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July 1st; Wednesday. Now that no-one in Britain says "it's all gone Pete Tong" any more, time to play It's All Gone Pete Tong.

June 30th; Tuesday. Marco informs me via Facebook there's a brand of chalk that maths lecturers apparently love. Meanwhile, back in my glamorous libertine life sticking some bits of cardboard together, as you do, reminded me how the oafs at this Hungarian glue company deserve a mention for their poor design passed off on children. Soft squidgy plastic bottle has a tendency to pop the dispenser right off blurping half the glue contents onto whatever you're working on. Akos & I work out during a lesson several ways we could cut screw threads onto the barrel of a bolt if we had to.
June 29th; Monday. Amazon are now paying their machine-book-writing serfs by page turned, Kathleen tells me. Here is a nice map of how many people are still living with Mummy & Daddy in their early 30s across Europe. And while we're at it, time to defend the idea of angels, spotted by Kerrie.

June 28th; Sunday. Soothing mix: 'Loop of Love' from Dr Heinz Funkenpumpe, who warns "None of the tracks on this channel are for sale or onward distribution as Dr Heinz does not support dastardly acts of commercial piracy." Well said, sir.
June 27th; Saturday. Read another fascinating design book - this time on architecture. 'Down to Earth' by Jean Dethier is the slightly smirksome English title of a Pompidou Centre exhibition catalogue from 1981 about the continuing and often overlooked tradition of building large structures out of packed dirt. The original French title was the more sensible 'Des Architectures de Terre' and the translation into English was by Ruth Eaton. Several photographs are lovely in their own right, and the sensuous qualities of building in mud are captured well. Some of the buildings are stronger and taller than I'd imagined was possible in unfired earth. One 19th-century building of seven storeys (an apartment block like any other, at first glance) in a town close to Frankfurt, Germany, made of nothing but packed soil was still in perfect condition at the turn of the 1980s according to this book-length catalogue. Small additions of cement, like 2 or 3%, can create a composite material that is still essentially packed earth, but much more stable. Sometimes very intricately-decorated buildings using a conventional, even neo-classical style look just as though made of masonry, cement, or fired bricks. The two methods are 'adobe' (assembly from sun-dried earth bricks or blocks) and 'pise' (use of boards under pressure to pack earth walls in situ until hard and smooth). Two French architects seem to have taken the lead in repopularising earth construction in late-18th and early-19th century Europe, just when the old traditions were falling most into contempt as primitive outmoded peasant methods. Of course it is sturdy, uses local materials, simple to do, very cheap, and easy to mend. In some areas with heavy rain an impermeable foundation layer of fired brick under the first layer of unfired earth is needed, along with perhaps projecting roof tiles, but otherwise thick walls of packed soil are particularly well adapted for tropical regions, where they keep buildings cool in the heat of the summer and warm in the cold of winter or the desert night. Vaguely aware of these surprisingly robust structures, I've been having odd visions in my head of thick-walled African palaces of smooth, dense, elaborately decorated facades of solid dirt for a few years now. So it was time to read this.

