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dead languages


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linguistic philosophy

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artificial languages

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encryption, steganography

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language history

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calligraphy

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cognitive psychology

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mathematical linguistics

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animal communication

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non-language links

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

@ / links / languages? / pins / archive / book


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November 24th; Monday. Girl in pink metallic wig has one of those days.
November 23rd; Sunday. Topsy-turvy art thing.

November 22nd; Saturday. Now this sounds like a book worth reading: "a groundbreaking study that challenges our understanding of what it means to be alive." 'Quantum biology'.
November 21st; Friday. Surprisingly thoughtful article about a Star Trek episode where some aliens have an odd made-up language. Meanwhile, the story that grammar shapes thinking drifts back into fashion. Esoteric Veronica is back from her course, talking about getting the Dali Tarot pack. We look up the star alignments of the Swiss Confederation constitution of 1848.

November 20th; Thursday. Real journalism. Magneto Boy!
November 19th; Wednesday. Carefully-written article suggests some people, even police officers, fear that wheelchair-bound physicist Stephen Hawking is being abused & beaten inside his home.
Read a short book borrowed from a student's parents: 'Paper' (Building Great Designs With Paper) by Lesa Sawahata. Have long found it odd that people in the paper business refer to weights, not thicknesses, as a way to classify paper and card. This book gives lots of examples of graphics work (business cards, restaurant menus, branded stationery, company prospectuses) which make use of paper colours and textures as well as typography, imagery, embossing etc. This is a nice idea, but one sad flaw in the book is that almost every single piece of graphic work it contains is ugly or tasteless. There are lots of yellows, oranges, creams and browns, along with cluttered designs, bad lettertype choices, and fussy, banal visual ideas. Close-ups of the paper types, enlarged images of other weights and thicknesses visible in the photographs, would have been nice. But best of all would have been crisp, smart graphic work that wasn't nasty.

November 18th; Tuesday. Interesting suggestion that living at high altitude both depletes seratonin and raises dopamine levels. So happy alert people get happier in the mountains. Sad anxious people feel worse.
November 17th; Monday. In the late morning Mr X tells me a woman who has found a good man understands that "I am where he wants me because that's what I want." Explaining his point, he continues "A woman is meaningless and boring until a man sprinkles magic dust on her. Then he has to yoke her." This might be a moment to mention research showing women who are on contraceptive pills when they meet and marry a man seem to often fall out of love with him once they come off the pill. Sounds as if the magic dust might be pregnancy-induced oestrogen.

November 16th; How can small nations attract high-net-worth individuals? Suggestions welcomed.
November 15th; Am now on the Tsu network.

November 14th; Friday. Late-eve speed down slightly misty motorways with Robin.
November 13th; Thursday. Last week's radio show & the current magazine article about #biometric identity linked to here.

November 12th; Wednesday. Persian vampire movie!
November 11th; Tuesday. The dangers of simulated worlds & intriguing piece by Robert Bauval about Egyptian archeology's curious "hall of records".

November 10th; Monday. On his nifty little laptop Robin & I watch both two films, 'In Bruges' and 'Young Adult', fairly much back to back, as we media moguls phrase it.
November 9th; Sunday. Catch the stupid germ & be thick at work.

November 8th; Saturday. I like coffee, you like tea.
November 7th; Friday. Last night's radio show here. I was wonderful, citizens.

November 6th; Thursday. Weather slightly sunnier & warmer. In their incredibly temperature-responsive way, sharply-dressed Hungarian girls appear on public transport as if from nowhere.
November 5th; Wednesday. Sex with over 20 women reduces a man's likelihood of getting prostate cancer. The less said here the better, probably.

November 4th; Tuesday. Geneticists proposing to release modified organisms into the wild very politely want to ask the rest of us first; Nassim Taleb, he of Black Swan fame, says bioengineering is dangerously risky.
November 3rd; Monday. Find Solero the stallion at the gate again, wistfully watching a horse and cart out beyond the next field. Only his snuffles into my glass of cold coffee interrupt yearning gazes at distant fellow beast clopping along main road.
Turkish man builds weird new musical instrument.

