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Posted on UTC 2015-01-01 01:08.


Scrapbook December 2018 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

Thoughts for the coming year – But no tidings of comfort and joy.

13 December: Saint Lucy's Day – 220 years ago, William Wordsworth sent his 'Lucy' poems to Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Alinde D 904: Rochlitz and Schubert – A lesson in metrical magic from the master.

Quotes and images of the month for December – Quotes: George Eliot Journals, Friedrich Hebbel, Diaries. Images: Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Virgin and Child.

Scrapbook November 2018 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

Brexit: where there's life, there's hope – Parliament 1 : People 0.

Hunting down immigrants in Chemnitz – At last some facts, three months after they were really needed. Better late than never.

19 November 1828: the death of Franz Schubert – 190 years ago – time to be rational.

Thinking in tongues – A coda to Albrecht von Haller's Bernese dialect upbringing: some excerpts from Martin Walser's speech 'Remarks on our dialect'.

Quote and image of the month for November – Quote: Karl Friedrich von Kübeck: the viva voce examination, 1801. Image: Follower of Caravaggio, Saint Matthew and the Angel.

Empty gestures make most noise – The fake pieties of Armistice Day keep coming.

Protecting the German constitution – Enough empirical truth for the moment, Maaßen. Get out now, before you cause any more trouble for the Dear Leader.

Blasphemy redux – The unpleasant face of secular piety.

Lottery wins – Coping with divine rejection – a sufferer writes.

Richard North, the angry Sage of Bradford – Up a fjord without a paddle. 'My beautiful Flexcit! Wrecked, I tell you, all wrecked.'

A well-known opera – but which? – Guess.

Three early November anniversaries – Tristram Shandy's birth, the death of Byron's 'Boatswain' and Arthur Rimbaud's crossing of the Gotthard Pass.

Scrapbook October 2018 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

That German right-wing landslide – German politics through the looking glass.

Albrecht von Haller's love poem Doris – 16 October 2018: 310 years since Haller's birth.

Life before Doris – Childhood isolation to adult fulfillment 1708-1730.

Albrecht Haller's poem Doris – A grown-up love poem 1730-1732

Life after Doris – Bereavements, rejections, ill-health and loss 1732-1777

Pepper, the dim robot – Compliant Members of the British Parliament outclassed by a laptop. It didn't take much.

Ballet Zürich's Winterreise – Great despair – and that's only the audience.

The Bavarian earthquake – — Did the earth move for you, Marie?
— Not that I noticed. Perhaps next time.

Digital servitude – From digital deathbed to bridal-bed bliss in one hectic weekend.

Phoenix rising – A review of Werner Vogt's new book SWISS – Die Airline der Schweiz

Scrapbook September 2018 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

Gay days in Old Vienna? – Oh no, not that again!

Deviant deed or personality type? – Writing about homosexuality when there wasn't any.

The Poets' War – Heinrich Heine and August Platen calling each other names.

Warm beds and elevated feelings – Sublime thoughts, openly expressed.

Is Theresa May the bottom of the U-bend? – Probably not: it appears to be one long pipe going straight down.

How to write a big book in two days – Professor Julian Horton shows us how.

Schubert's downward spiral, 1827 – Driven to despair by a fourteen-year-old girl, apparently.

The pig got up and slowly walked away – 7 September: 75 years since the death of Frank Crumit.

Scrapbook August 2018 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

Franz Schubert in search of lost time – Does happiness linger in places? No.

Rolling the bacterial dice in Old Vienna – Ah, Treponema pallidum pallidum! — and who's your pretty friend?

Google, facebook, Switzerland – peas in a pod – Internet user tracking the official Swiss way.

Language, Truth and Logic – We're right, you're wrong. Go away and shut up.

Scrapbook July 2018 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock: Der Zürchersee – Love Island 30 July 1750, with a Seefahrt that is not to be sniffed at. A meditation for the Swiss National Day, 1 August.

