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2009-12-17 15:31

A snkaos of one's own

(The neighbourhood blogger has the visuals.)

It's been sneeuwing at least since the Countess woke up shortly after 05:00(UT+1). By the time we set off in the car, the local roads were treacherous, the city ring-road was little better and the autosnelweg was not much better than that.

(It is not to our credit that we got that far before giving up.)

It's over 30cm (an olde engleesh "foot") deep; it is impassible for sensible motorists and all but the hardiest of pedestrians; it is also pretty cold.

We just ventured out for a shufty, and it seems like nothing much is being done about it either. Which makes us mildly nervous, since we're supposed to drive to the Hook of Holland (Hoek van Holland) on Saturday (Zaterdag) and catch a boot (boot) to England (Engeland).

This is all so much more amusing when it happens somewhere else.

2009-12-07 12:40

Moondag Review of Stuff

Deutsche Weihnachtslieder: Orchesterbegeleitung zum Mitsingen und -spielen (Gesang und/oder Melodieinstrumente in C), published by musicPartner

When we were lately in Keulen we happened across a music shop with an extravagant collection of piepfluits ("recorders") and a fairly comprehensive assortment of ukuleles, as well as an upstairs department full of over-priced sheet music (which is the only known kind, sadly).

Our thirst for bargains was nonetheless satisfied by the CD under review, which's booklet contains the sheet music of its recorded contents.

The recorded contents themselves are fairly expendable, since they are orchestral accompaniments for your karaokeing pleasure, and our Christmas music pleasures are not especially karaoke.

We blog this now because we received it as a present from (and for) Sinterklaas, and also because it is a Dutch convention that Christmas decorations and ambiences should be refrained from until Sinterklaas is back home in Espain after his exertions on 5 December.

We're only having the plastic Tesco Twinkletree this year, though, since we will be back in Blighty for the official celebrations.

2009-12-03 19:46

Loose ends in musical history

The orpharion was once a very fashionable musical instrument in Engeland. It was tuned like a lute, but it had metal strings and was thus clearly a better idea. There were also bandoras and citterns; it was clearly a good time for plunking.

And then Jobst Meuler died, whereupon that was that.

Extract 1:

Then, in the mid sixteenth century, a german bloke called Meuler invented a process for producing wire which would take much higher tension than standard brass. It allowed wire-strung instruments to be produced with a wide range, and all the subtlety of the lute. The bandora and orpharion were born - the first mainly used as a rich bass instrument in consorts, the second as a solo instrument. Forget harps in heaven - Anthony Holborne's fantasies played on an orpharion are as close to music of the angels as you're ever likely to hear.

Extract 2:

Recent research has yielded that in the wire-string sphere, Nrnberg produced an innovative genius in the person of Jobst Meuler, a leading wire-drawer in a city that was pre-emminent where all of the metal-working arts were concerned. Meuler who died in 1622 during the catastrophic Thirty Years' War had invented a technique for making a steel wire of a far higher tensile strength than anything that had hitherto been produced. Meuler jealously guarded his discovery, and although his process seems to have died with him, his wire was in such demand and his fame so widespread that even the composer Heinrich Schtz wrote to his patron the Elector of Saxony in 1621 asking that an order be placed with Meuler for a quantity of steel music strings.


We came across all this stuff while trying to find out exactly what instrument Carl Michael Bellman played. (Bellman is very big in Zweden and not especially so elsewhere.)

It is usually said that he played some kind of cittern, and later a theorbized cittern, and this is all very well, except that the Cherman edition of his songs (a cheap Reclam papperbock) has some sort of crazy hand-written music and lyrics reproduced from something presumably fairly early (it isn't big on notes) and the accompaniment is arranged very much the way piano parts are generally arranged.

Which means that posterity presumably has no idea how Bellman's own accompaniments went, since one thing a cittern of any kind is not at all like is a piano.

Pre-classical ("early") music is great though, and if, like us, you include baroque in that there's a lot of it. For decades we couldn't hear any sense in Handel, but if you mentally de-Karajanise it down to a reasonable number of instruments and mentally strip off the (likely) romanticismes of the playing, and so on, it's actually rather jolly.

2009-12-02 20:07

Well, yes

The cover of the krant this morning had a large foto of the dreaded Mega Mindy, the blonde Belgian superheroine.

The cover made the article largely superfluous in our household: as soon as little Boris saw it he let out a shriek of "Mimi" (which is his name for the character, which she shares with Sesamstraat's Ienie Mienie) and made a grab for it. By the time he relinquished the krant, it was in noticeably more pieces.

