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February 12th; Tuesday. Brilliant, even warm, morning sunshine pours exactly down Petofi Sandor street turning it into a slot of liquid gold compared to still cold shadowy side roads. This rod of sun just misses the golden hoop floating over the head of Mother Mary atop her 18th-century stone pillar. Later, walking across the beautifully sun-glittered Szell Kalman square to catch my bus up to Crypto Hill, I see a bus with a symbol on its electronic forehead I haven't seen before. For about a decade the electronic number board on the front of the tourist bus that tours the Castle District has had a little lit-up castle-shaped silhouette, and the bus that goes to the airport has shown a generic aeroplane. Now a third one. Picked out in the orange dot-matrix display above the windscreen of the parked vehicle, are the Hungarian words for "Waiting for mechanic", next to an adorable little spanner pictured at a jaunty angle. We can rebuild him!
Meanwhile, the EU goes "full Orwell".

February 11th; Monday. Mild weather very much with a feel of spring. A quick reminder of how wonderfully odd Japan is.
February 10th; Sunday. Two useful cryptocurrency articles: first / second.

February 9th; Saturday. Rather sad confirmation from Finland: free money means people don't work. Just as the dismal science predicts.
February 8th; Friday. A strange day of being given books. Marion at lunch lends me a copy of Simon's second book to read: Sweets From Strangers. Then in the mid-afternoon I pick up a whole box of books from kind Bianka, including Stamboul Train from Greene, and then in the evening over to Robin's, where a review copy of Parables for the Pouring Rain by Paul Sutton has arrived for me.

February 7th; Thursday. German woman's love affair with aeroplane.
February 6th; Wednesday. Should creator of the early global-warming data be prosecuted for fraud?

February 5th; Tuesday. A few days ago the cute little lift in the office on Crypto Hill was restored to operation. It broke down a fortnight before Christmas. Now once again, papered inside with cocktail-cabinet cigar-box veneer, it can connect the four floors. It chugs up and down, through the barely noticeable central column of the seemingly endless spiral stairs of cappuccino-coloured marble slabs, like a covert coffin. It claims to fit four people. Two adults can just about share this lift without becoming sexually intimate. Two more adults would have to be circus acrobats pinned across the ceiling. A notice in magical-kingdom English on the ground floor sternly enjoins users not to "jiggle or make smoke", and to take care with the "fixenings", among other poetic prohibitions.
February 4th; Monday. Here is a handy list (thanks, Diane!) of some candidates so far seeking the Democratic nomination for the US presidential campaign in 2020.

February 3rd; Sunday. Rather lovely snow phenomenon seen in Wiltshire.
February 2nd; Saturday. Cheese reduces chances of death, claim boffins.

February 1st; Friday. Find myself trudging around the 14th district trying to find an audition, mistakenly going to two of Katalin's old offices before finding the newest one. Walking along Rona street under cloudy skies (a street one building's porter insists has a bus route along it, but doesn't) was strangely interesting. I kept being reminded of slightly bleak bits of suburban Manchester such as Princess Parkway when rain seemed imminent. New gates, low buildings, random strips of grass all had this odd suggestion of some alternative reality humming, shimmering just beneath the surface of things. Banal surroundings peculiarly infused with transcendent freshness. I get to the audition, Katalin is very kind about my lateness. We read through it but I can sense not a role I'll get.
January 31st; Thursday. Here endeth the extraordinary first month of the office restaurant. It was just nearing completion before Christmas when miserable and sad I was leaving alone one night, passing its glass doors. The three proud men in charge of it called me in and insisted on plying me with food before I could go home. They could see my unhappiness through the glass and wanted to cheer me up. Bizarrely the cafe/restaurant extends downward in a series of small platforms into what was clearly a swimming pool (obviously a vital accessory for any embassy). Still with its blue tiles and steel ladder this bottom zone now hosts a sofa and some deep squishy armchairs. Am still not quite used to getting into a workplace and having to go straight away for a scrumptious cooked breakfast, followed not long after by an often-delicious lunch.

