Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Airport food is often dire, but it achieves great heights at Diego-Suarez Antsiranana, on the northern tip of Madagascar. Local folk arrive in fleets of yellow Renault 4 taxis to crowd the tiny cafeteria and greet the daily plane. My flight was two hours late, a blow softened by many plates of perfectly crisp, deep-fried frogs' legs served with sauce made from a chilli called "Five men can't eat one".

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

"Longing is a somewhat strange film, and perhaps rather slight, but it is none the less perfect in its own way, like a fragment of stubborn poetry that one cannot easily forget."

Jenny McCartney

Monday, 28 July 2008

His dreams kept returning to the moment when he was walking down the stairs and met the spy coming the other way, doffing his hat to him. He saw himself sliding down a smooth ramp of stone. He took no more pleasure in women, his duties bored him, he didn't get on with his comrades, the Colonel was dull. The town was dull, and life was even worse. There wasn't a word for it in Taittinger's vocabulary.
He slipped and sank even lower. He felt himself doing it. He would have liked to talk to someone about it, perhaps to Mizzi Schinagl who also appeared in his dreams. But he felt too torpid and too dumbstruck to be able to say anything honest and truthful. So he didn't talk. And he drank.

The String of Pearls, Joseph Roth.

Friday, 25 July 2008

what's that? what's that, you say?

it's a Friday?


true enough.

well, in that case, it must be about time for Baroness Tonge to chat some more shit

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

I was informed by our colleagues in Belgrade about the successful operation which resulted in the arrest of Radovan Karadžić. On behalf of the Office of the Prosecutor, I would like to congratulate the Serbian authorities, especially the National Security Council, Serbia’s Action Team in charge of tracking fugitives and the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor, on achieving this milestone in cooperation with the ICTY.

This is a very important day for the victims who have waited for this arrest for over a decade. It is also an important day for international justice because it clearly demonstrates that nobody is beyond the reach of the law and that sooner or later all fugitives will be brought to justice.


Friday, 18 July 2008

BOWLED 'IM WARNER!! (was '..she gives me a biscuit...')

"Take Liberty's recent appointment of the fashion consultant Yasmin Sewell. One of fashion's most stylish players, Sewell was head of buying at the influential Brown's boutique until last year. She is now transforming Liberty's muddled fashion floors into something sharper and more glamorous."

i did not know this [source: London Telegraph, Money section, 13/07/2008].

good on ya Sewell
why do mod boys tend to wear their collared shirts with the top button done up?

don't get me wrong, i like it, you get me.

a good style, very good.

i will try and find a few things out about butter soon, and also about the manufacture of the plastic cartons or tubs that margarine comes in. i may then post the results here

(yes hold your seats for that one)


a lot of kids going up to Cumbria (that's in northwest England) for some festival i see


i got DVDs of Vertigo and The Long Good Friday and a paperback copy of Madame Bovary in your UK high-street store sale for GBP £10 £2 today! [ETA: the DVDs were woefully defective, despite brand-new wrapped-up status; but hey! Flaubert for two coins..]
and the kids in England break up from school for the summer. (dunno about Northern Ireland or Wales i must admit. in Scotland they have already broken up. plead ignorance on every other country on earth, to be precise about it. i'm not having a joke about being parochial here, more write what you know.)

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

a take down (again, and rightly so) from Obsolete about the front-cover of today's Express, which - as with many of their fronts - suffers somewhat from being quite appallingly bone-headed.

interestingly, today's Express carries a worried piece from Anna Pukas (certainly one of their finer writers; she has often been quite large-hearted for them in various corners of the world *) going on about that New Yorker cover.
clearly, she needn't look as far as Manhattan for printed material that may - intentionally or not - give comfort to unsavoury characters.

for the record, their environment editor, John Ingham, can sometimes be decent, and their television reviewer is actually good (his politics are nothing like the leaders of his employers: he is even-handed and humane and, gosh darn, sounds rather socially liberal). they also have some fine sports writers.
people like these are admittedly balanced out by politics editor Macer Hall (he's done some unbelievably bad pieces), the almost-beyond-parody Leo McKinstry (a common theme of my tabloid laments is how a man who can write decent books about English football can churn out some awful guff in the press, though i know that's a naïve lament, given the age-old recollections of Heffer actually being able to write full-length books in between spewing out his bile in the dailies) and the witless Patrick O'Flynn (the comment editor and chief politics writer IIRC).

check this out for yourself but pick up the Express and go to the cartoons section where Calvin and Hobbes is about. (so too Dilbert.) every day when the cartoon appears American English references are doctored by the Express to British English ones. the most obvious has Calvin saying "mum" instead of "mom".
i don't know why they do that (well, one could hazard a few simplistic, unsatisfying guesses), but - on a small and far more benign level than some of their other handiwork - for me, this speaks volumes about the mostly crap Daily Express..
"Fine lot these government chaps – are they not?" he went on, speaking English with great precision and considerable bitterness.

