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Can you translate the next 300 words into Hindi, or Korean?; if so, please contact me and there will be rejoicing.

2002 Q1 & Q2

June 30th; Rob meets Richard. Dorisz nearby.

June 29th; Coffee-fuelled cartoon writing.
June 28th; Rob expansively invites me out to see 'Bowling for Columbine'. Tremendous fun, but it had been a little oversold to me by people who saw it. The "bowling" theme is pretty specious, which spoils it all a bit. The 'link' is that the two boys who shot lots of students at Columbine High School went ten-pin-bowling in the morning before their mass-murdering, and.... that members of the Michigan Militia use bowling pins for target practice. Of course it fits Michael Moore's cheery, low-key approach to give it an off-beat title and not dramatically label it a documentary about gun-related deaths. But his suggestion that since the two killers went bowling before killing, we might just as easily claim that ten-pin-bowling causes shooting sprees as violent films or video games, is obviously false. There is convincing evidence that violent films or games do not, at least not straightforwardly, cause real violence - and Moore mentions some of this evidence. This doesn't alter the fact that links to violent games or video games are inherently more plausible. The claim "violent movies cause violent behaviour" can cite some correlation and an explanatory mechanism. The claim "ten-pin-bowling causes violent behaviour" can cite some correlation and no explanatory mechanism. The two claims aren't similar at all.
Anyway, lots of fun with other correlations, such as Lockheed Martin being in the town, and the Columbine shooting happening on the biggest bombing day over Kosovo, Yugoslavia. I've never liked the National Rifle Association, but Moore's suggestion that NRA head Charlton Heston should somehow respond to a picture of a little girl of 6 shot by a boy of 6 in his home town, Flint, Michigan (a town profiled in his 'Roger and Me' documentary, which I saw and enjoyed a decade ago) hardly impressed. What exactly was Heston supposed to do? In fact Heston slowly walked away, having belatedly realised that, despite Moore being a lifelong NRA member, he had set Heston up in a hostile interview on film. More dignified than Moore leaving the girl's photo leaning against a pillar of Heston's fake-Spanish home. Likewise, I was a bit puzzled that - after saying Canadians have lots of guns but very few gun deaths due to their very different culture - Moore then wheels a crippled victim of the Columbine shooting over to the K-Mart office to ask why ammunition is so easy to buy at K-Mart. Rather graciously, K-Mart one day later offer to phase out sales of all handgun ammo within three months. Yet minutes earlier in the film, Moore is buying ammunition in a Wal-Mart in Canada to make a contrasting point - that availability of ammo is not the real problem, since Canadians are surrounded by weapons and ammo, yet leave their doors unlocked and don't shoot each other. The real problem being...?
...a culture of fear in the US? And this is the convincing part. Exactly my experience of New York - everyone scared and always talking about violence. This is the most interesting angle of Moore's film. He is far too canny to actually use the 'c' word, but he comes close to calling Americans cowards. He says this is why the country has so many gun deaths, over forty per million population per year, not one or two per million like most developed countries. Being constantly afraid leads to high gun ownership, mutual suspicion, distrust and belief in violent solutions to problems, Moore convincingly suggests.
Intriguing. Shame about the other stuff. Moore gets in a room with extreme-rock smoothie Marilyn Manson and asks him, unlike some other interviewees, quite soft, non-threatening questions. A cricketer might say that Moore bowled Manson a couple of rather easy balls.

June 27th; Met the mysterious Richard from Scotland last night. He has a new and frighteningly-Celtic-looking tattoo. In the thirty seconds he was showing me this on his upper arm, two different girls ran their fingers up and down my back on the crowded dance floor {Gosh!}. Should I get a tattoo of my own, perhaps? I suggested he do the classic dotted-line-&-scissors-'cut-here' motif round the throat, but we decided on reflection that this was a bit too South-London-armed-robbery to be really stylish. Too English.
This morning another student went to Italy without cancelling our lesson. At least the previous one phoned me from Italy - since this one hadn't replied to my message requesting confirmation I called her on her mobile half an hour before our meeting time to discover she was in a cafe somewhere on the peninsula. Bizarre. She's a woman, so I have probably offended her in some way she will never tell me about, but which nonetheless justifies in her mind a small, carefully-measured piece of rudeness like this in my direction.

June 26th; Quick drink with Anke in sunny square.
June 25th; Early start, saying goodbye to the airforce pilots at the guest-house breakfast. Last day at school culminates with a cooking climax. We should have made the children do some singing and reciting too - it would have given them something to aim for. A long afternoon and evening on trains back to Budapest. Tony & I part at Wiener Neustadt, where I eat an interesting long bun covered with green pumpkin seeds.

