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December 8th; Thursday. Clear overview of the Bostrom claim we are "probably living in a computer simulation".

December 7th; Wednesday. Interesting article about feared forthcoming Algerian civil war. Plus three articles about a scandal in the silver market, one / two / three, emerging this week.
December 6th; Tuesday. An article of mine about Sunday's vote in Italy goes online here. Meanwhile, academic paper ('Birth of the cool') claims written English fiction has become less emotional since 18th century / Biographer thinks Sylvia Plath might have been rejected by lover before suicide / Intriguing graph suggests people born since 1970 care less about democracy.

December 5th; Monday. Buying some cheaper eggs all with white shells, realised that I haven't seen white-shelled eggs at the supermarket for years. Wonder if farmers now routinely feed hens some substance like caramel or some mineral to give the eggshells that country-goodness brown hue? Speaking of brown crunchy things, decided to check if burning my pasta sticks could affect health. Best that came up was an article about crusty bread & pastry: the Maillard Reaction.
December 4th; Sunday. Rather political day, with Austrians (now they have enough envelope glue) choosing the Green presidential candidate by a narrow margin while Italians vote by a big margin against proposed changes to the country's constitution. One of our contributors noted market interest in this referendum some days ago. Partly an Italian protest against the devastation caused by the euro, partly a chance to force resignation of annoyingly smooth prime minister Matteo Renzi. Last Thursday's vote by a big swing to replace eccentric-but-once-loved MP Zac Goldsmith in Richmond, Greater London (one of the country's most pro-EU & pro-Green constituencies), with a pro-EU/anti-Brexit Liberal Democrat has been slightly marred. Allegations surface Lib Dems promised £1/4 m cash if the Green candidate stood aside. She did. The long-suffering Dutch finally get tetchy and address some pointed questions to their government about the euro.

December 3rd; Saturday. Unfortunate incident reported yesterday in Mongolia. Russian diplomat physically attacked the country's most famous rapper (of course, on the show 'Mongolia's Got Talent'), beating the man into a coma. Supposedly, displaying large swastikas in Mongolia is almost normal; ancient local symbol but also extreme-nationalist, anti-Russian symbol etc. Diplomacy thrives on free & frank exchange of views: "My son was hit in the face several times with a metal object."
December 2nd; Friday. Days and nights switching between temperatures. Sometimes warmish with winds howling or moaning through doorjambs & cracks all over the building, large crumpled leaves that look as if cut from brown paper piling up in mini-drifts in doorways. Sometimes mild rain, and sometimes numbing cold. Of course, local weather is not global climate, but apparently average global over-land temperatures fell by an entire degree Celsius, the sharpest drop ever recorded, just in the last 4 or 5 months. It seems the culprit might be the end of several years effect from a very warm El Nino current in the Pacific. For a bit of balance, here is a piece about possible major ice shelf calving in the Antarctic.

December 1st; Thursday. Online chum Nick Jordan (no supporter of President Honey Monster, I should add) reports that "Last night I dreamt I was having dinner with Donald Trump. I gave him some much needed advice - something about making quick decisions like a businessman, not slow ones like a politician - and he gave me a battered, secondhand Rolex by way of a thank you. Then we went to the kitchen and put a couple of cats in the dishwasher. Only for a couple of minutes he said, it doesn't hurt them."
November 30th; Wednesday. 4 days left before not one but two further Jenga bricks might be withdrawn from the tottering tower of Euro-doom. Postponed from October 2nd due to a curious lack of envelope glue, the Austrian presidential election revote is set for December 4th. Presumably Austria, a fairly modern economy last time I looked, has now obtained enough envelope glue to restage the 2nd part of the presidential election that narrowly defeated the Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer on May 22nd but was ruled July 1st to have suffered from irregularities. I wrote this up soon after (not my choice of headline, citizens). What everyone is worried about of course is that the nationalistic anti-foreigner party's candidate Mr Hofer will defeat the Green candidate Alexander van der Bellen. Peculiarly, both men are promising to be strict about immigration for Merkel's million migrants from the Islamic world, and yet at the same time both candidates deny the validity of Austria's current borders. Mr van der Bellen believes all Europe should be one borderless state, while Mr Hofer would like Anschluss (union) with Germany. My German-speaking lawyer friends assure me this kind of strangeness is completely normal in Austria. Excitingly, this latest date on Sunday now coincides with a referendum in Italy which is making financial traders nervous because Italy's banking sector (containing half the eurozone's bad debts) is unhappy about the euro currency - naturally enough. This is despite the actual referendum (to strip Italy's second chamber of many of its powers) seeming quite boring on the face of it. At least one of those two Jenga bricks coming out methinks.