June 26th; Friday. Over the last week there was the gust of breeze in the bathroom one Monday night (while I was watching a video of some fake telekinesis) that smashed a glass jar into tiny smithereens on the tiled floor I walk on in bare feet (picking all these up with great care took half an hour or so), several days of drilling in the wall or ceiling from a flat above, and separate cafe chats with Henry & Troy involving puppies, smartphones, espresso coffees, and sunshine. The drill in the wall of a nearby flat sounds sometimes like a dentist's drill inside a giant mouth, and sometimes like the noise of a wolf-sized bluebottle trapped in a wardrobe. I've started to imagine a flat somewhere in this white-walled modernist block where one wall is completely encrusted with pictures, hooks, and coathangers, cluttered & jumbled on top of each other like a voodoo shrine. Meanwhile, a design student has made a tap that sprays water in pretty patterns.
June 25th; Thursday. Finish a book of Robin's called 'The Green Imperative' by Victor Papanek. Seems like a lifetime ago I read Papanek's book 'Design for the Real World' as a schoolboy: I suppose it is. Still the tantalising mix of good taste, human-scale ethics, green-catastrophist evangelism, fascinating anecdotes and examples of industrial design, and musings on economics from someone who doesn't quite get how trade works. In a way, I wish someone had sent the adult, sceptical Papanek on a good economics course with sophisticated teachers - it might have made his insights a lot sharper. There are a couple of puzzling sentences suggesting the book wasn't proofread. Rather sweetly, while in places he absolutely sees how the Bauhaus brutalised modern life, in others he seems not at all sure. Check this picture which is apparently "unobtrusive" and not at all "a blot on the landscape": oh goodness. I suppose we must celebrate figures like Papanek for defending natural materials and even decoration sometimes back when so few with modernist status thought to.

June 24th; Wednesday. I have a powerful revelation in a shopping-centre cafe, then chat more about time travel with young Lorinc in his lesson (I hope he hasn't been building anything), and then read two short books for French children by Henri, illustrated by his wife Camelia. Or perhaps they were written to complement Camelia's pictures. 'La petite etoile qui ne savait pas compter 1, 2, 3' & 'Le moulin a vent et le moulin a eau' both strike a note of serious whimsy.
June 23rd; Tuesday. Charming article explains how Google image-recognition software seems to have weird dreams that we can see. They aren't really dreams or thoughts of course, but they do have a dreamlike quality to them. If that gives you eyestrain, here are some yoga eye exercises.

June 22nd; Monday. Back in Abruzzo, Giorgia, who's an architect, kindly introduces me online to her multi-faceted English-speaking friend Marco. Marco has worked on high-speed trading software. He & I agree on a surprising range of things, including flows of cash on financial exchanges. He urges me to read Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, especially his book on 'liquid modernity'.
June 21st; Sunday. Quiet day with Letty, Zsuzsi, and Kasper after the Italians (already homesick for their region last night!) race off back up to Budapest to catch their flight. 6 or so hours later Letty & I also catch a densely packed train back up to the Big Pogacsa, so crowded we have to stand the whole way. I'm wedged up against a crisp-looking girl with a beautifully groomed guinea pig in a travelling box, occasionally snuffling around but mainly quiet, and a brown-eyed lass on the cusp between dishy & decadent who for some reason has her frock half-unzipped at the back so it's right off one shoulder and almost slipping off the other. She's reading the same Spanish course book Eva & Ernesto lent me. // Latest reasonable radio show from the St. Petersburg DJ: #335.

June 20th; Saturday. On Thursday night, joined Robin & Sara for a lovely evening meal in the Budapest flat with Sara's friends Elena & Giorgia. All three Italian signorinas are school friends. We chatted & looked up birth charts. Today I journey by train to Lakitelek for a fine late lunch at Robin's where Giorgia & Elena (codename: Topolina) have been joined by their chum Walid. All four are from what looks like a paradise-like region of central eastern Italy called Abruzzo. Some photos suggest it's almost a miniature Tibet, splendidly isolated and tucked away "in plain sight" as some people say these days. They're all wonderfully cheerful, optimistic, and interested in life. We stay up very late: 2 of their 3 Tarot spreads look remarkable.
June 19th; Friday. Strangely hypnotic, this really belongs on a nightclub ceiling, slowed down about 50%. Yes, all 6 Stars Wars films at once.

June 18th; Thursday. Not only are French girls now (apparently) dyeing their armpit hair, they've started attaching tassels & hair-extensions to them. Do we like?
June 17th; Wednesday. On the subject of anachronistic cartoons (yesterday), here are Tom & Jerry involved in some Hollywood Illuminati nonsense. Genuine or redone? Hard to tell.