November 2nd; Sunday. Interesting maps show Germany is still divided.
November 1st; Saturday. I take the train to Kecskemet at lunchtime. In the station cafe the rock chick is serving again, wearing this time a salmon-coloured high-necked sports hoodie and preppy black-framed glasses. Once again I'm not allowed to read her shoulder/upper-back tattoo. I relax there a while with coffee & drinks, Robin and Zeno having been mysteriously delayed in a small country town somewhere south of Bugac. Zsuzsi, Letty, and Bela pick me up from the station cafe in the mid-afternoon. Two questions I get asked while we drive are 1. what do theologians do? and 2. why are some films called spaghetti Westerns?
Here's a wonderful article by Theodore Dalrymple / Anthony Daniels about Marx & Turgenev. He uses the fact that both were born in 1818 and both died in 1883 to make the comparison - how two different yet in some ways similar men both felt about the plight of poor or oppressed people. Everyone should read this.

Recent weblog entries continued:

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

Languages dying out each week - who cares?

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

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

So?

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

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

But so are the 5,000 others.

These are groups of people?

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

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

How could I help?

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

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

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

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

Fewer languages still sounds good to me

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


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

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

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

Scientific value?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Minority languages are a human-rights issue?

One of the most basic.

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

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

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

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

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

Mighty oaks from tiny acorns grow, of course *7

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

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

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

::

Mark Griffith, site administrator / contact at otherlanguages.org

back up to top of page

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

useful:

.languages of the world
.Internet free speech
.weights & measures
.5000 English words
.2000+ Chinese char.s
.persian/english dictionary
.currency rates 1 2 3 4 5

other web diaries:

.a political refugee from the global village
.enigmatic mermaid
.languagehat
.billy
.francis
.samizdata
.patrick
.rainy day
.varangy
.diaries abroad
.hereinside
.samuel pepys
.hasanpix
.ehsan
.cora
.mychronicles
.openbrackets
.whump
.sargasso

also useful:

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

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

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


films

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


...............................................................................................................................................................

October 31st; Friday and properly All Souls' Eve. Esoteric Veronica puzzlingly says again I must learn to hate as well as love. She tells me to check up on March 2005. Handy the archives are online.
October 30th; Thursday. Free speech increasingly under threat. Meanwhile, I am on Tosha's radio show again, but - as we start chatting from midnight - Hallowe'en spirits disrupt the podcast software. Woo. So I'll be on air being interviewed again one week from today, 11pm CET, on November 6th. For the full 90 minutes.

October 29th; Wednesday. Finish reading a book of Ben's, called 'Tyrannosaurus Lex' about strange words and words for kinds of words, by Rod Evans. More of a set of lists than a normal book, this nonetheless contains some verbal gems to satisfy a certain kind of puzzle-hungry youngster. Antigrams, bacronyms, contranyms, chemograms (chemical elements that can be spelled entirely out of the abbreviations for chemical elements), or the lovely retronyms like 'acoustic guitar' or 'rotary phone', that only become necessary once a newer kind of guitar or telephone has been invented. If you enjoy discovering that flameproof is the longest common English word starting and ending with f, typewriter is the longest normal word you can type out with the top row of the QWERTY keyboard, former Libyan leader Muammar Khadafi gets spelled with our alphabet in 112 different ways, or that meet-her-in-the-entry-kiss-her-in-the-buttery is the longest colloquial plant name in English, then this is the book for you. I found two omissions. Among the domunyms (names for people from a place) Cestrians & Liverpudlians are in but the annoying term Mancunian left out (not for lack of space in that chapter). Elsewhere he gives as the only two words in English with y three times syzygy (heavenly bodies being in opposition) and twyndyllyngs (archaic word for twin), apologising for both being rare. Yet polygyny, proper term for the practice of one man having several wives (polygamy is broader), is far more used than either.
October 28th; Tuesday. Read 'GSM Training Material' a set of proprietary introductory notes (protecting sources here of course) made of photocopies I had spiral-bound, for how mobile-phone protocols interlock to enable two-way wireless communication. Lots of diagrams in which chunky grey building blocks, each labelled with 3 or 4 letters, sit in little stacks, explaining how the handovers are negotiated at different levels. Disappointing how engineering, once it touches on computing in any way, at once becomes a lot like local-government bureaucracy. 'Wired' magazine digs in deeper with continuing confusion over what counts as artificial intelligence. In a touching closing paragraph, the author gamely says that AI gourmet programs create unusual food combinations in cooking - this at the end of 30 years in which human chefs have been building lifetime careers coming up with unusual food combinations. Adorable.

