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2005-12-16 17:14

Cheese shop!

We need to find cheese for Christmas. We imagine a cheese shop might be a good place to look. Are there still such things as cheese shops? (It's going to be an invigorating weekend, for sure.)


2005-12-16 13:12

Epochs made while you wait!

Is it historic, you ask or enquire, that five (5) Finlandzwedish authors have been on top of the bestsellers list for the first two (2) weeks of December?

It is, it is!

- Visst r det historiskt att fem finlandssvenska frfattare ligger i topp p vr frsljningslista ver de mest slda bckerna under de tv frsta veckorna i december, sger Stig-Bjrn Nyberg, vd p Akademiska bokhandeln.

"Certainly it's historic that five (5) Finlandzwedish authors have been on top of the bestsellers list for the first two (2) weeks of December", says Stig-Bjrn Nyberg, vd of Akademiska bokhandeln.

Thanks, Stig-Bjrn!

(Zweetie, can we name a boy-child Stig-Bjrn if we have one? Can we, please?)


2005-12-16 10:10

Sino-Japanese Tact

Not really our patch, of course, but we couldn't pass this one up:

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao made clear his continuing displeasure with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi when he ignored Mr. Koizumi's request to borrow his pen during a signing ceremony Wednesday at a regional summit in Malaysia.

You don't have to big or clever to lead a major world power, appearantly. (Which is just as well for us, for sure.)


2005-12-15 17:54

Ligate me harder!

One of our side projects is to find a programming environment that will let us write a Wordpad-type program that uses proper ligatures, dammit. We looked at Pango, but they haven't documented it comprehensibly; we're now looking at Java, but again, the docs don't seem to document what we need. (And Java is only used for suitware these days so no one seems to care very much.)

It's doing our nut in, is what it is doing.


2005-12-15 14:10

Giant Belgian Brassicole Runs Amok!

It is the dreaded InBev:

Le gant brassicole belge InBev a annonc qu'il lanait une restructuration en France, qui entranerait 303 suppressions de postes dans l'Hexagone.

"I'll crush you this time, Hexagone!", declared the giant Belgian brassicole InBev, "Nobody can withstand my Lance of Restructuring! See, it has suppressed 303 of your feeble posts already!"

Oh no! With the Hoegaarden Heros out of action ('bladets passim), who can save us from the marauding InBev?


2005-12-15 10:34

Engelsche Uitspraakoefeningen!

Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse.
I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy;
Tear in eye, your dress you'll tear;
Queer, fair seer, hear my prayer.

Et quite considerably cetera. Nobody knows how to pronounce "indict" or "gunwhale" though, Varied Reader, and it's nothing to be proud of if you do.


2005-12-14 15:22


1. Late again

Christmaslunch, isn't it? Sorry. Pizza Express - for it was it! - got invaded by an outing of office ladies and the service suddenly vanished.

2. Daniel kan go to the ball!

His fairygodking has arranged it:

Det blir en annorlunda jul p Drottningholm i r. Kungaparets barn fr fira tillsammans med sina respektive.

It'll be a different Twinkletree in Drottningholm this year. The royalcouple's childrens may celebrate together with their respectives.

That will be jolly, for sure. But do the royal families of Yoorp all solemnly sit down to watch the Monarch's Speech on telly before opening their presentses?

3. Hoppning

We know what you're thinking, Varied Reader, and don't think we don't: you're thinking "Is the defending skihoppning champion Janne 'The Manne' Ahonen fazed by the large points gap between himself and the leader Jakub Janda?".

Well, we're here to tell you that he's not:

The Finn is currently tied in second place with Kuettel on 385 points, 67 behind the leader Janda.

But despite the large points gap, Ahonen remains unfazed:

"I'm not that far behind the leader," said the Finn. "In fact, I may be the only ski-jumper who is not worried about his jumping."

(We still haven't found a better source than Yourosport, sadly.)


2005-12-14 11:23


1. Vickan has dinner!

Optimistically labelled sneak early Christmasparty. If it's a Christmasparty where are the crackers and paper hats and stuff and other stuff, eh?

2. It isn't easy being orthodox

And then again, this subjective idealism is put forward in the form of a doctrine concerning knowledge: it denies that we can know anything about objective reality outside ourselves, and says that we can have knowledge of appearances only and not of "things in themselves".

