DAY 85

March 30th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

For your diary…

I haven’t encouraged you people to go down Kensington High Street and hassle the Israeli Embassy lately. But you can do it on Sunday afternoon (another Prawer Plan protest). And down St James’s Piccadilly, you can debate the rights and wrongs of World War I, on Thursday.

If you’d rather stay home and watch al-Jazeera – why not? here‘s the show to see.

Cookery: Dagga (Salata Gazawiyya or Gazan Salad)

If you have friends coming whom you want to impress/overwhelm, and (like me) have too much dill and chilis lying around, here, again thieved from The Gaza Kitchen, is your answer. Clearly, they live well in Gaza, even if they do have to wade through sewage to get to school.

1/2 tsp salt

2 cloves garlic

2 hot green chilis (to taste)

2 very ripe tomatoes

1/4 cup finely minced fresh dill

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

daggaUsing a mortar and pestle, grind salt and garlic to a paste. Add chopped chilis and continue to crush. Add roughly chopped tomatoes and mash until salad reaches a thick salsa-like consistency. Stir in minced dill and top generously with extra virgin olive oil. Serve the dagga with flatbread on the side for dipping. (The authors suggest adding lemon juice, which gives it that sharpness – let us know what you think.)

Added in proof. Tried it last night, timidly using only one chili, and it didn’t blow me away. So maybe 2 is right.

Samaritans continued

Or more on urban life… The blog had a great evening last Tuesday at Dalston’s premier venue, Passing Clouds,

1544975_373423986135613_1585830449_n watching (inevitably) a Palestinian movie. I go, really, for the seating, a mixture of sofas and armchairs which look as if they have been rescued from skips but are dead comfortable. And they sell – I discovered it, and can recommend it, a new non-alcoholic drink, ‘Dalston Cola‘ which ”…will probably make you scientifically more beautiful” according to a gay network called Jake TM. However, leaving too early (before the discussion) it (the blog, that is) emerged from Highbury and Islington station to face about 100 police, 1000 Arsenal supporters, and no working bus stops. Worse, Arsenal had given away an own goal to Swansea in the last minute. Poor conditions for a pensioner with a history of falls, as you will agree; and inevitably there was another (fall, that is), more curses, more good Samaritans. Jesus fell three times on the Via Dolorosa and I must be approaching that number, if not on a single bad Friday afternoon. Plus, Jesus was carrying a cross until Simon of Cyrene – a Libyan, I suppose – offered to take it over; while Veronica gave him a useful handkerchief, as one of the Arsenal supporters gave me. veronica

which he then impregnated with a selfie, a trick which is beyond me. But this identification is getting a bit out of hand.

The uses of postmodernism

Like most of my readers, I have always taken the easy step of dismissing postmodernism, poohpoohing it as an intellectual fad, suitable for Hampstead or the Rive Gauche, and with no practical value. However, here is an example of a use which I’d like to pass on to readers.

Suppose you are – as you might be – a student of music (or plumbing,engineer or tourism) these days, and want, for whatever reason, to get a degree. A job is too much to hope for, but that’s another story. You might think that each module required you simply to produce a well-crafted MP3 file, or plumb in a kitchen, or prepare a brochure for a cruise. But no – you will find that a hefty percentage of your marks (say 40%) is taken up by a ‘critical evaluation’ of what you’ve done, submitted on Turnitin, with a Harvard-style

Foto-Marzo-2013-055-683x1024Chomsky at Harvard: ‘Where next for Palestine?’

bibliography. And those mofos don’t mean any old bibliography such as you or I might construct it, with the references all taken from Wikipedia or Gearslutz – such as them they hate and they’ll give you zero for sure.

Do you panic? No. You find that, for example, you’ve mentioned ‘Muzak’ at some point, and googling Muzak is completely useless. Try ‘Muzak postmodernism’.

c8aRIPostmodern music

Behold! You find an arcane review by a dude called Pedro Groppo in the LA Review of Books (2013) which is just the kind of ‘respectable’ reference you can put in your biblio.

I claim no particular merit for this discovery; it could form part of a forthcoming handbook on ‘Being Clever with Google’. Another thing you can do, of course, is to know the name of a hugely prestigious journal such as Theory Culture and Society (see earlier post) and do a search on their page. You’ll find that – for example – the word ‘mp3′, which you might want to reference, gets a handy 8 hits; very scholarly articles referring to ‘solipsistic cell- phones, environment-screening Bose headsets, mobile microsized PDAs or removeable MP3 players, and VR gaming

17zrqtalt47zcjpgTrailer for VR version of Resident Evil (?)

 systems’ and suchlike. Yes, you want to use more than one journal (Wired is semi-respectable, surely), but you can find them. Go for it.

