One way or the unway!
Did you know that the cheapest single from Bristle to London is exactly a squid ("GBP 1.00") cheaper than the return?
Meanwhile, our immune system has shown its typical enthusiasm for hard work and we have slept all day today.
And London's alleged Underground is doing its level best to thwart our journey to Heathrow on Saturday. The journey here was only somewhat disrupted, but if you've ever navigated King's Cross with a(n unwheeled) suitcase containing (among other things) GBP 40 of coppers then you are likely to know about it.
Still, our (not very) many cubic metres have been lovingly wrapped and dispatched to Birmingham, and our flat is very vacated, and on Saturday we fly to East Belgium with ten-years' worth of brand new passport and another one-way ticket. Weehah!
Size of Wales
Size of Wales, Wales, Wales
Size of Wales, Wales, Wales
Size of Wales, Wales, Wales
Size of Wales, Wales, Wales
(To teh tune of "Duke of Earl")
Plucky Montenegro has broken away from Big Bad Serbia, but we have yet to see its size quoted in the international standard unit that is the size of Wales.
Turns out it is two-thirds the size of Wales (or 665 milliwales, if you insist).
Also, our phrase for the week is "kleptocratic microstate", which may or may not be a coincidence.
We went to the Café Rouge and had snails and Toulouse sossages with a
You could do a lot worse, for sure.
When we came in this morning, we were employed. When we leave this
afternoon we will be unemployed. Sadly, we are not this time in the
happy position of having nothing to do but watch cricket on the telly;
we have some emigrations to sort out instead.
On the plus side, our zweetie is coming to town!
Blogging is going to be sparse and erratic for a while, we would
is boisterous Bildbladet, which is more than somewhat taken with
Finnish monsterockers Lordi:
Die finnische Staatspräsidentin Tarja Halonen (62) höchstselbst möchte
die fünf Schock-Rocker zur offiziellen Feier des Unabhängigkeitstags
am 6. Dezember ins Präsidentenpalais einladen. [...]
Doch für die Party hat die gestrenge Präsidentin einen strikten
"Dress-Code" aufgestellt: Die Truppe dürfe nur
kommen, wenn sie bereit ist, ohne ihre Horror-Latex-Masken
There's a party at the presidentialpalace, and Lordi are invited!
But the dress-code says "No masks"!
This mildly boggles us, but we are not configured to doubt the mighty
Did you know, Varied Reader, that the imminently defunct federation of
Serbia and Montenegro nonetheless has a foopball team in the imminent
shenanigans in Chermany?
They are our second favourite team, for sure!
It is a
Engleesh computer scientiste with things to say about Dutch
You see, the thing is, English spelling nowhere claims to be
consistent. I've looked everywhere, in dictionaries, encyclopaedias,
English language teaching books, all over the place, and I've never
found even the suspicion of a reference to a claim that English
spelling is in any way consistent. The Dutch, on the other hand
regularly have a spring-cleaning session in their spelling to further
confuse foreigners in their attempts to learn Dutch, failing in the
process to make the spelling consistent, and having the effect of
losing continuity. At least the English can claim to still be able to
So obviously what Dutch needs is a root and branch reform that would
break historical continuity in a way not attempted since Atatürk took
exception to Arabic script! Then we can throw out every book ever
written and start again! For example:
Proposal. Scrap the open-syllable rule. It is complicated, introduces
all sorts of special cases, and is difficult to learn. There are no
indications of any advantages. Advantages of the change are that the
spelling rules are much simpler; the spelling of vowel sounds is
always context-free; there is no need for double consonants any more.
(It isn't very complicated or difficult to learn, and the exceptions
are neither numerous nor hard to learn, in our experience.)
And he is very cross indeed about the admittedly anomalous "-isch"
(pronounced [i:s]), because of course if you're going to burden the
memory with a single quirky suffix you might as well demand they learn
Chinese writing and have done with it.
(There are few proposals we are less inclined to endorse than sweeping
spelling reforms. Just call us Metternich, for sure.)
[Thanks once more to our zweetie for the linkage!]
We have formally had enough of teh pre-Cup of Foopballing Internations
build up, and especially the St George flag it comes with. Since
Belgium has been excluded - an insolence the organisers will have
occasion to regret, mark our words - we are instead supporting Zweden.
