Here’s what white nationalists in Charlottesville stood for, in their own words.


Smartphones change how Millennials view the world.


If today’s teens were a generation of grinds, we’d see that in the data. But eighth-, 10th, and 12th-graders in the 2010s actually spend less time on homework than Gen X teens did in the early 1990s. (High-school seniors headed for four-year colleges spend about the same amount of time on homework as their predecessors did.) The time that seniors spend on activities such as student clubs and sports and exercise has changed little in recent years. Combined with the decline in working for pay, this means iGen teens have more leisure time than Gen X teens did, not less.

So what are they doing with all that time? They are on their phone, in their room, alone and often distressed.

Can Surfing Reprogram the Veteran’s Brain?

There’s no quick fix for post-traumatic stress disorder, but research has shown that surfing’s physicality and flow can give victims some relief and a way forward. The author hit the water with his close friend Brian, a former Navy SEAL whose service in Afghanistan beat up his body, tortured his mind, and pushed him into a zone where violence—against himself or others—seemed inevitable.

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See on Scoop.itSociety and culture: The English speaking world

British idioms to spice up your speech

15 Hilarious English Idioms You Can Use to Add Color to Your Writing

Posted: 04 Oct 2015 10:10 PM PDT


An idiom is an everyday figure of speech or metaphorical expression that is commonly used by a language’s native speakers. Its meaning cannot be taken literary because it often goes against the logical rules of language, grammar and/or common sense. If you look closely at the literal meanings of most English idioms, you will realize they are often downright hilarious.

Here’re some of the funniest English idioms you may not know about that can actually add color to your writing and life in general. Most of these idioms are drawn from British English, but isn’t it about time you learnt how to speak (and write) like a regular Brit, mate?


1. “Do a Devon Loch”


Devon Loch was a racehorse that collapsed just short of the winning line of the 1956 Grand National race in the UK. If someone does a Devon Loch, they suddenly fail when everybody expects them to succeed or simply crumble at the very last minute when they were almost winning.

Example: It was shocking how Manchester United did a Devon Loch in the last minutes of the match against Arsenal.


2. “Bob’s your uncle”


This idiom is a catch phrase used when ‘everything is alright’ and means that something will be done, sorted or successful. It’s the British equivalent of “…and that’s that,” or “there you go!” How it is used is often quite funny.

Example: You want to go to the market? Go straight on until you reach the main road, take the first right, and Bob’s your uncle–you’re there!


3. “Do a runner”


When someone does a runner, he leaves a place in a hurry in order to avoid paying for something (like in a restaurant) or flees a difficult situation to escape punishment. Like many British idioms, this particular idiom originates from one of Shakespeare’s popular plays, Anthony and Cleopatra, a gripping story of romance and tragedy that was first performed in 1606.

Example: At this point, the con artist did a runner with all her money.  


4. “Enough to cobble dogs with”


This incredulous phrase is used to refer to a surplus of anything. The humor in the image contained in the phrase becomes apparent when you consider that a cobbler repairs shoes. If a cobbler has enough leather to cobble an animal that has four feet, then that cobbler definitely has a surplus.

Example: We’ve got enough beer in this party to cobble dogs with.


5. “Fall off the back of a lorry”


This is the British humorous way of saying you acquired something that was probably stolen, or you are trying to sell something that’s stolen or illegitimate. The American equivalent of the phrase is: “off the back of a truck.”

Example: I don’t know where you get this stuff. I suspect off the back of a lorry.


6. “Hairy at the heel”


This disparaging phrase was originally used by the British upper-crust to refer to someone who is ill-bred, dangerous or untrustworthy. The image of a hairy heel is indeed striking and funny.

Example: I can’t say I like Bob. I’ve once or twice had a row with him. He’s a bit hairy at the heels.


7. “Cat’s arse”


The humble cat’s arse–originally known as “felinus bottomus” to the ancient Greeks–is sometimes used to describe the facial expression adopted by a scorned woman. This rather vulgar phrase is apparently used because the (*) shape created by the woman’s lips resemble a cat’s backside.

Example: Bob won’t come to the pub with us–he’s afraid his wife will give him the ‘Cats Arse’ if he does.


 8. “For donkey’s years”


This British expression jokingly alludes to the considerable length of years the animal works with nothing to show for it. If you have done something for donkey’s years, then you have done it an awfully long time without any change or much to show for it.

Example: I’ve been a plumber for donkey’s years. It’s time for a change.


9. “All talk and no trousers”


Someone who is all talk and no trouser talks and thumps his chest a lot about doing big, important things, but doesn’t actually take any action. The thought of someone running his mouth with no trousers is funny.

Example: Be careful. Politicians are known to be all mouth and no trousers.


10. “If you’ll pardon my French”


“Pardon my French,” or “excuse my French” is an informal apology for the use of profane, swear or taboo words. The expression dates back to the 19th century when it was fashionable for Englishmen to use French words–a foreign language then–in conversation, knowing the listener may not understand.

Example: What she needs is a kick in the assif youll excuse my French.


