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Wednesday. Some political disagreements: US Democrats /
Bernie versus Hillary (thoughtful); US Democrats /
Paglia versus Steinem (entertaining); Lanarckshire SNP / someone versus someone else (worrying).
Tuesday. Austrian study says vegetarians are unhealthy?
Monday. Sweet cartoon image about books.
Sunday. Some high-minded quarrelling: Russian kills friend in prose-versus-poesy debate, while cladists and parsimonists mass for combat in Taxonomy Skirmish.
Saturday. Read to the end of Robin & Sara's sumptuously illustrated catalogue 'William Blake, Apprentice & Master' of an art exhibition about his printing work they went to last year at Oxford's Ashmolean Museum. The catalogue richly explains how Blake trained and grew as a craftsman printer and engraver, developing new plate-cutting techniques to find a way to make images expressing his intense religious and social beliefs, the agonies and ecstasies of his distinctive Christian vision. I wasn't aware he had been for so long influenced by Swedenborg, and perhaps affected by the tragi-comic opening of Swedenborg's grave decades after his death by some devotees. The experimental techniques of Castiglioni & Segers in the 17th century, then Lepic & Degas fifty years after Blake's death make a fascinating comparison - all seem to have rediscovered and invented new ways to print and engrave without being aware they were retracing other men's innovations. More intriguingly, all these engravers testing new ways to draw onto the printing plate seem to have strained after similar visual freedoms, fluidity of line, and similarly achieved eerie mood-tinted images. The influence of Blake on several young artists who came to know him in his last years (who called themselves 'The Ancients'), such as Palmer, Richmond, and Calvert, might have been given more space. The line of succession to Morris and Gill seems clear but also hauntingly fruitful to explore.
Friday. I finish Lorinc's copy of 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul' by Jeff Kinney which is apparently part of a publishing sensation, a set of books narrated by the Wimpy Kid about the minutiae of his family life, accompanied by drawings, seemingly hand-written in blocky pen on the pages of a lined notebook. The core value seems to be authenticity. The prose sounds very much like the voice of a bored 11 or 12-year-old boy, coolly observing family chaos around him. The story solely concerns irritating mishaps of standard daily life. I was reminded of the battered cardboard boxes of Beano and other comics in the rooms where we all had to sit at primary school on afternoons when heavy rain cancelled outdoor sports. Those comics always seemed to me to carry the cluttered mundaneness of day-to-day events (classrooms, brick streets with corrugated metal dustbins, children hiding behind broken bits of fencing) into their crowded, scratchy drawings, as if living the greyness of urban reality wasn't enough already - we had to dream it as well?
Here too the Wimpy Kid illustrations look like a boy might have drawn them - unfortunately it achieves this by making the doodle-sketches scruffy and ugly. Since they are on every page, this is tiring. The boy - like a lot of the devoted child readers doubtless - is deeply immersed in the detail of everyday life (mobile phones, television, dishwashers, amusement parks). This book (about a long, tiresome road trip where everything goes wrong for a family squashed into a van) showcases the comic observation of daily trivia that I expect fills every book in this highly successful series. This child is recognisably Tom Sawyer updated by almost two centuries but with no wilderness nearby, no big unknown outdoors. Like Tom, he is a smart-alec quick kid making wry remarks about the adult failings he sees around him, but now in a world that's signposted, crowded, and built-up. There are some echoes of Just William, positioned about halfway in time and halfway in urbanness between Tom Sawyer and The Wimpy Kid, but the comparison over time is disheartening: William's independent social life - his child gang and its strange dream-like games - has vanished. Modern life has closed in by claustrophobic stages on the scruffy boy heroes, squashing Sawyer into William into the Wimpy Kid physically as well as conceptually in the back of the cluttered road-trip van. We see less and less opening for imagination or initiative, more and more cynical judgement of daily events, less and less homemade fantasy. The Wimpy Kid wearily explains how his mother wants to make everything a learning experience and he patiently narrates how his parents and siblings mess up the trip at each stage. The whole story is confined to the surface of official life today: motels, motorways, swimming pools, snack foods. Although many children will enjoy the slapstick humour about stinky socks, lost keys, chewing gum jamming sunroofs, the overall effect is dispiriting. A long haul.