Gold and bleu is after all partly bleu, so come on you partly bleus!
is Chinese writings!
The Chinese media is using fewer characters and to understand 90
percent of the content in publications you need only to know about 900
of the thousands of pictographs that make up the script, state media
said on Tuesday.
They said "pictographs"?! We doubt, but we are impressed by the
The findings of a survey conducted by the education ministry and
language commission were based on 900 million characters used in more
than 8.9 million files chosen from newspapers, magazines, the Internet
and television, the Xinhua news agency said.
(After that it gets painfully journalised and we recommend sparing
your varied self. They seem to think that the "simplified" characters
of mainland China and the shrinking set apparently needed for
functional literacy amount to much the same thing in some sense that
we, for one, would enjoy watching them pretend to make precise.)
[Thanks to our zweetie for the link!]
is too much fun!
They are known as Amen the unstoppable mummy, Enary the manipulative
valkyrie, Kalma the biker-zombie and Kita the alien manbeast.
(Have there been previous Enary's, we wish to ask or enquire? Zeven,
I'm 'Enery the Eighth, I am.
'Enery the Eighth I am, I am.
I got married to the widder next door;
She'd been married seven times before.
Every one was an 'Enery;
She wouldn't 'ave a Willy or a Sam.
I'm 'er eighth old man called 'Enery.
'Enery the Eighth I am.)
Kita has the "combined strengths of all the beasts known to man",
while he and the others are led by Lordi (The Lord).
New York's Grayladybladet
has a surprisingly different take on the lineup:
As he stuck out his tongue menacingly, his red demon eyes glaring,
Lordi was surrounded by Kita, an alien-man-beast predator who plays
flame-spitting drums inside a cage; Awa, a blood-splattered ghost who
howls backup vocals; Ox, a zombie bull who plays bass; and Amen, a
mummy in a rubber loincloth who plays guitar.
And some impressively inane cod-psychology:
The Finns' fascination for Lordi may reflect their eternal hope after
coming in last at Eurovision eight times. Some Finns rank that
humiliation with their nation's appeasement of the Soviet Union or
losing in hockey to Sweden.
While outside the Land of Reagan, Finland's Cold War position was
largely seen as sane, it is a fact that Zweden just added the World
Icehockey championship gold (Finland took bronze) to their Olympic
haul from earlier this year, so the Finnish psyche must look like
Lordi on a bad hair day, presumably.
Finns blame their losing streak on the fact that
contestants have typically sung in their mother tongue, a famously
difficult Uralic language where words with three umlauts are not
Uralic? Umlauts? You lack all known forms of clue, journaliste! But
let's leave the last
word to Archbishop Christodoulos of the Greek Orthodox Church:
Their win "shows that people are seeking something to prop themselves
on and fill their empty souls," said Archbishop Christodoulos of the
Greek Orthodox Church in a sermon on Sunday.
Do you get out much, Archishop? No, we thought not.
Thanks, but no
Serbia må gå i tenkeboksen etter at Montenegro nå bryter ut og blir et
selvstendig land. Det mest radikale forslaget kommer fra
utenriksminister Vuk Draskovic, som mener at landet nå kan få en ny
start ved å gjeninnføre monarkiet.
Tiddly-dum tiddly-dee... in the imminent absence of a Montenegro,
Serbia's foreign minister Vuk "Toots" Draskovic reckons it might be a
good idea to have a monarchy instead.
We'd love to do it, but we're staying home to spend more time with our
blender. Sorrie hoor!
It is a
job advert! We're not applying; we merely wish to remark:
Our department is international and often we communicate in English
with each other. Nevertheless it is also important to be able to
relate to our local situation and to be able to communicate with
students in Dutch. We therefore expect foreign candidates to learn
Dutch within one year. Several courses to facilitate this are
available. Experience has shown that this condition can easily be
If Dutch can be "easily" learned in a year, then given we have a
headstart and previous form in learning langwidges, then we figure we
should be able to do somewhat better. Since we're emigrating on 3
June ("June 3"), we'll give ourself six (6) months plus change and
target Sinterklaas as the official target date for Operative
Taalbevoegdheid. (Which by a happy coincidence it already was.)
