to links pages 
phone texts to +36 -- --- ----
September 16th; Thursday.
What a dismal intro it seems now:
My memory made it better, though I recall being puzzled as a small boy by
a detective series where Amsterdam police officers lived their lives entirely in English.
The TV nostalgia sites call it 'gritty', and I can remember there were lots of storylines
about corruption & local politics. I wonder how Dutch people felt about a British
detective show offshoring bent-copper dramas to mainland Holland?
September 15th; Wednesday.
More details emerge of US
funding of coronavirus research in Wuhan.
September 14th; Tuesday.
Another claim from a doctor (a tropical pathologist) that covid-19-vaccinated people are the ones
who are dangerous to others.
September 13th; Monday. A
plausible motive for the curious new push to - quite unnecessarily -
Enjoyed several thoughtful articles in the copy of
'European Conservative' that I
got given at last week's debate where
Sessions spoke here in the Castle District. The magazine is much
better than I expected, as were the darling little savoury pogacsas (mini-scones) on plates at the event.
September 12th; Sunday.
Last night, visible to one side from Robin's balcony, crowds holding candles were slowly walking up
Andrassy avenue towards Heroes' Square. This was while choirs sang. This morning I wake late to find Robin
in the room adjoining the balcony, the room full of art ingredients,
listening to more church music, more choirs singing uplifting hymns
outside on the street. Another Catholic friend told me a few days ago quite mildly that Francis "did
something very bad" in his youth that caused another priest to serve some time in prison. He said it
as if perhaps it had been a valuable chance for the future pope to learn humility and repentance.
contributors, none other than
writes about Mr Fauci's involvement in the coronavirus scandal, lying when he called Senator Rand Paul a liar.
Meanwhile, the British Heart Foundation describes how the spike protein in the covid-19
virus & vaccines causes changes to cells in heart tissue and elsewhere, migrating through
the blood stream.
September 11th; Saturday.
Barely 30 yards from Robin's front door, much of Andrassy avenue is shut down with parked police vans,
newly mounted overhead display screens, lines of chemical loos, metal crowd fences, and long white
ribbons marked 'Rendorseg - Police' in blue. This is all for tomorrow's visit by Francis the GloboPope,
as a waitress outside the downstairs bar explained with sneering contempt, in reply to my query,
two days ago. A Catholic friend told me a
few months back that the Jesuits swore on their foundation never to let one of their own become
pope (perhaps explaining why there has been no Jesuit pope until now).
Our Man in Bucharest judiciously celebrates
September 10th; Friday.
A good Salisbury Review article about
history teaching. Not one of mine, I hasten to add.
September 9th; Thursday.
Are white feminists evil? A nice Unherd piece. Small birthday party in the science cave for Tam, with Annette, Dag,
Alja, and her sweet but jittery dog. Interesting how the pale shirt with pink and light blue checks, on
being in the bucket of dilute bleach I put it in some hours a few weeks ago, stubbornly keeps the off-yellow
background hue that makes it look not-quite-washed, but lost much of the dye meaning the checks
fade in and out of white. In places the blue lines have gone altogether yet the white's failed to become
clean-looking. You'd think that after a century and a half of bleaching and dyeing chemistry they might
have worked this stuff out by now.
September 8th; Wednesday.
A picture of Venetians larking around on the ice during the 1709 winter, a winter cold enough for
the lagoon to freeze solid.
I visit Annette in the science cave for my first colloidal silver consultation.
September 7th; Tuesday.
This morning woke out of a vivid success dream where I was, with some companions, in a large rambling
building, part country house, part luxury hotel in some old city. One suite of rooms was haunted and
filled with disturbing magical power, which was not so much frightening as thrilling. To get there I got
into a lift which went vertically some floors and then horizontally down corridors and through rooms and
walls very quickly, rather like a cable car. Then vertically some more - these "sideways lifts" feature
in my dreams every few years, I notice. The suite of rooms was in some kind of tower overlooking from
high windows a forest in winter, and I found myself triumphant, empowered, raised to more
than health - "better than well" as the Americans say - as I clicked into
rest-refreshed wakefulness. Later in the day, finished reading a copy of
the Great Philosophers', published half a century ago oddly enough by
Barnes & Noble, a chain of American bookshops. I suppose booksellers branching into publishing was quite
common once. The book uses a nice approach. Instead of touring in order through philosophers and centuries,
or looking at specific debates, it does both. Each chapter is a topic (such as free will versus
determinism), and the chapter starts with ancient thinkers, briskly touring through the Greeks, Late
Antiquity, the Mediaevals, Renaissance thinkers, Early Modern, German Enlightenment and up to the
late-19th/early-20th century figures (Russell and/or Pragmatists like Dewey in most chapters). Rather
refreshingly for this reader, I don't recall seeing Wittgenstein, nor any of the Existentialists
mentioned even once. The trick of making each philosopher italic on first mention in each chapter is
very helpful, and some thinkers who tend to get left out of historical overviews, such as
Anaxagoras, are here.
