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March 21st; Tuesday. Run into Jay on street walking two handsome black labradors. He tells me a ghost-writer friend of his decades ago in New York was behind the 'French Connection' book & film.

March 20th; Monday. Sun without sunspots every day for a fortnight - the longest period in almost a decade. More cool weather likely.
March 19th; Sunday. Oddly cheerful article about the "Byzantine" trick images that show how easily "AI" visual "recognition" can be fooled. Anyone cosy with the concept of self-driving cars should read this.

March 18th; Saturday. Some miscellaneous Bassett Allsorts of general info: (1) a chess problem Dr Penrose believes is vulnerable to human, not computer, intelligence; (2) A US Democrat bemoans thinking inside the Democratic party; (3) A Republican with an odd-sounding thesis about a continued Obama role in US politics; (4) Scientists ponder how brains seem to keep thinking 10 minutes after death; (5) 10 real Lysistrata-style sex strikes that happened; (6) Perhaps interesting statistics on consumption of pornography in Muslim countries.
March 17th; Friday. Must see a barber. My rapidly-growing mullet is moving dangerously into Teddy-Boy/North-Korean-dictator coiff-fusion territory. Speaking of police states: more good data from one of our contributors.

March 16th; Thursday. Read a copy of 'The Real Right Returns' by Daniel Friberg. I don't really agree the term "right wing" is the one to use, but he argues trenchantly in clear short sentences for a non-violent, unembarrassed return to traditional values in Europe, a sort of moderate nationalism/Eurocentrism. Insofar as he suggests in one or two paragraphs we have lost something by exiling aristocrats from power, this could even qualify as real right-side Legitimist stuff. Rather charming be-a-man-about-it and we-must-protect-the-womenfolk themes embedded in the Proud Christendom manifesto.
March 15th; Wednesday. Toothache returns, annoyingly on the day every single shop shuts to honour Hungary's opportunistic me-too uprising on March 15th 1848. This was a couple of days after Vienna rose up on the 12th & 13th, just for some unkind context. For this I have to spend an hour searching for a pharmacy that will sullenly serve me antiseptic against the pain through a small cubby-window at a higher price.

March 14th; Tuesday. Sankt-Peterburg DJ chooses a surprisingly gentle, soft-centred set of tunes for show #420, while dancing around mainly for the benefit of someone on her phone. Could this be lurv?
March 13th; Monday. Train back to Budapest. Lovely Indian dinner with Zoe & Mark, who tell me some gossip both useful and entertaining while insisting, despite my doubts, that Brussels is another dimension of boring. In separate developments, gentrification is apparently an evil plot.

March 12th; Sunday. Some heave-ho at Robin's in the countryside as Gyorgy, Istvan, Robin, and I use shoulder bands to lug a big metal stove into the studio. Zeno the Alchemist directs operations. Apparently when I fall asleep in a corner of the studio later, I snore like Domor the larger Komondor dog, serenely undisturbed by sounds of sawing and hammering.
March 11th; Saturday. Read a copy of 'What Am I Doing Here' I find in Robin's library, a miscellaneous set of essays, some very good in parts, by travel writer Bruce Chatwin. In an offhand remark at the start, Chatwin confesses to once lacking confidence in his writing. This might concentrate some readers' attention. Indeed his essays rather depend on closely observed situations with unusual people in exotic locales. Yet the actual writing, as he candidly half admits, is not so good. The final essay has a curious penultimate sentence where someone advises him not to let anything artistic get in his way. The essay closes cutely with the one-line paragraph, "I have always acted on this advice." The essay before (about a fly) ends with the one-line paragraph, "'It must have come in with you.'" An essay about three before that one ends with the smug one-line paragraph, "I too am mystified by this story." On top of which, like O. Henry's citizen of the world who betrays himself in a remark on his home town, Chatwin's composure suddenly slips when he meets two British soldiers who were in the Falklands War, unable to hold his parochial anti-patriotism in. In one rambling essay about Indira Gandhi, a string of recollections and vignettes, some good, are jumbled together, and in parts it's confusing to follow what's happening. The article about Chinese emperors and rare horse breeds has some fascinating reflections on the pastoralist, the settled farmer, and the hunter. His piece about Afghanistan and several others have small moments of anti-western snobbery. The exotic foreigners are loveable and admirable while Englishmen abroad less discerning than himself are crude and narrow, almost as if he was getting Kipling upside-down. The metal of that subdued sneer against his own civilisation glitters into view in a couple of places. At the same time, Chatwin is so wonderfully travelled and has met such a rich range of interesting characters it's very easy to overlook how much enjoying his writing derives from them, and to not notice his lack of skill as a storyteller. An uncharacteristically readable piece about someone he met in old age, nihilistic German officer and diarist Ernst Ju:nger, forms an odd mirror to his own writing. It seems the German was skilled at writing coldly grand accounts of heroic violence balanced by eerie, refined botanical scholarship. Chatwin would like to have been an equally dazzling (perhaps more peaceful) English version of Ju:nger, I sensed.
At the end of a quite charming couple of pages near the end about a fine-art customer called The Bey, who Chatwin seems to have been very fond of, he strains to say something bittersweet about the man. We get an arch mixture of admiration and condescension: "I write about the Bey because people of his kind will never come again. His life, I suspect, was a bit of a sham. The Eye [his aesthetic taste] was always young and pure." Why on earth should "people of his kind -- never come again"? And given Chatwin's distaste for any imperial vision that makes people like the Bey possible, why should it in any case matter if people of his kind never come again? This collection left me wondering if Chatwin's life was a bit of a sham.

