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*1

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linguistic philosophy

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to links pages [1] [2] [3] [4] /

phone texts to Skype = mark-griffith

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


*2


*3

*4
February 13th; Tuesday. Some fairly sane-looking technical predictions in gold.
February 12th; Monday. What might be a good light-hearted Hollywood caper, unless the trailer (using my mother's favourite Sinatra tune) turns out to be all that's good in the film. Sadly can happen.

February 11th; Sunday. Portraitist of Mr Obama also paints proud warrior negresses beheading people against Victorian pub wallpaper. Meanwhile, over in Glasgow, other exciting envelopes are being pushed!
February 10th; Saturday. Finish a curious, intriguing book moments before seeing, in my first cinema outing in many moons, Ildiko Enyedi's 'On Body and Soul' with Film-maker Jessica & her Internations chums. Very good, though a bit puzzled by the Sexy Psychologist subplot. Still think Enyedi's older film 'Simon Magus' is even better. Borrowed from Robin, 'The Fourth Dimension' by C. Howard Hinton is a wonderfully earnest and odd book, packed with lovely line drawings. From 1906, it patiently and carefully explains, in well argued steps, how to thoroughly visualise a 4th spatial dimension. It does this using some small coloured cubes which can be made from cardboard following the book's instructions. A quite difficult read if you don't actually build the models, which I shall have to soon. One chapter digresses to relate this to Kant, and another section suggests some puzzles about electromagnetism are solved if we imagine them as 4-dimensional relations "hiding behind" 3-dimensional perceived reality.

February 9th; Friday. 20-lb rat beings chew through California.
February 8th; Thursday. Over lunch with Zizi, she shows me a review of Gwyneth Paltrow's strange cosmetics brand.

February 7th; Wednesday. High-frequency programs force-retire hedgefunders.
February 6th; Tuesday. Piece with paywall, about how the good old days of the NHS involved experimenting on people without telling them.

February 5th; Monday. 2 good paired book reviews - Wright Brothers & Elon Musk.
February 4th; Sunday. Chinese scientists building ginormous mega-laser thing.

February 3rd; Saturday. The mystery of my blue plastic ice-cube tray continues. One chamber seems to leak, sometimes, but I cannot find even a tiny hole. This chamber which is empty the next day seems to also roam around the tray on different days, to add some excitement.
February 2nd; Friday. Early evening get off the underground train and sit on the bench by the platform for a few minutes. A train comes and goes, and then another arrives. Two late-teenage girls, perhaps 20, of quite normal looks but slender & leggy get off and walk swiftly down the platform. Instead of swerving away from my leg jutting out as they pass me, the nearer girl, without breaking stride, lets her hanging left hand cup the toe of my shoe in her palm, stroking four fingers over it, as the two of them walk past. Both look resolutely ahead. A hundred paces further on they glance over their shoulders back at me to see if they had an effect. Suppose it's now officially pre-spring.
Here is that memo from current US politics. People thought it would show collusion between Trump & the Russians. In fact it seems to show collusion between the Democrats & the Russians.

February 1st; Thursday. Tests of the appeal of high heels. Still not sure they have all the reasons. Some maps to understand Britain. How to read a poisonous book.
January 31st; Wednesday. More evidence Chomsky's wrong. If it wasn't obvious anyway.

January 30th; Tuesday. Might be worth noting this claim mobile-phone radiation is harmful? Still keeping phone-against-ear time to a strict minimum.
January 29th; Monday. Take lunchtime train to Erd, and trek along its quasi-village streets. Warmed by lemon-coloured winter sun I carry my briefcase and a four-foot strip of see-through plastic board across town. I find the firm that imports the see-through boarding (after their helpful closure of their Budapest office) and the man cheerily explains he has no tape measure at work with him today, so he cannot measure the sample I brought in. He asks me to e-mail him the measurements once I am back in Budapest, after quoting a "possible price" for three four-foot boards which is about double what I paid in total for twenty such boards 6 or 7 years ago. I keep forgetting: the customer must always apologise.
Finished Michael's book 'Epicurus: An introduction' by J.M. Rist, and very enjoyable it was. Once you get over the constant switching between discussion of sources and debates over what exactly it was Epicurus argued (unavoidable with much ancient philosophy) an interesting picture emerges. He seems to have been very ambitious intellectually (perhaps an effect of deliberately avoiding politics) and comes over as a curious mix of what we might now call phenomenologist, utilitarian, quietist, empiricist, and hedonist. He asserts that pleasure and ethics are more important than physics, yet also has a theory of the physical world. He attacks the atomists but has an atomic theory of his own. The curious idea that images of distant objects are smaller than the original objects because passage through the air atoms has rubbed away the edges of the image - or somehow deflated them - sounds bizarre now, but might seem saner in the original Greek. The famous "swerving atoms" Epicurus uses to save free will suggestively prefigure Penrose's attempt to save free will in the 1990s with "quantum tubules". The biggest quandry of Epicurus, as Rist gently explains, was to reconcile his rather generous and noble conception of friendship (one of the great topics of life in the view of many philosophers then) with his explicitly hedonistic & self-centred view that we should all aim to be safe, keeping our self protected from harm.

