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2003-09-19 14:40 (UTC+1)

California Dreamin'

All the leaves are brown
And the sky is grey
I went for a walk
On a winter's day
I'd be safe and warm
If I was in L.A.
California dreamin'
On such a winter's day

[California Dreamin', The Mamas and the Papas]

Keep the guestbladet warm; I'll write when/if I can. (And eyes peeled for harmless and vapid prinsessor stories, me hearties, arrr!)


2003-09-19 13:03

(Norwegish) How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways

Birgitte asks:

Oh, and I wonder, does Norwegian really have numbers organised like Danish, so that, say, '51' is spoken 'en-og-femti'?

As usual with Norwegish , it's worse more complicated than that (for arbitrary values of "that"):

In 1951 it was decided that numerals should from then on be read from left to right in Norwegian, e.g. 52 as /femti tu:/ and not as /tu: femti/ which was common at that time. The main argument for the change was that it is easier to process numerals if they are pronounced as they appear in texts, from left to right. Also a growing use of the "new" pronunciation (as in Swedish and English) in the defence forces and among switchboard operators caused mix-ups (for people using the "old" pronunciation).

The optimists forecast that the reform would be accepted by the public within a five year period. But there were misgivings as well, since the trochaic or dactylic stress pattern of the "old" pronunciation agreed with the normal stress pattern in Norwegian, while the "new" pronunciation gave an iambic or anapaestic stress pattern which normally only occurs inNorwegian in words of foreign origin.

Especially in non-formal everyday speech the "old" pronunciation is frequently used, both by old and young people. In formal speech, e.g. reading phone numbers from a manuscript, people are less likely to use the "old" pronunciation. However, in our database 336 (3 %) of totally 10922 numerals which could be pronounced in both ways, were pronounced in the "old" way. Of 780 speakers, 61 (7,8%) used "old" pronunciation, though most of them mixed the two pronunciations. Thus, 45 years after the reform we have two ways of pronouncing such numbers in Norwegian, and we never know for sure which one will be used.

Stop! That! At! Once!

(Torill, could you make them stop that? Please?!)


2003-09-19 11:13 (UTC+1)

Of Nutters and Nuances

The BBC has a round up of the news that's fit to print (i.e., not from Spain) about the man suspected (and expected to be formally charged today) of Anna Lindh's murder. Pertinent to this bladet:

An acquaintance of the suspect interviewed by Dagens Nyheter described him as an educated and intelligent man who appears comfortable amongst Stockholm's jet set.

The suspect also appears to be an acquaintance but not a friend of members of the Swedish Royal Family.

It seems the man did not display any violent tendencies while mixing with Stockholm's upper class.

(What were they expecting? "Hello, are you a prinsess? Do you want to see me bite the head off this puppy? I'm a nutter, me! Can I get you a drink?")

The memorial service for Ms Lindh is being held today. This is a public state occasion (a private funeral will follow) and it takes place within the context of world politics. Most notably:

US Secretary of State Colin Powell was due to attend, but was forced to cancel because of extreme weather caused by Hurricane Isabel.

This is especially notable because Lindh became extremely unpopular in many circles within the FDRUSA by describing the WTC assault of the Other September 11 as "understandable", when to them it wasn't (and they are militantly committed to not understanding as much as possible about views other than their own). The extent to which Colin Powell is not an arsehole has been widely remarked on, but it is probably still underestimated.



2003-09-18 14:16

Bilingual Beelzebub in Belgium!

So I was settling down to see what The Basket Weaver had to say about Usenet and that, and right up the top it's all

Fyrst gjev eg ein kort introduksjon til Pierre Bourdieu sin feltteori [...]

"Eg"? "Ein"? "Bourdieu sin feltteori"? Call me an inchoate and intemperate space-goat, but this looks like Nynorsk to me!


Salting the sore is the certainty that le vieux tisseur himself would have smirked a sly smirk at my discomfiture. I do not criticize, of course, but merely remark in passing, then, that the accumulated pedagogical literature on Nynorsk for speakers non-native to any norsk is such as could be painted in letters 5 cm high on the cellulose-afflicted parts of Kate Moss's left thigh.

Of course, I am now morally obliged to insist that this is the single most important scholarly contribution to date to a deeper understanding of self-organising social structures in online environments:

Edmund Wilson claimed that one of his greatest pleasures was telling a friend about an especially good book he'd read, so long it was (1) out of print, (2) rare, and (3) written in a language the friend didn't speak.

("No really, Impressionable Young Anglophone Person Of Gender At A Cocktail Party, once you've got the hang of Bokml it really isn't all that much of a stretch...")

[via M o I r A]


2003-09-18 10:53 (UTC+1)


1. C'est magnifique, mais ce ne peut pas gurir.

I'm at the threshold of the conclusion of Le Marxisme, hoorah! (Proper review when I've properly digested it.)