§1. Don't tell the Frisians!
Montenegro, microstate in waiting:
Montenegro has narrowly voted for independence from its union with
Serbia, near-complete results say.
The head of the country's electoral commission said that 55.4% of
voters had voted to secede from Serbia, just above the 55% required
is the mighty might of Lordi!
It reminds us of EnglandandWales's Ashes triumph, if this coverage is
anything to go by:
President Tarja Halonen congratulated the band in a telegram after
their song Hard Rock Hallelujah won in Athens. [...]
Helsingin Sanomat wrote: "Years of humiliation, frustration, and 'zero
points' were wiped away as the Finnish entry blew everyone off the
stage in Athens. When the United Kingdom voters gave Finland 12
points, one knew somehow that nothing would ever be quite the same
§3. Monstervizhn, slightly Zwedish!
is Hufvudstadsbladet, Finland's foremost and only national
Zwedish-langwidge daily paper!
Plötsligt utbrister Mr Lordi i en spontan tolkning av Litauens sång We
Are The Winners och trummisen Kita viftar med Finlands och Greklands
Suddenly Mr Lordi broke out in a spontaneous interpretation of
Lithuania's song "We are the winners" and the drummer Kita waved
Finnish and Greek flags.
(Both of which are of course blue on white.)
That's almost better than our plan of finding the Lithuanian
candidates and chanting "You are the losers! Of Yurovizhn!" at them
over and over and over again.
The problem with disliking (now ex-)Dutch MP Hirsi Ali used to be
the company you would find yourself keeping. And while that may well
still be an issue, it was brought to our attention rather later that
we'd've preferred that the "thinktank" she's leaving for the FDR to
join the American
Enterprise Institute, home to only the most shameless shills and
flagrant frauds. Her new colleagues are global warming denialistes
and tobacco company plants and other such lossage, and we will permit
ourself the observation that we are confident she will fit in just
Georges Lüdi, professeur de linguistique française et directeur du
Département des sciences du langage à l'Université de Bâle.
To our consternation, they do not especially ask him to relive the
memorable night when Middlesborough knocked Basle out of the UEFA cup
in a shock second-leg comeback, but have him instead witter on about
childrens and spicy brains and langwidges. In Foreign to boot.
- L'enfant qui a acquis simultanément deux langues dans la toute
petite enfance est ensuite avantagé lorsqu'il acquiert de nouvelles
langues. Par rapport à un enfant qui a grandi dans un univers
monolingue, il a un avantage biologique. On observe le même phénomène
avec les adultes qui ont grandi dans des environnements monolingues et
ont peu été en contact avec d'autres langues, les Français, les
Américains ou les Russes, par exemple. Lorsqu'ils s'installent à
l'étranger, ils ont plus de mal que d'autres migrants à apprendre la
langue du pays d'accueil.
Childrens who acquire two (2) langwidges in ze infancy, zey keep an
advantage in to also additional further languages in the future to be
able to learn as well. Which show it self the same phenomenon when
the having in a largely monolingual environment up-grown adults - from
France or the USA - install themselves in an abroad, they are
considerably more difficulty than other immigrants to learn the
But at the end of the day, I'm gutted. Funny old game, eh?
(Le Temps has many articles on langwidge-learning, but this one
actually has content and everything!)
Darlington, wherever that is!
A sex slavery cult based on a series of 1960s science fiction novels
has been uncovered by police in Darlington.
The group, called Kaotians, follow the Chronicles of Gor novels which
depict a society where women are dominated. Kaotians are a splinter
group of the Goreans, which base their beliefs on novels written by
American university professor John Norman.
The books are set on the quasi-medieval planet of Gor, which has a
caste system and uses women as slaves. There are an estimated 25,000
(I've abridged the beeboiding ruthlessly.)
Everything in this boggles our tiny mind (which was exposed to Gor
books in its sweaty-palmed youth) but nothing more than that J Norman
is/was a perfessor. What on Gor did/does he perfess?
Everyone agrees that liberal, democratic and nationalist movements had
an influence on nineteenth-century politics. (Even me!)
Some persons argue that (some of) these ideas arose with the
Enlightenment and then spread, and that this undermined Society As It
Was Known. (These can be divided into pro- and anti- camps, and yes
there really are the latter.)
