncan campbell
Jay Doubleyou: yinka shonibare - artist at the royal academy
Jay Doubleyou: what is art?
Jay Doubleyou: sheds

The Turner Prize is Britain's most prestigious art prize for modern art:
Turner Prize | Tate

Turner Prize 2016: Positive reviews for nominees

Josephine PrydeImage copyrightJOE HUMPHRYS/TATE PHOTOGRAPHY
Image captionJosephine Pryde's work includes New Media Express (Baby Wants to Ride)

Art critics have given broadly positive reviews to this year's Turner Prize exhibition at Tate Britain.
This year's winner will be announced in December, but all four nominated works will be on display until January.
In its four-star review, London's Evening Standard said: "The display of work by the four contenders efficiently captures art's current mood."
Mark Hudson in The Telegraph also gave the nominees four stars, but added: "Michelangelo it certainly isn't."

'Confounded and perplexed'

"There's plenty to exasperate the sceptic and give even the most receptive gallery-goer a headache," he added.
"None the less, this is one of the strongest Turner Prize shows in ages."
The Guardian's Adrian Searle said the show was "perhaps the most peculiar and baffling Turner prize show I can remember".
"I haven't enjoyed being so confounded and perplexed in a long time," he added.

Image captionHelen Marten's work "creates poetic, pictorial puzzles", the Tate said

But Rachel Campbell-Johnston from The Times gave the nominated works two stars, commenting: "This year's Turner display is nothing if not idiosyncratic."
She added the meaning of some of the artworks is not immediately clear when looking at them.
"You have to start with the written explanation and then work out how their objects illustrate their ideas.
"That's why I would like Helen Marten to win, she produces the most visually intriguing pieces of the four candidates."
The Guardian also tips "the inscrutable, endlessly inventive" Marten to win, saying she "makes life feel less bare, more rich, more absorbing".
The BBC's arts editor Will Gompertz said the same, adding that her artworks are "sort of time capsule stories containing an arrangement of clues that help the viewer solve a riddle".
The Turner Prize exhibition is at Tate Britain from 27 September until 8 January 2017.

Turner Prize 2016: Positive reviews for nominees - BBC News

The Tate has just finished an exhibition on the early days of British conceptual art:
Conceptual Art in Britain 1964–1979 - Exhibition at Tate Britain | Tate

This is the most famous/infamous/notorious piece to come out of the UK:

Carl Andre's Equivalent VIII: the most boring controversial artwork ever | Jonathan Jones | Art and design | The Guardian

Here's a good definition or two:
Conceptual art | Tate
Conceptual art - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Conceptual art - Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

BBC TV is running a series on it:

BBC Four - Who's Afraid of Conceptual Art?
Who's Afraid of Conceptual Art? BBC Documentary 2016 - YouTube

With a couple of reviews:
Who’s Afraid of Conceptual Art? review – a daft idea is not art | Television & radio | The Guardian
Who’s Afraid of Conceptual Art?: an entertaining and thought-provoking look at the outer limits of art

But Yayoi Kusama has to be amongst the most beautiful:

Yayoi Kusama - Exhibition at Tate Modern | Tate

small talk, phatic communication and the games people play

BBC Radio 4's 'Word of Mouth' today looks at 'small talk':

Small Talk

Listen in pop-out player

Pointless chit chat or vital social lubricant? 
Michael Rosen and Dr Laura Wright talk small talk with psychotherapist and writer Philippa Perry, author of 'How to Stay Sane'. 
Why do we bother with small talk? 
What are the rules of banter? 
And what are we really talking about when we talk about the weather?

