to links pages 
phone texts to Skype = mark-griffith
Thursday. More harsh words about film producer Mr Weinstein and his Oscar cartel here and here. Someone goes rapidly off piste with a claim that if aliens exist they must be machines and must be very old. Some researchers claim that liberal/left voters have more psychotic traits.
Wednesday. Takimag definitely finding its voice, no longer just an expanded version of Taki's old column at the Spectator. Here, some extraordinary good sense about women, men, & feminism. Followed by more harsh but good sense about foreign migrant workers in the US: as (on the subject of 'Principle Numero Two-o: There's no genetic difference that makes a Mexican more likely to love horrible jobs than an American.') Bob says: "They're not having folk festivals in Mexican villages in which all the young mothers pray to the Aztec gods to give them jobs cleaning toilets in Akron." In separate news, we should not be shocked by research saying in organisations senior women help other women much less than senior men do men. British man runs away and lives homeless in woods for a decade to get away from nagging wife.
Tuesday. Seems no baby Nigels in 2016. Perhaps 1.
Monday. Over the last week, a scandal has been breaking involving a large Hollywood executive called Harvey Weinstein. In all his photos he's in a suit and has impressive stubble. Allegations rapidly mount that he has for 30 years been shouting at people, throwing chairs at glass walls, extracting sexual favours from women seeking major film roles, extracting sexual favours from women seeking minor film roles, masturbating in meetings, telling various folk "You'll never work in this town again", and otherwise being boorish. Harvey has a fine showing in a list of people who get thanked in Academy Award acceptance speeches, although Billy Wilder appears to be misplaced on that bar chart. Lots of actors, actresses, and journalists now say how appalled they are by Mr Weinstein's behaviour (including his younger brother, see Position 8 in getting-thanked chart), after they all covered up for him for decades. Don't put your daughter on the stage, Mrs Robinson! Harvey has helped make many films as a producer, including such classics as 'Bad Santa', 'Zack and Miri Make a Porno', and 'Full Frontal' ("Everybody needs a release.")
Sunday. Finish a book kindly lent by Robin, 'A History of Civilizations' by Fernand Braudel, translated into English by Richard Mayne. Although the author is established in an introduction as the great French scholar who helped launch a new 20th-century movement for a kind of full, "all-round" history including all the other subjects, the result here is sometimes intriguing but mostly disappointing. Different continents are examined in turn. He swallows the mid-century ideas behind a European Union based on the EEC unquestioningly, he breaks into lyrical discussion of South American literature (and a little bit in the USA section, but not elsewhere) yet seems flummoxed by the grand sweep of the Latin continent. Looking at the USA section and the Latin America section back to back, Braudel seems to find the distances and poverty of the Latin 3/4 of the two continents heroic, crushing, epic yet cannot pin down what keeps the place poor, even when he is forced to replay almost the same discussion in the following section about how the United States became quickly rich and carried on getting richer. When he could have done more modest history, recounting some string of events in detail, he instead is admirably ambitious. Sad though, because the sweeping view of history he tackles shows him up as a bit limited intellectually. In a rather sloppy design choice by Penguin, the cover samples the same 1830s painting -
The Course of Empire by Thomas Cole - they used for the cover of their edition of Gibbon's book on the fall of Rome.
Saturday. In the shopping centre basement level, a relaxed girl with long brown hair casually swerves away from her boyfriend so that without breaking step she can stroke the head of the six-foot-tall plush giraffe standing guard in the toy shop doorway. She curves back in time to step on the up escalator just behind him. A few days ago I noticed a small stain the size of a large coin on the lino floor of my flat. Curiously it's a kind of deep rose colour, and roughly the shape of the pink lion in the Spanish coat of arms & flag. Represents the Kingdom of Leon apparently. A fortnight after riot militia in the streets were beating bleeding Catalans during a vote, senior EU figures remain supportive of Madrid's robust policing style.
Friday the 13th! Austrian politics gets snippy as coalition partners accuse each other of cheating in elections.
Thursday. 1) Moody synth track needed as yet another 1970s sci-fi plot starts unfolding: Rise Of The Plastic Eaters; 2) Big straw animals in Japan; 3) One of our contributors with a well-organised, thought-provoking speech that slightly hyperventilates about social media; 4) Sex "toys" are easy to hack - but what kind of person stuffs an internet-connected device up their minge anyway? - seriously; 5) Surprise, surprise, of course private railways are hugely better than British Rail ever was, as anyone who can read numbers or has an honest memory has known for decades already.
