Facebook’s 56 genders

I just found this in a document on my laptop. It’s a hastily written spoof of Facebook’s “56 new genders” that they recently provided to those users of a more nuanced gender. My re-imagined gender list never really came to anything, and I completely forgot I ever wrote it. But rather than delete it, as I was about to, I thought I’d post it here. And here, for what it’s worth, i.e. not much, it is:

Facebook’s 56 new genders

A bit of the other



Betwixt and between

Beyond gender

Be gentle




Continental drift


Dog’s dinner

Draw a veil






Help me


Intercity 125


It’s complicated

Jeepers creepers

Jumble sale

Kind of

Knickers in a twist

Leap of faith

Mannish Boy

Meat and three veg

Motorway pile-up

Muddy funster

Mussed up

Mystery bits

None of your business

Odds bodkins

One of each

Out of order

Pig in a poke



Shot in the dark

Sloppy seconds

Something or other



The Shadow knows






What the cat dragged in



You don’t want to know

Picasso’s crosswords

There’s an interesting passage in Françoise Gilot & Carlton Lake’s Life With Picasso, which tells of Pablo’s strange and secretive way of corresponding with his assistant, Jaime Sabartés – a man who, we’re told, “never talked of anything in plain terms like everyone else. He would never pronounce anyone’s name in front of an outsider for fear of giving away a secret. Of course Pablo loved that.”

Here’s how Picasso & Sabartés would exchange information (or, on occasion, fail to):

“Finally I learned the secret code of the palace guard. One never mentioned a proper name. One never referred directly to an event or a situation; one spoke of it only by allusion to something else. Pablo and Sabartés wrote to each other almost every day to impart information of no value and even less interest, but to impart it in the most artfully recondite fashion imaginable. It would have taken an outsider days, weeks, to fathom one of their arcane notes. It might be something relating to Monsieur Pellequer, who handled Pablo’s business affairs. Pablo would write (since Monsieur Pellequer had a country house in Touraine) of the man in the tower (tour) of the château having suffered a wound in the groin (aine) and so on and on, playing on words, splitting them up, recombining them into unlikely and suspicious-looking neologisms, like the pirate’s torn map that must be pieced together to show the location of the treasure. He would sometimes use up three pages of writing about a spade in such a way as not to be obliged to refer to it as a spade, lest the letter fall into the hands of Inès [Sassier] or Madame Sabartés and reveal something to one or the other.”

Essentially, they were setting each other convoluted crosswords: using “allusion”, wordplay, and the splitting & recombining of words to forge a private code, a code that only an insider could crack. Though it was a code so twisted and allusive that occasionally the line of communication would break:

“He [Picasso] worked so hard at being hermetic that sometimes even Sabartés couldn’t understand and they would have to exchange several more letters to untangle the mystery.”

Much as I hate crosswords, all the sly winks and codewords, all the tangling and untangling and retangling and detangling, and all the other forms of tangling besides, I suppose that “artfully recondite” is what every crossword setter aspires to be. When they’re not just aspiring to be annoying.

Footnote: I think this passage has made me realise what I don’t like about crosswords: it’s simply that I feel shut-out by them, they’re a code I can’t/won’t crack. It’s like that playground joke: Two nuns in a bath. One nun says “Where’s the soap?” The other says “Yes, it does, doesn’t it.” Took me months to de-cipher it (or days, but it felt like months).  And until I’d cracked it, I was an outsider. I was Madame Sabartés. (CS)


North Korea’s Kim Jong-un purges himself in bid to tighten grip on power


Pyongyang — News is emerging that North Korean premier, Kim Jong-un, has brutally purged himself in a bid to wrest power from himself and consolidate his position as the country’s Supreme Leader. According to the official Korean Central News Agency, Kim Jong-un seized himself during a meeting of the ruling party, accusing himself of “revolting acts of treachery”.

Cursed dog

Reports confirm that Kim Jong-un spat on himself as he dragged himself from the chamber, calling himself “a cursed dog with monstrous ambitions”. After torturing himself for several hours, Kim Jong-un brought himself before a military court, where he charged himself with seeking to overthrow himself.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un attending a party plenary meeting in Pyongyang

During the trial, Kim Jong-un branded himself “a foul and ambitious snake”, and told himself that he had long suspected himself of plotting to replace himself as leader. Kim Jong-un protested his innocence, but he remained unmoved, and passed a sentence a death upon himself, to be carried out by himself immediately after the trial.

Further purges

Speaking from Washington, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright described developments in North Korea as “worrying”. “Kim Jong-un is clearly trying to prove to himself that he is in charge,” she told Bloomberg News, and expressed concern that the latest purge “may trigger further purges”. It is rumoured that the newly executed Kim Jong-un may seek to execute his late father, Kim Jong-il, whose influence within the secretive regime remains strong two years after his death.