November 29th; Tuesday. I'm now worried about going into the pharmacist in the basement of the nearby shopping centre. Several years ago, buying a brand of children's vitamins I like, a friendly lady there asked how old my children were. Knowing that Hungary is a country that will sometimes refuse to sell you something because of the rules (children's vitamins must only be taken by children!), I lied, blurting something off-the-cuff like "3 and 8" (I think). I was hoping this had been forgotten, but the other week the same nice twinkly-eyed lady, beaming with parental camaraderie, asked me across the counter how my little ones were doing? Heart thumping, I mumbled fine and got through that moment, but knowing how women's memories work I bet she knows exactly how old my imaginary offspring are. Whereas I don't. She's probably ready with all sorts of motherly advice for whatever phase they're going through for that age. I might have told that fib 3 years ago or 5 years ago. No idea. How right the Jews are to drily warn that a liar needs a good memory. Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive.
November 28th; Monday. It emerges that Cuban dictator Fidel Castro died aged 90 on Friday. A fascinating split opens up between those who say he was just a police-state thug, and the others on the left still vaguely in love with those youthful photos of him and Che, fresh from killing some women & children, but looking romantically wild in battle fatigues, tousled hair, cigars, and (in Castro's case) a beard that gave him presence. Much nonsense said about Cuba having a good health-care system (from people who don't know any Cuban doctors personally), dealt with here. No-one seems to notice that the US trade embargo cannot be what kept Cuba poor since the much smaller, much poorer, and totally lacking in natural resources Hong Kong was embargoed for decades by neighbouring China. Yet Hong Kong went, under hands-off British colonial administration that supplied only policing & fair trials, from quiet fishing port to major world city. Cuba, however, didn't. It now lives off cigars and the remnants of what was once a better health-care system under the pre-1959 dictator Batista. Creepy new Castro-era word: 'exsanguinate' - to drain the blood out of someone the regime's going to kill anyway. Cubans driven into exile on the other hand made Miami a world city.

November 27th; Sunday. Wake in the dim shadows of the small hours oddly convinced that a small stocky angel with outstretched wings is standing on my desk, watching over me. Part of me realises that this is a narrow stack of books symmetrically topped by two large-format books, and then my centrally placed round clock as the head - all seen at an angle - but the illusion is surprisingly persistent even after I decode it. Perhaps vaguely influenced by this modern bronze of a Saxon goddess pointed out to me by Troy.
November 26th; Saturday. Tasty lunch and natter with Zizi & Csenge. Meanwhile, a new crypto-currency combines BitCoin & Ethereum.

November 25th; Friday. Several impressive impersonations of US politicians. Plus a new beer which is bottled inside dead squirrels, thanks to 'Simon The Stuffer', since "Beer is art. Art is also art." The beverage "carries a distinct presence of candied fruit and marmalade."
November 24th; Thursday. Lovely long lunch with Paul, who recommends I read some Stanislav Jaki.

November 23rd; Wednesday. Was it American comedian Chris Rock first pointed out what's odd about Honey Monster's leggy Slovene wife: she constantly looks like she's seen you somewhere before but can't quite remember where?
November 22nd; Tuesday. Disturbing research into spotting criminal faces before a crime is committed, even if hysterically written up.