By the way, I expect that you’ve already found numerous pages with advice on how to cheat on Turnitin. I don’t know on how good the advice is – it’s there. I would try to earn a crust by offering my services preparing your bibliography, but I think that would make my life more complicated than it is already, with a bad knee and another stomach bug in the family.

Poetry

In a striking technical achievement I’ve managed to pirate a tiny fragment of the huge Finnish national epic, the Kalevala, together with a translation in the original metre – obviously plagiarized by Longfellow for Hiawatha.

Vaka vanha Väinämöinen
itse tuon sanoiksi virkki:
“Näistäpä toki tulisi
kalanluinen kanteloinen,
kun oisi osoajata,
soiton luisen laatijata.”
Kun ei toista tullutkana,
ei ollut osoajata,
soiton luisen laatijata,
vaka vanha Väinämöinen
itse loihe laatijaksi,
tekijäksi teentelihe.
Väinämöinen, old and steadfast,
Answered in the words which follow:
“Yet a harp might be constructed
Even of the bones of fishes,
If there were a skilful workman,
Who could from the bones construct it.”
As no craftsman there was present,
And there was no skilful workman
Who could make a harp of fishbones,
Väinämöinen, old and steadfast,
Then began the harp to fashion,
And himself the work accomplished.
The Finnish language seems more concise, perhaps it simply has shorter words. (No, you fool – longer words, which make for fewer spaces! Do the sums.)  As for a harp of fishbones, I’m glad to say that, as you might expect, someone has made it and posted it on Youtube. Eat your heart out, Väinämöinen. But that’s not the music I want to play. Let’s return, rather, to Passing Clouds for their featured ‘Gnawa Griot‘. If you can take it.
 

DAY LXXXIV: Nature

March 23rd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

But first, a farewell to Bob Crow, admirable trade unionist – seen here with a friend, Paul, on a Palestinian solidarity trip in the Jordan Valley.

paul-and-bob-in-jordan-valley-300x225

Following his death, and that of Tony Benn (and Stuart Hall), there has naturally been much loose talk in the kind of bars which I frequent of the type which starts ‘they don’t make them like that any more’ and ends ‘they threw away the mould’. FYI, loose talkers, that’s what they do with moulds – they are made to be thrown away. At this season of Nowruz - you thought I’d forgotten that – we should look forward to the new year, rather than lamenting the old. As Swinburne (oh no, must be the second quote in three weeks, I knew he’d become an addiction) says:

For winter’s rains and ruins are over,
And all the season of snows, and sins;
The days dividing lover and lover,
The light that loses, the night that wins;
And time remembered is grief forgotten,
And frosts are slain and flowers begotten,
And in green underwood and cover
Blossom by blossom the spring begins.

Respect the old and dead, I’d be the first to say, but don’t forget the young and alive, who are constantly facing fresh and unexpected challenges. I’d call to your attention in particular Natalia Poklonskaya, the Crimean prosecutor, whose appearances on RT denouncing the illegal Ukrainian putsch went viral in Japan;anime

Natalia Poklonskaya

or Anne-Marie Eklund Löwinder, who has so far broken the glass ceiling as to become a ‘keyholder’ in ICANN, which in a sense controls the internet; and so trusted with the assignment of IP numbers worldwide at a top secret meeting. To make sure the room looks decent for visitors, she went in the day before to vacuum with a $20 dustbuster – none of the male keyholders volunteered for the job, it seems.

A friend has also called attention to the talented young Uzbek singer Yulduz Usmunova, seen here driving with complete contempt for even the Uzbek régime’s idea of the highway code. It is this blog’s principled position, which would probably have been shared by long dead fighters like Timothy Leary and Emma Goldman that you fight the beast where you are with whatever means you have.

Education

Michael Gove (see previous remarks) is now proposing to introduce teaching in Roman numerals (starting from age 3, or III). It has always been obvious that Arabic numbers (apart from their dubious non-Western origin) made everything much too easy. And yet, with a bit of practice, anyone can multiply XXXVI by XXIX; you just multiply by XXX and subtract XXXVI again. Decimals (if that’s the word) are a bit harder and never quite made it in the Roman world – I wonder how Mr Gove proposes to deal with them?