This sort of idealism has become very fashionable today. It even parades as extremely "scientific". When capitalism was still a progressive force, bourgeois thinkers used to believe that we could know more and more about the real world, and so control natural forces and improve the lot of mankind indefinitely. Now they are saying that the real world is unknowable, the arena of mysterious forces which pass our comprehension. It is not difficult to see that the fashion for such doctrines is a symptom of the decay of capitalism.

Cornforth, Dialectical Materialism v.i p.28

Even the most superficial passing acquaintance with Kant will suffice to detect that this is a tendentious non-argument, of course, but you do have to wonder what Cornforth thought he was up to. We find his book fascinating, for sure, but also rather disturbing.

3. Quite so

A close attention to the meaning of every word is only going to kill the interest and bring discouragement or boredom.

Teach Yourself German

If we ever write a book that'll be the epigraph, for sure.


2005-12-13 20:12

Oops, is that the time?

Sorrie, hoor!

We'd lost track of it, a bit, for sure. It's getting towards the end of term which is getting towards the end of year and we're having lots of fun in the office playing Prime Number Hangman and Spin The Bottle: Proposition or Axiom and N-Dimensional Twister and lots of other jolly mathematical party games. What fun!

2005-12-13 14:18

Monday Review of Stuff

Age of Revolution, by Eric "Hobbyhorse" Hobsbawm, is of course completely terrific.

Dialectic Materialisme (three (3) volumes) by Maurice Cornforth ("in effect the official ideologist of the Communist Party of Great Britain") is rigidly Staliniste - he defends Lysenko's biology on the basis of dialectical a prioris - and far from well-argued, but we cherish it no less deeply for that. Three (3) volumes!


2005-12-13 10:21


When we were a kid, the next big thing in trains was set to be the Advanced Passenger Wooshtrain which tilted round corners for a smoother, faster ride. It never happened, though. But the wooshtrain is back!

VIRGIN Trains called yesterday for Glasgow-London rail journeys to be reduced to less than four hours, as its Pendolino fleet started tilting and running at 125mph in Scotland for the first time.

Upgrading of the 401-mile west coast main line means the fastest trains now complete the distance in four hours and 24 minutes - 20 minutes quicker than before and just ten minutes longer than those on the less twisty Edinburgh-London route.

Further improvements in the Midlands should cut the journey to four hours 15 minutes in 2008, but Virgin wants it cut to below four hours, rivalling air travel.

We prefer trains to planes, when the otherness of things is equilibriated - if we lived in Londontown, we'd pop to Paree on the Eurostar and not otherwise, for sure. However, the Eurostar was originally planned to connect with trains from elsewhere in the country and it was precisely the emergence of no-frills airlines that killed the dream.

(We've been to Schottland exactly once; we flew from Bristol to Glasgow with squeezyJet for a pittance. If there are rumours of wooshtrains on the west coast, we haven't heard them.)


2005-12-12 16:28

Why I am so very dialectical

It is Kim Peek, real life model for The Rain Man and it is especially his spicy brain!

He knows 9 000 books off by heart; he can direct people around United States cities from maps he has memorised years ago; and he has total recall of the dates of all major world events.


As a child, he was assumed to be suffering from severe mental retardation. Only later was his condition found to be more complex. He had superb abilities at arithmetic but could not deal with the abstractions of mathematics. In 1988, he was given an IQ rating of 87, well below average. Yet some of his subscores were in the genius bracket, while others plunged into the mentally retarded range.

We have seen before suggestions that a massively overdeveloped capacity for retaining details goes hand in hand with a massively underdeveloped capacity for grasping abstractions. (In autisme, in savants, and - especially - in Borges's Fumes the memorious.)

We claim, accordingly, that they are antithetical abilities: the capacity for abstraction is inseparable from the ability to ignore irrelevant details. Forgetting is the cornerstone of the highest cognitive functions.

(We will shortly exhibit some colour pictures of spicy brain scans having no obvious relationship to this claim, which will nonetheless be published on the science pages of several major 'bladets.)


2005-12-12 14:14

Politics today!

Hello, and we're coming to you live from a pressconference with Jack "Boot" Straw:

There are no records of the US asking the UK for permission to use its airports to move CIA terror suspects, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has said.

What he actually said was:

"Mmmf mff we haff noff refffoffds of any summch thing mff mff. Ggglllp. Aaah, that's better. Like I say, we have no records of any such thing."



2005-12-12 11:18

Behold the Befrocknings!

