Thursday, December 18, 2003

SONGS in my head today: Adeste fideles, We three kings, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, It came upon a Midnight clear, and many such christmassy cheerfulnesses. All thanks to the carol service yesterday which, being an usher at, meant standing all hour-and-a-half long. Which wasn't as bad as it could have been, as I'm a sucker for lustily-sung christmas carols and after a couple of them, the world seemed a beautiful, joyous place.

SAINTS of the day are the martyrs Rufus and Zosimus (107), who lost their lives during Trajan's persecutions.

Of all the reporting I've read, Jonathan Freedland's article best captures the weird, crazy disappointment/relief/contempt/satisfaction at Saddam turning out to be human and worse, pathetic at it.

"IT IS AS IT WAS" JP II likes The Passion. Here and here and here.

EXCELLENT! A little survey of travelling to Ethiopia, from another Genyaan blog. Inspiring stuff. Allow me to recommend his blog as well.

THE NILE KERFUFFLE there's a decent summary of the stuff and good links from mostly africa and it is here

JAMHURI DAY, you ask? There's very little to celebrate, apart from the fact that we're freer than at any time in our recent history, peaceful, and are undergoing (quietly!) quite the cultural revival. Beer's on me, form an orderly queue to the left...

KANU is up to its old tricks again. That great flushing sound you hear is what's left of my respect for Simeon Nyachae going down the toilet. A world-class administrator, who just doesn't understand that democracy involves actually listening to other people, is about the kindest possible thing that can now be said about him.

QUINE, v. (1) To deny resolutely the existence of importance of something real or significant. "Some philosophers have quined classes, and some have even quined physical objects." Occasionally used intr., e.g., "You think I quine, sir. I assure you I do not!" (2) n. The total aggregate sensory surface of the world; hence quinitis, irritation of the quine.
-the Philosophical Lexicon-

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Songs in my head today, everything on La Boheme sung by Pavarotti et al.

Saint of the day is Lazarus, as in : "Lazarus, Come Forth!" (Robert Powell, 1977, Jesus of Nazareth, the miniseries)

Let's play a little game, right? How many anti-Kenyatta references can you spot in this poem?

A cockerel crows
as a broken axe
Falls at your feet.
Disarmed by time
You stand unashamed,
Crying 'it is not fair'.
Tied by your own hate traps
And fouled by the urine
of your flag bearers,
you have gambled away
the labours of the motherland
entered trade with death
to batter humanity
with the wave of a flywhisk.
You have locked up the fires
Of living youth,
Damned in the torrents
of conscience
and drenched your entrails
with greed and pride.

But you have lost the bet
and your line shall we
Bury the stool of your mother's house
for vengeance is unleashed
and contempt is in our spittle.
And as public office
Zigzags corrupt
like the trail of a drunken whore
that menstruates,
and as gunmen freely execute
insane commands
We know that the time
has come to kill,
To cleanse,
To free our motherland
From the grip of a gambler.

-H.W.O. Okoth-Ogendo-

Thursday, December 11, 2003

songs in my head today: Two Shots of Happy, One Shot of Sad(U2) and Nyimbo cia Mau-Mau Vol.1.

St. Damasus I (305?-384) is the saint of the day.

I have a presentation to do on Martha Nussbaum's Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism in about 11 minutes which I 've done about 2 hour's work for. Buggered doesn't even begin to cover it.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Songs in my head today: One (U2), Everlasting Love (U2), Strangers When We Meet (Bowie), Heart's Filthy Lesson (ditto), Kambi ya Langata and Kuuma Ndemi na Mathathi (both off Nyimbo cia Mau-Mau Vol.1)

Saint of the day is John Damascene, the last of the Greek Fathers and an interesting man for these interesting times.

Work has, through sheer sloth on my part, piled up to heights that threaten sanity, hence the longish gap between posts. All the same, there is some slight chance that the back of the beast will have been broken by the end of the week. Till then, no more posts.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Songsinmyheadtoday - Brick Shithouse (placebo) & Manian (rokia traore) which is so good it should be banned.

feast of St. Gelaius is today, as per last post.

England v. Australia in 8 or so hours, the premiership returns, my essay deadline approaches. Plato is driving up tomorrow to see us after a gap of some weeks; see why i'm not writing as much as I used to ?

monster post on saturday night. I promise

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

songs in my head today: idje idje (Angelique Kidjo), Oxala (Madredeus), have a look at ethnotechno while we're on the subject, by the way.

Saint of the day (drumroll) is Agnes of Assisi. More here, and here as well.
Saint of the day November 21 will be Pope St. Gelasius, in addition to being commemoration of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Gelasius was the last African pope and reigned 492-496. His Catholic encyclopaedia entry here . He canonised St. George, and stood firm on the point of papal primacy against the attacks of amongst others, the Emperor Anastasius .

What would you do if your Mum found your blog, eh? Schadenfreude alert! here

A great Zadie Smith short story about (naturally) American writers' hair, here

Many thanks to Eve Tushnet for her recommendation. I think it is anyway.