January 28th; Sunday. One of our contributors, 'Tyler Durden', explains how the FBI are now stating that a Russian man in the US, founder of the RT news channel, "beat himself to death in his hotel room."
January 27th; Saturday. Lucid article about 3 eras when "snowball earth" almost froze solid.

January 26th; Friday. Clear piece about the left's racist tradition.
January 25th; Thursday. Lunch with Zizi. Suggest she try Eckhart Tolle.

January 24th; Wednesday. Michael persuades me to stay up late and watch this superb silent film set to a fairly new musical score. His allegation Ken Russell copied lots of it into his much noisier, more cluttered 'Devils' is very convincing.
January 23rd; Tuesday. Georgia a world hotspot for phage therapy?

January 22nd; Monday. Global poverty still falling, global inequality drops.
January 21st; Sunday. Narrator with serious-sounding Northern accent describes Conan Doyle's conflicted views on the supernatural, but leaves out 'The Lost World'.

January 20th; Saturday. Irish woman marries pirate ghost.
January 19th; Friday. Latin American metal bands mapped by population. Meanwhile, Brazilian man lives in sandcastle.

January 18th; Thursday. Cunning scheme to rescue BitCoin from logjam.
January 17th; Wednesday. Oxford exams extended to raise girls' scores in maths.

January 16th; Tuesday. The weak claims against Woody Allen.
January 15th; Monday. Belgium closes its 171-year-old telegram service / MIT researchers bring us glowing trees / Pessemistic claims about Brexit were wrong, economists admit / Labour Party member in Manchester cheerfully says she'd help hang an anti-Corbyn MP from a tree / Film shows GCHQ forcing Guardian staff to destroy hard drives.

January 14th; Sunday. Poignant archeology news: grave of a young child in Siberia from 4,500 years ago discovered, complete with the child's toys.
January 13th; Saturday. Australian bird that deliberately spreads forest fires.

January 12th; Friday. Michael persuades me that some Jacques Brel fits current circumstances. I struggle to recall where I oh so distantly remember him from. Has to be mother again trying to give me, as usual at some weirdly early age like 7 or 8, her mixture of high culture & bohemianism.
January 11th; Thursday. Quite heavy but interesting piece on spiritual darkness.

January 10th; Wednesday. Encryption firm's random numbers from lava lamps.
January 9th; Tuesday. Interesting map of European countries where insulting someone is an offence punished by state prosecution.

January 8th; Monday. After the year's first meeting with Dr D., and a quick midday visit to Robin's just opposite the old secret-police headquarters, go out to IKEA with Film-maker Jessica, where she kindly invites me for lunch at the fabulous canteen they have upstairs that I knew nothing about, serving wonderfully cooked pork and even dead Bambi (not available in most US department-store cafeterias, she assures me). Unfortunately, the lamp she wanted I could have helped carry is out of stock.
January 7th; Sunday. Seven new academic papers predict global cooling.

January 6th; Saturday. British Labour campaign group against expelling antisemitic members expels antisemitic members.
January 5th; Friday. Absent Friend visits and sings praises of the Isle of Wight.

January 4th; Thursday. Hear of Meltdown & Spectre hardware hacks from Michael.
January 3rd; Wednesday. Neglected Italian intellectual someone wants us reading.