June 16th; Tuesday. Back in the Big Pogacsa, the heat has moderated a little. Here's how Scooby Doo's strange bunch of teenage friends would have dressed in (almost) each decade of the 20th century. Always oddly nostalgic, the blended-1950s/60s/70s krypto-Enid-Blyton Californian surfer-dude/beatnik/quasi-hippies here try out costumes from six of the other seven decades. Nice bit of magazine art, though 1900-to-1910 is mysteriously missing.
June 15th; Monday. Drive with Robin & Sara & some furniture back to Budapest. Online Elaine explains the mysteries of London's postcodes.

June 14th; Sunday. Here's a nice little 15-minute chat about whether left-wing people do more or less denying of science than other groups: the thoughtful Jonathan Haidt again. In the countryside, after finding the studio last night buzzing with so many insects that they combined into a kind of wavering shrill chorus fit for a horror movie, I took across a half-bottle of alcohol-and-sugar-laced warm water with the surface tension broken by washing-up liquid. This concoction indeed tempted about a score of them to their doom but the multitudes of others made me decide to relocate to sleep in the library over in the main house. When it's very warm at night, falling asleep is different somehow. More like succumbing to some kind of drug than just dozing off. This evening one of those odd almost silent electrical storms happened. So far away on the Great Plain that there is no sound of thunder, yet wheeling round all the corners of the horizon, without rain, as if Robin's land is a kind of magical zone that storms steer clear of. And though far away enough to be mostly silent, close enough to cut off the internet, make the lights in the house dip & dim, and to create an odd kind of charged alerted thrill just under the skin.
June 13th; Saturday. In Robin's studio transcribing an interview off tape. After some nostalgic Joy Division songs, Sara plays this tune. Interesting reversal. Uplifting.

June 12th; Friday. Mild heat stroke, I think. Three cold baths in one day, but still struggle a bit to pack and get on train to Kunszentmarton. For the first time I change in a small town called Szajol, which has a surprisingly large and new-looking railway station that has no shop or bar where anyone could buy a drink or a sandwich. The train carriage is bathed in sun. Worried about getting off at the right place I ask a large box-shaped passenger how we could be where we seem to be. He replies we are running about 25 minutes late and this is normal. But I reply that when I travel on the other line trains are on time. Yes, he answers with placid friendliness, that line is good. On this line, 25 minutes behind schedule is absolutely standard. Some Hungarians rather enjoy calmly noting the inefficiency around them like this. Robin & Sara meet me at Kunszentmarton. I'm pathetically limp from the warmth of the day.
June 11th; Thursday. More interesting caveats about the global warming consensus we all heard was so rock-certain. Martin, who is passing through town, kindly invites me out to see some contemporary dance. Certainly seems that the less narrative dance gets the more the choreographer becomes vital, as a kind of editor-in-chief.

June 10th; Wednesday. Turns out the well-known fact that more infant boys die than girls is wrong.
June 9th; Tuesday. Yesterday's app chat went well. Hot weather is cranking up. We seem to be in the 100-degrees-Farenheit-by-the-afternoon phase a bit sooner than usual: about 5 or 6 weeks ahead of the traditional Dog Days. Over 80 Farenheit inside my flat, in the shade, at night.

June 8th; Monday. One thing about staying up all night is that you get to hear the dawn chorus. What I never noticed in earlier years was how clearly defined it is. It seems to last about 20 minutes, on and off, like a whole lot of songbirds clocking in for an early shift, or announcing their presence to teacher during morning registration. Before I always felt strangely moved, mildly panicked but also excited to be up that early or that late. The emotional power of the occasion and my sense of being inside my own emotions stopped me from actually taking note of how long it lasts or when it starts: it seemed then to be something I was intermingled with.
June 7th; Sunday. Although I'm grateful for the snail-on-speed watch Lorinc gave me, it has one odd feature that makes it hard to read. The LED number display is recessed behind a oblong slot cut in the image of Mr Snail. This means that shadow around the inner edge of this little shallow box makes the 1 hard to distinguish from the 7, the 6 hard to distinguish from the 8, and so on. Not the biggest problem I've ever had, must be said.