Also, did you know, Varied Reader, that children's TV programmes come with a panoply of merchandising and accessories? We, for one, are shocked.

On the other hand, if there's a toy auto in Lildi when we pop in with Boris we get to hear at extravagant length about that too, and that regardless of branding.

2009-11-28 19:40

Janne the Manne: an unretirement

Long-suffering readers will be well aware that our favourite skihopper - and our favourite sportsperson of any kind - is Janne "The Manne" Ahonen.

When he retired at the end of last season, we drew (with a tear in our eyes) a curtain on a glorious era, noticed that it was Spring and went out and got on with less winterly pursuits, and thought not much more of it.

More fool us!

According to a paywalled article in a Belgian article (Google thinks we prefer that sort of thing and it is more right than it really ought to be), someone subsequently pointed out that 2009/10 is in fact an Olympique year and Janne "the Manne" - who is so magnificently unperturbable that we for one readily believe he would not otherwise have noticed - promptly unretired.

Cherman TV coverage of the hopping todag was heavily studded with interviews with the pokerfaced daredevil, but we had the sound off and have no idea what he may have said.

But we did discover the existence of a biography:

Sports columnist Pekka Holopainens biographical work on Janne Ahonen titled Kuningaskotka (King Eagle), published by the publishing house Teos, provides a startling view on the sporting heros life.

(Read as much as you want, Varied Reader: if you find anything startling you are easierly startled than us.)


Le 3 aot 2009 est publie la biographie de Janne nomm Kuningaskotka (le roi des aigles). Elle est disponible uniquement en finnois pour l'instant.

Could somebody please alert us the instant it becomes available in a langwidge we can actually read?

In the meantime we won't be holding our breath but we reserve the right to count the dags...

2009-11-28 19:00

Pleasant things of winter, which is to say: not the local weather

We were pleasantly surprised to see that our skihopping feed came back to life this week; we were pleasanterly ("pleasantlier") surprised still to note that the season opener was live on Cherman TV this weekend, and we were pleasantliest of all surprised to have the luxury of watching it with a glass of Beajolais Gimmickwijn while Boris played auto's and the Countess pottered.

(Not everyone has been especially well here lately, including us, but today was a better dag.)

In other news, Boris van 't Blad has figured out that Sinterklaas is a gentleman of some consequence in these parts, and has accordingly learned to say his name. And also he has (unpreviouslybeknown to us) learned the names of pretty well all the Sesamstraat characters that there are, and there are a lot.

2009-11-25 19:54

Vocabulary-watch update

Boris van 't Blad loves Bumba and his friend Bumbalu and all their mutual friends.

And he is acutely aware that this little netbook is capable of bringing Bumbalu to him. Which makes the word "Bulu" a particularly potent incantation, especially now that he is sick with another ear infection.

2009-11-24 13:04

Leedvermaak II

A little birdy (a beeboid?) tells us that Peter "Lord" Mandelson was so outraged at the prospect of Catherine Ashton being appointed High Representative for the External Affairs that he offered to make the ultimate sacrifice and do the job himself.

Which said offer was, we hope promptly and pointedly, neglected.

2009-11-22 12:23

Juncker unjustly jilted!

Poor old Jean-Claude Juncker:

Le Premier ministre du Luxembourg serait devenu le premier prsident du Conseil europen sans le veto pos, jeudi en dbut de soire, par Nicolas Sarkozy.

The Prime Minister of Luxembourg would have become the first president of the European Council if it hadn't been for those pesky kids the veto placed by Nicolas Sarkozy early on Thursday evening.

On the other hand:

  • it wasn't Blair.
  • it wasn't Blair.
  • it wasn't Balkenende (many Dutch commentators appear to be slighted on the national behalf, or were anxious to see the back of him or something, but we want to see him contest the next election and hopefully lose)
  • we, for one, can pronounce "Van Rompuy", and
  • it wasn't Blair

There's been some muscular disappointment among the willy-wavers in the Yoorpean commentariat that it wasn't someone of Proven International Stature (by which they mean Blair).

I've never seen them attempt to reconcile with the obvious fact that most American presidents were not internationally known before being elected. This of course doesn't matter in the slightest since after being elected they are President of the United Frigging States Y'All.

If being Prime Minister of Belgium is really less prestigious on the international stage than being governor of Arizona (as Bill Clinton was), it has yet to be explained to us how and why this should be so.