The Poetry Bookshop 1913-1935 – Just what was needed on the eve of the Great War.

Brexit: statements to remember – Just make sure you remember them correctly.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau's herbarium 1772 – 2 July 1778: 240th anniversary of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's death.

Germany: where are we? Where are we going? – Nowhere. Fast. Does it matter? No.

Franz Schubert below stairs – July-November 1818: 200 years ago in Hungary.

Scrapbook June 2018 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

The Kaiserbrunnen in Konstanz – 25 years ago the 'Fountain of the Emperors' caught up with the modern world.

5 July 1948: 70 years of the NHS soup kitchen – It could have been worse. No, it couldn't.

Folk Devils and Moral Panics – Just don't mention the war – even if you manage to remember it.

All at sea with Seehofer – Sink or swim time for Germany's flexible Interior Minister and his aggrieved party.

20 June 1914: blasting and blessing – Whipping up an artistic storm as the thunderclouds gather.

Hitler: demon, dummy or smooth operator? – Oh no, not him again… .

The Swiss, bless 'em! – Sense and senselessness, all in one weekend.

Image of the month – Henriette Browne, A Girl Writing.

3 June 1828: Fugue at midnight – Franz Schubert once again working for nothing, 190 years ago.

Leftist bias at Google? – Surely not! Seek and ye shall find…

Scrapbook May 2018 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

23 May 1618: the Second Defenestration of Prague – 400 years ago, the brutal start of the brutal Thirty Years' War.

Tommy Robinson: jailbird – That'll learn him. We certainly hope so.

Richard North: still bouncing off the walls – A quick glimpse through the peephole of his padded cell. No change – best not open the door.

German transgender gender – No laughing matter.

Serious advice for all men – Scouting for Girls or Boys. Some words for the innocent: Be prepared.

Peter Winkler reports from Planet Zog – At last, the Swiss get to hear the truth about that Trump chap. It's worse than they thought.

British Republic Day – 20 May 2018 was the start; the end will come sooner than anyone thinks.

Staring into the cultural abyss – A wedding that will be remembered – but for all the wrong reasons.

Brexit and Ireland – Let the UK have a fresh start with Ireland.

Suicide by cop in Gaza – David picks up a rock and lobs it in Goliath's direction. We know how this will end.

Diana's revenge – The fall of the House of Windsor: coming along nicely.

Winston Churchill: animal lover – Horses, dogs, cats, geese, goldfish – even the odd ladybird.

Behind the copyright ramparts – Doing dead artists no favours at all.

Our battery-powered Smart Grid – Dumb as a rock – but at least it really is dumb now.

The New Hambacher Fest 2018 – Those right-wing thugs winding us up again. Good job so few heard about it.

5 May 1818: Marxmas – The 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx. Still crazy after all these years.

3 May 1810: Lord Byron and Lt. Ekenhead swim across the Hellespont – Not as simple as it sounds.

Scrapbook April 2018 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

The case of Alfie Evans – Awful. In every respect.

The hydrogen fuel cell takes flight – Bye bye, kerosene. You have served us well but it's time to go.

20 April 1945: Hitler's last birthday – The Klemperers' refugee flight during the last months of the Nazi regime.

The poisoning of the Skripals – An opera buffa of Wagnerian length, lacking all humour.

On the French road to nowhere – And currently getting nowhere fast, too.

Balsamico, Swiss style – Cheap and cheerful – a good Helvetian compromise.

3 April 2018: Happy birthday, Balsamico! – Twenty years and still going strong.

Dr Groddeck will see you now – Our Easter special: a psychoanalyst's view of Jan Davidszoon de Heem's Still life with bird's nest.

Scrapbook March 2018 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

GWPF State of the Climate 2017 – The ten things you need to know.

Figures of Speech discussion group closed – Silence is golden, it seems

26 March 1828: Schubert's only concert – A breakthrough for Franz 190 years ago that came just too late.

21 March 1918: Operation Michael – The beginning of the end of the First World War, one hundred years ago.

The key question in abstract art – What on earth does it mean?

