. . . Language stuff

intro page in
English / Euskara / Hollands / Italiano / magyarul / po polsku / Portugues-Brasileiro / Romana / po russki / Svenska / Turkie


dictionaries, translation


other alphabets

non-alphabetic scripts


other links


endangered languages


sign languages




songs and music


dead languages



linguistic philosophy


artificial languages


AI, speech recognition


encryption, steganography


language history




cognitive psychology


mathematical linguistics


animal communication


language list


non-language links

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

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




February 27th; Friday. Computers reading faces. Useful? Creepy?

February 26th; Thursday. Remember how anyone who claimed that 1970s British trade unions & Labour were in the pay of Moscow was treated as a paranoid fool?
February 25th; Wednesday. How the spluttering botanist on the telly Bellamy fell from favour: can you guess? Some of what more innocent times called 'overproduced' music: Sorceress - Treat The Feel (nice cover art) / Gentlemen Thieves - Down / Wilfred Giroux - U Make Me / ZHU - Cocaine Model / Thief - Closer. & a gorgeous little animation of Earth's very own pet asteroid ("second moon") and its funny 'horseshoe' orbit.

February 24th; Tuesday. Still snuffling, bastard bacillus. A doubtless dutiful damsel moans that '50 Shades of Grey' is a bone-idle girl's fantasy of sloth. "Inexplicable"? Only to you, dear.
February 23rd; Monday. Detailed article points out that ISIS/Daesh isn't 'un-Islamic' at all but, as anyone who's ever read the Qur'an already spotted, very Islamic indeed. In separate news, seems it's not just Eastern Europe where greedy gangsters make money scrubbing dyes out of heating fuel.

February 22nd; Sunday. Never a bad moment for some Yeats:
- Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.
February 21st; Saturday. Tantalising glimpses of warm spring weather. Heavy head cold stubbornly continues. This is the best account I've seen yet of the beguiling Monty Hall Problem.

February 20th; Friday. New Greek government gets outwitted, as an interim deal extends the euro-monopoly-money crisis into the summer. Our 2-currency solution addresses the real problem.
February 19th; Thursday. Keeping things weaponised from yesterday, a fascinating thread on Reddit imagining Ancient Rome versus today's US Army. The apparent majority of Britons who would like to be professional writers, take note.

February 18th; Wednesday. Visually striking, even lush, video to a Prodigy tune: albeit banging on at the same old class-hate thing. Perhaps a good moment to mention that Britain might be safer with more guns?
February 17th; Tuesday. All right, time to explain how the #Greekdebt problem can be solved. As currently set up, this is a stalemate, since ejecting the Hellenes from the euro will cost their creditors, but them being forgiven with easier repayment terms is also not going to work since the other countries (Italy, Spain, Portugal) hurting from the stupid euro experiment will demand the same easy terms. So this cannot happen either. As some of us were pointing out decades ago, the #eurozone needs an exit process and was always a dumb idea anyway, exit process or no. Right now, if Athens relaunches the drachma, the main point of doing this - to enable it to have a soft currency that helps the country export - will make its euro-denominated debt nigh impossible to repay. So in fact what #Greece should do is launch a deliberately soft domestic currency that has demurrage (depreciating scrip is the jargon term) which can be used to reflate domestic demand without sucking in imports. At the same time it should keep a 2nd currency (either the #euro or a new #drachma) very hard. This hard 2nd currency will be good for repaying debt and purchasing high-tech investment goods, while the unconvertible depreciating scrip revives internal trade. That's the rarely-trodden path which has to be taken. Anyone who wants more details, citizens, can buy me lunch. Ask really nicely you even get a presentation.
Here's a neat technical overview of 40 years of commodity prices from zero hedge's 'Tyler Durden'. Incidentally "he" is one of the 20+ star contributors to our book on the economic crisis. Meanwhile, the Crimea seems to be suffering from its blockade, despite extra cash from Moscow.