January 2nd; Tuesday. Rather disturbing study says we can spot if people grew up poor from their faces in seconds.
January 1st; Monday. Jessica comes over to my scruffy flat to tell me about the spiritual elite of Szeged while I cook her some ghastly pasta dish. She's adorably tactful about whatever it was I put on her plate.



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
.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 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


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


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

December 31st; Sunday. Low-key, quiet celebration of the feast of Szilveszter - or is that Margit?
December 30th; Saturday. Return to Budapest refreshed from another break with Robin on the Great Plain.

December 29th; Friday. I think it is today or yesterday that I wake up, find Robin's house empty, and wander down to see the animals. Outdoors past the ducks, hens, & pigs find Zsuzsa, her friend Juci, and her friend Csaba trying to persuade Zsuzsa's horse, Solero, to behave himself in a large patch of mud. Three of us lean against some haystacks while in turn either Juci or Zsuzsa walk over to the horse and try for ten minutes or so to lead him in a circle. He seems willing to walk widdershins, but clockwise no. Finally, some kind of unspoken compromise is reached and the beast politely agrees to go round in circles both anticlockwise and clockwise.
December 28th; Thursday. Finish Zoe's kind gift - a paperback omnibus of all four books narrated by cynical schoolboy Nigel 'Molesworth', collected from the 1950s Punch magazine column, by Ronald Searle and Geoffrey Willans. Distantly recalled this from some examples in the 1955 Pick of Punch volume my mother had, and I suddenly recognised call signs Molesworth fans had been using years ago to wave at each other. "As any fule kno" suddenly came back to me as something I had seen in at least 4 or 5 articles over the decades, obviously some private joke I was unaware of, likewise "Gaze in miror at yore strange unatural beauty". Zoe says the secret of the difference between St. Trinian's (the violent and sinister girls' school Searle illustrated) and St. Custard's (the bleak, grim boarding school that Willans' Molesworth inhabits and Searle also drew) is that "boys are stoics while girls are fiends". I've been mulling this remark over for a few weeks, and it definitely has something to it. The writing is truly inspired in places in the way it drifts in small-boy fashion between his complaints about the everyday world, his sudden flights of fantasy, and adult interruptions which seem to overwrite his thoughts (or is that Molesworth sneeringly repeating grown-up speech forms?) Hard not to see the central character's name in Sue Townsend's 1980s Adrian Mole diaries as a nod to Willans' hero, and the main protagonist in 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' has a similar juvenile world-weariness - though unlikely to be an imitation. This was much better than those two.

December 27th; Wednesday. Read a book I find in Robin's house - a set of large drawings and odd text musings by Ralph Steadman on Freud, and on 'Sigmund Freud' and jokes in particular. Wrong of me probably to think of Ralph Steadman as the poor man's Ronald Searle. Yet although this picture book has some handsome sketches of 1900 Vienna and Freud with his beard in various mad states of scratchy-pen spikeyness (one senses Steadman's Marx would look almost exactly the same) I think I can safely say Steadman has never really been funny. His drawings, when they're enjoyable, are something more like interestingly vicious. While Searle often drew pictures of bullies and people being bullied, Steadman seems to just directly bully whoever or whatever he draws. He's drawn to Freud's thoughts on jokes, and quotes him at length in a few parts of the book. The overall result is refreshingly different, but still doesn't quite work.
December 26th; Boxing Day, Tuesday. Robin, Jessica, and I watch the 1971 film 'Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory'. I'd never seen either version. Am startled by the closing scene bringing back memories from a small hotel in Blackpool where, aged 4 or 5, I drew a comic strip in which a rising lift bursts out of the top of a building.

December 25th; Christmas Day. We watch Christopher Nolan's '2nd Batman movie' at the suggestion of Jessica, who points out with her film-maker's eye what she believes to be the single best shot of the film, one towards the end where Nolan turns the sound down to silence for 5 or 6 seconds. In terms of dialogue & character, the centre of interest in the film is definitely Heath Ledger's Joker.
December 24th; Christmas Eve. Jessica urges us to watch Christopher Nolan's mind-probing sci-fi movie 'Inception'. This involves multiple levels of someone's mind (a dream within a dream within a dream). This clearly owes a debt to the dream theory of the fictitious guru 'Don Juan' in Carlos Castaneda's books. Leo de Caprio and his team in 'Inception' do very much what Jake was hoping to accomplish with the dream group he recruited us for 15 years ago.