June 24th; We pop up to a Grand-Prix-track hill-top hostelry with hospitable Inge. Thunder. We meet beefy Bavarian bikers wearing leather trousers. Inge tells stories of the days back when Formula One was fun, and the baleful influence of Big Bernie had yet to be felt. Later, we go to Apfelberg, where Inge's husband is mayor. At a tavern they take us to, we bump into Stefan, Bettina and Claudia from school, with their parents.
June 23rd; Tony swims. I get lost. Sun. Hail. Green, firry hills. My gum infection worsens.

June 22nd; Tony and I almost miss Knittelfeld train station. Kind Inge drives us to a lovely bed & breakfast by a gurgling brook.
June 21st; The longest day. Though the online review I linked to last week was rather sniffy, I found Bob's 'Heavenly Serbia' very plausible, especially since that reviewer only claims to find one fairly minor factual error (a Croatian Serb was really a Bosnian Serb) in the book, but would clearly like to have found more. Questions for me are pretty simple. Are Serbian folk songs and folk tales really as focussed on self-pity and violence as those Branimir Anzulovic quotes? Did the pre-World-War-II Serbian-led Kingdom of Yugoslavia really shelter several thousand Nazis after a failed 1930s coup in Austria? And (the one that really counts) was Byzantium really crippled by Serbian attacks, enabling Turkish Ottoman victories, often with Serbian princes later giving Turks military support? If the stories of brave Serb opposition to the Ottoman empire over centuries and equally spirited opposition to Nazi Germany are largely fabricated, as Anzulovic suggests, then it's All Very Worrying. Not odd that Lawrence Eagleberger learned Serbian while US Ambassador in Belgrade, but important to watch how much you sympathise with a culture once you learn its language. Anzulovic points out that Germany's recognition of Slovenia and Croatia came over 5 months after war with the Yugoslav Army had started, not before, as many of us misremembered it later in the 1990s, myself included.

June 20th; We wrap up at school. My first ever lesson "teaching" cooking - from Catherine's & Henry's tried and tested brownies recipe. Another cramped drive, back to Budapest.
June 19th; Slightly pointless trip to some small towns, 5 jammed into car for 4. No wonder I have back ache on day off. Duty-free Czech barmaids turn out to be highlight of day.

June 18th; We swam and sunbathed yesterday. Eric showed me his sun/gold & moon/silver alchemy tattoos, saying sunburn blurs the ink.
June 17th; Another day in Lower Austria. I buy some strange " 7/8 length" krypto-lederhosen trousers in a supermarket, but genial Tony says these are the height of fashion and are called "cargos". So now I am even more hip.

June 16th; This is Asparn an de Zaya, Osterreich. All the foodshops shut for a lunch-break (which lasts until 4pm) so that the staff can eat their own lunches in peace, undisturbed by any customer nuisance. A customer who does not know this and so fails to stock up with food at breakfast time is clearly stupid and arrogant, so deserves to be treated as tiresome. Obviously we're in the European Union, subset Euroland.
June 15th; Rather tiring 4-hour trip to Austrian village school wedged into a 41/2-seater car with Catherine, Maurice, Eric, driven by ever-cheerful Tony from Mackay, Queensland. Last night finished 'Heavenly Serbia'. Review later.

June 14th; I buy my first zip disc and get over to Heather's to save my files off the Apple before she departs to Canada next week, leaving machine with Edit in her remote village.
June 13th; Another day to relearn that Paraskevidekatriaphobia word. {Or is friggatriskaidekaphobia prettier?} I see a lorry labelled Eurofoam. And somebody pornolizes my site, those little tinkers.

June 12th; Bob's 'Heavenly Serbia' arrives.
June 11th; The ugly flowers in the machine are real. 2000 forints, or 5 quid+ a bunch.

June 10th; A fortnight back one friend told me an opera singer girlfriend used to hum "a low vibrato" through his scrotum. I seem to invite confidences like these somehow.
June 9th; It's Whitsun.

June 8th; Animated discussion with Rob. Hey!
June 7th; Richard & I drink. Chat touches on Bornholm, spirals, and why people don't smile. Warm enough that I forget to eat until 3am.

June 6th; Off to Anke's party at suburban location. I grab some microsleeps on the sofa next to Depeche Mode rather loud, before kind Anke drives Attila and me back to Pest in early-morning sunshine. Another long-legged blonde who likes driving fast.
June 5th; Coy Dora at the corner shop yields up her mobile-phone number after some gentle coaxing. Robin and I try strawberry-cream soup in the 8th district.

June 4th; Kristina relates a psychic experience. Rob explains more of script idea.
June 3rd; Istvan cooks chicken for Andrei & me. Apparently, after I left Isaac's party on Saturday, Andrea, one of Istvan's sculpture-student friends - the redhead with attitude - got into some fracas where glass cuts left her covered in blood. Rather situationist.

June 2nd; The other Spectator published a letter I wrote.
June 1st; A shiny white vending machine appeared yesterday in the WestEndCity carpark, selling, of all things, bunches of artificial flowers.


Mark Griffith, site administrator / contact@otherlanguages.org

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