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to links pages [1] [2] [3] [4] /
phone texts to 00 36 30 301 0712 & 00 44 794 792 6614

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*2


*3

*4

April 23rd; Wednesday. Seems eating more chocolate causes Nobel Prizes.

April 22nd; Tuesday. Last night read a small 60-page booklet from Robin's library, called 'The Acropolis of Athens' by George Dontas. Undated, but looking postwar, this is a guide to the hilltop in Athens itself by the director of the museum, written with a kind of brisk, sharp-edged optimism that itself feels Greek in mood. Mostly this is a functional introduction to the different monuments and their histories, without a word wasted, supplemented by monochrome plates at the end. The map of the site seems to be missing the number 1 and the 9 almost disappears, but overall it does the job. His English is good, with the very faint traces of foreignness adding charm: "Behind us the Hymettos changes rapidly from purple into deep violet. The monuments take on a last golden red beauty before getting tenderly cloaked by the dark mantle of night. It is the moment when Athenian owls, nestling in the caves and holes of the old rock, take hurriedly their first flight, while a cool breeze is passing through the air on the wing of night..."
Also finished the giant picture tome that my student Zizi lent me, 'A Divat' ('Fashion'), a 2003 Taschen book about the collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. The text was written in successive short chunks - between the acres of lush photography - by Akiko Fukai, Tamami Suoh, Miki Iwagami, Reiko Koga, and Rie Nii, all at the institute, and translated into Hungarian by Erika Gabos. The focus is very much on haute couture and the stately progression through three centuries is evenly paced, with fabrics, cuts, and historical events accompanying the richly illustrated dresses. There is some male fashion, but 9/10ths is European women's gowns and coats, with occasional forays into shoe, glove, and hat territory. There is an odd narrative effect because the influence on Europe of Oriental fabrics and prints is mentioned in one or two places - always appropriately - in the 18th and 19th centuries, and then from the 1970s on the Eurocentric emphasis gently dissolves as contemporary Japanese designers like Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake, and Rei Kawakubo become as much part of Western clothing as Paris, Milan, London, or New York designers like Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, or Azzedine Alaia. In the grand overview, narrower, plainer, more tubular women's silhouettes mark out periods of social crisis and upheaval like the 1960s, 1910 to 1925, and 1795 to 1815. This book shows clearly that Art Deco and flatter-looking women started before the First World War, not as a reaction to it, and reassertions of hourglass dressing, whether in the 1820s and 30s, or in the 1950s with Dior and Balenciaga, mark returns to social normality, periods of recovery. The Japanese designers in the closing pages, with their odd mixtures of soft & hard materials within ambiguous, cloudlike outlines, suggest the 1980s and 1990s was another time of healing, albeit wrapped in newer, stranger fabrics.
April 21st; Easter Monday. Coming out of the studio this morning there is the odd illusion of more bees and bigger bees. Not quite the size of plums, but huge bumble bees the size of flying black grapes toil over the spongy fragrant cones of wisteria blossom.
Here's an interesting interview with Cody Wilson, the person who led the team to make that gun that can be printed off the internet on a 3D resin printer. "They carry your water", as he keeps saying.

April 20th; Easter Sunday. Christ is risen! Why
/ there will be a robot uprising,
// a lost Shakespeare play has turned up supposedly, and why someone thinks
/// mainstream Russia is even gayer than Mr Putin.
April 19th; Saturday. Coming out of Robin's studio in the sunny morning I'm hit by the strong perfume of the wisterias growing over the trelliswork by the door, now suddenly heavy with pale-lilac blooms. The scent is almost but not quite at the headache-inducing level of those lilies someone once gave Ed. The lilies he begged me take away from his flat back when mother was alive. The wisterias are being attended to by 8 or 9 bumble bees, their joint buzzy sounds meshing into a low mumbling. Later in the evening, Julia & I chat late about replicode and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

April 18th; Good Friday. Just as dark starts to fall, Robin turns up with his knitting-art friend Julia and we drive down to the countryside, chatting of this and that. As I climb onto the sofa upstairs in his studio in the dark, I notice that the large dolls' house that used to sit over the staircase has gone. Just as its presence was eerie, its absence is now oddly unsettling.
April 17th; Thursday. Psychology Eszter and I try having our lesson in a different part of the cafe, differently decorated with different seating & tables. Radical shift in mood, and we discuss femininity, materialism, and the nature of love.

