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February 17, 2011


Richard J

I suppose conversely, there's the difficulty of trying to explain why berk is an innocuous insult, despite being rhyming slang for, well...

(Apologies for any typos. A fractious two-day old is sleeping on my lap.)


There are similar insults in English, after all. People used to talk about someone not being the full shilling - ie not quite all there, mentally. (cf "a few sandwiches short of a picnic", etc.)


"A fractious two-day old is sleeping on my lap."

Hey, congratulations. I mean, assuming you didn't nick it or anything.


Seconded congratulations: young lady or young gentleman?


Congratulations! How does it manage to be fractious while asleep?

Richard J

Young lady, who of course, dropped off to sleep as soon as morning arrived...


So are you going to call her Rowan?


The first few months of my kids' life is just a tired blur. First one would wake up, then I'd finally get him to sleep, then the other would wake up. And then it was time to feed them, and then, and then.

Chris Williams

Congrats! Only buy anything if you can use it one-handed. Only let visitors in if they can provide evidence that they have brought food and drink for you all, and posted a bond that will be forfeit if they don't do the washing up. Them's the rules.


People go on about raising kids as though it's some huge intellectual and emotional labour when it's basically factory work: one job after another to do. And you can't clock out till they leave home.

Richard J

Chris's rules seem eminently sensible. I now understand what cian means; driving to and from Tesco kind of reified whatsisnames zombie thought experiment.


How does it manage to be fractious while asleep?

I'm guessing you haven't got children.


Christ, I just realized. Richard: your daughter was born on my stepson's 25th birthday. I feel incredibly old...

John Emerson

I heard sanba in Taiwan in 1983. None of my students would tell me what it meant, though it was obviously directed atwomen and girls. I doubt the international women's day explanation.


Richard, sorry to be the one to break the news but...
1 No, afraid not, it never 'goes back to normal'.
2.Google the word 'colic' now. & just pray to how ever many gods you can think of (whether you're a believer or not) that reading the Wiki entry is your full exposure to the problem.
3. She'll smile in about six weeks. All similar reactions before that are, despite the immense effort you've put in to get such a response, merely wind.
4.Yeah, a owners manual would have been useful, wouldn't it?

Ken MacLeod

We relied on Dr Spock's Baby and Child Care whenever we needed to RTFM, and found it useful as well as reassuring. It seems to have worked.


Congratulations, Richard!

John, you're right; it seems to have started in the 1920s, and the IWD thing (which is a big deal in China) is a fake etymology.

Claudia says that 290 (250 + 38 + 2 - which is "retard") is also an insult. Honestly, I'm thinking you could just shout any number in a crowded bar in China and start a fight.


I remember the health visitors being a useful resource, but we were in a priority group, so might just have got lucky.

Richard J

Living a few hundred yards from the hospital has proved remarkably useful in getting easy access to advice and reassurance.

(Strange to think that when I read the Star Fraction as a student back in the late 90s, I honestly never thought I'd one day receive child care tips from its author...)

Ken MacLeod

Official Star Fraction childcare tip: 'Red Fly the Banners Oh' is very effective for singing children to sleep.

chris williams

I used to use Jerusalem. Now it's more likely to be chumbawamba's later more melodic stuff. This can lead to disconcerting moments when they begin to pick up their own favourites. A four year old girl wandering into the kitchen belting out "Da Federarlays captured me, bound up my arms with wi-I-ire, officer came he said take your aim, steady your guns and fi-arghh!" is a bit odd til you get used to it.


Mine LOVE Johnny Cash.

A four year old singing Ring of Fire is cute. A four year old singing I shot a man to watch him die at Nursery...that can cause some problems.


when I read the Star Fraction as a student back in the late 90s, I honestly never thought I'd one day receive child care tips from its author...

I am now remembering that as a student I read a lot of Iain Banks.

I'm sure he's a very nice guy, but like hell am I listening to his child care advice.

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