Archive for September, 2006

Much Missed

September 23rd, 2006

My dear friend Ewen Green died last week at 47, after years of wrestling with multiple sclerosis. His obituary appears in today’s Independent.

DSW, #116

September 23rd, 2006

Pablo Neruda, poet, born Parral, 12 July 1904, died of leukemia in Santiago, 23 September 1973.

Patriotic Moment

September 22nd, 2006

I don’t often have patriotic moments, but my British heart swelled with pride when I read these words:

Figures from Mintel reveal that we eat a tonne of crisps every three minutes in the UK.

I think that’s a tremendous (multi-) national achievement. I’m not sure, however, that this is the reaction I’m supposed to be having.

New Year Question

September 22nd, 2006

If there are any Calendar Bores out there, can he or she (but, more likely, he) tell me how often the French Republican New Year and the Jewish New Year coincide? It seems that from sunset this evening until midnight Paris time we have overlapping New Year festivities, which I don’t think I’ve ever noticed before.

(Will French Republican Jews celebrate with especial vigour this evening, or do they worry that that would compromise their French Republican identity? I like to think that they will.)

Iraq UN Human Rights Report

September 22nd, 2006

Download it here.

This page links to the six earlier reports published by the same office.

Happy New Year!

September 22nd, 2006

It is, of course, Décade I, Primidi de Vendémiaire de l’Année CCXV de la Révolution today, in the ongoing calendrical celebration of the people’s triumph over monarchical tyranny that is the French Republican Calendar.

Bandiera Rossa Trionferà

September 22nd, 2006

Following Bob Timbs’s by-election victory in Lye Valley last night, the Labour group is once again the largest group on Oxford City Council, and that’s a very good thing.

Peculiar Request of the Day

September 22nd, 2006

If anyone reading this falls into the “have read Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue more often than most and thinks it’s a pretty good book” category, can you drop me a line.


Fraternal Greetings…

September 21st, 2006

… to my brother Michael’s new blog, Closely Watched DVDs, devoted to the world of Czech cinema.

Hurry over there now to learn the handy Czech phrase, “Tomorrow I’ll wake up and scald myself with tea”*, and do remember to go back every day in January, when he’ll be presenting his Jan Å vankmajer blog-retrospective.

[* The only Czech phrase I can really remember from the time I tried to learn the language is the equally handy, “I think there’s going to be a revolution in the West soon.”]

The Great Soviet Union Will Live Through The Ages!

September 20th, 2006

Stephen Marks points me to this one-stop shop for all your Russian / Soviet anthem needs.

There’s an astonishing collection of recordings of the song formerly known as the Hymn of the Soviet Union here — Paul Robeson, obviously [and there’s more on Robeson today here]; but also the broadcast from the Victory Parade in Moscow in June 1945; a wartime version for the BBC conducted by Sir Adrian Boult; sung in Moscow before a rugby international against Wales; various pop and rock versions; and what may be my brother’s favourite recording of anything ever, the Leningrad Cowboys and the Alexandrov Red Army Ensemble performing Gimme All Your Lovin’ / The Hymn of the Soviet Union as part of their epic 1993 Helsinki concert, the Total Balalaika Show; and so on, and so on, and so on.

And there’s more…

There’s the only recording of the Internationale made by a Nazi band, at the time of the 1936 Olympics (though in the end the USSR team didn’t show up). There are three pre-Revolutionary recordings of Bozhe, tsarya khrani, better known as the main theme from the 1812 Overture (and another recording by the Pipes and Drums and Military Band of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards). There are lots of recordings of related songs, parody versions, historical curiosities.

It’s a fabulous, fabulous collection (and these are terrific songs, too). Why haven’t I stumbled across it before?

Rational Animals

September 20th, 2006

Please note (above) that today is “Jour de la raison”, as we’re into the annual cycle of holidays that closes out the French Republican Calendrical year, so can we stop talking like pirates and start being rational.

(Don’t worry: it’s just for one day.)

Dead Socialist Watch, #227

September 20th, 2006

Annie Besant, Fabian Socialist and Theosophist, born 1 October 1847, died 20 September 1933.