2. Boots

I only narrowly talked myself out of buying another introduction to Heidegger which had a cover picture of boots which I liked very much. (Boots occupy a privileged place in my conception of the world, of course.)

It is of course this picture by Van Gogh, and now I think I will have to buy myself a print of it instead. Besides, I've never find a decent range of De Chirico prints, and I'm fed up of waiting. (And very fed up of the cult of the imposter Dal.)

3. Twinkletree!

Riga, Vilnius and Helsinki! I am very excited!

4. Intercontinental Imminence!

BA don't give out tickets, anymore, so all I have is a scrunched up piece of paper from the travel agent. (The scrunching was actually my own contribution; did you guess?) I'm not entirely convinced that this is reassuring.

("Hello, I've come to intercontinent!"
"Certainly Sir or Madam; do you have your scrunch?")

Also I need to nip out to Oxfam and buy a new jacket at lunch time - my denim jacket has progressed from a state that my mother doesn't think is acceptable to one that I don't think is acceptable, and I expect airport security persons have views on such matters that are closer to my mother's than mine anyway.


2003-09-17 18:21

On a little dishy, for sure.

Let's hev a bit o' cracky, Till the boat comes in.

Dance ti' thy daddy, sing ti' thy mammy,
Dance ti' thy daddy, ti' thy mammy sing;
Thou shall hev a fishy on a little dishy,
Thou shall hev a haddock when the boat comes in.

Ah, haddock? No, we're clean out of haddock, sorry:

[C]ustomers are still reluctant to buy unfamiliar fish and instead plump for the old favourites cod and haddock. Yet these are fish which have been intensively fished to the point of crisis.

Patagonian toothfish? (sucks through teeth.) Like golddust that is, Squire. Haven't had that in for weeks:

Going deeper isn't the answer either. Fish from the mid-depths such as sea bass, monkfish and some types of tuna are now endangered. The prized Patagonian toothfish - on the menu at fashionable eateries in Japan, London and New York - is now virtually worth its weight in gold it is so scarce.

Dance ti' thy daddy, sing ti' thy mammy,
Dance ti' thy daddy, ti' thy mammy sing;
Thou shall hev a fishy on a little dishy,
Thou shall hev a herring when the boat comes in.

Herring, you say? Sadly, no, Sir:

The lessons of over-fishing are there in history. Herring, for instance, was once so popular that stocks collapsed in the 1970s and have only now recovered enough to allow controlled fishing.

Mackeral? It's very runny, Sir...

[Kudos to Unilever for switching to sustainable stocks! I'll have pollack, megrim, witch or mahi-mahi any day. On a little dishy, mind.]


2003-09-17 13:55(UTC+1)

Scandewegian dictionaries

[via sci.lang]

For Danish, Gyldendals Rde Ordbger. Udtaleordbog (ISBN : 87-00-77942-3) is the pronoucing dictionary of choice, in the sense that it's the one that's in print. It uses its own transcription scheme, but gives a map to IPA at the beginning. (This is reasonable with Danish, which is pessimised for IPA transcriptions.)

For Swedish, a '40's dictionary that's said to be an improvement on many of its successors: Walter E. Harlock, Svensk-Engelsk Ordbok, Skolupplaga, from Svenska Bokfrlaget

Any further recommendations for monolingual starter dictionaries (Le Robert Micro is so, so good. I am only starting to realise how spoiled it has made me.) for the congenitally andrasprklig gratefully received, of course.


2003-09-17 12:36

Usenetteorisupplement and the overlookable unsecludedness of beings.

Eit forsk p konstruere eit felt for personleg datakommunikasjon ved hjelp av Pierre Bourdieu sin praksisteori,
Jan Fredrik Hovden (HTML)
Kaos og orden p Usenet- en antropologisk analyse av elektronisk nettkommunikasjon,
Espen Munch (HTML but one file per chapter, which makes it more printable)

While we're geeking out, I'll mention that I'm reading Jean Wahl's introduction to Heidegger, which is great fun. Consider the note on page 37, in which we contemplate the translation of "Die offenbarkheit des Seienden ist eine Unverborgenheit". Wahl gives "L'tre-manifeste de l'tant est un dcouverture," but then exhibits some alternatives (I've suppressed the citations):

Parmis les nombreuse tentatives pour rendre Unverborgenheit en franais, signalons entre autres non-latence, non-dissiumulation, hors-retrait, non-retrait, tre-dcouvert ou dcouvertet [the latter two from the same translator]. Rappelons enfin que selon Boehm et Waelhens, le premier traduire en allemand alethia par Unverborgenheit aurait t Nochola Hartmann das Platos Logik des Seins, 1909.