April 16th; Wednesday. The hit list of brave & principled people whose deaths helped consolidate Vladimir Putin's grip on power, here conveniently set out in one place. Plus Edward Snowden explaining his TV interview question to Putin about Russian mass-surveillance practices.
April 15th; Tuesday. Article from the much-vilified Bjorn Lomborg about the costs of allowing global warming to continue versus the costs of stopping global warming from happening.

April 14th; Monday. Weather a bit confusing. I totally forget to visit a student who moved her lesson to today - Rheumatology Kata. Silly me. Someone revisits the Patti Hearst story of some years ago: brainwashing in practice. The author claims something similar is now happening on a mass scale. Not quite as poorly-argued as the way I just made it sound.
April 13th; Sunday. Women's idea of the perfect woman's body. And men's. And men's bodies.

April 12th; Saturday. Illness receding. Apparently the language of the future is French. Oh.
April 11th; Friday. Some lovely 1960s magazine art about communist space stations in the future. Quaint, but exactly like the same art in the west. Nothing especially Soviet about these moon bases.

April 10th; Thursday. They're putting the finishing touches to the ugly office block on the corner now. About six weeks ago the workmen were noisier than usual (Most days it's as quiet as the grave there), making heave-ho noises and shouting stuff like "Over here, Jack! I've got hold of this end of it!" Then I realised that supervisors must be on site, so the men needed to look and sound busy. And indeed, lots of men with clipboards were standing around. Now something quite interesting for a change. Those near-death experiences with the funny white light down the tunnel: an attempt to look into the more colourful claims.
April 9th; Wednesday. Signs of hope with my mini-pots of basil seedlings. My 5th or 6th rosemary plant is dying a mere week after purchase, but who cares about rosemary? So, supposedly
1/ Star Trek actress in new sun-goes-round-earth documentary says she got tricked into it;
2/ Someone both kind & shrewd suggests George Bush's folksy amateur paintings convey the man's inscrutability quite well;
3/ Entertaining 1930 feasibility plan outlined a possible US attack on Britain - of course every country's military studies what-if scenarios, but still interesting;
4/ Another voice added to Matthews says Putin miscalculated hugely;
5/ Man in prison for life for lending his friend his car.

April 8th; Tuesday. Interesting 'Islamic Sex Cult' article about Turkey which perhaps doesn't quite deliver on the sex part. Amusing nonetheless.
April 7th; Monday. Last night watched a moving, nicely-judged story about a family in a remote Kurdish village, where 5 of the 19 children walk on all fours into adulthood. Anthropologists, geneticists, and evolutionary theorists battle it out to explain whether these quadrupeds might be evolutionary throwbacks - and whether these five people can be helped to walk upright again.

April 6th; Sunday. Headcold continues. Yesterday, I clicked on a strange book title 'Structural Saliency: The Detection of Globally Salient Structures Using a Locally Connected Network', in the vague hope of learning roughly what such a book could be about. Instead I found a review-free Amazon page, with three purchase suggestions. Amazon's sales bot thought I should buy either chunks of 99.99% pure gallium, a handheld multi-meter-type electrical device for detecting ghosts, or a book by Hakim Bey: 'Immediatism'. Which one should I get first, citizens?
April 5th; Saturday. Headcold annoying. E-commerce sites now opening print titles. Back in 2010 excitable folk were telling us paper books and magazines would soon die out like mammoths.

April 4th; Friday. A real period curiosity: an early-1980s feature film depicting a feminist uprising ten years after a socialist government has taken power in the US. The trailer, and the first ten minutes of the film itself, both worth checking. Fascinating.
At the flower shop I buy a sealed bag of soil. The white-haired flower-shop lady strokes my sealed plastic mini-sack of dirt on her counter as if it was a pillow or a sleeping puppy. "Hungarian earth!" she murmurs fondly.
April 3rd; Thursday. Dark predictions that soon all diseases will be antibiotic-resistant: superbug 1 / superbug 2.

