" Comedy gold. Meanwhile, our man in Bucharest reminds me of this eerie and now once-again-topical poem by Chesterton. 'The Secret People', which opens:
- Smile at us, pay us, pass us; but do not quite forget;
For we are the people of England, that never have spoken yet. ---
While Rahul quotes 10 lines of this remarkable passage from Milton's passionate pamphlet against censorship, of which 2 are:
- Methinks I see in my mind a noble and puissant Nation rousing herself like a strong man after sleep, and shaking her invincible locks:
Methinks I see her as an Eagle mewing her mighty youth, and kindling her undazzled eyes at the full midday beam. ---
Rahul seems to take my word for it that a character in 1970s British action-cop serial 'The Professionals' recited several lines of this Milton exhortation, even though the wah-pedal funk theme clearly marks it for export to the US.
Thursday. Heavy turnout in Britain for the referendum on leaving the European Union. Out to dinner with Robin to his neighbour Daniel the Film-maker's flat where there is much rollicking & roistering among the chums. During the small hours becomes clear that leavers have won the vote on Britain's membership of the junk-legislation tariff cartel. Against all "expert" advice, England's despised working classes save us again.
Wednesday. A new piece of research confirming that female-dominated juries convict less often in rape cases. Who was that female lawyer trying to tell me she'd never heard US attorneys defending men charged with rape always try to get more women on the jury? Meanwhile male jurors convict men more: patriarchy!
Tuesday. Good old Christo still chugging along. Now he's doing saffron walkways on an Italian lake (set off by tasteful old architecture of course) so people can "walk on water".
Monday. New naughty hardware hack. To go with the capacitor-on-a-chip backdoor invisible to normal inspection, now less-than-transparent standards in the Intel 'management engine' that controls their chip. Seems it can get round anything really. Time to revive handwritten ledgers.
Early evening, go with Alex to a roughly one-hour presentation on Ethereum at a quite warm, sticky Budapest BitCoin gathering. Rather stretches my very rusty Hungarian, but not too impossible. At one moment, discussing the DAO heist exploit, someone asks for a show of hands on 'hard fork', 'soft fork', 'no fork'. Practically the whole room votes for 'no fork', revealing majority support for the hard-core automated-morality viewpoint mocked in the Bloomberg piece. Afterwards, drink with folk on the slightly cooler pavement outside, including French palace-of-memory researcher & crypto-coin fiend Timothee, event organiser & software security specialist Barnabas, + director from a rival do-everything crypto-currency Daniel. Hear how Gabor & Dalma see Philip Sidney. I go on a bit about why I think Hobbes & Rousseau took the wrong turn in political thought. Both feign interest charmingly.
Sunday. Make crucial switch from buying spaghetti to a kind of flat straight ribbon-shaped pasta. The eating experience is totally different. Top left on this diagram, I think. Might mark a major change in my daily life, citizens.
Saturday. Back in the world of crypto coins, news breaks that lots of money (80 million USD+ by yesterday) is being stolen in real time from a fund rather mystically called The DAO (Distributed Autonomous Organisation) that is coded to run on the blockchain in the Ethereum currency/language. Such poetry. This arouses fierce debate among the techno-purists about whether anything wrong has been done, since (some say) all the miscreant did was use a legitimate loophole in badly-written code. Short QZ summary / Cool collected response from the Russian programmer who built Ethereum / Slightly sharp, amused piece on Bloomberg getting down to the ethical core of it / Latest update on how it's escalating.
Friday. Almost like magic, my complaint/prayer of two days ago has been answered. Suddenly the sickly recorded voices of ickle childerun announcing stops on the 4 & 6 tram have been banished. Eerie powers of this weblog, doubtless.
Thursday. Cheerful-looking woman MP gets murdered in Yorkshire and pro-EU groups start to claim that people who vote for Britain to leave the European Union are thuggish yobs disrespecting her martyred memory. Looks like the killing might have happened just in time from their point of view.
Wednesday. For 2, perhaps 3, weeks now the pre-recorded tramstop announcements on the 4 & 6 trams have been voices of small children, one Hungarian, and a range of foreign 6, 7, 8-year-olds (I suppose) for the ones also given in English. I saw one huge squeeee reaction ("Jaj!! De cuki!!") from a teenage girl passenger clearly bursting to have babies, but the effect was pretty cloying already after 2 days of novelty. The Hungarian child overstrains to get the Magyar long-O sound so ends up saying the junction 'Oktogon' as 'Awktawgawn' which probably sounds adorable to adorers of tots. I assumed it was in honour of some non-holiday like European Week of The Spoilt Brat, but am now having the sinking feeling this might be inflicted on us all summer. The cellar supermarket in the nearby shopping mall has had several aisles of shelving taken out in recent days, making a luxuriant empty space in the middle and reminding us it's just a big shed.
Tuesday. Some links for The Nigel of Light and Ze Zexy Catheline. Accounts of a couple of studies claiming backwards-causation / retrocausality / precognition (insert preferred term here) seen in psychology & physics experiments on the scale of a few seconds or microseconds:
psy & phy
+ 3 failed replications of part of the Bem study by sceptical researchers
Plus also for Nigel, sports humour:
England as seen by the Dutch.