Thursday. Finish a book borrowed from Marion & Paul called 'The Secular Mind' by Robert Coles, which discusses secularism from the point of view of a thoughtfully religious American psychiatrist. Interestingly, he is keen to stress that secular, anti-religious thought is very old, has been inside the Church for centuries, and is not just a product of post-17th-century scientific materialism. He relies on long conversations with and long quotes from a small number of writers and activists, for example conversations with Anna Freud, daughter of Sigmund. If I have any single criticism, it is that Coles takes Freud seriously and seems unaware that the unconscious was really discovered by Schopenhauer, almost a century before Freud, and likewise that Freud's additions to the existing idea of the unconscious were almost all incorrect. Rather, the writer allows himself to be charmed by the Id/Ego/Superego Trinity, even though he discusses it with sophisticated sympathy, not gullible enthusiasm. However, it never usurps his central view that humility in the face of spiritual experience, even spiritual doubt, is the route to a fuller kind of living. This comfortableness with doubt, defeat, and materialistic inadequacy compared to the spiritual in a strange way insulates him from the consequences of taking Freud too literally, or taking any other secular theory too literally. The bulk of the book, in fact, is a series of sensitive bits of literary criticism, where sections of George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, William Carlos Williams are read in the light of religious faith versus secularism. The core of these arguments is his discussion of the novel 'The Egoist' by George Meredith, where secularism emerges as a kind of self-isolating smugness, a sort of hermetic seal between the soul and all outside influences that sustain and justify that soul. His sentences are oddly dense and sinuous, yet readable, driven by a kind of lucid logic of emotion: "---the secular mind as ever wondering, probing, as ever intent on mastery." Here he tries to say what worries him about that secular mind, whether scientific secularism, religious secularism, or post-religious secularism: "One prays at the very least on behalf of one's kind, though unsure, in a secular sense, to whom or what such prayer is directed, other than, needless to say, one's own secular mind, ever needy of an 'otherness' to address through words become acts of appeal, of worried alarm, of lively and grateful expectation: please, oh please, let things go this way, and not in that direction - the secular mind given introspective, moral pause, its very own kind of sanctity."
Wednesday. Supposedly this odd film short is intended to deter people from taking drugs.
Tuesday. Strangely warm, springlike weather. Gabor tells me how members of his Sistema Sibirski club visited the dojo of an MMA/Krav-Maga/Thai-boxing master in Budapest for a sort of friendly fisticuffs session. Woman artist makes cardboard forests.
Monday. A couple of weeks ago in conversation with an online friend, had to find an image of Mesmer at work. Notice overwhelmed young lady being carried out far right.
Sunday. If you wanted to win a lottery by buying all the ticket combinations, how would that work? Plus a slightly unsatisfying idea that 'deep learning' has insights for evolution.
Saturday. Lovely mulled wine with Marion in town. We speak of many things.
Friday. Police officer spends some time chasing himself. Helene mentions the business-card scene in 'American Psycho'.
Thursday. All three classes do their presentations in the gym. During day, I learn about the youngsters' favourite YouTube presenters, children their own age with "channels". One of the students, Didi, has a channel himself. Behold, the future of media is with us, citizens. Long mix of cars & trains to get us back to Budapest in the dark.
Wednesday. Second day teaching in Wieselburg. After work finally get wired cash with which to pay guest house. A website interviews Roger Scruton.
Tuesday. First day in Wieselburg. Children & teachers quite charming. In the US, much is hoped for from this physicist, who is about 22 currently. Aged 14, she apparently built (or at least assembled) an aeroplane, then flew it.