But we suspect that this has the canonical bug of intellectual
theories of history, namely that intellectuals are a Very Important
Part of how history comes about.
We suspect further that the rootless(ish) cosmopolitans of the
Englightenment were simply at the vanguard of noticing that
industrialisation and urbanisation were going to disrupt traditional
life whether they came up with a rationalisation of the process or
In other words, if your traditional social framework takes it as
granted that bondsmen owe allegiance to their feudal lord then it is
pretty much up the creek by the time that peasants move into the city
and work in factories. And if the prevailing legitimisation of the
social order is precisely that it is traditional then that's
knackered too, and without anyone ever having had to read Rousseau.
More interestingly, it occurs to us that the Glorious Ancestor stuff
involved in nationalisme is an attempt to recover a legitimisation of
a political system via an appeal to tradition, in such a way that it
still works after the social upheavals of industrialisation.
We are very interested, we admit, in the role of "tradition"
(conceived of as an appeal to timescales far beyond those
experientially accessible, which is to say that involve the magic
words "once upon a time") in legitimations of social institutions.
(And, we also admit, really not very interested at all in reading
It is the
eccentrically-spelled "eurovision blog"!
We were actually looking for a petition against Terry Wogan's
perpetual UK anchorhood at the time, but there doesn't seem to be
one. Silly Engleeshes!
Bonus Abuse: It
is The Editors Weblog, a collation of press-related stories from
press-releases and various news-wires, routinely mangled by
semi-competent cut-and-pastage and not less entertaining for that.
The world's third largest newspaper by distribution, the freesheet
Metro, has worked its way into Mexico, launching its familiar green
masthead in the world's second largest city.
That'll be a press-release, then: only Metro could possibly find it in
its heart to describe the polyglot polycelaphic bladetswarm that
shares a name, a logo and a business model as a single newspaper for
the purpose of claiming to be third-biggest.
Barcelona won the foopball, so Englishes are indulging the full
strength of their celebrated espirit of Fair Play and blaming
Simmering resentment boiled over last night as Thierry Henry departed
Paris with an uncharacteristically vehement attack on the performance
of the Norwegian referee Terje Hauge and his assistants who he deemed
had unfairly favoured Barcelona to contribute to Arsenal's Champions
Henri, before you start, is not remotely Engleesh, but we assure you
that his sentiments are not unshared by our alleged countrypersons.
It is the Foopballing Finale of the League of Champions tonight, but
we also have some Cherman homeworks to do (writing, to be specific, a
pretend newspaper article on, to be other than culpably specific, a
topic we dare not discuss).
But while teh Gunners and Barça have played some of the best foopball
in Yoorpean competition this season, it is still only foopball and we
are fond of neither team. (The Arse are derbically related to
Chelsea, and thus very yuck, and Barça are a locus of Catalan
nationalisme, and thus more than somewhat ewww.) So Cherman it is.
[Disclaimer: The Smith's, like Carry On films and Keeping Up
Appearances and distressingly many other "quintessentially English"
comedy acts, do approximately nothing for us. We don't like Mr Bean
or Fawlty Towers either, so just strip us of our nationality and make
us stateless right now, why don't you?]
is 17 May!
Idag exploderar hela Norge i en enda gigantisk folkfest.
Today a dead Norway washed up lifeless on the Zwedish coast.
Munitions experts were called in to detonate the carcass; a gang of
whales is being sought for questioning in what is thought to have
been a revenge attack.
Also, Mette-Marit has been spotted wearing some excellent upholstery
so it's all good.
The goggles, they do nothing!
is a Beeboidal uproundning of the inflictions to be inflicted:
[Cherman reps] Texas Lightning are a country and western fivesome, and
the first such act to try their luck at the song contest.
Their song No No Never was written and will be sung by Australian Jane
Comerford - who is also a ukulele player.
And a big hello to Armenia!
The former Soviet republic, which has land borders with Iran,
Azerbaijan, Georgia and lies close to southern Russia, is taking its
first Eurovision campaign very seriously.
Since none of Iran, Azerbaijan or Georgia has a vote, we don't
especially fancy their chances but you never know.
is Lithuania's thwarted Euroquest!
