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2005-03-04 15:48


1. Bloody killer whales!

No, wait, it's not what you think!

En kamp p liv och dd pgr utanfr gruppen Kurilene norr om den japanska n Hokkaido. Utrustade med motorsgar kmpar den ryska rddningspersonalen desperat fr att ppna rkar i isen t de tre spckhuggarna, som fortfarande r vid liv.

A life-or-death struggle is going on outside the Kurilene island group north of the Japanese island of Hokkaido. Russian rescuers equipped with chainsaws are fighting desparately to open gaps in the ice to the three killerwhales who are still alive.

If we were a killerwhale, drowning under ice would be our personal nightmare, we think. The whales have beaten their yummy heads raw ramming the ice, to no avail.

2. Sossages!

It is Cummerbund sossages, which are very fashionable up north!

POOR imitations of traditional Cumberland sausage produced outside the county could be banned if a campaign to keep it Cumbrian is successful.

An application is to be made to the European Commission to give the spicy sausage the same protection as French Champagne.

This protectedly designated cummerbund sossage, will it be meaty? It will, it will!

John Anderson of Made in Cumbria says, "We will be looking to impose a standard of around 85 per cent meat."

3. And finally, a pregnant prinsess!

It is prinsess Mrtha of Norway!

En hygravid prinsesse Mrtha fortalte eventyr med stor innlevelse foran skuelystne bokkunder i Oslo i gr.

A heavily pregnant prinsess Mrtha told fairystories with big innlevelse before starstruck bookcustomers in Ooshloo yesterday.

We think they should've kept her on the books: she's good at the making bebis stuff, isn't it?


2005-03-04 13:42


(I didn't find any of these myself, which certainly streamlines things.)

1. Russian has a government? Who knew?

Russian weathermen who get their predictions wrong could face stiff fines if one government minister has his way.

Repeat offenders could even be sent to jail if Emergency Minister Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu gets his way.

"... and in Siberia; sn!" Doesn't seem very risky to me...

[via a lurker I know IRL]

2. Prinsess in pants!

But those happy to spend $175 on lunch for the Mental Health Foundation had eyes for one person alone: the stylish young woman in the raw silk pants-suit.

It is, of course, Her Fairytaleness herself, the Kronprinsessmary of Danmark.

[via Anna Louise, tack]

3. In olden days a glimpse of bruising
was looked on as black-and-bluesning
now Heaven knows
None of that goes

It is lah-di-dah DN!

I ldre tider anvndes ordet "bl" med en vidare betydelse n i dag. Bl kunde betyda mrk och ven svart. I den gamla Bibelupplagan frn 1541 anvnds beteckningen "blman" fr afrikan eller mrkhyad man.

In olden times the word "bl" ["blue"] was used with a wider meaning than today. Blue could mean dark or even black. In old Bibleeditions from 1541 the term "blueman" was used for African or dark-skinned men.

[via Pekka frn Finland, tack]


2005-03-04 12:31

On the merits of pragmatisme

Apparently I was the only person who woke up today convinced that it was Saturday. (I really was, too. I've had ever such a nice morning, but now it's Friday again. Sigh.)


2005-03-03 14:36


1. Yummy bloodfeasts!

In message-id <[email protected]> on sci.lang Miguel Carrasquer remarks:

No Blutpudding, blackwurst, morcilla or kaszanka I have ever tasted comes anywhere near authentic botifarra de sang i ceba.

A Catalan delicacy made out of yummy Blut!

2. Sn.

The Beeb has a gallery of the kaos-causenings at play. It isn't, to the discerning eye, really all that much sn.

3. And there is after all so much accent to like!

We like Hungroonian accents in Engleesh, for sure (of all the Central Yoorp shortwaveradioservicepresenters, Hungroonians have the strongest accents) and they, allegedly, reciprocate:

Stopping and asking people in the street for help is acceptable and common in Hungary. Usually Hungarians are very happy to help. They especially like and are grateful if a foreigner says a few words in Hungarian. Since there are not many foreigners speaking Hungarian, Hungarians are not used to hearing Hungarian with an accent. They find foreigners' Hungarian cute. Don't feel uncomfortable if they smile; they appreciate your accent.


