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2005-02-04 17:07


Yes, we have no Higgs bosons;
We have no Higgs boson today
We have protons and neutrons, neutRINos and positrons
And all kinds of quarks and say
��We have an old fashioned MUon
��A Long Island GLUon, but

Yes! We have no Higgs bosons
We have no Higgs boson today!

[Slightly filked]

It is the Collider of Large Hadrons!

When the LHC is turned on in the latter half of 2007, physicists will scour this crash wreckage for signs of the Higgs boson.

The Higgs is nicknamed the God particle because of its importance to the Standard Model, the theory devised to explain how sub-atomic particles interact with each other.

They're there to talk to the experimentalistes, though. We like the experimentalistes, who admit (with the aid of our paraphraseotron, which is housed in a really very modest sub-alpine cavern) that if you ask them the theoristes are getting nowhere fast, and the sooner stuff gets banged together with no little vigour, the better shape the discipline will be in.

Whatever the discoveries ahead for physicists working at the LHC, the experiments will, according to its chief scientific officer Jos Engelen, "keep physicists off street corners for a long time to come".

Oh, that Large Hadronic Gravy-Train! But let's face it - the physicistes are one of the cheaper parts of this experiment, so let's not begrudge them their daily breads.


2005-02-04 15:15


There's cricket on, so I'll be brief.

Item: Mette-Marit is unwell.

Kronprinsesse Mette-Marit ble akutt magesyk, og m�tte avbryte sitt offisielle bes�k p� Norsk Design- og Arkitektursenter i g�r kveld.

Kronprinsess Mette-Marit had a bad tummy-ache and had to break off her official visit to Norsk Design- and Arkitekturcentre yesterday evening.

Poor prinsess!

Item: Letizia is vair vair thin

Er kronprinsesse Letizia (37) rammet av spiseforstyrrelser? Bildene fra en gallamiddag i Madrid denne uken viser en sv�rt mager kvinne.

Is kronprinsess Letizia (37) struck with eatningdisorders? The pictures from a galadinner in Madrid this week show a very thin wimmin.

Personaly, if we had opulent state-funded galadinners laid on for us on a regular basis we'd be fat as a pig. But we are by no means a prinsess.

Item: Kronprinsessmary wears a purple frock! (And so, apparently, did all the other wimmins. Coincidence or conspiracy?)

Item: Nonkronprinsess Madde had a minor car crash.

We were going to say some really deep and important stuff this afternoon, but we're knackered after all that prinsess gossip. Kieieieierkegaaaard often had the same problem, we are given to understand.


2005-02-04 11:21

Monday Review of Stuff

It is Elizabeth Smith's One-day Spanish! (Correct hyphenation, wuhoo!)

We liked the same author's Instant ["Six (6) Week"] German, so when we decided that although we have plenty of satisfactory pedagogical materials for Spanish it would be nice to also get an earful of the phonology as she is spoke, we selected or picked this.

And within that narrow frame, it is an utter disaster: the CD, which is what this mostly is, features a dramatised planetripcrashcourse involving Ms Smith, a native German-speaker, and her pupil du jour, the very Engleesh Andy Something.

The pronunciation they use might well be intelligible to Spanishes, but it isn't the Spanish one and does not make any obvious attempt to resemble it. My pronunciation of Spanish was already mucho mas bien than this, and I learned it exclusively from books.

Nonetheless, I still quite like the package. Smith is good at what she does, which is putting together a path through the barest possible minimum of communicative essentials; she has a budget of fifty (50) words for this one, and I might well adapt the material for use with Catalan.


2005-02-04 09:12

On the necessity or otherwise of it being so

Mont Blanc, as described by Shelley, takes
A form today's geology denies;
When Borges, in his prose or verses, makes
Remarks on langwidge, linguists stifle sighs.

- Blind Spacefish Rodr�guez

(We much prefer Borges to Versey Percy, but still.)


2005-02-03 15:19

Ta-ta, Cyril?

It is Tatarstan, which we certainly didn't just make up, and it wishes to readopt the alphabeth of the Romans!

D�termin�es � d�fendre leur revendication d'un retour � l'alphabet latin dans la langue tatare, 63 associations de Russie et du Tatarstan, r�unies au sein du Front latin, ont d�cid� de se plaindre aupr�s du directeur g�n�ral de l'UNESCO (Organisation des Nations unies pour l'�ducation, la science et la culture), Ko�chiro Matsuura.

Determined to pursue their claim of a return to the Roman alphabeth in the Tatare langwidge, 63 associatons of Russia and Tatarstan, united in the Front Latin, have decided to complain to the director general of UNESCO, Ko�chiro Matsuura.