BBC Radio 4 - Word of Mouth, Small Talk

Small talk is an informal type of discourse that does not cover any functional topics of conversation or any transactions that need to be addressed.[1] Small talk is conversation for its own sake. The phenomenon of small talk was initially studied in 1923 by Bronisław Malinowski, who coined the term "phatic communication" to describe it.[2]
Small talk - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In linguistics, a phatic expression /ˈfætk/ is communication which serves a social function without carrying additional information.
Phatic expression - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Phatic communication is popularly known as small talk: the nonreferential use of language to share feelings or establish amood of sociability rather than to communicate information or ideas. The ritualized formulas of phatic communication (such as "Uh-huh" and "Have a nice day") are generally intended to attract the attention of the listener or prolong communication. Also known as phatic speech, phatic communion, phatic language, social tokens, and chit-chat.
The term phatic communion was coined by British anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski in his essay "The Problem of Meaning in Primitive Languages," which appeared in 1923 in The Meaning of Meaning by C.K. Ogden and I.A. Richards.
See Examples and Observations below. Also see:
From the Greek, "spoken"

Examples and Observations

  • "How are you?"
    "How ya doin'?"
    "Have a nice day!"
    "Cold enough for you?"
    "This train is really crowded."
    "What's your sign?"
    "What's your major?"
    "Do you come here often?"
    "Sincerely yours"
    "How about those Mets?"
    "Some weather we're having."

Definitions and Examples of Phatic Communication

It's all a game:
Games People Play (book) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Transactional analysis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
transactional analysis, eric berne, theory examples, articles, diagrams, parent adult child TA model

With some links to ESL/EFL:
Application of Transactional Analysis in ESL/EFL Listening and Speaking Published By
Emotional Intelligence and ELT | TeachingEnglish | British Council | BBC

And some great videos:
Dr. Eric Berne - Games People Play - The Theory Part I - YouTube

Friday, 23 September 2016

pounds, ounces and yards

Following Brexit
Jay Doubleyou: brexit
Jay Doubleyou: brexit and history
Jay Doubleyou: digital citizenship

we might have a return to the good-old days:

Could Brexit lead to comeback for pounds, ounces and yards?

Greengrocer displaying vegetables for sale in both pounds and kilograms
Image captionTraders sell fruit and veg in pounds and ounces although they cannot weigh it that way
Not giving an inch, going the extra mile, entering the final furlong, piling on the pounds and doing the hard yards - the English language is rich with phrases derived from the units British people use to measure distances, sizes and quantities.
Known as imperial measures - because they were defined in law in the early 19th Century and spread across the British Empire - these units have a place in our collective vocabulary and history, but could they be about to make a comeback in every day commercial use following the vote to leave the EU?
Although steps towards metrication began nearly a decade before the UK joined the EU in 1973, the gradual adoption of a French measurement system has become synonymous with European integration in the eyes of many and Brexit a priceless opportunity to inch away from it.
Since June's Brexit vote, a number of companies, ranging from butchers to wine merchants, have said they would relish the chance to be able to trade in imperial units.
Simon Berry, chairman of Berry Bros & Rudd, has gone as far as to say it is his lifetime's ambition to sell champagne in pint-sized bottles - currently outlawed in the UK - and in his words to reclaim it from "rules-obsessed bureaucrats".

'Part of identity'

Campaigner Warwick Cairns says people feel this way because imperial measurements are not only easily understandable but inherently popular.
"There is something about feet and inches that feel part of our identity and culture," he says. "They make sense on a human scale, they make sense on a cultural scale. It is part of us."

Workmen carrying 70 miles per hour sign in 1965Image copyrightPA
Image captionAttempts to continentalise the UK's road network came to nothing
A brief history of weights and measures
  • AD965: King Edgar decrees only "one weight and measure shall pass through the King's dominions".
  • 1824: The British Weights and Measures Act defines imperial units
  • 1960: India begins the transition from imperial to metric
  • 1965: The UK government says industry should embrace metric within 10 years
  • 1971: Decimal currency is introduced in the UK
  • 1973: The proposed date for adopting kilometres for road signs lapses
  • 1985: The Weights and Measures Act recognises the parity of metric and imperial measures
  • 1994: Regulations are introduced requiring weighing in metric
  • 2001: Steve Thoburn and other market traders are convicted for selling goods in only imperial measures
  • 2008: EU commissioners rule Britain can carry on using imperial measurements such as pints, pounds and miles