February 16th; Monday. Back into Budapest. My 2 new herbs seem in good spirits after their first weekend of dim winter daylight. Latest Lady Waks radio show, number 318, quite good (a couple of quick breaks at 18 and 19 minutes). Backless dress pushing the backless envelope a bit. Engineers are more likely to become terrorists, but we knew that already didn't we? And here's a loving wife to reckon with. "He's just like me ... I love his butt."
February 15th; Sunday. Yesterday, Robin was host to Zeno, Akos, & Laszlo and we all lunched together. Laszlo underlines his spiritual view of humankind, and how he and his Szekely wife are bringing up 3 children without television or internet. Found a book of Robin's lying around yesterday, 'Tristes Tropiques' (Sad Tropics) by Levi-Strauss translated into English. Today started reading it as dusk slowly darkened sitting room - some lovely evocative writing which I wasn't expecting. Earlier today at lunch Zsuzsi & Letty slightly shocked I don't tolerate women packing heat.

February 14th; Valentine's Day. 2 Hungarian blokes glumly compare notes on irritating sexy chick: pop video trope. Middle-class version / Proletarian version. Also black with white filmings, please to notice energy-drink motif at both musics.
February 13th; Friday. Robin narrates his week in Greece as we speed down the motorway after dark munching biscuits and tangerines.

February 12th; Thursday. A man can be too handsome or rich, eh? So that's the problem. If wit affects number of partners among the fairer sex, wealth & nutrition affects taste in what those partners look like.
February 11th; Wednesday. My students are melting away like people-shaped ice chunks bobbing about in warm cocktails. Partly because the whole country goes skiing round about now. Now you can have convincing pseudo-sunlight at home, might improve Denmark a bit.

February 10th; Tuesday. I miss the long-format writing of American magazines sometimes, but it can also be annoying. Take this (relatively) brief update about the death of the loner who inspired the film 'Into The Wild' here. Not a word (or even sign of awareness) of the hermit in the wilderness as symbolic hero of American fantasy. Meanwhile, consider these pompous plodding bits of verse.
February 9th; Monday. Visit Lajos in his tiny orange-curtained kitchen.

February 8th; Sunday. Read a book borrowed from Lorinc, called 'A Girl Called Madonna' by Peter Robinson. It's a clever idea I should have had the idea of publishing. Sold as a small hardback reading text for children with each picture facing a page with only 2 or 3 sentences, it is in fact a naughty tease aimed at adults. Madge sings a song about being kissed for the first time (although she has already kissed lots of people!), drinks a special magic potion to become more English, and makes some "rubbish films". From a website and publisher called 'popjustice'.
February 7th; Saturday. All the usual: Russian media mentioning the Saudi/Al-Qaeda connection; Oxfam's wealth-inequality stats need some nuancing (who would have thought such a thing?!); Argentina seems to have a scandal that deserves to win an award - recently dead prosecuting magistrate was preparing a case against the president; the 1930s Depression was actually caused by too much government intervention, not too little.

February 6th; Friday. Life is truly strange, citizens. Beneath our feet: a guide to physical internet infrastructure in New York, and some dead-letterbox memory sticks scattered across the same town.
February 5th; Thursday. Steven K pops over for a coffee. Here's an interesting interview about Teilhard de Chardin and his noosphere idea.

February 4th; Wednesday. The mystery deepens.
February 3rd; Tuesday. Drab weather continues. Space-diplomat eye shadow.

February 2nd; Monday. Seems films are getting increasingly orange and blue.
February 1st; Sunday. From Vladislav: big band goes hepcat. From nowhere in particular: 'On Blue Mountain' by Foxygen.

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

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


.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
.rainy day
.diaries abroad
.samuel pepys

also useful:

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


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


January 31st; Saturday. Greek crisis, Greek crisis, how Greeks see themselves.
January 30th; Friday. Driving south with Robin after dark again, heavy rainy, snowy weather nonsense again. Seems the send-your-enemies-glitter thing was a clever publicity stunt. Whereas this lawyer's colouring book could use a bit of glitter.

January 29th; Thursday. Bits of snow & rain. Meet Steven K & his friend Joe for an uplifting coffee. Here are Barbour and a couple of others in short 9-minute snatches tackling the question "What is time?" Barbour / Huw Price / Polkinghorne / Albrecht.
January 28th; Wednesday. BitCoin meeting in the Anker bar with Niall, Troy, Alex, Felix, Marton, Tamas, Miklos, Gabor, and other fine folk.