October 27th; Monday. Two blank boards lean on a house.
October 26th; Sunday. Quiet continues. I get out of bed so late I'm not going to write here when it was. More successful meditation. Some articles about the ever-irritating many-worlds interpretation in physics. One / two / three.

October 25th; Saturday. Back on Thursday, there was after dark a pause to the day-long drizzle. I went out and the grass had even half-dried in an hour or so of non-rain. Wind was strong and slightly warm. Two ten-foot-tall shrubs alternately thrashed and curtsied before me in the early night, very much dancing in the gale. Indoors I finished today the book kindly lent me by Esoteric Veronica, 'Spiral Dynamics', by Don Edward Beck and Christopher Cowan. They explicitly credit Clare Graves as the originator of the ideas in this ambitious book. It belongs to the relatively new genre of management-science-cult books that seek to explain a new way to organise companies at the same time as proclaiming a grand theory of Everything In History. A bit like Marxism with value for shareholders. It bristles with pseudo-charts, pseudo-diagrams, bullet points, and numbered and lettered subsections. There is Tier 1 and Tier 2, there are coloured sections of the spiral (representing all types of human character and motivation), X and Y situations, the business-degree rubbish never stops. Some typical writing:
"* They are the midwives who preside at the birth of new vMEMES or the rebirth of an older one that has atrophied and needs rejuvenation for the good of the Spiral.
* They often mediate between two conflicting vMEMES by focusing on win:win:win outcomes - The Power of the Third Win - namely, the health of the Spiral.
* They scan for vMEME malignancies that endanger the rest of the Spiral. This includes forces like predatory incursions from ruthless RED, virulent zealotry out of the BLUE vMEME, or the excess of materialist pragmatism that spews out of ORANGE."
Obviously, people who spew out prose like this deserve to be thrashed in the street until they're sobbing for their mothers, but beneath all this pompous management drivel, there's the outline of a plausible set of categories. The initial colours (beige: basic survival, physical needs / purple: tribal solidarity, myths, folk magic / red: brute power, kingship, ambition / blue: rules, higher order, one true faith / orange: pragmatic, cynical, utilitarian) make a kind of sense. However the meaningfulness starts to wear thin with green and yellow and turquoise which I had trouble telling apart. Some mysterious references to a next colour "coral" are dropped in but never justified. The whole system is clever-clever - an alternation between reddish self-centred colours and blueish other-centred colours is laid on top of all sorts of other stuff. The writers emphasise that "lower" points on "The Spiral" are not necessarily inferior to other colours, but at the same time there obviously is a kind of developmental bias, where groups are imagined to progress along or up this spiral somehow. So it is both a diagnostic system and a prescriptive system - often a reliable sign a neat, cool-looking idea is flawed.
October 24th; Friday. Although I feel very well, the strange feverish patch of sweat on the back of my neck keeps reappearing and the oddly intense, almost delirious, dreams continue. Almost every morning now I wake straight out of one of these dreams, jolted into the day. On the topic of poorly-thought-through details, the umbrella kindly lent to me by Esoteric Veronica has a thin strap to keep it furled, closing only when two squares (smaller than postage stamps) of velcro make contact. More velcro could easily have been used to give some choice of where to fix the loop length, but no, there is only one size of loop possible. This loop is too big to keep the umbrella tight, and quickly slides down towards the handle after an hour of carrying, so the furled canopy half puffs out and strains at the leash. Such a simple, obvious oversight spoiling a good product. Putin's & Russia's woes worsen. Julian Assange writes a slightly clunky (a few odd uses of words like 'orthogonal') but interesting article about his meeting with Eric Schmidt of Google. How implicated is Google in US foreign policy?
Rainy & dark all Thursday. Rainy & dark all Friday. Natter with Robin here in the rustic emptiness about lithe lissome sirens and the male agenda.

October 23rd; Thursday. Last night left Budapest with Robin, Zsuzsi, & Juci. Finished Lorinc's picture book 'Lomtalanitas a Feherlofia utcaban' ('Rubbish Throwing Out Day in Feherlofia Street') by Pal Bekes & Levente Szabo. A poignant tale of a boy who lives in a Budapest apartment block, and how his neighbour (a retired badger) makes him see life's joys & disappointments differently one rubbish-throwing-out day. Tastefully illustrated in soft browns & orange hues, the whole effect is quite sophisticated. Seems to be available in Russian, among other languages.
October 22nd; Wednesday. London in 6 nifty infographics. Plus those quirky clades.