It was the Nobelfrockpriseball! In which a bunch of wrinkly perfessors and some beautiful prinsesses (and some wrinkly prinsesses and for all we know some beautiful perfessors) heave - heave, we tell you! - a sigh of relief that Harold "Pointy" Pinter will not be buttonholing them with one of his trademark rants about international affairs.

But we, for one, think that the whole speech speech malarkey could profitably be replaced by some nice Dutch Sinterklaas rhymes and the prizes by jolly Dutch Sinterklaas presents.

We are not, however, planning to Dutchify tomorrow's Sankta Lucia singnings.


2005-12-09 16:10

For shame, Danmark!

It's good to be back on familiar territory, for sure:

Krigstraumer og torturoplevelser skal ikke lngere kunne bruges som undskyldning for ikke at tale godt dansk

Regeringen og Dansk Folkeparti blev i gr enige om, at det ikke lngere skal vre muligt at opn dispensation fra sprogkravene i forbindelse med at opn dansk indfdsret, selv om man er en flygtning, der er medtaget af krigstraumer eller tortur. Det skriver Politiken.

Wartrauma and torture shall no longer qualify as grounds for exemption from speaking good Danish.

The goverment and the Danish Volksparty agreed yesterday that there will no longer be a possibility of expemption from the language requirements in connection with Danish citizenship even for refugees who have been traumatised by war or tortured. According to Politiken.

You really have to not envy the refugees who drew the Danmark straw, isn't it?


2005-12-09 14:24

So very much stuff!

We have a 'normous quantity of Cherman stuff from the OU on CD and audio-cassette and VHS video and paper and especially paper.

However, we will be sticking with our 1937 Teach Yourself until the starting date, since we are very worried about the length of the cows' horns and what the maid sent the sailor's nephews and stuff, and we really can't be very arsed with the modern style of textbook with its chartjunk-cluttered tables and its abuse of cheerful fonts and pedagogically buzzword-compliant textcolours.

Just tell us which propositions take the dative and get out of our face, is what we say and the more we can learn our way the less we have to learn their way.

Also the Amazon pixie brought a large book on Java, which doesn't even deign to mention any of the GUI classes - apparently the retooling of Java for unimaginably dreary server-side suitware is now complete. (We wish to write such suitware, but in exchange for money and not otherwise.)


2005-12-09 10:18


1. Lnghrig prinsess frn Ngonstans...

It is prinsess Alex of Danmark!

Alexandra er blevet helt vild. Hun har iflge B.T.'s Bodil Cath ladet hret vokse

Alexandra has gone quite wild. She has according to BT's Bodil Cath let her hair grow.

She's practically gone feral! We mean, long hair!

2. Zwedish dancebands of the 70s

Oh dear.

[Thanks to Chris von Timber for the link.]

3. For shame, UN!

Normally we side against Danmark, of course, but this is a trick question:

Louise Arbour, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, has expressed her concern over the 12 cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad which were published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten last September. Ms Arbour says that the UN experts on racism will deal with the matter.

Some of the original point of the cartoonistes was that free speech trumps taboos, and that there is no fundamental right not to be offended. The UN really really needs to observe that this argument is correct, for sure.

[Thanks to M von M for the link]


2005-12-08 15:56

Kerning Konsidered Kruel

We were briefly mildly interested in writing a non-sucky prose ("text") editor that understood the difference between hard line breaks and soft ones and which didn't hurt our many eyes.

After investigating kerning and ligatures and how to deal with them with Java or C#, we're not anymore. (The good news is the next version of Windows is alleged to suck much less at this such stuff, which will certainly make a pleasant change.)


2005-12-08 13:52

Et al., c'est moi !

Sigh. I keep telling them "von Bladet" sorts under "B" so that I get to be first author, but do they listen, Varied Reader? They do not!


2005-12-08 10:38


Twinkle twinkle, Twinkletree
Beam me radio and TV
Kerstboom kerstboom, by the 'meer
Broadcast, broadcast season's cheer!

[Traditional Dutch childrens' song]

It seemed to us Dutch for Twinkletree (as in the tree) was very likely to be kerstboom, and so it proves. The highest such in the whole wide is in IJsselstein, as long as you're not particular about what "tree" means:

The "World's Greatest Christmas Tree" is situated in IJsselstein, at the heart of Holland.