11. “When pigs fly”


Pigs cannot fly. This often sarcastic idiom is commonly used among friends in the US to mean that whatever you are discussing will never happen. A similar saying was first used in Scotland in the late 1500s and a version of which even appeared in Lewis Carroll’s 1865 novel Alice in Wonderland.

Example: Yea, right! You will get Justin Bieber to ask you out on a date when pigs fly!


12. “Cat got your tongue”


Imagine a cat eating or holding your tongue! Would you be able to speak? No, probably not. That is exactly what the phrase means. If a cat got your tongue, you are unable to speak. Your silence is oddly suspicious. Apparently, the phrase stems from the middle ages when witches were greatly feared. It was said that if you saw a witch, her cat would somehow “steal” your tongue so you couldn’t report the sighting. Not a nice thought but definitely a reason why you would be speechless.

Example: Come on, Bob! Tell us what you think about our little party. What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?


13. “Have a one track mind!”


Most railroads have two or more tracks so trains can go in different directions. However, on a one-track railroad line, train traffic can only move in one direction at a time. If you have a one track mind, your mind is limited to only one line of thought or action. You are always thinking about the same thing.

Example: Oh, shut up, Sean! All you think about is food—you have a onetrack mind.


14. “Chew the fat”


This idiom means to chat in a friendly and leisurely way or engage in casual gossip sessions. It is said to stem from the practice of sailors, who while working together, or during periods of rest, would converse leisurely while chewing on salt-hardened fat. A variation of this idiom is “chew the rag” in American slang.

Example: “The women have gone to one of their friend’s house to chew the fat,” John smiled.


15. “More holes than a Swiss cheese”


While delicious, Swiss cheese is hard, pale yellow or white with many holes. If something has more holes than a Swiss cheese, it has a lot of problems; there are many things wrong with it. It is incomplete or lacks important components.

Example: You can do better, Mary. This essay has more holes in it than Swiss cheese.

A version of this post originally appeared on

To Tech or Not to Tech


There we all were at a Technology in the Classroom conference, busy twittering and blogging each other about the great strides in technological advancement we were learning to bring back to our schools… not. We were busy trying to get started with this, and here I am a half a week later still working on the layout of my new teaching-related-blog.

I am not new to blogging. I have a poetry blog, a photography blog, a simple-but-wise-observations blog, and a newspaper column which can could be seen as an intermittently paid blog. I am quite pleased to have realized the chance for an entire different type of blogging related to my job as a teacher. Still, I am not quite convinced – yet – that we are all aware of why we are so gung ho about technology.

Maybe if I find that I become part of an intelligent, dynamic conversation about teaching English, of the sort that can only occur online, I will have found the answer. So far, the students who were at the conference to convince us teachers of the worth of the effort only talked about the chance for students to explore learning about things they want to learn about. The students made a deal out of the fact that teachers will be better off not having to read 30 essays on the same topic.


That, my friends, is not dependent on blogging. I just got 28 papers on 28 different topics from my first year English class. Each paper was the student’s own design of graphics, visuals, learning aids, and comprehension tasks relating to the topic they wrote about. Topics ranged from the history of denim (written by a young lad who is proud of his job in a jeans store) to the digestive system, Mont St. Michel, and the spread of cult media.

The only difference if my students had produced these texts online is that people outside the classroom could read them. Strangers. I’m going to ask the class if they would have preferred this. I am also going to try to get them to start blogging reflections over having done it, as well as their reflections on other topics.

But — I need to share the thoughts that were handed to me by a small group of students who studied vocational media at my school: they hated blogging. They were supposed to blog every day – writing their work logs and reflections on the progress of their projects. These projects covered many weeks or even months, and still the students found it stressful to fit in the blogging time. They resented having to interrupt project time to blog about it. (Yes, I thought to say to them that it could have been done as homework… but I decided to hold my tongue. Chances are they know this, and that they did work outside of the classroom. These are high achieving and ambitious youngsters.)

It wasn’t just the time spent blogging that irked them. While the technology in the classroom course taught us that students are highly motivated by being able to share information and receive comments from the world at large, these media students said that was the very thing that stopped them. They were so caught up in creating the best appearance and format for this blog that the entire world was to see, read and ultimately judge, that they were never satisfied.

Having spent days figuring out how to organize my wordpress teacher blog so that not every lesson and posting I make queues up below here in one long scrolling list, I must say I can relate.

Maybe it will be worth it, if the aforementioned brilliant connectedness occurs. But if, as with most blogs, I sit here talking to myself… can I convince my students that ought to be doing the same?

One thing I am sure about, the time my students spend “talking with your neighbor” – which I try to make happen at least every 6-8 minutes in the classroom – must not be sacrificed for time spent mucking around with pixels and widgets. My students may not be connected to the rest of the world on their computers, but they actively use English in real time every day. Now if blogging in English will help them sharpen their attention to how they write and express themselves, and they can continue using EO – English Only – in the classroom as they try to get their blogs up and running – then they will benefit full out.

The media students just shook their heads when I said this. “You have no idea how horrible it will be for them, and how useless,” they warned.

I felt it is a warning worth sharing.