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linguistic philosophy

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language history

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calligraphy

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cognitive psychology

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to links pages [1] [2] [3] [4] /

phone texts to Skype = mark-griffith

@ / links / languages? / pins / archive / book


*2


*3

*4
June 25th; Sunday.

June 24th; Saturday.
June 23rd; Friday.

June 22nd; Thursday. The CIA cared about Marxism, and this man cares about haircuts. A witty short film largely resting on the sheer charm of the barber.
June 21st; Wednesday. Longest day. Filming in a palatial set of decayed apartments in the centre of town on the Colette production again. I drink several black coffees in the stifling heat, so that makes me a psychopath. A rather fun couple of scenes involving a young actress being brought into a dining hall on a litter by four semi-naked strong men with Edwardian moustaches, and then later a man jumping up onto a tabletop to be joined by dancing girls. Some actors seem close to fainting, but after having my jacket taken on and off 20 times I opt to just stay hot, alarming one costume assistant a bit.

June 20th; Tuesday. Businessmen in the early-70s porn industry killing each other.
June 19th; Monday. Woman sensibly suggests that women authors of historical fiction exaggerate how 'empowered' women in the past were.

June 18th; Sunday. Robin & I enjoy drinks and lunch with Agnes & Piers in the lovely grand apartment with high ceilings packed with paintings that the Colette crew filmed in on Thursday. Piers is the 3/4 English grandson of the Hungarian society painter who moved to London early last century but also built this imposing structure for himself in Budapest - Piers paints too. He was at the easel & palette in the corner of the big crowded room even during Thursday's shoot. That's while I, equipped with a beautiful but fiddly antique pre-WW1 camera, was struggling to act a society photographer somewhere in Paris in 1907. After that Robin & I meet a graphic designer and then go to a garden party where Bullet in good spirits accuses me of wanting to become DentaMan!, some kind of dentistry-themed Batman villain. In the same garden as night falls, Neil shares early memories of world snooker champions in Sheffield, and confesses his interest in trying Russian Pyramids, a game whose larger versions of snooker balls only fractionally fit into each pocket, making the whole thing rather harder.
June 17th; Saturday. Britain's factory orders at a 30-year high: Brexit horror continues!

June 16th; Friday. A couple of days ago a student described the Notting Hill carnival in London as disappointing, with crappy amateurish costumes. Refreshing Hungarian frankness. Today finish a book kindly lent to me by Paul: 'The Rise of Christian Europe' by Hugh Trevor-Roper. An excellent overview, both scholarly and crisp, of how Europe changed between about 500 AD to 1450 AD. He opens with the end of Late Antiquity and closes with the Portuguese expeditions of marine exploration planned by Henry the Navigator. He's careful to include the lulls and setbacks in the way Europe responds to challenges. The ways trends within Christianity interacted with social pressures and attacks by other forces are sketched out in clear prose without simplifying some subtle processes. Allows himself one Oxford man's tease at the expense of Cambridge. Especially interesting on the important changes between 1200 and 1300.
June 15th; Thursday. Act small role on film shoot with all sorts of glamorous folk. My costume is comfy, but the pre-Great-War explosive flashpan I keep having to set off (being a photographer within the story) is a bit alarming. Filmed inside a lovely old house in the 14th district full of paintings.

June 14th; Wednesday. Britain's economy seems to be doing rather better than disasterist journalists claim. While drinking coffee with Tamas, we discuss eyesight. We move from contact lenses to that laser eye operation. From there onto the ancient Chinese method of using tiny silk pillows packed with rice powder worn during sleep to gently squash ovoid eyeballs back into spherical shape by miniscule degrees over hundreds of nights. Then the Bates Method. Then I ask aloud, surely there's something else? - and I suddenly imagine a varnish made out of the patient's own stem cells. It would form a safe, permanent build-up on the cornea, like a natural contact lens but fusing with the original cornea. Made out of the substance of the patient's own eyes - sounds a feasible research project to me.
June 13th; Tuesday. Finish a book Anita lent me: 'A Street Cat Named Bob'. A true story in early-21st-century London. A charismatic stray, a ginger tom, is rescued by the author, just barely off the streets himself in sheltered housing, and then in turn helps to turn the methadone-addicted author's life round. Bit depressing, despite the underlying message of hope, since it took me back to squatting and why I never liked London. Also reminded me how claustrophobic street poverty is - every meal, every medicine bill, every different shopkeeper on a street, how many yards you stand away from a Tube exit, all can change a whole day or week. Slightly plodding, but candid & healthily free of the squirm-making saccharine or pumped self-belief you find in most turnaround tales. The author bluntly and convincingly explains how he became who he was and how he changed into someone else. Bob, the cat, takes well-deserved centre place in the tale.