June 6th; Saturday. Strange dreams continue. Well, not exactly strange so much as intense, detailed, not quite mine. Somehow they feel like I've tuned into unfamiliar radio stations. Even when they contain details of my life or memories noticeably mine, it's like they are remakes or cover versions. Pieces of my mind incorporated into someone else's novel.
June 5th; Friday. Over at Robin's new flat enjoy coffee & wine & schnapps with him, his Italian girlfriend Sara, and thoughtful musician Albert, who also wants to visit Portugal. Blast from the past: Here Dalrymple/Daniels is articulate in 1999 on jealousy, violence, & sexual habits.

June 4th; Thursday. Coriander seedlings rise out of their two tiny pots. Neighbouring four mini-pots of basil also getting busy. Boardgame Orsolya mentions a new collaborator in Singapore. Exchange quizzical amused glances with an ex-girlfriend I pass just outside the nearby cinema perhaps yesterday? / More internet-stuff-into-real-stuff news. Meet both Troy (with his puppy Romeo) & Tamas for coffee outdoors in late-afternoon sunshine.
June 3rd; Wednesday. Lovely dinner over at Terri & Alvi's flat. Interesting info about Android in China.

June 2nd; Tuesday. Full moon. The chocolate-science study was a hoax (tee hee)!
June 1st; Monday. Time for more networking, citizens. Pinker here being very diplomatic about Chomsky's political (& linguistic) beliefs.



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


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

May 31st; Sunday. Put seeds into eight miniature pots. Early-1970s Japanese funk.
May 30th; Saturday. Erudite Kerrie shows me a fine Louis MacNiece poem about Heraclitus in the 1930s sitting room. It starts:
- Even the walls are flowing, even the ceiling,
   Nor only in terms of physics; the pictures
Bob on each picture rail like floats on a line
   While the books on the shelves keep reeling...

Meanwhile, here is a short list of Twitter accounts that follow you (or at least me), and then unfollow a few days later once you refollow them. Cunning wheeze! 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12; 13; 14; 15; 16; 17; 18; 19; 20.

