to links pages 
phone texts to +36 -- --- ----
January 9th; Saturday. Another interesting look at how suspect the November US vote tally was. Trump totals reducing during some cumulative counts.
January 8th; Friday. Again claims covid-19 was a Chinese bioweapon, perhaps released by accident.
January 7th; Thursday. 2 stand-up comedians: an Australian in a chopper gets flown into Iraq; a South African compares racism country by country.
January 6th; Wednesday. 12th Night of Christmas. As such, a time for deliberate mayhem and choosing a Lord of Misrule. Note the Congress-invader mob standing round taking photos on their phones.
January 5th; Tuesday. Back in the days when he thought he might get a nice ECB sinecure for subverting Brexit, Mark Carney, quisling Governor of the Bank of England, signed off on a Jane Austen banknote. Sadly, the P&P quote didn't quite mean what he thought it meant.
January 4th; Monday. An article proposes towing an asteroid closer to earth as its iron & nickel content is worth 70,000 times the world economy. The journalist forgets to consider the big lump would push the price of iron & nickel down close to zero.
January 3rd; Sunday. Rather sweet article about a mathematician and a geologist getting together to show the world is made of little cubes. At least most of it.
January 2nd; Saturday. Although it was just before Christmas that Cardiologist Akos said I could stop doing my thrice-daily blood-pressure measurements with the small pump-up rubber sleeve device Paul & Marion kindly bought me, I still feel strangely bereft of the ritual. Measuring my blood pressure and pulse three times each day and writing the numbers carefully onto a paper sheet printed with a grid over about 70 days created a soothing rhythm to passing time. It made me feel somehow more involved with the mending of my weary heart. In an odd way it even made the matching rhythm of the twice-daily medications (now up to eight different pills each day) easier. I'm still taking the medications, but Akos said I am improving and did not need to keep measuring. Fascinating how quickly a new thing can become a comforting habit.
January 1st; New Year's Day. Here's an article with commentary on the November paper in Nature finding no long-term covid-19 infectiousness from people without symptoms - meaning the devastating curfews/"lockdowns" and paper masks were pointless all along as well as counterproductive. Meanwhile, statistically shrewd Ivor Cummins, in his Hibernian brogue, shows why covid-19 is vastly less serious than the Spanish Flu of 1918.
Plus a strange fortnight-old piece of news, US military co-operation with the Biden team halted. Separately, James Delingpole explains why Trump should continue to oppose the November vote fraud that switched hundreds of thousands of votes from him to Biden through computer backdoors.
December 31st; New Year's Eve. Bela & I see in the New Year on the Great Plain with no-one around. Why Macron's plan to tame Islam
will fail. Le Figaro hears China is
winning the technology race.
December 30th; Wednesday. Tiagi & Saba continue to cook wonderful meals in Robin's country kitchen. The New England Journal of Medicine now has sunk as low as The Lancet, publishing twaddle about genders taking precedence over biological sex. Meanwhile, some campaigners at Yale are so dim they actually claim in print that plant food (CO2) harms plants.
December 29th; Tuesday. After a chilly start to the day on Kiraly street, journey down to Robin's on the Great Plain, with Bela at the wheel, plus Robin, Tiagi, and Tiagi's friend from India, Saba. An "ethicist" proposes pills to change people's minds, all in aid of the covid-19 Reichstag Fire, of course.
December 28th; Monday. 2 papers in last month's Nature about covid-19:
As Cardiologist Akos says, covid doesn't lurk inside symptomless people infecting others - so no need for the paper masks, no need for the distancing, no need for the economy-destroying curfews.
December 27th; Sunday. 2 intriguing snatches of film-director Guy Ritchie being interviewed. Probably for some people the man who married and then divorced Madonna: The Death of the Suit / You Must Be Master of Your Own Kingdom.