January 30th; Wednesday. Gloriously, headcold begins going away. Happy day! I get illusory feeling that uplifting songs by specific singer have over last 3 days driven vile bacillus from my sinuses. Tim Buckley must have been in my sisters' record collections. Some are articulate: Sweet Surrender; some remind of Scott Walker: Pleasant Street; some have a wonderful energy cutting across bittersweet lyrics: I Never Asked to be Your Mountain; precious, dreamlike: Song of the Magician; raucous, exultant: Honey Man. All of them seem rich with texture and unusual shifts: Gypsy Woman / Blue Melody / Down by the Borderline. Couple of nights pondering all the loves I've lost, and hey presto, foul pox gone: health & energy restored.

January 29th; Tuesday. 1969 gets advance warning of Early-70s Folk Apocalypse.
January 28th; Monday. Guardian warns of cyber-threat, still calls it 'capitalism'.

January 27th; Sunday. Month-old headcold worsens again. Fabulous. Feeble of me to complain though when Bukovsky is doggedly alive, still releasing vital material.
January 26th; Saturday. Increased concern that Chinese hardware builder Huawei might be spying for Chinese state.

January 25th; Friday. Further climate shockers: Global warming doesn't cause hurricanes. Imagine our surprise. Meanwhile, masturbating man in Oregon restaurant resists arrest by 12+ police officers. The mighty power of rough drugs.
January 24th; Thursday. Irish writer shows tin ear judging English Brexit voters.

January 23rd; Wednesday. Two men claiming to be God continue to resist eviction from interfaith arts centre in Tennessee.
January 22nd; Tuesday. "People's Vote" campaign attempting to rerun 2016 EU referendum to get a Brussels-pleasing vote 2nd time descends into infighting.

January 21st; Monday. Turns out that recently discovered Neolithic stone circle in Scotland in fact dates from the distant 1990s.
January 20th; Sunday. Background inside Labour to this month's fascinating constitutional shenanigans. Here too.

January 19th; Saturday. Almost a surprise - am roused from headcold lethargy by news of a late-post-Hogmanay party at Robin's flat. Perhaps this is Eastern Orthodox Hogmanay. Mellow guests and odd exchanges. Odd in a good way, obviously.
January 18th; Friday. There are mysterious blue people in Kentucky?

January 17th; Thursday. Wonderful article from two years ago. 'Progressive' journalist describes uncanny encounter with possible Trump voter.
January 16th; Wednesday. Nice essay about the Victorian reimagining of the vampire. Seems that Dracula is Byron.

January 15th; Tuesday. China's computer creepiness continues: a new app will tell you if you walk near someone the state wants debt-shamed.
January 14th; Monday. Women's mag shrewdly notes some news manipulation.

January 13th; Sunday. Woman with medical condition cannot hear men's voices. Unprecedented! Probably no link to claim Cuban embassy sonic attacks are crickets.
January 12th; Saturday. Physical book sales revive, as I predicted 8 years ago.

January 11th; Friday. Could these two stories be connected? Euro is "dysfunctional", for those who didn't know that already. Oh, and Germany slides into recession.
January 10th; Thursday. Actual snow today. The view today from the office up on Crypto Hill specacular: frost-encrusted trees clustered on snowy slopes. Scots archeologists "find" a new rare stone circle.

January 9th; Wednesday. German politician attacked. Of course the AfD is referred to as "far right".
January 8th; Tuesday. Weather gets cold again. A short rant about English grammar.

January 7th; Monday. A couple of sciency things: biologists debate the evolutionary function of beauty, and another article about the "insect apocalypse". For most of us, that means more of them. Plus some kind of shrimp has world's best eyes.
January 6th; Feast of the Epiphany. Paul calls it Feast of the Three Kings.

January 5th; Saturday. Jimi Tenor, the Joe 90 of Finnish funk, plays 'Moonfolks'. On the topic of musical and mathematical notation, here's a charming short talk by an American maths teacher.
January 4th; Friday. The 9/11-hacking story still on - showing potential.

