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November 22nd; Sunday. An online version of one of those art directors' magazines that sit around in the lobbies of ad agencies, counterpointing the disturbing furniture.

November 21st; Saturday. 3 or 4 days ago, landlady asked me to photograph the gas meter, so I snapped it with a copy of that day's newspaper pegged on, as if it was a kidnap victim. That green-papered daily still sits around the flat, taunting me to make it into something papier mache.
November 20th; Friday. Two excellent short films by a slightly overperky science explainer, first about Zipf's Law, and with admirable ambition, the Banach-Tarski Theorem.

November 19th; Thursday. Akos & I have a beer over the road. He explains how futile making a business case for new workflow & testing software is. Nice little animation about another cellular automaton: Langton's ant.
November 18th; Wednesday. Entertaining rant hails the death of some cuisine fad I didn't know was born.

November 17th; Tuesday. Go with Mohammad M. to an evening talk by an English philosopher Tom Stoneham. Stoneham, with a careful sympathetic style, tries to outline a view of his own he calls 'objectualism', with which he hopes to unpick G.E. Moore's claim that distinguishing 'pink' from 'experiencing pink' entails a contradiction. The goal seems to be to do away with 'experiencing pink' as a separate category altogether ("My view is that perception is the paradigm case of consciousness, but that perceiving does not involve a mental state"). Stoneham in his open-necked white shirt is very charming, joking about how empty he feels himself to be when he denies all the rich inner experiences other people believe they have. Going the full distance, the final sentence of his 5-page hand-out slips in that this view (perceiving not involving a mental state) entails dreams being fictitious entities, experiences that none of us in reality have. "The objectualist ---den[ies] that it seemed to the dreaming/hallucinating subject as if F was being perceived: the reports of dreams and hallucinations, however couched in 'seems' and 'as if' qualifiers, are false." Naturally, I ask for clarification afterwards, and Stoneham confirms that yes, he really claims that dreams don't exist as experiences. I ask if he means that we rapidly fabricate a false memory of having experienced a dream narrative in the instant of waking, and he hesitates, looking mildly ill at ease, saying only that there's no evidence we dream at all. This of course means 'evidence' in a sense in which first-person uncorroborated accounts never count as evidence, because I think I woke out of rather vivid dreams every morning this week, but of course have no-one & nothing else to back me up there. I thank him for his clear answer, privately relieved to find another closely-argued view I needn't take seriously. Then a woman academic insists her dog dreams, they chuckle about whether the dog's twitching limbs really show a narrative experience of running, and Stoneham cheerily says "Well if the dog could talk -" to general laughter. Of course, I'm a dog that can talk and my unsupported testimony wasn't good enough a moment earlier, but no worries. Mohammad and I sneak out of the room during final applause in search of another coffee somewhere nearby.
November 16th; Monday. Photo of girl and bit of London everyone wants to live in: wait - is she in front of a backdrop, or is the sky really that dark?

November 15th; Sunday. Two upbeat 1970s party tunes sandwich lotus-eating mantra: It Ain't Fair But It's Fun / Cheeba Cheeba / Thieves in the Funkhouse.
November 14th; Saturday. Tiresome headcold continues. I want to find a way to make bacteria & viruses pay rent. Articulate long-form essay about Russian romance versus perky 45-second monologue (*warning*) about American hedonism. Note sceptical chatshow person with laptop.

November 13th; Friday. Over 100 people killed in Paris by a co-ordinated set of terrorist attacks, apparently Islamist, claimed by Daesh.
November 12th; Thursday. Rumours growing that Apple deliberately slows down old iPhones / Someone Hungarian-sounding might have found how to solve the graph-matching problem in quasi-P-time / Household machines are ganging up on you / Facebook deliberately slack on taking down copyright violations?

November 11th; Wednesday. Forget peak oil supply, are we at peak oil demand?
November 10th; Tuesday. Women use funny deep voices for status? Surely not.

November 9th; Monday. New study: The New Deal prolonged The Great Depression?
November 8th; Sunday. High-IQ Eurocrats have decided that hyperlinks are wicked.

November 7th; Saturday. One article denounces parallel universes as a fantasy, another claims one or more are real enough to be "leaking" into our universe.
November 6th; Friday. Slavering Slavoj explains why Calvinism is the Christian sect he, a Marxist atheist, most approves of.

November 5th; Thursday. Following yesterday's lead, here's + a lush, compelling film trailer. For anyone who likes any of: foggy permafrost, John Hurt, emotional drama, mysterious distant planets, or meticulous close-ups. How to pull an audience into a story & a character.
November 4th; Wednesday. Antarctic gaining ice. A mini-ice-age?