November 21st; Monday. Chat with student's father about Runyon short story The Brain Goes Home.
November 20th; Sunday. 6 days ago on Monday, the Christmas trees reappeared in the shopping centre, alien green cones decked with balls of gold. The sentinels have returned to watch us consume. After the Spanish stall selling numbered perfumes vanished, and that section of floor was empty for a few days, a double-sided stand appeared hung with about 150 leather bags, wallets, and handbags. Warily minding the stock there all day every day is an authentic street-trader type. He has silver hair, steel spectacles, wears a zip-up parka indoors with the fake-fur-lined hood down, and scans the scene with a pair of sharp flinty eyes. He looks just how Britain's greatest 2nd-hand-car salesman of his generation, Bernie Ecclestone, would look after being stretched 6 or 7 inches longer on a mediaeval rack.

November 19th; Saturday. My first time inside the Literature Museum. With Mihaly & Agi to a screening of Polanski's 1971 version of 'Macbeth' (co-adapted for screen with Kenneth Tynan). It's introduced by a genial British linguist with an interest in Shakespeare and films. He leads a short discussion afterwards, also in English. Before we watch it, this academic's ten-minute run-down of interesting features in the film to know about is excellent. For example, the fact this was Polanski's first film after his 8-months-pregnant wife was butchered by 3 crazed members of the Manson Family cult in 1969, or that a small eerie scene is added at the end, or that he ran out of cash filming on location in Northumbria and had to get emergency funding from Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. He also mentions in passing Welles' older film version of the Scottish play, shot entirely on theatrical stage sets, which sounds intriguing. Bit startling to see Keith Chegwin's name in Polanski's cast. Although as Mihaly points out to me in a whisper, the progressive-rock-musician haircuts very much identify the date it was shot. I felt Lady Macbeth was not quite sinister enough. In the discussion afterwards, someone English-sounding in the audience helpfully answers my question about how politically daring the original performance in front of Scots/English king James 1st was. A Hungarian man and a Hungarian woman several rows apart begin to disagree about the nature of Macbeth's villainy. They both show deep sensitivity to, and grasp of, the play in awkward contrast to my sketchy knowledge of Magyar literature (*fidgets*). After sharing wonderful insights, the linguist veers rather off-piste with a suggestion that the Brexit vote, the death of Jo Cox MP, and the election of Trump mark some strange new "post-truth" era when all presumption that politicians should speak truthfully is lost (as if entry into the EEC/EC/EU, never mind All Previous History, didn't mark that point better). I ask him what he thinks the Stalin show trials were, if not "post-truth", but no answer. Handling the hiccup much better than me, the police-state-reared locals tactfully conceal their embarrassment with the parochial visiting Brit, and gently steer him back to what he knows best.
November 18th; Friday. Lorinc asks about chi & telekinesis.

November 17th; Thursday. Meet Katarina for coffee.
November 16th; Wednesday. During her lesson, slightly to my surprise, Zizi coins the phrase "trumping out" to capture the behaviour of some disappointed Clinton supporters. She then suddenly suggests tongue-in-cheek that the election might have been altered in Honey Monster's favour by time-travelling desperadoes coming back from the World-War-3 future in which Hillary won the election. Goodness. We talk for a while about alternative history and timeloops.

November 15th; Tuesday. A new theory about small children's hide & seek games.
November 14th; Monday. Robin & I are still both sad and a bit shocked that Sanyi of the Stranded Truck died suddenly a year ago or so, when both of us were preoccupied with other worries. Thin, wiry, cheerful, late 40s, missing some teeth, addicted to nasty black coffee, Sanyi was virtually the only adult on the Great Plain within 15 miles radius of Tiszainoka who never touched alcohol.

November 13th; Sunday. Beautifully-illustrated piece on the struggles of Leibniz to build a mechanical calculator.
November 12th; Saturday. Last night slept 10 hours. Annoying grey skies & rain all day. Cross town for coffee with Robin. Late in evening eat fabulous creamy chocolate/mousse/cake-in-pot from Romanian Adina. So intensely chocolatey as to be almost drug-like.