June 12th; Monday. Readable in very faint grey, the perils of the ever-growing 'administrative state'. In related news, the result of Comey testifying before Congress is we learn he wasn't actually investigating President Honey Monster after all.
June 11th; Sunday. Yesterday I finished a book borrowed from Robin, 'The Last Home of Mystery' written in 1929 by E. Alexander Powell, about a trip across India and back as far as Turkey. There are black & white photographs with funny headlines such as 'His Dirtiness Sits For His Picture' (about a senior Buddhist lama in Nepal who the author unembarrassedly notes, in the picture caption and page text, stank of filth). This is a chatty travelogue from an American clearly used to moving around the British Empire. It hits an interesting balance between admiration for exotic Oriental cultures, disgust at certain aspects of exotic Oriental cultures, and an upbeat hope for the power of Western civilisation to free, advance, and liberate Asian civilisation from its backwardness and at the same time from colonial servitude. An interesting glimpse back into hopeful interwar progressivism. These hopes don't seem to be his alone - him being from the US and not British seems to be what gets him allowed entry into the mountainous Shangri-la occupying the middle third of the book. The journey starts in Ceylon, goes into the then-almost-secret kingdom of Nepal, and then - after some general chapters about meeting with a variety of Indian princes - passes out across Mesopotamia and across Turkey, finishing as he re-enters the relative normality of the Balkans. Some of his descriptive powers rise to the challenge of Eastern gorgeousness and he is cheerfully interested (and takes part) in Western imperial pastimes such as polo and hunting. His open nausea when describing Hindu shrines is refreshingly frank by comparison with the cringing self-hate of postwar Westerners. We never feel though that this is a grand statement or a polished assessment of a foreign continent: the mood is more like a personal, easy-going article in a monthly magazine. There is plenty about bad service, being overcharged, not enjoying flies or dust, as well as two pretty American girls he and his travelling companion keep running into in different parts of the subcontinent. Not only would it now be compulsory to express no criticism of the non-Western religions, but a recent writer would have to justify the book itself somehow. Perhaps in some unspoken way give some reasons why it's not a TV series or a video game - apologise for it simply being a book.

June 10th; Saturday. Last night Boardgame Orsolya told me how useless she found The Winged Headhunter, a rather odd recruitment page on Facebook it turns out I have already "liked". Still, a note of gritty realism in half-naked angel packing heat: this is indeed how human-resources staff in Hungary typically dress for work.
June 9th; Friday. Tory government loses its overall majority, and can only stay in power with 10 votes from the Unionist DUP in Northern Ireland. Apparently the DUP are scriptural literalists and don't like homosexuals, which seems to be just fine when we're welcoming our Muslim brothers, but not with a bunch of boring Irish Protestants. Theresa May massively miscalculated in holding yesterday's election. Especially stupid to have a 7-week campaign allowing The Geography Teacher to find his stride and get the young-and-dumb vote out in strength. More weeping & wailing over the ring-of-stars flags soon. Right again - Andrea Leadsom would have been much the better of the final two candidates to push through Brexit, just as I thought at the time.

June 8th; Thursday. Britain holds a general election.
June 7th; Wednesday. The joy of dirt.

