Archives for October 2010

Wordpower: How Headlines Impact Our Perceptions

Wordpower….Look at these headlines from a story which emerged in the London free newspapers on (October 15th 2010) about an unfortunate person who has had an accident….

Number 1: The morning story from Joel Taylor in the London Metro:

London Metro October 15th

London Metro October 15th

When I saw this story, the word ‘drinker’ jumped out at me and I commented to a colleague that, in my opinion, it gave the wrong impression, conjuring up a picture of someone who has consumed a lot of alcohol or is even drunk. With the current tendency to blame drinkers (i.e.people who’ve consumed alcohol)  for accidents which befall them, this didn’t seem to me to be the right tenor: yet  ‘drinker’ shouldn’t really have that sense of the derogatory attached to it  (and maybe it is only my perception): we all drink something, whether it’s water, coffee, or an alcoholic beverage, yet the term drinker…‘he/she’s a drinker’...what meaning does it convey or imply about a person?

I thought it should say ‘woman’ or ‘customer’ and was pondering the style, which seemed a little impersonal, given that the details of gender are contained in the story, and also the seriousness of the accident.

Number 2: Later in the day, we picked up the Evening Standard and this was the treatment there by Felix Allen:

London Evening Standard October 15th 2010

London Evening Standard October 15th 2010

I was pleased to see this different tone. I know the speed and pressure under which journalists have to operate, especially to get out early morning editions such as the Metro; I know that catchy titles are important and they differ according to the publication – but it is also my view that we have to show compassion and love for people and try to avoid putting them into categories just for expediency and attention. I’m sure it wasn’t intentional, it’s simply an example of how perception works, and how we as human beings make meaning, and again it is my own opinion.

What undertones and subtleties do you notice in words that are used in the media or in common speech, does it affect their meaning, and do you think more discernment would be a good thing?

Metro and The Evening Standard are both free publications distributed in London (Metro in other cities too) on weekdays and serve a great purpose in entertaining and informing the travelling public on their journeys around the metropolis.

Finally – Warm Wishes for a complete recovery to the unfortunate woman injured by the plant pot.

10/10/10 words

I was prompted by the unique significance of the date on Sunday 10th October 2010  to write some words – and set myself a light hearted challenge to only use words containing the word 'ten'…here's the result:

Tender Words

Listen, attend:
Tension softened,
Sentences sweetened.
Tendrils extending,
Molten intensities,
Insistent, persistent,
Potent portent,
Penitent, chastened,
Tentatively tendered.


©Christine Miller




More to think about…

…following on from yesterday’s post ‘Something to Think About’, which led to a comment from a Jackie Evancho fanpage – Wow! this girl is an amazing talent – and such a beautiful surprise – as she says elsewhere, great things come in small packages. Her passion for singing radiates, and her obvious delight in performing and having the oppportunity to enjoy what she loves really shines through.

It may be old hat for some people, but it’s the first time I have encountered her, and I just love what I see and hear, and the feeling she inspires.

How many would notice her, and stop in the Metro station to listen to her, I wonder? (Her actual performance starts at around 2.0)

Something To Think About . .

A colleague sent me this today, which made me think about what we miss by rushing through life without pausing, noticing and appreciating things that in other circumstances and environments we would love and value.


In Washington , DC , at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, this man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule.

About 4 minutes later:

The violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

At 6 minutes:

A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

At 10 minutes:

A 3-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent – without exception – forced their children to move on quickly.

At 45 minutes:

The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

After 1 hour:

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars.
Two days before, Joshua Bell sold-out a theatre in Boston where the seats averaged $100 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.

Joshua Bell

Joshua Bell

This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C. Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities.

This experiment raised several questions:

*In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?

*If so, do we stop to appreciate it?

*Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made . . .How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?

Brought me back to thinking about something I wrote last year – see here: Do You Value What’s Right Under Your Nose?