In small hours finish Tom Holland history book about the origins of Islam in the 6th, 7th, and 8th centuries AD across Persia, Mesopotamia, and the Eastern Mediterranean: 'In The Shadow of The Sword'. Fascinating stuff. He touches on the documentary evidence that the original Mecca was hundreds of miles north of its current, post-800-AD, location.
December 26th; Boxing Day. Sad November obituary of British French-verse translator found dead in October.
December 25th; Christmas Day. It was interesting a few months ago when both Andras & I simultaneously said out loud that pop music is some kind of outgrowth of Christianity. An idea we each separately came to years ago. 6 tunes from the pseudonymous/anonymous producers Sault:
Let Me Go /
Smile & Go /
Tip Toe /
Up All Night /
Free. The fashion journalists have their ear to the rail, as I suppose they should. This collection used Up All Night.
December 24th; Christmas Eve.
December 23rd; Wednesday. BBC says hospitals are dangerously overloaded at 89% capacity, brushing under the 6th-paragraph carpet the fact that last year (2019) this time (without covid-19) hospitals were actually more crowded than they are now.
December 22nd; Tuesday. Some recentish promising news about DNA computing.
December 21st; Monday. Apparently Saturn and Jupiter are so close in the sky now they look like a single, bright star known as the 'Christmas Star'. Supposedly, this is the closest the two have been in almost 800 years: since 1226.
December 20th; Sunday. Article largely lacking in wit or thought from someone seemingly unaware that "meritocracy" was a word invented in the 1950s by Michael Young, with negative intent, in a satirical novel set in the future. But then, judging how Aeon edited my article a year or two back, perhaps it was quite a good piece before they got their paws on it.
December 19th; Saturday. Georgia election staff fired after expressing concerns about US vote-cheating in November they say they witnessed in their state, from our contributor zerohedge.
December 18th; Friday. I go into perhaps the 8th herbal-tea-&-remedies store this week and the proprietor casually looks at a small list when I ask, his salesgirl quickly scans a box of tea types, and he just says with a friendly nod to me "We'll have it for you on Tuesday," almost like this is a normal country. Hallelujah! I feel like climbing onto a rooftop and blowing a hunting horn.
Israeli researcher achieves yet another way to get an air-gapped computer to leak its data covertly.
December 17th; Thursday. A couple of handy introductions to the new messenger-RNA technique for making vaccines. For anyone worried about what the process is, and what the novelty consists in.
The new technique's advantages and an overview of
how it works.
December 16th; Wednesday. Another clear overview of the WEF's Schwabian Great Reset from one of our contributors, on the Mises-dot-org website.
December 15th; Tuesday. Very interesting article about how most climate-change projections are based on already outdated numbers.
December 14th; Monday. A tiresome day trying (unsuccessfully) to buy two items in Budapest. Most of the time I'm at peace with the Hungarian idea of how to do business, but occasionally the frustration returns. Firms that don't pick up the phone are one thing but shops/stores in the capital city of a country that (let's say) brand themselves as sellers of herbal medicine, carry a mere 35 products, and then wearily sigh when you ask for something they don't have in stock? They don't offer to find it (in one shop today I was told, despite me explaining I'd tried that, to go home and look for it on the internet because they "couldn't" - and this was a shop assistant who knows and likes me.) It was like I'd overstepped the limits of politeness by asking if they could try to obtain it. The idea that she finding it for me might be her duty as an employee and her opportunity as a businesswoman seemed to have never crossed her mind.
Some of them are infuriated we don't just buy one of the things they have and go away. (As Jim the Painter said once, really Hungarians would like to keep the shop locked and just have customers put money through the letterbox without demanding anything in return.) For them to be in the shop all day is already work enough in their eyes, and you can see the exhausted resentment every time you try to make them think. One gets the feeling, entering the average Budapest retail outlet, that you're already sorely testing their patience, that the customer has already made some kind of unreasonable demand just by stepping onto the business premises. Shop Assistant Martyrs roll their eyes wearily as yet another person tries to carry out a transaction with them. It's fascinating in a way: they hate to serve. Not unlike someone I got to know well over the last two years, they think people should be serving them, but never the other way round. Reminded again of that Canadian who told me he was looking forward to leaving Hungary and living in a "First World Country" because, as he said to me, "When I want to buy a thing, I like to go to the store and buy that thing. Not wander around for three weeks hoping to find it." Thirty years since communism - there's really no excuse by now. It's an attitude problem, and I suspect from centuries before Bela Kun or the Iron Curtain.
