Sunshine today could officially be described as "hot". In recognition that
tomorrow is May 1st, everything is shut today. One of those parsimonious tunes
built out of an ultra-deep bass line, high breathy vocals, and a black-and-white
photograph: Sweeter Than
Sweet by Lulu Rouge. English friends recommend this
business portal, which looks rather natty and
comprehensive on the content side. I really should be able to build that kind of
site by now. Must learn to code. So
lazy. Delicious dinner at Marion & Paul's. I manage
to fling one of my cufflinks across the room while re-enacting being stung by a
wasp in Robin's car.
Marion says two of the boys she teaches at school have as parents an Italian porn
actor who married a Hungarian porn actress. She adds that the mother seems,
in the decade+ since this
picture of husband and wife, to have become
even prettier, almost Hepburn-like.
Apparently both lads are very sweet & utterly charming at all times.
Meet Salih for green tea. With Tatiana's help, fusion-book page loads quicker,
and now has space-age
line-drawing instead of colour photo. A few days ago,
Diplomacy game at Jeremy's
(I am Turkey, Austria-Hungary, & Germany). He describes one Christmas years
back on duty at his police station, all the boys in blue playing
Pit, adding it got loud enough the fire
station across the road asked them to keep the noise down.
Lily finds some truly fascinating research: people think more rationally in a 2nd language.
For anyone who didn't know already, Women Prefer Arrogant Men: someone checked.
Still reading Robin's fine book
about the French Revolution. Here's a print of the extraordinary moment called
Court Oath. Due to a misunderstanding, the indignant deputies
of the Third Estate have crowded into an indoor tennis court (now 'Real Tennis', then
'Royal Tennis') on the Versailles complex. They drag in a couple of tables and, agitated,
open debate. It's morning on the 20th of June, 1789. Believing (incorrectly) that Louis XVI
just an hour earlier snubbed them and might even be about to dissolve the session, in
high dudgeon they open what was to be a meeting with the king, but in his absence.
They improvise and make history there and then. Passionate deputies' arms outstretch in
what for us strikingly resemble stiff-armed fascist salutes as they swear jointly, from
their hearts, that they shall be in session wherever they might meet together from then on.
They will assemble wherever they can until a new constitution for France has been created.
However dark the consequences proved to be not long after, hard not to feel the thrill -
just from the picture - of that hour when 576 Frenchmen (out of 577, one man abstained)
reinvented England's Long Parliament. Meanwhile a link from Lily in Oxford, a
remarkably lifelike facial movements and an endearing squint, called Evie. The
element still as dire as ever though. Evie, despite looking like a pleasant young
desk clerk from anywhere in Britain, is all over the place in terms of rational
discussion. Several of my questions she/it completely mismatched ("misunderstood"
would be giving her creators far too much credit, there's nothing approaching
understanding going on in there). All that has changed
since the days of Eliza
in the 1960s is that her coders have put in some more aggressive
tricks for Evie to change the subject when the bot cannot handle the incoming
text strings. I type "What does this mean?
firstname.lastname@example.org" and Evie types & speaks back
"Marry me." Cheeky little hussy.
Moody Sapphic musings from Chinawoman, a sort of torch singer:
I'll Be Your Woman /
A Woman's Touch /
Surveillance State update:
"The NSA Is Lying"
says former NSA official /
New US Law CISPA /
hotly followed by CISPA
Strengthened & Voted Through Ahead of Timetable /
How To Delete Yourself
From The Internet /
Haircut, sunshine, chores in town. Good radio chat on
Skippy little tune from a man letting a woman go:
'Man Of My Word'. Apparently you
need to spell out for a girl that you have standards. Their famed intuition
doesn't detect this, I've noticed.
Update webpage for physics book.
Diverting ten-minute film claims that a smallish but still big dinosaur (a sort
of scaled-down brontosaurus) still thrives in the jungles of Cameroon, central
Africa. Naughtily, the film-makers paste animations of the creature
("mokele imbembe") into re-enactment footage without writing
're-enactment' on the screen, so if you don't pay attention you might think
the creatures have been filmed. They haven't.