January 3rd; Thursday. Tiresome illness continues. I perform the ritual of chopping ginger, lemon, and garlic into a pot of honey.
January 2nd; Wednesday. Hearing a high-pitched hum in the morning from the neighbouring apartment, I briefly imagine the Arab lads vacuuming the flat, dismiss this as obviously laughable, so pop out into the corridor and knock on next door. Sure enough, a harassed-looking Hungarian cleaning girl answers. I check if the Arabs have gone and she wearily says yes, muttering something about never having seen a flat this dirty before. I sleep during much of the day. Though still feeling quite ill, make it to Mexican place late afternoon to meet Davor and Anton. Anton alerts me to a curious Forbes story from this afternoon about an apparent 9/11-related blackmail effort aimed at some insurance companies.

January 1st; New Year's Day. At around 8am, once silence has fallen on the street outside for several hours, a single kazoo honks plaintively a few times, like a bird left behind the day after a big migration. I seem to be properly ill, at least with a serious headcold. Much of day in bed, taking vitamins. Always a good time to revisit the hot/crazy matrix and its bluffly businesslike presenter: "These are your redheads, your strippers, anyone named Tiffany." Luckily, it seems that feminists find sexist men sexier. Of course.

Recent weblog entries continued:

Who can translate the next 300 words into Korean or Hindi? Contact us and there will be revelry.

Languages dying out each week - who cares?

We do - otherlanguages.org is gradually building a reference resource for over five thousand linguistic minorities and stateless languages worldwide.

Thousands of unique language communities are becoming extinct. Out of the world's five to six thousand languages, we hardly know what we're losing, what literatures, philosophies, ways of thinking, are disappearing right now.


We may soon regret the extinction of thousands of entire linguistic cultures even more than we regret the needless extinction of many animals and plants.

The planet is increasingly dominated by a handful of major-language monocultures like Mandarin Chinese, Hindi, Arabic, Indonesian, Urdu, Spanish, Portuguese, English, Swahili, Russian, Cantonese Chinese, Japanese, Bengali - all beautiful and fascinating languages.

But so are the 5,000 others.

These are groups of people?

Linguistic minorities are communities of ordinary people whose native tongue is not their country's main official language. Swedish speakers in Finland, French speakers in Canada, Hungarian speakers in Slovakia - and hundreds more - are linguistic minorities.

And totally stateless languages are the native languages of some of the world's most intriguing, little-known, cultures. Like the Lapps inside the Arctic Circle, the Sards in Sardinia, Ainus in Japan. Cherokee in the US, Scots Gaelic in Britain, Friesian in the Netherlands, Zulu in South Africa. There are only a couple of hundred recognised sovereign states and territories, so 5,000 languages - more depending on how you count - are the native tongues of linguistically stateless people.

How could I help?

You don't need to learn an endangered language - any more than go to live in the rainforest to help slow its destruction.

A good start is to just tell friends about websites like this.

Broader public interest makes it easier for linguists to raise funds and organise people to learn these languages while there's time.

That's right. There are people who love languages and are happy to learn them on behalf of the rest of us, but they need support, just like zoologists, botanists, or historians.

Fewer languages still sounds good to me

Depends what you think languages are for. They're not just a tool for business. We never said you should learn three or four thousand rare languages - or even one. And which ones we make children learn in school, or whether we should force children to learn languages at all, is another question.

Typical scene in a European city; Chances are, folk here speak some sort of foreign language *5

A century ago - before we understood ecology, and when we cared less about wilderness, most educated people would have laughed at the idea of worrying about plants or animals going extinct. Now we understand how important species diversity is for our own futures, we are more humble, and more worried.

In the same way, linguistic triumphalism by English-speakers who hated studying foreign grammar at school is dangerously ignorant as well as arrogant. Few of us know what we are losing, week by week. How many people realise these languages have scientific value?

Scientific value?

You can think of these languages across the planet as beautiful cathedrals or precious archeological sites we are watching being destroyed. That should be motive enough.

But these five thousand languages may also hold clues to the structure of the human mind. Subtle differences and similarities

Wireless radio can be a great comfort to those unable to leave the textbooks in which they live *6
between languages are helping archeologists and anthropologists to understand what happened in the hundreds of centuries of human history before written history. And that is one of our best chances of understanding how human brains developed over the thousands of centuries leading up to that.

Study of the mind and study of language go hand in hand these days. The world's most marginal languages are actually precious jigsaw pieces from an overall picture of who we are and how our species thinks and evolves. Every tiny language adds another brightly-coloured clue to this academic detective story.