June 6th; Tuesday. Get back into town on a delayed train and just make it to see Zita at IKEA. Even after thick heat outside, chilly air-conditioning in her office is not so comfy either. After that Petra & I practise rhyming words. Are robots going to steal our jobs? No surprises here. Once again it's only economists who don't fall headlong into another crock of nonsense.
June 5th; Whit Monday. Robin & I get joint insight a bit like speaking tongues in the same language. We almost have flames or lightbulbs over our heads.

June 4th; Whit Sunday. I intend to wake at 12 noon at Robin's in the countryside. It is exactly 12:12 when a quite reasonable wasp (considering his colleague's recent fate) hovers and loops over my head and pillow in the studio, clearly urging me in a not-unfriendly way to pick up my sleepy head and engage with the day.
June 3rd; Saturday. A surprise invitation from Robin has him whisking me down to Tiszainoka after dark. We chat on the road about life, men, women, and the feeling of passing time. Stopping off in Kecskemet for a pizza, we find a curious 24-hour restaurant which is stiflingly hot and sticky indoors, but has removed all the cafe tables and chairs from the terrace outside so no-one can sit where it's cool. Desultory flirtation with sleek German-speaking bar girl in a cloud of flies oddly attracted to the overhead bar lights and nowhere else. Zeno (Latin translator, estate manager, and alchemist) is already snoozing in the library when we reach the farm.

June 2nd; Friday. At the low-fi local gym, shortly after I start fighting with the machines, a sylph-like brunette skips out of the dim, cool doorway into bright high morning light, swinging her large sports bag from one hand. A long mane of dark hair tumbles down her slim, lithe back as she trots off into the hot, sunlit distance. Three muscle-packed mastodons inside awkwardly swagger or stroll into the frame of the doorway to wistfully watch her go.
Slightly odd late-afternoon trip on the tram 17, hot sun and blue skies visible through all windows. Next to me is a shapely mid-20s Hungarian girl in a sober navy-blue top and striped skirt. She has on a leash an unruly quasi-puppy of mixed breed. The doglet is cheerful, affectionate and strikingly ugly. Very sweet when I stroke him. A sad man with a bouncy little 3-year-old girl gets on, they join us, and the tot asks the dog's name. "Lemmy," says the guardian of the hound. Startled that she might mean the late singer for the British metal group Motorhead, I vaguely say there's a certain resemblance. (There is.) "Yes, he's named after him!" explains the demurely-dressed navy-blue-and-white girl, happily. When she gets off with the dog, the toddler excitedly cries "Bye bye doggy! Bye bye you two!" out of the tram window as they go. For the remaining stops, my mind wrestles with the image of an elegant Continental young-mother type with coffee-coloured skin even being aware of a white-fleshed, walrus-moustached rockist from Britain's industrial hinterland.
June 1st; Thursday. Thanks to Shaun, news of a wonderful proposed experiment with a well-tested quantum anomaly to look at human consciousness. Separately, an intriguing use of thermodynamics to study brains.


Recent weblog entries continued:

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

Languages dying out each week - who cares?

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

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

So?

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

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

But so are the 5,000 others.

These are groups of people?

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

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

How could I help?

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

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

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

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

Fewer languages still sounds good to me

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


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

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

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

Scientific value?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Minority languages are a human-rights issue?

One of the most basic.

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

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

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

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

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

Mighty oaks from tiny acorns grow, of course *7

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

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

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

::

Mark Griffith, site administrator / contact at otherlanguages.org

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

useful:

.languages of the world
.Internet free speech
.weights & measures
.5000 English words
.2000+ Chinese char.s
.persian/english dictionary
.currency rates 1 2 3 4 5
.country domain names
.language-learning 1 2
.find old websites
.fine HTML tutorial
.webhost
.minimalist websites

reviews: ................. books {...or films here}

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


films

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


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May 31st; Wednesday. Twice in the last fortnight, my bare toes have brushed against curved jags of glass (one 2-inch, one 3-inch) hiding in strange locations on my floor, left over from the Smashed Tumbler Incident of early April. If trodden on, either would have punctured my shoeless foot like a stapler. What surprises me is how big they are, and how they didn't find me in fifty days of strolling about unshod.
May 28th; Tuesday. During a long, sunny afternoon chat with Sebastien, we cover traditional Lyonnais cooking, Essex Girls, Filipina Friends, as well as puzzles bequeathed by history. In the early evening, passing through the nearby shopping mall, a chance encounter takes me by surprise. On her way home, it's the kittenish blonde waitress from a couple of years ago. Instead of proudly glaring into the middle-distance as she walks by, this time she catches my eye unprompted and does an apologetic sad/shy smile. Hurrying past she sheepishly mutters hello-good-day.

