to links pages 
phone texts to +36 -- --- ----
Thursday. Senior military officer claims that
civil war in France is now inevitable.
Wednesday. Researchers claim ivermectin was an effective drug all along, just as some doctors were saying
14 months ago. Some Spanish & Latin American medics call for covid-19 vaccinations to be halted. Several US states have passed laws actively banning use of covid-19 vaccination papers as
de facto passports: at least ten states so far.
Tuesday. This belated
crypto-based attempt to price internet use
might be worthwhile.
This would have been an obvious use of 1970s design time on
TCP-IP, had computing back then not been run by obsessive quasi-socialists
with no grasp of how resources get allocated.
Monday. Innovator creates dummy laptop you can plug a
Sunday. Edina recommends an adorable Russian animation character: Masha. Look out for the wolf dentists
in their sinister battered van.
Saturday. In conversation with Edina, I mention the nihilism of Mr Benatar, and we agree that the title of
this book should have been 'Better Never To Have Written'.
Friday. The disinfo campaign built to
launch covid-19 hysteria.
I bid farewell to Anne and catch a train to Szolnok, where Edina has just finished her
visit to the dentist. We drive together back to Szeleveny.
Thursday. Do some early-afternoon sleeping in preparation for this evening's night shoot
at the film set. A New Yorker article Jessica
Wednesday. Get to the end of another book of Anne's, a collection of short detective stories,
'The Department of Queer Complaints'.
These are by Carter Dickson, a writer I vaguely
recall mother strongly disliking. Very much at the crossword-puzzle end of the
detective-mystery spectrum, the tales feature invisible weapons, non-existent
rooms, footprints on top of hedges, invisible murderers and the like. Finding out
how each impossible crime was in fact done is strangely satisfying. Published
by Pan in the 1940s, the cover shows a revolver, a long slim dagger, a string of
pearls, and a stack of one-pound notes from the day when the monarch made no
appearance on our money.
Meet Jessica, back from Dixieland, for a lovely late lunch. We catch up on her
extensive adventures of the last couple of years.
Tuesday. A morning's work at the film set. All very smoothly organised and
quite jolly. I get put into a coffin so I can emerge from it saying how
comfortable it is. Nice piece via Robin about
Monday. I finish a lovely book from Anne's shelves:
'J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan in Kensington
Gardens', written by May Byron ("with the permission of
the author"), illustrated by Arthur Rackham. It seems Anne danced, acted, and sang
in a wide range of shows (she simply cannot believe I have never seen
but toured the US several years with Peter Pan. Having never read
or seen the original play I thought I should experience some
of his hospital-funding hero's adventures in make-believe. Very touching,
cheering, adorable, and poignant by turns, with exquisite drawings and the
occasional colour plate of Rackham's distinctive washed-out autumnal
hues. The adventure of defying 'Nurse' and hiding overnight in the park
after the gates close in the evening is conveyed perfectly with the seriousness
a five-year-old or six-year-old some time between 1900 and 1930 would view it.
Listening to Anne talking about her years on the stage, I get the sudden
feeling that the boy who never grows up is somehow a crucial figure in
20th-century myth, and I should look into this more.
Sunday. Anne's stylish flat is about 200 yards from a night shop I wrote
about in this article. The same lads
still staff it. They greet me like old friends.
Saturday. Walking distance from Anne's, I get my second covid-19 test. Another
slightly rushed affair where I again get the impression the goal is to be able
to say to lawyers that all the cast were tested, while making sure to not
actually confirm any of us have it. Not that it would matter if we had, of
course. On a bus a couple of days ago heard this tune ('Red is the Apple')
with a folkishly jaunty summer-hit tune, intentionally undercut by
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
Friday. Travel back into Budapest to stay some nights with kind Anne, a dancer,
so I can do my second rather suspect covid test at 11am. Well-argued piece about the
origin of covid-19.
Thursday. Travel to Budapest and back to Szeleveny to sign my name on 68
separate sheets of paper. Too expensive to buy, but in the Chinese supermarket
discover some intriguing Oriental bags of Kit-Kat bars in curious spicy
flavours where they colour the chocolate pale green or bubblegum pink. Mostly
Japanese judging by text on the packaging.
So this Kit-Kat, not
the original Kit-Cat
Club that inspired the fictional Kit Kat club in 1930s Berlin,
nor the real 1990s Berlin
club inspired by the fictional one.
Wednesday. Meanwhile, Mr Fauci seems to have recently restarted
germ warfare research without presidential approval.
Tuesday. Lucid piece from Koestler in 1972 comparing
physics & (for want of a better word) magic.
Monday. Remainers were
"wrong about everything".
Sunday. Thoughtful, interesting
article: Why is Everything Liberal?
Saturday. Apparently in French
avocat means both 'lawyer' and 'avocado'.
Friday. Bake second pair of loaves using Diane's recipe. Not particularly close to
getting the hang of bread-making any time soon. Edina is nonetheless very positive
about the products of my dough-kneading efforts. We discuss Polanski's obvious obsession with
the occult and this short note from
Jacques Vallee of all people (real-life inspiration
character played by Francois Truffaut) raises the awkward thought that
Polanski's interest in the dark arts is authentic and suspiciously personal.