Yet researchers have hardly started sifting through this tantalising evidence, and language extinction is washing it away right in front of us.

And worst of all, most people have no idea that there is this fantastic profusion of cultures across our world, let alone that they are in danger of extinction. Even just more people learning that there are still five thousand living languages in the world today (most of us would answer five hundred or fifty) is already a huge help.

We English-speakers hardly notice English - it's like air for us. But every other language is also an atmosphere for an entire cultural world, and each of these worlds has people whose home it is. Each language encapsulates a unique way of talking and thinking about life. Just try some time in a foreign prison, being forced to cope in another language, and you'll realise how much your own language is your identity. That's true for everyone.

Minority languages are a human-rights issue?

One of the most basic.

Dozens of millions of people worldwide suffer persecution from national governments for speaking their mother tongue - in their own motherland.

Many 'ethnic' feuds puzzling to outsiders had as their basis an attempt to destroy a linguistic community. Would the Northern Ireland dispute be quite so bitter if we English had not so nearly stamped out the Irish Gaelic language, for example? Almost nowhere in the world does a language community as small as the few thousand Rheto-Romanic speakers - the fourth official language of Switzerland - get the protection of a national government. Next time you see some Swiss Francs, check both sides of the banknote.

But outside exceptional countries like Switzerland or the Netherlands, speakers of non-official languages have a much less protected experience.

Speakers of minority languages are often seen as a threat by both the governments and the other residents of the countries where they were born, grew up, and try to live ordinary lives.

They experience discrimination in the job and education markets of their homelands, often having no choice but to pursue education in the major language of the host state: a deliberate government policy usually aimed at gradually absorbing them into the majority culture of that country.

Mighty oaks from tiny acorns grow, of course *7

Most governments are privately gleeful each time another small separate culture within their borders is snuffed out by a dwindling population or a deliberately centralising education system.

The United Nations is no help. It is an association of a couple of hundred sovereign states based on exclusive control of territory, almost all of them anxious to smother any distinct group or tradition that in any way might blur or smudge the hard-won borders around those pieces of territory.

The usual approach by sovereign states is to deny their linguistic minorities even exist.


Mark Griffith, site administrator / contact at otherlanguages.org

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*1 image from , with thanks
*2 "Al-Araby" in written Arabic (read more)
*3 "What?" in American Sign Language; image from , with thanks
*4 "Big" in written Chinese  (read more); image from , with thanks
*5 image from , with thanks
*6 image from , with thanks
*7 image from 'B?ume', with thanks to  Bruno P. Kramer, and Franckh-Kosmos Verlag


.languages of the world
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reviews: ................. books {...or films here}