2005-03-03 11:54


I should've brought a duvet to hide under, isn't it?

In most of that which follows, the classical notations can be obtained by specializing mu to the identity map i: M->M.

p.220, Tensor Analysis on Manifolds, Bishop and Goldberg.

Also, it is colder than I like it.


2005-03-03 10:32

For shame, Blighty!

Oh dear.

A stone commissioned to mark the millennium may be destroyed after being blamed for bringing misfortunes of "biblical proportions" to a city.

Since the Cursing Stone was placed in Carlisle, the city has suffered floods, foot-and-mouth disease, job losses and a goal famine for the football team

Magic works, of course, precisely in so far as persons believe in it. We exempt the weather, disease, and all non-human agencies from such beliefs, personally. Which leaves the foopball team; does anyone happen to know if they are just, say, rubbish anyway?


2005-03-02 17:46

Wait till you see the whites of their snkaos!


The army has been drafted in to help deal with disruption caused by heavy snow across the South East of England.

Mere disruption and you call in the artillery of heaviness?

The snow caused chaos on the roads in Kent and Sussex

That's more like it!


2005-03-02 16:30

Interpellate me harder!

The accounts given in my course textbook of the theories of George Herbert "G. H." Mead, "Swerving" Erving Goffman, Louis "The Loony" Althusser and "Uncle" Sigmund Freud and their relevance to "identity" strike me as unsatisfactory.

I've got plenty of Swerving Erving and Unca Siggy at home already, and I don't care very much about G. H., but Louis the Loony is a stroppy French Marxiste and I do like my stroppy French Marxistes.

There is no obvious cheap poche (in print) including the mighty Ideological State Apparatuses, though, and the silly Engleesh is at silly Engleesh prices (12.95 GBP? I laugh in your gnral direction, New Left Books!).

But in good ol' Sverige Filosofi frn proletr klasstndpunkt has it at a snipsome 89 SEK (which is under 10 EUR, hoorah!). I am so very more than somewhat tempted...


2005-03-02 12:06

More Smrgspost!

1. It isn't the heat, it's the absence of heat

Rekordkyla och snkaos i hela landet
Minus 39,7 grader i sdra Lappland

Recordcold and snkaos in the whole country
-39.7C in southern Lappland

Wrap up warm, southern Lapplanders!

2. "World" Book Day In the UK and Ireland

(Ms Bookish has the skinny on the weirdness.)

The Beeb is having a poll! It is a very easy poll for us since we've only read Great Expectations, which we liked, and Tracey Chevalier's Girl with a Cold Herring, which we didn't like at all, although we are very fond of herring.

We finished Existentialisme est un humanisme last night, though, and now we have an Et brev om humanismus chaser to get on with, yum yum.

3. Tinnitus

We used to suffer from tinnitus. Now we mostly don't. This article retrofits an explanation: apparently the condition is ameliorated by eating regularly, avoiding stress and taking exercise. (Our exercise extends no further than walking to and from work, of course.)

(We ourselves think that giving up smoking was probably the single biggest factor: stimulants affect us very strongly and we dread to think what our heart was putting up with in those days. Is giving up smoking now the official rite of passage to thirty-somethinghood, we wonder?)


2005-03-02 10:39


1. A joke:

"Doctor! My husband thinks he's a chicken"
"Well, why don't you send him to a psychiatrist?"
"I would, but we need the eggs."

2. A remark:

"There is nothing wrong with a science before its foundations are laid." - Ludic Ludwig

3. A pie!

Pie enthusiasts from the Leicestershire town are campaigning for the [Melton Mowbray pork pie] to be awarded "protected geographic status" by the European Commission.


The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has agreed to support the application.


The EC could deliver its long-awaited decision on Monday.

We apologise for the quality of those stories; it was covered under the Yoorp rubrik last time, but it's now been demoted to Leicestershire.


2005-03-01 16:00

Reverse the polarity of the causation flux!

