to links pages 
phone texts to +36 -- --- ----
July 26th; Monday.
Israel now has such a problem with vaccinated people dying from covid-19 at a higher rate than unvaccinated people that
it's banning some vaccinated tourists from entering.
July 25th; Sunday.
A little snatch of dancing
in the future. In a glass bubble at the bottom of the sea - as imagined in 1966, in German.
July 24th; Saturday.
One trip last week helping Jessica buy furnishings involved a visit to the carpet section of XXXL-something, which
was previously Kika, which was previously Michelfeit (which I kept childishly misremembering as Michelle Pfeiffer),
which was previously Domus, the local flatpack-furniture store (whatever you call it) that
almost killed me with a collapsing bookcase. It was striking not only how lazy and rude the staff
were, but how greedily expensive the prices were. Jessica eventually buys a dusty pink rug with a simple pattern
sharply reduced - by 70% in fact. All the other XXX carpets the same size were all 4, 5, or 6 times the price. They must
have been struggling to sell it because it was too tasteful and understated.
The section is huge, and stuffed with pricey carpets too. The matching
IKEA carpet section had more attractive carpets, a bit cheaper, and about a tenth of the floorspace. The Swedes
know to cost in fixed overheads like floor area, lighting & heating, I suppose.
July 23rd; Friday.
Back helping Californian filmmaker Jessica - we're assembling the height-adjustable standing desk with
its little motors. Her new flat is small but lovely with not only a small balcony front and back but even access
to a shared roof terrace. Hearing jets and seeing helicopters overhead towing flags from one balcony, we
rush up to the roof last week clutching a bottle of water each. We plump down into folding chairs each,
and Jessica frowns up at the now-silent cloudy sky declaring
"Come on, planes, entertain us!" Other sayings from Chairman J in recent days
"So I ask the cards what the obstacles are to me writing this screenplay so I can cry myself to
sleep tonight?", not to mention
"I've got better eyesight than you because I paid for it!"
"Hinduism is a video game, right? You come back on different levels, you get different skills and
weapons." Full in with the Bostrom/Musk view we're in a simulation is her conclusion that
"The aliens are the maintenance workers for the video game."
July 22nd; Thursday.
Warm weather continues. People continue to walk around in public wearing clothes with ridiculous slogans written on
them in large letters, usually in English. For example "Die" or "Rebirth Through Pain".
Another 19th-century account of a hollow world, Etidorhpa, this one framed as fiction. This evening at Middle Temple in London, a memorial
service for Michael is being held but I can't get there to attend.
July 21st; Wednesday.
Robin's exhibition at the
Magyar Muhely Galeria opens. Afterwards Jessica & I repair to the comedy show at Sean's bar presented by Dave, where
the funniest and most professional of the stand-up comics, Gruber, berates me from the stage for not getting vaccinated.
July 20th; Tuesday. Signs of hope: younger
increasingly switching off the creepy & unhelpful NHS covid-19 tracing app.
July 19th; Monday.
Two bits of quite aggressive club music from 'Labrinth':
Mount Everest /
Still Don't Know My Name.
July 18th; Sunday. Mycologist Terence McKenna, in his
unmistakable whiny wordy Irish-American lilt, waxes lyrical over his favourite drug, the "business trip"
N,N-Dimethyltryptamine or "DMT" and
its cosmic implications. It sounds fascinating (or McKenna makes it sound fascinating),
but I honestly don't think I have the courage to try it.
DMT is Everything.
July 17th; Saturday. Two quaint bits of amateur
research: one about the life of a 19th-century Nordic fisherman who claimed he had travelled into
a hollow earth, and got committed to
an insane asylum as a result / the other about how Biblical descriptions of
angels are not at all as we imagine.
July 16th; Friday. More Bragg radio discussions.
The Arian Heresy, something I kept
stumbling over but never quite got my head round before / Portuguese writer
Pessoa / an intriguing 8th-century scholar & pedagogue called
July 15th; Thursday. A co-founder of the
Wikipedia website says the mass-edited encyclopaedia is
no longer trustworthy.
July 14th; Wednesday.
Bastille Day. I find out the
of Wands' theme tune was, of all people, written
by Andy Bown, someone who later played keyboards for Status Quo. And how odd - a children's show about the occult.
Or is it? I recall watching some episodes of this as a small boy, realising it was a competitor to
Dr Who, suddenly seeing that
"science fiction" is really just a relabelling of "magic".
July 13th; Tuesday.
A charming version of 'Season
of the Witch'. Julie Driscoll's eye makeup very much of its time.
The haunting melody still suffers from that jarring contrast with
weak lyrics like "pick up every stitch". Such a lame rhyme for "witch".
July 12th; Monday.
"Labour deeply ashamed by
'dildo butt pedo monkey'". Another fine headline.
July 11th; Sunday.