1 metrologie historique
2 postmodernism & the other
3 disaster (news on sunday)
4 money unmade (russian barter in the 1990s)
5 the sleepwalkers
6 e
7 the kruschev era
8 the end of science
9 don't you want me?
10 the carpet wars
11 zelator
12 life of thomas more
13 faber book of science
14 gilgamesh
15 out of it
16 guns, germs & steel
17 words & rules
18 figure in the landscape
19 life without genes
20 bede's history of the english
21 the nothing that is
22 zoology
23 journey by moonlight
24 heavenly serbia
25 ratkay endre
26 the handmaid's tale
27 the selective eye
28 a megismerese epitokovei
29 intention
30 thirty nine steps
31 princess
32 the pyramids
33 the etruscans
34 moonchild
35 paradise news
36 culture of time & space 1880 to 1918
37 szimmetria
38 babel orokeben
39 astro-archeology
40 a history of islamic spain
41 high gothic
42 among the believers
43 the renaissance
44 augustine
45 mcvicar
46 atomised
47 tangled wing
48 da vinci code
49 nature via nurture
50 termeszet szamai
51 decline & fall of roman empire
52 practical cheesemaking
53 the sufis
54 fra angelico at san marco
55 the cryptographer
56 they have a word for it
57 szamok valosan innen & tul
58 artistic theory in italy 1450 to 1600
59 darwin's black box
60 indiai ejszaka
61 cleopatra: histories, dreams & distortions
63 what mad pursuit
64 language, the learner & the school
65 writing the romantic comedy
66 the blank slate
67 dougal & the blue cat
68 diego velasquez
69 horse nonsense
70 a certain chemistry
71 deterring democracy
72 textiles
73 thief of time
74 bloodsucking fiends
75 right ho, jeeves
76 generativ grammatika
77 1st time i got paid for it
78 galapagos
79 othello
80 understanding media
81 mysticism
82 short history of french literature
83 best on the market
84 art of seeing
85 culture & imperialism
86 food of the gods
87 arabic-islamic cities
88 the alchemist
89 verbal learning & memory
90 building a successful software business
91 don't make me think!
92 memory
93 the u.s. & the arab world
94 hard times
95 spells for teenage witches
97 the pig that wants to be eaten
98 encyclopaedia of stupidity
99 seventy eight degrees of wisdom: part i
100 beach watching
101 the ancient greeks
102 brainstorms
103 seventy eight degrees of wisdom: part ii
104 utopia
105 technical writing for engineers & scientists
106 alphabet versus goddess
107 writing on drugs
108 news from somewhere
109 isp survival guide
110 petrus hispanus mester logikajabol
111 art of seduction
112 stet
113 penguin by design
114 the sense of being stared at
115 the golden ratio
116 dinamikus emlekezet
117 margins of reality
118 hopjoy was here
119 bump in the night
120 box of delights
121 color atlas of immunology
122 fashionistas
123 pi in the sky
124 a new kind of fool
125 one man's meat
126 greek fire
127 the buddha in daily life
128 beginner's dutch
129 private life of the brain
130 solar ethics
131 pedant in the kitchen
132 knots
133 the planets within
134 encyclopaedia of ancient & mediaeval history
135 consilience
136 the age of scandal
137 fashion: the 20th century
138 the tipping point
139 design literacy
140 the silent partner
141 hamlet
142 1421
143 the 1890s
144 godel's proof
145 rosencrantz & guildenstern are dead
146 beyond reason
147 little book of music theory
148 q-basic
149 alone of all her sex
150 social studies
151 eternal darkness
152 drawn from memory
154 a guide to elegance
155 medea & other plays
156 the future of money
157 cheese
158 grammars of creation
159 aquarian conspiracy
160 the climate crisis
161 true fiction
162 the making of memory
163 why most things fail
164 genetikai abece
165 finding fulfilment
166 genome
167 the broken estate
168 inigo jones
169 flashman & the dragon
170 from bauhaus to our house
171 100 great paintings
172 kis spanyol nyelvtan
173 the historian
174 tomorrow's gold
175 charting made easy
176 life after life
177 spanyol igei vonzatok
178 the eclipse of art
179 fire in the mind
180 the human body
181 out of control
182 possession
183 simplified chinese characters
184 the generation of 1914
185 intellectuals
186 world of late antiquity
187 riddle & knight
188 informacio kultusza
189 napoleon of notting hill
190 secrets: palm-reading
191 meet yourself as you really are
192 cat's abc
193 intro to spanish poetry
194 rise of christian europe
195 philip's guide to electric living
196 sins for father knox
197 celtic twilight
198 myths of love
199 snobbery with violence
200 just like tomorrow
201 7 basic plots
202 experiment with time
203 vile bodies
204 icons & images: 60s
205 fisher king
206 new jerusalem
207 born on a blue day
208 surveillir & punir
209 trial of socrates