Going to the dogs – The decline and fall of Andermatt, Switzerland.

The Sound of Martial Music – Seven days in March eighty years ago: the Austrian Anschluss.

Judgement of Solomon required – Never mind. Let's all sit down and have a chat about it.

To Charlotte While Shaving – A remarkably prescient verse portrait of the childhood of Theresa May.

Scrapbook February 2018 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

'Now WE ask the questions' – The wind of change in Germany? Götz Kubitschek's speech to the Zukunft Heimat demonstration in Cottbus on 24 February.

22 February 1943: the White Rose – Hans and Sophie Scholl, Christoph Probst: guillotined on this day 75 years ago.

The PostAuto car crash – The unpleasant whiff of subsidy corruption in Switzerland.

Mass shootings in the USA – No quick fix, no easy solution.

Kippered Kirsty: a lesson to us all – In defence of the unreasonable, the bloody-minded and the pig-headed amongst us.

Midnight, 21 February 1818 – On this day 200 years ago, Franz Schubert was drunk in charge of an inkpot.

Martin… er… who? – The German Foreign Minister for 36 hours. Gone and soon to be completely forgotten.

It's a hard life at the FBI – Maybe get a blister on your little finger. Maybe get a blister on your thumb.

Watergate through the looking glass – No smoking gun but a lot of mirrors.

Desperately hating Donald – The German-speaking media opines on President Trump's SOTUS speech.

Pulling the plug on the Swiss broadcaster – An interesting referendum coming up on 4 March in Switzerland.

The real Elizabeth Layton – Wartime clouds of smoke in 10 Downing Street.

The Peter Principle – May extension – How did someone as dim and incompetent as Theresa May get to be Prime Minister?

Quote and image of the month for January – Quote: Gérard de Nerval, Aurélia. Image: Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night.

Scrapbook January 2018 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

Franz Schubert's 31st birthday – 31 January 1828. Celebrating his last birthday with a big hit.

January 1818: Franz Schubert dodges the draft – Saved for musical posterity by three quarters of an inch.

21 January: Saint Meinrad's Day – Clubbing in the Dark Forest. Even the ravens were upset.

Hotting things up in the USA – A guide to making measurements fit the theory.

Swiss Government-sponsored CAGW alarmism – Does the Swiss Federal Metereological Office actually believe the stuff they write? We hope not.

Gary Oldman shines in Darkest Hour – An actor with Winston Churchill's DNA – A review of Joe Wright's film Darkest Hour.

The Base and the Superstructure – Why you can never control social media. It is what it is.

W.H. Auden's poem The Witnesses – Poetry for the social media age.

What Theresa did next – Our puzzled readers write.

Hole in the wall – The one in the north wall of the Eiger.

Mistrust of strangers – Too late for Mia Valentin.

New Year's greetings from the fuzz – The police in Cologne spreading happiness around.

Two Swiss railway station waiting-room murals – Witnessing the collapse of civilisation. Perhaps.

Were the Nazis leftwing extremists? – Yes.

New Year's Greetings from the Oxford Sausage, 1772 – Student humour 245 years ago. No safe spaces here.

Scrapbook December 2017 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

The Windsors: only a matter of time – A grumpy end of year report.

What is time? Don't ask. – Two thousand years of confusion and error – that's a long time. And it's not over yet.

21 December: the centenary of Heinrich Böll's birth – Rushing to the post office.

Strategic goals for the UK post Brexit – A least someone in the UK is thinking strategically.

Martin Schulz and the New European Order – Berlusconi, Bloom and Beppe were right – just ask the Hungarians.

Rocks, hard places, cherries and unsquared circles – A Swiss view of the Brexit negotiations – as baffled as everyone else.

Brexit: all you need to know so far – Ten days of Dim Theresa. It could have been worse. Actually, no.