April 2nd; Wednesday. Finish a book borrowed from Paul. 'Why Religion Is Natural And Science Is Not' is a cognitive-science account by Robert McCauley of why he says that scientific thinking is culturally fragile compared to the cognitive naturalness of magical or religious thinking. He believes humans are predisposed to see agency where it isn't, and has an interesting section about how even people trained in physics still invoke fallacious folk-physics concepts when asked to throw or drop objects. Slightly marred by the wrongly reproduced diagram on page 35. That's where the triple Poggendorf illusion is in fact no longer an illusion because the supposedly disjoint rod sections really do line up along a straight edge, instead of just seeming to. The general argument is sound but misses an opportunity to go into the topic more fully.
April 1st; Tuesday. A film about the birth of public relations and news manipulation from a fairly vanilla class-conflict angle: 'Psywar'. Interesting detail on the Wobblies before World War One. While on this topic, an article & book about indentured servitude for black Americans lasting up until the 1940s.



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.

So?

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

back up to top of page

*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

useful:

.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

other web diaries:

.enigmatic mermaid
.languagehat
.billy
.francis
.samizdata
.patrick
.rainy day
.varangy
.diaries abroad
.hereinside
.samuel pepys
.hasanpix
.ehsan
.cora
.mychronicles
.openbrackets
.whump
.sargasso

also useful:

.country domain names
.language-learning 1 2
.find old websites
.fine HTML tutorial
.webhost
.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 numbers
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


films

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


...............................................................................................................................................................
March 31st; Monday. On Saturday rode up and down Budapest's new 4th metro line, opened only the day before. Rather disappointing. Essentially they went for the standard German Airport Look with high open stairwells, backlit panels, grey metallic colours, and a handful of bits of public art. This is either low-key & scribbly, or large-scale abstraction. Notice how this hysterical article ("psychedelic"?) is forced to use photos again and again of the only 2 stations where I saw any colour from the underground train.
March 30th; Sunday. Hitherto concealed order continues to emerge.

March 29th; Saturday. Out to Timar utca to teach Reka, noticing huge images on the sides of buildings that must have also been there on the 2 or 3 times I visited her last year. Tasteless, and slightly odd I didn't consciously make note of them before, looming over the railway station I get off at. During the aformentioned light-suburban-railway trip I finish a book by T.V. Vorburger & J. Raja called 'Surface Finish Metrology Tutorial'. This is a brisk and well-arranged introduction to microscale roughness measurement of machined surfaces. It compares measurement techniques involving stylus tracing as well as devices using diffraction of light and then more exotic techniques such as electron tunnelling or electrostatic potential, and reviews how filters distinguish long-amplitude waviness caused by machining vibration from short-amplitude roughness (surface pitting). Replete with excellent black-and-white line diagrams, the book's sheer clarity (published by the US National Institute of Standards) makes it seem older than the date of 1990.
March 28th; Friday. Go to an Indian dinner organised by a friend, where a slightly restless crowd of us watch a documentary about the Sikh religion centred on the golden temple of Amritsar in Punjab. During the day I finished a fine book borrowed from Robin's library, a slim grey-blue hardback called 'The Shabby Paradise' by Eileen Baillie. This is a simple late-1950s memoir by a woman describing her Edwardian childhood as the daughter of an Anglican vicar in the East London slum parish of Poplar. What makes this book work is two features. Firstly, intriguing details of habits (including strange long-forgotten customs like groups of adults slowly skipping down the street, but only on Good Fridays, or undertakers providing magnificent black horses for funeral parades that had been made suitably glossy and black with thorough application of boot polish), living conditions, pastimes from the 1905-to-1914 period. The book's second success is how it reveals just what an adorable, earnest little tot the author used to be as a 5, 6, 7-year-old girl. Wry but straightforward, this unpretentious text lays out how proud that little girl was of learning when young to mess about in boats (sleeping with a twist of tarred twine under her pillow); how sensitive to loss of dignity; how fiercely loyal she was to her father, the district, the nursery; the curiously logical mental pictures she, like so many small children, came up with to settle puzzling features of life ("The Greenwich shore attained, Nanny would tartly urge the reluctant horse and cabby as far up Observatory Hill as they could be made to go; and there we would have our picnic tea, almost in the shadow of the observatory itself, where I presumed the Astronomer Royal, surrounded by telescopes, to be sleeping peacefully all day in preparation for staring at the stars all night"). Nanny takes her out on a thrilling tram journey the very morning after 1911's famous Siege of Sidney Street and the tram driver slows down in each direction so everyone onboard can get a good look at the side street where the small group of anarchists led by Peter the Painter had held out for hours against live fire from soldiers "and the will power of Mr Winston Churchill", then the Liberal Home Secretary. And the little girl notices many details of the grown-up world. She writes of their strong, defiant house-parlourmaid Elizabeth "She was as ebulliently cheerful as she was capable, and would throw back her head and laugh loud and long - generally at her own sallies - with a great display of pink gums and those large white teeth. But once, tiptoeing into the forbidden regions of the kitchen, I found her sitting at the table and crying noisily. I was utterly nonplussed at coming upon the great, bouncing, rugged creature in an attitude of collapse, snivelling and sobbing, her eyes red and swollen. It was the first time I had witnessed open adult grief. I burst into tears myself out of sheer sympathy; but Elizabeth would never let me know what private tragedy of the heart, or the purse, or wounded vanity, had brought about this disintegration of her usual robust morale.
If I am to round off satisfactorily this little gallery of domestic portraits, the largest canvas of all must be reserved for Nanny. Indeed the gallery would be incomplete without her; even after half a century the small, neat, devoted figure stands out most clearly in the fading light of that half-forgotten Poplar landscape." In a wonderful sentence Baillie says of her Nanny ("mercifully" still alive and enjoying her well-earned retirement at the time of writing in the 1950s) that "She can still subdue me, in my own house, with a phrase."