December 23rd; Saturday. After driving into the desolate emptiness of the Great Plain on Saturday evening, by about 3am on Sunday morning Robin & I stand in the small building with the summer kitchen on his farm, both our arms filled with bedding. This is in the small low-ceilinged bedroom where Marika neni and later on Lacko & Joli used to sleep. With a spare couple of fingers he is also smoking his second roll-up of the evening. I'm saying it seems fine (his studio where I usually sleep has no electric light for some reason). After around four seconds we both realise at about the same moment that the summer-kitchen bedroom (in fact entire building) is filled with the overpowering aroma of three dozen five-foot-long freshly spiced macrosausages hanging over a horizontal broomstick near the window. Robin declares it unsuitable, predicting I will have nightmares about giant man-eating cold-cuts, so we walk across to the barn-sized studio with the bedding, plumping for the candle option. I prepare for bed up on the sofa in the gallery space with five huge butter-coloured candles flickering in an arc around my pillow-to-be, like a Satanic scene in a 70s or 80s film.
December 22nd; Friday. British diplomats predict a Trump victory in 2020. Jerusalem recognition problem all fault of Obama, says German newspaper. Article (in castellano) about a Spanish woman economist surveying lawyers, finding women lawyers get promoted less because they're less ambitious and work shorter hours.

December 21st; Thursday. A Briton cements head to microwave oven.
December 20th; Wednesday. Back at Hallowe'en, some stag-partying British men disguise themselves as traffic cones so as to randomly stop traffic.

December 19th; Tuesday. Interesting piece corrects more than a century of romantic myths about hunter-gatherers. Anthropologists still searching for Montaigne's Noble Savage, plainly.
December 18th; Monday. Two different anti-immigrant, Brussels-sceptic parties form Austria's new government. Bermuda becomes the first state in the world to allow same-sex marriage and then ban it again inside a single year (in fact 7 months). Last of all, the wonderfully-named Galen Strawson (son of PF, no less) dismisses the strangeness of consciousness with bright-eyed breeziness. While many scientists think that by explaining something they've explained away any puzzle about it, if our Galen is anything to go by, Oxford philosophers still think the opposite - that explaining something away is explaining it.

December 17th; Sunday. Today's goodness-gracious articles: 1) British engineers send broadband over wet string to see if they can; 2) Smart women in Victorian/Edwardian London had special clubs for smoking hash; 3) There is now a suit you can wear that turns your body heat into cryptocurrency; 4) A man in western England for several hours refuses to leave the hole he has dug in his garden.
December 16th; Saturday. About a fortnight ago saw two engineers overseeing the hanging of giant decorations in the main atrium of the nearby shopping centre as I walked through. This year, a nice antique touch is given by two symbolic gift symbols dangling in this space - a wooden rocking horse and a giant walking-stick-shaped rod of red-and-white-striped candy - both of which instantly say Christmas (or at least Xmas) and yet are unlikely to be given to a single child in Budapest in 2017. Under these dangling objects is a stretch of fake green turf and a sort of playzone for small infants policed by girls in their twenties dressed as Santa's helpers. Their costume is a shiny green satin frock coat with red piping, and red-and-white-striped stockings, presumably to match with the candy walking sticks. The zone is designated optimistically in big signs as "Chocolate Land". All this seemed closely designed but something went slightly wrong with casting. One might expect pixie-type girls notable for winsome curls and perhaps red-cheeked jolliness. They got the pert petite damsel bit right, but the first day's shift of happy fairies in the chocolate forest was crewed entirely by sex-witch brunettes with hangovers. Not clear if weary mothers hesitated to park their toddler with a bunch of sly-looking mascaraed minxes, but these things happen. Over subsequent days, the ratio of sweet-and-smiley teacher-type girls in the pixie patrol gradually increased, so perhaps management responds well to ongoing feedback.

December 15th; Friday. The Church of England appears to have rather mishandled a child-abuse allegation against a dead bishop.
December 14th; Thursday. Poignant image of heroic prewar futurism: the rooftop testing race track Fiat's Agnelli put at the top of a helical production line spiralling up inside the factory building in Turin.