Thursday. Visit Kunszentmarton with Edina.
Wednesday. Article homes in on the results of early-2020's unscientific but curiously co-ordinated attacks on HCQ & ivermectin: safe, cheap drugs effective against covid-19. It's an important shift now to begin
pointing out who really killed the people denied those medicines: eg. Fauci, WHO, others - not Trump.
Tuesday. A review that changed my mind. This makes me want to watch what's still the
highest-grossing-ever French film.
Monday. On a whim, I type 'jigger wigger' into a search
engine and learn this
Sunday. Wake out of a dream in which Michael the Greek is still alive, and busily presiding
over a jumble sale (in an underground railway station of course) of assorted stuff, including
stacks of panels of coloured plastic he has acquired in some way. As customers bustle around, picking out
two-by-four-foot boards of translucent orange or opaque lilac fibreglass, or whatever it is, Michael & I discuss
the Bulgarian artist who repeatedly wrapped things until summer 2020.
Saturday. Finally, some good news. A BBC1
special 9pm broadcast starring the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg three
days ago attracted disappointing audiences of barely more than 1 million.
Friday. So exhausted after yesterday's non-adventure that I forget my postponed lesson with Balazs.
Denmark becomes first country in EU to
stop AstraZeneca vaccinations for safety reasons. For added excitement, the Danish
official announcing the country's decision collapsed during her press conference.
Thursday. Go to Kecskemet to visit cardiologist, discovering the sheer thickness of public-transport planners in
Hungary. First bus is on time, the driver is cheerful, won't let me pay, jesting that it's my responsibility to
hide under the seats if an inspector gets on. The second driver is quarter of an hour late, won't let me pay (with
a weary hand gesture that expresses both that I am his guest and that all life in general is hopeless). Once in
town, it takes discussion with four separate bus drivers, one of whom doesn't give me change, in order for me to
reach the military hospital, not exactly a small feature in the Kecskemet landscape. There appears to be no bus
from the railway station or coach station that goes directly to the military hospital. Once at the military
hospital it takes me an hour and a half to see Akos, who is very kind and encouraging when I can see him, but by
which time I'm in danger of missing the last coach back to Szeleveny. Then I find myself waiting at a Kecskemet bus
stop near the military hospital for 3/4 of an hour,
for a scheduled bus that simply fails to turn up, ensuring
I have indeed missed the last coach back to Szeleveny. Then back at the coach station someone at the timetable
information office tells me with evident pleasure I'll to wait two and a half hours to even start my trip to a town
near Edina. Then the next-door railway station tells me I can get to the same town near Edina (a distance of about
thirty miles) if I take a three-hour journey with two changes of train one involving an hour-long wait. Finally Edina
finds a coach to another nearby town, Lakitelek, leaving in a few minutes (I phone her and my mobile decides to keep
cutting out during the conversation), I get on it, and the driver refuses to let me pay. Patient Edina picks me up
from Lakitelek. All for an hour-long consultation with my cardiologist which had to be cut short to ten minutes.
Wednesday. Three articles in the Spectator: Douglas Murray on the closure of Britain's most moderate & sensible
Simon Wood looks at the (lack of) evidence that covid-19
lockdowns ever made sense.
Matt Ridley on the immensely stupid precedent of
post-war food rationing under the young
Harold Wilson, the 1940s "technocrat". This last article reveals what really enabled Germany's economy
to surge ahead of Britain's in that decade of postwar recovery - scrapping government regulations.
Tuesday. Under-skin microchip
to detect covid-19 invented.
EU planned "vaccine passports" 20 months before the covid-19 pandemic.
Monday. Wake out of a dream in which Peter Ustinov is a cartoon owl, and is declaring that
"I lived my life as I wished to!" surrounded
by a busy host of other cartoon creatures, all under the sea for some reason.
My scales are still at Simon's, and Cardiologist Akos wants me to weigh myself for a few days
and take some blood-pressure measurements. Since I found yesterday that the batteries have died in my
blood-pressure device, today entails two main tasks. Job 1 is to buy four small batteries at the
'Feribolt' (one of the two shops, the one where the owner is called Feri). For Job 2, Edina
sweetly drives me to a second-hand furniture emporium a couple of miles away where I obtain
some 1970s bathroom scales
in a handsome mid-blue for the sturdy sum of 600 forints.
Robin & Bela drop by Edina's later, risking
getting captured crossing enemy lines when they cut it fine driving back before curfew.
Sunday. This might be nifty. Or entertaining.
28 pages isn't much investment to ask, considering what it promises. Astral projection, CIA, travel
to other dimensions. What's not to like?
