My literary choices of late are probably trying to tell me something; “AA Gill is Away,” [excellent British writer musing on various places], “An Introduction to Arabic Literature” [superficial introduction to alien culture], “The Island of the Day Before” [seventeenth century Italian gets shipwrecked far away, muses on his travels] and the latest two, PJ O’Rourke’s “Eat the Rich” [excellent American writer thinks about economics with reference to the economic systems of the countries he visits], and Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s “Motorcycle Diaries” [hi Ste]. Maybe that’s why I booked those plane tickets Monday afternoon.
Anyway, to the pair at hand. El Che’s wander across South America is full of activity; 150 pages for five huge countries by motorbike and hitch-hiking cuts down on the space available for stroking the beard. Still, he gets some in, and it all seems apposite and well-considered. He comes across as confident, smart, a shade arrogant but not unjustifiably so, given how much him and his companion are able to lig off people. I can see the resemblance to the centrepice of Régis Debray’s account of Bolivia, but the latter seems much more extreme, more absolute in his convictions. The Che of these diaries probably wouln’t have ordered anyone to march barefoot in the African jungle, nor left all the medical duties to someone else just because he was the commander.
“Eat the Rich” is very well written, as is anything I’ve read by PJ O’Rourke. He visits Wall Street, Albania, Sweden, Cuba, Russia, Tanzania, Hong Kong and Shanghai and manages to present an interesting perspective on all of them; Wall Street seems frenzied, interesting, complicated, Albania frenzied, depressing and dumb. He wasn’t positive about Sweden, but that’s because it has worked out that when you’re rich (second most intense growth in the world, 1870-1960), getting rich isn’t actually that cool; Cuba seems fascinating and depressing, Russia fascinating and an angry drunk which proved that feudalism didn’t work, that monarchy didn’t work, that communism didn’t work, and is currently in the midst of proving that capitalism doesn’t work. Tanzania seems passé to me, but perhaps I read too many Empire-building books growing up; Hong Kong seems focused and Chinese and ultimately it remains to prove itself as interesting to me.
And to continue with the fashion commentary from the last entry, translucent silver lipstick is hot. Mmmm.
I’m going to the United States for three weeks from the twenty-eighth of September. That will just about avoid the biometric passports, but it precludes heading to Mexico half-way through :-/ .
Where did that fashion for girls having both long hair and fringes come from? It’s got heavy Bosco vibes associated with it in my head, and dungarees together with unexplained enthusiasm (it’d be funny if there was some weed involved, but I’d put large sums of money against that) are not that sexy. (N.B. two chicas may not actually constitute a fashion trend. And the Bosco assistants may not have actually had long hair and fringes, but whatever, the meme was kicking around in the early 80s.)
Nngh, IPSec isn’t being coöperative for me. Oh well, I asked for the job.
Apparently there are five million more Canadian Social Security cards than there are living Canadians. Wow. http://www.ledevoir.com/cgi-bin/imprimer?path=/2003/07/21/32199.html
We went to a wedding this weekend; my first cousin Ellen married John, a dentist and radiographer and all-round nice guy. The reception was in a beautiful hotel, with excellent food, service, opening hours and views of the town; the bride was stunning, the groom seemed to hit all the right notes all the right places, and everyone got happily hammered until dawn. With the main exception of Ellen’s sister Marie, who tripped on her bridesmaid’s dress while getting into the whole Irish dancing thing, landed badly on her hand, and broke her forearm in several places. She soldiered on well—the doctor present said they’d have to get an X-ray, and thus there was no immediate need to go to the hospital—but that’s very much a downer. She’s currently [Sunday evening] in Waterford hospital getting it set. But, the wedding was great. Get married, everyone, and if at all possible, get middle class enough to afford a good wedding first.
I will be much more comfortable talking about email in French (in Europe) if “courriel” takes off there, as Scott Martens seems fairly confident it will; there are few things that make you feel as ridiculous as imitating a French person’s English accent for a single word while speaking French.
Bertie Ahern and Celia Larkin apparently broke up, and I only heard about this today. I think that any social progress in the Scandinavian direction is a good thing (exception; we don’t need Sweden’s attitude to alcohol, we need Germany’s), and thus the comparative media silence on the subject is a good sign. I am a little bemused that it has taken this much time for the information to get to me, because I had this delusion that I was vaguely clued-in :-) .
Yesterday I finished work about fifty minutes later than usual. Since I live in a suburb of a suburb and thus am not well served by the public transport system, I had a choice of waiting just over an hour and getting a bus to my door, or getting an earlier bus and walking for twenty-five minutes. I chose the waiting, because after a twelve hour day and not much sleep walking tends to leave me even more frazzled next morning. :-)
I went to the Centra beside O’Connell bridge, got some potato wedges, bought Esquire—all the book shops were closed, and I’d already read GQ. (It doesn’t have AA Gill, and is thus distinctly not as good, in case you’re wondering about Esquire vs. GQ.) Sat on the Liffey boardwalk, ate my wedges, drank some diet coke (more places selling Dr. Pepper in Dublin would be good, btw), read, said hello to Mick. Walked over to Hawkin’s Street for my bus, and was told there’s wasn’t a driver for my bus, I’d have to get the 38 and walk anyway. Ireland; we’ve a Northern European climate and a Mediterranean transport system. Fuсk them.
Observation; since I’ve gotten older (ooh, twenty-two, I hear you say, let’s elect you to Aosdána just for surviving that long), I seem to have lost a capacity for obsessive, uncritical enthusiasm. I spent sixth year listening to the Velvet Underground, to the extent that I could probably recite any their lyrics in album order if you asked me to, and despised say, Nathan Lane and Gay Byrne because despite being obviously smart, and energetic, there didn’t seem to be any subject matter close to their hearts.
Now, the most excited I’ve been about a piece of music I’ve been in years was when I heard Les Rois du Monde  at a party a few weeks ago, mainly because it was inescapable in LLN and I hadn’t heard it before or since. I still like stuff, but the obsession is gone. Rammstein and The Mamas and the Papas are alternating on my XMMS, in fairness; if there was a drop of obsession one way or the other in me, one of them would be off the list.
Strangely, I realise I’ve been like that with regard to reading material for much longer, and am now probably reading more because I’m more comfortable with my state of mind in that area.
Drunk a bottle of wine with dinner last night; also three litres of water. As a consequence, today I have mostly been having water retention issues.
Il fait beau, le soleil brille, j’écris de logiciels intéressants, ça va.
Wow, we (mostly me) installed a phone switching system here yesterday, and it seems to be mostly working. And now we have the manual, so we can start programming it. Eeentrestink.
The Epicurean Food Hall, on Middle Abbey Street and Lower Liffey Street, is excellent, and is entirely responsible for me putting on weight again. Which is good, I was too thin for a while there.
I haven’t been writing much up here, because I haven’t been doing much that wasn’t working and sleeping. This may quiet down at some point in the future, but I wouldn’t put money on it.
Reading the “foneticle” spelled chapters of Iain M. Banks’ “Feersum Endjinn” is really hard on the head, like trying to read Dutch having only learned English and German. But, the man is smart, and he addresses interesting subjects, without fear or hysteria. So it’s worth it.
We have DSL, finally, and I’ve a big long list of stuff to do that have a theoretical due date of several months ago. Ah sure, no worries.
It rained yesterday, pretty heavily; it’s sunny today. And the construction equipment outside isn’t making as much noise today either, so all in all, it’s shaping up pretty well.
Anyone that mailed me and to whom I didn’t get back; I will, in the next couple of days or so.