Sorry We Missed You, East Dulwich Picturehouse 14 November

November 15, 2019

sorry

So after I, Daniel Blake we get another tale of the deserving poor of Newcastle.

The story concerns Ricky Turner, a construction worker who turns ‘self-employed’ delivery driver and the effect the gig economy has on him, his wife Abby (employed as a carer) and his children, Seb and Liza Jane.  The lad playing Seb did an excellent impression of a schooldays friend of mine from Brotton, say 60 miles away, but then the deserving poor of the North East do not go in for much variety.  Liza Jane on the other hand was just Lisa Simpson with a spelling mistake…There were times at the beginning when the actress playing Abby seemed to be overcome with world-weariness at having to mouth such dismal platitudes…

Unlike Daniel Blake, we got a lot of how people in Newcastle talk as imagined by those who have never been there, and very few nostalgia-inducing shots of the pace itself.

The family seemed to be living in rental squalor in a run-down upstairs Tyneside flat, which already begins not to make sense–if you’ve got a family and no money it’s at least worthwhile putting your name down for a council house.  We also got to see an overcrowded A&E and the houses of various clients of Abby’s who share with her improving moments of working-class history.

The hospital was after Ricky had been attacked and robbed of his valuable packages by a group of scrotes who had come prepared with a sack to put stuff in so they must have known where he would be, but how?  Maybe ESP.  That was early in the morning when he had a full load and we got to see the hospital in the evening, yeah it makes sense.  You could ask why he wore his Man U shirt so encouraging timewasting banter when he wanted to get round quickly or what happened to the money he made when he was providing blameless service on a good route or indeed  lots of other things.

Then again I had some sympathy with the boss Evil Bastard Maloney, who unlike the others had clearly read his Marx before expounding his views on the cash (now modernised to data) nexus, but if you are really living by results rather than incarnate evil you don’t immediately crack down on somebody who has previously been a good provider.

It is probably pointless to point out that operatives who are told what to do, how to do it and when to do it would not count as self-employed for tax purposes or to complain at Seb’s obligatory Black friend (about 2% of the population  of Newcastle have at least some African ancestry, so it’s possible but very formulaic).

Apart from the caricature of life in Newcastle, the real problem is that you need to start with the characters and their relationships and then the way that external circumstances get into them if you’re going to call it a drama, otherwise make a documentary.

 

Rachel’s Hebrew Classes 2019-2020

October 23, 2019

isaac

Rachel Montagu has kindly written to detail her Advanced Biblical Hebrew course for 2019-20.  (Those of a nervous disposition may accurately prefer to read that as  Non-elementary Biblical Hebrew.)

As in previous years, we expect these classes to follow the pattern where each student in turn reads a verse aloud and then translates it, with input from Rachel as necessary. She also provides some background and interpretation from traditional Jewish teaching.

The emphasis is certainly on understanding the text rather than grammar as such. In my experience, there have been perhaps an average of seven or so students coming to lessons. The level things are taken at tends to depend on who the students are, while the fee per term might be something around £110-£130, depending on circumstances.  At about £ 10 per 2-hour session this certainly looks like good value!

In principle, students should have covered the material in the First Hebrew Primer from Eks before starting this class. If you know the qal conjugation (perfect and imperfect) pretty well for verbs with three strong roots (the ‘regular’ ones if you like) and have some idea about hiphil and niphal and verbs with weak roots, that will probably do.

If you want to know more, you can email Rachel.  I’ve also shared just about everything I know about studying Biblical Hebrew with the world here.

Wednesdays 6.30-8.30 p.m., at Liberal Judaism, 21 Maple Street, London, W1T 4BE

Autumn Term

Isaac – Lost Between Father and Son?

28 October                  Gen. 17:15-22, 18:1-15, 21:1-5

4th November              Gen. 21:6-13, 22:1-19

11 November             Gen. 24:62-67, 25:1-11, 19:28

18 November              Gen. 26:1-24

25 November              Gen.26:25-35, 27:1-16

2 December                Gen.27:17-40

9 December                Gen. 27:41-46, 28:1-9, 35:27-29

 

Spring Term

Women Prophets

13 January                  Miriam: Exodus 2:1-10, 15:20-22, Numbers 12:1-15

20 January                  Numbers 20:1-5, 26:59, Deut. 24:8-9, Micah 6:4

Deborah: Judges 4:1-15,

27 January                  Judges 4:16-24, 5:1-12

3 February                  Judges 5:24-31,

Mrs Isaiah Isaiah 8:1-4

Noadiah Nehemiah 6:1-14

 