January 27th; Tuesday. Return to Budapest. Meet Troy for coffee. Sunday's election of a new populist party to govern debt-stricken Greece is causing great excitement.
January 26th; Monday. Weather still cloudy, chilly, muddy. Composer? Pasta?

January 25th; Sunday. Robin & I drive to Csongrad for a late lunch with Balla. We take the long route to avoid the ferry because all my phone calls between 11am and 12 noon to the ferry service go unanswered, activating no message machine, voicemail, or person. Once in Csongrad we briefly visit the other side of the river Tisza to see if there is a notice board at the ferry dock, only to find it is operating after all. I shout to the ferry as it pulls out, asking why they don't bother with a telephone message machine. One of the two ferrymen angrily shouts back at me to get away from the wire winch as the ferry pulls away from this shore into the river mist veiling the woods on the far bank. At Balla's house, as dark starts to fall, we inspect the paper-making equipment he installed this last year in his shed and the thick, fibrous paper he's been making with it. Then we enjoy venison stew with red wine by his warm tiled stove, chatting about politics & history.
January 24th; Saturday. Robin off in the rainy, muddy afternoon, playing squash with Letty at a club in a neighbouring town. Alone in the house I watch the long slow fade into dusk without switching on any lights inside, a rare pleasure. The Waks radio show #249 has a lighter, more lyrical feel to it - probably because a male guest DJ is there, softening her hard edges.

January 23rd; Friday. Esoteric Veronica is most insistent I should see a Tarot-reader she recommends in Szentendre. The office block on the corner still stands empty with black-tape crosses in most of the ground-floor windows, but for at least a month there has been a smart-looking finished office lobby in one section where a fat security guard keeps his glum lonely vigil round the clock. Rains in a dismal, half-hearted way all day. In the evening Robin arrives after dark and we drive down south in what is by now quite heavy rain.
January 22nd; Thursday. Nifty map plots different cultures in 2D space. Looks vaguely unfinished (though I thought this had been around a few years). The dark green zone seems to have no label, a couple of countries misspelled, but there are fascinating bits. Poland's Catholic version of the Danzig Corridor, for example, and the curious pairings, like Uruguay & Northern Ireland - or Romania & Iraq.

January 21st; Wednesday. 2 security pieces: stealing fingerprints from photos & implanting false memories to create false confessions. Have an intriguing lesson with young Lorinc where he shows me round his complex of buildings he's constructed in Minecraft - I love the boxy clouds, like chunky white square jigsaw pieces hovering above. Then to Boardgame Orsolya, where next to the little paddock of fenced-in cafe tables in the middle of the floor of the shopping centre the Happy Box wrapping-paper store has vanished. At Christmas still a free-standing cuboid mini-shop out by the cafe tables, now just an empty expanse of tiled floor beside us, creating a slightly chilly mood of emptiness and isolation. As if the fake-packaging kit-assembly pseudo-shop inside the mega-mall had never been: tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis.
January 20th; Tuesday. They couldn't make films with titles like 'Lizard In a Woman's Skin' for much longer: everyone started to take everything literally quite soon after. Such as in the crass TV show 'V' just a decade later. Sexy Samantha recommends FKA Twigs, here impersonating Ishtar, Queen of All Heaven, several times over. Having smaller versions of yourself doing the erotic temple dances somehow very Babylonian. Oh and four more radio-on-film sets from Lady Waks, Russian drum-and-bass (or is it 'minimal techno'?) DJ: #292 / #251 / #254 / #245.

January 19th; Monday. Dark gloomy nonsense weather continues. So 2014 was the hottest year on record - or maybe it wasn't. Striking estimate that 1/3 of the CO2 up there has been pumped out since 2000. Intriguing claim that Labour ministers knew in 2005 of global collapse danger coming in 06 or 07, but took no precautions & gave no warnings, quietly hurrying instead to get re-elected before it hit.
January 18th; Sunday. Life at the moment very low-key: rest & recuperation to prepare for my next mission. Delicious burgers with Attila by night. Sad but interesting article on centuries of Crimean & Russian trading in pagan Baltic slaves.

