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2017
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February 28th; Shrove Tuesday. More long-awaited improvements in dentistry. Versus what they used to call science fiction.

February 27th; Monday. Are the Sankt Petersburg DJ's shows fluffier these days, e.g. here with #418? Or more fidgety? Compared to 7 years ago?
February 26th; Sunday. Drinks with m and n, both on good form as we briefly touch on last summer's Turkish almost-putsch. Among other topics, m explains to me that not only was Unity Mitford obsessed with Mr Hitler, but he in his turn was obsessed with her. This was on the basis of her having been conceived in a Canadian mining town called Swastika, having Valkyrie as her middle name, and being a cousin of Churchill. Also m mentions a relative who used to talk of people getting "above their airport in life".

February 25th; Saturday. Interesting case that the Democrats fell too much in love with data-mining. Writer calls for more narrative & story-telling, but oddly enough makes a rather data-driven argument for less data-driven campaigning.
February 24th; Friday. Air almost warm. A scent on the evening wind I have noticed in previous early springs - cannot describe or pin it down exactly: a vague but distinct amalgam of several tree & plant blossoms under a frosted tang of wood smoke. Perhaps the moment for a wonderful confession. Determined not to be caught out by embarrassing hidden sins, a US political candidate has issued a list of all the naughty things he's done. Talk about going on the attack. Last night, I finished a copy borrowed from Robin of 'A Concise History of Venetian Painting' by John Steer. With calm poise, the author sails through five centuries from Veneziano to Guardi at the time of Napoleon's destruction of the political base of this unique culture just before 1800. Every page is well-judged, but the chapter on Titian and Tintoretto, plus the chapter on Vivarini and the Bellinis, are particularly good. Steer crisply captures the distinct vision of La Serenissima's civilisation worked in paint with sentences like (of Veronese's 'Feast in the House of Simon') "-- there is a muting of drama and restful opulence about it which expresses a highly-developed hedonism. It conveys a patrician ideal of noble persons in a splendid environment, acting out great events with aristocratic ease" - down to the bittersweet words in the penultimate paragraph: "-- there is a real sense in which Guardi, although a Venetian born, is the first painter to look at Venice like a tourist. He sees her as a romantic image rather than a reality and, by thus raising her into a creature of the imagination, finally deprives her of life."

February 23rd; Thursday. I'm sure it lost lots in translation, but since a friend with a boat is currently exploring the beaches of Chile, broadcasting the occasional haunting photo of deserted coastline, some Neruda verse put into English: Enigmas
    You've asked me what the lobster is weaving there with his golden feet?
       I reply, the ocean knows this.
    You say, what is the ascidia waiting for in its transparent bell? What is it waiting for?
       I tell you it is waiting for time, like you. ---

February 22nd; Wednesday. Rather charming tapestry of triangles: orderly but with just a smidgeon of disorder (scroll right) to keep us on the edge of our seats.

February 21st; Tuesday. So we have the Prince Charles project to sterilise grey squirrels with spiked Nutella.
February 20th; Monday. One Bragg radio discussion that gives proper value: Boethius. Odd moment where the host, a left-wing Northerner, suddenly confesses deep admiration for Elizabeth 1st.

February 19th; Sunday. Nazis tried to breed talking dogs: real journalism.
February 18th; Saturday. Apparently a breaking story in the Telegraph about Mr Bercow and Mr Vaz. Or not.

February 17th; Friday. Not so odd that the pro-Chomsky linguist misspells "peek" but never mind. Nice bit of multi-dimensional language wibble. Who ever thought language was linear, though?
February 16th; Thursday. Talking of hateful things, here's a 14-legged telepathic shape-shifting megasquid reported by a Russian scientist in Siberia. Spending months at a time in that bleak landscape probably not good for a man's soul.

February 15th; Wednesday. Lonely hearts can now bond with potential Valentines over hating the same things. A business idea that's born to win.
February 14th; Tuesday. Canadian who beheaded man on bus in 2008 walks free. Seems he ate bits of him as well.