November 11th; Friday. Last night slept 14 hours. In small hours of Saturday read a strange 1911 book by Rider Haggard 'The Mahatma and the Hare' with some wonderful illustrations. Recommended by Troy. Perhaps a source for 1972's 'Watership Down', only with an eerie esoteric component. Haggard says it was a vivid dream he had one night (that changed him), and the blend of local clarity and global vagueness feels authentically dream-like.
November 10th; Thursday. Unusual day starts with the glamorous Adina hand-delivering her special chocolate cake to me in a cafe straight off the plane from Montreal, and ends with an evening of pizza slices at three interesting data-science presentations with programmer friend.

November 9th; Wednesday. Read intriguing article recommended by Claudia about the people Piketty calls "supermanagers" and how they ran industry in Nazi Germany. Some interesting parallels with today, but the author's thesis looking strained by the end.
November 8th; Tuesday. The office-block-building Honey Monster is elected US president in perhaps the strangest campaign of media bias and underhand tricks since ---well since this June.

November 7th; Monday. A beautiful new gear-transmission mechanism. Elegant.
November 6th; Sunday. Sad aftermath of the Carlos Castaneda yarn, still being sold as non-fiction.

November 5th; Saturday. Remember remember the fifth of November, gunpowder, treason and plot; I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot! Yesterday evening as darkness fell in late afternoon, I once again descended like Gilgamesh into the sprawl of sheds and old warehouses up at the Chinese market district, in search of a herb. In one building the size of an aircraft hangar with steel rails (partly swallowed by old tarmac) set at right angles to the roof there was a huge space of deepening gloom. Only some grey dusk sky showed through a strip of glass roof fifty feet up not changing the blackness. At ground level inside the giant shed a few tiny stores were lit where weary but busy Chinese and Vietnamese people were heaving cardboard boxes of cheap clothes in or out of the backs of vans in the shadows.
November 4th; Friday. Much excitement in Britain where a High Court judgment rules that the government cannot leave the European Union using royal prerogative (although royal prerogative seemed to be just fine for enacting the Single European Act in the 1980s deepening integration with EU law and enabling some euro-laws to bypass Parliamentary debate). While in 2013 when Britain's government obtained an opt-out from EU Lisbon Treaty provisions, again this move away from EU integration had to be debated in Parliament, not just prerogged into law. British parliamentary involvement seems very important to people who want to slow or modify any disengagement from the EU, yet not the other way round. A pro-federal valve? Odd also that parliamentary sovereignty should (they claim) matter so much to people who believe in the EU integration project and therefore ultimately want Britain's sovereign independence to dissolve smoothly into a larger, nobler eurostate.

November 3rd; Thursday. In the supermarket by day encounter a lass testing her power. Small, with improbably high heels and impossibly slim legs, she is moderately cute looked at coldly. Yet she generates an impressive force field around herself with exaggerated femininity. Deliberately prancing (not quite strutting) slowly around the aisles examining shelves in a vacantly posed way, she emits the classic some-suitable-male-could-flirt-with-me-now vibe at fairly high voltage. Tempted for a moment, I decide against. Something too steely and controlling in the whole presentation - but if this was Britain (or somewhere Nordic) the whole shop would be giggling and mocking her for "taking herself too seriously". Perhaps why there's more unironic sexiness on the Continent: less desperation to always find things funny.
Meanwhile, from the Donald-and-Hillary show, a careful analyst shows that famed pollster 538 has a pro-establishment bias, specifically a pro-Clinton bias. Some agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation seem to be furious with Mrs Clinton. One retired FBI official publicly describes the Clintons as a "crime family", comparing them to the Gambinos. One side is accusing the FBI of outrageously partisan behaviour so close to an election, while the other side accuses the Democrat campaign of politically pressuring the FBI to stop its year-long investigation into alleged abuse of high office by both Clintons. Meanwhile colourful ex-husband of Huma Abedin gets his moment of glory in a Steyn article.
November 2nd; Wednesday. A couple of academic papers to deepen our knowledge: the perilous whiteness of pumpkins / the black anus "as a critical site of pleasure, peril, and curiosity". Lots of peril, suddenly.