December 13th; Wednesday. At the gym, the slender girl with the blood-sugar catheter pointedly looks straight past me on every occasion as if I'm not there, while her friend the small lithe redhead behind the counter glares at me from under an angry brow. Suppose I should be flattered (*rolls eyes*).
Here's an interesting piece about the academic background to feminism.
December 12th; Tuesday. Some 2018 financial predictions, cleverly disowned as "outrageous".

December 11th; Monday. During long multi-topic chat over coffee & tea, cheerful Jessica shows me her copy of a how-to-control-men book, jauntily titled 'The Power of The Pussy'.
December 10th; Sunday. Meet Zoe & Mark at a restaurant for seasonal good cheer & groaning board. Our discussion touches on France's secret 1950s request for political union with Britain. This was before the Treaty of Rome in 1957, whose cover story was preventing another war - although in fact intended to create a currency much stronger than sterling was at Suez in 1956, so as to facilitate new wars.

December 9th; Saturday Science! Interesting botany piece about complex ancient trees. Sensible American neatly skewers metric measures. Someone argues that work on quantum artificial life is already underway, albeit without tackling The Fishtank Problem. And a brand-new optical illusion.
December 8th; Friday. Two interesting articles about the attempted impeachment putsch in progress for a year now in the US against President Honey Monster. Glenn Greenwald points out the media's failings. Someone else praises Greenwald.

December 7th; Thursday. Hallowe'en offer still open of demonic Kentish gin. Haunted apples cursed by a friendly local witch.
December 6th; Wednesday. Wait for a student inside the 'Economics University', standing outside the new library, looking into a brightly-lit classroom through a slanting wall of glass. In the room a slim bearded man in a lilac button-up shirt is lecturing to 3 students. He's giving a slide show. For ten minutes as I wait, the slide on the screen has English headline 'Word Processors vs Document Preparation Systems (2)'. Just before my student arrives, the slide switches (back?) to 'Word Processors vs Document Preparation Systems (1)'. A wave of compassion for those 3 students washes over me.

December 5th; Tuesday. Wake, very cheerful, out of a detailed dream in which I was happily wandering around in some large park in England in sunshine, encountering a large yellow-wood set of doors, cathedral size, not fixed properly to the doorway they're in. I move them bodily aside and lean them against the doorframe. Then a jovial English woman explains to me that wood from the "burling" tree was used a lot for doors and gates between 1590 and 1980, but was now considered not optimal in buildings. To my surprise, I later find after waking up that it's a real wood word, though not a type of tree.
December 4th; Monday. Spirited rendition of 'I Don't Need No Doctor' by the Chocolate Watchband. Somehow better with that tinny-sounding cheap-studio echo.

December 3rd; Sunday. On the subway escalator I glide past a poster for a show, some kind of operetta or musical, now on at the Erkel Opera House, bearing the name Englebert Humperdinck. As it flashes past, I struggle to imagine the 1960s and 70s crooner alive now and singing on stage in the same borough I live in. This name I recall from listening to my new transistor radio in my bedroom aged 7 some decades ago. Somehow I decided at that date - probably based on his stage name and his singing which (even when I was in single figures) sounded tiresomely old-fashioned - that he must have been around 50 and therefore almost dead. I briefly grapple with the image of him still alive before grasping he might have been only 30ish then. Eastern Europe does appear to be where old pop stars go to die. Then another vague memory stirs of a 19th-century German composer whose name the singer took. He is of course the man referred to on the Christmas operetta poster. Then yet another recollection stirs in the back of my head where I, aged 7, mention Englebert the Leicester-born schlager singer - a sort of rival of Tom Jones - to my mother over breakfast. Whereupon she rolls her eyes at the ceiling, does a tinkly laugh, and tells me the real Englebert Humperdinck was a Victorian Wagnerian composer while of course 'Tom Jones' was an 18th-century novel. Still inside this freshly unearthed memory, I re-engage thoughtfully with my breakfast cereal, munching and mulling over these intriguing revelations of borrowed names spanning centuries. Back in the present, find that - though more likely to be doing Vegas than Budapest's second opera house - the already dated-sounding Englebert I heard on the radio as a child is remarkably still alive. He seems even to have been singing in public quite recently while approaching eighty. A man born just 15 years after that German composer died.
December 2nd; Saturday. Perhaps the most important article seen in months: simulated-society research has ethnocentrics dominating again and again.

December 1st; Friday. Sad article about being a single woman.


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