[T]he small Baltic of state of Lithuania feels aggrieved it is being
refused entry on the grounds that its inflation rate is marginally
above the 2.6 per cent benchmark used by the European Commission and
European Central Bank.
Lithuania, whose March inflation rate was just below 2.63 per cent,
can scarcely believe its bad luck, and will look on as Slovenia
- the only other new EU member to apply to join the
euro - adopts the single currency next January.
It is conspicuous that the extent to which rules apply to countries is
very much a function of whether said countries are France or Chermany,
and of course whether rules apply to Italy and Greece depends on
whether you really believe the EU really believed their bookkeeping
back in the day was on the up-and-up. (Astonishingly, it wasn't.)
So why be so tough with Lithuania, and why now? Mr Almunia argues that
although the Baltic state misses the inflation target only narrowly
now, inflation could rise to 3.5 per cent later this year
- and that Vilnius ignored his warnings the problem
Yeah right. Lithuania is a small Baltic country with not much
political clout, and it has been selected for Making An Example Of
duty, and that's that.
It irritates us, it more than slightly does, that in a world where
Tony "Baloney" Blair's relentless crusade against human rights in
favour of "public safety" (which he does more than most to threaten -
at what point is he going to spot that his arguments work just as well
in support of regicide? Oh, none, yes) the approximately sane (i.e.,
oppositional) public discourse can't manage more than "We had to burn
the village in order to save it" black humour and the usual (and
completely irrelevant) 57 flavours of post-Kantianismz.
Reading, as we lately have been, Max "Chuckles" Weber has been a
revelation, for sure, but has anyone (aside from Zizek and sundry
Anglo-Continental comedy turns) attempted some kind of synthesis of
Weber with Freud or Lacan? You just can't get anywhere with the
current political inflammations without tools to handle absurdity and
obscenity, and it is certainly our understanding that that's not
really Kant's strong point.
The relative merits of describing and changing the world are certainly
discutable, but the uselessness of standing unobserved offstage giving
it a stern telling off should be obvious even to deontologistes in
their more lucid moments.
It is the Neue Zürche Zeitung and it is magnificently dated in
its layout and appearence. It makes the Frankfurter Municipal
Sossagebladet look like De Telegraaf or Aftonbladet
for sobriety. It appears to be written in Foreign, however, so we
don't know much about what it says.
§2. Book the First
It is C++: A Somethingy Something by Koenig and Moo and it is
the best of a very bad lot. It seems OK, under the constraint that
the authors think that C++ is a Good Thing and therefore can hardly be
§3. Book the Second
It is Peter
L Berger's Invitation to Sociology : A Humanistic Perspective
and very good it is too, if not quite either as purple or as
magnificent as his Social Construction of Belgium and Other
Realities with Mr Luckmann.
is Jackie Ashley in the Graun's ContentIsFree! And some
sub-editor has (possibly with deliberate mischievous intent) glossed
Ming Campbell has a chance to put the Liberal Democrats centre stage
by raising the flag of common sense on the Middle East.
Ming "Minger" Campbell has as much chance of putting the perpetually
feckless LibDems centre stage as we do of annexing the Sudetenland, or
is however expatica, and it probably can't be helped in the
Learning the Dutch language will make life a lot easier for expats,
but choosing the right course is crucial. Parul Merchant-Das gives a
run down of the options open to would-be learners.
We differ on the closing point, though but:
As for me, I'm still trying to get the Dutch person on the street to
speak to me in Dutch. Most Dutch speak English and when they notice a
bit of faltering in Dutch on my part, they quickly switch to
English. They want to practice their languages too!
The Dutch almost never English us. We suspect it's an Amsterdam
thing, if at all.
Is were we were at the weekend, and it was on its bestest behaviour:
it was sunny but not too sunny at the zoological gartens, Mr Foyle's
book establishment had a copy of the only known good book on the
increasingly (and justly) unfashionable langwidge C++, which we are
nonetheless going to have occasion to use, and the Greek food and
drink was most eccelent.
If it hadn't been for the folk-memory of the repealed 1914
munitions-inspired law on drinkning times and the espectacular
escronking of the Tube, it would've been perfect.