March 10th; Friday. Robin picks me up and we drive by night out of town into the countryside. We stop at a garage out on the puszta. While I finish my coffee inside he goes out for a cigarette, being careful to stay away from the pumps. Two Romanian men are struggling to change a tyre (with no tyre-iron) on their van - oddly enough a van filled to the roof with tyres. Robin astonishes them by handing them the keys to his new car over by the petrol pumps and telling them to get the right tool out of the back while he continues his cigarette at a safe distance. Once we are out in the Great Plain, he shows me a giant bar of soap two inches thick and about a foot square. He obtained the bulbous cuboid pumpkin-coloured bar, positively craggy with craters and deep cracks, from an antique dealer. It has a date from 1960 scored into it with a knife. He tells me he bought a second one, even bigger, for the flat in Budapest.
March 9th; Thursday. In the last 2 or 3 weeks there are renewed signs of flirtation from Lady Luck, though like all women, she wants me to show my cards first. I'm not saying Fortuna is "fast", but she certainly seems to reserve her come-hither looks for the bold. It really is as if there's a certain perfect blend of self-critical realism and cheeky chutzpah that it takes to turn nothing into something. Or turn a pumpkin into a taxi cab to glamour.

March 8th; Wednesday. Long-term study of vegans finds a vulnerability to mental illness. Cheery cartoon pig on my block of lard seems to agree. Meanwhile, a very interesting piece of research concludes that banks are just as unhelpful as Bob Hope said, and poor people are rational to avoid them.
March 7th; Tuesday. About 10 days ago, one of the male cashiers (oddly they, but not the women, are made to wear black shirts) at the supermarket in the shopping-mall basement asked me with a twinkle in his eye if I didn't "usually go to Shatzi's till?" (I assume that's a Germanic name meaning something like Little Treasure.) The idea I always go to whichever queue is shortest seemed not to have occurred to him - though I try to have a jolly micro-chat with whichever cashier scans my bar-coded purchases so perhaps I don't seem like a man in a hurry. I asked him which one Shatzi is, thereby probably answering his real question. The little red-haired one, he said, puzzling me a bit, since there are two such. This evening, I'm surprised to see a new person sitting alongside a male cashier, learning by watching. The small slinky brown-skinned girl, perhaps Gypsy, I've seen for a few months strutting around on shelf-related errands deep in the store now doing her one-or-two-day apprenticeship to become a cashier. She seems perky, restless, looking forward to the extra pace of things to do.
March 6th; Monday. President Honey Monster's Trial By Rumour just gets more and more interesting. Added to this.

March 5th; Sunday. Feminist lady says what she wants.
March 4th; Saturday. "Queering outer space."