2009-11-19 20:06

Zeppelins and other stories

Ah, zeppelins.

FAREWELL tells the story of Lady Grace Drummond-Hay, the only female passenger on the first journey around the world of the Graf Zeppelin in 1929. Grace writes about her adventures on the journey, not only in articles in the Hearst Newspapers, as a reporter, but also in her diary.

It hadn't occurred to us (to our shame) just how central the 1929iness of zeppelins was to their untarnishable appeal. Stupid Gosh-gedaarned Wall St stupids - they've been ruining our futures since before our parents even had a now.


Keulen ("Cologne") is the most instantly likable Cherman city we've visited since Berlin, notwithstanding the charmless looming monstrosity that passes for a cathedral in town. (Advice: cross the street and spend your touriste-time in the awesome trainstation opposite. It has at least three(3) book and presse shops, a cornucopia of cafes and restaurants and other Goood Things.)

We're again reminded than when Chermany really comes off it is simply the most delightful place we know. An enormous Galleria Kaufhoff, cafes with excellent coffee, restaurants with mussels and black pudding and (which the Netherlands can rarely boast) prompt service and shnitzels, and fresh tasty bier.


If you speak or read, or aspire to speak or read, Dutch, you are hereby urged to have a watch of Kabouter Wesley:

This is a microfeature (they are all under two(2) minutes) on a Belgian TV programme, but it has gone pretty viral in the Netherlands over the last couple of weeks, and cries of "Godmiljaar!" (Wesley's signature curse, which is said to be very rude in Belgium but essentially unknown among our Dutch circulars) are echoing round the corridors of our workplace.

The phrases "Ik geloof nooit geen zeezoogdier meer" or "Spreek voor uwzelf, nazibloem" are currently the very last word in hilarity here. (Cherman speakers: you can indeed read this stuff; give it a go!)

2009-11-10 19:31

Slightly different same olds

1. Dinner

De Librije is one(1) of two(2) restaurants in the Netherlands with three(3) Michelin stars. The Countess's werkplaats arranged for us to attend their less stellar kookatelier for a cooking lesson in the excellent company of our colleague-in-laws ("colleagues-in-law") and free-flowing wine.

In a team of four(4) we contributed to burning the sweet garlic in balsamic vinegar, but after all: free-flowing wine.

As is usual in very posh restaurants the food was OK so far as it went, but by no means much of a cure for actual hunger. (You can take the Emperor out of the peasantry, &c.)

2. Belectured

Elinor Ostrom, winner of the "not the" Nobel in Economics this year, came to Groningen to tell us of her work on less-tragic commons. (There's an mp3 behind that link, if you want one.)

It was quite good, although if she thinks that reinventing genetic algorithms is going to get her far we can only admire her courage.

3. Furniture

So: Boris is graduating to the guest room, the guest room is being promoted to the attic office, which is diversifying into the attic guest room, all so that Boris's old room can be handed over to Unborn Egberdina when s/he tires of unbirth ("unbornness").

4. Earwax

We got a bit more than usually deaf in our right ear, so we took it (and Boris, since it was a moondag) to the doctor, or rather the nurse, or rather the receptioniste who apparently sidelines as a nurse or a doctor or at the very least an ear-syringer, who duly syringed our ear.

We've never had that done before. Now everything is frankly too damned ("damn") loud, especially in our left ear, which got caught in the crossfire even though we had diligently refrained from complaining about it.

5. There is no number 5.

2009-11-03 20:39

Responsibility and other things we're unworthy of

Our habit and our custom when presented with dialects of Foreign is to cheerfully blend our English with them to form an idiocreole.

We haven't actually checked, but we imagine that that isn't ideal for our new role as little Boris van 't Blad's native informant in chief and primary source of Engleesh.

We do our best: in our regular moondag alone with him yesterdag we did persuade him to say "No!" instead of "Nee!". (We were going to work on "yes" as well but there isn't much call for it at his time of life.)

But one thing we really suck at is reading out children's books in a language other than the one they were written in. We have a French picture book full of pictures of things we don't know the French words for (walrusses and the like), but if we can see the French word it completely blocks the Engleesh one.

The situation is by no means improved when syntax and langwidges we actually know enter the picture.

We are amazed anyone can do the chop of interpreter: under no possible constellation of circumstances would we even dream of it.

2009-11-01 19:25


We finally got a drankslang and decanted some of our delicious appeldrank:

It is extremely tart: all the useless sugars seem to have turned into delicious ethanol. Otherwise it tastes of appels, as one might reasonably imagine or expect.