210 how to catch fairies
211 conversations on consciousness
212 mind performance hacks
213 conscience of the eye
214 beau brummell
215 evolution
216 the outsider
217 raja yoga
218 rise of political lying
219 occidentalism
220 colossus
221 secret teachings of jesus
222 blue murder
223 nostrodamus the next 50 years
224 homage to catalonia
225 charity ends at home
226 palace of dreams
227 discovering book collecting
228 beyond the outsider
229 the last barrier
230 that hideous strength
231 indian sculpture
232 small world
233 evolution & healing
234 in search of memory
235 campo santo
236 llewellyn's 2007 tarot reader
237 dream of rome
238 why buildings fall down
239 the empty space
240 england made me
241 greek science in antiquity
242 science, a l'usage des non-scientifiques
243 utmutato tarot
243 hunt for zero point
244 william wilberforce
245 viktor schauberger
246 untouchable
247 the vitamin murders
248 straw dogs
249 elizabeth's spymaster
250 the hard life
251 the god delusion
252 the intellectual
253 undercover economist
254 quirkology
255 chasing mammon
256 early mesopotamia & iran
257 the strange death of david kelly
258 the pilgrimage
259 origin of wealth
260 maxims
261 the finishing school
262 the shepherd's calendar
263 islamic patterns
264 lost world of the kalahari
265 german short stories 1
266 electricity
267 liber null & psychonaut
268 born to rebel
269 wittgenstein's poker
270 will the boat sink the water?
271 romeo & juliet
272 why beautiful people have more daughters
273 the crossing place
274 the turkish diplomat's daughter
275 missionary position
276 lust in translation
277 teaching as a subversive activity
278 how german is it
279 empires of the word
280 warped passages
281 the power of now
282 ponder on this
283 sword of no-sword
284 narcissism
285 blink
286 shock of the old
287 basque history of the world
288 truth: a guide
289 who shot jfk?
290 newtonian casino
291 power & greed
292 the world without us
293 5-minute nlp
294 concise guide to alchemy
295 evidence in camera
296 4-hour work week
297 the rosicrucian enlightenment
298 de-architecture
299 how to lie with maps
300 a book of english essays
301 a time of gifts
302 the occult philosophy in the elizabethan age
303 le pelerinage des bateleurs
304 alchemy & alchemists
305 greenmantle
306 the hero with 1000 faces
307 goethe's parable
308 rhedeyek es fraterek
309 letter to a christian nation
310 the tryst
311 7 experiments that could change the world
312 mill on the floss
313 metastases of enjoyment
314 the isles
315 between the woods and the water
316 secrets of the great pyramid
317 life in the french country house
318 the china study
319 tarot: theory & practice
320 the roger scruton reader
321 alchemy & mysticism
322 picasso's mask
323 the rule of four
324 triumph of the political class
325 arts of darkness
326 neuroscience & philosophy
327 the art of memory
328 mind wide open
329 mud, blood, & poppycock
330 society of the spectacle
331 lila
332 de imaginibus
333 electronics
334 giordano bruno & the embassy affair
335 temporary autonomous zone
336 the human touch
337 the fascination of evil
338 the king of oil
339 dowsing
340 the book of j
341 the west and the rest
342 story of my life
343 plain tales from the hills
344 under the influence
345 modern culture
346 50 mots clefs d'esoterisme
347 giordano bruno & the hermetic tradition
348 development, geography & economic theory
349 das kapital: a biography
350 strange days indeed
351 hegel: a very short introduction
352 reflections on the revolution in france
353 history of sexuality: an introduction
354 why we buy
355 origins of virtue
356 the holographic universe
357 a dead man in deptford
358 obsolete
359 137
360 in your face
361 7 spies who changed the world
362 the noetic universe
363 why beauty is truth
364 imagery in healing
365 the craftsman's handbook
366 futurism
367 in the cards
368 dmso
369 les hommes et leurs genes
370 the franchise affair
371 the decision book
372 les harmonies de la nature a l'epreuve de la biologie
373 kibernetika
374 zuleika dobson
375 l'empire de nombres
376 circus philosophicus
377 some girls
378 number
379 island
380 how to get your ideas adopted
381 drive
382 emergence
383 rfid : la police totale
384 the tempest
385 aspects of wagner
386 view over atlantis
387 world atlas of mysteries
388 art of the dogon
389 genesis machines
390 the sirius mystery
391 the cult of the fact
392 anastasia
393 ringing cedars of russia
394 a whiff of death
395 spirit level delusion
396 wavewatcher's companion
397 the kybalion
398 elegance
399 death in a scarlet coat
400 architecture without architects