Here's a thoughtful piece about separatism inside the US.
December 13th; Sunday. More protests in France - this time against a law banning the filming of police conduct. Downplayed or just unreported in most newspapers and TV channels of course. Read a book in the small hours called 'Chartres Cathedral's secrets' (with that lower-case S) that I picked up cheap at the book stall near Andras's flat. Translated from the French by Ann King (it's hard to find a page online for the English-language version), it has an odd style. Told like a novel, one woman is showing another round Chartres, explaining the esoteric references, and there are numerous sentences like "'I see you are an excellent student of symbolism!' she said, laughing joyously." However, the black-and-white illustrations and the explanations from the Christine character (who seems to be the author and an actual person who offers real-life tours through her website) are the point of the book, and the content is interesting. Right at the end is a sobering question one woman asks the other, related to the spiritual knowledge the cathedral offers: "What are you ready to lose?" Curiously reminiscent of 'Zelator'. That book I recall having a section where the male narrator scores with an attractive lass by impressing her with his scholarship as they stroll round Chartres together.
December 12th; Saturday. Today is the feast day of this Greek Orthodox saint.
December 11th; Friday. Just 5 days ago slept two nights in a curious place at the number-4-tram terminus. A flat with electronically-locking rooms which felt something like a cross between a young offenders' hostel and a missile silo. Was terrified of getting locked out of something, so went round all weekend with three code numbers written on my left arm. The keypads were virtual, and every time you called up the entry pad to get through a door, the digits came up in a different layout to confuse you. Very clean though!
Talking of missiles, an Iranian nuclear scientist got killed some days ago, by (so says Iran) an Israeli satellite-controlled machine gun.
December 10th; Thursday. Cardiologist Akos says my blood-and-heart numbers are improving excellently - I feel like I'm a schoolboy again and I got extra stars on my homework! Meanwhile a lawsuit by several US states seems to be finally cracking the pro-Biden vote-fraud-denial consensus in so much of the media. Riled anger now replacing the attempt to mock the allegations into silence - the 3rd of Gandhi's 4 stages?
December 9th; Wednesday. I meet Simon's energetic & resourceful friend Victoria an hour or so after visiting the fridge-magnet company again. A wonderfully intuitive visual proof of Fermat's Two Squares Theorem.
Article listing reasons to suspect widespread voter fraud in November's US elections.
December 8th; Tuesday. Curious song from decades ago by Husker Du I always thought was parents talking to their children after they graduate from university, but perhaps not: You Can Live At Home Now; Plus another quick burst of determined vigour from Evil Nine: We Have The Energy.
December 7th; Monday. Veteran, largely decent, Guardian journalist describes finally realising how morally repulsive most left-wing people are. Or more precisely - how she was driven out of that newspaper.
December 6th; Sunday. Article from last month about bad epidemiology data used to justify Britain's second period of mass house arrest. There is the claim that lockdowns/curfews are actually increasing covid-19's rate of mutation, but this article doesn't cover that. Nor does it venture onto Douglas Murray's very plausible theory that the whole episode has been economic warfare by China (now with growing GDP) against the west (now in serious recession).
December 5th; Saturday. An affadavit from an officer in the US 305th Military Intelligence Battalion (nicknamed The Kraken, hence Sydney Powell's remarks I didn't understand) detailing vote-tampering allegations. Meanwhile, more exotic claims of a recent firefight in Frankfurt, Germany, between US soldiers and armed CIA employees, during the seizure of a computer involved in the same Dominion-Software-linked election fraud of early November.