It is also reasonably strong: stronger than bier, although weaker than wine. After 1.5 litres we were quite gebuzd.

2009-10-28 20:20


1. On the conversation of childrens

Sometimes we wish Boris van 't Blad was more of a conversationaliste. Sometimes, however, he plays in the playground in a state of heightened adjacency to slightly larger children, and these converse among themselves and with us, and these said conversations make us glad that Boris rarely says more than "auto!" or "nee" or "op" (as in "all gone").

Children wish you to know their names (a handy trait, since we have invariably forgotten), their ages (less handy, since we do not care), and the skills they have mastered, such as swinging, jumping off swings, swinging on bars, to say nothing (and we certainly wish they would) of riding bicycles and the like.

We did learn the word "ukkepukkie", though: apparently it is used by small children to refer, derisively, to even smaller children.

If there's one(1) thing children really do understand before they can walk, it is that there is a pecking order among children based on size, age and skillset (which are typically positively correlated, so we can't tell which is more important).

2. The proliferation of children

Our Italian connection has had her baby. Our older sister is in labour as we write.

Meanwhile our younger sister and the Countess are around halfway to besprogging. Twinkletree (in Eng-ger-lnd this year) will be particularly interesting.

3. Jean-Claude Juncker for president - an endorsement

He's from Luxembourg! He's a master of the EU's Dark Arts! He isn't Tony Blair. (Srlsly, Tony "Baloney" Blair? They are joking me, aren't they?)

4. On logic and computing

It is no longer really practical to get the computer out in the living room when Boris is awake, since he knows that it is packed to bursting with YouTube's muppety goodness.

So we've got into the habit of studying the delicate art of computer programming from books, with no computer to hand.

(We're having one of our computer programming periods, we freely admit. We could blog about it but it is all rather technical, and the Countess assures us it is of modest interest to the non-specialist.

Currently we are halfway through a very mechanical set of exercises in the model-theoretic interpretation of first-order logic, which turns out to be neither very difficult nor very exhilarating.)

5. On the ancientness of our carcass

Towards the end of last week we went deaf in our right ear, literally overnight. This isn't even quite the first time, although it is worse than the previous occasion.

We couldn't get our British doctor to care very much last time (she prescribed drops of olive oil, which did work eventually) and it isn't even worth asking a Dutch doctor, since these take a dim view of minor ailments in general.

So we're using camphor oil, since apparently olives are hard to come by over here. Since Fridag last we've greased our way back to only half-deaf in the relevant ear, which turns out to be actually not without benefits: if we sit with our bad ear to the TV it is much less distracting when we are trying to show dull logical equivalences.

2009-10-13 19:01

Niklaus Wirth vs. the Chomsky Hierarchy

One wonders why an exact definition of the sentences belonging to a language should be of any great importance. In fact, it is not really.

(These are computer langwidges of which he speaks, and it is a pdf in which the speaking is being done.)

Adison-Wesley have been withdrawing Wirth's collected textbooks from their catalogues; with the rights reverted, the Internets have been happy to cut a new distribution deal for them.

We're warming to late-period Wirth: he is engagingly grumpy, and he knows his dogfood. And his approach is very sustainable: you don't need umpteen gazillion man-years for a new compiler or operating system, you just need somewhere to build a bootstrap and a little discipline.

In a world (like mine) where computers never work and it is no longer ever possible to understand why not, there is more than a little nostalgic comfort in that.

2009-10-12 11:22

Things that having gone around, eventually also come around

It was early June when the Cherman Lidl had an Engleesh speciality novelty week; now that October is spreading its damp drear over the Netherlands it is finally our turn, from tomorrow, for mature cheddar and steak pies.

We're actually mildly excited, not least about the salt and vinegar corn sticks. Salt and vinegar crisps are most of what we miss in our continental exile: for some reason the Furriners don't seem to have them. (Occasionally you run into boutique Engleesh export brands' versions of balsamic vinegar and sea salt, but that isn't at all something we could imagine missing.)

2009-10-02 18:31

"Een soort europudding"

In 1989 the EU established its guideline "TV without borders" with the aim of encouraging member states to work toward filling the majority of their airtime with European-made television programmes.

Twenty(20) years later, almost 60% of series and soaps on European TV come from US of A, and only 10% from Europe, and a most of that European 10% is from dear old Blighty. (We've already lost count of the number of opportunities we've declined to watch Jane Austen's Frockwatch.)