Off, believe it or not, to a Heidegger tutorial now.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Songs in my head today; Ashes to Ashes (Bowie), Rebel Rebel (Bowie, again), By the way (chilli peppers), Waterloo Sunset (kinks).

Crisis of the week is that there are five essays due in a fortnight. All the writing up must be done this week or at least in the next 10 days. As always, I'm hugely disinclined to do any work whatsoever, but i will be dragging myself out of bed regularly now, if only because i can see the finish line...

One of them is about Nietzsche's conception of philosophy. Usually (I think) studying a philosopher will make you sympathetic to (at least) something about them. It's interesting (and noticeable even to my lecturer) that as the course has gone along, my antipathy towards Nietzsche has ballooned. I can't wait to see the back of him. Strangely, reading him isn't a chore at all, it's the actual philosophy I can't be doing with.

Kenya's result against Tanzania is why I'm grinning stupidly and have been for some time now. Well, that and England's loss. And Scotland's win.
I was watching Scotland in the pub when it was helpfully pointed out by The Smudger(with no little force) that Holland play in orange. Now this is one of those things that i've noticed about 29 million times before but never actually paid attention to. Shall we say that I went from being pro-Scotland to actively anti-dutch? (and yes I know that wasn't particularly rational, thanks). On this theme, much entertainment can be found here , very little of it intentional.

very interesting debate about capitalism (or maybe just what a cross-section of Kenyans think about it. Here

Has anybody seen the Kenya rich list that was supposedly in the Sunday Nation yesterday (16/11/03)? By all accounts, (mashada mostly) it was hugely interesting reading...

The Museveni daughter saga. Which I've only just found out about. More here , and here
Lovely picture of the first family here

Very good defence of drinking by the Old Oligarch here
The Old Oligarch is always a stimulating read. Highly recommended, as is Eve Tushnet Whenever I point my browser her way, there's a tingle of anticipation; "what hyper-analytical vignette will I read today?" runs the thought. You can't really ask for much more from a blog. While I'm going on about this, check out the Dostoevsky drinking game

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

First, song(s) in my head, China Girl(Bowie) and Desire (U2). Both played very loudly at some point during our house party this weekend, with superb results.

Second, I've just read a little bit of someone else's copy of Three Reformers by Jacques Maritain. The first essay looks like the most un-PC possible dismantling of Luther ever. Had to give it back, unfortunately, but I'll be trying to get my hands on that again.

Now, the weekend. A quality result against the Scousers (though oddly lacking in passion - but anyway, a properly professional win). It's true that United didn't play anything like as well as they can but :
1. They didn't have to, and :
2. Getting results when you're not playing well is how championships are won (which is a cliche, but cliches become cliches because they're true, which is another cliche, but...) and finally,
3. We played reasonably well anyway.

Keane was absolutely immense in midfield; he's come off worse in a couple of his recent battles with Gerrard (notably last season's Worthington cup final) but those were completely avenged this time round and every element of his game was present, correct and shiny. Tackling as crisp as ever, distribution precise, good anticipation, the raging will to win, leadership... I could go on, but I shouldn't. Man of the match stuff as always.
Giggs did get a little lucky with both the goals, but he'd spotted that Dudek had vulnerabilities and was probing at them well before then. cf. the 40-yard volley from Dudek's miskick. Heskey's miss, Silvestre's tackle, the penalty that wasn't that was and the City result all meant it was a good weekend to be a United fan.

A little while ago, I was in Steers, you know, the one behind Muindi Mbingu Street, paying for an immensely delicious and slightly overpriced Hero Steak Roll . I saw Binyavanga Wainaina, went over, introduced, and then made an arse of myself. The relevant bits of conversation went (very roughly) like this:

Me: hello, I'm a big fan of yours, congratulations on winning the Cain prize.
BW: Thank you, do you write yourself?
Me: [long, awkward, aphasic pause] What?, No, well, um, err, err, badly.

All this is by way of the fact that this guy is probably Kenya's best young(ish) writer as a little glance at these stories here will show.
And he's only recently got a new literary mag started. It's called Kwani and is the first of it's kind in Kenya for years. This is A Good Thing, maybe even a sign that the culture is coming of age; or at least that it's sufficiently self-confident and has the requisite critical mass of unemployed literary people for this to happen. At any rate, we were hugely overdue a showcase for quality Kenyan writing, which there is a great deal of. (Witness Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor's story which won her this year's Caine prize and is published in Kwani.)
No heavy-duty cultural analysis here, but I will be buying any copies I can find and you too might care to see what all the fuss is about.

There's a good (OK, slightly clueless) report about all this here.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Why mathematicians and philosophers ought to be banned from pubs...

From the November 6th times letters page at:,,59-882044,00.html

Flipping marvels
From Mr Dennis Orton

Sir, Beermats will now flip more accurately (report, November 3). I also think they should have something interesting written on them.
When teaching (Bertrand) Russell’s Paradox I often suggested a beermat with on side A: “The statement on the other side is false” and on side B: “The statement on the other side is true”.

Yours faithfully,
(Head of mathematics, The Portsmouth Grammar School, 1977-96),
Spring Cottage, 5 Weston Lane,
Weston, Hampshire GU32 3NL.
November 4.

yes, well. Five (count them!!) months without a post must be some kind of record for a blog. I am however back, and will continue to trouble your eyes with all manner of inane observations.