We're guessing, since the article neglects to say, that it is of Tatare is a langwidge of the Turkic persuasion.

Does anyone happen to have maps of the Cyrillic/Roman isoglyph in the 'Stans? As a function of time? At all?


2005-02-03 pre-samwidge (zulu)

Unpopular is the new popular, anyway

We do not seem to have, as we certainly should, linked The Long Tail:

What's really amazing about the Long Tail is the sheer size of it. Combine enough nonhits on the Long Tail and you've got a market bigger than the hits. Take books: The average Barnes & Noble carries 130,000 titles. Yet more than half of Amazon's book sales come from outside its top 130,000 titles. Consider the implication: If the Amazon statistics are any guide, the market for books that are not even sold in the average bookstore is larger than the market for those that are (see "Anatomy of the Long Tail").

It is quite long, but it is not very optional reading: this is the truth about online shoppnings, and it is considerable more instructive and less tiresome than most of the more popular untruths. Plus, it includes actual evidence, and we are fond of evidence.


2005-02-03 09:46

Slovenia: Stranger Than Fiction

We have long dreamed of a Cageian interpretation of the EU anthem (Beethoven's setting of Schiller's Ode To Joy from the Nineth Symphony, only - and this was a stroke of genius - without the words!) where everyone would set off at their own pace and in their own key and, if singing, their own words.

Via the Triumphantly Glorious Carniola, we can unexclusively bring youa worthy appetiser for this sm�rg�scacaphony. It is so far beyond hapless that it achieves a positively bracing Aylerian skronkitude, and we love it dearly.

(One of our other pet projects, towards which we have done exactly nothing, is an album of winsome acoustic guitar and voice renditions of Iron-Curtain-Era national anthems of former Soviet bloc countries.)


2005-02-02 16:00

What Price Tact?

Photographic evidence on the front page of an Irish daily newspaper of Ian Paisley shaking Gerry Adam's hand?

14 to 1 to you, Sir or Madam.

But we were mostly after the odds on Next Pope. (Our detailed research reveals that they are all Catholique: what are the odds on that?)


2005-02-02 11:52


�1. Radiance, Tiaras, Slapstick: What more do you want?

It is kronprinsess Letizia in a proper prinsessstory:

Do�a Letizia Ortiz, elegant�sima y radiante, luci� para la ocasi�n la tiara que llev� en su boda y deslumbr� con un vestido de raso en color plata con cola de encaje y pedrer�a. Como an�cdota, la Reina do�a Sof�a y el presidente h�ngaro le pisaron en dos ocasiones la cola.

Our Spanish is a bit ho-hum, so we asked a fishy friend of ours for help:

Do�a Letizia Ortiz, elegant�sima and radiating, shone for the occasion the tiara that took in its wedding and dazzled with a flat dress of in color silver with embroider tail and pedrer�a. Like anecdote, Reina Do�a Sof�a and the Hungarian president stepped on in two occasions the tail to him.

Splendid stuff!

�2. On Civil War and Real Estate Liquidity

We went to Dubrovnik. Then it was somewhat shelled in the general unhilarity of post-Yugoslavia. Now it's back!

Moreover, a sizeable number of outsiders are investing in local property.

"This is the first time we have had a free market. People are more ready to sell their homes," says Mr Vierba [who has managed the city's restoration for the last 10 years].

"Perhaps, when you have already had to leave home once, because of war, it is easy to do so again."

If anyone wants us, we'll be starting a business as an estate agent ("realtor") in Fallujah! (Not really.)

�3. A glut of adequacy!

It is John "Sucka" Sutherland, the unthinking bookworldperson's Julie Burchill, and he is going on about stuff!

But what is the prize system which now dominates the British literary world doing to that fiction? One winner means all the rest are losers. Many don't deserve that label. Fiction is, thanks to the Victor Ludorum ethos that now drives critical judgment, a gladiatorial combat.

While this is in many ways a stupid question followed by some stupid remarks (it is "Sucka" Sutherland, after all), we have just not been awarded an award and we are far from pleased about it.

The main things that can be learned, however, from close scrutiny of the British literary "scene" are two (2), especially in number:

  1. There is an oversupply of novelistes, and especially novels. Like Hollywood starlets and ghetto gangstas, most don't make the big time. Unlike Hollywood starlets and ghetto gangstas, persons with Bachelor of Arts degrees can get newspaper space to remark on the injustice of this.
  2. Close scrutiny of the British literary "scene"? Get out more, puh-LEASE!


