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2006-09-28 18:21

Religion as an Epiphenomenon

We saw on a passing Internet today a claim that American suburbs are largely devoid of fun things to do for young persons (this was from a native informant).

Significantly, church was the only exception. QED.

We don't claim a causal relationship, especially: we're more interested in the stability of sociological patterns, and homeostasis is the thing to study there, not origin myths. (Although even origin myths are more interesting than the belief systems involved, for sure.)

2006-09-24 17:19

Why we are so exo-libertoonian

We deeply regret the FT's recent article "The unmourned end of libertarian politics", for sure, since we are a confirmed exo-libertoonian. We ardently desire the FDR to dismantle as much of the state as possible, so that it can serve as an example to the world in much the same way the USSR did before it.

(As a bonus, the regime would not have to gain the approval of Libertoonian purists, anymore than the USSR was ever usefully described as Marxist.)

We concur with the FT that essentially no one endorses Libertoonianisme, even in the FDR, but a very vocal minority of twits on IT-flavoured social networking sites do, and we for one would be glad for them to have an opportunity to try it out at first hand.

2006-09-11 19:16


We're going back to Scheveningen sometime in October for a combination weekend-honeymoon and OU exam. What larks!

We've already got a suit, shoes, weddning rings, and the list of Other Stuff is finally dwindling, hoorah!

But now we have to make samwidges and clear up for the cleaning lady. (Yes, we don't quite get that either, but there you go.)

2006-09-03 12:53

We demand machine translation!

Machine translation is of course widely mocked by human translators, because it doesn't work very well, which it doesn't. But Google has recently made new Arabic- and Chinese-to-English translators that won a US-government bake-off, with heavy-duty statistical learning algorithms instead of good old-fashioned AI.

We can't help feeling that good old-fashioned AI is due a comeback, though, and when we're finished with our OU exams and weddnings and house-movings, we're going to take a serious look at the new work on continuation-based parsing techniques and see what we can come up with.

(Endearingly, most of the computational semantics people are still writing in Prolog, but we're leaning towards Lisp.)

In other news, time has indeed been weighing on our many hands while our Zweety is away.

2006-08-30 20:09

Passing the slime

Our zweetie gave us an excellent present before she left: a stinkin' headcold.

And we're not even yet social-democratic to stay in bedt all day on account of it! (Our productivity is still above homeopathic but not by as much as usual, for sure.)

2006-08-29 19:14

Begone, silly treining wheels!

Our Zweetie has abandoned us for the dubious charms of 30+C Greekland, so we are officially living alone abroad for the first time ever. (If you don't count the poeskat, who is only interested in attention and food, not necessarily in that order.)

Will we survive with only a fridge full of bier and food, an Anglophone working environment and a native-speaking bank card? Stay tuned to find out!

In other news, we're getting pretty competent at reading Dutch. Our patented langwidge learning algorithm is

  • Bootstrap a minimal comptetence from somewhere. (Assimil books for Dutch, in our case.)
  • Find something fun and not too taxing to read and read, read, read. (Aftonbladet for Zwedish; Jerry Cotton krimis for Dutch.)
  • Find a source of the spoken langwidge. (Ironically, this is mostly Assimil and TV for Dutch; we rarely unleash our pidginspeak in public.)
  • Persist. (This is where the problems generally set in, and it is most of why classes help.)

We do need to sort out the speakings, though.

2006-08-26 14:37

See? See?!

Of foopball and nations

We watched the second leg of Shoppingharbour FC vs. Stinky Ajax on Dutch TV, and we were somewhat pleased that the 'Harbour won entry into the League of Champions.

The next day we looked on tehgrauniad's website to see what they had to say about this remarkable upset, and we learned that they had nothing at all to say about it. (Needless to add, De Trouw had nothing to say about Liverpool or Arsenal's matches.)

Of the weather

We drive to work at 07:00 local time, and since the weather broke there's been a lot of heavy mist in the mornings. Very pretty, if you ask us, but combined with random acts of roadwork and the time of the morning, it does add some spice to the experience.

And finally, cats

We're cat-sitting as of tomorrow! We quite like Dikke Poes, as it happens, and he's not much trouble, but still: cat!

(The guestbladet seems to be completely skronked lately; sorry about that. We must start thinking about replacing it with more urgency than we've managed tot nu toe.)

2006-08-15 20:24

From the cutting-room floor

We're writing an essay on European nationalism, and we've been forced to leave out our aside that the Romantic cult of the peasant as source of cultural authenticity is today largely confined (at least in its pure state) in the more irritating sort of TV cooking programmes. (Jamie Oliver and, especially, Rick Stein, that means you.)

In fact we didn't even have space to abuse Wordsworth, and our Varied Reader will certainly be aware we don't forgo chances of that lightly.

What then, you are certainly very anxious to ask or enquire, could possibly be so compelling as to require these such many cuts and omissions?

Simple: we are writing about 'bladets. We are writing at so very much length about 'bladets that we're going to have to squeeze Poland, Italy, the Habsburg Empire(!); education; the collapse of multi-national states; the influence of railways and trade unions and barriers; and the French revolution and the reorientation of sovereignty towards the people into a couple of sentences. We do so like our 'bladets!

(Meanwhile, we've sent off for a test subscription to De Trouw, a Dutchbladet which is perhaps slightly more Jesusy than we strictly prefer, but serious enough for our Zweetie and readable for ourself.)

2006-08-13 09:27

Information, the search therefor

"Where am I?"
"In the Village."
"What do you want?"
"Whose side are you on?"
"That would be telling.... We want information. Information. INFORMATION." "You won't get it."
"By hook or by crook, we will."

[The Prisoner, opening titles]

By hook and, especially, by crook we did. Not every day, by any means, and not conveniently, but we got it. (Camping-Gromp recommended Jyllands Posten - the bladet that perpetrated the Mohammed-cartoon nonsense - as an alternative; we smiled and backed away slowly.)

And now we can say from first-hand experience that Danmark's Informationbladet is more than somewhat to our taste, modulo their overreliance on rentagobs from the British Indybladet (Johann Hari, anyone? No? Nor us.)

It is good because it doesn't especially bother telling you what happened yesterday, but instead attempts to explain why it happened and what it means. We like that.

(We did buy a trial copy of Jyllans Posten. Their coverage of the war in Lebanon extended to finding some Lebanese Christians willing to pose next to wreckages and say how pleased they were that someone was finally doing something about the naughty Muslims of Hezbollah. We didn't feel any particular need for a second copy.)

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