Charming idea some might still be around. Professor Challenger lives on.
Green tea with Nationalism Bea, back from
More management-training work with Jeremy. Finally check the
RAF airmen sketches
I've heard about ("Not like Gracie Fields, she mings bad.") Intriguing
effect - not always clear which bits are different from how people talked off
the record in the 1940s, when 'chap' rang closer to today's 'geezer' or 'dude'.
Subtly show that slang changes mostly matter where they reveal changed
attitudes. A few of them do. Also raises the question of
whether British humour is coming full circle from the first RAF pilots comedy
scene. That celebrated moment where Jonathan Miller & Alan Bennett on stage
at the Edinburgh Festival in the late 1950s, and again on television in 1960,
mocked reverence for British wartime bravery just 14 or 15 years before.
Jerry Ganey does Righteous
Brothers song with filmish horn section.
Bogus graph claims reading of books has doubled since the
1940s. Based on lumping together several separate
poorly-designed self-assessment studies of course, with an unremarked 33-year
gap in the middle. Classic misleading chart.
Quite tight animation sync to 'Once I Was The King Of Spain'.
Slightly stressful drive back into Budapest for Robin & Bela to catch a
cross-Continental bus to England. A traffic jam a couple of miles outside Pest
has Georgina jumping out and persuading a lorrydriver to back up about five feet
to let Robin squeeze the car through the gap and off onto a slip road. At the
coach station which we reach with two minutes to spare we park in the central
loop where traffic is banned. Georgina runs in one direction to sweet-talk the
cashier, Robin & Bela set off in another direction with luggage, and I stay
behind with the car to chat to the irate official who turns up to berate me for
being parked there. When I tell him it's not my car and I have no driving
licence, he looks frustrated. Georgina strolls back, gets in, sits behind the
steering wheel, and seems to genuinely not even notice the speechless official
standing by the car glaring in at us.
Here's a beguiling but ultimately unsuccessful idea - represent
philosophies as simple
graphics. I tried this a couple of decades ago: it's
hard. Click on the page to get the full set of twenty-odd images.
Gloomy cloudy weather continues as I answer Bela's questions about physics. Find
two curious books hiding in corners of
introduction to app-writing. Take three connecting trains out to Robin's
village in the Great Plain. Dull overcast day, until deep in the countryside
a feeble sunset appears on one side of the train, and on the opposite side of
the train a deep cornflower-blue sky appears behind trees &
farmhouses, hanging down just out of reach like a mid-to-dark-blue curtain.
While looking out of both sides of the carriage, on the 2nd & 3rd train get
strangely vivid images in my head for a peculiar low-budget film - a
very Tarkovskyish film set in England for 3 male actors.
More about Amazon
Amusingly, four days ago on Easter Monday I accidentally, that is to say
completely unintentionally, dyed some eggs.
Not easy for Gentle Reader to imagine perhaps, but I decided to hard-boil
my last couple of eggs in the same boiling water that was softening some pasta.
For a few years now I have been gently singeing the dry spaghetti sticks
on the hot-plate before putting them in the water, creating blue puffs of
smoke, and filling my flat with a curiously pleasant scent halfway between
the smell of burning toast and the aroma of baking bread, but not really either.
Slightly overdid this, and the boiling water became brown-grey. My eggs emerged
gently tinted darker, as if seen through the 70s-style brown-tinted
sunglasses of the tea expert Rob once described meeting in Gyor. By
night a delicious dinner at Terri & Alvi's. Alison & Stephen Zeigfinger join
us, and I see videos for Alvi's
alarm-clock smart-phone app.
Sometimes ethereal, quite dreamlike, some music by 'Burial'. Seems
they take themselves desperately seriously, from the to
strenuously grim record covers, not to mention Nouvel Gloom song titles like
'Fostercare', 'Wounder', 'Homeless', 'Untrue', 'Stolen Dog', 'Ashtray Wasp',
'Etched Headplate', it just goes on. Here is their almost upbeat
'Near Dark', and the positively
perky 'Shell of Light'.