May 28th; Monday. So it turns out that Chinese footbinding was more about forcing poor girls to do work than forcing rich girls to look leisured.
May 28th; Sunday. Wonderful day trip to Vac with Our Man in Bucharest who generously shows me round yet another town I'd never visited before but he has several times. "Vac is the thinking man's Szentendre" he announces grandly on the train out. This is the one scheduled to take an hour and twenty five minutes on a roundabout journey which is normally twenty minutes: my fault. We see a 1760s triumphal arch dedicated to Maria Theresa. Eerily, it has just been freshly restored, is closely flanked by 19th-century suburban houses, frames blue hills on the horizon, and looks much more substantial than the 20th-century buildings deeper into town. In the evening, Jessica from San Francisco (now Jessica from Atlanta, perhaps even Jessica from Budapest) takes me to a music festival right by her flat and then we watch the recent sci-fi film 'Arrival' on her cinema-sized television set. After she explains the time-based paradoxes in the film (I'm still not 100% convinced it holds together) we natter about Becker, Dawkins, Date-onomics, and p u z z l e movies.

May 27th; Saturday. A 2-hour dance-mix set from Solomun. Cult DJs I suppose are a bit like overcelebrated orchestral conductors. This one is pleasantly spare & lightweight for about an hour. Try minute 26 or 37. Patchy, but something of the pleasure some people get from e.e.cummings or quickly sketched line drawings. Don't bother with the 2nd hour: either his medication's just kicking in or just wearing off. Either way, if you thought there was any wit or style earlier, you won't past halfway point.
May 26th; Friday. Long leisurely lunch at a terrace cafe protected by awnings from hot sun. There with Our Man in Bucharest and his jurist friend John. On Paul's recommendation, I vow to read 'Ministry of Fear' and President Hoover's much-delayed autobiography.

May 25th; Thursday. NASA decides to revive ancient microbes locked inside crystals. Time for the superbass synth track.
May 24th; Wednesday. French researcher says the question is not how Islam got radicalised but "how radicalism got Islamified."

May 23rd; Tuesday. Sobering analysis of the reach of Facebook.
May 22nd; Monday. New theory suggests humans might have evolved in Europe, not Africa. Prehistory keeps on getting more complex.

May 21st; Sunday. Slightly limp article about computer art made for individuals. Quite a few missing steps in the aesthetic argument here.
May 20th; Saturday. An appeal for a revival of Baconian science with the help of computers.

May 19th; Friday. Extraordinary article - The Atlantic at its finest. 'My Family's Slave.'
May 18th; Thursday. Vox claims US Democrats are now becoming as unhinged as Republicans have been for some time already.

May 17th; Wednesday. Economist says without child labour, kids are just a drag.
May 16th; Tuesday. Finally, rollercoasters found good for something. Shame The Atlantic can't use 'centripetal' correctly.

May 15th; Monday. December 2016 article says a non-tokamak fusion generator in Germany is doing well in tests.
May 14th; Sunday. Cyber malware thingy damages computers round world, including 20% of National Health Service in Britain whose managers ignored years of warnings to update anti-virus protection (ha!). Computer security person buys domain name and switches off global attack like a tap.

May 13th; Saturday. Apparently nipples are the ultimate lipstick-colour guide.
May 12th; Friday. Once again totally forget World Naked Gardening Day (the 7th - was busy though). Looks as if British undercover agent in Northern Ireland wasn't guilty of killing lots of people after all.