"It is funny what some people will do for a few francs a-month. I wonder what becomes of that kind when it goes up country?"

I said to him I expected to see that soon.

"So-o-o!" he exclaimed. He shuffled athwart, keeping one eye ahead vigilantly.
"Don’t be too sure," he continued.
"The other day I took up a man who hanged himself on the road. He was a Swede, too."

"Hanged himself! Why, in God’s name?" I cried.

He kept on looking out watchfully.

"Who knows? The sun too much for him, or the country perhaps."

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Milne's description of the "increasingly extreme" Ed Husain is an utter disgrace.

i thought Milne was on the left?
Seumas Milne's piece on IslamExpo is truly poor.

Monday, 14 July 2008

"Talking to Kim Jong Il"

the WSJ Asia has a piece about the death of Park Wang-ja, and attempts to tease out a few wider strands from this individual tragedy and crime.

The circumstances surrounding the death of Park Wang-ja, a housewife vacationing at the North Korean resort of Mount Kumgang, are unclear. The 53-year-old was reportedly walking on a beach when a soldier shot her twice: in the chest and in the buttock...
The murder of its citizen by the military of a foreign power creates a diplomatic challenge for any government...
[Lee Myung-bak] immediate reaction upon hearing of the killing Friday was to go ahead with a parliamentary speech calling for the resumption of "full dialogue between the two Koreas." Yesterday his Grand National Party called for direct talks with the North to smooth things over.

Pyongyang responded to the Lee government's low-key reaction with its usual subtlety. The President's proposal was "deceitful," it said, and the GNP's call for talks was "an intolerable insult."...
Rather, the North is demanding an apology from the South for suspending tourist traffic to Mount Kumgang in the wake of the killing.
Owen, formidable as usual, with some very convincing reasons to oppose the Skylon-come-again

incidentally, among all the heart-stopping Gothic, Baroque (and neo-Baroque), and more recent treasures in Antwerpen, the 1970's municipal theatre, the Stadsschouwburg, bosses the game for me.
the white poles that hold up a hangar-style roof in the plaza out the front are a remarkable usage of space and air, whether the square is deserted, or full of gobby market traders or daredevil bicyclists weaving in and out.

at night-time - even before a few bollekes - giant bird legs or a marina in the middle distance are two of the more immediate analogies..

Sunday, 13 July 2008

a very good point from Norman Geras here (with an excellent, brief, final sentence). oh and another good point from the same person here

Thursday, 10 July 2008

was Franco Frattini mistranslated?

The European Parliament has come up with some sensible proposals re. the plight of the marginalised in his country, at the same time as giving Italy a dressing-down.

disgustingly, Frattini claims that this appropriate slap in the face is "politically motivated and based on prejudices".

obviously, a discussion about the Italian govt and her Roma community certainly needs to include the word prejudice.
factionalism roils the junta?

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

i don't know what to make of this but give them links anyway, and self-evidently, the way Hari frames his debate about Davis and Berlin and liberties here makes it clear where your sympathies should lie, but on the other hand this (far shorter) piece from The Sharpener offers a slightly contrary take.

in other news, i have only just found out via SR (cheers Simon!) about the return of skykicking. blow me!

big up all the Aussie crew

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Blackadder: Never mind, never mind, just saddle the Prince's horse.

Baldrick: That'll be difficult, he wrapped it round that gas lamp in the
Strand last night.

Well saddle my horse then.

What d'you think you've been eating for the last two months?

Well go out into the street and hire me a horse.

Hire you a horse? For ninepence? On Jewish New Year in the rain? A
bare fortnight after the dreaded horse plague of old London Town? With
the blacksmith's strike in its fifteenth week and the Dorset horse
fetishists fair tomorrow?

Wednesday, 2 July 2008