March 3rd; Friday. An engine with no cams. Moving pictures!
March 2nd; Thursday. 3 days ago finished first of the package of books posted by kind Amanda. '1565: The Great Siege of Malta' by Joseph Elull is a useful short introduction setting out the main events of Suleyman the Magnificent's attempt to conquer Malta that year, and thereby subjugate the Mediterranean and resume earlier Islamic invasions of Europe.

March 1st; Ash Wednesday. To mark the day, woman MP & Christian sports a cross smeared in ash on her forehead to a parliamentary committee meeting. Good for her.

Recent weblog entries continued:

Who can translate the next 300 words into Korean or Hindi? Contact us and there will be revelry.

Languages dying out each week - who cares?

We do - otherlanguages.org is gradually building a reference resource for over five thousand linguistic minorities and stateless languages worldwide.

Thousands of unique language communities are becoming extinct. Out of the world's five to six thousand languages, we hardly know what we're losing, what literatures, philosophies, ways of thinking, are disappearing right now.


We may soon regret the extinction of thousands of entire linguistic cultures even more than we regret the needless extinction of many animals and plants.

The planet is increasingly dominated by a handful of major-language monocultures like Mandarin Chinese, Hindi, Arabic, Indonesian, Urdu, Spanish, Portuguese, English, Swahili, Russian, Cantonese Chinese, Japanese, Bengali - all beautiful and fascinating languages.

But so are the 5,000 others.

These are groups of people?

Linguistic minorities are communities of ordinary people whose native tongue is not their country's main official language. Swedish speakers in Finland, French speakers in Canada, Hungarian speakers in Slovakia - and hundreds more - are linguistic minorities.

And totally stateless languages are the native languages of some of the world's most intriguing, little-known, cultures. Like the Lapps inside the Arctic Circle, the Sards in Sardinia, Ainus in Japan. Cherokee in the US, Scots Gaelic in Britain, Friesian in the Netherlands, Zulu in South Africa. There are only a couple of hundred recognised sovereign states and territories, so 5,000 languages - more depending on how you count - are the native tongues of linguistically stateless people.

How could I help?

You don't need to learn an endangered language - any more than go to live in the rainforest to help slow its destruction.

A good start is to just tell friends about websites like this.

Broader public interest makes it easier for linguists to raise funds and organise people to learn these languages while there's time.

That's right. There are people who love languages and are happy to learn them on behalf of the rest of us, but they need support, just like zoologists, botanists, or historians.

Fewer languages still sounds good to me

Depends what you think languages are for. They're not just a tool for business. We never said you should learn three or four thousand rare languages - or even one. And which ones we make children learn in school, or whether we should force children to learn languages at all, is another question.

Typical scene in a European city; Chances are, folk here speak some sort of foreign language *5

A century ago - before we understood ecology, and when we cared less about wilderness, most educated people would have laughed at the idea of worrying about plants or animals going extinct. Now we understand how important species diversity is for our own futures, we are more humble, and more worried.

In the same way, linguistic triumphalism by English-speakers who hated studying foreign grammar at school is dangerously ignorant as well as arrogant. Few of us know what we are losing, week by week. How many people realise these languages have scientific value?

Scientific value?

You can think of these languages across the planet as beautiful cathedrals or precious archeological sites we are watching being destroyed. That should be motive enough.

But these five thousand languages may also hold clues to the structure of the human mind. Subtle differences and similarities

Wireless radio can be a great comfort to those unable to leave the textbooks in which they live *6
between languages are helping archeologists and anthropologists to understand what happened in the hundreds of centuries of human history before written history. And that is one of our best chances of understanding how human brains developed over the thousands of centuries leading up to that.

Study of the mind and study of language go hand in hand these days. The world's most marginal languages are actually precious jigsaw pieces from an overall picture of who we are and how our species thinks and evolves. Every tiny language adds another brightly-coloured clue to this academic detective story.

Yet researchers have hardly started sifting through this tantalising evidence, and language extinction is washing it away right in front of us.

And worst of all, most people have no idea that there is this fantastic profusion of cultures across our world, let alone that they are in danger of extinction. Even just more people learning that there are still five thousand living languages in the world today (most of us would answer five hundred or fifty) is already a huge help.

