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2005-06-03 15:58

Of books, their covers, and their judgenings

You can't judge an apple by looking at a tree
You can't judge honey by looking at the bee
You can't judge a daughter by looking at the mother
You can't judge a book by looking at the cover
Oh can't you see, oh you misjudge me
I look like a farmer, but I'm a lover
You can't judge a book by looking at the cover
Oh come on in closer baby,
hear what else I gotta say!

Bo Diddley (written by Willie Dixon)

But while we don't know a paratext from a paradiddle, we do like our covers. And Oxfam, our second-favourite second-hand bookshop, is a treasure trove of covers and the corresponding books. Just today we succumbed to an edition of Berger and Luckmann's Social Construction of Reality, which is ubiquitous, in a cover of concentric pink oblongs, which certainly is not, and Frederic M Thrasher's The Gang featuring a handful of youths in sillouette with red-shrouded baseball bat. (Although we might 've succumbed anyway - the Chicago School in papperbock, isn't it?)

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2005-06-03 11:37

Rising sealevels or a giant ice moon?

Sometimes, like now, I am slightly embarrassed that I don't know anything at all about oceans, since knowing about oceans looks from the outside as if it is pretty much what I do for a living.

At such times, I reach for The Seas and Oceans In Colour from the Blandford Colour Series, which is in colour and therefore must be very scientifique indeed.

And then my mind wanders. F'rinstance, one of the problems associated with global warming ("alleged global warming") is a rise in sea levels. Bah, says us, puny seas and oceans! Why don't we just scoop up the excess water and blast it into space, which is widely agreed to be (a) very big and (b) mostly empty, to form a giant space moon in orbit (in case we ever need it back).

Or better still we could take it to Mars, which is widely agreed to be too dry!

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2005-06-03 10:13

Prinsess Heelarity!

It is an abundance of 'Wegian royalty, featuring Kronprinsessmary and Kronprinsess Vickan and prinsess Madde

Bde den svenska och danska kungafamiljen slt upp - och Victoria satte klackarna i fel backe...

Both the Swedish and Danish royal fammlies showed up - and Victoria's high heels sloped oddly.

You'd think an experienced kronprinsess would know better than to wear stilletos to an uncertainly-weathered garden party, isn't it?

(There's till och med a picturespecial, which has exactly no fotos of the Danish royals. C'mon, Aftonbladet, sort it out!)

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2005-06-02 16:11

Smrgsquote

1.

It is Temple Grandin, autistic abbatoir designer, in the Graun and also with an extract from her book:

A behaviourist told me about an autistic boy he'd been teaching to butter toast. Finally he got it. He could butter toast. Everyone was thrilled, but the joy didn't last too long, because when somebody gave the boy some peanut butter to spread, he didn't have a clue. His bread-buttering skill was specific to butter, and it didn't generalise to peanut butter. This happens all the time with autistic people, and with animals, too.

Animals are notoriously rubbish at making samwidges, of course, but this had previously been blamed on the opposable thumb thing.

A normal person looks at a building and his brain turns the hundreds and thousands of building pieces coming through his sensory channels into one unified thing, a building. The brain does this automatically; a normal person can't not do it. That's why a common drawing lesson art teachers use is to have art students turn a picture upside down and copy it that way, or else draw the negative space surrounding an object ... [this] tricks your brain into letting the image stay in separate pieces, so you can draw the object instead of your unified concept of the object.

We learned how to do that, sort of, briefly, once, from Drawing on the Right Side of the [Spicy] Brain. Then we forgot.

2.

It is the OCDE ("OECD")'s report "Bbs et employeurs", which has now covered Sweden:

D'un point de vue qualitatif, les modles scandinaves se distinguent par une aide continue apporte aux parents, de la naissance l'adolescence de l'enfant, grce des gardes subventionnes, des congs parentaux flexibles et gnreux et la rduction du temps de travail pour les parents ayant de jeunes enfants. "En Finlande et en Sude, les parents peuvent prvoir de combiner leurs responsabilits professionnelles et familiales sans interruption" , note l'OCDE.

Ce n'est pas le cas au Royaume-Uni, mme si, dans son programme pour lutter contre la pauvret infantile et afin de rduire les obstacles au travail pour les mres, le gouvernement a multipli par deux les subventions pour la garde d'enfants elles reprsentent dsormais 0,4 % du produit intrieur brut (PIB) contre 2 % en Sude.

