Figures of Speech HOME

Home

2017

2016

December

November

October

September

August

July

June

May

The month

Scrapbook

The Sun Queen

Before Schubert

European wars

Timelessness

Saving time

EU referendum

Protestant Ethic

April

March

February

January

2015


About

Blogroll

Seen elsewhere

Updated content

Indexes and search


Schubert collection

Home | 2016 | May

Scrapbook for May

28.05.2016 – Equation

Schrödinger's famous cat in the news yet again.

What sicko comes up with a 'thought experiment' involving a poor little cat locked in a chamber and a phial of potassium cyanide?

Erwin Schrödinger, 1933

Oh, that one. Austrian, wasn't he? Just a minute … who was that other Austrian geezer who messed around with cyanide and locked chambers? Hmm… need to think about that.

Erwin's probably harmless, though, whereas this Bavarian should have been put on a watchlist before he left school:

Werner Heisenberg, 1933

24.05.2016 – Not a good end

Always keen to add another National Health Soupkitchen story to our collection we saw this:

Mr Sanders, 66, already had prostate cancer and diabetes when he was admitted to Whipps Cross Hospital, East London, with a severe cough on Boxing Day 2013.

Mr and Mrs Sanders had apparently overlooked the sign over the hospital entrance: 'Abandon hope, all ye who enter here – especially over the Christmas period'.

Mrs Sanders, 'trying to encourage him to eat', brought the diabetic some food to cheer him up:

I'd bought him Marks & Spencer carrot cake, jelly terrine, vanilla custard, and some Cornish clotted cream and made him up a bowl.

The explicitly specified provenance of the carrot cake is impressive: not just any carrot cake…

Unfortunately, the gannets on Mr Sanders' ward were equally impressed:

When I went to get it the following day there was nothing left, except an empty carrot cake wrapper at the bottom of the fridge, the cream and jelly had gone and there was just a tiny blob of custard left.

He was lying there like a bag of bones, he lost nearly eight kilograms over the period of a month from when he had been admitted, yet someone helped themselves.

Unfortunately, all our attempts at keeping a fittingly respectful composure in view of the death of Mr Sanders in November 2014 fail when we read that Mrs Sanders' loving bowl of goodies would have been to no avail:

And his widow believes the former council worker was prescribed the wrong medication during his stay, contributing to his eventual death by being given laxatives even though he already had diarrhoea.

04.05.2016 – The Donald

We on this blog believe that Donald Trump could make an excellent President of the United States. The precondition –  as it is for every President really  – is that he surrounds himself with good people.

We assume that he knows how to do this, since, as anyone who has ever run a business knows, success depends on getting the right people.

This thought came on reading the excellent and measured contribution by Trump's advisor George Papadopoulos. Of course, only time will tell, but the thought of Hillary Clinton getting the job is too much to bear without an unhealthy level of alcohol in the blood stream.

03.05.2016 – How to feel inadequate

Wrong chapter number

I hate people who are able to read with such attentiveness that they even spot when the chapter numbering is out. I really hate people who can even do this when the chapter numbering is in Roman numerals.

There are obviously extraterrestrial superintelligent beings wandering around on the earth and it looks as though I'm sharing a library with at least one of them. I shall never feel safe in the stacks again.

02.05.2016 – Unbalanced revulsion

As an easy-going, laissez-faire, free-market thug I'm not by nature a big fan of banning ideas and opinions – 'by their words and deeds shall ye know them', and all that.

Nevertheless, it's quite a relief that we don't have gangs of swastika-waving brownshirts taking to the streets on some anniversary or other and that if we did there would be a justifiably strong reaction, particularly from those who suffered from Nazi terror directly.

But why is it then that on 1 May, our media fill up with images of people parading the streets with red flags and images of Stalin, Mao, Castro etc? Even a few mainstream political figures appear among them. These communist leaders between them are responsible for a body count of innocents numerically far in excess of anything the Nazis did.

I may not want to ban these flag-wavers; I certainly want to confront them and shame them.

Update 12.06.2016

The argument put very cogently by Ed West.

Update 19.07.2016

And by Chris Everett.

01.05.2016 – Le Temps des cerises

One hundred and forty-five years ago, on 18 March 1871, the 'Paris Commune' was called into being. It lasted a little over two months before the insurrection was put down mercilessly in the 'Bloody Week' from 21 to 28 May.

The capacity of the French to romanticise even the bloodiest events should never be underestimated.

A few years before the insurrection, the singer Jean-Baptiste Clément (1836-1903) had written a charming if unremarkable poem about the delights of the cherry season, Le Temps des cerises. It was set to music a short while after by Antoine Renard (1825-1872), an opera singer.

It would have remained just another charming French chanson had not Clément, a passionate supporter of the Commune, dedicated it to an ambulance girl of the Commune whom he had met in that 'Bloody Week' (cherchez la femme!).

He didn't make the dedication until more than a decade after that event and his account of his meeting with 'Louise' the stretcher girl does not stand up to close examination but, hey! let's not let facts get in the way of a good story.

Since that dedication the song has been indelibly associated in the French socialist mind with that 'Bloody Week' at the end of May in 1871.

Renard, the composer of the tune, died in poverty in Paris on 9 May 1872, barely a year after the 'Bloody Week'. Clément died a famous socialist, unfortunately in February. He was however born in May, thus preserving the mayness of this tale.

In the intervening years the chanson Le Temps des cerises has been mutilated performed by some of the greatest names in French popular music, as a not-so-quick tour of YouTube will prove. One of the cleaner and truer performances is that by Jean Lumière (1895-1979), although we have to accept the fact that he was neither born nor died in May.