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??!!