Monday. If EU mandarins are trying to hold the lid on disastrous news until after the British referendum vote on the 23rd on whether to leave The Tariff Cartel, there should be clues. One might be the way shares in the very unwell Deutsche Bank seem to have consistent massive support around 15 dollars, despite clearly wanting to slump much lower. (Click on the one-year '1Y' button to see that graph.) I wonder how much that 15-dollar 6-month floor has been costing the ECB?
Sunday. The North of England looks likely to vote heavily for Britain to leave the EU. Article claims that the EEC/EU was originally a secretive project Britain was groomed for without being told. A strange song asking us to stay in the EU from the daughter of a former MI6 chief.
Saturday. Oh dear oh dear, research into the sexes just gets more shocking every week. A study suggests that men given extra testosterone become more honest. Surely not! Meanwhile, some wonderfully simple research shows entrepreneurs don't have special personalities, they're born into wealthy families. A fabulously dim AI article plots three axes on a truncated pyramid, or frustum, so that "the singularity" (the coming night when computers will angrily thrust pillows down onto our faces as we slumber helpless in our beds) can occur where two axes have used half their lengths? More proof marketing smothers human intelligence.
Friday. Mongolia is changing all its postal addresses to seemingly random bunches of three words - some of them not so flattering. Amazingly, a firm in Britain has found a way to sell this idea.
Thursday. The Nigel of Light and I go up to the Castle District and in very hot sun gaze out from under a cafe umbrella at the top of the hill, looking across the vista of the whole city on both sides of the curving Danube. We hurt the feelings of the violinist while trying to be tactful when he asks us what piece he should play and I say (emphasising how well he was playing) if it's all right a few moments of quiet? Say farewell to Nigel as he leaves for the airport. The building across the road is once again a uniform golden-shortbread / vanilla colour, and I was wrong about the Hungarian builders. Mea culpa. Have never quite understood the narrow horizontal zinc strip that goes across old building fronts here, usually just at window-sill level, but as ugliness goes it's nothing compared to the prospect of the white & yellow combo that appeared to be happening last week.
Wednesday. Yesterday evening and today for lunch the Nigel of Light kindly takes me out to restaurants. Last night I burbled on over dinner about clan violence, aristocracy, Rousseau, and how historically parochial liberalism is. Today we more enjoy the sunshine and the lovely food. Two very pretty leggy secretaries seemingly have reason to walk past the outdoor tables of this famously swish new restaurant three times in two hours, doubtless the shortest route to somewhere, and back again, and then again. As the long afternoon becomes evening, the sky again fills with chunks of pink and yellow ice cream drifting across indigo sky, long shadows slicing across the crinkly 19th-century street frontages. The scent of (I think) linden-tree or lime-tree blossom has been wafting intense waves of nostalgia and romance across some back streets after dark for about two weeks. A perfume that works like some annual scent clock of the seasons, announcing the time to fall in love and marry. Perhaps why the girls are suddenly out in force again, looking their best, as if they spend every winter lying low in some vast underground hive. Someone else in The Salisbury Review, not me, explains very well the Swiss view on losing sovereignty to the EU. Confoederatio Helvetica voters also resoundingly reject free money ('Basic Income'), their minds it appears still thinking clearly in that brisk clean mountain air.
Tuesday. Keith & Dora kindly take me for lunch and tell me some Norwegian jokes about Swedes. On the tram back from my lesson at the Supreme Court later, three quite bouncy girls on the tram ask if I'm a lawyer. The tie might be to blame, but the fact my briefcase has an ID-tag ribbon as a makeshift handle probably should have tipped them off to the lack of a lawyer's salary. Weather is now warm & sunny. Rather lovely journal looks at 19th-century interest in the 4th dimension.
Monday. Oddly, I see the workmen painting cream (halfway between white and golden shortbread) over the white ground-floor render. I ask if the whole building will be yellow again and they say yes. Perhaps I was unfair. Later in afternoon, pop out to airport to pick up Nigel of Light who has flown in from London. He is as ever wonderfully tactful about my intensely scruffy flat. We chat & catch up almost continuously, going out later to a retro-70s restaurant to carry on over supper.
Sunday. Someone has finally noticed that software and internet start-up founders talk gibberish. If only the broader tendency of almost all software description to be unhelpful bollocks had been criticised 3 to 4 decades earlier, things might be rather easier now.
Saturday. Unintentionally entertaining article about a Swiss tunnel alleges Illuminati-style public symbolism instead of blaming an out-of-control artistic director taking himself too seriously.
Friday. Just when the newly-rendered pre-1900 building was looking nice, I see them today painting white over the yellow (but leaving sill stones under windows yellow) on the ground floor. Of course it's now vile, and will be worse once the ground floor render quickly gets dirty. Should have guessed Hungarian restorers wouldn't stop at the one stage the building accidentally looked tasteful. 1 white-painted storey, 2 yellow. Yuck.
Thursday. Sun still cooling, says 2015 model.
Wednesday. The building opposite had its cladding and scaffolding off after a couple of hours of clankety-plink noises perhaps yesterday, and today I notice the whole front has been painted a rather mellow biscuity shortbread yellow.
Mark Griffith, site administrator /
markgriffith at yahoo.com