Flashy but useless

Why is it that so many academics try to show off how clever they are at the expense of their readers? There is

no excuse

for peppering your text with untranslated extracts from obscure languages. The one I’m reading now has not just french, german, latin and greek, but also hebrew and ge’ez. The latter, which I hadn’t even


of until last week, is ancient ethiopian, and is barely known by anyone outside Ethiopia. So how on earth does the author think he’s helping anyone by printing unintelligeable sentences on every page? Answer: he probably doesn’t: he doesn’t care about who’s going to read it, he just wants to show off how smart he is to his publishers and to anyone who’s impressed by strange-looking squiggles. And apparently nobody, on the whole route from lectures to articles to publishing the book, stopped him and pointed out that the purpose of academic publishing is to spread information, not to wank over how many languages you know.

Interestingly, he translates passages in Arabic. I wonder why: does he not speak the language himself, or has he made some deluded calculation that everyone speaks hebrew and ge’ez, but nobody speaks Arabic? Grrr….

Update: Spanish and Italian too.

The friendly crowd

I’ve been to the Kambar twice in the past fortnight, for Octaine and The Calling, and twice I’ve been amazed by how a place full of people I don’t know can feel so…cozy.

At the start of Octaine, I remember being the only one listening to karohemd‘s set of Americana. And even though the place was empty, and the lights were wrong, and the music wasn’t what I’d expected, still -it worked.

That might have been just the good music, and my tipsiness, and the appropriateness and pleasantness of the Kambar feeling like a barn. But what really made the evening was the way that Ozzy came over and started a conversation with the newcomer. As did the couple who’d been sitting at the back of the room through his set. As did half a dozen people at the Calling, people I didn’t know, or in one case somebody I didn’t know I knew until an hour or two later.

And the conversations were interesting, or at least ten times more interesting than the kind of conversation you expect to have with strangers in a club. Maybe that’s just because the bar is – thank God – quiet enough to have a conversation without miming.

The icing on the cake is that everyone there seems to be a friend of a friend. karohemd knows nina321, deborah_c knows daemongirl, Louise and Marcus know different generations of the Camsaw crowd. Better still, they all seem to know two thirds of the other people there, and want to get to know the rest, and introduce them to their friends.

Calling people, you’re all wonderful – see you in January!

you win some, you lose some

“During my stay, an out-of-work pauper in Brasilia climbed onto the ledge of the Senate’s balcony, threatening a suicidal leap to punctuate his misery. After security guards wrestled the man down, tenderhearted legislators gave him some spare cash and wished him godspeed. He was robbed on the way home”

– from an old New York Times profile of Lula

Pimping my sister

zoicinlove and daemongirl are in town tonight, and I’m taking them to one of George’s parties. Yes, nina321, I’m feeding


teenage girls to the lions!

More seriously, do any of you lovely people want to get together on Sunday for a communal coffee-like experience? Especially the strange posse of schmoozers who know Oakhamites and Cambridgeites, and seemingly everyone in between.

[incidentally, I’m sure everyone on my cambridge friends list would also be welcome at George’s party – he’s a big fan of friends of friends, and half of you know him anyway. Comment if you want ze secret instructions]

new year party

Details below the cut.

PRESS RELEASE, 31/12/2004, 00:00 For immediate release For interviews and

soundbites, contact Mike or Dan on 01223 328040, mhl24@cam.ac.uk or



Cambridge students today issued a modest invitation to some other people to

join them on New Year’s Eve to drown their sorrows; take shelter from George

Bush, Tony Blair, and the horizontal fenland sleet; and gently usher in 2005

and the glorious new era of post-democracy.

They plan to celebrate the anniversary of the Cuban Revolution, 24 years of

Greece’s membership of EC, and Val Kilmer’s forty-sixth birthday, with

mediocre wines, shisha and excellent soup at 24 Priory Road, Cambridge.

Local resident Dan O’Huiginn (21) said:

“We’re hoping that people will bring intoxicants, strange and exotic fruit,

partners, friends, pets, pies, and their lovely selves. There may even be

firebreathing, or at least a big firework.”

Mike Lewis (23), another Cambridge resident, said:

“People are welcome to come any time that suits on the afternoon/evening of

the 31st, and there’s plenty of floor-space, and maybe even some beds. We

live right by Midsummer Common, so we could go for a bracing hobble across

to Quy Fen, or just down to the Fort St George, on New Years Day.”

Neighbour and Hills Road Sixth Form College student Rude Kid (17) said:

“I’ll be having a far crazier New Year’s mash-up over the road with my gaudy

ironic-trailer-trash-T-shirt-wearing friends, and will probably be riding my

Vespa up and down the street and snogging ridiculoulsy thin teenage girls to

the accompaniment of the new Papa Roach album played at full volume, just

like I do every time my neighbours at No. 24 have an important deadline.

Laterz, grandad.”

Novelist and critic Thomas Mann (129) said:

“Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunder-storm

or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. Even

when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off


Notes for editors

1) We’d be delighted if you could come.

2) We live at 24 Priory Road, Cambridge. For a map, see


3) There’s no real need to RSVP, but if you’d like to get in an early bid

for the beds, do let us know.

4) Does this sound like a good plan?

All best, Dan, Mike and Rachel


a footnote to the last entry…

[from Bruno]

Church of Noise

I haven’t posted anything abut the Indymedia party on Saturday, partly because I was hoping somebody would have some photos to show you how unbelievably amazing the building was. There are some pics here, but you can’t see much in them.

So you’ll have to believe me: this was the most amazing venue I’ve ever seen. It was a squatted church on Tufnell Park Road. Big round hall, looked absolutely stunning. And so much better because it was being put to good use, and full of happy dancing people.

Good crowd of people too, despite the infuriating activist love of reggae. It’s not that I have a vendetta against reggae, I just wish there were a bit more variety. And something louder would have gone even better with the venue.

Hmm…doesn’t work without photos to show you. Never mind. In other news, off to see Sam and Sarah tonight, then Jingles or wherever else people are going after the 2nd xmas dinner.