November 1st; Tuesday. Day of the Dead. Nice cheery map of suicide rates across Europe (poor Lithuanians!) Since it increases with closeness to the poles, researchers into people who top themselves used to say Hungary is like a country with the profile of a Nordic nation, but 1,000 miles further from the Arctic. Notice here how perky Britain is, SelbstMord-wise, like a Mediterranean country, but 1,000 miles closer to the Arctic. Every place north of Milan has more suicide than Britain. Upper lip perhaps not so stiff after all.

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


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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

October 31st; Monday. Visit the Kiraly Spa with generous Mystery Friend, my first time there. Am startled at how closely it resembles the Rudas floorplan. Didn't realise there were two intact 17th-century Turkish (ie. Eastern Roman) Baths in town, both still mostly out of the original marble. As once at another thermal-water venue, I'm given an adorable plastic wristwatch to wear, this time with a blank lemon-yellow disc in place of a face, a pumpkin-orange case, and French-mustard-coloured plastic strap. This cunning device in its rich range of 1970s colours closes and opens my changing-room locker through some electromagnetic wizardry.

October 30th; Sunday. Rather odd mass of scandals building over US presidential election. Some of the letters given to Wikileaks (by a Democratic Party staffer, not the Russians) appear embarrassing for Mrs Clinton. A curious dispute is unfolding that involves a woman called Huma Abedin, Clinton's closest aide, who was married to a seemingly unreliable man called Wiener. Supposedly angry FBI agents insisted their chief continue with an investigation of Mrs C., and there is now a computer somewhere with a folder of elsewhere-deleted e-mails of Mrs C. labelled slightly melodramatically by Ms. Abedin 'Life Insurance'. Meanwhile, more women have accused Mr Trump of touching their bottoms on an aeroplane. All wonderfully complicated.
October 29th; Saturday. Thomas, Anna, Balazs, and I are kindly invited by Zita K. to a rather stylish Hallowe'en costume (or at least make-up) party themed around horror-movie dolls. Zita with her face-paint kit gave me a bleeding gash wound in the forehead and everyone was most complimentary about my undead looks & her deft shmink work. Lots of effort put into dressing up by dozens of girls and a few men, including a Jesus dragging a giant crucifix who I finally realised was William, one of the club owners. Even later, I remembered I'd seen that crucifix before, some years ago - but of course, why wouldn't you reuse such a fine prop?

October 28th; Friday. It turns out that the story a Canadian air steward brought HIV to the US is wrong, and the virus reached New York (from Haiti) a decade earlier. Well explained. / Sean Carroll readably & clearly tries to persuade us that the fact the many-world interpretation of quantum physics demands many worlds isn't something we should get upset about. I still feel vaguely shortchanged - have we been told where these other universes actually are, or is that touchingly naive of me to ask? / An interesting section from a book about an attempted Soviet 1960s-1970s internet. Unfortunately marred by some economics howlers so the line where the author feels cleverest with himself, "The first global computer network emerged thanks to capitalists behaving like cooperative socialists, not socialists behaving like competitive capitalists" gets it totally wrong. The same basic confusion over pricing & subsidies means that the article's content-promise subtitle "Soviet scientists tried for decades to network their nation. What stalemated them is now fracturing the global internet" is wrong too. Some good detail though. / Apparently no-one has ever managed to make an alloy out of the two metals bismuth & iron. Until now, that is.
October 27th; Thursday. Rich people seem less social than the rest of us, amazingly.

October 26th; Wednesday. Clear, helpful round-up from late 2015 of the war in Syria. Meanwhile, computer text analysis suggests that Christopher Marlowe co-wrote all 3 of the Bard's Henry VI plays. Plus an article on whether blood-and-soil nationalists ("right wing" is of course incorrect) are messing around with rune magic, blood vows, the usual.
October 25th; Tuesday. Anti-emigration party wins Lithuanian election.