March 27th; Thursday. Out late enjoying coffee with a political Hungarian author & lecturer who at one point said memorably that of the two Hungarian Peronist-nationalist parties (my term, not his) the now-governing party Fidesz "are the ones who have eaten" and Jobbik "are the ones who are still hungry". On the left he said that Mesterhazy has committee-craft but no other skills, Gyurcsany has the chutzpah to challenge Orban but also a bad track record, and Bajnai is well-meaning but ineffectual. He crisply sums up the careers of Torgyan and Csurka. Interesting chat in which he mentions two writers on money: Lapavitsas and Hilferding.
March 26th; Wednesday. Out to dinner at the Brody House club with Robin to listen to a short talk by the half-Russian author of this book. Unlike anyone else I've noticed in the press, Matthews clearly sees that Putin blundered by annexing Crimea - effectively uniting the rest of Ukraine against Russia, solving Ukraine's ethnic division problem, and showing foreign investors that Moscow is as unreliable and bullying as ever. The food was enjoyable, but bigger helpings would have been nice.

March 25th; For those who take things personally, some deranged cover art, naughty name, & miserable synth loop capture That Tuesday Feeling.
March 24th; Monday. So many thrilling developments out in the world of news and international affairs. An American scientific society is starting to worry that the whole global-warming thing might not be as open-and-shut as they once thought. Protesters occuping Taiwan's parliament building don't want closer ties with mainland China. Sinead alerts me to a French economist who's looking closely at global trends in wealth inequality. Someone has created a microscope mainly out of cardboard that claims to be very cheap and magnify up to 2,000 X. Before you too excited, here are 5 ways "hackers could kill you right now." 'Hackers' or 'government officials', it might be worth adding.

March 23rd; Sunday. I might have almost mastered the delicate gauging of how far to turn the hot-water tap when filling my bath. A smidgeon too far and the water runs hot but cools to cold about 30 seconds after I leave the bathroom. Cold baths are fine when I want a cold bath, but expecting a hot bath, waiting 15 minutes for it to fill at the low-speed filling rate, only to find a bath full of water the temperature of cooled-off tea, is mildly sad. A fraction the other way and the tap runs satisfactorily hot, also at a trickle. In this second scenario, a few seconds after I leave the bathroom it stops supplying water at all. Luckily the hot-water boiler usually makes a kind of dismissive "humph" noise at this point to alert me. By now I have tuned my wrist muscles like a county badminton player. This is to get precisely the nudge of non-twist needed to will that tap a couple of thousandths of an inch exactly onto where it fills the bath with water which is also hot.
March 22nd; Saturday. One of the things Americans excel at: home-building stuff and generously explaining how we can build it too. Make your own EEG sensors.

March 21st; Friday. If you were ever suspicious of Richard Branson. Yesterday heard this fascinating radio discussion. One of those now-mysterious debates lots of clever folk once cared about intensely: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
March 20th; Thursday. A very long cow and a sinking motor car.