2005-02-02 10:15

Of Spanish prinsesses and German trashbladets

We do not typically cover the lovely Spanish kronprinsess Letizia, even though she is a lovely kronprinsess, largely because she doesn't seem to crop up in the 'bladets we read, most of which are 'Wegian.

But we are going to Spain, so it is surely only polite. Also, we wish to live in Berlin, where we have first-hand experience that they tend to speak German, which langwidge we have accordingly been trying to learn.

And - synergy ho! - the German trashbladets, who have largely been sued into politeness by the 'Wegian prinsesses, have turned their thoughts also to the Asturias and their prinsess. And if they are - which they are not - to be believed, the monarchy is in crisis! The people are restive! The absence of sproggnings, in a Catholic country where the monarchy's strongest support is from a demographique that has not ceased to hold that newly-wed wimmins are apt to be up the duff before you can say "rhythm method" or they'll want to know the reason why, has gone down other than well! (It isn't, as our Varied Reader surely knows, easy being a prinsess!)

Neue "No Article" Post quotes Madrider Hofberichterstatter ("Courtreporter") Juan Soto remarking:

Die Spanier werden Letizia erst lieben wenn sie Mama geworden ist. Und das sollte bald geschehen, sonst geht Volk noch auf die Barrikaden.

The Spanishes will first come to love Letizia when she's becomes a mother. And it'd better be soon, or else they may be personning the barricades.

To which Beatriz Garcia, eine Vertraite des Hofes ("court spokesperson"), retorts:

Solche Parolen findet Letizia dumm und unertr�glich.

Letizia finds such talk stupid and unbearable.

We side, no doubt to a general absence of great surprise, with the prinsess, but we do not especially recommend broadcasting the fact that such foolishnesses are getting to you.

The trouble is, now we want a source for this that isn't a German trashbladet, since these are neither reliable nor honest.


2005-02-01 15:20


�1. It is Kronprinsessmary of Danmark!

In Nueva York!

Kronprins Frederik og kronprinsesse Mary er i disse dage p� officielt bes�g i New York for at kaste kongelig glans over fejringen af eventyrdigteren H.C. Andersen.

Kronprinsessmary and her husband are currently on an official visit to Nueva York to cast a royal eye over the celebration of Hans Christian "Jos�" Andersen.

�2. It is also Kronprinsessmary of Danmark!

Also in Nueva York!

FROM the Apple Isle to the Big Apple - Tasmania's favourite daughter, Princess Mary of Denmark, is in New York this week to help celebrate the 200th anniversary of Hans Christian Andersen's birth.

Crown Prince Frederik [the Kronprinsfred] and Princess Mary, nee Donaldson ["Knudella"], presided over a storytelling contest at the Hans Christian Andersen School in Harlem.

�3. It is still Kronprinsessmary of Danmark!

Still in New York!

The heir to the Danish crown, Frederik [Kronprinsfred] and his wife Mary [the lovely Kronprinsessmary] have taken New York ["Nueva York"] by storm during a week-long stay in the City That Never Sleeps. The couple, who began their trip late last week quietly visiting the Big Apple, resumed their royal duties Sunday as they inaugurated the official Hans Christian ["Jos�"] Anderson Exhibition at Scandinavia House in the heart of the city.


2005-02-01 12:51

Buried Treasure, Slightly Arrrrrrrrrrrrcheological

It is the buried city of Herculaneum! And there might be books in it!

"We know that only 10 per cent of ancient literature survives, so just think what we might find there," says Robert Fowler, a Canadian who is a professor of Greek at Bristol University in England. "Suppose it was Shakespeare we were talking about. And suppose there was a place where 50 new plays by Shakespeare could be found. Do you think anyone would say, 'Oh, it's too expensive,' or, 'We have other priorities?' Nobody would hesitate for a second. Well, Herculaneum has the potential to dwarf that scenario."

Are there really persons who are short of Shakespeare? We recently adopted a policy of seeing all the Shakespeare we could get hold of, but we anticipate it'll be a long time before we run out.

Because Philodemus shows a familiarity with Aristotle, there's optimism that the Athenian philosopher's works will turn up in some undiscovered annex of the Villa library, perhaps alongside the much-read dramatist Euripides. And classicists hold out hopes for a lost Latin library that might at the very least restore the highly esteemed poet Ennius to the stature he had in ancient times.

We wonder or muse heretically, thus: a not insubstantial part of the point of Aristotle is that he is upstream of so much of what follows. If his New Stuff (if any) were merely previous, would it really be such a big deal?


2005-02-01 10:32

The Imminence of Imbolc!

Bangor news, thought I, what fun! Let us hear what Welsh Wales has to say about its glorious history and cultuals!