Monday. Drive through the afternoon and evening in light but vaguely depressing rain to Wieselburg with Ron and Denis. The woman inside the GPS machine directs us to a Wieselburg so far north of Vienna it clearly isn't in Austria. I change the postal code in the device, and she suddenly changes her mind from 187 kilometres left to 17 km away. Not the slightest hint of embarrassment in her voice.
Sunday. Intellectually limited dweeb urges more of same thing. Starting with AI-controlled hedge funds. What could possibly go wrong?
Saturday. My newly-washed wet floor rug is now only mildly damp, and smells of dry dog. Disheartening but interesting item on how North Korea used to kidnap people at random. Nation with planet earth's largest military submarine fleet!
Friday. Handy quiz for concerned Muslim plutocrats: Are your wives cheating on you?
Thursday. Finally a writer makes out loud the obvious point that Islamic radicalism is all about men wanting more than one woman each. Same website has a rather no-holds-barred attack on Glenn Greenwald.
Wednesday. Complete next stage with chairs
4. Bit tricky.
Tuesday. Dog wins 7th place in half-marathon by accident.
Monday. Back ache now mild enough to begin the muscle exercises trainee trainer Juci prescribed me. Strangely, we now hear that both mediaeval Europeans and ancient Babylonians knew how to calculate Jupiter's orbit using a kind of early integration.
Sunday. Back ache suddenly fades substantially after trying the altered dosage yesterday of homeopathic remedy suggested by Boardgame Orsolya. If it's the placebo effect it's still wonderful. Why would anyone sane choose pain so as to feel morally righteous about scientific materialism? Strange times we live in.
Saturday. The creator of the Dilbert cartoon strip continues to give shrewd warnings about the adroit hustling skills of Mr Trump. Meanwhile his early years seem strangely immune from discussion.
Friday. On the subject of things falling from a height, British manufacturing seems to be suddenly worsening. On my way to see Lorinc, two men standing very straight-backed on a traffic island at the bottom of his hill are loudly singing some old Hungarian song as an unaccompanied duo. Immediately reminded of the Peter Sellers vinyl 7-inch record (early 1960s?) where doing a bit of an Ustinov he performs three typical folk tunes from different parts of the British Isles, introducing each song in the persona of a humourless German collector of people's culture. One of three on that record being a Scots singer who can only give of his best when standing "on the corner of Sauchiehall street in Glasgow" frequently drowned out by passing cars & lorries (from memory Sellers's fake German researcher warns "Please also notice ze noise of ze traffics"). The Glaswegian's rousing voice, the parody suggests, relished the struggle against the sound of the vehicles, and this Hungarian duo had exactly the same tone of sad but defiant wholeheartedness which almost all traditional tunes across Europe seem to share at some level. Among 20th-century songs the tone of the sadness and defiance shifted a bit as jazz & blues grow in influence, but 'I did it my way' perhaps still kept some of this flavour of the old European song about life to be sung while drunk. Unable to find that fake Glaswegian singer or the appropriate Hungarian tune, I must ask Gentle Reader to imagine an older rendering of something like this, of course chorused more shoutily.
Once we're in our lesson, young Lorinc on the computer shows me more of his Minecraft estate, including some alarmingly large boxy mushrooms the size of houses that loom up in one of his woods. I ask for some scale, and Lorinc explains that he is roughly two Minecraft blocks tall. Later, while he politely admires the photo of my start to making wooden chairs again in my kitchen area, I laughingly remark on my flat looking a bit lonely. "Lonely? Why?" asks Lorinc, genuinely puzzled. "Oh," I demur, "No wife or girlfriend at the moment." "Well get one!" says Lorinc, rolling his eyes with exasperation at my fecklessness. Such clarity!