November 3rd; Tuesday. Online college courses don't suddenly transform us.
November 2nd; Monday. This article says the Palestinian/Israeli problem is really about holy sites.

November 1st; Sunday. Wander over to the graveyard for the usual evening stroll this All Saints' Day. Unlike Hallowe'en-observing countries, Hungarians feel it is tonight that the membrane between this and the next world is thinnest, that tonight is the night of the year when the dead roam abroad and wish to be remembered. Though it isn't too chilly among the candlelit tombstones and mausoleums, I'm still living without style or grace, wearing shoes without socks in cold weather, so I don't spend too long in the misty dusk with the groups of wreath-bearing relatives. A girl tells me one unlabelled mini-temple with giant cement cherubs is in honour of late-19th-century music-hall singer Lujza Blaha. Already a big junction named after her.

Recent weblog entries continued:

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

Languages dying out each week - who cares?

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

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


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

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

But so are the 5,000 others.

These are groups of people?

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

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

How could I help?

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

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

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

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

Fewer languages still sounds good to me

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

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

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

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

Scientific value?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Minority languages are a human-rights issue?

One of the most basic.

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

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

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

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

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

Mighty oaks from tiny acorns grow, of course *7

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

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

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


Mark Griffith, site administrator / contact at otherlanguages.org

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


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

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


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


October 31st; Saturday. Hallowe'en, not as important here in Hungary as their less cartoonish holiday tomorrow, the more solemn Day of the Dead. Striking a suitably eerie, strange-noises-in-the-night note of foreboding, however, here's a detailed article on net neutrality. Surprise, surprise, the telecoms who have to maintain and pay for all the wires & switches the free internet runs on want compensation. Economists are harsh about what they call 'rent seeking' but you can see the telecoms' point. Well, some of us can. I've been telling people the solution for years, but no-one wants to hear it of course. Netflix pays digital ransom to carrier Comcast.

October 30th; Friday. Now it's darker even earlier in the evenings. Super. Interesting article points out how suffragette violence got airbrushed out of history, suggesting that the firebombings & phosphorous attacks make it comparable to other terrorist movements. Meanwhile, Russian submarines seem to be loitering near bits of crucial undersea cable in a calculated bid to rattle the Americans.
October 29th; Thursday. Rheumatology Kata on good form. One of several articles recently noting how the Digital Book Take Over is floundering, as I said 5 years ago it would. Continuing the po-mo theme, two history-tipsy music videos run into one.

October 28th; Wednesday. Clips of video from that Burning Man festival (a Wicker Man reference?) make it look surprisingly like an updated Butlins or Pontins except with more desert: slightly shy white people having fun being a bit silly.
October 27th; Tuesday. I pass the closed-down cafe in the morning, and whereas yesterday it was empty, today it's full of stacked furniture & boxes. By the early evening it has become a sort of ice-cream bar, with everything in place, seemingly open for business. American comedian explains why he hates bats & the countryside & "dark mystery". My dreams are still intense in a new way, as if I'm eavesdropping or going elsewhere.

October 26th; Monday. Art curators home in on the occult.
October 25th; Sunday. Clocks move back, so here is a movie trailer about it. In other time-travel news, a wonderful lecture on how the great Lucretius poem survived into modern times.

October 24th; Saturday. Pop over to see Robin & Sara near Oktogon for a lovely dinner. Wired on black coffee, I burble about the impatient tempo of fidgety Hawaiian cha-cha rhythms in 60s & 70s US spy drama theme tunes (as opposed to more operatic Bond movie music), along with other thrilling topics. Meanwhile, there is really no introducing this next bit, so here is click-o-tron.
October 23rd; Friday. Donald Trump is being hailed as a visionary prophet for "foreseeing the 2001 attacks" and Ilan sends me some video of cattle auctioneers who speak quickly.

October 22nd; Thursday. Apparently in Switzerland foil caps from disposable restaurant cream thingies featuring famous folk such as Hitler or Mussolini are collectors' items.
October 21st; Wednesday. At some point last week, a huge geyser of cold water was jetting up out of the pavement on the corner for a couple of hours. Blasting at least 20 feet up past the ceilings of the first floor (ground floors in older buildings here often have grand high ceilings with upper floors also moderately high) it had created a 2-inch-deep river surging west through the crossroads. Presumably a burst water main, but striking to see how much pressure there was behind it. My memory of Britain is that burst water mains there gurgle up about three inches at most. Another illiberal law aims to control the press in Britain, and here, I suppose, is the sort of thing they might want to restrict. Fake ads mock Kellogs.