October 24th; Monday. In news for Druids, just two weeks until magicians battle bankers. November 7th: be fey or be away.
October 23rd; Sunday. Hungary remembers the 60th anniversary of its fight against Soviet forces in 1956. One of our contributors alleges Democratic campaigners are systematically skewing opinion polls to create momentum.

October 22nd; Saturday. Our man in Bucharest quotes Bagehot on who the cavaliers & who the roundheads are now.
October 21st; Friday. A clear essay setting Beatrix Potter's mycology hobby in proper perspective. She didn't originate the idea that lichen is two organisms in symbiosis, but she was perhaps the first person in England to see that Schwendener's theory was right: her German was good.

October 20th; Thursday. Fascinating transcript of German nuclear scientists late in WW2 being taped without their knowledge as they learn of the Hiroshima bombing while held captive in an English country house. (1) How likely is it they would not have suspected hidden microphones? Almost 0% likely, one suspects. Now notice (2) how stilted & prepared their responses sound. Meanwhile, a rather detail-oriented article about whether speed fiend Sir Malcolm Campbell was or wasn't a fascist. Wonderfully earnest, the weblog's subtitle is lovely: "Airpower and British society, 1908 - 1941 (mostly)"
October 19th; Wednesday. Julian Assange, in his Ecuador Embassy refuge in London, has had his internet cut off. Ecuador says this is because US authorities asked it to stop Assange releasing more confidential e-mails of Hillary Clinton and thereby interfering with their country's presidential election campaign. US government denies asking Ecuador to do this. Curious claim that Assange had his internet cut off because he is being prosecuted for paedophilia. Others follow this claim's paper trail.

October 18th; Tuesday. Juci narrates idyllic scenes from central Hungary. Passports were meant to be temporary. Plus a 2015 European borders piece.
October 17th; Monday. Ambient weather mood is now A Bit Chilly. OhMyGod Physics continues to grow as a genre: (1) Our galaxy's black hole might be a quantum computer? / (2) Time crystals seem to be a thing (2013) / (3) Five ways to travel through time. Some sloppiness with the third piece, overlooking several formal proofs that relativity under some exotic conditions allows backwards time travel.

October 16th; Sunday. In conversation with Troy, he shows me this intriguing page suggesting the 12 days of Christmas all symbolise birds.
October 15th; Saturday. Brexit Remaindereds continue to complain about blasphemy against their secular cult. Some near-term uncertainty about sterling compensating for anticipated costs from leaving the EU's tariff-walled garden is forgiveable. But it's also an opportunity to enforce an idea that's been around for a few decades - allowing overnight deposits in the City move against the normal pound as if they were a separate currency (call it the mauve pound, blue pound, whatever), in the process quarantining worries about the financial sector. Normal Britain would benefit from some mild decoupling from the square mile, and the second sterling need never exist outside City capital accounts, like the ecu in the old days. A shock absorber costing nothing to create, imposing zero inconvenience, but with massive upside potential. Irritatingly dark & cloudy outside today, so here's a weblog devoted to photos of Jaques Chirac doing his "smooth pimping, suave gangsterism".
October 14th; Friday. Wake at Peter's in outer Buda, slightly stunned by quasi-country air, perhaps more oxygen than deeper into town. We have a lovely breakfast. Streets eerily clear as I ride trams down to and over the morning river.

October 13th; Thursday. Dinner with Peter & Endre + late-night conversation, with remarkable first-hand accounts. We cover many topics including geopolitics.
October 12th; Wednesday. Chat with Claudia about this & that.
October 11th; Tuesday. Walking through streets near the national museum at dusk to get to a lesson with Zizi, I see off to one side a solitary but quite heavily foliaged tree looming out from the front of building slightly set back in the dark-bricked row. I was already feeling I was experiencing the texture of life itself. One of those curious moods where everything seems justified and rather gorgeously sad, yet the mystery of it all hides something intensely hopeful just under the surface. The tree has a dark richness a hundred yards off down that street as the fading of the late day sucks all remaining light & colour out of its heavy leaves. This quick sight as I hurry through to the main street gives the mood around me a tightly defined shape for a moment.