From a qualitative point of view, the Scandinavian models are distinguished by the continuous benefits given to parents from the child's birth to adolescence, thanks to subsidised daycare, generous and flexible parental leave and the reduction of working time for parents with young children. "In Finland and Sweden parents can combine their professional and familial responsibilities without interruption", the OECD notes.

That's not the case in the UK, even if, in its programme for reducing child poverty and in order to reduce the obstacles to work for mothers, the government has doubled the subsidies for daycare - they are now 0.4% of GDP compared to 2% in Sweden.

Socialdemocracy, isn't it? If you want mothers to be able to work, pay for daycare. (Tony Blair et al. are big fans of the kind of socialdemocracy that doesn't cost money, which tends to be the kind that is hard to distinguish from its absence.)

3. Not a quote at all

It's the Beebbriefning on the constitutional state of play, and we recommend reading the whole thing.

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2005-06-02 11:41

Smrgspost

1. Constitute me harder!

So where can I get a hard copy of this doomed constitutional treaty? Our Cash for Codices scheme was not a success for election manifestos - we managed exactly one (1) - but it is still ongoing.

2. Netherloonies, isn't it?

Via MMcM, a splendid exhibition of oddly-aimed paranoia:

This year's Eurovision Song Contest - the 50th - featured songs from 39 countries, including long-time participant the Netherlands. However, the Dutch song failed to win enough votes to go through from the semi-final to the big night on Saturday 21 May. Some Dutch people are citing this as a reason to vote 'No' to the EU constitution, for while such things happen in a competition of any kind, they see this particular failure as a sign that Europe is stacked against them and dominated by former communist nations.

(Do they have non-anecdotal evidence to support this position, you ask or enquire? They have no such something.)

3. Commissioner von Bladet

After the prinsesses, our favourite thing about Neue Post is the Rtselkrimis, which are Krimis you have to solve yourself. We find that we have no trouble whatever doing this in a langwidge we barely know after half a bockle of wine, from which we conclude - since the acumen of the Neue Post readership is surely beyond question - that we are unusually well-equipped for this line of work.

We also like the "spot the difference" pictures, but those are a bit harder.

4. An enormous fish!

We love the enormous fish stories, for sure. This one is a flounder, 2.3m long and 134 kg.

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2005-06-02 09:57

The plumage don't enter into it

Praline
Hello, I wish to register a complaint...Hello? Miss?
Shopkeeper
What do you mean, miss?
Praline
Oh I'm sorry, I have a cold. I wish to make a complaint!
Shopkeeper
Sorry, we're closing for lunch.
Praline
Never mind that, my lad. I wish to complain about this parrot what I purchased not half an hour ago from this very boutique.
Shopkeeper
Oh yes, the, the Norwegian Blue. What's wrong with it?
Praline
I'll tell you what's wrong with it, my lad. It's dead, that's what's wrong with it!
Shopkeeper
No, no, it's resting, look!
Praline
Look my lad, I know a dead parrot when I see one, and I'm looking at one right now.
Shopkeeper
No no sir. it's not dead. It's resting!
Praline
Resting?
Shopkeeper
Yeah, remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue, beautiful plumage, innit?
Praline
The plumage don't enter into it - it's stone dead.

We're playing Dead Parrot Bingo!

"We have a serious problem, but we must continue our work," Mr Barroso said. ["It's pining for the fjords!"]

Mr Juncker said other EU members should go ahead with their referendums. ["It's resting!"]

You want Blighty to go to the polls on this, Mr Juncker? Not a %$!ing earthly, I'm afraid.

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2005-06-01 15:37

Prinsess's Polandland Sickie-Pullning

We remember when lovely kronprinsess Mette-Marit of Norway stumbled from one newsworthy health issue to another, and now she's come down with a something in Polandland:

I dag tidlig ble klart at kronprinsesse Mette-Marit ikke kom til delta p det offisielle besket i den polske byen.

- Hun fler seg ikke helt i form, opplyste Slottets informasjonssjef Astrid Versto til VG Nett.

Early today it became clear that kronprinsess Mette-Marit isn't going to take part in the visit to [Krakow].

"She's feeling a tad poorly," clarified the Castle's informationchief Astrid Versto for VG Nett.