Wednesday. Nice self-assembling ball-bearing-circuit action on film.
Tuesday. Recent loss of Western mojo seems to be accepted now.
Monday. Slightly chilly weather being followed up by a couple of quite warm days. Perfect for a glass of chilled blue wine.
Sunday. Ladies! Don't put powdered wasp-nest up yourselves!
Saturday. One of our contributors lists odd points about last Sunday's Las Vegas mass murder by an affluent white man with a room full of weapons claimed by Da'esh to have converted to Islam six months ago. Does the rumour it was an FBI entrapment arms-sale sting gone wrong have any substance?
Friday. a) People cry more easily watching movies at altitude; b) Saudi textbook shows Kingdom Ambassador advised by Star Wars goblin; c) This year Britain moved from 9th to 8th largest manufacturer in world - Brexit nightmare continues! d) Thoughtful and useful piece on crypto-currency drawbacks; e) Interesting and slightly eerie long article about a curious firm that changes your naughty children's behaviour; f) Suggestion that income & wealth inequality is an inevitable physics artefact - convincing yet unsatisfying at the same time.
Thursday. Mistreatment of Burmese Muslim minority not quite what it seems: article rather shouty & repetitive, but interesting.
Wed. Make organic plastic in your kitchen! Greens Will Eat Themselves.
Tuesday. Many shocked by Madrid authorities' heavyhanded efforts on Sunday to block & disrupt a Catalan independence referendum, albeit an illegal independence referendum. A retired British ambassador reacts on his blog with a strikingly stupid screed about the EU: not only is he thick enough to have positively supported the EU federal project for decades until this week, (and to confuse 'denounce' and 'renounce', until he edits it), but he seriously thinks EU natural-rights-based civil-code law secures freedom when of course it creates police states. That's right, you can serve in Britain's Foreign Office with views as dim as these. Notice his repeated use of 'right wing'. Of course, good on him for finally seeing through the EU and speaking out against Madrid's day of state-imposed fightiness, but look into his detailed reasoning and despair.
Monday. Teacher tells class of children not to talk to one boy whose father is a Tory MP.
Sunday. Ongoing Catalan & Spanish liveliness flares up again when the independence referendum banned by Madrid goes ahead. Riot police acting under the instructions of the central Spanish government do a fair amount of thumping & kicking, but manage to at least avoid killing anyone. Sunday, the day of rest, is the traditional day for elections and votes on The Continent, as opposed to Thursdays in Britain, the day of Norse god Thor: probably just historical accident. In the evening of the same day, a slightly strange mass shooting in the US, where apparently a wealthy 64-year-old man with lots of guns sprays a crowd at a country-and-western concert with semi-automatic fire from a hotel bedroom, killing over 50 people, and is already dead from a shot to the head when police break down his door.
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
Saturday. Another Russian Trump story collapses. Paglia talks sense about Playboy founder Hefner's death. Meinong restored! New theory invokes possible-but-not-actual things in aid of quantum neatness. This poem can return:
Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn't there
He wasn't there again today
I wish, I wish he'd go away.
Friday. The always-unlikely-sounding simulation argument cooked up by Bostrom and swallowed by Musk receives a welcome blow to its credibility: a paper claims to rule it out even in principle. Sounds to me like this argument if correct also kills "uploading consciousness", teleportation of living things, plus strong or general artificial intelligence into the bargain.
Thursday. "Weston Price looked for vegans, but found only cannibals."
Wednesday. A song by the She-Devils: I Wanna Touch You. Oddly sweet & old-fashioned-sounding. Perhaps a cue for a book review of Cordelia Fine's (and the Royal Society's) attempt to plug the dikey dam and hold back the breaking waters of evolutionary psychology, in the shape of her fabulously-titled social-feminist rearguard defence 'Testosterone Rex'.
Tuesday. Have often thought of the short story and the radio monologue as almost dead literary forms but listen to this wonderfully simple slide show. Nothing but a background sound of wind, a couple of slides, and a well-chosen surprisingly against-cliche narrator's voice. Storytelling at its most traditional. Oh, and this 26th day of month 9 was 2017's 269th day?