January 17th; Saturday. Someone a few weeks ago described oak as "the parmesan of woods", creating images that stay with me. A cheeseboard with curvy knife, arrayed with several differently shaped chunks of miniature timber, is one. Here's a thought-provoking history of how prewar car firms used public relations & media manipulation to manufacture the idea of jaywalking so as to criminalise & marginalise (geddit?) pedestrians. By the mid-1930s, streets no longer belonged to everyone.
January 16th; Friday. The 'Blue Banana' is actually a thing. A French economic-geography thing.

January 15th; Thursday. Chinese research tricks.
January 14th; Wednesday. Politics x 4: Nordic Paradise nonsense; Il Papa's having us on; East Germans got Sovietised; Venezuela's doomed.

January 13th; Tuesday. Still waking startled from eerily vivid dreams that seem as if they're someone else's. Some look a bit like this.
January 12th; Monday. Bob from Philadelphia reappears after years, and we meet for midday coffee. He confidently predicts Democrat Hillary Clinton will win the 2016 US presidential election, and fairly easily. He explains that the things Mitt Romney had to say to be nominated Republican candidate in 2012 were the same soundbites that killed his chances of being elected president.

January 11th; Sunday. Attend film audition for Casting Kata out past Eastern Railway Station, dusk clouds scudding across a luminous mid-grey sky. Walk round the shopping arcade there on way back. Inside pass one shop whose giant lettering labels it as "Women' Secret", and in another daring use of the grocer's apostrophe a store called "Marc O'Polo" transforms the great Italian traveller into a French Irishman. Mall full of vaguely bored couples wandering around together. Looking in on slightly androgynous Saint Petersburg drum-and-bass DJ Lady Waks again and her sets seem a little tighter than 2 or 3 years ago - perhaps I'm imagining it. There's still usually a ten-minute truck-tyre-machine-shop section at one part. Perhaps those bleaker, more grinding rhythm stretches might have a similar function to the minor-key movement in a symphony: something to move into and then away from to achieve a mood of return & resolution by the end. Still odd to see a radio show on a still camera: literally radio with pictures. Four sets: #305 / #301 / #284 / #269.
January 10th; Saturday. 1) Perhaps talent is genetic after all? 2) How non-voters decide elections; 3) In the wake of Friday's killing of some cartoonists in Paris, more on that Muslim ban on images; 4) And finally a proper news story - astronomers are looking for giant lifeforms which eat entire stars.

January 9th; Friday. Funny that really stylish tattoos are so rare. Or perhaps no stranger than most drawings being dull drawings.
January 8th; Thursday. Genuinely good news: a fresh class of antibiotics. And for those who don't understand that diseases show evolution in action, the Mutating Mice of Madeira.

January 7th; Wednesday. Adorable innovation at KLM, apparently flying again.
January 6th; Tuesday. Budapest is chilly. Review of an odd-sounding fantasy novel.

January 5th; Monday. Gyuri gives me a lift to the railway station in a nearby town. During the drive we chat about tree-pruning & forest-management; he has strong views on excessive pollarding. Quite right too. Last night with Robin & Bela watched 'Pulp Fiction' again after roughly two decades. Interesting to see how much it's dated, from looking so sharp when it was new. 80s film already looks strangely grainy and the lighting seems wrong, but this film, while being crisper & cleaner than 1980s film scenes, struck me as oddly slow & fake. The rooms looked "set-like", and the smart-arse dialogue has aged especially badly in parts. The plot twists are clever still but they play knowingly with conventions that weren't massively interesting in the first place. That might be what Tarantino shrugs off by defensively calling it 'Pulp Fiction'. Although two tough yet honourable characters are changed for the better by the end, their development still seems forced: the aftertaste's nihilistic.
January 4th; Sunday. Blokes dress as tarts to serenade blokeness. Skater-bro stoner dudes make good woeful lack of buzz in bass. Gio from Rio & I walk outside, the frost-stiffened ripples in the lawn like hardened rubber underfoot. We cross the long shadows of sharp low winter sun to the spirits-and-jam hut. He & I join Robin & Lexi the foxhound, all of us watching Lacko demonstrating the still in action. Apricot schnapps was the first batch, and the second batch of mixed fruit is stewing. Quince might be next. Blue toxic methanol already run off, we all sample the mild first run of the second batch, tasting like pleasantly smooth fortified wine rather than spirits. We refuse the two large shaggy white Komondor bitches (widow & daughter of the genial but unhinged late Lupi) access to the hut, so they stay outside to cheerfully bully Lexi by the stack of yet-to-be-used roof tiles. Presumably, Sisi the daughter is bored with ripping chunks of cream-coloured fur out of her mother Domor's buttocks.