March 19th; Wednesday. Two old interviews with the late Christopher Hitchens discuss his contempt for both Henry Kissinger and Bill Clinton. Having made so many (by his account) unscrupulous and ruthless enemies, hard not to wonder if anyone has looked into exactly how and when that cancer of Hitchens' developed? The same interviewer chats also with veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, a man shrewd enough to always say clearly what he does not know. Interesting material on how reckless early-1960s US President John Kennedy was.
March 18th; Tuesday. Back in Budapest. Basil seedlings looking a bit half-hearted. My student Akos mentions that a period when Hungary will be the NATO member nation responsible for defending Baltic airspace is coming up in a few months, and chuckles that Putin and the Russians take Hungary and its 12 fighter jets rather less seriously as an opponent than the US, predicting trouble up ahead. Leading literary agent Andrew Wylie expresses his massive disdain for "megalomaniac" Amazon. "Wylie said he 'might' publish with Amazon 'if one of my children were kidnapped and they were threatening to throw a child off a bridge and I believed them'."

March 17th; Monday. Another quiet day in the countryside. Fascinating interview with a thoughtful US army lieutenant-colonel who has spent his career studying the psychology of battlefield killing. Interesting man: he finishes with a disturbing and surprising conclusion at about 19 minutes in.
March 16th; Sunday. Dark windy weather continues on the Great Plain. Last night (Saturday), while Zsuzsi prepared dinner, recycling some still tender mutton, Robin on his new laptop created an impromptu conference call on Skype. He was chatting to Gio from Rio and Boris together in London, and Boris being French is called on for cooking advice. Robin carries his laptop into the kitchen so Boris can hold forth to young Zsuzsi on the topic of herbs and whether to separately heat up the courgettes from the already cooked mutton. The versatile Russian-speaking Boris, currently on leave from his frequent trips to the Caucasus, manages a three-way split between instructing Zsuzsi on the herb front, telling us all that the recently dead Tony Benn was "a dangerous idiot who would have turned Britain into North Korea", and answering my questions on Putin's probable next moves in Crimea and Ukraine with insidery-sounding confidence and detail. This evening (Sunday) Zsuzsi's friend Juci comes over and is in the kitchen with Zsuzsi using her laptop. Seems they could not go riding today either because horses (rather like women) don't like strong blustery wind. A naughty Turk suggests that, by a still-binding treaty from the 1770s, Crimea should in fact revert to Ottoman Turkey if it declares independence from Russia. At the same time, the Republic of Venice is stirring itself to correct Napoleon's vandalistic meddling in the 1790s, reasserting its one-and-a-half-thousand-year-old identity. About time too. Been awaiting a Venetian political revival a couple of decades now.

March 15th; Saturday. Yesterday afternoon Transylvanian Lacko and his wife Jola showed Robin & me some of the work he had done, proudly explaining in the garage how he had arc-welded some metal rod together to make a new gate. He went into some detail on the welding equipment, explaining that with good tools you can weld anything well, just as with a good cock you can fuck a woman properly. Much laughter all round. Then outside the garage we see how the new lambs have grown bigger, and Lacko points out how strong and confident the new young ram is and how good a replacement he'll be when it's time to eat the current paterfamilias of Robin's small flock. We see the movable fencing Lacko has fashioned out of posts and boards so that the sheep can graze down a hundred square yards of grass or so, and then be moved to another quadrant to nibble that back too. As we stand out in his sturdy temporary paddock, the sun hovers near the horizon, a wobbly globe of molten gold. I point out how beautifully it is tinged with red, like a blood orange. Lacko tells us at once that this augurs a windy day tomorrow (Saturday), and draws our attention to an accompanying faint tinge of pink stretching out just above the horizon on both sides of the sunset. I ask if this is somehow linked to extra dust hanging in the air and Lacko frankly says he has no idea why the red sunset predicts wind the next day, only that the association works. Before we part he also tells me the right size of carp to fish and how I should if possible fish for it at night, during a lightning storm.
Today being Saturday, it is interesting to note that it is indeed romantically dark and windy the whole day, exactly as Lacko predicted.
The man confidently 'outed' by journalists as the creator of the now-famous crypto-currency BitCoin turns out to be unhappy about the publicity, adamant he has never created a crypto-currency, and says they have the wrong man. In fact he's now instructing a lawyer.
March 14th; Friday. Robin arrives around lunch time to drive us both down to the countryside. We find Zsuzsi inside a supermarket in the country town of Kecskemet. Warm sun. On the topic of travel and maps, an eccentric plan to split California into six states, a recent bit of research on those mysteriously accurate late-mediaeval maps, and the curiously expanding Antarctic ice shelf.