May 11th; Thursday. Seemingly neurons in brains more varied than thought.
May 10th; Wednesday. Researchers say unfairness is not always same as inequality in people's minds.

May 9th; Tuesday. Intriguing article by US military adviser: Why Arabs Lose Wars.
May 8th; Monday. Finish a weighty but fascinating book, Noel Malcolm's 'Agents of Empire', a kind gift last year from The Nigel of Light. Difficult to describe, this is an account painstakingly researched and pieced together from archives (real history!) of two interrelated families of Italianised Albanians from beginning to end of the 16th century. The Brunis and the Brutis rise in the Adriatic world of pro-Venetian minor aristocracy, enter service of the Republic of Venice as traders/interpreters/spies, send a couple of younger boys to Constantinople to learn Turkish so as to be Venetian trade and espionage agents there, and by stages different members of the clan are involved in major events of the century. Two are in the Battle of Lepanto in the 1570s, one plays a double game spying on Ottoman Turkey for Venice (but actually for Spain against Venice), and one remains deeply loyal to Catholic Christianity and yet through a personal friendship with a senior Turkish official ends up as right-hand man to the Ottoman-appointed voivod of Moldavia. While it takes time to gather pace, by 1/3 of the way through the scale & richness of Malcolm's achievment becomes apparent. Deserves all the lavish praise on the back cover.