Luckily, if you count news, documentaries, quizzes and talk- and gameshows Europe is meeting its quotas. But we assume that all those are actually home-grown and that the European-but-not-domestic(-or-British) sector is pretty negligible, and we do actually somewhat regret that.

(Source: An article in todag's, not available online.)

2009-09-28 11:04

French onion soup in geological time and other tales of smrgs

1. Music

We recently bought an Amy Whitehouse CD, which could after all happen to anyone. (It got appended to an Amazon order; we don't actually frequent applicable retail outlets.)

But todag we stuck on Fleetwood Mac's 70s classic Rumours, because we were in the mood for it and little Boris delights in the manifestations of the terpsichorean muse, like.

"Is this Amy?", asked the Countess.

2. French Onion Soup in geological time

In the sleeuw-cooker, then: it takes 15 minutes to melt the butter, so you can imagine. (The Countess started the ball rolling at 0915 hundred hours; dinner is scheduled for the usual 1800 hundred hours. All times are local.)

3. Mondag review of stuff

The Dutch computer magazine C't is a monthly gazette, derived mostly from the fortnightly Cherman computer magazine C't.

It has turned out to be exactly what we need to re-bootstrap our command of low-level geekery after several rather delightful years of not caring.

It isn't particularly light reading, but it has already dragged us kicking and (especially) screaming towards an understanding of the state of the art in the twenty-first century.

Our Varied Reader surely doesn't need to be told that this kind of stuff should be kept on a strickly need-to-know basis: it is just as wretched now as it was in the mid-90s when we were last remotely up-to-speed, and all of the abbreviations have been changed in the meantime.

4. Cherman election fever

Actually, we don't have it. Our TV guide tells us that Sleeswijk-Holstein is having its state elections at the same time as the bundeswotnot and that coverage starts at 1650 hundred hours, but the only thing that interests us greatly is the spelling of Sleeswijk.

5. Installing Linux

We find it almost reassuring that installing Linux is still an utterly wretched and baffling experience.

(Eventually we found out that Ubuntu 9.04 has a bug with the wireless network card in our nice little netbook. Eventually.

If parenthood hadn't supplied our grey hairs, our return to system administration surely would 've.)

2009-09-20 18:56


It be a busy weekend: there are International Pirates to be Talked Like, while over in Munchen they are feasting the feast of the Octoberfeast, which is a feast made mostly out of bier and why not?

Over here in the Netherlands, the autumn bier is not due until Calendar October and the local toyshop had no pirate hats. But the weather has been gloriously Indian summery, so we took Boris van 't Blad into town for an ice-cream which he promptly declined to eat.

Otherwise, autumn is certainly settling in: the trees are doing their autumn tree thing with the leaves and stuff, and yesterdag we took the trailer tent to its winter home in a barn on a farm about twenty(20) minutes drive away, and the slow cooker has been unearthed from the cup-board and is full of Belgian bier and beef stew.

In domestic news, Boris van 't Blad is growing up more or less on schedule ("fast") and has now expanded his vocabulary to include "nee", "mama", "ja", "daddy" and "vla". Vla is a kind of custard that Dutch children favour as dessert: when Boris is tired of his main course, he turns and points toward the Direction Whence Vla Comes and announces, with Imperial gravity, "La!".

And in another sign of his growing maturity he has also got himself scheduled for siblinghood: little Egbertina (sex and gender unknown) is currently scheduled for the end of March.

Which doesn't bode especially well for blogging, but we will do what we can.

2009-09-16 19:25

If we knew what this meant, we'd know how to respond

It is the Torygraph:

Cricket will return to free-to-air television for the first time in four years next month after British Eurosport

This in a story whose headline dwells on the allegedly heady possibility Andrew "Fred" Flintoff - who played for Eng-ger-lnd until recently - bestowing his blokey commentaries on the sound track, so it is no surprise that it is short of usefulness.

But if it turns out that British Eurosport is the feed known elsewhere on the continent only as Eurosport, only with a different soundtrack - and it has always seemed in the past to be exactly that and nothing else - this is very good news for European cricket-lovers with Eurosport on cable, and that includes us.

2009-09-14 11:37

Moondag Review of Stuff

Assembly Language Step-by-Step: Programming with DOS and Linux, Jeff Dunteman.

Under approximately no circumstances should you buy this book, although that is not because it is bad but rather because a third edition is due shortly, and it will drop coverage of DOS for a purely Linux focused exposition.