We English-speakers hardly notice English - it's like air for us. But every other language is also an atmosphere for an entire cultural world, and each of these worlds has people whose home it is. Each language encapsulates a unique way of talking and thinking about life. Just try some time in a foreign prison, being forced to cope in another language, and you'll realise how much your own language is your identity. That's true for everyone.

Minority languages are a human-rights issue?

One of the most basic.

Dozens of millions of people worldwide suffer persecution from national governments for speaking their mother tongue - in their own motherland.

Many 'ethnic' feuds puzzling to outsiders had as their basis an attempt to destroy a linguistic community. Would the Northern Ireland dispute be quite so bitter if we English had not so nearly stamped out the Irish Gaelic language, for example? Almost nowhere in the world does a language community as small as the few thousand Rheto-Romanic speakers - the fourth official language of Switzerland - get the protection of a national government. Next time you see some Swiss Francs, check both sides of the banknote.

But outside exceptional countries like Switzerland or the Netherlands, speakers of non-official languages have a much less protected experience.

Speakers of minority languages are often seen as a threat by both the governments and the other residents of the countries where they were born, grew up, and try to live ordinary lives.

They experience discrimination in the job and education markets of their homelands, often having no choice but to pursue education in the major language of the host state: a deliberate government policy usually aimed at gradually absorbing them into the majority culture of that country.

Mighty oaks from tiny acorns grow, of course *7

Most governments are privately gleeful each time another small separate culture within their borders is snuffed out by a dwindling population or a deliberately centralising education system.

The United Nations is no help. It is an association of a couple of hundred sovereign states based on exclusive control of territory, almost all of them anxious to smother any distinct group or tradition that in any way might blur or smudge the hard-won borders around those pieces of territory.

The usual approach by sovereign states is to deny their linguistic minorities even exist.


Mark Griffith, site administrator / contact at otherlanguages.org

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*1 image from , with thanks
*2 "Al-Araby" in written Arabic (read more)
*3 "What?" in American Sign Language; image from , with thanks
*4 "Big" in written Chinese  (read more); image from , with thanks
*5 image from , with thanks
*6 image from , with thanks
*7 image from 'B?ume', with thanks to  Bruno P. Kramer, and Franckh-Kosmos Verlag


.languages of the world
.Internet free speech
.weights & measures
.5000 English words
.2000+ Chinese char.s
.persian/english dictionary
.currency rates 1 2 3 4 5
.country domain names
.language-learning 1 2
.find old websites
.fine HTML tutorial
.minimalist websites