It's an emergency:

Frldrar till tre eller fyra barn har oftare sex n de med frre barn
Det lter otroligt, men r faktiskt sant.

Parents with three (3) or four (4) childrens have sex more often than those with fewer children.
It sounds unbelievable, but it is actually true.

To get to have three (3) or four (4) childrens, it seems to us, you have to have first two (2) or three (3) childrens and none the less persist with activities liable to cause further childrens.

We argue, further, that persons susceptible to such levels of diligence in these matters are thuswise self-selected for being unlikely to be deterred when these yet such further childrens occur.

Is there a Swedish Academy of the Bleeding Obvious, does anyone know? And are they hiring?


2005-03-01 11:49

There are so very many pebbles on the beach

It is Daniel Tammet, an autistic savant! And it is also Professor Allan Snyder, from the Centre for the Mind at the Australian National University in Canberra!

Professor Allan Snyder, from the Centre for the Mind at the Australian National University in Canberra, explains why Tammet is of particular, and international, scientific interest. "Savants can't usually tell us how they do what they do," says Snyder. "It just comes to them. Daniel can. He describes what he sees in his head. That's why he's exciting. He could be the Rosetta Stone."

In particular, Snyder continues:

"I think that it's possible for a perfectly normal person to have access to these abilities, so working with Daniel could be very instructive."

But what is it Tammet describes, when he describes what he sees in his head, you will surely by now have asked or enquired. This:

Tammet is calculating 377 multiplied by 795. Actually, he isn't "calculating": there is nothing conscious about what he is doing. He arrives at the answer instantly. Since his epileptic fit, he has been able to see numbers as shapes, colours and textures. The number two, for instance, is a motion, and five is a clap of thunder. "When I multiply numbers together, I see two shapes. The image starts to change and evolve, and a third shape emerges. That's the answer. It's mental imagery. It's like maths without having to think."

Call me an egregious psychological unsavant, but I do not see how this is likely to help: if what he is doing is not conscious, a description of the accompanying conscious epiphenomena is merely the sizzle, not the steak.

But psychologistes aside (Simon "Yes relation" Baron-Cohen makes, as is his wont, some remarks about "modules") the article is mostly a sympathetic and sensitive profile of a somewhat unusual person considered first and also foremost as a person, which is how we, for one, like it:

Tammet is softly spoken, and shy about making eye contact, which makes him seem younger than he is. He lives on the Kent coast, but never goes near the beach - there are too many pebbles to count. The thought of a mathematical problem with no solution makes him feel uncomfortable. Trips to the supermarket are always a chore. "There's too much mental stimulus. I have to look at every shape and texture. Every price, and every arrangement of fruit and vegetables. So instead of thinking,'What cheese do I want this week?', I'm just really uncomfortable."

(We find ourselves hyperstimulated in Supermarkts, also, although we never even managed to learn our times-tables, despite weekly tests.)


2005-03-01 10:50

I'd've gone with Tic-Tack-Toe, for sure

In last night's tutorial, which involved the concept of nationhood, we played a jolly game of Name All The EU Countries.

It turns out (not to my surprise) that I can't do it in alphabetical order: I general start with the founding six (6) (BeNeLux, West Germany as was, France, Italy) then make it up to 15 from left to right(ish) (Portugal, Spain, Ireland, UK, Greece, Austria, Danmark, Sweden, Finland) and then add the newbies, from the south up (Malta, Cyprus, Slovenia, Hungary, Slovakia, Czechia, Polandland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia).

I was actually pleasedest that I managed to stop myself actually saying "Polandland".


2005-02-28 16:29


1. What if...

What if the Pope didn't really survive his emergency tracheotomy?

What, which is to say, if the pontiff is now a zombie?

The doctors have told him he must not even attempt to speak.

What if that's because although he can speak just fine, all he has to say is "brainsss..."?


2. Hoorah for prefaces!

It is Kalevala Day! It is the only holiday we know of timed (allegedly) to acknowledge the publication of a preface to a literary work!

(Thanks to PF for the heads up.)

