Tuesday, 7 June 2011

How the Girl Guides Won The War

Another present for my daughter Amber's birthday is How the Girl Guides Won The War, By Janie Hampton includes true stories about how Brownies were taught how to put out incendiary bombs and guides in the war ran underground schools behind enemy lines, medical units and soup kitchens, as well as distributing illegal newspapers, smuggling food into the Warsaw ghetto and committing acts of sabotage against the German war effort. I'm looking forward to reading that myself!

Monday, 6 June 2011

Middlesex by Betjeman

Travelling in London in the spring reminded me of this.


Gaily into Ruislip Gardens
Runs the red electric train,
With a thousand Ta's and Pardon's
Daintily alights Elaine;
Hurries down the concrete station
With a frown of concentration,
Out into the outskirt's edges
Where a few surviving hedges
Keep alive our lost Elysium - rural Middlesex again.

Well cut Windsmoor flapping lightly,
Jacqmar scarf of mauve and green
Hiding hair which, Friday nightly,
Delicately drowns in Drene;
Fair Elaine the bobby-soxer,
Fresh-complexioned with Innoxa,
Gains the garden - father's hobby -
Hangs her Windsmoor in the lobby,
Settles down to sandwich supper and the television screen.

Gentle Brent, I used to know you
Wandering Wembley-wards at will,
Now what change your waters show you
In the meadowlands you fill!
Recollect the elm-trees misty
And the footpaths climbing twisty
Under cedar-shaded palings,
Low laburnum-leaned-on railings
Out of Northolt on and upward to the heights of Harrow hill.

Parish of enormous hayfields
Perivale stood all alone,
And from Greenford scent of mayfields
Most enticingly was blown
Over market gardens tidy,
Taverns for the bona fide,
Cockney singers, cockney shooters,
Murray Poshes, Lupin Pooters,
Long in Kensal Green and Highgate silent under soot and stone.

From "A Few Late Chrysanthemums" (1954) & "Collected Poems"

Quoting a poem in ones blog seems rather like just reading it to a friend rather than trying to publish it. Its a dying art form, essentially replaced by the lyrics of popular music in the late 20th and 21st C - and my intent here is just to spread and revitalize it by reminding people of its existence . I hope is is taken as fair use as it is intended rather than just hammering another nail in the coffin of poetry.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Bach's Concerto for 2 violins & strings in D minor ('Double'): Takako Nishizaki

Just listening to Takako Nishizaki's performance of  J.S. Bach Concerto for 2 violins & strings in D minor ('Double'), BWV 1043: Vivace. Is it just me or does her version lack the the vigour and passion that really makes this piece such a pleasure at times? I must try to dig out the what I remember as being Andras Schiff's exquisite, superlative performance.

Friday, 3 June 2011

How the world connects.

This map of Facebook friendships seems to reflect in some way not just population density and degree of industrialization but openness of societies and willingness to interconnect freely with the outside world. Its worth noting though when you talk about a world without boundaries that actually where your material goods come from is quite different.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

“The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.” Eric Schmidt

Eric Schmidt says that “The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.”  

To be honest, I don't think we understand the things that we have built anything like as deeply as we think. And - you know - it might not seem so when you are sitting in front of a screen, but I think reality is bigger than the Internet, and it is, in essence an uncontrolled real-time, full scale, experiment in anarchy.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Xenophon, Plato & Socrates

Excellent discussion last week with Paul Cartledge, Edith Hall and Simon Goldhill on Xenophon. Highly recommended. Stimulating discussion on Xenophon's influence on Machiavelli although outside the scope of discussion to examine Machiavelli's Critique of Xenophon and the Moral Foundation of Politics. Hopefully I'll get time to talk with Beth about this one too. Link to Xenophon Talk