reviews: ................. books {...or films here}

1 metrologie historique
2 postmodernism & the other
3 disaster (news on sunday)
4 money unmade (russian barter in the 1990s)
5 the sleepwalkers
6 e
7 the kruschev era
8 the end of science
9 don't you want me?
10 the carpet wars
11 zelator
12 life of thomas more
13 faber book of science
14 gilgamesh
15 out of it
16 guns, germs & steel
17 words & rules
18 figure in the landscape
19 life without genes
20 bede's history of the english
21 the nothing that is
22 zoology
23 journey by moonlight
24 heavenly serbia
25 ratkay endre
26 the handmaid's tale
27 the selective eye
28 a megismerese epitokovei
29 intention
30 thirty nine steps
31 princess
32 the pyramids
33 the etruscans
34 moonchild
35 paradise news
36 culture of time & space 1880 to 1918
37 szimmetria
38 babel orokeben
39 astro-archeology
40 a history of islamic spain
41 high gothic
42 among the believers
43 the renaissance
44 augustine
45 mcvicar
46 atomised
47 tangled wing
48 da vinci code
49 nature via nurture
50 termeszet szamai
51 decline & fall of roman empire
52 practical cheesemaking
53 the sufis
54 fra angelico at san marco
55 the cryptographer
56 they have a word for it
57 szamok valosan innen & tul
58 artistic theory in italy 1450 to 1600
59 darwin's black box
60 indiai ejszaka
61 cleopatra: histories, dreams & distortions
63 what mad pursuit
64 language, the learner & the school
65 writing the romantic comedy
66 the blank slate
67 dougal & the blue cat
68 diego velasquez
69 horse nonsense
70 a certain chemistry
71 deterring democracy
72 textiles
73 thief of time
74 bloodsucking fiends
75 right ho, jeeves
76 generativ grammatika
77 1st time i got paid for it
78 galapagos
79 othello
80 understanding media
81 mysticism
82 short history of french literature
83 best on the market
84 art of seeing
85 culture & imperialism
86 food of the gods
87 arabic-islamic cities
88 the alchemist
89 verbal learning & memory
90 building a successful software business
91 don't make me think!
92 memory
93 the u.s. & the arab world
94 hard times
95 spells for teenage witches
97 the pig that wants to be eaten
98 encyclopaedia of stupidity
99 seventy eight degrees of wisdom: part i
100 beach watching
101 the ancient greeks
102 brainstorms
103 seventy eight degrees of wisdom: part ii
104 utopia
105 technical writing for engineers & scientists
106 alphabet versus goddess
107 writing on drugs
108 news from somewhere
109 isp survival guide
110 petrus hispanus mester logikajabol
111 art of seduction
112 stet
113 penguin by design
114 the sense of being stared at
115 the golden ratio
116 dinamikus emlekezet
117 margins of reality
118 hopjoy was here
119 bump in the night
120 box of delights
121 color atlas of immunology
122 fashionistas
123 pi in the sky
124 a new kind of fool
125 one man's meat
126 greek fire
127 the buddha in daily life
128 beginner's dutch
129 private life of the brain
130 solar ethics
131 pedant in the kitchen
132 knots
133 the planets within
134 encyclopaedia of ancient & mediaeval history
135 consilience
136 the age of scandal
137 fashion: the 20th century
138 the tipping point
139 design literacy
140 the silent partner
141 hamlet
142 1421
143 the 1890s
144 godel's proof
145 rosencrantz & guildenstern are dead
146 beyond reason
147 little book of music theory
148 q-basic
149 alone of all her sex
150 social studies
151 eternal darkness
152 drawn from memory
154 a guide to elegance
155 medea & other plays
156 the future of money
157 cheese
158 grammars of creation
159 aquarian conspiracy
160 the climate crisis
161 true fiction
162 the making of memory
163 why most things fail
164 genetikai abece
165 finding fulfilment
166 genome
167 the broken estate
168 inigo jones
169 flashman & the dragon
170 from bauhaus to our house
171 100 great paintings
172 kis spanyol nyelvtan
173 the historian
174 tomorrow's gold
175 charting made easy
176 life after life
177 spanyol igei vonzatok
178 the eclipse of art
179 fire in the mind
180 the human body
181 out of control
182 possession
183 simplified chinese characters
184 the generation of 1914
185 intellectuals
186 world of late antiquity
187 riddle & knight
188 informacio kultusza
189 napoleon of notting hill
190 secrets: palm-reading
191 meet yourself as you really are
192 cat's abc
193 intro to spanish poetry
194 rise of christian europe
195 philip's guide to electric living
196 sins for father knox
197 celtic twilight
198 myths of love
199 snobbery with violence
200 just like tomorrow
201 7 basic plots
202 experiment with time
203 vile bodies
204 icons & images: 60s
205 fisher king
206 new jerusalem
207 born on a blue day
208 surveillir & punir