There then follows a discussion of the significance of the negative Greek prefix a- in alethia. According to my reading of Wahl's reading of Heidegger's reading of the Greeks (this is the way continental philosophy is played, so sshh!) the Greek conception is one of sneaking up on the thing, entity and/or being in its philosophical hiding place and firmly yanking it out by the hair. Heidegger, on the other hand, appears to be insisting on the primacy of the Unverborgenheit (whatever that means - I don't speak German) of beings, entities and/or things.

Philosophy as a procession of palimpsests of intermingled polylingual partially translatable textual practices, hoorah hoorah hoorah!


2003-09-17 10:09 (UTC+1)

Usenet and the practice of basket-weaving

Over at Jill/txt a recent post-in-progress begins to contemplate the Theorising ("Theorizing") of Usenet, with Pierre "The Basket-Weaver" Bourdieu high on the list of Theoristes to be applied.

This means that I need to finish Le Marxisme pronto to make space for Une Esquisse d'une theorie de la practique in my carry-on luggage ("baggage") so that I can play, too. Ms /txt herself seems mostly interested in insights applicable also to the rugged mountain passes of Blogistan, but I am still at least equally at home in the marshlands of the newsfroup, and I yearn to see what can be made of it. (I don't deny that my textual practices here are deeply informed by my history of participation there, and vice-versa.)

Elizabeth Lawley's preliminary sketch is tantalising ("tantalizing") for sure, but I want more!

For example, and limiting myself to Usenet (I've never used a BBS) a typical user will subscribe to an assortment of groups (via the ~/.newsrc file, on Unix) - mine includes, among others, comp.lang.python, alt.religion.emacs and sci.lang, and these are all quite different, especially from each other - and the first methodological question is whether to treat Usenet practice as a whole, or to break it down froup-by-froup. (Certainly, one occasionally runs into someone from froup A in froup B.)

And then the problematique of the "lurker", which I would take to be central, of course. The prototypical interaction on Usenet is by means of a sequence of public speeches - what looks navely like a "reply" to a poster is better thought of as a public "follow-up" to the post (the established terminology makes precisely this distinction, of course) in which the author of the post replied to may appear to be addressed, but in fact often, and perhaps typically, serves as the (purely formal) target of an apostrophe.

If I had a pound for every time I'd seen someone completely miss this fundamental point, I'd have spent the lot on beer, hoorah!


2003-09-16 15:10 (UTC+1)

Gymnasium Graph Theory and Shoppingharbour Attractions

La-di-dah DN does discrete maths. It's all the rage in gymnasieskolan, you know: students on naturprogrammets datainrikning (nature program's alignment) have to take it now. Kombinatoriken ahoy, svenskarna!

- Kombinatoriken r krnan i den diskreta matematiken, sger Svante Linusson, professor i tillmpad matematik vid Linkpings universitet.

Historien om den diskreta matematiken och kombinatoriken liknar en klassisk framgngssaga. Trots att stora matematiker som Leonhard Euler och Pierre de Fermat grna sysslade med problem som rrde kombinatorik har mer traditionella matematiker sett ner p omrdet.

["Combinatorics is the kernel of discrete mathematics," says Svante Linusson, professor in applied mathematics at Linkping university.

The history of discrete mathematics and combinatorics resembles a classic success story. Although great mathematicians like Leonhard Euler and Pierre de Fermat gladly worked on problems related to combinatorics, more traditional mathematicians looked down on the area.]

Violins and red-headed stepchilds, for sure. This is, after all, journalisme.

We build up to the P vs NP problem in the context of the Travelling Salesman ("handelsresande") Problem, which is worth a million of the Clay Institutes dollars. (Follow the link for their explanation.)

Not really standard 'bladet fare, I admit; I'm just amused (and slightly) to find all this in even a hoity-toity newspaper, having sat through my share of intellectually stifling graph-theory lectures. (Nobody ever offered to teach me Shannon-school information theory, though, sadly, and it looks like they're perpetuating this omission over there.)

Alternatively, go admire the block of flats ("apartment building") where legend has it that Kronprinsfred's beloved Knudella also sits and pines for her prins like the leetle mermaid of recent upblowing:

The statue is based on Hans Christian Andersen's 1837 tale of mermaid who falls in love with a human prince and has to wait 300 years before she can become a person.

Somebody should perhaps remind Kronprinsfred that Knudella doesn't have 300 years spare before she can become a prinsess, however touching the parallels otherwise of course are.

[Knudella stalkage via Birgitte, tack.]


2003-09-16 12:07 (UTC+1)

Europe, Secular

Chirac gets something right, hoorah!

"France is a lay state and as such she does not have a habit of calling for insertions of a religious nature into constitutional texts", the French President told reporters at a visit in Quintos de Moro where he met Spanish Prime Minister, Jos Maria Aznar.

"The lay character of French institutions does not allow them to accept a religious reference" in a domestic or EU constitution, Mr Chirac concluded.