Thursday. About a week ago woke out of a vivid dream in which a policeman suddenly falls in front of me from a great height, hitting the road on his side dead on impact of course, with his arms folded. A party of about 15 British tourists behind me immediately climb out of a tiny swimming pool, indignantly singing a song with the chorus line "What a lovely start to the afternoon!" The whole group huffily tramp past me in swimming goggles and frogman flippers marching, dripping, across the street and away, still singing in irritation at the interruption of their leisure by the sheer vulgarity of an uninvited police suicide. This subjective experience of mine, according to the philosopher I heard speaking in November, did not take place. Meanwhile, new neurology chips away at the dumb (but surprisingly popular) belief that pre-conscious decision-making rules out free will. Other research suggests that criminality is a way of having more children.
Wednesday. Remembering my experience many years ago of eating fried, salted crickets a photographer brought me from Mexico (surprisingly bland, tasting essentially of the fat & salt). Powdered insect protein in food flavoured with something else sounds unobjectionable.
Tuesday. Some words of caution about Bernie Sanders. Meanwhile, the New Yorker protests (thanks, Katherine!) that Donald Trump is not obnoxious the way proper New Yorkers are obnoxious. Now wishing I had backed my hunch and put a long-odds bet last summer on the final pair in the US presidential election narrowing to Bernie & Donald. Odds not so long now.
Monday. The 5-year-old complex of quasi-luxury flats 200 yards from my door seems to house several families of Adriatic pirates. Several times in this cafe (facing the one that closed down) I've met vaguely hard-looking, assertive lads who tell me they speak 'Dalmation', along with small sinewy men with loud tough wives who claim to be speaking Croatian though their words sound more Latinate than Slavic. Their voices go up and down rather like Romanian Gypsies, and they're casually dismissive with the staff. A quite genial, well-dressed group of them is here right now. On one hand they seem normal & good-natured, but somehow their loudness and their gestures make me expect them to put their firearms in the middle of the table and start a card game. I meanwhile 2 days ago started to make chairs again: nos. 3 & 4. My back ache definitely something to do with the mismatched heights of my 2nd wooden chair and my trestle table.
Sunday. Pain. I've somehow frozen up all the muscles across my lower back. Not disc or trapped nerve thank goodness, but still annoying. Everyone knows that in sex nothing succeeds like success, but now more studies confirm that women desire men they see other women desire. Adorable couple-of-minutes film of a 4-year-old little girl squeaking with happiness on a flight with her stunt-pilot Quebecois father. Almost heart-warming enough to make a jaded bachelor like me seek out a wife to have babies with.
Saturday. Quite mild, only slim strips of snow left in gutters. Weakish rumour article in Guardian alleges French left-wing author Camus perhaps killed by Russia's KGB. Interesting technical reasons why our book sometimes crops up on second-hand webpages priced in hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Friday. Several owners of a Hong Kong bookshop seem to be missing, presumed to be inside mainland China, "assisting authorities with investigations". Protesters in Hong Kong are demanding they be freed. Meanwhile, a quirk in mainland Chinese law apparently encourages motorists who knock down a pedestrian to drive over the injured person again & again until they're dead.
Thursday. Weather gets milder. Chinese financial markets looking sickly, as our contributors have been predicting for several years.
Wednesday. Deep chill continues, snow on streets. 2 book reviews: an eccentric-sounding novel, and bio essay set on folk who knew Shakespeare.
Tuesday. My city-currencies article up on Aeon. Join in debate, citizens!
Monday. Small flakes of snow start casually wandering down in late morning. By mid-afternoon there's a 1/2 inch of snow laid down. Spend evening over at Robin's where now Gio is the one who's ill.
Sunday. This 2001 film set in 1970 seems like it might be fun. Trailer fairly well mimics being made in 1970, but not quite.
Saturday. The sudden chill that dropped over the city on Thursday afternoon continues. Nice short article about curing Brazilian inflation. Of course, it has to be told in the compulsory American how-four-crazy-grad-school-guys-did-this-one-weird-thing style.