March 13th; Thursday. Promise a friend to learn an old memory grid.
March 12th; Wednesday. One of my students, young Zizi, suddenly remarks that "Swans are so Italian". She means they look elegant, wear too much make-up around the beak area, and if messed with suddenly get very aggressive. Unlike these swans?

March 11th; Tuesday. So apparently dyslexia and attention-deficit disorder are just made-up twaddle as well. Evidence really rolling in these days.
March 10th; Monday. Today my postbox contained a small card-sized sticker with a not-so-great photo of some kind of flappy pancake-shaped underwater manta/sting ray fish on one side and (in Hungarian) the following text on the other side: "185. Eastern Pacific Sting Ray". A lot like the little cards in boxes of tea or cereals about some category (like dangerous animals) children collected half a century ago. Or else someone's saying they'd like to tase me.

March 9th; Sunday. Frustrating day grappling with evil infections of the laptop. A heartening story of a woman who joins a search party that's already looking for her. Always nice to hear about people finding themselves. A bit less pleasant is the tale of a man eaten alive by pigs in Italy, and then we have a startling allegation from Belgium that's so startling the lawyers got it taken down in the last 24 hours. Goodness gracious.
March 8th; Saturday. Reading about Northrop Frye.

March 7th; Friday. Lovely lunch (at the cafe just by the bridge that Anna likes) with the erudite Peter P. It seems the owner is his cousin and today is the birthday of both this man and his wife. He explains this as I open the door behind my chair to let the man himself in from the rain, his hands full with a bunch of flowers and a bulky wrapped gift. The cafe owner is greeted by his laughing wife who unwraps the big package and excitedly pulls out her birthday present, a brand-new chain saw. "Exactly what I wanted!" she laughs to the cafe in general, "No, really!"
March 6th; Thursday. After decades of drivel & destructive sedition, The Guardian finally redeems itself with a worthwhile news story: 16th-century cats wearing rocket-powered backpacks.

March 5th; Wednesday. A mild-mannered but intelligent article about why someone isn't a 'sceptic' (or more precisely, a materialist).
March 4th; Tuesday. Train back to Budapest. Vague stirrings of enigmatic uberhope as spring plans comeback tour. Latest theory apparently is that we're not fully adult until 25. That early?
Last night finished a book from Robin's library called 'The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici' by Christopher Hibbert. A grand overview with all the crucial family members well outlined over the period from the 14th to 18th centuries. What would have been helpful is a timeline or two, enabling overlapping lifetimes to be seen clearly, and more detail on some of the later patronage. While it is still extraordinary to realise just how many of the great artists of the Italian Renaissance (Fra Angelico, Fra Lippo Lippi, Michelangelo, Cellini, Botticelli, Donatello and more) were directly employed, promoted, and personally helped by Medici family members, there are later pieces of patronage connected to the rise of science that tantalisingly suggest that had Florence and their great family Medici managed another couple of centuries in the sun, the scientific revolution might have stayed and flourished in northern Italy. The ruthlessness of both the Medici and their enemies comes out well, though Hibbert makes the banking family sound relatively restrained. Nothing here to echo Anthony Blunt's eerie suggestion that the Medicis directly promoted neo-Platonist mysticism so as to subvert Florentine intellectual life and make it more amenable to political manipulation. Interesting portrayal of the firebrand priest Savanarola, and how he almost became the Italian Luther, 20 years before Luther.

March 3rd; Monday. Very quiet and restful day on the Great Plain. Things getting rather Graeco-Roman in northern California again. Is it the return of the Purple People? "... or just another everyday San Francisco sex cult?"
March 2nd; Sunday. Online progress in the small hours with helpful advice from Cryptocash Sam.

March 1st; Saturday. Robin & Letty drive out to the countryside with me, as I doze fitfully in the car, bleary like a narcolept. I meet the new Transylvanian housekeeping couple Lacko & Joli properly and hear about life in southern Romania. Interesting chat online later with Anaida. Oh yes, Russian troops have invaded Ukraine to a/ "protect" Russian-speaking communities (perhaps the same way they are protecting the pro-Russian president who fled Ukraine in recent days), b/ secure their naval ports in Crimea. Events being described by one cruel wit as Obama's "Chicken Kiev" moment.

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