Monday. In conversation this morning with Dr D.'s gamine receptionist Fanni, and learn of her heartfelt love for London, full English breakfasts, milky tea, and all the wonderful shops there. Later in day, the autumnal darkening and draughty breezes bring back the chilling close to Larkin's 'Toads Revisited':
No, give me my in-tray,
My loaf-haired secretary,
What else can I answer
When the lights come on at four
At the end of another year?
Give me your arm, old toad;
Help me down Cemetery Road.
Sunday. Read the book I got from Zoe, her late brother's account of his own life in journalism and their father's career in espionage 'Light & Shadow: Memoirs of a Spy's Son'. The crucial sentence in the whole book, pointed out to me by Zoe, was when her brother Mark asks their elderly father (when after decades it's finally become clear to the two children his whole career was in SIS) if he ever had any doubts about the morality of what he was doing for his country. His reply "Never. Not once. Not for a single minute." says a lot about what his generation had, something we seem to have lost since (and that certainly includes John Le Carre, 21 in 1952). By necessity, since the father quite rightly told his family almost nothing, the book is about 9/10ths son and 1/10th father. I got the uncomfortable feeling that the son never quite felt he matched up to him (even when he had no idea what his father did for a living). For example, his adventures as a young reporter for a pioneering Sydney-based radio station "aimed at young listeners" called 'double J' sound fun but also poignant by comparison, along with the details of what dismantling a fixed-line phone to attach it to a tape recorder with alligator clips was like, or the horrible knowledge that some Kurd died trying to smuggle cans of news film out of Iran he helped record. Some of what pop music meant to him as a schoolboy at Westminster School in London, the idea of "a generation having a voice", the battle for Top Ten places between records bought by oldies & youngsters in around 1961 - those things sound curiously old-fashioned now. If he wrote this book in the years leading up to publication in 2016, it feels as if it was almost exactly when Dylan and the Beatles and the Stones and Pink Floyd and the Ramones and the Sex Pistols suddenly stopped seeming to matter. Just about the moment when the whole half-century obsession with clothing, music and the young folk of the 1950s, 60s, & 70s began to slide off the radar screen. Colvin deals with his lifelong recurrent and worsening health problems with dignity, and the slightly puzzling features of growing up in a range of countries as Father's postings changed is dealt with well. Overall, the book feels sad, mysterious, dotted with sharply outlined vignettes of innocence and innocence lost.
Saturday. Weather getting proper autumnal now. Crisp shadows, bright sun, but chilly wind. A couple of what people call 'indie' songs. I quite like them, but there is a weediness, a sort of plaintive whimsy about them that sounds defeated & dreamy. Here are performers called White Poppy singing 'Small Town Mind'. Then comes the slightly zippier 'Kaleidescope' by the Departmentstore Santas (30 years old, though), after which we have the earnestly hopeful 'Be brothers' by some perky songsters known as Bamboo. At last the forceful but weary 'Black Chalk' from a duo called Earring. The overall effect is a sect of quite good musicians awaiting Rapture faithfully in the wilderness. Perhaps the saddest example of low-energy Byronic bards trapped in a basement studio somewhere is 'Lunar' by the mournfully named Public Memory. If that isn't a cry for help, I don't know what is.
Friday. Perhaps my favourite sentence of last week: "I am a village girl," a bright student self-deprecatingly shrugs off her respect for religion. Allegations in court are being made that Saudi Embassy staff actually carried out US-aircraft hijack dry runs before 2001 Sept 11th. Oh dear, oh dear. A profile of Noam Chomsky gets his politics right but is trapped in the genius-in-his-field-but-naive-in-his-politics trope. Actually I think his linguistics is also wrong, and shows how simple-minded he is. Nice clear explanation of why other countries can't copy Silicon Valley. A study shows women know better what other women are thinking than men do women or other men.