May 29th; Friday. Finish a book borrowed from Robin, called 'Soil, Soul, Society' by Satish Kumar. A gorgeously produced hardback, with picture pages of russet-brown on black starting each chapter, and page numbers in the same brown, this has a message so wholesome and good-hearted it seems dreadful to quibble with it. Mr Kumar is clearly a delightful & thoughtful man, admiring Gandhi & Tagore, setting up an ecologically-minded school for children in the south of England, working with and becoming a friend of small-is-beautiful 1970s economist-de-jour E.F. Schumacher, and spending many years editing an ecology magazine, also in Britain. Aside from the more powerful lines quoted from Tagore, the book is rich with Kumar's own slightly bland aphorisms and small earnest verses about mother earth, opening our hearts to others, learning with our hands not only our minds. Hard not to agree with almost all of it in separate pieces. Except that his overarching deep green worldview is full of mistakes, carried over wholesale from the 1970s. Despite his manifest gentleness, this is a perspective still uncritically in the shadow of the 1973 oil crisis, which regards western science and free trade as curses when in fact it is they that have lifted and are still lifting the world's poor out of misery. Kumar thinks minerals are running out when in fact they aren't (no mention of the failure of any of 1970s prophet-of-doom Paul Ehrlich's predictions to come true in the ten-year wager he lost against economist Julian Simon, although the echoes of Ehrlich sound throughout this book - Ehrlich originally said "If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000"). Kumar thinks the number of starving is rocketing when in fact it is shrinking. Population globally is set to top out at around 11 or 12 billion. This is precisely because India & China abandoning socialism in the 1980s increased prosperity, reduced starvation and infant mortality, thereby reduced family sizes. It was this that put the brakes on previously accelerating world population growth. Around page 96 Kumar cheers on Tagore's championing of both India's rural poor and independence from Britain without quite conceding that the forces of progress and freedom in India were largely British, however irritating it might have been to admit that then or now. Elsewhere there is an odd moment where he condemns the west for developing nuclear weapons, then half a page later condemns the west for failing to share nuclear weapons with India, seemingly failing to see any contradiction. Much of this is a kind of revived, hippie-spiritualised William Morris, and nothing wrong with that. I only wish more people took Morris as seriously as this author does. Kumar's idea pursued through several pages of children in schools learning to grow and cook their own food together with teachers is particularly appealing & sensible. However - although we definitely need a revived spiritual sense - his grand vision, his big picture is wrong, and this book is above all else an attempt at a big picture. He likens his trinity of "soil, soul, society" to an improved version of the French Revolution's "liberte, egalite, fraternite" or the American War of Independence slogan of "life, liberty, pursuit of happiness", clearly unaware of the damage both events wrought, or how implicated both revolutions were & are in the things he dislikes (quite rightly) in the modern world. Of course, certain commodities, such as deep-sea fisheries, are being squandered, and widespread inflation clouds attempts to accurately chart scarcity of various resources. But the basic view reiterated with his approving quotation of Gandhi several times that there is not enough for everyone unless we all cut down is not only wrong, but dangerously wrong. It's exactly this grim puritanical pessimism that condemned billions to poverty for decades and at the same time pushed those poor into having the biggest families they could. I'm absolutely with Kumar in his championing of the multiplicity of life: if only he could embrace the multiplicity of life, growth, and human creativity himself.
May 28th; Thursday. Obtain some coriander seed.

May 27th; Wednesday. Latest radio show #331 from Saint Petersburg DJ Waks.
May 26th; Tuesday. Typical music academy scene.

May 25th; Whit Monday. Work all day.
May 24th; Whit Sunday. / Forbes Magazine says new NASA data show polar ice caps aren't receding at all. // Delightfully dotty advice to learn 2 languages at once. /// One of our contributors, Niall Ferguson, discusses how Paul Krugman discusses deficits.

May 23rd; Saturday. Sometimes hot & sunny, then sometimes rains all day: like a minor upgrade on Britain. Working all day on a translation. Seen last few days (perhaps via Elaine) a handy guide to how women fall in love.
May 22nd; Friday. Finish a borrowed copy of a very abridged 100-page pocketbook version of Walter Scott's 'Ivanhoe' intended for foreign learners of English. Nifty little drawings to illustrate terms like 'feather', 'arrow', or 'ladder' seemed odd at first, but I soon got used to them. When someone (Britt-Katrin Keson, to be exact) is cutting the use of big-vocabulary words right to the bone, it's quite hard to keep track of the characters or even follow the plot in places, but I did find myself getting caught up in the story a couple of times. Should be interesting to compare with the real book when I get the chance. A rich tale of derring-do full of touchingly earnest statements of loyalty & allegiance. Scott's attempt to distinguish between those people who are nasty to the old Jew & his beautiful daughter from York (the setting is late 12th-century England, around the time of the Clifford Tower incident), and those who show a sense of decency towards them is interesting. Some of the reconciliation and let's-sort-this-all-out scenes have more than a touch of Famous Five or Scooby Doo in the mood.

May 21st; Thursday. A Scots diarist tracks how Scots government deficits per head compare to rUK (England + Wales + Northern Ireland) per head: a handy chart, and the whole article. For something completely different, here are some people in Germany recording a strange sound they can hear outdoors.
May 20th; Wednesday. Hot on the heels of learning that traces of their children's DNA and their male lovers' DNA often stay within a woman's body, we have this: more evidence that the Weissman sex-cell barrier sometimes gets crossed.

