DAY 91: Political football

June 27th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Apologies for the delay: Admin had yet another fall a week ago, which put the computer temporarily out of action, and it’s pretty lame now. Thanks for asking, I (as usual) didn’t sustain too much damage, and am following the advice of my many well-wishers by going along to a gym who seem, like many other neoliberal institutions, better at taking money and issuing RFID cards than at producing a trainer to teach one the art of the mechanical bicycle. However, the circumstances deserve a brief account: it was 9 a.m., and I’d just turned away from the pharmacists (filling a prescription) as they were shut,

intending to catch a bus. Arrived at the bus stop, I tripped on the uneven pavement, and was picked up by the pharmacist and her assistant who had just arrived to open up. They sat me down, looked me over, and gave me a glass of water.

This providential arrival seemed, and still seems, evidence of something – say the existence of a divinity which shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will. Why the divinity is playing these particular tricks on me, and what offerings I should burn to placate it, are questions for further research.

Many confused readers, and I among them, are asking how you can place bets on ISIS, or Al-Nusra, or some other armed group, to win control of Iraq. I discourage them, as the bookie can always dispute the term ‘control’. I know that the conflict in Iraq seems to have been designed to distract attention from the less exciting conflict in Brazil (did you see the Iranian team anyone? And Messi’s first-half lack-lustre performance in the Bos-Herz match?) But now that the baianas (fritter sellers to you) have won the right

baianasto sell their acarajé, ‘a deep-fried patty of black-eyed peas served with shrimp, cashew paste and pepper sauce’, as an alternative to burgers in Bahia, the race is hotting up in more ways than one. I look forward to Peyton and Byrne branching out, and serving acarajé as an alternative in Latino cuisine to the dreaded quinoa

Chenopodium_quinoa0and Parmesan slivers, which you can’t now escape in (e.g.) the BL restaurant. I’m not going to include a recipe as there seems to be too much dissent on the Net; go ask a baiana. You should, I think, soak and peel the black-eyed peas, and probably fry the patties in palm oil. But should you put the shrimp through a processor with the garlic and chilli or stuff it in the acarajé? Comments welcome.

Other questions I’ve been asked lately include:

1. How come ‘ISIS’ stands for ‘the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’? Shouldn’t it be ‘ISIL’?

Answer: I pinned down the nearest ISIS fighter I could find in the Holloway Road and forced him to answer this one. Apparently the second ‘S’ is for ‘ash-Sham’ as in Bilad ash-Sham, the medieval Caliphate province of greater Syria.

2. Why am I me and not someone else?

I’ve made a start on researching this, and frankly I’m not encouraged. The Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy states that: ‘Presumably [identity is a property] you have only contingently: you might have had a different identity from the one you in fact have. It is also a property that you may have only temporarily: you could swap your current individual identity for a new one, or perhaps even get by without any. (Ludwig 1997 is a typical discussion of this topic)’ None of these statements, particularly the idea that I could get by without any identity, make me wish to rush for a copy of Ludwig 1997 – I don’t think it’s on Kindle.

Just as the World Cup was taking off (on June 4th), revered Brazilian writer and poet Adélia Prado adelia-prado

was honoured with The Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry’s Lifetime Recognition Award. Was it a FIFA fix? Unlikely (‘religious, deeply Catholic, writings about the body’ says Wikipedia.) Here’s a sample.


Adélia Prado

A poesia me pega com sua roda dentada,

me força a escutar imóvel

o seu discurso esdrúxulo.

Me abraça detrás do muro, levanta

a saia pra eu ver, amorosa e doida.

Acontece a má coisa, eu lhe digo,

também sou filho de Deus,

me deixa desesperar.

Ela responde passando

a língua quente em meu pescoço,

fala pau pra me acalmar,

fala pedra, geometria,

se descuida e fica meiga,

aproveito pra me safar.

Eu corro ela corre mais,

eu grito ela grita mais,

sete demônios mais forte.

Me pega a ponta do pé

e vem até na cabeça,

fazendo sulcos profundos.

É de ferro a roda dentada dela.

(I’m assuming Portuguese is one of those languages which you can pretty well make out even without Google Translate; and since it’s poetry, who cares? In any case, we have to salute the point about geometria.)

Musical corner

As a As a tribute to Algeria’s triumphant draw against Russia last night, here‘s the Algerian national anthem aka ‘Qassaman’
(which may have been played more times than you like, but I missed it last night).


DAY 90

June 3rd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Problems with Unicode.

We all have our worries about what will happen when, as ex-Marxist Martin Jacques says, China rules the World (in six years?). Mine are about texting.

But first, an anecdote. I needed, urgently, to text my daughter ‘Delayed by schizo friend can’t cook supper right now’. I reached for my phone, in a bad light, on the Holloway Road, and found that the text was coming out in Greek! Naturally I panicked and it took half an hour to find the » Read the rest of this entry «

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