Huldah and Josiah

10 February                2 Kings 21:19-23, 22:1-20

[17 February half term]

24 February                2 Kings 23:1-25

2 March                       2 Kings 23:26-36, 2 Chronicles 33:21-25, 34:1-10

[9 March no class – Purim]

16 March                     2 Chronicles 34:11-33, 35:1-13

23 March                     2 Chronicles 35:14-27, 36:1-5

 

A Still Small Voice/Sound of Sheer Silence

30 March                     I Kings 19:1-21

 

Summer Term

Lamentations

20 April                        Lamentations 1:1-22-2:7

27 April                        Lamentations 2:8-22, 3:1-10

[4 May – bank holiday – no class]

11 May                        Lamentations 3:11-66

18 May                        Lamentations 4:1-22

25 May – bank holiday – no class]

1 June                         Lamentations 5:1-22

 

Micah

8 June                         Micah 1:10, 3:1-12, 4:1-14

15 June                       Micah 6:1-16, 7:1-10

22 June                       Micah 7:11-20

 

Psalms

29 June                       Psalm 145, 122, 134,

6 July                           Psalms 51, 127, 130, 137, 150

13 July                         Class choice of psalms

 

 

Feminist surgery and private schools

October 4, 2019

surgery

This announcement outside a private girls’ school in Newcastle made me wonder whether it represented a welcome broadening of girls’ aspirations or a further entrenching of class privilege.

The answer could regrettably be both, of course.

You could say that they may be inviting kids from all local schools (in relatively small letters).  But this is Jesmond and if there are any state secondary schools (or their pupils) in the immediate vicinity then they will be having a hard time of it.

Looking at the prices

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and list of participating institutions

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on the website leaves little room for optimism.

So you tend to think that this is just a piece of advertising aimed at well-heeled local parents, since the girls at the school will know well enough what is in prospect.  Generally in the North East you would say that limited and limiting aspirations for girls are far more of a problem than the evil that is private education, but Jesmond is different…

 

Jerusalem-by-the-sea

September 22, 2019

taj

Not only is Jerusalem the same place as Tel Aviv, it’s also beside the sea. You live and learn…

‘Tel Aviv-Yoffa (Jaffa)’ is a perfectly valid concept since there’s no intervening space free of places of entertainment. It may be somebody only knew one place in Israel beginning with ‘J’, or just got confused. .. I’m not sure that continuing to think about this is entirely healthy though…

A diverting ticket offer for the Bolshoi

August 3, 2019

bolshoi4

So I got this email inviting me to open the attachment for an exciting ticket offer.  That definitely looked like a scam at first glance–why have an attachment in the first place?  Then I thought you would tend to have a hyperlink or a pdf for a scam and the ballet was somewhat of a minority interest.

bolshoi1

And when I opened the document the relevant information was presented:

bolshoi2

However, (upon several attempts) the link didn’t work:

bolshoi3

So I rang the ROH box office, who were very helpful.  They had heard of the offer but thought it was operative from Saturday.  Then they found it on their system.  They agreed that the link didn’t work but didn’t know the right one offhand.

So in the end I managed to book a ticket..I think…

But what a lot of learning points there are here:

  1. Don’t use a % sign in a link–HTTP will be upset
  2. Put stuff in the email body rather than an attachment if at all possible
  3. Don’t send stuff out outside of office hours–it’s difficult to fix if things go wrong.

Bicycling and the permanent headwind

July 30, 2019

cyclinglaw

Discussion on Facebook

Interesting that the permanent headwind which blows in your face whatever direction you cycle still operates in the hot weather. Clearly its intelligence does not yet equal its malice and agility.

I find that crosswinds are treacherous because: a) they have a similar drag effect to a headwind and b) they have a vastly greater angular range than just head on. Unfortunately that pretty much encapsulates any wind direction. Get out early if you can, before the thermals kick in.

Have you seen the study that shows the wind is always against you? It’s summarized in New Scientist here and the original paper is here.

Further analysis

OK so now we’ve got onto the purely hypothetical case where you cycle from A to B and then back from B to A and the wind continues to blow from B to A as though nothing had happened.  Even so, the analysis in the references above looks rather complicated.

Let’s ignore rolling resistance and consider a cyclist who wants to cycle on the flat from A to B and back again.  He cycles with a power P which gives a limiting velocity V relative to the air. (In the absence of rolling resistance we ignore interactions with the ground.)