1 k-pax
2 very annie mary
3 wasabi
4 gosford park
5 arany varos
6 minority report
7 amelie
8 bridget jones' diary
9 arccal a fo:ldnek
10 monsters' ball
11 cube
12 man with no past
13 talk to her
14 szerelemtol sujtva
15 bowling for columbine
16 matrix3
17 zoolander
18 anything else
19 farenheit 9/11
20 8 & 1/2 women
21 madagascar
22 kill bill 1
23 dude, where's my car?
24 the woman in green
25 the hunger
24 nightwatch
25 de battre son coeur s'est arrete
26 wicker man
27 v for vendetta
28 courage the cowardly dog
29 casino royale
30 power of nightmares
31 charlie's angels
32 full throttle
33 foxy brown
34 paths of glory
35 airplane
36 between iraq & a hard place
37 mutiny on the bounty
38 flashmob the opera
39 octopussy
40 bakkerman
41 kiterunner

December 31st; New Year's Eve. As well as playing the same 3 or 4 songs again and again, the gormless Arabs next door seem unable to talk to each other normally. They're either silent, or suddenly shout at each other, across a normal room, oscillating between periods of frenzy and boredom. They're a bit like the noteless kazoos being blown on the street but much louder. During one of these nights, one of them locks the others out. Seems to sleep through them hammering on the door on and off for around four hours. Apparently trees talk to each other too, but quietly.

December 30th; Sunday. As darkness falls, a few stray kazoos honk outside on Vaci street, trying to get the party going. Plausible case that pro-Remain campaigners are driven by snobbery. Mrs Merkel says countries must surrender sovereignty. Peter Hitchens, brother of the late Christopher, gives his account of far-left infiltration.
December 29th; Saturday. Mystery neighbours move in, some dopey Arab lads from Dubai. They will suddenly start playing some sentimental Arab pop music at huge volume right against the partition wall, sing along to it in a tone-deaf howling-dog sort of way, and then go quiet for an hour or so before striking up again. I ask them to let me sleep at 3.30am, they promise to, but of course they don't. I get to sleep around 5. Here's an interesting account of meditation-induced lunacy.

December 28th; Friday. Seems someone exploded 5 postboxes in Chichester on Boxing Day. Vaguely reminiscent of 'X v. Rex'.
December 27th; Thursday. Delicious seasonal lunch at Textile-designer Edina's stylish flat, along with a lesson and a couple of Tarot readings.

December 26th; Boxing Day. I find Davor in a Mexican restaurant - we watch some rapid chess games he's following live on his phone, both of us making guesses on the obvious next moves.
December 25th; Christmas Day. Davor, whose flat is just round the corner, plays me some snatches of old Tom Leykis radio shows.

December 24th; Christmas Eve. Tonight, I rather like this nativity.
December 23rd; Sunday. Shutters in Michael's main room at night let in differently-sized strips or lozenges of light that hover on different parts of the plaster-moulded ceiling. Sometimes their colours slowly change and I try to guess without getting out of bed what is causing them on the street. Most nights the illuminated names of two shops opposite, the serifed L'Occitane and the sanserif Foot Locker tint two oblongs. However, sometimes another ceiling rectangle trembles visibly because a video screen is playing in a shop window across the pedestrian street down below.

December 22nd; Saturday. Cold weather lightens: much milder. Sleep a lot to recover from all that film-set action (or at least film-set sitting around). Here's an old article from Tom Wolfe, ahead of his time, as so often.
December 21st; Friday. Surprise return to film set, first warning this morning. After I finish lessons by about 3, get driven out and then wait. Two very cute girls, apparently both certified bodyguards, swap chat about firearms as we hang around in the draughty canteen shed into the evening, ready to work. The close-up shots of my neck being stabbed (again) are done surprisingly quickly at around 9 at night.

December 20th; Thursday. Quiet day at office on Crypto Hill eating no food, waiting to be paid, and feeling frail. Apparently cold today: the air seems to actually attack the skin. A big NYT article with some nifty moving graphs explains the rise of China, yet seems to me to miss the point a bit. It dwells rather on the 'American Dream' label used whenever some large chunk of the world does catch-up development in a number of decades.
December 19th; Wednesday. Meet Renata for a lesson at the 24-hour restaurant she likes, Pizza Paradicsom. I eat some pasta and feel strangely exhausted by about 9 that night. I wake up realising I have food poisoning. Through the night wake several times to heave my guts up miserably into a bedside bucket. The staff know and like her, but of course the thought that might explain me being given bad food is much too paranoid, ho ho! The Godhead doubtless raises a sceptical cosmic eyebrow at only being prayed to at certain special moments, painful vomiting being one of those. The sense of being mixed, mingled with something bad, is tangible. And with each session of spewing, the self is more pure, it's more me each time crawling to the bucket, head hanging over the edge while I get back breath. The moment it's complete and my body seems my own again is extraordinary. On my knees in the dark, abdomen muscles hurting in a good way, having done their job when called on, finally free of poison: almost the original image of gratitude.