Forthright author declares "Let's not make
supergerms that could wipe out humanity!" Hard to
disagree, really, for anyone who remembers this film. Watch for depixelating one-eyed man part-way
through opening credits.
Lovely dinner with Writers' Group at Esther's, where we watch a curious
DVD of 'Showgirls',
with a voiced
over commentary by David Schmader. Schmader is a
self-appointed expert on the film who lives in Seattle. He
explains why he thinks this is the ultimate film-so-bad-it's-good, and his
observations on the dire plotting, wooden acting, & atrocious writing of
Verhoeven's Vegas-set dance extravaganza are surprisingly funny & sharp. In
the interview section of the DVD I get to see the face of
highly-paid Hungarian-born Hollywood screenwriter
Eszterhas. Am oddly shocked to realise he really is a Mitteleuropan
oik. Resembles the overweight but cunning truck driver who works out how to rob
Easter Tuesday. Intriguing, very bold two-hour film about an American mythologist,
or folklorist, as they'd call him round here:
Talbott. I read a couple of Velikovsky books from the
public library as a small boy and found them fun but not backed up by anything
else I'd heard, but it seems some people never gave up on the renegade Russian scholar.
Dr V thought that the catastrophes of many/all ancient civilisation's legends were
literal accounts of close approaches by our local planets that today seem to sedately
trundle along calm orbits. Talbott has a worked-out theory that surprisingly recently,
perhaps even just 7,000 or 8,000 years ago, the planets had different positions.
A hauntingly beautiful suggestion is that the golden age remembered in ancient
myths of every culture was a literal reference to a time when Saturn appeared huge
in the sky and hung there 24 hours a day. He claims that Saturn's older name was the
name of the 'sun god' in many languages (for example 'helios' in Greek originally meant
'Saturn' not 'sun') and that other evidence from myths suggest it was very large in
the sky, revolving at the pole-star position. Perhaps at latitudes like the Fertile
Crescent and the Mediterranean a big disc could reflect enough sunlight or even
warmth at night, like today's moon times ten, to ensure a kind of mild summer all year
round. Some of the texts call the Jupiter era, if that's what it was, a time when
each year had many harvests and the northern hemisphere was warm & pleasant. Talbott
has found a couple of astronomers who say the gravitational dynamics are possible.
Certainly a refreshingly clear yet unorthodox theory, and a very enjoyable couple of
hours. For anyone interested by this, there are other films where Talbott asks
plasma physicists about glowing signs in the sky the ancients reported which might
be electromagnetic effects of large bodies passing close to earth.
Easter Monday. This pseudo-spring is toying with us. An hour of warm sunshine
here and there, but also chilly winds, and strange dark afternoons. Almost as
bad as England. The neon light tubes got a note attached to them addressed in a
handsome feminine script to 'Dear Somebody' asking them to be removed, and about
four days later they vanished, leaving only a plaintive hand-sized scrap of wrapping
plastic on the walkway, like a feather after a bird fight. More irritating news on
the civil-liberties front: President Barry appears quite chuffed with the new American
remotely-kill-anyone-anywhere approach. Balint comes over and
we chat about strange collective nouns in English, like a
of owls'. Could that phrase have started out as a mis-remembering of Chaucer's
of Fowls', almost certainly a loose English adaptation of Attar's
'Conference of the Birds'?
Lunch with Jessica at the Alfoldi restaurant, so she can enjoy (apparently) the
best fish soup in town before leaving for Brussels tomorrow.
I finish Jeremy W's copy of
Psmith' by P.G. Wodehouse, the 2nd of his books I've read. Very
readable, and plotted with artful simplicity. Striking how knowledge of cricket is
simply assumed of readers before the Great War. Also interesting to see how Wodehouse
started off with a straightforward leading character called 'Mike', but the cameo role
of Psmith (the P being silent of course) comes to later demand whole books to himself.
