The Hate List – Volume 10

(Originally published on 25th October, 2001)

  1. Someone who will buy a round and then keep reminding everyone all night that they did, as if we should feel guilty, or give that person special treatment.
  2. Charges for toilets. I really object to being asked to pay for something that I could do against the wall outside. Exactly what service am I getting for my money? None. The wall it is, then.
  3. What the following is an example of: “You start off with 100 points. You gain 5 points if you get a coin and lose 20 points if you die.” (invented typical computer game rules). That is, a points system which is all multiples of some number, and could be divided down by a common factor and still be the same (ie. “You start off with 20 points. You gain 1 point if you get a coin and lose 4 points if you die.”)
  4. “What’s the definition of X?” jokes. No, what you’ve done there is confuse a definition with a mere example. Even Plato understood that.
  5. 60s and 70s architects who must have looked around Cambridge, seen the beautiful medieval and Tudor architecture, thought “I know what would fit in nicely” and built modernist monstrosities like the University Library, and all the Wolfson and Cripps buildings.
  6. People who, when you say you’re not ticklish, test you by jabbing you and digging their fingers into you, and then claim you are ticklish because you reacted. There’s a difference between being ticklish and simply responding to sharp pain.
  7. Blue Peter’s Stamp Appeal. It seems that in a desperate attempt to find something that children can collect and send in, rather than simply asking for cash or the items they want, the producers embarked upon an idiotically Herculean task of collecting stamps and selling them for cash. After removing the occasional valuable stamps to sell at auctions, the stamps collected were thrown into sacks and sold BY WEIGHT, that’s how little value they have (I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re sold for recycling). One kid sent in 70 stamps from South Africa, beautifully laid out on a piece of card, and asked what they could buy with the money raised from those 70 stamps. The answer was “a medicine spoon” – one of those short white plastic spoons with two heads, that you get free with cough syrups. Everyone has dozens of these in their kitchen drawers. Instead of sending 70 exotic stamps, the kid could have just sent them ten medicine spoons, and increased his contribution tenfold.
  8. An old hate that’s been overlooked on the List: the phrase “works in theory but not in practice”, especially as applied to communism. Firstly, because it’s the trite and predictable layman’s assessment of communism, always stated authoritatively and smugly, although often the speaker has little idea what communism is. Secondly and more importantly, because it’s such a silly thing to say. How can something work in theory but not in practice? When the theory is wrong. Objects falling at speeds proportional to their mass works in theory but not practice, in the false theory of mass-proportional acceleration in a gravitational field. So why bother using this phrase rather than just “communism doesn’t work”? “Works in theory” seems to be meant as some kind of semi-compliment. But if the oversight in the theory is basic human nature, it must be an extremely poor political theory.
  9. Related to the previous hate: the common misconception that communism is either) a system of government, or b) necessarily connected to any particular system of government.
  10. The slogan “Tap and Unwrap” on Terry’s Chocolate Oranges. It just doesn’t work! Tap it lightly, nothing happens. Tap harder… nothing. Smack it hard against a table and it’s still a solid ball. I once took a mug coaster which was made of stone, and hit the coaster and a Chocolate Orange together as hard as I could, and – this is true – the stone coaster broke in two and the Chocolate Orange remained intact. It’s actually quite easy to open a Chocolate Orange with very little force by twisting it. This is overlooked by Terry’s, who continue to advise opening it in the most futile and inefficient way, presumably because it rhymes.
  11. ‘Celebrities’ who don’t seem to have any role except appearing on every ‘nostalgia’ programme, giving their opinions of 70s fads or old chart hits. Stuart Maconie, Paul Ross and Kate Thornton are prime examples. Brilliantly, since writing this, Kate Thornton appeared on the Brass Eye special.
  12. People who complain about other people being competitive in a competition. Always happens on The Weakest Link and Big Brother.
  13. Misuse of ‘literally’. Not just the obvious errors of using it to emphasise a metaphor or figure of speech (“Many pilots shot down in the war were literally guinea pigs”), or using it to point out that a metaphor is apt in some way, but missing the point that it is still a metaphor (“The Labour Party survey says that dentists have literally been kicked in the teeth”). There’s also the error of using it as simple emphasis. “It’s literally huge” says nothing more than “It’s huge”, so ‘literally’ is superfluous. It means ‘not figuratively’; would you ever use the sentence “It’s huge, and I don’t mean figuratively”?
  14. Being told not to look at a full eclipse of the sun, and instead to project it through a lens onto a small screen and watch that. One might as well just sit inside and watch it on TV.
  15. The Hyundai showroom in Grantchester, Cambridge. Whichever councillors granted planning permission for such an iconically quaint village to be desecrated by that monstrosity should have their eyeballs sandpapered so they can never enjoy any beauty again.
  16. Comic Relief, for at least 53 reasons all too obvious to list.
  17. The word ‘coward’ used as a generic and meaningless insult, often against criminals or terrorists.
  18. The word ‘cynical’ used to mean ‘having ulterior motives’ rather than ‘suspecting someone else of having ulterior motives’.
  19. That cash machines no longer give out £5 notes, and very often don’t give out £10 notes either. And whoever thought this would be a good idea.
  20. Left-handed scissors. The reason scissors are commonly thought to be hand-biased is that in order to cut, the blades need to be pulled together while being used. As used normally the thumb pushes the top handle away from the hand while the index finger pulls the bottom towards the hand, thus bringing the blades together. If this is done with the left hand, the blades are pushed apart and the scissors don’t cut. But it is just as easy, with a little thought, to pull with the thumb and push with the index finger: thus using right-handed scissors with the left-hand or left-handed scissors with the right hand. So stop whinging, you malformed freaks.

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