October 21st; Tuesday. People who succeed early die younger?
October 20th; Monday. Women hate women bosses more than men do.

October 19th; Sunday. Grapple with laptop. Mancini film music.
October 18th; Saturday. Intriguing-looking book about Celtic Europe.

October 17th; Friday. On a crowded bus through Buda between two lessons, I ask a woman politely if I can move past her towards the back. "Are you serious?" she sneers bitterly, resentment welling up as disbelief that I could make such a request. Yes I'm serious, I reply, there's more room down there. Over several stops I inch my way towards the back where a new wave of angry standing women passengers are packing themselves around an empty seat. Strictly speaking this is a curious one-and-a-half-width seat which takes up almost the same width as two single seats but with no divide. Perhaps designed for one monstrously fat person. One thin weary man smelling of drink is sitting there, leaning against the window, leaving plenty of room to his right. I ask the angry women if they would like to sit in the vacant "half-seat" area, wider than anyone's buttocks. "That's not a seat", says one of the women at me, seething. It's obviously a seat, I say calmly. Any of us could clearly fit in it, and there would be more room for the standing people. Ambient hatred of me among the standing women edges up a notch. I squeeze past the standers and sit down, able to suddenly enjoy the spaciousness of the non-seat without even touching the thin weary man smelling of drink. See? I remark to the angry women. Plenty of room. There is space to my left, and I am not overlapping the seat edge on my right. "That's not a seat", repeats the cross woman in the way some women have of never ever admitting they're wrong. Probably they loathed having no choice but to sit next to a man with an alcohol aroma, and in the heat of their indignation felt that no-one else must sit there either. After a while, my asking which stop to get off at accidentally wakes the weary man up. He and a pretty girl with dark hair are the only passengers who can describe clearly exactly which stop I need. The man knows which direction I should go in from there. He is friendly. He explains I must go through a set of underpass tunnels. I get off the bus and descend into the underworld. Tunnels are painted in that shrill-but-tired 1970s orange-cum-pink that throughout Europe signals urban decay, left-wing politics, industrial unemployment. Large, clear signs are placed at corners for stairs to different bus and tram routes, although none mention tram number 1, the most important one. I quickly get out of the warren of tunnels at the right place, however, by following the thin weary man's instructions.
October 16th; Thursday. Confirmation that Nixon (and Kissinger) sabotaged Vietnam peace talks in 1968 to win the presidency. My Apple laptop is sick. Again.

October 15th; Wednesday. More news (from the journal that bites the hand that feeds IT) about ice sheets not quite being time bombs after all: one / two / three.
October 14th; Tuesday. As we get into the car with our bags ready to drive to Vac in intermittent cloud & sun, the chestnut horse Solero is munching grass a few yards away. I step towards it to wish it goodbye. The horse, sensing an opportunity, comes right up to me and buries his whole head in my chest and armpit. He rubs his face against my shirt vigorously to get rid of some flies. That might count as a farewell gesture, I suppose. During the drive across country, I talk - at perhaps a bit too much length - about what I take to be the Romantic mistake in seeking the forgotten spiritual at the interface between the mind and the body, somewhere in the dark, visceral labyrinth of the Gothic Novel. Tasty lunch in the country town of Vac, a little up the Danube north of Budapest, at a restaurant with outdoor tables softly playing what a previous generation might have called testcard music. Later we enter a bathroom-fittings showroom in Obuda with background music slightly jazzier & more ...Latin? The showroom has lots and lots of bath taps & wall tiles.