209 trial of socrates
210 how to catch fairies
211 conversations on consciousness
212 mind performance hacks
213 conscience of the eye
214 beau brummell
215 evolution
216 the outsider
217 raja yoga
218 rise of political lying
219 occidentalism
220 colossus
221 secret teachings of jesus
222 blue murder
223 nostrodamus the next 50 years
224 homage to catalonia
225 charity ends at home
226 palace of dreams
227 discovering book collecting
228 beyond the outsider
229 the last barrier
230 that hideous strength
231 indian sculpture
232 small world
233 evolution & healing
234 in search of memory
235 campo santo
236 llewellyn's 2007 tarot reader
237 dream of rome
238 why buildings fall down
239 the empty space
240 england made me
241 greek science in antiquity
242 science, a l'usage des non-scientifiques
243 utmutato tarot
243 hunt for zero point
244 william wilberforce
245 viktor schauberger
246 untouchable
247 the vitamin murders
248 straw dogs
249 elizabeth's spymaster
250 the hard life
251 the god delusion
252 the intellectual
253 undercover economist
254 quirkology
255 chasing mammon
256 early mesopotamia & iran
257 the strange death of david kelly
258 the pilgrimage
259 origin of wealth
260 maxims
261 the finishing school
262 the shepherd's calendar
263 islamic patterns
264 lost world of the kalahari
265 german short stories 1
266 electricity
267 liber null & psychonaut
268 born to rebel
269 wittgenstein's poker
270 will the boat sink the water?
271 romeo & juliet
272 why beautiful people have more daughters
273 the crossing place
274 the turkish diplomat's daughter
275 missionary position
276 lust in translation
277 teaching as a subversive activity
278 how german is it
279 empires of the word
280 warped passages
281 the power of now
282 ponder on this
283 sword of no-sword
284 narcissism
285 blink
286 shock of the old
287 basque history of the world
288 truth: a guide
289 who shot jfk?
290 newtonian casino
291 power & greed
292 the world without us
293 5-minute nlp
294 concise guide to alchemy
295 evidence in camera
296 4-hour work week
297 the rosicrucian enlightenment
298 de-architecture
299 how to lie with maps
300 a book of english essays
301 a time of gifts
302 the occult philosophy in the elizabethan age
303 le pelerinage des bateleurs
304 alchemy & alchemists
305 greenmantle
306 the hero with 1000 faces
307 goethe's parable
308 rhedeyek es fraterek
309 letter to a christian nation
310 the tryst
311 7 experiments that could change the world
312 mill on the floss
313 metastases of enjoyment
314 the isles
315 between the woods and the water
316 secrets of the great pyramid
317 life in the french country house
318 the china study
319 tarot: theory & practice
320 the roger scruton reader
321 alchemy & mysticism
322 picasso's mask
323 the rule of four
324 triumph of the political class
325 arts of darkness
326 neuroscience & philosophy
327 the art of memory
328 mind wide open
329 mud, blood, & poppycock
330 society of the spectacle
331 lila
332 de imaginibus
333 electronics
334 giordano bruno & the embassy affair
335 temporary autonomous zone
336 the human touch
337 the fascination of evil
338 the king of oil
339 dowsing
340 the book of j
341 the west and the rest
342 story of my life
343 plain tales from the hills
344 under the influence
345 modern culture
346 50 mots clefs d'esoterisme
347 giordano bruno & the hermetic tradition
348 development, geography & economic theory
349 das kapital: a biography
350 strange days indeed
351 hegel: a very short introduction
352 reflections on the revolution in france
353 history of sexuality: an introduction
354 why we buy
355 origins of virtue
356 the holographic universe
357 a dead man in deptford
358 obsolete
359 137
360 in your face
361 7 spies who changed the world
362 the noetic universe
363 why beauty is truth
364 imagery in healing
365 the craftsman's handbook
366 futurism
367 in the cards
368 dmso
369 les hommes et leurs genes
370 the franchise affair
371 the decision book
372 les harmonies de la nature a l'epreuve de la biologie
373 kibernetika
374 zuleika dobson
375 l'empire de nombres
376 circus philosophicus
377 some girls
378 number
379 island
380 how to get your ideas adopted
381 drive
382 emergence
383 rfid : la police totale
384 the tempest
385 aspects of wagner
386 view over atlantis
387 world atlas of mysteries
388 art of the dogon
389 genesis machines
390 the sirius mystery
391 the cult of the fact
392 anastasia
393 ringing cedars of russia
394 a whiff of death
395 spirit level delusion
396 wavewatcher's companion
397 the kybalion
398 elegance
399 death in a scarlet coat
400 architecture without architects


