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[personal profile] zotz
Yes, it's a picture of me baring my torch. Obviously.

Writers Bloc had readings in Biggar and Prestonpans. Biggar had local readers (very good ones, too) and listeners, which Prestonpans didn't - it was, though, in the Gothenburg, which is a very nice pub indeed. I may have to round people up at some point to go for a drink there, and if it's a nice day a lounge on the sand too. I'm told it does good food.

In both cases the actual stories and poetry were very good, especially the ones I hadn't heard. Alan Campbell, in particular read a great one he'd apparently written that afternoon, and Mo read at both which is vastly better than hearing other people do her stories in her absence.

Stephen Pinker gave a lecture for the Uni, which had to be moved up into the McEwan Hall due to demand. He was talking about the way people's language use relates to thought patterns and preoccupations - how people describe time, and how people swear and use indirect speech and innuendo. It was very good. Jerry Fodor hates everyone, apparently, but only spends a whole book attacking the views of those few individuals (such as Pinker) that he finds egregiously misleading. I think he feels privileged.

He obviously used the term euphemism, but then went on to say "dysphemism", which is a good word I'll have to use. He was onto swearing by now, which was very jolly whenever he turned the air blue with a beautifully calm and academic list of vile epithets and profanities. Studied by maledictologists, I think he said.

There was a lovely bit about House Resolution 3687 - the Clean Airwaves Act - which was proposed (but not passed) after Bonzo from U2 said on air that something was "really fucking brilliant".

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
That section 1464 of title 18, United States Code, is amended--
(1) by inserting ``(a)'' before ``Whoever''; and
(2) by adding at the end the following:
``(b) As used in this section, the term `profane', used
with respect to language, includes the words `shit', `piss',
`fuck', `cunt', `asshole', and the phrases `cock sucker',
`mother fucker', and `ass hole', compound use (including
hyphenated compounds) of such words and phrases with
each other or with other words or phrases, and other
grammatical forms of such words and phrases (including
verb, adjective, gerund, participle, and infinitive forms).''.


The funny bit is that in the offending phrase, "fucking" is an adverb.

Obviously at the end I did what I've done many times before - tried to work out what it says around the base of the dome. "Wisdom is the principal thing, therefore get wisdom and with all thy getting get understanding: exalt her and she shall bring you to honour." Proverbs, chapter 4.

Much fun. After that I went out to Dalkeith country park for a drink with Jim the arsonist and his mates, which was also great. I found some lager in Tesco's called "Lech", which is a very funny name if you ignore it being Polish.

After that it was the Meadows Festival, which was a lot smaller than previously, but then it did have its legs cut out from under it in the meantime. This was the first one for two or three years, and pretty good for effectively a new first time. Hopefully it'll gather momentum again over the next few years. There was a genuine 9/11 conspiracy theory stall, which I didn't stop and ridicule in spite of the fact that I probably could get back in touch with a structural engineer who studied the collapse of the towers in detail - something that, famously, said wackos have never paid any attention to.

Yesterday I went to see Mark Stewart and the Maffia. It was a slight surprise to see tickets on sale this side of the Eighties, but I went along anyway and very fine it was. Stewart I'd not seen before, but looked to be doing ok. The rest of them looked quite good given that it's 20 years since I last saw them (under one of their other noms de guerre, Tackhead) 20 years ago. Quite a varied set, and very solid - a mix of live stuff and bits coming from Sherwood behind the desk. MacDonald only had three effects pedals, which isn't many for a guitarist, but Wimbish made up for it with an array of at least eighteen.

I've been reading my new (i.e. the older) copy of My Friend Mr Leakey today, which has been fun. I've noticed one thing, though - where the Seventies printing mentions Negroes as the victims of a particular kind of African devil, the older one uses a different word. It still starts with N, though. Pinker had mentioned it as currently the most taboo word in US English. I guess that in Britain it was still OK to use it in front of children as recently as 1948.

On getting back from the gig (OK, and from the pub afterwards) last night, I found a mail from a ticket agency with a whole list of stuff I've no interest in and details of Amanda Palmer playing at the end of September. Well and good, although I notice that Dolls gigs do apparently still happen very occasionally . . .

However, that wasn't the eyeopener. Other Dolls are afoot. New York Dolls, in Glasgow, anyone? In a venue the size of (and probably, admittedly, with the aroma of) a gorilla's armpit? That sounds like a good deal to me. And a couple of weeks later, Swervedriver.

Swervedriver?

Now that's not a name I thought I'd hear again. Still, tempting . . . I wonder if Dave Hetherington knows about this? I may have to pass a message via CJ.

Mixed week in politics, of course, SCOTUS have belted Bush one in the bollocks over Guantanamo. Your friend and mine Antonin Scalia, however, seems by all accounts to have delivered a shameless dissenting statementlamenting the effects of the actual decision, which would fly exactly in the face of everything he said about the grounds for his beliefs when he spoke in New College last year. Ah well. Maybe he's been misquoted.

Over here, a certain disastrous vote went the wrong way (but was tantalisingly close) and a Tory MP has resigned to fight his own safe seat at a point when the government's in trouble. His party leader, one David Cameron, described the move as "courageous", presumably meaning by Sir Humphrey's definition of the term. The words "nothing much to be gained" come to mind - he's likely to find that his only serious opposition comes from the Sun. If it descends into a farce and he ends up making himself and his party look ridiculous, he will undoubtedly go down in history as a political genius for finding a way to make the government look good in spite of its recent misadventures.

And if you think that sounds harsh, listen to what some other people are saying - one shadow cabinet member said. "There is a slight hint of self-indulgence and a slight element of tragedy. David cannot come back in a bigger position. He can only come back as even more self-righteous, but will he be more morally pure with a majority of 1,500 over the Monster Raving Loony Party? He has walked the plank and this risks looking like a pantomime."

I must finally mention that Weegie popsters The Hussy's are playing FOR FREE at the usually-execrable-but-I'll-make-an-exception-this-time 3 Sisters (on the Cowgate, if you've had the good fortune not to have come across it) on Sunday. Actually, they're playing in Manchester, at the Dry Bar, on Tuesday and in London Village (Purple Turtle, apparently) on Wednesday, so some of you could do a lot worse than pop along. Sadly, I've no indication that the other gigs are free, but I'm sure you can, as the saying goes, check local press for details.
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