Enough facile tilting at the education system. I mean to turn my attention to the world around us (it’s a beautiful day, and I’ve been for a walk on Hampstead Heath, saw a brimstone butterfly and a variety of dogs). So,

Today’s wader or shore bird: is the Knot. There are obviously (my source is the RSPB) huge flocks of these around – in the Thames estuary, for example, in winter; but I can’t honestly own to having ever had a positive ID on one of them.

knotA Knot

‘Dumpy, short-legged, stocky’ says the RSPB, which seems a bit careless about the knot’s feelings. (Do knots read the net? Is there a knot-net – isn’t is common, e.g. for fishermen, to make your nets by knotting? But I digress.) Could I perhaps find a comfortable spot near the DLR where I could observe such a huge flock? And tangentially, what is the collective noun – a tangle of Knots? So many questions, as Brecht observed in a different context.

Today’s weed is dog’s mercury, which can be observed around this time of year. And, unlike the Knot, it will stay still while you look at it.mercury

Today’s invented plant is Manypeeplia upsidowniamanypeeplia

Today’s endangered species is Anopheles, the malarial mosquito (it seems the Greek name translates insultingly as ‘good for nothing’. Speciesism again.)

The efforts of so-called superior human beings to wipe these insects off the face of the earth merely because they have in their turn become vectors of a nasty parasite called Plasmodium, seem truly appalling – particularly when you think that the mosquitoes are not actually motivated by ill-will towards humans, whom they must consider an essential food source. Consider this:

‘Blood meals were spiked with various toxicants and were then offered to adult Anopheles arabiensis and killing effects were observed. Varying concentrations of the most effective substance were then tested in subsequent trials to obtain an optimal dose for quick and total female elimination. The remaining males were mated with untreated virgin females to assess whether their mating efficiency had been compromised.’

The cold-blooded and ruthless programme outlined in this extract should surely be outlawed by some universal ethical considerations, if not by so-called ‘human rights’. Since when did we feel it was OK to spike blood with poison; observe how well it worked; obtain an optimal dose for ‘total female elimination’; and then offer up untreated virgins to the unwanted attentions of the poisoned males? Imagine the outcry if this programme were carried out with badgers, never mind unsociable young people from Dalston.

Enough Nature. I should go on to Art, but I’m getting tired, and it’s late.

Poetry


is from South Sudan (I haven’t had any before, have I?) Not in the vernacular, I’m still a bit lazy on that.

By Constants Dc

My compatriots,
My countrymen,
Patience is all what we need,
The calmness and observance,
The strength of heart,
To hold your pesticide and medicine, And observe the pest and disease,

Yes! You need to stay watchful, Cross your legs and fold your hands. Watch! As the seed grows.
Don’t get influence by extremists, We need no money,
Neither any honey,
But! Patience and trust,
For what we have sow is a seed,
Which needs pruning after five years? And harvesting after six years,

Yes! We need endurance and tolerance, For this seed is in bad soil and conditions. But! Be patience,
All it takes is tolerance.
The sense of being stone-hearted.
Yes! It will grow,
For we took time and money to plant it,
We took 21 yrs for land preparation,
Also 21 months under strict laboratory examination, 21 days in fertilization and control,

Yes! It has matured,
But not pruned,
So, roll your chairs and sit back,
Just take your time and watch.
Don’t get influence.
Be a good farmer.

Yes! What it needs is patience, The cleverness of snake,
The calmness of a dove,
And the Wisdom of Solomon,
To carefully harvest the first fruit, Many tried, but futile.

Alas! For any mistakes will lead to many stakes, So, be extra cautious,
We have lost the scientist,
For any Adventist.
All it needs is patience,
Endurance and tolerance.
Inshallah! Not to regret the scientist.

Music
After C. P. E. Bach, something a bit more modern – if still quite antique. Here’s ‘Bubble Bobble‘.

 

 

 

Day 83: Geneva

March 14th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

IN THIS ISSUE: SNOWDEN’S ASYLUM PROBLEM, THE ANTI-HIGGS, SUPER-VIRUSES, LESBIAN POETRY!

(I’ve adopted the practice of headlining to deal with readers who can’t get beyond the first line.)

You asked:

1. Is Edward Snowden a refugee under the terms of the Geneva Convention? 

On the face of it, it’s a no-brainer. As we all know. the 1951 Convention says a refugee is » Read the rest of this entry «

DAY 82: Grinding Angles

March 3rd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

You never stop learning.Until last week, I hadn’t heard of an angle-grinder – I thought of angles as things with degrees, which were obtuse or acute (like students, I hear you saying), and of grinding as something which you did to cumin, flour or the faces of the poor. Even less had it occurred to me that there was a tool called an angle-grinder » Read the rest of this entry «