October 20th; Tuesday. The week before last the cafe on the corner suddenly closed down. I went in on a Tuesday, I think a fortnight ago today, and was told by the two Afghan brunettes that it was the cafe's last day. Some sudden strangeness meant the owner and landlord (seemingly) had a disagreement on the Friday 3 days earlier, and that was that. The very next day, Wednesday, the premises were stripped of furniture and had men in overalls in there standing around looking at ladders. Notice periods don't seem to carry much weight in Hungary.
October 19th; Monday. Cashiers continue to show astonished delight at my 3-week-old paper wallet. A bit more elaborate than Ilan's elegantly simple single-A4-sheet paper wallet that he remakes every week with fresh paper like a Shinto temple, mine is probably good to hold together for another week I suppose.

October 18th; Sunday. 4 or 5 days ago there was a small drama at the nearby weights gym. A quite cute nymph-like girl in a cutaway black gym top was there toiling away on various machines, beaming with confident smiles to all & sundry, and showing she was with the mild-mannered muscular lad (one of the two owners I think, perhaps brothers) by oh-so-casually wandering behind the reception counter at intervals to mix herself nutrient milk shakes. Two days later I was there again and so was she and so was the possible brother/owner but somehow the mood had changed. Far less of the happy smiling. Finally she was changed into street clothes with her bag and was hovering inside the doorway for a full five minutes, about to leave. She clearly wanted him to go and see her off, say goodbye etc. He snubbed the hint and vaguely waved her away, refusing to move from one machine where he was advising a male lifter on technique. The girl quietly left by herself, visibly crestfallen.
October 17th; Saturday. Lovely breakfast with Annika, over from Sweden. We talk about dreams, films, and islands in the Baltic.

October 16th; Friday. Yesterday Mr Dentist repaired my cracked root-canal cap from only two years ago, finding caries inside, which he kindly ground out before resealing. Meanwhile, something clever for fans of Conway's beautiful 2D universe, The Game of Life, one of the cellular automata that got me all excited just before college. Here's a nifty 90-second film showing how 'Life' can be simulated within 'Life', so to speak.
October 15th; Thursday. Fascinating new theory about Plato.

October 14th; Wednesday. Click here for your Corporate Meeting buzz phrase.
October 13th; Tuesday. US Navy reintroduces sextants.

October 12th; Monday. Group Selection Redux: an evolutionary theorist writes.
October 11th; Sunday. More rain. Our man in Bucharest looks over the scholarship on Mohammad's life.

October 10th; Saturday. Some sage words of caution about wunderkind de jour Elon Musk. Are the man & his miracles overbought?
October 9th; Friday. Very interesting radio interview about people who score well at predicting the future: superforecasters.

October 8th; Thursday. Rainy weather returns. Realised recently some people have never heard of French 1950s and 60s comedian Jacques Tati. Here he is in a short piece of film where he just waits in real time in a waiting room. Of course he is mocking the spare, rectilinear minimalism of the modernist room, about as unwelcoming to people as a space can be. Yet his own mime humour is also quite austere and spartan, so accurately and painstakingly observed that it's no longer really comedy. For comparison, some newer English comedy also so clever as to not actually be funny. But Tati's super-realistic physical wit, somehow both highbrow and lowbrow at the same time, sometimes made people laugh: here, Tati shows TV interviewer Parkinson in 1971 how English policemen direct traffic differently from French policemen.
October 7th; Wednesday. Something slightly eerie on the trams this week. The weather has chilled, and enormous numbers of sleek girls are suddenly everywhere in surprisingly good mood. Hungarians usually sulk when autumn puts an end to their long warm summer, but today it is as if the showing-off section of the fairer sex welcomes the opportunity to change into their winter-weather wardrobe. Or something. Another article about weather & climate - this from a Western Australian researcher who has a plausible explanation for why other models have failed to fit the decade-and-a-half pause in global warming we've seen this century.

October 6th; Tuesday. Britain now has a Dutch-Elm-Disease-proof strain of elm.
October 5th; Monday. Interesting article about Churchill's prewar career in terms of his close friendship with F.E. Smith. A nice overview of several competing weather-prediction models. A disappointing, unimpressive set of illustrations from 1900 of what life would be like in 2000, very much projecting their world forward, with clothing styles virtually unchanged. The idea the future would have small flying machines and helicopters everywhere was common back then: everyone knew they were coming. Mechanised agriculture another obvious thing to expect. The eccentric images of people dancing with underwater creatures at the end show the artist got bored with the task and couldn't even come up with the agreed number of images.