Since Jeremy explains Psmith to me as a blend of Wooster & Jeeves, the obvious
thought is that Wodehouse first brought Psmith into the foreground as a character, and
later had another idea. That he could create more narrative tension and natural
plotting by then splitting Psmith into two separate people, a likeably foolish toff
and an unflappable high-IQ butler.
Instal & try QT Creator. African film from a couple of years ago:
described as a
sci-fi satire set in Cameroon in 2025. Pic by photographer from down the
road again, Xenia. The girl in
this picture holds a tiny picture of a girl ...which
I think is a cigarette lighter.
Tea with Jessica. Hear about a new US film distributor. Magazine illustration
a century ago. Looks quite fresh & sharp compared to now.
More role-playing for Jeremy W's management students. Another week of
sunshine, though still a slight chill in the air.
ahoy. Funny how just two colours, that dusty blue & orange,
date a printed illustration.
Fat cat with steely will
Got teeth descaled at the dentist few days ago. Next chore: haircut.
Quick coffee with Jeremy W who is in good spirits. On an unrelated topic,
uses "private number" to hide their phone number has any right to expect that
people will answer their calls, and they don't deserve to be picked up. I answer
only calls from numbers that identify themselves to me.
Semi-detailed article bravely tries to get to bottom of McKenna's timewave-ish
thing. Yet I still see no proper algorithm showing how one spiky line turned
into a whole set of jagged sawteeth apparently soaring across billions of years,
and yet still somehow fractally working when you zoom in on one century or one
year. As the arithmetic teachers say, show us the working.
In this little
Lykke Li hunts down a man over open country until the poor wretch collapses from
sheer exhaustion, suggesting Nordic girls are formidable and to be treated warily.
I finish Jessica's copy of a book by Pat Buchanan, who is apparently a well-known
politico in the United States. This is his very recent
of a Superpower' and reprises themes of the
demographic shrinkage of the white European Christian core nation making up
almost all of the US as recently as 1950. It is replete with those four-or-five-word
sentences American editors and speechwriters like so much. One sentence dongs
through the text - "We were a
people then" is repeated at intervals through the
book at weighty moments, perhaps five times altogether. His case is simple and
not unreasonable: 1)
other nations believe in ethnic nationalism, and it's no shame
for the USA to embrace it too, 2)
the rapid diversification of America's ethnic
mix came from immigration encouraged since the mid-1960s by the political party
which stood to gain from reducing the previous homogeneity of the country (namely
the Democrats at the moment when Nixon's Southern Strategy was upending the old link
between the Democrat party and white segregationists in the Dixieland states),
US is overextended internationally and should cut military spending,
economic protectionism is no shame for the USA
and was how the US and every other other country got rich originally (he sees the
outsourcing of American manufacturing jobs to the Far East as also damaging the core
nation of thrifty, white, English-speaking Christians who previously gave the country
its main identity), 5)
all of this can (still... just about...) be reversed & repaired because the Democratic
party's strategy is more fragile than it looks at first, especially during
a recession, when government vote-buying largesse has to be cut back. There are a few
signs the book was written in a bit of a hurry. "Ours is the
world's oldest constitutional republic, the model for all that
followed." (No, actually the Swiss
Confederation is much older, and earlier republics like the Netherlands or the
one-and-a-half-thousand-year-old Republic of Venice were in fact the models
followed by recent republics like the US and France.)
He quotes Goethe saying something "well over a century ago", which is lucky since the
German poet turned 63 years old two centuries ago in 1812. A typo turns an
an ethologist. The
bit where he reveals himself as a loyal Catholic at the same time as apparently
regretting the passing of a 99% Protestant USA is curious. Given how he dates the whole
downfall to Lyndon Johnson, one can imagine a Protestant WASPish version
of Buchanan setting the start of the decline two or three decades earlier and saying it
was the Catholics who had been the thin end of the wedge. Nevertheless the whole thesis
makes sense on its own terms. It's a coherent argument for economic & ethnic
nationalism. Probably only embarrassment stops most Americans from agreeing
Mark Griffith, site administrator /
markgriffith at yahoo.com