Sunday. online, a debate about 20th-century art turns on some of works of Christo, such as
Saturday. As if by magic, when I get to the gym, the same two overweight Gypsy lads are in the changing room as yesterday. They have the same banter with each other, composed of saying A: "Just?" B: "Just." A: "Just?" B: "Just!" to each other over and over again, as if they went nowhere in the last 22 or 23 hours and were in the changing room overnight. Of course this can't be true, since today I caught them starting, whereas yesterday they were getting dressed after training ready to leave, but it's still like they're doing scientific research in how to be annoying. My latest piece for the Salisbury Review about how Hong Kong could be defended now online: not my original title.
Friday. Andras takes me out meet a group of friends & former programming colleagues at one of the outdoor night bars. I tell them how important it is to uninstal and reinstal Alpaca 3.2 if anything goes wrong. Two have come with their 3-month-old baby daughter snoozing quietly in a pram. The child is adorably christened Raspberry (Malna), which is apparently a genuine girl's name in Hungarian. Never heard it before. In case this turns out to be just too squee for the growing tot, she is equipped with a back-up name, Laura. Salisbury Review writer suggests white male artists are being abolished.
Thursday. Via Adrian, old recipe for Yorkshire Pudding, to refer to.
Wednesday. Congress asks Pentagon: did it weaponise ticks?
Tuesday. Have scientists found evidence of a parallel universe where time runs backward? Oh no, they didn't. And more of they didn't.
Monday. If there is any truth to this story, it's the biggest political scandal in the US since their Civil War.
Sunday. Get to the end of a paperback novel borrowed from Iris, 'The Accidental Further Adventures of the Hundred-Year-Old Man' by Jonas Jonasson, translated into English from Swedish by Rachel Willson-Broyles. Iris warned me that the first book (this is the second book to star irrepressible centenarian Allan Karlsson, and it was published in 2018, nine years after the first) was better and this second follow-up was not so good, but I was pulled in by the first few pages. The style is a neat trick, a sort of shaggy-dog novel, where the author faux-naively embraces the childlike approach of "this happened and then this happened and meanwhile that other thing was happening, and then this other thing happened too." Done with coy deadpan charm, this was obviously the main gimmick in the first novel, and in this one it starts to wear thin after a few chapters. Once confident his readers are with him, Jonasson's restraint slips, and he begins to involve famous characters and forces like the North Korean leader, the "far right" AfD in Germany, leaders like Putin, Trump, Merkel, he and his readers smugly assured that we all know what they're really like, how they speak in private, etc. Brexit is Britain "turning its back on Europe" and (of course) only happened because it was orchestrated by agents of Putin. Trump is (of course) a short-tempered idiot - you get the idea. This is really going to age very fast, even among the people who still hold this worldview. Merkel (despite 2015) is viewed as a force of stability and common sense in the book, nationalists are all dangerous bastards etc. The pseudo-liberal globalist outlook is a bit like the lip service the greasy class creep pays to the cool kids, where he thinks he'll be part of their clique if he uses their language and apes their style. The self-congratulation is almost tangible as Jonasson cycles through these reassuring tropes that Trump's election, Britain's decision to leave the EU, the rise of the in fact rather moderate AfD, and so on of course really only happened because of a mixture of Russian-funded contradictory web bots and mentally retarded Nazis. That and the quiet but audible humble-brag humour about boring bourgeois little Sweden still being a notable player in world events.
Saturday. Latest music homework from Andras the Benedictine coder monk for next time we try to put something together with keyboards and bass guitar:
background culture Finnish youth /
more background culture McAfee Speaks /
Bjork explains the background of
her television set / some 1980s new wave pop
magyarul / some beautifully coloured
Friday. An active day, and around 3am one of Andras' younger brothers (Bela the drummer) turns up with his producer friend Tzapa: both very much under the influence of various jolly stimulants. Switching into English at one point Bela amiably tells me "Go home nigger, no blow jobs for you here!" He seems quite focused on this topic because when I offer him commission if he can get a book deal for me, he immediately warns me he's not doing any blow jobs to secure the deal. We all chat (after a fashion) until around 4 when the two leave. Turns out that
that clip was the work of Tzapa.
Thursday. More tunes from Knower:
It Goes On /
That's Where You Are /
Lady Gaga /
Die Right Now.
Wednesday. How Taiwan warned the world about the boring virus, and nobody listened. Not least because the World Health Organisation's been so busy sucking the Peking Dick.
Tuesday. A modest attack on British journalism today.
Monday. Finish a book borrowed from Andras, 'The Righteous Mind', in which American sociologist Jonathan Haidt explains the emotional & instinctive underpinnings of moral & political loyalties. Decades of experiments by different sociologists and psychologists gradually brought him to see Hume ("reason is the slave of the passions") as the deeper thinker about morals than those who try to claim that ethics is an outgrowth of reasoning and intelligence. Haidt has reached a point where he see Americans on the left ("liberals") as basing their moral views on three pillars: care/harm, liberty/oppression, and fairness/cheating while Americans of the Republican/traditionalist persuasion base their moral views on six pillars: care/harm, liberty/oppression, fairness/cheating, loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, sanctity/impurity. Haidt counts himself as a liberal, excited when Barack Obama was running for president, and so he makes a powerful critic of other liberals in their thoughtless contempt for non-leftists. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this thoughtful, well-reasoned book, is the revelation that huge swathes of academia literally regard people who don't share their political views as mentally ill and in need of medical attention.
Sunday. Among sounds Andras shows me is Knower, a jazz-funk sci-fi counterattack, bracketed here at each end by Louis Cole, I suppose branding himself. With him fronting Knower for female vocal is 'Genevieve', the first Genevieve I've come across since that sartorial guide of Robin's.