Saturday. Sleep 13 hours, to Edina's slight concern. Today do most of the work writing
an article called 'Why I Am Not An Atheist', referring to Russell's
Friday. Rescue my shirt from the tree below Victoria's balcony where it blew last week,
leaning out over a sheer drop, wielding a Heath Robinson tool composed of two brooms
I taped together. This takes 3/4 of an hour, but I win. Then try to find my cardiologist,
without success. Then in the centre of town, after meeting my
second ever Malna (Raspberry), this one a rather dishy production
assistant, I get a costume fitting and a trial make-up application for my forthcoming
role as a comic undertaker. After this, the trip back into the Great Plain
from the Big Pogacsa goes reasonably well. Changing
trains at Szolnok around 9pm, I pop into the white concrete ticket hall to buy
snacks from the snack counter. Another
wonderfully leggy girl, a brunette this time, is working there, though
incredibly slowly. She shows me the chocolate bars, I ask for the yoghourt-flavoured
one, and then she proceeds to slowly show me the bars again. Biscuit-flavoured? Thank
you no, the yoghourt-flavoured one. Strawberry-flavoured? No, yoghourt, please. Finally
we manage the transaction in time for my connecting train to Kunszentmarton, and she
pouts at me reproachfully from under her long black eyelashes. Isn't it enough she's
showing a gorgeous figure in her skintight pink velvet tracksuit? I expect her to be
an intellectual as well? Of course she might be such a party girl that she
hasn't slept in three days. Often the problem.
At Kunszentmarton, I have about twenty minutes to walk from the railway station to the
bus and coach terminus, more than enough time. I arrive there and one bus
is lit up. A helpful passenger says
that will be my service at 20 past 10, but rather than getting on where it is standing,
I should go and wait at another little platform in the middle of the square. Everything
promises to go to plan. The empty platform has an illuminated dot-matrix sign saying
10.20pm, identifying the service as the one I want. Around 10.11, a driver gets on to
the lit-up bus and peers curiously at me through his big windscreen. Then he drives
off, leaving the whole square and its ten or twelve bus stops dark and deserted. The
dot-matrix sign counts off the minutes. Another bus arrives and drives straight past.
Darkness and quiet return. Another bus drives through, and silence is restored. Then
at exactly 22.19 a bus arrives, pulls in where I'm standing alone, and the driver motions
me to get on by the middle door. I do this. His cab is defended by coloured strips of
tape, in case I go close to infect him with the deadly plague. Inside the taped-off
enclosure, a middle-aged woman is nattering on her phone, the only other passenger.
We pull out onto the road and I hesitantly say across three rows of seats
to the back of the driver's shoulders that I'd like to go to Szeleveny.
"We're going there," he replies wearily.
I ask him how much should I pay? What do I owe him?
"You don't owe me anything,"
he declares in a sad, exhausted voice, addressing
the night-time road ahead. Half an hour of silence later, he stops a few yards
from Edina's house, and we solemnly bid each other good night.
Thursday. I catch the 5.30am train towards Budapest. Adventures ensue, including a
covid-19 mouth swab conducted entirely without words. Assuming I cannot speak her
language because I'm a foreign actor, the white-lab-coated dragon with the swab makes a
noise like Aaaa-aah! to indicate I must open my mouth. Aaa-uu-ah? I reply, trying to open my
mouth like hers. Aaah-oo-ah, she explains, poking a cotton-bud stick into the inside
of my cheek. We make these noises at each other another couple of times, and I'm
out of the building. Then I cross the river to retrieve Victoria's harp from a music
school a bus ride away from the new metro line terminus. Oddly it starts to snow
in big fluffy flakes to add a little atmosphere to my journey there and onward
to Victoria's. After a short rest, she & I go out to two
to reconnect her phone and internet, the first place making us wait for an hour
and then refusing Victoria's cash. Not ideal behaviour from them since the ATM hole-in-the-wall
swallowed her bank card for no good reason several days ago. I persuade the second
Vodafone office to finally (this is her 5th attempt) let her settle the bill she's
been trying to pay for over a week.
Wednesday. Robin drops by with one of my boxes, and Edina makes us all lunch.
Edina is currently interested in
Old Turkic runes.
Tuesday. I explore Szeleveny, visiting both shops, one at each end of the
half-mile-long main street.
Monday. Travel by train to Szeleveny on the Great Plain. Kind Folklorist Edina
and her cheerful boy Bendeguz are waiting there by the railway track to pick me up.
She's had a book published:'`Napevo, Holdfalo'
(Sun-Eater, Moon-Gobbler - Mythical Creatures of the Volga Turks).
Sunday. Careful, detailed late-March article by Iain Davis about why we should disbelieve covid-19 death figures.
Saturday.'Why Is Everyone In Texas Not Dying?''
More common sense and rational science about the covid tantrum. Meet Oluwafunmilayo
and we sit on a sunny bench facing the leafy Margit Island across the Danube for a natter.
Friday. A nice Unherd piece about the
tediousness of modernists like Virginia Woolf.
Thursday. Finish a book of Victoria's:
'The Queen's Conjuror',
a biography of astrologer, cryptographer, and all-round 16th-century wizard John Dee, put together
very nicely by Benjamin Wolley. The recurring sadness of his life, and the repeated struggles to find
a stable income or profitable business come over clearly. I would have liked to read more about his
cryptography and code-breaking for Elizabeth. The slightly malign and shadowy court presences of Cecil
and Walsingham, the Tudor spooks, is also covered. Wolley handles reasonably well the difficult
business of what actually happened when Kelley & Dee summoned demons and angels together in Bohemia.
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