Thursday. At 3am (so Friday morning really) outside in light drizzle I pass a cheerful Hungarian couple in their 20s wheeling a clingfilm-wrapped washing machine along on an old-fashioned trolley of the kind the porters let you borrow at college. Giggling on their nest-building high, they chose a good moment to move the white goods - streets completely empty. Things seem to be getting boisterous in Spain. Madrid has stepped in to stop the Catalan provincial government from holding an independence referendum. This early August broadcast of the Russian girl-DJ radio show rather better than usual: #441. Perhaps something to do with her male colleague pogo-ing around in the foreground. Cheery bouncy Slavs!
Wednesday. Finish a book kindly lent me by Lorinc's father Mihaly. 'A Murder of Quality' from 1961 is interesting because apparently it was John Le Carre's one departure into the standard detective-story genre from writing spy novels. Seeing George Smiley solve a murder at a public school somewhere like Dorset I was struck by how much in all the books he's simply another Poirot, Marple, Sherlock, Father Brown, just shifted sideways into espionage. All the descriptions of him as ordinary yet shrewd, self-effacing yet sharp, good listener quietly judging others and so on suddenly fall into the classic Amateur Detective mould. I had read about 20 pages during previous days' tram journeys when suddenly all lights go out in the whole building. The staircase and balconies show two people wandering around by the light of their smartphones. Going outside into the rain I find that even the shopping centre is on emergency lighting, with the giant underground supermarket and much of the street in complete darkness. Back in my flat I light three half-burned candles still lodged in the hollows of an egg box from the last time I used them, and settle down to finish the Le Carre book by candlelight. Rain outside grows heavier, and I'm carried back to that odd caravan holiday in Anglesey when I was 8, rain drummed on the roof all day every day for two weeks, and Mother & I read lots of detective novels, her explaining which were well written and which were badly written during our (or at least her) coffee-making breaks. Although the caravan brings back the smell of bottled gas and a match lighting the hob each morning, power cuts and candles back in Manchester during the oil crisis overlap in my memory from the same time. I feel secure, cut off from the internet, in a dark room with three candle flames gently swaying on a chair nearby and the shushing sound of a heavy downpour outside. Le Carre's puzzle grows more enjoyable once Smiley is at the centre of the narrative - although there aren't really any characters as such. He and Brim are the nearest the author gets to proper characters, but they are at least recognisable presences.
What's striking about this end-of-the-1950s book is how obsessed it is with snobbery. Part of this is definitely true to the time, but there is more. Le Carre thinks he's against snobs, but actually he reveals himself through the gentle unprepossessing Smiley as an utter snob. His bland, courteous hero is filled with disguised loathing of other people's social positions and pretensions, whether high or low. The two ex-military men can't even wear a wristwatch to his satisfaction, poor men. The retired-Major dog breeder, Smiley notes with superior amusement, has that mysterious military habit of wearing his watch inside his wrist (actually not mysterious at all) while the Chief Constable almost physically disgusts Smiley with his exaggerated army-style gesture of snapping out his elbow when checking his watch on the outside of his wrist. The whole novel, like many of the time, is fixated on class to a suspicious degree. It's almost as if most of those detective stories were secretly about Britain trying to murder some unbearably embarrassing old relative from its family past.
Despite the way the characters somehow strike a false note, Le Carre's ear for dialogue is quite good: Smiley's quizzing by the sly, sinister Shane woman is nicely done. It goes without saying that the public school is High Anglican, with reintroduced fake Latinisms, and the town is Chapel, with a sternly simple Baptist congregation. The police officer Smiley liaises with is Chapel and so, of course, a good & clever man. The author is good enough at storytelling of course to set us up for surprises with these assumptions to activate plenty of well-handled bait-and-switch plot-twisting towards the end. A curiously bitter Afterword helps locate Le Carre (and many other authors of the time) as a disappointed young moderniser. He was 14 in 1945 but still identifying with utopian breeziness of his parents' generation in the 1920s and 30s. Much is made of the dreadfulness of the war and the dark secrets Smiley must live with, but I started to suspect that this is really something else. For example a kind of mourning for the utilitarian, spick-and-span, dismissive spirit from the 20s, 30s, 40s. A conflicted wish the war had proved the awful shabbiness of tradition and history, where in fact, annoyingly, it proved the opposite, the murderous ruthlessness of the modernisers. This contradiction, this secret desire to still see utopian 1930s ideas as refreshing rather than repressive, perhaps explains why characters like Smiley in books like Le Carre's pivot from politely masked war-weariness into a very well hidden hatred of Britain. His country's crime is not just to still be there, but to have actually been proved right in the war of ideas during their youth. Hence the way tradition and the love of the old seems to faintly nauseate Le Carre heroes. 'Victorian' is several times used as a term of abuse, 'mediaeval' in a positive way (but as long as it refers to something suitably modest and authentic). Smiley and Brim are moved by and gently protective of the silly traditions of the lower-class Nonconformists and their bizarre rituals but are revolted by the silly traditions of the upper-class school Anglicans and their bizarre rituals.