Somebody's been gazetted; there are now no legal obstacles to him practicing law... Shurely shome mishtake?? Anyway, congratulations are in order, Mr. K.
why oh why won't you publish, you damned thing??!!

Thursday, June 05, 2003

The blog remains a work in progress, thankfully, that's no longer true of the exams.
NIMEMALIZA!!! The shadow has passed, sanity is restored, the sun is shining, enormous quantities of Kenya's finest will be consumed in very short order, AND I'm going home, so joy, joy joy all round.

The blog is almost done, the template is still slightly dodgy and there are lots more links still to go up, but patience, all will be revealed in good if, slightly belated, time. There's just a little irony in the fact that the blog consists mostly of commentary on the making of the blog, but i'll pretend not to notice that if you will too. It's been quite fun going through all the links I've accumulated and trying to pick out the best 20 or so for each section, similar to the feeling you get when you're clearing your room, find something interesting, and stop to read it.

So, anyway, President Kibaki has
  • appointed
  • lots of new High Court judges and unless I'm mistaken, filled the Appeal bench. All to the good, and the new lot are all reformers of one kind or the other. GBM Kariuki, veteran detainee, is now actually on the bench! The appointments are also nicely gender-balanced which is either a very good sign or proof that we'll do anything to get our hands on G8 money. The appointment of Justice Njagi is quite intriguing actually, seeing as he's been the Principal of the Kenya School of Law all these years and so will be able to pull rank. Perhaps the admin. needs an enforcer inside the Judiciary?
    Yes, yes this is turning into a NARC love letter, but how can you not like an administration that appoints people like these to positions where they can have an impact ? NARC will break my heart in the end, but it will have been worth every second...

    If you haven't already been to big brother africa go over, sign up and vote Alex, OK, please vote Alex. It's time a Kenyan won something that actually mattered. So go on, you know you want to, you know you do.

    If Soccernet is to be believed, Ronaldinho is as good as ours, which is, well...good. Apparently the Wizard has signed Tim Howard sight unseen (though apparently he was exhaustively scouted). The story is somewhere in the deeps of the Guardian sports pages and I can't be arsed to dig it out. So just take it on trust. Remember Massimo Taibi by the way ?

    I was shown this earlier today, it's great stuff, I'm allowing it to soak through slowly and I might even have something intelligent to say about it soon.

    Finally and most annoyingly, Blair refuses to have an independent inquiry into the collection and use of the intelligence about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. The Guardian tries very hard to be angry about it but their leader-writer eventually dissolves into an acceptance of the fobbing-off by way of paranoiac self-pity and a repetition of the charges every now and then, as if to remind himself what he's supposed to get angry about. The Telegraph just keeps shouting "we won!, what's the problem?" over and over again, while the Times, with a reckless disregard for stereotype, positions itself carefully on the fence and sits down hard.
    Quite depressing, and serves me right for letting go of my cynicism about politics earlier on.

    This is utterly beyond parody.

    I'm listening obsessively to Strangers When We Meet and can't get this bit :
    My poor soul
    All bruised passivity

    out of my head.

    Wednesday, June 04, 2003

    Ok, i'm almost done here. The links and the final template modification thing(ie)s will be up by the end of next week.

    On my way over here, I saw
  • this
  • out of the corner of my eye and proceeded to read it. I'm tired just thinking of the obtuseness of sociologists now...

    I've recently discovered that Whispers is very ill. For those unfamiliar with his writing, Wahome Mutahi aka Whispers is Kenya's leading satirist of politics and society. He has written a weekend column for the Sunday Nation for more than ten years and his books and plays are widely read and performed.
    He was detained by the Moi (mal)administration and showed his strength of character by coming through that unharmed. That courage is likely to see him through this difficult time too.
  • Here's
  • a link to the Sunday Nation report of the story.

    The Beckham saga sparked into life (again)over the weekend. There have been reports in most of the broadsheets and almost all the tabloids that Peter Kenyon has been/ is in talks with Barcelona officials about a possible transfer. The figure being quoted is £30 million which is, admittedly, very good money.
    I have to say that I hope he doesn't go to Barcelona; apart from anything else, they aren't going to be in the Champion's League next year and that can't be good for his game or his endorsements, and they are in transition (and how), the upshot is that he probably wouldn't win anything with them.

    As the Times report said then, AC Milan or Real are a more realistic choice.
    Whatever, it doesn't seem to make any sense to sell him now, when the market for footballers is as depressed as it's been in a long while. He's a big girl's blouse but he's OUR big girl's blouse, I genuinely hope he can be persuaded not to leave, but if they're going to get rid of him, they'd better make as much off the sale as they possibly can and spend it on decent replacements.
    Just a thought, with Ronaldinho likely to sign for us and Seamen confirming that he's off to Citeh
  • today
  • on a one year deal, at least two games are certain to entertain next season...

    Thursday, May 29, 2003

    still at work on this. It'll be up and running in a couple of weeks. see you then..

    Tuesday, May 27, 2003