December 4th; Friday. A Russian woman economist who apparently in July 2001 predicted the September 11th attacks: she stated at a conference, later printed in an article on July 12th, that the attack would take place on August 19th that year. Her Russian intel sources might have been good: 819 AD was a significant year in Islamic history, marking the start of the Samanid dynasty (819 to 999 AD).
December 3rd; Thursday. Article about a libertine, rather than puritanical, "neo-pagan" community in the early days (1620s) of the 13 colonies. Merrymount: a sort of transplanted Merrie New England.
December 2nd; Wednesday. Statistically-sharp critic of covid-19 fuss: @FatEmperor.
December 1st; Tuesday. Unsurprising: electric cars emerge not quite as promised.
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
November 30th; Monday. Read the wittily-named 'Science Fictions' by Stuart Ritchie, about fraud, negligence, and plagiarism in scientific journals. Rather amusingly, Ritchie mentions in passing both the global-warming campaign and early claims about covid-19 as examples of good science, but the main thrust of the book is sound. He not only gives detailed yet clear explanations of statistical significance (the fetish with a "p" value of 0.05), but covers the "file-drawer problem" of research left unpublished, the value of null results, the replication crisis, and the danger of small studies. The epilogue of suggestions he makes is good too, with several well-thought-out ideas as to how science publishing could reform itself.
November 29th; Sunday. Finish 'Financial Significations in Traditional Astrology' by Turkish astrologer Oner Doser. Part of any proper toolkit for financial astrology, this short book focuses on finding the decisive influences for business success in an individual's birth chart.
November 28th; Saturday. Read 'Sound Medicine' by Indian/US neurologist Kulreet Chaudhary. She integrates western medicine with traditional Ayurvedic healing practices, often involving sound and the chanting of mantras. She is a little harsh on the role of the British Raj in suppressing ancient Indian culture (seemingly unaware that by 1858, a date she mentions twice, Britain had been the influential power in India, through the East India Company, for a century already). From her photo it's clear that as well as clever, she's an extremely pretty girl, therefore perhaps high-caste. She gives a usefully clear overview of the chakra and body-sheath system, along with sounds and mantras linked to each one. At the same time she frequently mentions western research into the effect of sound on health & healing.
November 27th; Friday. Read 'The Third Man Factor', a curious examination of accounts from people who survive gruelling ordeals at sea, on mountainsides, in the polar wastes. In many cases these people at the very edge of death report hallucinating an invisible person (often just behind their right shoulder) who appears and begins calmly advising them step by step how to hang on, not lose hope, and get back to safety. The "Third Man" is usually the Second Man, appearing, and sometimes speaking, to an individual in desperate and utterly lonely circumstances, close to death. However, it gets more ineresting when two or three people sense the presence together. The effect got misnamed the "Third Man", after a gruelling ordeal polar explorer Shackleton and two companions experienced in the South Atlantic. So it was in fact a "Fourth Man" (confusingly rephrased as The Third Man by T.S. Eliot, when he wrote about the intense suffering Shackleton's team went through). Eliot's mistaken name stuck. In a couple of other cases, three or more men struggling to return from the wilderness hardly dare say aloud to each other (but finally do) that they can all sense there is one extra member on the team. In these terrible experiences, the illusion is so vivid that, if alone, the exhausted explorer or shipwreck victim often finds himself cutting an extra slice of food or sharing his last thermos flask of hot tea with the invisible adviser & helper. Again and again, survivors of this brush with death report the apparition or presence - often after days of helpful presence - vanishing without warning. Whereupon, seconds later, "real" people appear around a corner to help and rescue the desperate man.
November 26th; Thursday. Finish 'Chaos', a lengthy but fascinating re-examination of the murders in 1969 carried out by Charles Manson's "Family" cult. What horrified people at the time, aside from the frenzied barbarism of the killings, was the extraordinary level of control Manson seemed to have over his followers, many of them apparently inoffensive young girls until they came under his influence. (There are also intriguing hints that many Hollywood actors thought Polanski had in some eerie way brought the murder of Tate upon himself and her, the phrase "live freaky, die freaky" being repeatedly cited.)