New Year's Day. Another new year begins with no new year's resolution from yours truly. Another win for the new year's resolution I made aged I think 10 to never make another new year's resolution: 100% success so far. Here's an interesting calendar of dates charting Western Church views on marriage & celibacy for priests. To go with that, a helpful guide to various sex tricks to unhinge your man's mind.
Recent weblog entries
Who can translate the next 300 words into
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
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?
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
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.
Wireless radio can be a great comfort to those unable
to leave the
textbooks in which they live *6
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
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
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 /
*1 image from , with thanks
back up to top of page
*2 "Al-Araby" in written
*3 "What?" in American Sign
Language; image from , with thanks
*4 "Big" in written
(read more); image from , with
*5 image from , with
*6 image from , with
*7 image from
'B?ume', with thanks to
Bruno P. Kramer,
and Franckh-Kosmos Verlag
New Year's Eve. Robin a bit ill with food poisoning, so Gio from Rio & I try to cheer him up. Dull muffled sounds of fireworks going off in nearby streets penetrate into his grand city-centre apartment throughout the evening. A 2-month-old interview with Freeman Dyson. The Register doing fine work re-establishing the word 'boffin'. Earlier in day, a friend describes over coffee what taking the hallucinogenic San Pedro cactus in Peru was like.
Wednesday. Mild weather in town. A quite detailed attack on the campaign to move concert-tuned A from 440 Hertz back to 432 cycles per second.
Tuesday. English lesson with Boardgame Orsolya in Obuda. We read more of Graham & Dodd's 1930s book on securities analysis that Warren Buffett admires so much.
Monday. The strange empty week we get each year between Christmas and New Year. An interesting article about how the 2003 Iraq War united Britain's Leninist left, plus a piece (behind paywall) explaining Mr Corbyn to Americans.
Sunday. We all drive back into Budapest to meet Sara at the airport where she has just landed from Italy. Parallels between France's Algerian war and Iraq today: a 2007 write-up on Alistair Horne praised by our man in Bucharest, currently in Algiers.
December 26th; Boxing Day. We all open our presents under the indoor tree, like good Victorians. Over the last few days, fog on Hungary's Great Plain has been thick enough to make the front gate and wall vanish several times. Whereas, back in Britain it seems that the local pub one minute's walk from my still-unsold house in The Yorkshire Valley currently looks like this. I expect Calderdale Council are blaming the six-month-old national government for the floods that have occurred every 9 or 10 years in their valley for centuries.
December 25th; Christmas Day. Restful time in the countryside. Lovely lunch centres around The Retrieved Salmon. Suddenly returning to tradition, Letty's absence today means we will open presents tomorrow, Boxing Day, for the first time. A few days ago it came to me where I'd seen Donald Trump before, in his innocent younger days before he became a property developer. The Special Relationship made clear.
Christmas Eve. Robin, Zsuzsi, Letty, Bela, & Gio from Rio pick me up in the early afternoon for the drive down to the Great Plain. As we travel out, the roads get mistier. Once in Tiszainoka, it emerges that someone forgot to pack the fresh salmon, which is therefore back in the flat in Budapest, going off. After dark, Robin & I drive back to Budapest through rapidly thickening fog to pick it up, returning to the countryside a second time, quite a long round trip. As we stop off to refill during the second trip out to the Great Plain, I chat briefly with the strikingly pretty & cheerful brunette at the till of a petrol station. As it becomes clear we are now leaving her, she suddenly gives us a jaunty mock salute, switching into English to say "So--- have a nice life!". I think this means "I suppose you have no intention of even trying to meet me again - or you're just too slow-witted to seize the moment?" although one never knows for sure, of course.
Wednesday. Some firms now stop folk they sue from countersuing.
Tuesday. Creepy new level of social manipulation: very disturbing online game in China.
Monday. Feeling of turning a corner: let's see if it's real. 'Turn on the Smoke Machine', by Ursula 1000 remixed (always so complicated) by Fort Knox Five. Taken from a radio show by the St. Petersburg girl, though not this recent one #357, best in a couple of months.
