Archive for December, 2008

Joseph Conrad on CiF

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008
that glance of insufferable, hopelessly dense sufficiency which nothing but the frequentation of science can give to the dullness of common mortals.

Google and Nokia (dull)

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

I have been frustrated for months by the inability of my nice new Nokia phone to synch usefully with any of the three places where I keep contacts. None of them, you understand, are perfect, but I dont need a fourth.  Ecco would be the most useful, since it links to each contact all the relevant information. Buit it’s very old, no longer properly supported, and has no email links and limited contact fields. So everything was exported from there into CSV a long time ago, and reimported into Thunderbird (if there were email addresses); contacts with phone numbers went into my old Sony Ericsson phone. One of these lists got imported into Google Contacts. (more…)

The giddy social whirl

Friday, December 12th, 2008

Three parties last night: a steady descent from candle-lit carols in a Nash interior at the Swedish residence, to a white-painted subterranean nightclub with great slab-sided pillars and artificial snow on the floor of the entrance tunnel—the cocaine slaughterhouse aesthetic. Some social moments and snatches of conversation:

“The thing you have to remember, Andrew, is that the Guardian is the only truly fascist paper in Britain. Understand that and you understand … everything.”

“Oh, yes: Andrew Brown. You reviewed one of my books. You called it a car crash.”


At a magazine party in the Travellers’ Club where the staff wore name tags, but the guests didn’t, being approached by a nametagged person to whom I had last spoken some years ago when she phoned me up in a fury because I had written about her husband’s jail sentence for child pornography. She joined the group I was in. I don’t know you, she said. “No”, I said; “and you’ll wish you didn’t. I’m Andrew Brown”. She left abruptly, very soon after. I can’t say I felt in the very least embarrassed. There are many awful things that one says and does at parties that leave a squirming tentacle of remorse in the brain but sticky conversations about child porn convictions quite transcend embarrassment.

And so to the last train back from Liverpool St, caught with a minute to spare: young man in a suit in that stage of drunkenness where all the small muscles of the face have gone, and a kind of long-jawed chimpanzee mask lolls on the neck; a carton of takeway curry with lots of rice splashed all over the floor by the doors to the carriage; the middle-aged man, also in a suit, who pushed past me out of the lavatory had just been copiously sick inside it. In the middle of the carriage, two jolly fat blondes in miniskirts and sombreros who looked up every time I passed them as if expecting conversation … outside, at Audley End, a hard frost and the noise of scraping windscreens carrying across the car park.

An excellent discovery

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

Chris Hedges’ book I don’t believe in atheists. My copy has been pre-owned, as they say (I ordered from Powells, since it isn’t published in this country) by a believer in scientism, whose pencil annotations are most illuminating. The book grew out of a public debate with Hitchens (whom the author, in an an interview with Salon, dismissed as an Ann Coulter of the left) and Sam Harris; and it’s interesting to see the annotations of a true unbeliever who can’t see anything wrong with a faith in progress. I will have to write more, lots more, but this is the first book I have come across which sees the New Atheists as morally outrageous – which of course they are.

Two lovely quotes from the book, one Hedges; the second, apparently, from Ibsen

To turn away from God is harmless. Saints have been thing to do it for centuries. To turn away from sin is catastrophic.

and

To live is to war against the trolls.