Friday, 27 November 2009

Neglected books, forgotten authors (Part Umpteen)

Stanislaw Lem's Wielkosc urojona, translated as Imaginary Magnitude (terrible title, don't let it put you off) Harcourt Brace, 1984.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Is today, which seems fair enough. I have no objection to this memorial project, and wholeheartedly condemn any violent attacks on people of any sort. But I do find the selection criteria the organisers use a bit odd, viz:

"Although not every person represented during the Day of Remembrance self-identified as transgendered — that is, as a transsexual, crossdresser, or otherwise gender-variant — each was a victim of violence based on bias against transgendered people."

If the victims didn't identify themselves as transgendered, how do we know their attackers identified them thus? (We're reminded that most such attackers have never been caught, so we can't ask them.)

I'd like to stress I'm not sneering at this sort of project, but the sloppiness of the thinking undermines what is no doubt an admirable notion. Don't go attacking or killing anyone, that's what I suggest.

Molesworth tweets

For anyone on Twitter (to which I am new) the best treat available is @reelmolesworth who seems also to be fairly new, but should be followed at once.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Je ne suis qu'un fumeur de Gitanes

Marvellous news, fans of Serge Gainsbourg (which would be everyone, I hope). The trailer is out for the biopic: Gainsbourg: Vie Heroique which comes out at the end of January. I cannot wait. I may have to go to Paris that weekend. Je suis venu te dire que je m'en vais...

Sunday, 8 November 2009


Don't you love ampersands? & the excuse which facebook, twitter, blogging & other forms of informality have given us to use them? What once seemed affectation, brought on by an excess of William Carlos Williams & ee cummings, is now OK, because everyone does it. But we know WHY we do it. We were here first. We love its slinky shape, its vague Victoriana, its hazy hipness. We never overused it when it might have looked mannered, because it might have looked mannered. Just as we couldn't use lower case because edwin estlin cummings got there first. But we always wanted to. & now the web has freed us. But everyone else is doing it. Does that matter?

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Anna Wintour's birthday present

I see that President Obama has appointed Anna Wintour to a panel on the arts. Reassuring for us all, I'm sure.

But it's a nice way to mark her 60th birthday, which is today.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Kai ta leipomena

I see that Coleen Rooney has been delivered of a son, Kai Wayne Rooney. The Times reports that Kai means "Rejoice!" in Finnish. Perhaps it does. It also reports Welsh, Greek and Hawaiian origins. Well, in Welsh I imagine it is simply a variant of "Kay", though you'd spell it Cai; in Greek it means "and" (ktl, kai ta leipomena or kai ta loipa, is the swankier, Greek, equivalent of etc, et cetera: "and the rest"). In Hawaii it is said to refer to the ocean. There seems to be a nautical theme: the word "quay" is related, actually, to the Estonian Kai, which also occurs in Basque and some Germanic dialects, and means "pier". Oddly, it means 'ocean" or "sea" in Japanese as well

But what of the the rest of the East? There was Chiang Kai Shek, after all, and the vogue for Chinese tattoos amongst footballists may have influenced the choice. It tends to be associated with silk there, but silk's flowing qualities, which might be water-like. It also just means "open" or "victory". On the other hand, in Scandinavian mythology, it is a name for the earth, while in Navaho it means "willow", in Maori it means "food" and in Yoruba it means "love".