Sunday. Darker winter days since the corner office block and shopping centre cut down the sunshine angle. Here's a .pdf explaining in detail some fairly intractable problems with renewable energy. A rather depressing interview with a spry old German/British modernist painter. A curious article about a forgotten interwar British scout-like movement. Via the ever-alert Zoe, a bullet-pointy list of 52 facts some Silicon Valley bod who knows Bruce Sterling thinks are quirkily enlightening: 3 or 4 have value.
Saturday. Dear oh dear. Calderdale Council really deserve to have their bottoms spanked. An interesting article which tackles free will, as I've been advocating for many years, from the animal direction, shorn of its theological and anti-theological baggage.
Friday. And the big question: are books becoming longer?
Thursday. French cheeses are under threat, it seems.
Wednesday. Fax machines & printers use secret yellow dots; Russian propaganda channel claims the US can now legally create propaganda for US citizens; + a new encryption method a lot like the one I outlined to Sir John et al a year ago for phones with no metadata.
Tuesday. The Geography Teacher and his krypto-party?
Monday. Getting chilly in more ways than one. Nicely-written article about the dark mistake of interwar antisnobbery.
Sunday. Chat with Mohammad about the stranger things in life. Is Jersey in trouble?
Saturday. Interesting interview with a Republican moderate in Northern Ireland. Mallon is senior in the SDLP movement that (perhaps naively) gave Sinn Fein their current political respectability without ever having used violence themselves. He emerges as dignified and humane.
Friday. Getting dark early, though I suppose December 21st isn't far away. Stephen Wolfram, who can't quite resist mentioning himself a lot, nonetheless writes a careful, well-researched essay about two important Victorians. Feels like he gets close to pinning down the real relationship between mechanical-computer-builder Charles Babbage and Lord Byron's daughter Ada Lovelace (recently rediscovered as possibly the world's first ever computer programmer).
Thursday. Dull weather here in Budapest. A couple of people are urging me to write an in-depth book on gold-digger femme-fatale types. Two others are saying no, don't.
Wednesday. Amusing global-strategist profile: Edward Luttwak.
Tuesday. Woman stabbed at art fair: onlookers think it's an art work.
Monday. A relative oldie from a decade ago, a song which (still) raises the obvious question: what is it actually about? Camille Jones 'Creeps' versions
certainly have in common bits of a visually striking video, a fidgety insistent sound, and the sense it's about something compelling & important ---but what? Insomnia? Nightmares? Ghosts? Being a single woman in New York? Urban angst in general? Feeling addicted to, yet trapped within, The Horror of The Dance Club? // Answers on a postcard, please.
Sunday. Britain's Labour party perhaps losing touch with public opinion in opposition (in chart, DK = Don't Know). Meanwhile here, 3 or 4 days ago kittenish blonde from recently-closed cafe popped up again on far side of town.
Saturday. Interesting map of drone-operating bases within Africa.
Friday. Last night a couple of months of boxed covering came off a large-looking store inside Corvin Plaza, with giant backlit photo of stern-looking mannequin in outdoor clothing from floor to ceiling. Around midnight a girl with a luminous chartreuse jacket was photographing the workmen taking the casing off the big picture. Being dressed for the moment creates moments of its own.
Thursday. Quite intelligent talk-with-whiteboard: how women can acquire magnetic sexual power over men, narrated by a bubbly Slav girl (Bulgarian?) with curves & spectacles. One friend used to call this the Porn Librarian look. A woman talking frankly about the importance of presents: always funny to hear the advice they give each other about us.
Wednesday. Excellently odd film about multi-dimensional time. Like many, I've wondered this: why just one dimension? Cue stolid Russian researchers with touching faith in the maths, who - to tourist-ministry music - are soon deep in the Slav forest dropping metal weights down a tower to measure peturbations in other time dimensions with their instruments. Unmissable.
Tuesday. Coffee & tea with Publisher John.
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