October 4th; Sunday. With almost all shops closed every Sunday since early this year, I've started wondering if this was some kind of apology from Hungary's Peronist government to the small corner shops so damaged by the creation of the tobacco retail monopoly in mid-2013. One of the scruffy but useful 24-hour shops near me had to close within six months of losing the right to sell cigarettes, one of their main staples. Other of the shops which used to be on every block open day and night selling tea, coffee, sugar, cigarettes, alcohol, a few other basics, seem to have disappeared too since the official tobacco outlets arrived. Closing the major supermarkets but not the small stores each Sunday might be an attempt to make up for that. A simple change like losing the all-night corner shops can tip the balance of pros and cons a city offers.
October 3rd; Saturday. Must be about 3 or 4 years now that the Hungarian personal pronouns have been painted in giant crisp-edged sanserif letters on both sides of each leg of the ugly concrete flyover bridge at Nyugati. Each letter is in different pastel colours, and it is quite odd riding the tram under the flyover looking at the huge words for You, We, They, I passing by in ten-foot-high letters. Some artist must have been paid to do it: it's far too slick and symmetrical for graffiti. Further out on the same tram ride, over the river, I now struggle to remember when an ugly 1960s 8-or-9-storey office block, wider than high, was pulled down. At least 2 years ago now I think. It was one of the ministries. The demolition created a huge empty space on one side of the main road, dotted with parked cars but mainly empty yellow gravel & sand going back a deep block to a ragged row of cypress trees hiding some 19th-century buildings. Through the space, that used to be blocked by that dull boxy government office, golden sun pours across that tramline. The effect in the afternoons is wonderful. It completely changes the mood of that district. It makes me wonder what the feeling will be like when most of the jerry-built 20th-century structures in major cities across the world are wiped off the street map to open up similar sunlit spaces. When their puritanical, angry, utilitarian plainness finally gets taken out of the way of surviving older buildings. When someone clears the room to rebuild some of the foolishly removed pre-20th-century houses and boulevards, and allows the creation of newer classical/traditional/vernacular structures. When unembarrassedly decorative, historically literate architecture returns. It's going to be strange, liberating, lyrical when it comes.
I don't think much of this list of names for emotions we don't have names for in English, but one or two strike a chord. No. 2, for example, 'Opia', is one I've been experiencing more of recently out and about in Budapest. Accidentally meeting eyes with someone, looking into the other's soul fleetingly, can be an extraordinary moment. That 'satori' that mother described having once on Deansgate in Manchester was this kind. The predominant emotion on both sides in that quick second of locking glances seems to be a kind of astonished sense of unity: Are we together?

October 2nd; Friday. Three days ago got a haircut and felt a bit bad merely asking for a mere trim when all hands were on deck tending to the more complex haircare needs of two rather glamorous Russian molls. One striking thing about Hungarian versus Slav girls is the different sense of colour. Even when they get it wrong, Slavs like a bright shade or two. One of the Russians was all in body-tight black showing her curves except for a curious cardigan/robe/shawl-thing in the most gorgeous powder blue. I'm not sure it really suited but it was dramatic and it stood out. Her Russian friend was in a frilly body-hugging cream/beige skirt/frock-thing that showed off her curves with no other touch of colour except for suede boots in an almost alarming apple green. Both Russians had some idea of taste, had chosen just one intense thing to stand out, and weren't afraid of colour. Whereas Hungarian girls with those figures tend to wear a low-key mix of browns, greys, white, black, creams - almost as if afraid any bright shade will take attention away from their legginess or slim waists, almost as if colour blind and dressing deliberately to hide it. More likely, the two cultures have different definitions of taste. In the same way that the one time I visited Athens absolutely everyone was wearing either a white shirt with black trousers or black skirt, or a black shirt with black trousers or skirt. That austere monochrome was their idea of good taste. Meanwhile, one writer thinks US politics is changing, while another suggests that people are too dim to make democracy work.
October 1st; Thursday. An intriguing map of Europe in 1500. Apart from France, England, Spain, elsewhere things look rather different to today's continent. A huge Lithuania, a patchwork of small Irish clan kingdoms, a mighty Denmark, and two puzzling territories: 'Hungary Bohemia' versus 'Bohemia Hungary'?

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