1 k-pax
2 very annie mary
3 wasabi
4 gosford park
5 arany varos
6 minority report
7 amelie
8 bridget jones' diary
9 arccal a fo:ldnek
10 monsters' ball
11 cube
12 man with no past
13 talk to her
14 szerelemtol sujtva
15 bowling for columbine
16 matrix3
17 zoolander
18 anything else
19 farenheit 9/11
20 8 & 1/2 women
21 madagascar
22 kill bill 1
23 dude, where's my car?
24 the woman in green
25 the hunger
24 nightwatch
25 de battre son coeur s'est arrete
26 wicker man
27 v for vendetta
28 courage the cowardly dog
29 casino royale
30 power of nightmares
31 charlie's angels
32 full throttle
33 foxy brown
34 paths of glory
35 airplane
36 between iraq & a hard place
37 mutiny on the bounty
38 flashmob the opera
39 octopussy
40 bakkerman
41 kiterunner

February 28th; Shrove Tuesday. More long-awaited improvements in dentistry. Versus what they used to call science fiction.

February 27th; Monday. Are the Sankt Petersburg DJ's shows fluffier these days, e.g. here with #418? Or more fidgety? Compared to 7 years ago?
February 26th; Sunday. Drinks with m and n, both on good form as we briefly touch on last summer's Turkish almost-putsch. Among other topics, m explains to me that not only was Unity Mitford obsessed with Mr Hitler, but he in his turn was obsessed with her. This was on the basis of her having been conceived in a Canadian mining town called Swastika, having Valkyrie as her middle name, and being a cousin of Churchill. Also m mentions a relative who used to talk of people getting "above their airport in life".

February 25th; Saturday. Interesting case that the Democrats fell too much in love with data-mining. Writer calls for more narrative & story-telling, but oddly enough makes a rather data-driven argument for less data-driven campaigning.
February 24th; Friday. Air almost warm. A scent on the evening wind I have noticed in previous early springs - cannot describe or pin it down exactly: a vague but distinct amalgam of several tree & plant blossoms under a frosted tang of wood smoke. Perhaps the moment for a wonderful confession. Determined not to be caught out by embarrassing hidden sins, a US political candidate has issued a list of all the naughty things he's done. Talk about going on the attack. Last night, I finished a copy borrowed from Robin of 'A Concise History of Venetian Painting' by John Steer. With calm poise, the author sails through five centuries from Veneziano to Guardi at the time of Napoleon's destruction of the political base of this unique culture just before 1800. Every page is well-judged, but the chapter on Titian and Tintoretto, plus the chapter on Vivarini and the Bellinis, are particularly good. Steer crisply captures the distinct vision of La Serenissima's civilisation worked in paint with sentences like (of Veronese's 'Feast in the House of Simon') "-- there is a muting of drama and restful opulence about it which expresses a highly-developed hedonism. It conveys a patrician ideal of noble persons in a splendid environment, acting out great events with aristocratic ease" - down to the bittersweet words in the penultimate paragraph: "-- there is a real sense in which Guardi, although a Venetian born, is the first painter to look at Venice like a tourist. He sees her as a romantic image rather than a reality and, by thus raising her into a creature of the imagination, finally deprives her of life."

February 23rd; Thursday. I'm sure it lost lots in translation, but since a friend with a boat is currently exploring the beaches of Chile, broadcasting the occasional haunting photo of deserted coastline, some Neruda verse put into English: Enigmas
    You've asked me what the lobster is weaving there with his golden feet?
       I reply, the ocean knows this.
    You say, what is the ascidia waiting for in its transparent bell? What is it waiting for?
       I tell you it is waiting for time, like you. ---

February 22nd; Wednesday. Rather charming tapestry of triangles: orderly but with just a smidgeon of disorder (scroll right) to keep us on the edge of our seats.

February 21st; Tuesday. So we have the Prince Charles project to sterilise grey squirrels with spiked Nutella.
February 20th; Monday. One Bragg radio discussion that gives proper value: Boethius. Odd moment where the host, a left-wing Northerner, suddenly confesses deep admiration for Elizabeth 1st.

February 19th; Sunday. Nazis tried to breed talking dogs: real journalism.
February 18th; Saturday. Apparently a breaking story in the Telegraph about Mr Bercow and Mr Vaz. Or not.