October 13th; Monday. I finish Laura's copy of 'Divergent', a novel by Veronica Roth (that link contains plot spoilers if you read too much). Like the Hunger Games books another of my students lent me last year, this is a dystopian story aimed at young adults set in a post-apocalyptic version of the USA. In this case it's a crumbling metropolis (roughly based on Chicago) seemingly half a century or so into the future. Or perhaps an alternative version of the present. Society in the future is divided into five big tribes or "factions" with clearly-defined lifestyles & missions, and all 16-year-olds must decide whether to stay in the faction their family brought them up in, or whether to change faction and be almost completely cut off from their family. A parable of growing up, complete with the familiar US teenage horrors of fitting into cliques, being popular etc, combined with the never-ending American adult ache for identity, roots, a lineage, a code to live by. Although in parts it had the slightly stripped-down feel of a video game, the page-turning effect works. Moralistic and surprising without being too cloying. Of course words like Erudite or Abnegation or Amity (names of factions) count as exotic language for most of the target readers, so they function here a bit like Burgess's Russian-based street slang phrases in Clockwork Orange. Apparently this novel was written on a creative-writing course, which is interesting to know.
October 12th; Sunday. Robin sits at an outdoor table sipping warm milky coffee nearby while I try out the trampoline, chatting with him about meditation. My chunky glass of cold black coffee is between us on the wooden bench. Solero the horse wanders up, bends his head over the back of the wooden bench, and starts trying to fit his nose and mouth into my tumbler of cold coffee, not knocking it over, but sliding it around on the wooden bench. He is clearly very interested by the scent of the coffee. Robin tells him several times to stop it and finally the horse reluctantly agrees to leave my drink alone.

October 11th; Saturday. I take a train to Kuszentmarton after dark, and since part of the track is up, we are decanted off the train and onto a bus for a 15-minute ride, and then back onto the train. Hungarians handle this sort of thing rather well in general, with big clear notices, lots of people in uniforms standing around directing passengers, and surprising amounts of common sense.
October 10th; Friday. Kirigami, or paper cut-out doilies, as clothing.

October 9th; Thursday. More of the interesting rumours swirling around since Hockney's interesting book again suggesting that Renaissance painters used either early photography or quasi-photographic tools, hundreds of years before Niepce finally fixed light-sensitive chemicals in the 1830s. Recalling young Lorinc's striking dream from a fortnight back that he and a tiger playmate in a jungle discovered a hanging rope, went up it and found themselves in a higher desert where Lorinc had to play the piano for an audience.
October 8th; Wednesday. Occasional tantalising flashbacks of warm sunny weather. Expensive engagement rings predict divorce - is that good news or bad?

October 7th; Tuesday. More of this trend where you're guilty until you prove yourself innocent.
October 6th; Monday. Read an old exhibition catalogue, beautifully illustrated, in Robin's library, for a 1985 Tate Gallery retrospective of the paintings of 'Francis Bacon'. The essays inside about Bacon's working method, his influences, and his artistic obsessions are well-expressed without getting entirely to the core of Bacon's ghastly on-canvas chamber of horrors. Not quite expressionist, not quite portraitist, Bacon's sitters hover somewhere between abstraction and the figurative, surrounded by flat blocks of house paint, smeared or scratched oils, and cloud trails of aerosol spray-on colour. Inspired (as the critics mention in this catalogue) by an awful line from the Greek playwright Aeschylus about a "smile that reeked of blood", Bacon's figures almost decompose into suffering blobs with open wounds instead of faces. He is fascinated by the glistening shine of spittle. For me they always seemed a mixture of the slightly puerile shock/horror side to British avant-garde you see in film-makers like Peter Greenaway or the 1960s playwrights set loose by the removal of the Lord Chancellor's right to censor stage plays, and something else more important. Bacon is struggling to cut a path between the abstract & the figure, and the difficulty he has doing so is testament to how dehumanising the background effect of abstract painting had already become, how removed from most viewers' sympathy and respect was the painted person by the 1940s. Bacon tries to steer clear of the main currents of 20th-century art, tries to do something alone, entirely his own, with post-Cubist, post-Expressionist, post-Surreal depiction, and what he finds left in this bleached-out artistic space is pretty desolate.

October 5th; Quiet Sunday. Tunelet.
October 4th; Saturday. Under white, cloudy skies take train to Kecskemet. Zsuzsi & Letty pick me up from the station. Later Robin photographs the front page of the magazine carrying my latest article.

October 3rd; Friday. A 2-hour conversation lesson spans universal consciousness and bullion, which I chirpily suggest is made of moonbeams & sunbeams held hostage in dungeons.
October 2nd; Thursday. Start groundwork for the #purewater project.

October 1st; Wednesday. Spend whole day sleeping on sofa, dreaming strange bacterial dreams: feverishly vivid, yet oddly mundane in content. Speaking of the inner world of bodies, hormones, and overwhelming moods, here's a guide to women's cycles based on peer-reviewed studies, but with nicely laid-out visuals.

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