Soros and the Open Society

So I’m back, and a happy new arbitrary period of time to my readers (both of you!).  Despite the continuing infirmity of my computer, I should be able to keep updating here. In the last few weeks I have read quite a lot of books which impressed me profoundly: Real England, which makes me think I don’t hate the UK quite as much as I once thought (although I still don’t want to live there); Sexuality and Socialism; Is That A Fish In Your Ear?, which altered my view on language so much that I will feel compelled to post … Continue reading Soros and the Open Society

It’s pronounced Na-bó-kov, not Ná-bo-kov

Before you all start howling at me (as if), I know that this blog is generally politically-themed, but whether you believe it or not I do sometimes read books between searching for material for my latest update.  In June, after graduating, I bought a whole raft of books from Blackwells in the mistaken belief that I would read them.  It’s now November and the pile has not shrunk appreciably.  Last week, though, I started what might be the crowning jewel of this haul, in terms of how much I have wanted to read it and for how long: Ada or … Continue reading It’s pronounced Na-bó-kov, not Ná-bo-kov

The Rest of the Birds Oppress and Loathe It

I’m well aware of the popularity that the infamous lesbian palm tree text has among my friends, and I thought it would take the opportunity to provide the world with another example.  This is taken from Shihāb al-Dīn al-Nuwayrī’s book Nihāyat al-arab fī funūn al-adab (The Final Goal of the Branches of Art) which, like so many other pre-modern Arabic texts, is concerned with everything.  This excerpt is from the volume about animals, and besides the amusing religious assertion (basically unsupported, and even unmentioned, by anyone else), it is interesting for what it gets wrong – and right – about … Continue reading The Rest of the Birds Oppress and Loathe It

The Pageant of Death

So Gaddafi is, apparently, dead, taking with him all the answers to the innumerable questions that we should have wanted to ask him.  I hardly think this bodes well for anyone.  Nevertheless, he was a malicious, violent, cruel despot whose people overwhelmingly deserve and demand far better.  After all, I felt nothing but glee when Mubarak and Ben Ali fell (although they were not murdered).  I even felt excited for the prospect of Gaddafi’s death back in April.  So, now that it’s happened, why the depression? Admittedly, it is somewhat hard to maintain the idea that Gaddafi’s death is exactly … Continue reading The Pageant of Death

An Ode to the London Library

Contrary to expectations (or, perhaps, your worst nightmares), this post will not be composed in verse.  I just wish to record for posterity quite how infatuated I am with the London Library. The London Library is the world’s largest lending library, but you’d never guess from the exterior.  It hides a remote corner of St. James’ Park behind the flag draped off the Cypriot High Commission.  The Library was founded in 1841 by members of the British Library who were unhappy with some of its policies.  For the modest annual price of about the GDP per capita of Ethiopia, you … Continue reading An Ode to the London Library

An Artistic Epiphany: Watts and Hope

I’m not generally that much into paintings.  I admire them and I like them and I’m familiar enough with the ones that those silly Ten Million Paintings You Must Lick Before Next Wednesday books say I should be, but I’ve never found them to be particularly fascinating.  More crucially, with the exception of Dalí, I’ve never had a painter who I personally liked more than others in the same way that I have certain musicians and authors whose works are a good rough approximation of my taste in those media.  Ah, but in the space of two days that has … Continue reading An Artistic Epiphany: Watts and Hope

The Pooh-Bear Effect

Yin day, when Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh and Wee Grumphie were aw haein a crack thegither, Christopher Robin said lichtsomely, “I saw a Huffalamp, the-day, Wee Grumphie.” “Whit wis it daein?” spiered Wee Grumphie. “Jist lampin alang,” said Christopher Robin. “I dinna think it saw me.” This afternoon my mother and I were listening to some radio station or other and we came across the news that Winnie the Pooh has been translated into the Scots language.  What’s more, there seems to be a great proliferation of articles on this all over the web.  This is important because the Scots … Continue reading The Pooh-Bear Effect