May 19th; Tuesday. Two days ago read a copy of 'The Skin' by French author Albert Barille in the 'How My Body Works' series, kindly lent to me by Lorinc. Barille has a number of characters (The Professor, Globus, Captain Courageous {chief of the white corpuscles}, Ace, Corpo et al) who appear on various pages moving through vastly magnified landscapes of human tissue. For example, "Captain Courageous and Ace are on patrol through the dermis. They're making sure that the Meissner's corpuscles are working properly: are they transmitting all the messages from the skin to the brain?" They're doing this 'making sure' in two hovering bubble-shaped craft floating through a luridly coloured array of yellow, orange, and brown nerve cells. A bit like Inspecteurs de Finance perhaps, cruising through the tangled networks of French commerce casting a beady eye on the details. I was hoping for a tad more information, even given that this is a 23-year-old 28-page picture book for children. Always been curious what children get from these books - I remember reading some a bit like this at that age, and feeling a thrill at the pictures and the knowledge, as well as wondering why they couldn't say just a bit more. A small blue-inked rubber stamp in the front, marked 'Laura' between two lines of blue hearts, suggests Lorinc might have got this a few years ago from another of my students, since they both live on the same street.
May 18th; Monday. Budapest is hot now. A man in the US is tackling homelessness by - wait for it - giving homeless people homes.

May 17th; Sunday. Rather sweet story of a creative classified ad that lasted decades.
May 16th; Saturday. Paul reminds me of a ditty I'd long forgotten: bishop/poet Richard Corbet's farewell to lost Catholic England + pagan vibe. Did 'Old Religion' have 2 meanings here? Probably not, but perhaps fairies were traded in for a Faerie Queen.
Stanza 4 goes:
- Witness those rings and roundelays
   Of theirs, which yet remain,
Were footed in Queen Mary's days
   On many a grassy plain;
But since of late, Elizabeth,
   And later, James came in,
They never danced on any heath
   As when the time hath been.

May 15th; Friday. Latest Lady Waks radio show, #329, a bit mellower than usual.
May 14th; Thursday. I've started using the silly-name duckduckgo search engine. Bow tie a nice touch.

May 13th; Wednesday. Since I obtained some milk thistle and am taking it, I can now tell people I'm "on a liver detox".
May 12th; Tuesday. We drive into town, though when I get home it emerges that software-project-manager Akos is working late again at the office and cannot come to his lesson. The last two Tuesdays we talked about home improvements: he revealed last week that doing work on one house he'd discovered that in most older Hungarian apartment floors the wooden parquet blocks sit on a trellis of wooden strips themselves lying on a two or three-inch-deep bed of slag or cinder granules. He's been living with his girlfriend for several years but 2 weeks ago confirmed they aren't married. "Do you own a lawnmower?" I was suddenly inspired to ask him. He admitted yes, I retorted that in that case he's clearly married, and we laughed.