The book is carefully researched, and the author Tom O'Neill digs out information (curiously overlooked by other chroniclers of the "Family" murders) about Manson and his girls, two years earlier, spending the 1967 summer in the Haight Ashbury area of San Francisco. While in SF Manson was regularly seeing two doctors (both called Smith) doing mildly covert research on mind control and drugs right there at the psychedelic, hippie-culture epicentre of the summer of love. Links back to CIA mind-control projects are carefully deduced, along with a lot of evidence that Manson and his group were in some way "protected", again and again being let go by police after serious crimes. A very interesting book, which is engrossing and, within its true-crime/cover-up genre, genuinely scholarly.
November 25th; Wednesday. Finish 'Covid-19: The Great Reset', a July 2020 book by Klaus Schwab, the man who held a seminar in October 2019 called 'Event 201' (involving John Hopkins School of Public Health) and a previous event called 'Clade X' in May 2018, also involving John Hopkins. Both events were about how convenient it would be if there was a global pandemic and the world economy could be rearranged as a result. Third time lucky perhaps? Certainly, Schwab has been pushing this idea for a few years. Much of the rhetoric and deeply misguided (or guided?) over-reaction of governments around the world this year was extensively practised in previous simulations.
'The Great Reset' is a sly and deeply dishonest book, with one rhetorical trick repeated over and over again. The trick is to start a paragraph with some assertion, wax fairly alarmist about it, and then scale back with a hedging sentence at the close to create the semblance of moderation and caution. This trimming of the prose to make the book look like the punchy-but-reasonable Blue Sky Thinking it poses as might have been the contribution of Schwab's co-author Thierry Malleret. Or rather Mary Anne Malleret, I assume a relative of Thierry, only named in the back. Rather sweetly, Thierry & Mary Anne are more publicly the co-authors of a little feel-good book about how we would be healthier and happier if we went for a walk each day, which has a doubtless avuncular preface by Klaus Schwab.
In any case, 'The Great Reset', written this June, spends several pages discussing how the disproportionate rates of death for African Americans from covid-19 prove the truth of social & economic disadvantage that fuelled the Black Lives Matter riots. Schwab po-facedly cites the death of George Floyd as an example of racist policing in the US, nowhere in the text noting that moments before arrest Floyd, known as a violent criminal, took a lethal dose of fentanyl and was complaining of being unable to breathe already before police officers had touched him. Nor do Schwab and Malleret mention that chronic vitamin-D deficiency in people with black and brown skin at temperate latitudes like New York and London (known already in April this year) was the reason for dark-skinned hospital workers dying in high numbers after contact with the covid virus. Since the spring we've known that covid-19 is very dangerous to people with low stocks of vitamin D in their bodies. In retrospect it should have been obvious that it wasn't a socioeconomic bias, since dark-skinned hospital cleaners on low wages and dark-skinned consultant doctors on high wages were alike falling victim to the disease.
In many places, the global warming scare is mentioned almost nostalgically, as the Reichstag Fire that didn't quite work - or not yet. It comes over as a fine idea that can be revived once a virus scare has put the power to censor and muzzle dissidents into the hands of global managers, with no corner of the world beyond their reach. There are frequent references to the innocent-sounding phrase "global governance deficit" - as if most of history had a global governance surplus? Of course, had there been a single global government in previous centuries or millennia, it would have been something controlled by one or other Oriental despot, perhaps a Chinese emperor or Mongol warlord. Schwab and Malleret make the briefest of mentions of 2019's "Event 201" or 2018's "Clade X" simulations, both involving him and arguing that (1) the world is unprepared for a major pandemic, and that (2) the shock of such a pandemic would be a wonderful opportunity to overwhelm opposition to world government and push the putsch through. The default claim of the book is that along came covid-19, and Schwab saw both a peril and an opportunity. Although of course, if challenged in an interview, Schwab's position would shift slightly and he would calmly concede his earlier interest in the opportunity/challenge trade-off of pandemics.