Sundown Feb. 1 to sundown Feb. 2 - midway between winter solstice and spring equinox - has long been celebrated as Imbolc (pronounced em-bolg) in the pagan Celtic tradition, as Candlemas in the Christian faith, and, more recently in the secular world, as Groundhog Day.

Groundhawg day? In Wales? That would be fairly dull, you might reasonably think, without groundhawgs. And thus it proved that this is Bangor, Maine, FDRUSA.

For Celts, Imbolc marked the time to prepare the fields for the first planting. Celts held rituals to celebrate the pregnancy of their farm animals and to give thanks to Brigid, the powerful fire and fertility goddess.

I'm certainly not one to diss other peoples's powerful fire and fertility godesses, but if the Celtic pantheon was really all that, how come the high-water mark of Celtic civilisation was in the Bronze Age?

Some Mainers are returning to the traditional roots of this holiday.

And the article gives them plenty of rope ("space"). We know feel we ought to know more about Celtic mythology than is typical among Pagans (which surely can't be hard) as a platform for egging them on to greater stupidities ("authenticity").


2005-01-31 15:33

Yoorpean Foopball: A Game of Too Many Halves

It's getting a bit silly:

Les "grands" championnats europ�ens de football, qui ont tous bascul� dans leur phase retour, apparaissent totalement sous contr�le, �cras�s par une formation vedette lanc�e � vive allure vers le titre, � l'exception de l'Allemagne o� la domination du Bayern Munich s'av�re contest�e.

Dimanche, en s'imposant � Bergame (2-1) alors que dans le m�me temps le Milan AC perdait chez lui contre Bologne (0-1), la Juventus Turin est redevenue � l'Italie ce que le FC Barcelone est � l'Espagne, Chelsea � l'Angleterre et Lyon � la France: un leader quasi-incontestable du championnat.

The "great" European foopball leagues, which are all past the halfway mark, all appear to be sewn up by a star side racing towards the title, with the exception of Germany where Bayern Munich's dominance is not yet unchallenged.

By beating Bergame 2-1 on Sunday at the same time as Milan AC lost 0-1 to Bologne, Juventurs Torino ("Turin") became for Italy what FC Barcelona is to Espai�a, Chelsea is to England and Lyon is to France: an almost incontestible leader of the championship.

Sigh. And how many clubs were seriously in contention even on day one (1) in each of these leagues? Generously, England had about three (3) serious contenders.

And yet the punters and most clubs still insist they don't want a Grand Unified Yoorpean Super League. Silly punters!


2005-01-31 samwidge (zulu)


�1. If not them, whom?

UK voters wishing not to be Presided over by Tony "Baloney" Blair any more face a grim choice:

The Conservative threat is real in some seats but the ghost of 1992 - the surprise Tory comeback - has been laid to rest. You can risk a protest vote and, despite Kennedy's infuriating whimsy, the Lib Dems are the best receptacle. At least they were anti-war.


�2. There is kaos! And the cause of it is sn�!

In Yoorp:

About 500 motorists were stranded for two days in southern Italy as heavy snow brought chaos to parts of Europe.

It's a bit unsporting of the sn� to be sneaking up on Italians and Spanishes, though, we think.

�3. Now also available in goat!

Mary had a little cow
It couldn't walk properly
Bovine spongiform


We're doomed!

Europe's food watchdog confirms the first case of mad cow disease has been identified in a goat in France. This is the first case of the disease identified in animals other than cattle.

(And PEE-pull, of course! You can call it "Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease" all you want, but it still turns your spicy brains into unfunctional Swiss cheese.)


2005-01-31 10:22

The Tuesday Trashing!

It is like the Monday Review of Stuff, only nastier, and sometimes on Mondays!

Today, Girl with a Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier.

When, once way back when, I had a car, it was (once) a Vauxhall Cavalier. We took to pronouncing this in an affectedly Frenched-up way or manner "Cuh-VAL-ee-ay". Thus we find it necessary in turn to use a deapdan English pronounciation Chevalier, "Chev-uh-LEE-uh".

This is the most entertaining thing about this book, by a comfortable margin. In it the eponymous girl and narratrice Mary Sue ("Griet") tells - in a style of tooth-grindingly affected simplicity - of her career as maid to Vermeer, and how she teaches him a thing or two about composition:

"I had not thought I would learn something from a maid," he said at last.

I bought it ages because I was (as I still am) inexpertly interested in seventeenth-century Netherlands oil-painting - the most rock n roll painting ever - and then neglected, having come to my senses, to read it. But I want rid of it - it's yours for the asking - and I hate to discard unread books bought new.


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