There are moments when characters like Fielding are made to speak lines (about the futility of teaching, the dreadfulness of boarding schools) straight from the narrator. Then notice on the final page of the 2010 Afterword how Le Carre describes what he thinks is wicked about the major public schools yet casually mentions sending his own sons there. "Did I send my own sons to public school? Yes of course I did, so I'm a traitor too, to my principles if not to my class." How charmingly he brushes aside this gaping inconsistency in his world view with fake frankness. Completely without any grasp of how hugely the state-commandeered school system of the 1940s has failed the country and the students whose lives it stunted, he wishes all non-state schools had been taken over by the state in one cleansing sweep of collectivism. He writes he would have tossed his hat in the air with joy at that victory against history and heirarchy. Just a page earlier the despairing anti-Labour speech of his headmaster in 1945 (now proved horribly right) is quoted sarcastically, evoking barbarians at the gates. It still makes him angry. Le Carre seems to have no sense that, using good intelligence fieldcraft Smiley would have been proud of, the barbarians have long been well inside the gates, and he is one of them.
Tuesday. Women's brains full of male lovers' DNA. Study claims drop in testosterone sparked beginnings of civilisation. Book review harks back to Darwin's work on evolution of sexiness. Meanwhile China bans BitCoin exchange and coin-mining executives from leaving the country - is Peking scared?
Monday. Man beheads woman, but then refuses to stop eating her flesh, so police shoot him. South Africa keeping it real.
Sunday. New security hack: Israeli researchers use infrared signals to take control of CCTV cameras.
Saturday. More about strange sonic weapons being used in Cuba.
Friday. Library scan yields fresh ancient languages.
Thursday. Female scholar on Viking warrior women.
Wednesday. Chinese village grows QR-code garden.
Tuesday. There's hope! Study says cute women prefer ugly men.
Monday. Perhaps a reason not to ink.
Sunday. I remember two days ago standing in the sun outside my apartment building in my Friday jacket and tie holding up a shoelace. I must have looked like some tedious Beckett character. I was silently pondering if I could spare a moment to go to the shoelace shop (yes there's a "shoe accessory" store three streets away). One of the older, more dignified, ladies in the building (I say hello to her sometimes in the lift) chanced by. She asked me where I was headed, and I told her, deciding against the shop as we talk. Ten minutes later back inside she suddenly rings the doorbell of my flat and gives me a handful of neatly tied shoelaces, muttering something about her husband not needing them any more. Meanwhile, after another interesting morning lesson with Boardgame Orsolya where we touch on help from God, in the late afternoon have a coffee & fruit juice with The Yellow Dress Girl. She tells me I must learn how to wish.
Saturday. A couple of days ago I was in the bakery-cafe where the Croatian pirates sometimes take their children. A pigeon flew in and began strutting around under some tables confusedly looking for the way out again. I unsuccessfully try to shoo it out, and one of the waitresses (Flora) casually says "Oh, look it's Feri." She carefully corners Feri (Frank), firmly but gently gathers him into both her hands and helps him out of the doorway. For a second I'm puzzled at her having given him a name, but then I look outside at the square again. In place of several dark-grey pigeon-shaped blobs scanning under tables for pastry crumbs a second before, I suddenly see a range of shades from almost white birds with grey bars and markings to almost-black birds with different tones of mid and dark grey feathers standing out on back and wings.
Friday. I finish a book sent to me by kind Amanda, 'The Middle Sea' by John Julius Norwich. He warns us from the outset that his heart sank when he got the commission, but the simple ambition of relating all the most important things that happened in the Mediterranean over the centuries, gives the book a pleasantly modest feel. Interesting breakdown on the unification of Italy, and some fascinating might-have-beens from late mediaeval Sicily. Then in the evening a sudden crushing sense of defeat and exhaustion. Aware that the biggest solar flare in a decade, shot out by an X9-class storm on the 6th, hit Earth's atmosphere today, I wonder if this can affect mood (and if so, why not everybody?)