October 10th; Monday. More about the experiment to teach horses symbols, and about the German forester who believes trees are social beings.
October 9th; Sunday. Coffee with Dominic and then with Jean-Michel.

October 8th; Saturday. I get to the end of a short book I borrowed from Dr D., 'Road Planning in Europe' (so obscure it has no barcode and isbnsearch dot org cannot find its ISBN), pulled together by Rudiger Rubel & Eva Silbermann. I learn a new word, 'cassation'. It's hard to give a flavour of this conference book (in both English & French) listing how the legal systems of different EU member states handle road-planning inquiries that really does it justice, but this quote about airborne pollutants on page 54 might help: "Thus the question of how far the observation of ambient and threshold values needs to be reviewed by the courts during the planning of new roads is of entirely practical significance."
October 7th; Friday. Damp, dark, chilly. I ask young Lorinc to suggest a tattoo that would suit me. His first choice is a cucumber sandwich. That's his symbol for my people.
If you've ever wanted to know how to get money off technology billionaires: exploit their philosophical naivete. Several wealthy entrepreneurs right now actually believe Nick Bostrom's 2003 argument we are all really living in a computer simulation in the future. So they're paying real money to folk to help us escape it. Bless.

October 6th; Thursday. cloudy, rainy weather. Sky like neon ceiling panels barely glowing through cotton wool. Lesson with Deborah & lovely lunch with Paul. We run into Elie at the tramstop. A wonderfully dismissive 2007 Luttwak piece about the lack of value in engaging with the Islamic Near East that still merits a read, and a more recent deserved dismantling of Slavoj Zizek by Roger Scruton.
October 5th; Wednesday. Attend an evening data-science event with two talks + pizza at an office building nearby. The star guest speaker from San Francisco speaks with quiet confidence & sympathetic humour about prorities in scaling up data storage in a fast-growing firm. He knowingly drops in those cheerful lines like "I think we all know, God's honest truth, that Hive is brutally slow" and "when you have - say, Impala on top of Hadoop, and you need to start productionising" that tell you within seconds you're in the wrong meeting and you can't leave for an hour because you're seated in the 2nd row. Fascinating-looking slides, very cleanly presented, come up with labels like 'Sane join keys' and "Let's suppose S3 is your Source Of Truth". He talks us through what happens when "the jackass who got hold of the admin keys spins up some Cassandra clusters in front of your people" and (gestures at coloured strips on new slide) "We can see someone's being a bad citizen here, probably this blue dude". He must be a very good speaker indeed, because by the end am strangely convinced I understand his presentation.

October 4th; Tuesday. Spoilsport sleuth 'exposes' pseudonymous Italian writer.
October 3rd; Monday. The US breaks off diplomatic relations with Russia over the Syrian conflict. Shoutiness intended to unnerve American voters next month?

October 2nd; Sunday. Worthwhile article suggests perhaps we'd be better off without masses of high-resolution video and millions of IoT washing machines & microwave ovens wired together worldwide.
October 1st; Saturday. At about 2.30am the morning of Sunday I find one of the staff members at the largeish all-night shop mentioned in my article in August dancing slowly with a dark-haired woman. The techno-music radio channel is tuned to another station. The warbling tones of a Hungarian Gypsy woman vocalist fill the small brightly-lit supermarket, singing one of those songs best heard when sad & drunk. Yet everyone in the store is chatting and laughing, especially the two dancers. Back in my flat, even mindful of the New Yorker cartoon that proclaimed "Ask not for whom the fridge hums: It hums for thee", I am leaving the fridge on again at nights. Sometimes it can be soothing, a little bit like a ship's engine - as if my apartment block were slowly steaming somewhere through the darkness.

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