Several countries, Italy, Spain and Poland among them, have backed the idea of having a reference to Christianity included in the Constitution.

I am entirely unwilling to endorse a vision of a Christian Europe. Not only is it spectacularly offensive to persons not of this religious persuasion, it's a travesty of history. Ancient Greece was not Christian. Muslims kept the Greek knowledge alive when Christian Europe went through a difficult patch - the darkness of the Dark Ages has been overstated, but I still owe more to Averroes than to most (if not all) Popes.

Persons of Jewishness may also feel they have grounds for complaint about this proposal, and any decent person (Popes need not apply) would surely concede the justice in that.

But I am not in the business of being insulted on behalf of other persons, when I am myself insulted directly. Those of us who consider ourselves heirs of the Enlightenment (Upplysningstiden) will surely also join our voices to the wishing of a prompt off-fucking of the Pope and the "several countries" he rode in on. You might remark that the Enlightenment (Upplysningstiden) has not been an unqualified success in terms of making the world a better place, and you would be quite right. But if you think Christianity has any claim to moral superiority, I have some religious wars you might be interested in perusing.

I am now so cross about all this, that I feel compelled to sign myself on as one of nice Mr Dennett's "brights" (note that the name is not my fault):

The time has come for us brights to come out of the closet. What is a bright? A bright is a person with a naturalist as opposed to a supernaturalist world view. We brights don't believe in ghosts or elves or the Easter Bunny -- or God. We disagree about many things, and hold a variety of views about morality, politics and the meaning of life, but we share a disbelief in black magic -- and life after death.

Religion is not, of course, really reducible to outlandish epistemological claims, and one might argue that there is an kind of anthropomorphism implicit in any attempt to construct a universe which is intelligible, however metaphorically that is to be understood, and that such attempts are an intrinsic and inevitable component of the human condition.

But still, this attempt to smuggle parochialism into the constitution intended to define Europe's future is an insult to much of what has been best in Europe's past, and it is an insult to what many of us hope for Europe to become in the future.


2003-09-16 10:08 (UTC+1)

We call it "food".

You like sushi, of course, and you love srstrmming ("It's not rotten fish, it's fermented!"). Imagine your joy as two and two have finally been put together to make Sushistrmming!

- Faktum r att det hr nog liknar den ursprungliga sushin. Den gjordes av saltad fisk som fick jsa tillsammans med riset, sger Yoshinori Endo.

["In fact it is probably similar to the original sushi. It was made of salted fish which was fermented together with rice," says Yoshinori Endo.]

And if we're doing local delicacies, let's have a nice Faroese pilot whale hunt:

Once a group is sighted in the narrow channels and fjords of the Faroes, islanders drop whatever they are doing and rush to their boats to encircle the whales and drive them onto a beach.

Here, in the shallows, men dispatch the animals in a welter of blood and spray by severing their spinal cords with sharp knives in a spectacle strictly not for the squeamish.

"Men"?! Shocking!

[sushi linkage via Birgitte]



2003-09-15 16:43 (UTC+1)


Erk?! I hope I'm not coming down with something, I don't have time...


2003-09-15 12:02 (UTC+1)

By popular request

It has been observed that the murderer of Anna Lindh bears a resemblance to Daniel Westling, kronprinsessan Vickan's bestly belovd. Gallows humour, ho bitter and cheerless ho.

Also, the King has insisted on the cancellation of said Daniel's 30th birthday party, which said kronprinsess was organising.

Meanwhile, the good news is that Estonia has officially referended its imminent membership of the EU.

[Linkages via Anna Louise and Jonas Sderstrm]


2003-09-15 11:21

Adorno Centenary

Libration marks the centenary with two articles, one of which is an interview with Jean Jourdheuil (whoever he is):

Si Adorno, cependant, influence peu le dbat actuel c'est, me semble-t-il, parce que le monde a bascul avec la fin de la guerre froide . Sa pense est, cet gard, puise, tout comme ce qu'on appelle en Allemagne la pense franaise (Foucault, Lacan, le structuralisme, jusqu' Derrida).

If Adorno, however, has little influence on the current debate it's because, it seems to me, because the world has turned upside-down since the end of the cold war. His thought is, in this regard, exhausted, like everything that the Germans call the "French thought" (Foucault, Lacan, structuralisme, up to Derrida).

That's a mighty writing off he's got there, and I particularly enjoy the suggestion that Lacan, everyone's favourite surrealiste psychoanalyste, is rendered obsolete by the end of the cold war. (Personally, I am plus structuraliste que jamais, so there.)

Meanwhile, last week's Die Zeit had a retrospective on Adorno in the '50's by "Surgin'" Jrgen Habermas, senior figure in the Frankfurt school. Unfortunately, though, he chose to write in German, which I do not know, and this hindered my reading somewhat, although I did enjoy "Das war kein Name-Dropping".


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