Ocean plastic – go and preach at the real miscreants – Please can we have our supermarket bags back?

Here comes the sun – Well, now and again – in winter not so often, but certainly never overnight.

Cooking the goose and the gander – What's sauce for the MSM goose is sauce for the Breitbart gander.

13 December: Saint Lucy's Day – Johann Peter Hebel's classic story Unverhofftes Wiedersehen, 'The Unhoped-for Reunion'.

4 December: Saint Barbara's Day – Empirical fact and the triumph of human imagination.

The Germanwatch Peruvian shakedown – Taking on Big Coal. Nothing happens till the lawyers get involved.

Scrapbook November 2017 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

Richard North beyond redemption – A quick glance through the peephole of his padded cell. There's no hope for this one.

Abnormal normals – Mr Climate takes normals to abnormal lengths in pursuit of global warming.

Squaring circles in Berlin – Or political Venn diagrams with no overlaps.

The UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn – Ten days of conspicuous consumption come to an end. Good riddance.

No change, please – we're German 2 – This gripping German soap: we can't stand the tension!

Sextus and Cynthia, a lovely couple – Just don't invite them to your dinner party.

Extreme weather: quite the norm, really – After a sip of the green stuff, Mr Climate gets a little overexcited.

Sheer uselessness – Counting down to Christmas the UK Government way.

Figures of Speech discussion group – Talking amongst ourselves, yet again.

An outrageous libel of a dead hero 2 – Beyond the press reports it's worse than we thought.

Quote and image of the month for October – Quote: Brian Aldiss, Report on Probability A (1969). Image: William Holman Hunt, The Hireling Shepherd (1851).

Scrapbook October 2017 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

The UK Communications Act 2003 – The process is the punishment, yet again. Think on.

The mystery of Schubert's Unfinished Symphony – A tour of words in single quotation marks, such as 'given', 'acquired', 'stolen', 'hidden', 'lost', 'found', 'unknown' and 'discovered'.

An outrageous libel of a dead hero – Smears and innuendoes come easily to climate scientists.

Mrs Shopping-List meets Pericles – Not a good match. Even the slogan needs to get a grip.

Quote and image of the month for September – Quote: Wolfdietrich Schnurre, Der Schattenfotograf (1978). Images: Various, The Cheder.

Scrapbook September 2017 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

The Envy-of-the-World™: solution found! – More of it.

Luddites of the world, unite! – A civilisational reboot in a small Swiss town, now up before the beak.

The AfD: the uncouth, the amateur, the gormless. – Still better than the others, though.

No change, please – we're German – Waiting for Brünnhilde to finish – but why bother? The ending is always the same.

Still on your own – Wear a bin-bag over your head and a bullet-proof vest.

Theresa goes shopping in Florence – The shopping-list Prime Minister does the Renaissance.

Goethe's Gotthard obsession – Three long journeys in 22 years, culminating in a pact with the Devil.

1775, Lili: the first Gotthard journey – On the road with the Werther tribute band.

1779. Charlotte: the second Gotthard journey – Educating your duke. Don't bother.

1797. Barbara: the third Gotthard journey – Tell, Faust and a box of rocks. 220 years ago on 16 September Goethe entered Switzerland en route to the Gotthard. How time flies!

Quote and image of the month for August – Quotes: Quotes: Heinrich Heine (1831) and Conrad Ferdinand Meyer (1887). Images: Léopold Robert, L'Arrivée des Moissonneurs dans les marais Pontins (1830) and Friedrich Kallmorgen, Erntezeit (1891).

Scrapbook August 2017 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

Moral money – Pierre Gauchat's wonderful Swiss banknotes: gone but not forgotten.

Gratitude: the cement of civilisation – Thank you, ancestors, for all you have done for us.

And is there honey still for tea? – Rupert Brooke, born 130 years ago.

The days of wine and roses – Ernest Dowson, born 150 years ago.

The Gotthard Pass: the heart of Switzerland – Still beating weakly despite all the bypass operations.