May 7th; Sunday. Finish 'Milestones' in English by Said (Sayyid) Qutb, kindly lent to me by a friend. Described by one critic as the "Mein Kampf of Islamism", this is a book by an Egyptian civil servant who after a short study trip of two years at a university in the United States in the 1940s returned to his country disgusted with western secularism. He moved closer to the Muslim Brotherhood. He had background involvement in the Free Officers army takeover that overthrew the monarchy and brought Nasser and Sadat to power in 1954, not realising they had no intention of supporting his vision of an Islamic Egypt restored to Quranic purity. This book in fact, along with his larger work 'In the Shade of the Qur'an' were both written, as far as I understand, on scraps of toilet paper smuggled out of the prison where he was being subjected to electrocution sessions and sleep deprivation for the several years up to his execution on Nasser's orders in 1966.
It's first of all an eerie read. His "calm, lucid voice" one critic praises is also the brainwashed voice of the mind-control cult victim. One can hardly blame someone being subjected to torture for retreating into a kind of unshakeable self-hypnotised belief. However, like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, this is one of the books that not only contains deeply harmful ideas but conveys them, it seems, persuasively. Persuasively at least if the reader hungers for the sleep of reason and the drug of certainty, which many do. Milestones is perfectly pitched for a low-IQ audience that in general struggles with books, but desperately wants to be assured it understands things more clearly than those snide clever bastards trying to undermine their beautiful faith. The book is immensely repetitive. It repeatedly claims that this is the path of reason & justice. It says again and again that a kind of rigidity, a rock-like certainty of belief, is the vital first step. Once this has been attained, the believer is - like an American Creationist - no longer troubled by the bizarre idea that this holy scripture and no other is the authentic word of the Creator. He is then prepared to die under torture like Qutb, or prepared to kill, to achieve this complete blueprint for a good society from the 7th century that plenty of Arabic-speaking (and other) Muslims are still understandably emotionally invested in. Qutb endlessly repeats that this act of surrendering doubt and reason is just the opposite. It's the coming of a kind of sacred reason and knowledge. He gives no evidence for this (of course he can't, because it's not true), but his measured voice does achieve a kind of mesmering effect in driving out alternative thoughts. He was apparently a talented stylist in Arabic, although I can only guess from the English. Of course all the real power of the prose (his own and the Quranic quotes) comes from the sense that there were original mystical insights, a true glimpse of the transcendent you get somehow shining through the human scaffolding of all major religions, flavouring the source of his own faith with something genuinely fresh. The "clear spring" as he calls it in desert terms.
Among all the repetition, he quickly slips in a few untruths, such as the idea that experimental method is originally Islamic (it can be seen throughout ancient Greece, as early as the life of Thales of Miletus, 12 centuries before Muhammad). There is also the fact that the "high point" of Islamic science consisted of translating Greek texts, commenting on Aristotle, generalising study of polynomials, and was overtaken by Europe before the year 1000 according to Gimpel. This accounts for the puzzle of Islam supposedly creating scientific experiment yet failing to do any more of it in the thousand years after learning to distil alcohol (Notice 'Al' on front of name, as with algebra etc). That millennium of delay isn't well explained by Qutb's sketchy (and oddly eurocentric) version of Islamic history where the perfect society somehow conquers 3/5 of the Mediterranean yet is unable to do any sciencey things because of pesky Christian opposition.
In contrast to one implausible paragraph claiming experimentation for Islam, his central notion filling the whole book goes wholly the other way. This is that there must be no compromise whatsoever, just unwavering adherence to the Quranic blueprint. This easily-explained idea is very powerful, anti-reason, and harmful. Luckily it only seems to take root easily in a society already as politically and intellectually stunted as some Islamic societies are. In any society where people have seen the value of doubt, compromise with opponents, and dissent, only the most psychologically damaged and isolated can be sucked into cults like Scientology or The Family that take a similar form. It's ironic that Qutb was appalled by the US, which has a couple of unquestioning certainties and immaturities of its own.
His justification for active (rather than defensive) jihad is interesting. Any societies where people are not allowed to listen to Muhammad's message are "unfree" in Qutb's terms, but this is not reversed to protect preaching by other groups within Islamic societies because -- well Islam is from God, and it's really true! So there is intended to be a one-way valve. The work is not finished until every society on earth is as damaged as his. Qutb is shrewd on the weaknesses of western secularism, but is completely unable to see that his own situation, right down to him being tortured by a military dictatorship he helped instal, is not the hallmark of an unIslamic society. He nowhere realises that his own miserable imprisonment isn't a result of Western influence & corruption at all. Rather it's historically typical, measured across centuries, of any once-sophisticated culture unfortunate enough to have been invaded and reprogrammed in the 7th & 8th centuries by the monolithic simplistic mind-closing movement he's still loyal to. The fundamental idea is that all "man-made" laws are inferior to Islam because Islam is not man-made. How do you tell someone brainwashed to that extent (in fact fervently reinforcing their own brainwashing on themselves) that Islam is not only man-made, but obviously so?
May 6th; Saturday. Franc & Viki get married at a registry office in Pest. My first real wedding ever, I think. Almost upstaging Franc's radiant bride with pearls in her hair, a startlingly leggy, confident, straight-backed blonde around 40 is the presiding registrar. Wreathed in a huge Hungarian tricolour ribbon like a beauty-pageant winner, she essentially marries the happy couple by power of the official raunch vested in her. Wonderful party afterwards with spicy sandwiches, cake, wine, and sundry delicacies. I meet people from a big mix of backgrounds, including a practioner of a kung fu style I'd never heard of, and a host of lady badminton players, including the delightful newly-wed Mrs Franc. Accuracy practice in hallway using shuttlecocks with real goose feathers.

May 5th; Friday. Dr D. shows me a truly odd academic paper using Propp's folk-tale theory (blamed by Edina for 'Star Wars') to analyse interviews with tax lawyers. I read it surrounded by people with extravagantly ripped jeans looking at laptops. Washington Post claims that most of the stories about Trump voters regretting their vote for President Honey Monster are made up, and in fact Hillary Clinton voters have more buyer's regret.
May 4th; Thursday. They're working on devices that can delete your thoughts. Fab.

May 3rd; Wednesday. London rats are getting b-i-g-g-e-r.
May 2nd; Tuesday. Job interviews are useless? Shocking idea!

May 1st; Monday. Workers' holiday that the socialists commandeered from the Christians after the Christians took it over from the pagans. Meanwhile an old but relevant book called 'The True Believer': what makes some people throw themselves into a social movement? Goes rather well with an ex-Christian's "journey into transhumanism". On another front, evidence grows that not Trump but the Clinton campaign committed Watergate-scale offences to spy on Trump during the election.


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