Thursday. Two more classes have students who get sent to different rooms. But the ones who reach me are very jolly & likeable.
Wednesday. Early teaching start. Would be interesting to study this. Meanwhile Britain's yeomanry keep up standards: urinating man's loyal girlfriend punches other man for criticising him.
Tuesday. First night class at the Technical University. I'm in the designated room on the 8th floor at 6.30pm, no-one else is. Turns out my students got sent to a room on the 6th floor. Once a kind colleague brings us together, introductory lesson quite a success.
Monday. Why are women more religious? Every answer here but one.
Sunday. Years after we gave warning, more pessimism about China.
Saturday. Cubans using covert sound weapons?
Friday. Japanese newly-weds vacuum-sealed. 'Breathtaking', hur hur.
diary entries by month
September 2017 /
August 2017 /
July 2017 /
June 2017 /
May 2017 /
April 2017 /
March 2017 /
February 2017 /
January 2017 /
December 2016 /
November 2016 /
October 2016 /
September 2016 /
August 2016 /
July 2016 /
June 2016 /
May 2016 /
April 2016 /
March 2016 /
February 2016 /
January 2016 /
December 2015 /
November 2015 /
October 2015 /
September 2015 /
August 2015 /
July 2015 /
June 2015 /
May 2015 /
April 2015 /
March 2015 /
February 2015 /
January 2015 /
December 2014 /
November 2014 /
October 2014 /
September 2014 /
August 2014 /
July 2014 /
June 2014 /
May 2014 /
April 2014 /
March 2014 /
February 2014 /
January 2014 /
December 2013 /
November 2013 /
October 2013 /
September 2013 /
August 2013 /
July 2013 /
June 2013 /
May 2013 /
April 2013 /
March 2013 /
February 2013 /
January 2013 /
December 2012 /
November 2012 /
October 2012 /
September 2012 /
August 2012 /
July 2012 /
June 2012 /
May 2012 /
April 2012 /
March 2012 /
February 2012 /
January 2012 /
December 2011 /
November 2011 /
October 2011 /
September 2011 /
August 2011 /
July 2011 /
June 2011 /
May 2011 /
April 2011 /
March 2011 /
February 2011 /
January 2011 /
December 2010 /
November 2010 /
October 2010 /
September 2010 /
August 2010 /
July 2010 /
June 2010 /
May 2010 /
April 2010 /
March 2010 /
February 2010 /
January 2010 /
December 2009 /
November 2009 /
October 2009 /
September 2009 /
August 2009 /
July 2009 /
June 2009 /
May 2009 /
April 2009 /
March 2009 /
February 2009 /
January 2009 /
December 2008 /
November 2008 /
October 2008 /
September 2008 /
August 2008 /
July 2008 /
June 2008 /
May 2008 /
April 2008 /
March 2008 /
February 2008 /
January 2008 /
December 2007 /
November 2007 /
October 2007 /
September 2007 /
August 2007 /
July 2007 /
June 2007 /
May 2007 /
April 2007 /
March 2007 /
February 2007 /
January 2007 /
December 2006 /
November 2006 /
October 2006 /
September 2006 /
August 2006 /
July 2006 /
June 2006 /
May 2006 /
April 2006 /
March 2006 /
February 2006 /
January 2006 /
December 2005 /
November 2005 /
October 2005 /
September 2005 /
August 2005 /
July 2005 /
June 2005 /
May 2005 /
April 2005 /
March 2005 /
February 2005 /
January 2005 /
December 2004 /
November 2004 /
October 2004 /
September 2004 /
August 2004 /
July 2004 /
June 2004 /
May 2004 /
April 2004 /
March 2004 /
February 2004 /
January 2004 /
December 2003 /
November 2003 /
October 2003 /
September 2003 /
August 2003 /
July 2003 /
June 2003 /
May 2003 /
April 2003 /
March 2003 /
February 2003 /
January 2003 /
December 2002 /
November 2002 /
October 2002 /
September 2002 /
August 2002 /
July 2002 /