F*** It Up by Louis Cole with live band in someone's house /
Overtime by Knower live in the same house /
Time Traveler by Knower live etc / impressive 22-minute
'living-room set' by Knower, with slide shows /
Butts, Tits, Money by Knower /
The Government Knows by Knower /
Time Traveler by Knower, another slide show /
Thinking by Louis Cole.
Saturday. Andras the Benedictine coder monk turns up in the early evening with a bass guitar, lots of wires coming out of a small red box, and huge amounts of alcohol. He genially insists we do a jam session together. Toiling over keyboards, bass guitar, sampling software, and cans of beer, the two of us manage - astonishingly - to produce something quite good. Andras keeps explaining chords, scales, time signatures, and the looping program all through the chaos. At intervals we compare videos, including two polished versions of one song by Russian duo Little Big:
Skibidi main version, and
Skibidi romantic version. Not to mention Billie Eilish &
Bury A Friend
(from the cleverly-named record 'When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?') / a Russian song called
In Piter We Drink by Leningrad / some non-famous
Hungarian rap / song called
Zsebeibe zse - a local parody of whatever that French style is / and a bass-guitar tutorial where Andras adores the (Italian?) girl's happy, funny
expressions as she enjoys playing over the tune.
Friday. Computer code used by Niel Ferguson to persuade Britain's government that epidemic stats urgently justified crashing the economy for Covid-19 reviewed harshly as clunky, amateurish, and lacking credibility. Which civil servants slyly steered government ministers towards this fool with the Avaaz-activist girlfriend (surnamed Staats, seriously), one wonders?
May 14th; Thursday. Fascinating dialogue with a sleep-biology researcher, Matthew Walker, the interviewer again Rhonda Patrick. Choice quote: "Sleep is the Swiss Army Knife of health."
May 13th; Wednesday. Very interesting interview by Rhonda Patrick of a researcher, Charles Raison, who thinks depression is inflammatory and evolved from our immune systems.
May 12th; Tuesday. Pretty girl, beware of his heart of gold: this heart is cold! Perhaps the Bond themes were arias for the Cold War opera?
May 11th; Monday. Inside the mind of A Master Procrastinator: sharp, witty talk.
May 10th; Sunday. Andras alerts me to the following tunes:
Volcano Hamster by Szagos Ho:rigekkok /
Slaves from Wonder Showzen /
Fuck the Shit by Sons of Butcher / and in similar vein
I Kill People by Jon Lajoie. So much out there, citizens.
May 9th; Saturday. Someone is seriously going to make lab-grown salami for public sale cultured from the protein samples donated by famous chat-show hosts, musical performers, whoever signs on the dotted line. Ugh, honestly.
May 8th; Friday. Italy's COVID deaths far higher than official figures, says Reuters.
An Istanbul "private party project" with DJ Armen Miran here: I have mild qualms about using audience members as footage for music, but those girls right up against the mixing desk seem happy to be seen.
May 7th; Thursday. During our lesson in the early afternoon, Esoteric Veronica makes me watch on her phone a video (already removed one day later by Youtube) about viruses, drug patents, and nefarious pharma firms, asking my opinion. The video is a long interview with someone called Judy Mikovits, co-author of this book.
The same night later pop out to look around, getting an almost-empty tram towards the river. I sit somewhere in a central carriage of four or five connected carriages, lodging an empty drinks can in position that threatens to roll. Once I'm 200 yards before the river, I get out and catch another tram one stop up the side street where I almost worked in a primary school two years ago, so as to visit the all-night Spar supermarket. Walking back ten minutes to the main road, I wait at the tram stop and let the first tram back home pass me. That's because I'm in some accidental WiFi hot spot there at the tramstop and am reading something on my old phone. The second tram away from the river comes and I get on it, stroll down the length of the tram, sit down, and after five minutes see I'm sitting exactly opposite the seat I used in the opposite direction half an hour earlier. I know this because the drinks can I lodged in place so it wouldn't roll as the tram drove off, going back in the opposite direction, is there right opposite me just where I left it. Both completely banal & oddly magical.
May 6th; Wednesday. Here's a 25-minute film in Babylonian. The Poor Man of Nippur.
May 5th; Tuesday. Allegation that US Senate intelligence committee chair sold shares ahead of the market crash when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.
May 4th; Monday. Interesting long article on China's superpower aspirations. Sample quote "As matters stand the United States will be overtaken by China in the next several years. China is developing its own intellectual property in key areas. Some of it is better than ours - in artificial intelligence, telecommunications, cryptography, and electronic warfare. In other key fields like quantum computing - possibly the holy grail of 21st-century technology - it's hard to tell who's winning, but China is outspending us by a huge margin."
May 3rd; Sunday. Wake out of a very vivid dream where I am travelling to somewhere in a German-speaking country to either teach or take part in a seminar with some young students. I reach a clean, sparely-decorated modernist room with maybe six of them, and the tables have textbooks which are like menus, little more than large pieces of card folded 3 or 4 times to make 4 or 6-page booklets. They concern some arcane type of computer science which I don't understand. But I trust the friendly Germans to explain it to me, translating from technical English to slightly less technical English. Above one small spreadseet or look-up table of about 12, perhaps 15, cells I see the intriguing sentence "A wolf is like a 9-penny chaplin", knowing (in the dream) that this is some kind of definition of some technical terms in database something-or-other. I wake up musing on this phrase.
One scientist explains that COVID-19 was never exponential.
May 2nd; Saturday. Some Swedish common sense in the Lancet about COVID-19.
May 1st; Friday. The scare story that some COVID-19 patients relapse after recovery now seems untrue.
Mark Griffith, site administrator /
markgriffith at yahoo.com