Herbert Spencer gets
quite a lot of mentions, and it's nice to see philosophers like
mentioned in non-political debates, not just in his classic discussion of the state.
There's a proper effort to separate out Fichte and
This is an excellent book, but there
are some strange slip-ups. A couple of thinkers, such as
William of Champeaux and
Roscelin, get italicised, full-status mentions in the body of the text, but are
missing from the detailed biographical notes at the back, which include almost everyone else.
September 6th; Monday.
A dog who apparently has learned to press buttons each with a word on is, her owners think,
possibly becoming self-aware. Confusingly named 'Bunny', this affable hound is starting to
press sequences of buttons like
"dog / what / dog / is?" Not
quite enough to convince me, but certainly interesting.
September 5th; Sunday. Read
A Nuremburg Renaissance Casket for the Marquesses of Lothian', which is a lavishly illustrated exhibition
catalogue, lusher than most books, that Robin got at some art show or auction house. The web has a lot of
images of this casket, and other treasure boxes made by its maker, known simply
as The Master of Perspective, who had a workshop in Nuremburg during the 1560s. The period of the German
wunderkammer or cabinet of wonders was, it seems, exemplified by boxes to house valuables, themselves
richly worked and decorated, sometimes containing jewellery, sometimes scientific wonders such as
geological/biological/fossil curiosities. Pre-figuring Baconian science - the line was blurred between
collecting natural oddities and displaying decorative wealth. Containing wonders and each cabinet itself
sometimes constituting a wonder. The boxes made by the workshop in
Nuremburg appear to have had a very distinctive style, surfaces in and out decorated by inlaid marquetry,
mother-of-pearl and so on, almost invariably displaying what we might call
shown in perspective (hence the master's name) along with scenes from well-known classical stories such as
humiliating Aristotle, an episode Nietzsche & Lou Salome might have been referring to in their
famous cart-pulling photograph.
September 4th; Saturday.
This site opposes "covid passports" being pushed (clearly planned in advance) as
de facto ID cards.
September 3rd; Friday.
Up late, chatting with Robin. This
Leo Strauss book looks like something worth reading as soon as I can.
Strauss plausibly argues philosophers have always written in an 'esoteric'
code, partly disguising their message so as not to challenge political & moral assumptions of
their time head on.
September 2nd; Thursday.
'The crypto revolution is failing'.
September 1st; Wednesday.
'Afghanistan is where ideologies
go to die'.
August 31st; Tuesday.
The last couple of days of August have actually been a bit chilly. Not even mildly cool, but
suddenly verging on uncomfortable, cold, pullover-worthy. Truly,
August 30th; Monday.
Finish Tam's tutorial book, English-language version, 'Technical Modeling with
OpenSCAD', written with lots of examples, handy tips,
clear diagrams in sunflower yellow, and a jolly tone which I can now recognise as Tam's voice.
Other reviewers are positive too, and there are a few
Have not yet done the exercises - the usual bit readers of how-to books leave out, including this
reader - but I'm at least imagining practical implementation.
August 29th; Sunday.
Day watching television. Jessica and I watch the 'Pickle Rick' episode of Rick & Morty, in which the mad
scientist in the garage turns himself into a pickled gherkin. Then we watch the documentary
Four' where director Laura Poitras films Ed Snowden and Glenn Greenwald in a
Hong Kong hotel bedroom in the days Snowden's escape from the US becomes public.
August 28th; Saturday.
Over at Filmmaker Jessica's for a lovely dinner. She introduces me finally to the Rick & Morty show, including
the famous where-are-my-testicles?
episode Andras recommended me last year. I feel I've leapfrogged South Park and Family Guy
and am now updated on ironic cartoon shows for grown-ups.
August 27th; Friday.
An enjoyable letter from Budapest by British/Hungarian author Tibor Fischer writing in May.
August 26th; Thursday.
Most years the whole of August is stiflingly warm, and then cooler autumnal weather begins, almost
like clockwork, on either August 20th or
the day after. This year cooler weather and some rain started 10 days ahead.
Warm and cool days intermingled up until the Istvan/Stephen coronation holiday.