This "tree" is, as you can see, not a typical christmas tree like the one you would place inside or around your home. This tree is in fact a communication tower, 375 meters tall. From this tower the signals for television and radio are transmitted in order to reach 16 million people in The Netherlands.

This is what comes of having no hills, clearly, but is a communications tower with some twinklelights on really a Twinkletree? The 'bladets Ontological Committee will have to deliberate, thinks us.


2005-12-07 16:26

Incidentally: an incident

We were obliged by one Mr Plod to pursue a detour on the way to work this morning.

A man is in hospital with life-threatening injuries after being stabbed in St Pauls, Bristol.


Ashley Road was closed on Wednesday morning as crime experts examined the scene. Police say they are looking for two men in connection with the attack.

It's only St Pauls if bad things happen; it would be St Werburghs if all was sweetness and light.


Officers said Ashley Road had reopened by 1500 GMT on Wednesday.

So we can at least go home via a sensible route.


2005-12-07 13:21

Why our favourite bookshop is Amazon.*

We mentioned a while ago a book we ordered. Well, today we went back and (after more than eight (8) months) the bookshop said they were in a position, if we liked, to start the ordering process again with their much better new French book supplier.

We didn't like; we settled instead for our money back. (We got the book itself from Amazon at least six (6) months ago, within a week of ordering it - we were just indulging our curiosity.)


2005-12-07 10:55

The pighamham, its spendiness

It is considerable:

Kraftigt hjda importpriser och ett ras i svensk kttproduktion gr att en kokt pigghamskinka kostar cirka 75 kronor kilot denna jul.

Sharp rises in importprises and a ras in Zwedish meatproduction mean that a cooked pighamham will cost 75 kronor a kilo this Twinkletree.

(We don't care very much about the cost, we just like saying "pighamham". Pighamham!)


2005-12-06 17:10

Certify me harder!

We are now officially entitled to a Certificate in Social Sciences and to put Cert. Soc. Sci. (Open) after our name.

We're glad it was only marked pass/fail, though, since excellence began at 85% and we, hampered by a drunken and irritable exam-conditions effort, got 84% overall, which is the most irritating result possible.

Still, His Imperial Excellency the Holy Roman Emperor Des von Bladet, BSc. Msc. PhD, Cert.Soc.Sci.(Open) has a certain ring to it, we think, although we really could do with a "Rev." somewhere in there.


2005-12-06 14:49

The Ballad of the Gvle Goat

YOU must wake and call me early, call me early, mother dear;
To-morrow 'ill be the happiest time of all the glad New-year;
Of all the glad New-year, mother, the maddest merriest day,
For I'm to set fire to the Hay, mother, I'm to set fire to the Hay.

There's many a bright, bright spark, they say, but none so bright as mine;
There's Tomten and Mary, there's a Gingerbreadman;
But none so flammable as I in all the land they say,
So I'm to set fire to the Hay, mother, I'm to set fire to the Hay.

[Without apologies to Alfred, Lord "Tinny" Tennyson]

This year, even the Beeb's in on the act:

A giant straw goat erected every year in a Swedish town to mark the festive season has been burned down - again.

Same procedure as every year, James!

Our favorite bit, as ever, is the reasons why they thought it wouldn't happen this time, for sure:

I r kallades bevakningsbolag in och kameror har varit riktade mot halmbocken.
- Vi trodde att bevakningen skulle avskrcka, men d klr de ut sig i stllet. r det en tomte och en pepparkaksgubbe r det inte s ltt att se vilka de r, sger kommittns ordfrande Kurt Lagerholm.

This year a security compary was called in and cameras were trained on the strawgoat.
"We thought that the guardning would scare them off, but they disguised themselves instead. Dressed up as a Santa and a gingerbreadman it isn't easy to see who they are", points out or remarks the kommittee spokesperson Kurt "Sherlock" Lagerholm.

They're building a new one, since it burned down so early. Anyone for a festive sweepstake on how long it lasts?


2005-12-06 10:43


Every time we go away a prinsess sprogs, isn't it? This time it's kronprinsess Mette-("M&M")-Marit, and she's had a baby prins.

It's a cute touch that BT-bladet's photocredits are to the kronprinsess and her husband, don't you think?

Update: they've un-Danishly gone and bleeding named it! It's a Sverre Magnus, apparently. But not HRH S. V., and it's birthday isn't a Flag Day, so think on, Varied Reader; think on.


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