Other reasons for not buying it would be that approximately no one programs in assembly these days. Indeed, most computer-literate persons can no longer be assumed to know what it is. What it is is a human-readable form of the machine code that computers actually run: it is the lowest level of programming, with the fewest possible conveniences.

When we were a lad and 8-bit micros like the ZX-Spectrum and the BBC Micro bestrode the microcomputing earth like microcolossusses all the real computer people knew their assembly like the back of their hand, and the squabbling between the Z80 camp and the 6502 camp was worthy of any of computing's religious wars. (We dabbled in both, but never came close to mastery of either.)

Assembly straggled on into later eras, with the Motorola 68000 series of CPUS (as found in the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga) acting as a beleaguered outpost resisting the x86 horrorshow of the DOS PC, but eventually higher level languages took over even for writing gaming, and assembly has become an increasingly dead form of language of interest to few apart from computational philologistes. (Which includes us, to an extent, which how we came to be reading the book under review.)

The third edition will fix one of the major annoyances: there is a long discussion of the (very real) horrors of real segmented mode programming, and no one needs to know any of that nonsense any more.

Other annoyances will presumably remain: the book is unfeasibly folksy in tone, and it bizarrely assumes its reader to be a programming novice, so it goes on and on and on about the most trivial things until the useful information gets thoroughly swamped.

(We're 380+ pages in, and we have no longer any idea where the explanation of the various x86 registers and their designated tasks was, if indeed this has been discussed at any length. And we haven't quite got to the Linux bit yet, so everything to date has been entirely moot.)

The book does have strengths, though: the explanations are actually quite good; the code is interesting and the discussions of it are exemplary (which is very necessary with assembly), and when we bought it several years ago it was the only assembly book we could find that mentioned Linux at all.

But given that we only started reading it a few weeks ago, we kind of wish we'd waited for the third edition ourself. (We encountered segmented mode programming ourself, back in the dag, using Borland C++. It was wretched then, and reading about it now brings back only very bad memories. We entreat our Varied Reader to make a point of never knowing about this stuff: it doesn't even build character and we should know.)

2009-09-10 19:16

Retrofuturism: the mid 1990s

The mid-90s was a fine time for computational blitherings, dead-ends and non-starters, it really was. The Internets were just going mainstream and Sun launched Java(TM) in a blaze of hype, and then there was the great software agent hype. But for this evening we will content ourself with remarking that the Telescript programming language - specifically for mobile code - is now so thorouyghly forgotten that it doesn't even have a wikipedia page of its own. (Not even a stub.)

Telescript was compiled into a cross-platform bytecode in much the same fashion as the Java programming language, but interestingly was able to migrate running processes between virtual machines. This radical idea defined a robust agent that could serialize its code, data, and state, deploy itself across one or more remote computers, and resume execution at the next instruction with all state intact.

We never heard a good reason why agent code would want to serialise and distribute itself, or why anyone would want to let it. Which may not be unconnected to the complete failure of that paradigm to go anywhere at all.

On the other hand, we did do our level best to be excited about CORBA, although luckily the impenetrable documentation, bloated implementations and patchy language support successfully prevented us from trying to use it in live code.

(If only the fates had been so kind to us when CORBA's misshapen and vile spiritual heir Web Services came to squat on our programming life.)

The main point to take away from this is that Wikipedia is not that omniscient about unlamented technological dead-ends from the end of the last millennium, which is rather a shame from a retrofuturiste perspective.

2009-09-01 17:57

"A smurf by any other smurf would smurf as smurf"

But with all due respect to William Smurfspeare, buikgriep ("stomach flu") is a good name for a syndrome that involves a certain degree of fever, puking and diarrhea but is ultimately mostly harmless.

"Gastroenteritis" is a frankly rubbish name, which suggests only that Anglophonia has a weakness for rubbish names for things, with is after all the case.

Either way, it is what Boris van 't Blad has been up to lately, and quite a lot of also what his parents have been to.

Meanwhile, summer is over: the trees have declared this, the weathers have declared this and (most to the point of all) so the TV schedulers have declared this.

By way of farewell to the long and often pointless dags of summer, we rescue from our feeds a real-life incarnation of an enduring sommer myth:

A British tourist has spent a night trapped in a French town hall after mistakenly thinking she could book a room at the "hotel de ville".

(We assume this is like a htel de ville, whereof canonically it is Dutch touristes who phone helpservices to remark that it is the only hotel in town and it is sadly shut, only in Beeboid.)

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