3. Sing a song of whalemeat,
An oceanful of boom,
Four and twenty pilot whales
In a giant room!

Many things in life are so very uncertain:

It is not certain whether whales thousands of kilometres apart communicate directly with each other, or what their messages contain. But the results support a 30-year theory that, before the advent of modern shipping, the animals' booming voices would have resounded from one ocean basin to another.

But some are more fixable than others:

Long-lived industrial pesticides, such as DDT and PCBs, re-concentrate as they move up the marine food chain. Whales are at the top of that chain.

Being at the top of the food chain is so very very fixable, isn't it?


2005-02-28 13:05


1. Ricecookning: intra-'Wegian variations

If your head is anything like ours, this will make it hurt.

NB: 'Wegian content, but not very hard. Och tack till Birgitte fr lnken.

2. It is Jenny Diski on sn!

Mais ou [sic] sont les neiges d'antan? Well, they're gently covering the pitiful corpse of The Little Match Girl and settling on Scrooge's greatcoat as he rushes a plump goose to Tiny Tim's place. Les neiges are twinkling in the light of the lantern held by the bundled up little Christmas caroller with thick ankles and a fur muff, and hampering the footsteps of pipe-smoking mountain climbers in tweed jackets and plus fours. The snows of yesteryear are also to be found coating the kitschery of Hollywood as it re-defined Victorian snow sentimentality in musicals and reactionary daydreams like It's a Wonderful Life.

3. EU? Ooh!

European businesses are preparing for a scrap over internet addresses this year as the new .eu domain is launched.

Five hundred million European candidates are expected to fight for the new web address, AFP reports.

To date we have never been seriously tempted to move away from Diaryland, but does have a certain jag vet inte va' about it, isn't it?


2005-02-28 10:37

As the Buddhists say: "Travel light, but hire a porter"

It is the fairytalest of prinsesses, Kronprinsessmary of Danmark! And she is back in her native Upsidedownia, for a limited time only!

She was accompanied by her make-up artist and at least two bodyguards from the Danish intelligence service, as well as her lady-in-waiting. And with her were 20 pieces of luggage and four hat boxes.

A mere four (4) bonnet boxes!

(Thanks to upside-down Anna Louise for the link!)


2005-02-27 14:09

Accommodate me cheaper!

Barcelona single rooms at 30 EUR a night, hoorah! Well done that Guide du Routard. (We had an entire script prepared in the Catatatatatalan, but our first line was "Hello, speaky ze Engleesh?", and happily they did.)

We did some arithmetics, incidentally, and it is now within a fortnight that we will be Barcelona trippning. The prospect of imminent in-tucknings to yummy suckling pigs cheers us up, more than somewhat, for sure, but we do need to get a wriggle on with the glorious and cultual Catatalan langwidge.

And but now back to Bristle with a stinquant cold in the head, while les Bleus de Chelsea look to cupboard their first silverware of this and many previous seasons against Liverpool in the Crummy ("Carling") Cup.

We could possibly, in principle, watch some of it at our favourite stationpub but we are not sure we're really well enough, and anyway they might have the smelly old rugbyfoopball on instead.

2005-02-26 22:29

But can she hopp?

We at least didn't make it up:

Anja Prson r i en grym fartform.

Anja Prson is in grim fart-form (oh all right then, "cruel speedform").

She's now won in all the Alpine disciplines, and Aftonbladet's Plus members will certainly enjoy the fotofeature on her and her illustrious thighs, but Sweden is after all a Nordic country and we yearn accordingly to marvel at her exploits in noble Nordic disciplines such as - ooh let's see - skihoppning.

2005-02-26 21:50

Monday Review of Stuff

It is Turks: A journey of a thousand years at the Kongliga Kunstakademi ("Royal Academy of Arts")!

(It is slightly belated, yes: we visited it on the 12th, and in fact smeared this review on some tree-pulp on the 13th while waiting for a train in a pub. (A station might have been a better choice, you quip or jest? Ha! This such pub was in fact in the station! Paddington has its downsides, but a lack of beer isn't especially one of them.) This 'bladet is often limited, as here, by the time available to type Stuff in.)