August 25th; Wednesday. A low-key
article in the Spectator by a woman says covid-19 vaccinations are affecting her and other women's
Robert Malone, one of the researchers who helped create the
mRNA vaccine technique, chats with Steve Bannon and someone else in a show with the
rather overblown title 'The War Room' (featuring a graphic of some burning stuff). However, the
details of the interview are valuable. The basic point is that widespread vaccination early in an
epidemic makes it more likely the virus will develop immunity to vaccines and evolve into more
dangerous variants, than if
the Swedish example (and that originally of Boris Johnson) had been followed.
One of our contributors, Zero Hedge (aka Tyler Durden), reports that Spain's
Supreme Court is banning use of 'vaccine passorts' to control access to public spaces.
At least they are in Spain. This same policy - not banned, in contrast vigorously enforced - is still
causing giant demonstrations all across France, Germany, and Italy, so my French, German, and Italian
August 24th; Tuesday.
Article from last month about
leftists rewriting Spanish history,
specifically rewriting the massacres that led up to General Franco's putsch against and war
against the left-of-centre government that ruled for several months in 1936.
August 23rd; Monday.
Interesting item from last month's New Statesman,
an interview with a pro-EU Tory who says Remainers must accept that they lost the
vote in 2016, showing how deeply confused and out of touch even the pragmatic anti-Brexit
wombles are. His yearning to again one day suckle at the euro-nipple is tangible throughout the piece.
August 22nd; Sunday.
documentary I might be editing the subtitles of - dark and absurd by turns - about
some mass murders in Budapest's 12th district during World War 2. It hinges on a commemorative statue
(of a mythical bird, the turul, a bit like a Hungarian version of the phoenix) five decades later put
very close to the site of the murders. Astonishing to say, the plaque under the big bird listed
the names of both some victims and some perpetrators of those murders who then died elsewhere.
It generated a bitter political quarrel which still rumbles on today. The central tragi-comic character
is the 12th-district mayor, who
(1) allowed the statue to be built in the early 2000s,
(2) apparently did not know at that time that his own grandfather was part of a lynch mob
rounding up and killing Jewish civilians near that site in 1944, and
(3) whose father (son of the grandfather of course) worked as a long-term informant for
the state-socialist dictatorship that ruled Hungary in the 1950s, 60s, 70s, and 80s.
Truth really is stranger than fiction.
August 21st; Saturday.
A curious claim that those who vaccinated early are at
'increased risk' of severe disease.
August 20th; Friday.
Several of my students refer to today as
Hungary's birthday - which is a sweet way to describe it.
It commemorates the crowning of King (also Saint) Stephen, the country's first Christian king, in 1000 AD.
Rather lovely firework display along the riverbanks which I watch from Jessica's rooftop with Jessica & her
August 19th; Thursday.
abandoning Afghanistan continue.
August 18th; Wednesday. Over at
Filmmaker Jessica to watch the film 'Predestination' on her big screen. A 2014
movie about time travel which Jessica convincingly argues is really about loneliness.
August 17th; Tuesday. Seems
the comedy horror film I played a small role
in 2 days in May is now public.
August 16th; Monday.
Thorough piece on Edward Said's invented exile - seemingly from next month. Plus (also from next month) a
fascinating article on Marcuse by Anthony Daniels.
August 15th; Sunday.
Thought-provoking Unherd article about Mann's novel
August 14th; Saturday.
US withdrawal from Afghanistan gets people finally criticising Sleepy Joe.
August 13th; Friday.
Peer-reviewed journals, once the core of western science, have been
corrupted by Chinese ownership.
China attacks new covid-19 investigation looking outside Peking's favoured origin story.
Meanwhile, one of the founders of self-appointed "fact checkers" Snopes.com has been
August 12th; Thursday.
Interesting claim: Detroit vote-processing computers are
August 11th; Wednesday.
Over at Filmmaker Jessica's where we watch a fascinating documentary about John
'Milius', whose name
I didn't know. This was the
screenwriter so instinctive he could help Spielberg with 'Jaws', a film he wasn't working on,
by just dictating an extra couple of pages of crucial dialogue down the phone. The man who
wrote 'Conan the Barbarian' & 'Apocalypse Now'.
August 10th; Tuesday.
Interesting 6-month-old February article claiming mortality from covid-19 in Israel is multiples
among the vaccinated than among the unvaccinated.
August 9th; Monday.
The United Nations predict global
doom for 50 years straight.
August 8th; Sunday.
More on French demonstrations against
covid-19 passes being compulsory to go to a cafe or restaurant.
August 7th; Saturday.
Apparently the fourth weekend in a row that protestors opposing compulsory covid-19-vaccination
ID cards in France have gathered in public to tell
Mr Macron where to get off.
August 6th; Friday.
Last night slept 13 hours. Probably needed that. Today finish Robin's copy of Norman Stone's
A Short History'. Stone tidily skips through ten centuries,
revealing along the way
(he worked happily for many years at a Turkish university) that he likes the people and their
civilisation. Stone's command of some of the region's languages seems good.