There are frequent repetitions of phrases like "nothing can be the same again", "covid-19 has found the world unprepared", and "nothing like this crisis has happened before", followed up (because they have to be) with moderating sentences which all but admit that things could easily be the same again, the world wasn't unprepared at all, and very many pandemics before this one were orders of magnitude worse. Many references to the speed of infection are made, along with mentions of the Black Death and other plagues. These episodes from history unwittingly reveal that without aeroplanes, previous plagues circled the globe at about the same speed as this one. There is also dodging around the fact those earlier pestilences killed proportions of the population (such as 3 people out of every 10) thousands of times larger than covid-19 (3 out of every 10,000). So the text dances around references to bubonic plague, using them to make the book's thesis sound impressive, serious, disturbing. The text then carefully steps away from them again, because the comparison is so outrageously exaggerated it has to be downplayed - after being invoked - to maintain credibility.
The book was clearly written in a big hurry, perhaps because he is, however hale and hearty, in his early 80s. Despite his back list of ambitious management books (eg. in 2016 The Fourth Industrial Revolution) Schwab's grasp of economics is weak. He keeps describing "capitalism" (one assumes that, like Marx, he thinks it's a kind of "system") as flawed and in need of reform when the data if anything say the opposite. Free trade and private property have achieved enormous good, and its basic principles need to be rescued from stateist reformers, smart-alec leftists, and people like Schwab. Schwab has since the 1970s lauded the idea of "stakeholder capitalism", which seems particularly hostile to small firms, the real driving force of all the good that free trade does. He has a special bee in his bonnet about share buybacks, presumably because he dislikes the idea of owners owning things without permission from governments, and being paid by the businesses they create. It's well hidden, but he dislikes traders & merchants as a class. Traders, it's explained, often opposed government-mandated quarantines and travel restrictions in those earlier (thousands of times more serious) plagues he and Malleret like to mention. So we readers can see how important it is to overrule them and keep them under control.
In short, the book is a "technocratic" manifesto for taking over the world, disguised as a management-seminar love-in with ecological greenery, "social justice", and "fairness". What 'social justice' means is not explicitly sketched out, but seems to entail business owners not really owning things so clearly any more, while governments and international bodies get (in an irreversible transfer) a great deal more power over all of us.
November 24th; Tuesday. Perhaps a week ago I woke out of a very realistic-feeling dream, itself about waking up. I am both "in" the dream, and watching it from above, like a fashion photographer. I'm in a large bed with someone else's hair all over my face. I wake up into the dream, both feeling the tickle of the sleeping lass's tumbling mass of chestnut tresses, blowing through my nose and mouth to get her locks off my face, and seeing it from above. She continues to sleep. She is wearing a crisp white linen Victorian blouse buttoned up to the throat with long baggy sleeves, and she has both arms loosely linked around my waist as she sleeps. Like a 3 or 4-second film leading up to a still photo. I increasingly get these, which feel like overheard dreams, somehow coming from someone else's head, like accidentally tuning into an unknown radio or television station.
Interesting look back at a previous virus panic and rushed-through vaccine scare.
November 23rd; Monday. A couple of weeks ago, Andras took me to Sunday evening mass at a nearby church where a young mother on our bench was struggling a little with two adorably bored tots who kept clambering around under the seats around the pews. Father arrives and the two toddlers continue to play quietly while the parents try to gently get them sitting still. At one point the younger child, perhaps 3 years old, comes down the bench towards us, holding out her father's wallet to me as an offering, smiling and making friendly little noises all the time. Half an hour later I'm shouting at a cat lady in the hallway of Andras's building (she pushed the main door closed against me, almost trapping my hand) and Andras ruefully tells me she once gave him a kitten a few years earlier called Bun (or Breadroll, "Zsemle"). I guess The Enemy is everywhere, as The Evangelical Blonde said to me a decade back.