February 13th; Monday. Engineer claims electric cars are "a fraud".
February 12th; Sunday. Computers aren't automating dull chores, but automating fun stuff instead.

February 11th; Saturday. Ewan recommends a book about leftist history leftists would prefer forgotten.
February 10th; Friday. Internet identity can be tracked across browsers now.

February 9th; Thursday. Some chill returns. People on public transport all over Budapest sulking again. Now we cannot trust taped speech or videoed faces. Good, in a way.
February 8th; Wednesday. Another slightly weird attempt to do maths on novels.

February 7th; Tuesday. Research suggests people in crowded conditions have fewer children. Thanks to Lily.
February 6th; Monday. Lovely evening meal at Photographer Terri & Alvi. Philosopher Kerrie reminds me of a MacNiece poem I like: Snow
  The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was
  Spawning snow and pink roses against it
  Soundlessly collateral and incompatible:
  World is suddener than we fancy it.
---

February 5th; Sunday. On the subject of the streets coming alive, change in air and so forth, 3 versions of Donovan's 'Season of the Witch'. A puzzling song, that like many celebrated pop tunes hints at something it doesn't bother spelling out. What's all that "You've got to pick up every stitch" about, except as a lame rhyme? Yet frequently covered. Driscoll, Augur, & overcoloured studio set; Suck (Saffers, apparently); Driscoll, Augur, & Trinity again.
February 4th; Saturday. Temperature even higher, at around 5 of Mr Celcius's degrees - or 4 of Monsieur Reaumur's gradations - of warmth. Everywhere in Budapest, women are eyeing up any half-smartly-dressed man. Film-maker Troy shows me a piece on sound moving faster than light, not a misprint.

February 3rd; Friday. Suddenly a week of ice is thawing, and even at 3 degrees above freezing, it feels warm and like the first day of spring. From one day to the next, the mood on the streets shifts. As if from nowhere, there are now groups of girls at busstops and tramstops laughing, as if high, intoxicated on their own girliness. Suddenly 2 or 3 early-20s women on each tram have dark dramatic makeup, serious glares, and skin-tight black rubber or faux-leather leggings. The last couple of years this fashion has popped up more and more. The leggings seem to serve as a still daring, but slightly more prim, version of thigh-high leather boots, considered a little too raunchy for daytime wear even here. Bright sunshine coming through fog creates strange effects. Interesting conversation with Boardgame Orsolya about nutrition. Fascinating but misguided article on early digital pseudo-life (cellular automata etc). Writer seems to struggle to see that simulated molecules or simulated amino acids are still just simulations. In the last ten minutes before the supermarket shuts, I buy for the first time in my life a block of lard. It's wrapped in quaint waxed paper instead of plastic or foil, and on the paper there repeats a cartoon image, wallpaper-style, of a plump cheerful pig. He strikes a jaunty pose, dressed in blue dungarees.
February 2nd; Thursday. Recommended by writer friend Ewan, some vaguely gloomy not-quite-minimalist music from a German who lives, as did Sebald, in Britain. Perhaps being German and living in Britain is a combination which encourages melancholia. Listening to this all the way through, it strikes me as the kind of music for a film where aliens from a distant galaxy come to earth but are too depressed to make up their minds whether to kill us or not. Then I find as it ends that indeed it was the same composer who scored a recent sci-fi film I'd read about. In this a woman linguist communicates in a language of circular coffee stains with beings inside what one friend notes are giant segments of Terry's chocolate orange. My perceptive powers as keen as ever. Crossing the river for coffee with Esoteric Veronica, fog cuts off both banks completely and even the surface of the river under the bridge melts into the cloud.

February 1st; Wednesday. Another article of mine, 'The Year of the Trumpster'.


Mark Griffith, site administrator / markgriffith at yahoo.com