December 18th; Tuesday. After a day on Normafa, am driven to film set straight from the frosty hilltop. Sent to sit in a room with walls made of weirdly large bricks at a small yellow-wooden desk. After a couple of hours emerges that no filming is possible, so am driven home again.
December 17th; Monday. See on Lorand's coffee table a Playboy Hungary magazine he was interviewed in. He remarks the pretty girl partly in the giant champagne glass on the cover isn't Magyar because Playboy Central took away the Hungarian franchise's budget for doing its own photo shoots. They were overspending on the girls. Sounds believable.

December 16th; Sunday. Since it's the day of the sun, here's a short talk for anyone not exposed to enough in the way of wild theories. Rupert Sheldrake with wonderful calm courtesy proposes that the sun might be conscious.
December 15th; Saturday. Another disruptive theory, as we call them now. A short film about fringe (or marginalised) researchers suggesting water has memory.

December 14th; Friday. Someone found a termite 'network' "the size of Britain". Slightly unclear whether the 'network' is a unified supercolony, or just lots of separate colonies.
December 13th; Thursday. Back at the film set, being repeatedly dragged through pools of fake blood. A 14-hour day from 6.15 to 8.15, with some worrying online messages in the afternoon only accessible if I join the girls in the make-up caravan to use their WiFi. I manage to persuade a kind production person to send a driver off the set to use about ten pounds cash I have to recharge my phone so I can send a phone text to someone in Britain to phone someone else in another part of the world. All very complex, but succeeds.

December 12th; Wednesday. A short talk which gets down to business. Perkily titled Artificial Intelligence: It Will Kill Us, this speaker laudably avoids the singularity mirage. It's about being outgunned rather than outclevered.
December 11th; Tuesday. Two articles about ice. NASA 3 years ago says Antarctic ice is thickening, and NSIDC 3 days ago says North American November snowfall biggest since 1966.

December 10th; Monday. Back on film set for surprisingly long day as a dead ticket inspector lying down on the floor again and again of the disabled loo I was murdered in yesterday. Whole day in ticket-inspector uniform, sticky with fake blood.
December 9th; Sunday. In film production where I have quite a long day being repeatedly stabbed in the neck (about 70 to 80 times) in a disabled loo on a mock-up train inside a mock-up Channel Tunnel by two different rather dishy girls: an Australian film actress playing a slinky terrorist, and her slightly sportier Hungarian stunt double. There is a rubber knife, a rather alarming-looking real knife (heavy with polished blade), and an intriguing knife handle with a short stub of luminous green where the image of the blade can be reinserted into the footage using computer trickery in the post-production studio. Everyone is very sweet and careful not to injure me.

December 8th; Saturday. Our man in Bucharest writes about how teachers aim to identify and root out children with unacceptable political views.
December 7th; Friday. On de Quincey's 1849 farewell to express mail coaches.

December 6th; Thursday. The Guardian, bless its cotton socks, hosts a Cambridge politics don suggesting 6-year-olds get the vote. I remember the SPS students.
December 5th; Wednesday. UK pre-crime software. What could possibly go wrong?

December 4th; Tuesday. First she was warned the EU would use the Ulster border trick. Now the Commons is onto May's deception (blocked by Safari?).
December 3rd; Monday. Non-stick frying-pans can shorten your stick

December 2nd; Sunday. Some days chilly, some days quite mild. People in high-viz jackets (blocked by Safari?) seem to be rioting in Paris. Much of it seems to be against Teacher's (blocked by Safari?) Pet. But he shall rule like a Roman God!
December 1st; Saturday. Times article (reg wall) says PM May was warned by attorney general about Irish-border EU trick.

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