It is, first of all, dimly lit, since many of the sumptuous resplendences are of a shy and delicate nature. Which is fair enough, of course, and we wish them no harm, but it makes the captions hard to read - and we audioguideshunners must needs read captions - and it also interferes with our cognitions. It makes us, basically, want go sleepy-byes.

Then, the sumpuous resplendences are representing a millenium's-worth of multi-ethnique, multi-kulti geographical dispersity, and if the exhibition had any ambition to make a coherent whole of it all it was entirely too subtle about it for our coarse senses and dull wits.

The Big Room Captions and their many accounts of dynasties rising and also dynasties falling largely washed over our easily-saturated comprehension - lacking, as we were, any background knowledge, we saturate easily.

Too, many of the sumptuous resplendences were in fact books in langwidges we do not know and scripts we cannot decipher. (To the extent that we felt vaguely reassured when a Greek book showed up, and we know no Greek.) Many, what is more or further, of these calligraphied and artisan bound books erred, to our mind, on the jewel-encrusted Cadillac side of overstated opulence, which is by no means especially to our taste.

But while the above seems to be largely composed of caveats, there were certainly things we liked, some of which a lot: Arabic calligraphy is fantastic, and Wossname of the Black Pen's of persons and demons, and especially demons, going about their everyday business are every bit as enigmatic as they are billed to be, and the pervading sense of a culture at the crossroads between Indian, Chinese and (to a much lesser extent) Western influences is not unfascinating: we were there, shuffling through teeming throngs in darkened rooms, for a good couple of hours without ever being bored.

And the geomancy apparatus has certainly inspired in us a desired to revive this excellent and unjustly neglected divinatory art.

Some time ago, incidentally, we acquired an elderly copy of the elderly (60s, maybe) Pelican History of Mediaeval Yoorp, and right at the beginning the author, whose name we neglect, immediately and explicitly redefines "Yoorp" to mean "Western Christendom", on the grounds that he doesn't know anything about the Eastern Church, to say say nothing of the Turks.

If nothing else, this exhibition - fantastically timed to coincide with the EU's rapprochement with Turkey - is a necessary step towards a reorientation where such an attitude becomes unthinkably, as it certainly ought to be, parochial and narrow minded. The Turkic dynasties certainly stretched and stretch into Central Asia, but the Ottoman Empire left a legacy of mosques in Hungary, and beseiged Vienna. (Which is, we concede, pretty good going for a bunch of backless and sideless sofas or settees.)

And, perhaps ironically, the Ottoman and Habsburg empires - sworn and mortal enemies though they were - 's greatest achievement to the modern eye was, in each case, to provide an overarching structure in which multi-ethnique and multi-faith communities could prosper. This remains our vision of what Yoorp should be, silly Papist claims that Yoorp still properly means Western Christendom notwithstanding (and boy do they need to be notwithstood).

2005-02-26 21:14

"Hilarity" it is, then

It is Hufvudstedsbladet, Finland's Swedish daily paper, on the laugh-a-minute leapmeister:

- Ett ganska speciellt gonblick ven i mitt liv. Lite svrt att fatta att Janne faktiskt str hgst p pallen efter de problem han haft i vinter. En stor backhoppare, sade trnaren Tommi Nikunen som faktiskt verkade mera rrd n Ahonen sjlv ven om till och med Ahonen bjd p ett leende.
I vrldscupen har han varit rena stenansiktet trots alla framgngar men nu kunde inte ens han hlla tillbaka leendet.

"A quite special moment in my life, too. A bit hard to take in that Janne is on the top of the podium after the problems he has had this winter. [Like triumph in the Four Hills? We should have such problems!] A great hillhopper", said coach Tommi Nikunen who actually seemed more moved than Ahonen himself, even if even Ahonen offered a smile.
In the world cup he had been stony-faced despite all his successes, but now even he couldn't supress a smile.

And again:

The Finnish national press went as far as to describe their national icon as competing "without expression and as cold as a flying freezer."

Not bad from the usually prosaic pages published in Helsinki!