ANC infighting in South Africa seems to be
July 10th; Saturday. Some hefty
claims about covid-19-vaccination risks:
a US perspective /
some effects of multiple inoculations.
July 9th; Friday. A
radio show about the
extraordinary affair in the late 60s & early 70s of Colin Turnbull and the Mbuti versus the Ik. The
African tribe the Ik were, in his bigoted judgement (during a devastating famine, of all things),
"the most selfish people on earth", as described in his book
Mountain People'. Very interesting programme, clarifying just
what's so strange about anthropology and the people who do it. It was clear that Turnbull had
a childish personal fantasy about an innocent Garden of Eden of early human societies in Africa
(cf 'The Forest
People', the Mbuti), partly based on hatred of his native England. The Ik ruined the
Mbuti-fuelled delusion for him, and he reacted with the
rage of a jilted lover. Mind you, the BBC narrator Syed is himself
a bit suspect. In this short spot he misleadingly describes the 1973 hostage standoff that led to the phrase
'Stockholm Syndrome'. He explains how the phrase misrepresents what happened, while himself misrepresenting what
happened. Another item about Brexit reveals him as part of the BBC news-distortion consensus.
July 8th; Thursday.
Finish a mid-1980s book called '1984 Revisited', edited
by Irving Howe. An intriguing set of essays, some
very good, others not so much, some tightly connected to Orwell's book, others less so. Robert Tucker's essay
suggests Big Brother is not just a cartoonish personification of a brutal system but an actual person: eg Mao
or Stalin, with less personal police states less recognisably versions of Orwell's dictatorship. Richard Lowenthal
goes into interesting detail about struggles over policy and ideology inside the 1950s & 1960s USSR & China.
Bernard Avishai focuses on Orwell's fears about NewSpeak and language manipulation, while Robert Nisbet discusses
how much Rousseau and Burke prefigured Orwell's themes before and during the French Revolution. Slightly eerie to read
these thoughtful reflections written 2 or 3 years before (we now know) the USSR, East Bloc, and Berlin Wall collapsed.
Seemingly every author was unaware the great change was at hand. No contributor mentioned Amalrik's prescient 1970s
book 'Will the Soviet Union Survive Until 1984?'
A friend falls dangerously sick with heat stroke & low blood salt (having earlier in the day vomited on the side of the
building housing Hungary's Ministry of Local Government). I take charcoal pills & salty drinks.
July 7th; Wednesday.
Finish a curious book from 2012 lent to me by a friend. It's called
Heaven', wherein an
American neurosurgeon relates how he fell into a dangerous coma for seven days, his brain not only
shut down but measurably & observedly shut down, yet meanwhile subjectively experiencing visions of heaven,
higher realms etc. The surgeon who fell ill changed from being a materialistic science believer to someone
convinced love is the basic force of the physical universe.
July 6th; Tuesday.
Lockdowns and masks bring an
July 5th; Monday.
Slightly shouty but interesting article about the 2020
July 4th; Sunday.
Meet Jessica, Eugene, and others for
US Independence drinks at the Marriott. A wiggly
pet snake appears at a nearby table, looking harmless enough (Don't Step
on Me?), but some of the womenfolk in our group nonetheless flee at
Sammy the Serpent's arrival. After dark, Jessica shows me a rather fine burger restaurant, where a waitress
has a large-ish bird of prey on one wrist, like a big falcon (she says it's a Mexican species not strictly
the same as a falcon or a kestrel). He's called Marci. All very mythological.
July 3rd; Saturday. Astonishing.
People allowed in shops and on public transport without the stupid paper hospital masks. A rule
which should never have been imposed in the first place and did only harm finally vanishes after
over a year. Incredible they got away with this, not to mention the censorship and the lies.
Not really relevant, but an interesting nugget from Forbes, claiming Anthony Fauci was
2019's best-paid US federal employee.
July 2nd; Friday.
Recently, my Peter Pan article went online at The Salisbury Review.
July 1st; Thursday.
To buy a 2nd tube of relaxant gel for the still pulled muscles in my back, I go to three pharmacists
in a row, all of which are closed. A woman passerby outside the third explains to me that Hungary has a
holiday today in honour of
Ignaz Semmelweis, the man who drew a map of beds in a Vienna hospital ward to chart
which end of the room most women were dying of childbed fever (thus showing that doctors were carrying
infections in by not washing their hands). Meaning that most pharmacies have today off. Useful.
Recent weblog entries
Who can translate the next 300 words into
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
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?
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
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.
Wireless radio can be a great comfort to those unable
to leave the textbooks in which they live *6
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
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
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 /
*1 image from , with thanks
back up to top of page
*2 "Al-Araby" in written
*3 "What?" in American Sign
Language; image from , with thanks
*4 "Big" in written
(read more); image from , with
*5 image from , with
*6 image from , with
*7 image from
'B?ume', with thanks to
Bruno P. Kramer,
and Franckh-Kosmos Verlag