Mr Cairns, who represents the imperial-supporting British Weights and Measures Association and is the author of a book about the issue, insists that people should not be required to use either system, because modern technology can easily accommodate both.
"This is the chance for people to be free to use whatever measures they please," he says.
"Take my bathroom scales. If I want to weigh myself in kilograms, I can. Flick the switch the other way, and I can weigh myself in stones and pounds. There is no reason why you can't do that."
Weighing machine
Image captionMost weighing machines are now metric, as is the equipment used to test them
Controversial attempts by the EU - aided and abetted by successive British governments - to make the UK move to a single metric system officially came to an end in 2008, when Brussels agreed to the continued use of pints (for draught beer and cider), pounds and miles, alongside metric units.
Current laws require traders to use metric measurements when weighing packaged or loose goods for sale in England, Wales and Scotland but still allow them to sell goods in imperial quantities and display prices in imperial as long as they do not "stand out more" than the metric signs alongside them.
The rules are not rigorously enforced today, after public and political furore over the prosecution of the "metric martyrs", a group of market traders convicted 15 years ago of selling goods using only imperial measures.
Bartender pulls pint of beerImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionBut pint measures never went away when it came to draught beer and cider
But they are still seen, by both sides of the argument, as a dog's breakfast ripe for reform.
Advocates of metric say it is perfectly feasible for the two systems to co-exist but does not make commercial sense.
"The current measurement muddle aids only our competitors," says Derek Pollard, the chairman of the UK Metric Association.

'Norms and rules'

With 90% of the UK's trade taking place with metric countries - the US being the stand-out exception - he says the UK would be at a big disadvantage if it reverted.
"To compete effectively, we need a single, logical and universal measurement system that everyone understands and is familiar with," Mr Pollard says.
This view is shared by the UK Weighing Federation, which speaks on behalf of companies manufacturing, installing and repairing commercial scales and associated equipment - including components, instrumentation and software.
Market trader in BangaloreImage copyrightAP
Image captionMost of the Commonwealth, including India, uses metric measurement
Not only, it says, are most imperial measuring scales now consigned to people's lofts or on display in museums, but the equipment used to test commercial weights to guarantee their conformity with technical and safety standards - a procedure known as type approvals - is not available for any mass switch back to imperial.
"All measuring equipment is designed to record in metric," says its president, Nick Catt.
"If you want to be a manufacturing country and want to have a strong connection with Europe, then you have to follow the European norms and rules.
"Otherwise it would be chaos and it would be consumers who lose out."


Having a dual system of metric and imperial would, he says, involve a "phenomenal" cost to retailers, which would inevitably be passed on to customers - an outcome at odds with the deregulatory impetus behind Brexit.
"It would just not be practical," Mr Catt says.
"You would have to teach kids in schools what pounds are.
"We are talking about an era that is gone, and we can't turn the clock back that far."
The act of Brexit, in and of itself, will not see "lb" signs springing up all over the UK.
For that to happen, Parliament would need to repeal the current regulations, dating back to the mid-1990s, obliging traders to sell their products in metric weights.
The Duchess of Cambridge cradles Prince George after his birth in 2013Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionBabies' birth weights are commonly announced in pounds and ounces
As far as the government is concerned, such a change is not on the horizon while it focuses on reassuring investors the UK is open for business globally after the Brexit vote.
"Businesses can already use imperial units alongside metric, or on their own for draught beer and cider, bottled milk and road traffic signs," a spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said.
"This is national legislation and there has been no change to the law since the referendum result."
While the issue is unlikely to be the first port of call for MPs as they seek to decouple the UK from 40 years of EU-related legislation over the coming years, there is a body of opinion within Parliament that would support such a move.
In 1998, 89 MPs signed a parliamentary motion opposing compulsory metrication and the prosecution of traders continuing to use imperial.
The motion, which also pledged its support for the "use of customary UK measures", shows imperial measures have friends in high places.
Among those to sign were Jeremy Corbyn and Philip Hammond - then humble backbenchers but now Labour leader and Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Could Brexit lead to comeback for pounds, ounces and yards? - BBC News