May 11th; Monday. Go for brief walk outdoors with Zsuzsanna as the wobbling globe of orange sun subsides towards the flat horizon. She gets at least 8 or 9 ticks on her shoes after we walk through long grass, but it seems none want me. I feel undesired. Then we visit Solero her horse in the stables which has swallows flying in and out, wheeling round the chestnut stallion's head, whisking past the ceiling lamp switched on now that dusk is deepening outside. Solero is busy eating hay, but tolerates the two of us joining him in his fence-boarded enclosure. A rough licking sensation of something tasting my elbow alerts me to the presence of two large calves in the next pen, roughly halfway to full cow size. I am introduced to Camilla & Daisy, both of whom are covered in soft white fluffy fur and have expressions which are bovine but still mildly curious. I turn my back on them to have a closer look at the horse (noticing for the first time he was branded with the two digits 10 near the base of the right side of his neck, perceptible as a faintly higher surface, the 1 and 0 digit each about 2 inches from top to bottom). As I stroke the embossed number, a quite loud splashing sound like a water tap's been turned on comes from behind me. "That's right, Camilla, piss in your sister's face," mutters Zsuzsi.
An hour later, another beautiful evening meal. At Robin's instigation, we all have scarves tied over our eyes during the meal so we can experience what near-blind Gio from Rio has to go through. Interestingly, some people become uneasy after a few minutes of seeing only blackness, while others become calmer (Gio & I find the whole thing rather soothing). We learn to carefully pass food round the table by moving our hands along the table edge and negotiating handovers of dishes by touching hands until both people can feel the weight has been properly transferred to the other person. Zsuzsanna takes on the interesting challenge of getting up from the table to prepare everyone's pudding while still blindfolded. Everything happens more slowly of course but what she makes is very tasty. When we take our blindfolds off after about an hour, the colours are intense, and I realise with a shock that I hadn't previously noticed two candles burning on the table during the whole meal.
May 10th; Sunday. For the second night we watch a film in video form suggested by movie buff Constantine. Last night was 'Walk on the Wild Side' (1962) and tonight was 'Bonjour Tristesse' (1958): both with opening credit sequences designed by Saul Bass. Something about the lighting, the intense ice-cream colours of the frocks, and the courteously flippant jolliness in the 1958 film strikes me as incredibly alien now. Earlier in the day, we have as late lunch a wonderful pasta salad, again another lovely meal prepared by Sara & Zsuzsi together. When Sara's mother telephones from Italy (it's Mother's Day in Italy) Sara holds her video phone right inside the bowl so her mama can see how delicious the salad is.

May 9th; Saturday. We all sit under the horse-chestnut tree in Robin's garden, shaded from the sun, drinking tea and munching pastries. We chat with Constantine about school bullying, the French versus the English teenage spirit, what happens when Pax Americana soon runs out of cash, and the unconventional in general. I mention the mysterious medical student (schoolfriend of one of our college gang) studying his degree at a London hospital who drove a black taxi cab he owned up for a surprise visit one day. How he almost persuaded my chums we could all buy a near-scrap-value double-decker bus and do the Cliff Richard Summer Holiday trip across Europe for real. I was all for it, of course.
It seems that on Thursday (votes counted by yesterday morning) Britain's voters replaced a Conservative/Liberal-Democrat coalition by a new Conservative government with an overall majority. I was privately predicting an overall majority of 2 or 3 MPs to friends (though not on here, coward that I am), but the majority turns out to be around 10 MPs. If I had any money, I could have put money on it. Widespread media & pollster predictions that the Tories would fail to get a majority turn out to have overestimated the left-wing vote, just as happened in September with the Scots independence referendum.
May 8th; Friday. Brilliant sunshine streams into the Budapest flat. I wake up from yet more vivid strange dreams, get the chilled laptop out of the fridge, plug it in, and switch it on. It works.
A couple of days ago, rode out of town in Robin's car with him, his Italian girlfriend Sara, and Gio from Rio under the full moon. We have the roof open part of the way, and the cool-but-not-cold breeze after the hot day is intoxicating. Listening to one of his Fields of the Nephilim tapes, the music seems more compelling than any of those old Goth groups has ever struck me as before, sucking us down motorways and country roads. We stop for a coffee at a petrol station. The stubborn passive-aggressive female employee blank-facedly tells me it is impossible to cancel a cash transaction on the till and redo it for a credit card. Without warning, the moon goddess intervenes, my cheerful courtesy vanishes, willpower suddenly stands up inside me, and I find I am saying "Make. It. Happen. Do as I tell you." The girl complies, as of course she should. My companions raise their eyebrows slightly, chuckle, and quietly point out the moon is affecting me. Later that night we ate the spicy dark meat of Robin's free-range Sussex cockerel, which apparently had to be killed as it was too large, too strong, and rogering the hens so powerfully it was hurting them. The dead fowl, rest its soul, tasted superb.
Tonight back on the late train down to the countryside again, changing at Szolnok. Instead of the usual sweaty sprint through a tunnel under 10 empty platforms to change in 5 minutes, things have developed. After ten years it's finally occurred to someone to route the incoming train from Budapest for that 5 minutes on the facing platform right across from the train leaving for Kunszentmarton. Progress!