Our collaborator zerohedge, with news about Biden-family links to China & Russia.
November 22nd; Sunday. The vital topic of 'human pups'.
November 21st; Saturday. Andras returns from the monastery. I finish the curious book of Thackeray essays I found at the mobile book stall in the next street a couple of weeks ago. 'The Book of Snobs' is a compilation of weekly articles (humour about snobbery, unsurprisingly) written for one whole year in Punch magazine and published in book form in 1846. The dark flesh-coloured hardback I now have was republished in 1959 in Moscow by a Soviet Russian firm (The Foreign Languages Publishing House). I dearly wish I could read the 9-page introduction at the front and the 33-page footnotes at the back in Cyrillic Russian, framing and explaining the document laid out in between the two (doubtless described as "bourgeois capitalist"). Hard not to admire the seriousness with which Russians, then and now, struggle to master foreign languages to the degree of familiarising themselves with (in 1959) 100-year-old texts like this. The text between preserves original typesetting, spelling, dotted with 9 or 10 quasi-humorous drawings from the columns as they appeared, I assume. Would that we would study our own recent past with the reverential earnestness of those Soviet students. Imagine them stoically plodding through these foreign pieces of 1840s British humour and social observation. The occasional mysterious, or just-known, word or term gave it a haunting almost-foreign feel for me.
For example, look at this section:
"He had brought them thither in the light-blue fly, waiting at the Club door; with Mrs Chuff's hobbadehoy footboy on the box, by the side of the flyman, in a sham livery. Nelson Collingwood; pretty Mrs Sackville; Mrs Captain Chuff (Mrs Commodore Chuff we call her), were all there; the latter of course, in the vermilion tabinet --" I know a fly is a type of carriage, but 'hobbadehoy' and 'tabinet' were certainly new to me. Poor Soviet language students! Then there are expressions in quite plain English, but with some nuance missing, needing to be deduced.
Such as this, a typical monologue from a club bore giving his inside knowledge of a noblewoman having received a lashing with a knout at the Russian Embassy contains the following:
"Why wasn't the Princess Scragamoffsky at Lady Palmerston's party, Minns? Because she can't show
[Thackeray's italics] - and why can't she show? Shall I tell you, Minns, why she can't show? The Princess Scragamoffsky's back is flayed alive, Minns - I tell you it's raw, sir! On Tuesday last, at twelve o'clock, three drummers of the Preobajinsk Regiment arrived at Ashburnham House, and at half past twelve, in the yellow drawing room at the Russian Embassy, before the Ambassadress and four ladies'-maids, the Greek Papa, and the Secretary of Embassy, Madame de Scragamoffsky received thirteen dozen. She was knouted, Sir - knouted in the midst of England - for having said the Grand Duchess Olga's hair was red."
The missing nuance would explain what "she can't show" means. It must have been a common phrase every reader would have understood - he uses it three times. From that story I'm guessing it either means the woman cannot "appear at public events" or more precisely cannot "wear a backless dress". My hunch is the second, but of course I don't know. If that was it, the simplicity of the phrase tells us it mattered if a woman was able to show off the beauty of her almost-bare back, that this had social or fashion importance. Gory but fascinating detail - the book is crammed with sentences like this where you can fool yourself you understood, but if truth be told, you can't be sure. The effect is a glimpse of the language just close enough to be familiar, but far enough into the past to have a scent of the alien.
November 20th; Friday. Pick up Schwab's 'Great Reset' book from the bookshop near the cathedral. Recommended by the Nigel of Light, this article about what physicists think particles are is very rewarding & readable.
November 19th; Thursday. Press conference by Rudy Giuliani, Sydney Powell, and other lawyers explain their Kraken US election cheating claims in more detail.
November 18th; Wednesday. Election-fraud discussions zoom in on the Dominion software. Vote-tampering seems to have been substantial & organised.