That's much clearer, Astrid Versto, thanks!

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2005-06-01 13:06

"Nee, hoor!"

This is our confident prediction of the Dutch referendumoutcome, although we for one would 've voted "Ja!" precisely so as to leave all the blame on France and possibly embarrass Blighty down the road into the bargain at the end of the day, say no more.

The result is non-binding, but PM Jan Peter Balkenende has agreed to abide by it.

Even though our own many proclamations are impeccaly non-binding, we are still working on getting Jan Peter Balkenende to abide by even the simplest of them, but just mention the word "referendum" and he rolls over, apparently.

Don't expect to be "PM" when our Imperial lands and dominions are restored to us, Jan Peter Balkenende!

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2005-06-01 09:55

Smrgspost

1. Slavering Slavoj in Space!

It is Zizek on Star Wars, in Swedish. We don't seem to care enough about Star Wars for even the Slavering Slovene to tempt us, but we are not our Varied Reader.

2. In which we award an award!

It is the Diana ben-Aaron prize for recalcitrance in the face of Nationaldaycelebrations!

Which this year is awarded to sa Linderborg:

P mndag r det meningen att vi ska fira nationaldagen. Frvnta er inte att jag ska vara med

On Monday we're supposed to be celebrating the Nationalday. Don't expect me to join in.

Oh, sa, why ever not?

Under 1980-talet blev det pltsligt en allmn sanning att socialdemokraterna under decennier hade "frbjudit oss att lska Sverige". Dumma sossarna, "man borde faktiskt kunna f vara stolt ver att vara svensk".

During the 1980s it suddenly became a general truth that the socialdemocrats had for decades "forbidden us to love Sweden". Silly socialdemocratsossages, "one should in fact be able to be proud of being Swedish".

We are, we are! And we're not even Swedish! Read, as they say, as much of the whole thing as your political preferences and linguistic abilities allow.

3. Social Democracy

We've just got to the bit in our course about Keynes and social democracy. We quite like social democracy, we freely admit it. That's going in the pot when we cook up a political ideology of our own, for sure.

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2005-05-31 15:19

Sigh

It is a study of gender ("sex") differences in readnings!

Men have finally realised what they are missing, but they still aren't all that keen to do anything about it.

This is the conclusion of a study into sex differences in reading habits, which found that, while women read the works of both sexes, men stick to books written by men. And the boys can no longer use ignorance as an excuse.

This study of which you speak, we yearn to hear more of its methodology:

The research was carried out by academics Lisa Jardine and Annie Watkins of Queen Mary College, London, to mark the 10th year of the Orange Prize for Fiction, a literary honour whose women-only rule provoked righteous indignation when the competition was founded. They asked 100 academics, critics and writers and found virtually all now supported the prize.

So that's 100 "academics, critics and writers", as a basis for establishing "men's" and "women's" behaviours. How very useless; how magnificently Grauniad. Lisa Jardine and Annie Watkins have many qualities, some of which may even be admirable, but social scientistes they are not.

We read Tracey Chevalier's wretched Girl with a Pearl Earring recently, so we are surely exempt from criticisme.

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2005-05-31 13:12

We don't want to talk about it

Luckily the Beeb has done the necessary:

European construction appears to be the victim of the collateral damage inflicted by [the French presidential election of April 2002], so heavily does domestic policy appear to have weighed with French voters above and beyond European considerations.

Le Monde

Consider your biscuit privileges revoked, my garlic-scented cheums.

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2005-05-31 09:52

Smrgspost

1. Not Tuesday but Thursday(?)

Bah! Tuesday's Grauniad is Education-flavour, and I already have all the education jobs I want.

2. A compleynt

264 spams from a 3-day weekend? There's been an increase lately, but I have a solution: we should introduce the death penalty, as is widely agreed, but for persons who buy things from spammers.

Going after the consumers worked just dandy in the war on drugs after all, isn't it?

3. Where I have been

Chesterfield, Derbyshire and Bicester (pr. "Bister" to rhyme with "sister"), Oxfordshire, with a side trip to London.

It was, of course, a movening.

4. A markning

I've finally broken into the 90s for an OU (part-)assignment, wuhoo! (Although the other half had my lowest ever mark.) Apparently we are more than allowed to tease questions at considerable length and answer them only in passing, which is certainly the way I like to do it.

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