January 3rd; Saturday. Tasteful traditional fireplace on the Continent. Useful correction to the Islam-rescued-Western-civilisation fantasy. Houellebecq meanwhile, after being taken to court for "insulting Islam", tries a slightly different tack: thoughtful - even clever - interview.
January 2nd; Friday. New Year engages gears. Rather defeatist, if interesting: a senior doctor urges researchers to stop trying to cure cancer, because it offers "the best death". Also interesting is this article via tech-writer cracker-Jacques - on which frame-refresh speeds look more or less natural to the human eye and why.

January 1st; Thursday. In Robin's rural cell of good living we continue to eat our way through delicacies prepared by the Transylvanians or by Zsuzsi. We drink port, wine, & the local moonshine that Hungarians misdescribe as "fruit brandy", in fact more like fruit vodka - or schnapps. These types of grappa or slivovitz-type firewater range from plum and pear, through walnut or raspberry or cherry, to the fig schnapps Lacko is particularly proud of obtaining. Once the combined jam boiler and home still he built out of local unfired-clay bricks over the last few weeks is up and working, Robin's multilingual household will be consuming its own schnapps. On top of its own eggs, mutton, chicken, duck, veg & fruit, as it already is. Creative collaborations continue, with Gio from Rio & Robin out on frosty muddy walks doing landscape photography most days, while - back indoors - Robin & Zsuzsi discuss the refurbishing town-flat floor tiles and wall colours in painstaking detail.

page top

diary entries by month

December 2014 / November 2014 / October 2014 / September 2014 / August 2014 / July 2014 / June 2014 / May 2014 / April 2014 / March 2014 / February 2014 / January 2014 /

December 2013 / November 2013 / October 2013 / September 2013 / August 2013 / July 2013 / June 2013 / May 2013 / April 2013 / March 2013 / February 2013 / January 2013 /

December 2012 / November 2012 / October 2012 / September 2012 / August 2012 / July 2012 / June 2012 / May 2012 / April 2012 / March 2012 / February 2012 / January 2012 /

December 2011 / November 2011 / October 2011 / September 2011 / August 2011 / July 2011 / June 2011 / May 2011 / April 2011 / March 2011 / February 2011 / January 2011 /

December 2010 / November 2010 / October 2010 / September 2010 / August 2010 / July 2010 / June 2010 / May 2010 / April 2010 / March 2010 / February 2010 / January 2010 /

December 2009 / November 2009 / October 2009 / September 2009 / August 2009 / July 2009 / June 2009 / May 2009 / April 2009 / March 2009 / February 2009 / January 2009 /

December 2008 / November 2008 / October 2008 / September 2008 / August 2008 / July 2008 / June 2008 / May 2008 / April 2008 / March 2008 / February 2008 / January 2008 /

December 2007 / November 2007 / October 2007 / September 2007 / August 2007 / July 2007 / June 2007 / May 2007 / April 2007 / March 2007 / February 2007 / January 2007 /

December 2006 / November 2006 / October 2006 / September 2006 / August 2006 / July 2006 / June 2006 / May 2006 / April 2006 / March 2006 / February 2006 / January 2006 /

December 2005 / November 2005 / October 2005 / September 2005 / August 2005 / July 2005 / June 2005 / May 2005 / April 2005 / March 2005 / February 2005 / January 2005 /

December 2004 / November 2004 / October 2004 / September 2004 / August 2004 / July 2004 / June 2004 / May 2004 / April 2004 / March 2004 / February 2004 / January 2004 /

December 2003 / November 2003 / October 2003 / September 2003 / August 2003 / July 2003 / June 2003 / May 2003 / April 2003 / March 2003 / February 2003 / January 2003 /

December 2002 / November 2002 / October 2002 / September 2002 / August 2002 / July 2002 / May/June 2002