Shifting of the votes /
Slideshow explaining the numbers /
More about Powell versus the reporters.
November 17th; Tuesday. Dave Brubeck's quartet supposedly playing Golden Brown, ++, 20 years before it was written. A set of sound snippets lovingly restitched on editing software, I imagine.
November 16th; Monday. In support of this lady and her fetching southern accent comes a character defence.
November 15th; Sunday. A lady lawyer in her sixties (the attorney for General Flynn, an early victim of the 2016/17 Russian-hacker fabrication) has started rather lyrically threatening to "Release the Kraken." She says she has enormous quantities of testimony, affadavits etc, from witnesses seeing organised vote-tampering in the presidential election 12 days ago. My memory of krakens is pretty much limited to reading the John Wyndham novel (to mother's mild concern) when I was 8? 9?, right in my full-on sci-fi era.
November 14th; Saturday. Trailer for a perhaps rather wonderful recent film: 'Last and First Men', 2020. Essentially, it's an orchestral score set over brooding footage of communist-era sculptures/monuments in Yugoslavia, with a woman's voice reading out passages from a 1930s science-fiction novel. Here's a one-minute snatch of it as a trailer. The next is a seven-minute piece of what looks like a longer documentary about the making of the film.
November 13th; Friday. Vulpeck, putting jazz back into funk (am I allowed to say that?). Three seemingly, or partly, improvised tunes:
Disco Ulysees /
Dean Town /
Cory Wong. Musicianship much admired by some performers I've met.
November 12th; Thursday. The Spectator asks whether the silly masks help? Danish study says no.
November 11th; Wednesday. An early Knower song, when the duo looked young and innocent: Things About You.
November 10th; Tuesday. Andras sets off for his retreat at the monastery. A nice historical article from Newsweek, from before this year: the top 5 rigged presidential elections in US history.
November 9th; Monday. Here is a looped mini-film of something hovering in the garden. One of the things you can make if you have the right graphics software. A sort of rotating blossom made out of drinking straws.
November 8th; Sunday. Excitement continues over the US elections. Even more implausibly, it seems the Republicans have increased their numbers in both chambers of Congress yet late-arriving votes somehow changed an expected win for Trump as president into a win for Biden. Here's another summary of why the presidential results look so suspicious in a handful of deciding states.
November 7th; Saturday. Two trailers for films about contemporary art: a fairly high-budget-ish offering about a living artist and a collector, with what looks like might be good acting by Mick Jagger. That one's called The Burnt Orange Heresy. The second, recommended by Andras, is a film about a Swedish modern-art museum director called The Square.
November 6th; Friday. Anecdotal claims of vote-tampering, observer-exclusion, ballot-stuffing pouring in now from the US election. Looks like Trump's widely aired worries earlier this year, that the Democrats would do large-scale organised cheating in the election, were justified. One legal group has been examining voter rolls. Ron Paul explains "ballot harvesting". An overview of vote-rigging claims.
November 5th; Thursday. Remember, remember, the fifth of November - gunpowder, treason, and plot.
November 4th; Wednesday. Fascinating stories of shenanigans last night in US swing states. Widespread reports of extra boxes of postal votes arriving at counting stations at curious hours like 4am, just in time to reverse majorities building for El Trumpo. Claims by Republican election observers of being kept outside counting stations, or let in but physically blocked from inspecting ballots close up.
From earlier, when the election still looked relatively normal.
November 3rd; Tuesday. USA population goes to vote on their traditional day. Always thought the Continental European habit of voting on Sunday implied that the post-French-Revolution republics subconsciously thought they'd replaced Christianity with their own modernised state worship.
November 2nd; Monday. Strange event in Vienna, where a handful of radical Islamists exchange fire with police, killing 4 people.
November 1st; Sunday. Andras is puzzled I suggest visiting the (now nearby) candelit Day-of-the-Dead cemetery goings-on.
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