So let’s say as an example B is 10 km from A and V is 20 km/h.  In the absence of any wind it takes 0.5 hours to go from A to B, another 0.5 hours to go from B to A, for a total of 1 hour or 60*60 =3600 seconds.  Then with P measured in joules/second, the energy expended will be 3600*P J.

Now a wind of 10 km/h blows from B to A.  The cyclist’s speed relative to the ground is then 10 km/h on the outward leg and 30 km/h on the return leg.  So the time taken is 60+20  = 80 minutes or 4800 seconds and the energy expended is 4800*P J.

The cyclist has spent more time and expended more energy even with a completely unchanging wind.

This analysis clearly applies to any situation where there is a component of the wind along the cyclist’s direction of motion, even if it doesn’t turn round on you…

 

Boris Johnson and Antisthenes

July 24, 2019

johnson

[Antisthenes] said that states are destroyed when they cannot distinguish fools from serious men.

τότ’ ἔφη τὰς πόλεις ἀπόλλυσθαι, ὅταν μὴ δύνωνται τοὺς φαύλους ἀπὸ τῶν σπουδαίων διακρίνειν.

Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Eminent Philosophers 6.5

We have had some discussion about this on social media.  The question would be how to interpret φαύλους and σπουδαίων, which are basically trivial vs serious, but can represent a number of related contrasts.  The original citation contains a number of discrete opinions on diverse matters and does not really help with interpretation here.

In the course of the discussion, Diarmaid MacCulloch described Johnson as Not a fool, and ultimately not very serious. Ambitious, and utterly untrustworthy.  Which may be the kind of person Antisthenes was thinking of–as far as we can ever tell…

Linear B at the Summer School in Homer, UCL 22-26 July: Day 2

July 23, 2019

linbfig21

1023  We await two new people.  Alexandra comes to shut  off my escape.

1048  I don’t feel too bad…yet…

1052 I want to go home.  The god Νηρεύς exemplifies the classes of consonants omitted in Linear B.

1200  It is a vessel containing honey.  I want to go home.

1245  I go home!

Linear B at the Summer School in Homer, UCL 22-26 July: Day 1

July 22, 2019
linbsigninv

Linear B sign inventory

MONDAY JULY 22: 0627  Do I want to wake up now?  No.

0910  The train gets crowded and stops at Denmark Hill for a long time.   The driver announces that a passenger has fainted.

0940  UCL–there are signs to the Slade Summer School and EF. Great! I follow old people to the A V Hill Lecture Theatre.

1002 Antony Makrinos is the Zeus of the Summer School.  There are 98 participants, some male and some female.  UCL has a strict green policy, as well as catastrophically awful admin even by academic standards.

1035 Ester our lecturer goes to find someone who understands the IT.  Everyone is very young, keen and bright.

Tiryns is Ester’s favourite Mycenaean site.

rhyton1

So that’s what a rhyton looks like (from Ayios Vassileios)

You can hear Michael Ventris talking on the BBC about his decipherment here.

1345 Should we have come back now (as in the programme) or at 1430 like she said?  Best to practise our silent staring at blank screen skills for a bit.

1430 When she says she doesn’t expect us to learn the 91 syllabic signs immediately she means the opposite of course.

Exercise in  reproducing the syllabic grid is just like management training where the trainer lets you get so far and then suggests it would be better if you organised yourselves rather than all doing the same thing.  Except that this is interesting and important.

1530 I set off home without pausing for  Disability in Antiquity.  It is hot.

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Ester addresses the troops over a completed Linear B exercise (in duplicate)

 

 

 

Linear B at the Summer School in Homer, UCL 22-26 July: Day 0

July 21, 2019

linbpost1

I thought I would keep a diary of doing Linear B at the Summer School in Homer to give people an idea of what it is like.

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SUNDAY 21 JUNE

 What do they mean, registration from nine to ten?  I haven’t got a train up to Town in the morning rush for more than a year now.  Doubtless I will have to stand, and Bloomsbury is in the wrong bloody place anyway.   And what’s this talk about ‘Disability’–the ancients certainly didn’t go in for that kind of polite language.

Three-and-a-half hours less five minutes of classes.  I suppose I will survive.  But I don’t imagine there’s going to be anything interesting on at the Renoir if it does become too much.

linbpost3

 

But then I have to admit that the Day 1 programme looks very interesting, and I would regret missing it.  The main cause for optimism is surely that all of the participants will be at the same level of not knowing anything about Linears B or A.