Nice bluff, Eurosport. We, for one, totally buy the "Oh, the Helsingrad Saunomat is all right, I suppose, but it can be just a little bit dry at times, don't you think?" act.

Yet the hottest ski jumping property of his generation finally melted at the knees after ransacking the world championship gold on Saturday.

His usual dead-pan monosyllabic drool [drool?] became a full-bodies [sic] expression of emotion as the genial Finn sallied forth with passion.

On landing his second-round 142.5 metre gargantua the angelic Ahonen punched the air and raised his angular features to the heavens.

(He won gold in the greatest ever skihoppning tournament in the world ever; he punched the air! There's a lesson there for you, Tim Henman.)

Gentlepersons of gender and otherwise, we give you (but we'll want him back) Janne "Hilarity" Ahonen!

2005-02-26 15:11

Against Foundations: Towards a project

Since I am nominally ahead of schedule with the University of Openness, I am taking a break to read Sartre's Existentialisme is a humanisme. In which he gives a hostile summary of an attempt by some lesser humanistes to preserve an essentially Christian value system within the framework of atheisme.

In other words, and this is, I believe, the approach of all of what's called radicalisme in France, nothing is changed if God doesn't exist: we find the same norms of honesty, of progress and of humanisme, and we consider God a superceded hypothesis which will die peacefully and of itself.

(My translation; I'll retrofit the Frenchy-French when I have a sensible computer to hand.)

Sartre then goes on, of course, to vigorously dissent from this view: he holds that

  1. a radical philosophical overhaul is needed to provide a foundation for a humaniste value system in the absence of God, and, of course,
  2. that he is just the philosophe to provide it.

The second of these points is certainly discutable, but we are more interested in the first. It is natural to a philosophe to insist that a system of values requires a foundation - such gestures are precisely the hallmark of philosophie - but it is precisely the jurisdiction of philosophie to demand such foundations and to claim to be in a position provide them which we wish to call into question.

We are training, after all, to be a social scientiste (where we will happily accept that "science" is not to have the narrow value many Englishes prefer to restrict it to), and the claim above - that social values require a consistent philosophical foundation - strikes us as an act of trespass on our turf-to-be.

It strikes us, quite frankly, as appallingly sociologically naive to claim that the moral behaviour of an individual in society is crucially dependent on their being able to deduce appropriate behaviour from suitable first principles. Naive and, if it comes to that, falsifiable. No one, surely, would claim that there was no wickedness in ages when the God hypothesis was widely accepted.

We know, in fact, from our reading of Levi-Strauss that in "primitive" societies it is the business of myths to provide explanations of the customs, prohibitions and taboos of society, and we know also that the modes of logic associated with such mythical explanations is not that of our philosophy, and we conjecture further that neither mode of logical inference is at work in supporting, on a day to day basis, the moral code in individual practice.

We claim, instead, that individuals are socialised rather than reasoned into the acceptance moral values, and that logical justifications are post hoc rationalisations.

(This has the enormous advantage of explaining why ethics, jurisprudence and especially systems of knowledge seem to get along well enough despite the absence of the "foundations" that philosophes are so anxious to provide. And neglect to care that many individual philosophes think they - and they alone - have succeeded in just that project. In questions of foundations, we insist, more than one "solution" is as bad as none.)

Philosophy, then, in its self-appointed task of providing "foundations" is properly considered (selon nous) the heir to mythology.

And thus we feel we have no choice but to break with philosophy as such (allowing an place of honour to Wittgenstein, of course, who also rejected "foundations") and throw in our lot with the social scientistes to find out, if possible, how things really do work. We wish to study many of the same topics as philosophes - moral and ethical systems; knowledge and knowing, and so on - but we wish to know how they actually work in practice.

We consider, in particular, social norms (including, but not limited to, ethical norms) to be mechanismes of social homeostasis, and we consider that their expicit statement, to say nothing of the bases or principles on which they are claimed to be founded, are only a part of the picture, and not the largest or most important part.

(To be continued: the teamskihoppningcontest is about to start, hoorah! Except that the telly is showing some rubbish wimmins' tennis instead. Bad telly!)

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