His particular concern to explain the Armenian genocide as the result of
provocative Armenian nationalism seems to miss a crucial point though. Whether the Turks
should have been there in the first place, and how the Eastern Roman Empire might have
developed absent several centuries of predatory wars by Islam is left unexamined. The ethnic
cleansing of Muslims out of Crete or the rest of Greece - as soon as the Ottomans were
sufficiently weak to make it possible - is narrated rather as if it had been a constructive idea
for them to overrun the Balkan peninsula in the first place. Instead we shift quite soon
to the viewpoint where Islam is the de facto empire of the region, and the historian is instead
asking why did that by-then peaceful empire have to be dismantled? Byzantium can be
weak and corrupt and in need of new management, but not a thousand years later the descendents
of the Seljuk Turks when it's their turn to be attacked and broken up?
Stone's prose style is good, crisply moving along without getting lost in digressions or
over-detailed speculation. Amusing facts are injected on the fly, and the rhythm of the text
is witty and show him as the raconteur he was in real life. This brisk style helps to drive a
clean, straight narrative, but is also how the whole question of what the Ottoman Empire
added to Europe or did to damage history gets dodged. Stone's funeral service in Budapest
(which I attended but didn't write up) mentioned that Stone was a devoted & pious Anglican
church-goer, which also jars slightly with his fond acceptance of Turkey's centuries of political
domination of south-eastern Europe.
The book ends with mention of the democratically elected Islamist politician Recep Erdogan,
but without quoting Erdogan's eerie remark that "democracy is like a
train - you take it to where you want to go, and then you get off."
Stone mentions several Turks who "played a long game"
in their political careers. Erdogan's fake coup of 2015 came just after this book's
publication in 2014 (I asked Norman over some beers at the time what he thought Erdogan was
doing, and he didn't really answer). The five years of Erdogan's career immediately after
the historian finished off this quick, disciplined book negate many of the positive
conclusions. Stone seems to have seen the Turks as not a fanatical people: he writes as if
Islamist Turks are a kind of abberation, not the very essence of that culture. In the next
few years to come, Erdogan and his heirs may yet show this whole book up as misconceived.
August 5th; Thursday. That
whole 2-hour club DJ set by the desperately-serious
Solomun. This set ends with the slightly poignant moment
August 4th; Wednesday. A
Public Domain Review article about
Bell Pettigrew's wonderfully eccentric - and gorgeously illustrated - 1908 ideas about 'spiralism'.
August 3rd; Tuesday. The BMJ asks why
so many African
leaders die of covid-19?
August 2nd; Monday. Unusual electronics
account on Instagram everyone should have a
August 1st; Sunday.
Interesting piece about the ten-year wager between Julian Simon and Paul Ehrlich, and Ehrlich's
reputation mysteriously surviving his decades of hysterically forecasting
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
July 31st; Saturday.
Our Man in Bucharest recommends
an Unherd piece suggesting parallels
between the USSR in the 1980s and the US now.
July 30th; Friday.
Because her glasses already remind me a bit of the cartoon, I've been urging Filmmaker Jessica
to buy black-framed spectacles and pumpkin-orange polo-necked pullover so she can properly
dress up as Velma from Scoobie
July 29th; Thursday. Jessica & I watch on her
Netflix account a film
neither of us had seen yet, last year's 'Uncut Gems'. She mentions the cinema rule
that once a gun has been shown on camera, it has to be used before the end of the drama. She also mentions that her
trusted screenwriting teacher said Adam Sandler had been robbed of a Best Actor Oscar for his lead
role in this film as a manic diamond merchant. He didn't even get nominated. Nonetheless his performance is darkly
compelling, and the Safdie Brothers (makers of 'Good Time' which Robin & I watched one night about 18 months ago) had been trying to
reach Sandler to show him this script for ten years.
interview shows just how different Sandler looks when he's not playing the role.
July 28th; Wednesday.
EU leaders hostile to Hungary over new law blocking promotion of homosexuality to children. The Gay Pride Parade
four days ago on Saturday that closed sections of sun-baked central Budapest down including whole metro
lines (hours before the actual parade) was apparently in part a protest
against being banned from propagandising to children. As a result I
was trapped inside the small korut without justification. This delayed me enough that I missed the best
train to the countryside and had to travel two hours later than planned. It was certainly the first time I
had a taste of being ordered around by pompous officials wearing lilac fluorescent lipstick, backed up
by police officers, telling me I was not allowed to continue down a street or cross the road.
July 27th; Tuesday.
A Dijon family-law judge has been dismissed for
offering his 12-year-old daughter online for sex.
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 the country.
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.
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