February 17th; Friday. Not so odd that the pro-Chomsky linguist misspells "peek" but never mind. Nice bit of multi-dimensional language wibble. Who ever thought language was linear, though?
February 16th; Thursday. Talking of hateful things, here's a 14-legged telepathic shape-shifting megasquid reported by a Russian scientist in Siberia. Spending months at a time in that bleak landscape probably not good for a man's soul.

February 15th; Wednesday. Lonely hearts can now bond with potential Valentines over hating the same things. A business idea that's born to win.
February 14th; Tuesday. Canadian who beheaded man on bus in 2008 walks free. Seems he ate bits of him as well.

February 13th; Monday. Engineer claims electric cars are "a fraud".
February 12th; Sunday. Computers aren't automating dull chores, but automating fun stuff instead.

February 11th; Saturday. Ewan recommends a book about leftist history leftists would prefer forgotten.
February 10th; Friday. Internet identity can be tracked across browsers now.

February 9th; Thursday. Some chill returns. People on public transport all over Budapest sulking again. Now we cannot trust taped speech or videoed faces. Good, in a way.
February 8th; Wednesday. Another slightly weird attempt to do maths on novels.

February 7th; Tuesday. Research suggests people in crowded conditions have fewer children. Thanks to Lily.
February 6th; Monday. Lovely evening meal at Photographer Terri & Alvi. Philosopher Kerrie reminds me of a MacNiece poem I like: Snow
  The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was
  Spawning snow and pink roses against it
  Soundlessly collateral and incompatible:
  World is suddener than we fancy it.

February 5th; Sunday. On the subject of the streets coming alive, change in air and so forth, 3 versions of Donovan's 'Season of the Witch'. A puzzling song, that like many celebrated pop tunes hints at something it doesn't bother spelling out. What's all that "You've got to pick up every stitch" about, except as a lame rhyme? Yet frequently covered. Driscoll, Augur, & overcoloured studio set; Suck (Saffers, apparently); Driscoll, Augur, & Trinity again.
February 4th; Saturday. Temperature even higher, at around 5 of Mr Celsius's degrees - or 4 of Monsieur Reaumur's gradations - of warmth. Everywhere in Budapest, women are eyeing up any half-smartly-dressed man. Film-maker Troy shows me a piece on sound moving faster than light, not a misprint.

February 3rd; Friday. Suddenly a week of ice is thawing, and even at 3 degrees above freezing, it feels warm and like the first day of spring. From one day to the next, the mood on the streets shifts. As if from nowhere, there are now groups of girls at busstops and tramstops laughing, as if high, intoxicated on their own girliness. Suddenly 2 or 3 early-20s women on each tram have dark dramatic makeup, serious glares, and skin-tight black rubber or faux-leather leggings. The last couple of years this fashion has popped up more and more. The leggings seem to serve as a still daring, but slightly more prim, version of thigh-high leather boots, considered a little too raunchy for daytime wear even here. Bright sunshine coming through fog creates strange effects. Interesting conversation with Boardgame Orsolya about nutrition. Fascinating but misguided article on early digital pseudo-life (cellular automata etc). Writer seems to struggle to see that simulated molecules or simulated amino acids are still just simulations. In the last ten minutes before the supermarket shuts, I buy for the first time in my life a block of lard. It's wrapped in quaint waxed paper instead of plastic or foil, and on the paper there repeats a cartoon image, wallpaper-style, of a plump cheerful pig. He strikes a jaunty pose, dressed in blue dungarees.
February 2nd; Thursday. Recommended by writer friend Ewan, some vaguely gloomy not-quite-minimalist music from a German who lives, as did Sebald, in Britain. Perhaps being German and living in Britain is a combination which encourages melancholia. Listening to this all the way through, it strikes me as the kind of music for a film where aliens from a distant galaxy come to earth but are too depressed to make up their minds whether to kill us or not. Then I find as it ends that indeed it was the same composer who scored a recent sci-fi film I'd read about. In this a woman linguist communicates in a language of circular coffee stains with beings inside what one friend notes are giant segments of Terry's chocolate orange. My perceptive powers as keen as ever. Crossing the river for coffee with Esoteric Veronica, fog cuts off both banks completely and even the surface of the river under the bridge melts into the cloud.

February 1st; Wednesday. Another article of mine, 'The Year of the Trumpster'.

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