John Calder remembers the killing of President Kennedy

 John Calder, 86, the famous publisher, friend of Samuel Beckett and founder of Calder Publishing, is the last surviving member of Bertrand Russell’s “Who Killed Kennedy Committee”, a group of Warren Report sceptics which included the critic William Empson, Michael Foot, J.B. Priestley, and the nobel prize winner, Lord Boyd-Orr. Here Calder recalls the aftermath to Kennedy’s killing, and the disbelief amongst his friends that Oswald was acting alone.


My family knew the President’s father, Joe Kennedy. Joe was in the whisky business, as was my family. One time in the early 1930s, the whole Kennedy family came and stayed at my great uncle’s house in Scotland. That was where, as a teenager, the young John Kennedy learned to fish, and was taught to shoot grouse.

His father, of course, had mafia connections; that was very well known. A lot of people disliked President Kennedy: he was a catholic in a very protestant country, and the FBI had a particular dislike of him. The fact is, a lot of people wanted him dead.

On the evening of November the 22nd I was at the Royal Festival Hall, at a performance of Benjamin Britten’s ‘Gloriana’, to celebrate his 50th birthday. Jack Lyons, the chairman of the London Symphony Orchestra, came up to me in the interval and said Kennedy had been killed but Benjamin Britten doesn’t want anyone in the audience to be told, as he didn’t want the concert to be interrupted. So I sat through the end of the opera knowing the president was dead.

When the curtain fell, we rushed out into the street, to the newspaper sellers outside Charing Cross tube station. A special edition had been brought out. I remember standing on Waterloo Bridge, reading about the killing.

Barely two days after the President was killed, Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby, which struck everyone as suspicious. Obviously someone wanted to get rid of Oswald right away. I remember discussing the assassination with many of my friends, good friends like Stuart Hood, who was the controller of the BBC, and Erich Fried the poet. Fried in particular had a tremendous reaction to it, but all of us had questions.

When the Warren Report came out it was pretty much dismissed by everyone as a whitewash. The story it told seemed so implausible. I ended up joining Bertrand Russell’s “Who Killed Kennedy Committee”. I knew Russell quite well, of course, from the Committee of 100, the anti-war group, of which I was a member.

The US attorney, Mark Lane, had raised some questions about the Warren Report, and I remember long telephone calls with my friends, talking through the evidence. There were lots of different theories, naturally, but one thing we agreed on was that the Warren Report was a cover-up. There was a general belief that Oswald wasn’t acting alone.

Personally, I subscribe to the so-called ‘grassy knoll’ theory, the knoll at the side of the route: a gunman could easily have hidden behind it. Also, I think the FBI had a hand in it. Don’t forget: all governments tend to secrecy. The US government is perfectly capable of covering up something like this. Governments carry out assassinations; they always have done. They cover things up all the time; they’re still doing it.

I don’t admire politicians on the whole, but I rather liked President Kennedy. He was a bit of an idealist, and I believe he sincerely wanted to improve his country. Never had much of a chance of course.

SOCIAL DIARY: Swarovski Art plus Fashion event, The Whitechapel Gallery, 14 March 2013

I went to this, tickets cost £150 but I didn’t pay, obviously.

I decided to cover it for the LNR. There was an auction of poor art with a fast-talking man, I turned over some half-formed ‘amusing’ remarks about ‘conflict/blood Swarovski crystals’, and I met a rich lady with hairy arms who claimed to be an artist but was really just a rich lady.

Anyway, that’s the coverage.

I’d like to know what I meant by this, which is sitting on the last page of my notes:


‘pictures produce no MILK’, apparently

Maybe I was thinking about dairy farming and the art world being similar, cows=artists? I really don’t know. I was pretty confident though, wouldn’t use caps like that without thinking that I had something important to tell myself. Did I mean human milk? Was I thinking about breasts? I just don’t know. I’m a mystery to me sometimes.


Coolst Things to Do On Tranzit on Black Ops 2 Zombies

Have become very mildly obsessed by the-top-tens.com, a site full of (as you might imagine) top 10 lists of things. Things like “Best Philippine War Generals/Leaders” (congratulations Antonio Luna), and “Ten Most Wanted Inventions“, at number 6 of which is:

“Nutritional Biscuit That Has 1/6 of Minimum Complete Daily Nutrition for a Pregnant Woman Per Biscuit”

which finishes one place above: “The Cure For AIDS, Cancer, and other deadly diseases” (at 7).

It’s hard for me to pick a favourite list, so here’s number 469 on my list of the top 1,783 top 10 lists: “Coolst Things to Do On Tranzit on Black Ops 2 Zombies” which only amounts to a top 7, of which the top 5 are, in reverse order:

5. Turn On the Power, and Fight the Energy Guy

4. Go to Other Maps

3. Descover New Maps

2. Make Machines

and of course, finishing way out ahead of the others:

1. Ride In The Bus

Man, nothing is cooler than when you get to ride in the bus. A worthy winner.