May 7th; Thursday. Early morning I go up one floor to ask help with my electricity from the vigorous auntie-type lady. She is without her usual train of perky little girl and confused dog, but in good spirits. Sun is pouring in off her balcony from the leafy back garden, tinkling the Feng Shui wind chimes. She shows me her mandala above the door and chortles about how she asks Shiva and Lakshmi for assistance. I explain my electricity problem and the vigorous auntie-type lady swings into action, letting me use her phone to call a couple of firms. A cheerful man comes in the afternoon, flips a small blue button above the door, and all the lights come back on. So the row of black switches didn't work, the other fuses in the corridor fuse cupboard were unaffected, but I hadn't noticed the blue switch above the row of black switches. He establishes that one hob on my cooker is sick and puts blue gaffer tape across that dial, allowing me to use the other hobs. I ask nicely and he fiddles in the fridge. The new bulb I put into the fridge about two years ago comes to life and my fridge is no longer dark inside for the first time since at least 2013. I forget to ask him to look at the strip of ceiling lights not working at one end of the room for about six months. Later in the evening, my laptop suddenly dies and goes dark. I put it in the fridge, as you do.
May 6th; Wednesday. Boardgame Orsolya in esoteric mood tells me that according to how she sees the universal consciousness, everything happens at the best possible time. Around midnight the power to my whole flat fails as I switch on a cooking hob. Flipping fuse switches in my flat, and in the special fuse cupboard at one end of the landing, has no effect. I go to bed by candlelight. Candles sometimes make me think of the real miners' strike, the one in 1972 that helped to bring down a democratically elected British government with electricity power cuts.

May 5th; Tuesday. A list of overlooked children's books which look good. An alternative-history novel which might be fun.
May 4th; Monday. 2 friends are trying to get me to watch this film. Looks a bit like an attempt to crossbreed 'My Dinner With Andre' and 'Primer'.

May 3rd; Sunday. Turns out online friend Elaine has her own weblog. She says my diary here reminds her of this soap manufacturer. Am honoured.
May 2nd; Saturday. Two articles by Adrian about Voltaire with good anecdotes & detail: one about his plays on Islam, the other Voltaire meeting Franklin.

May 1st; Friday. The spring/summer/workers day off closes most shops but I pop over to teach Lorinc and then to meet Boardgame Orsolya, not at the upstairs indoor cafe but at a sort of ice-cream bar outside the shopping mall. Orsolya notes that the pair of escalators we usually take passes on the left, and suggests that's because we meet there for English. Wondering about translating a Hungarian word usually rendered in marketing texts as "herald" we decide to settle on "pre-sell". Vanese recommends an odd physics film which makes several rather tall claims. One is that mass is all about vortices, and another is that the big particle-accelerator experiments of late are actually quite dangerous or irresponsible and the handful of physicists saying this are not the marginalised eccentrics they've been portrayed as. The risk is (goes their story) small but steadily accumlating quantities of super-dense particles called strange quark liquid or strangelets sinking to the earth's core over time risk destroying the world through a kind of runaway black-hole effect or something resembling an "ice-9" effect. Other allegations in the film are that the importance of the Higgs boson was hugely exaggerated to ensure funding, and that particle accelerators are really much more part of the nuclear-weapons and nuclear-power industry than seems at first. Hard to judge claims about such a complex and self-confident field, but interesting to see physicist gurus being portrayed as reckless careerist tinkerers. Another subplot seems to be the simple elegance of Saint Einstein's worldview being betrayed by the likes of Murray Gell-Mann. The whole thing is suspiciously glib about the science of the structure of matter, but has some nice bits of glossy film & graphics.

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