Quote and image of the month for July – Quote: Georg Heym, Ophelia (1911). Image: John Everett Millais, Ophelia (1851-2).

Scrapbook July 2017 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

Stephen Hawking speaks – …or not, as the case may be. Either way he's a dummy.

Dr Weather and Mr Climate – Don't drink the green stuff in the beaker! Too late.

Winston and his Swiss paintmaker – A review of Champagner mit Churchill, Philipp Gut's account of the friendship between Winston Churchill and his Swiss paint supplier, Willy Sax.

The German connection – 100 years ago, on 17 July 1917, the Windsors emerged into a grateful world.

The total stress of Tom Bombadil – The bit the Lord of the Rings films left behind, thank goodness.

Quote and image of the month for June – Quote: Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities. A Story of the French Revolution, 1859. Image: Samuel Bough, London from Shooter's Hill, 1872.

Scrapbook June 2017 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

Doing the right thing – The knock on the door in the night. It's for your own good. Really.

The pursuit of happiness – Not as simple as it sounds, especially in two languages.

The other Austrian Economics – The patriotic way to buy your folkwear.

Ransomware: the never-ending story – Don't rely on antivirus software to keep you safe. It won't.

UK sovereignty. Then what? – Some thoughts for laundry-list minds.

Maria Theresia, the great Empress – Born 300 years ago on 13 May 2017.

The wartime prime minister – shaken and stirred – A review of Jonathan Teplitzky's film Churchill

The Swiss, God bless 'em! – Cultural appropriation in translation.

Goethe's Heidenröslein – Surviving a little prick.

Scrapbook May 2017 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

WannaCry – the dust settles (a bit) – This vale of tears, with some shafts of light.

The French, dontcha luv 'em! – No. And neither did Goethe.

The future of energy in Switzerland – There isn't one. Why is it always the voters who have to stick the tail on this donkey?

Christian Schubart: the prison years – The author of Die Forelle gets taught a lesson.

Schubart's dungeon cell in Hohenasperg – Now you see it, now you don't.

The commander and the clergyman – Bad cop and even worse cop with some old scores to settle.

His Serene Radiance – Carl Eugen, Duke of Württemberg.

Re-education – Improving you until you stink.

Some relief, 1778 – The worst seems to be over.

Fresh air, 1779 – A glimpse of a distant, unreachable horizon. The permissibility of pleasure.

The entertainer, 1780 – Keeping the commander and his troops cheerful.

Renewal, 1782 – Recovering from Rieger.

The Crypt of Princes – Insult your captor publicly: that will get you out of prison in no time.

Free at last – He might have been better off staying in prison.

Schubert: Greatest Hits – Pick 'n mix in the sweetshop. Some tips on getting to know Schubert's music.

Scrapbook April 2017 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

Lied auf dem Wasser zu singen – D 774. Great poem. Great music. Two geniuses at work.

Schubert's friend Johann Senn – For some people, being born on the first of April is no joke.

The Senn family – A Tyrolean family at the centre of political turmoil.

The Tyrolean Fatherland – A land of exceptionalism, independence and Catholic bigotry.

Johann Senn in the Stadtkonvikt and after – The young Tyrolean in Vienna.

Revolting students – German nationalism and political reform.

Cooling down the hotheads – The suppression of academic unrest.

The first exile – Johann Senn's exile in Innsbruck and his army years.

The wilderness years – Life and literary failure after the army.

Who's afraid of Immanuel Kant? – 230 years of the Critique of Pure Reason

Scrapbook March 2017 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

On your own – Time for a stiff upper lip. It is, after all, the only anti-terrorist weapon you have.

Too much understanding – Gotthold Lessing's little boy.

Zurich-Petrograd, one-way – A hundred years ago in April, a decisive moment in history.

Schubert: from child to musical genius – It was managed by a job… and a good job, too!

Quote and image of the month for February – Quote: George Steiner, Real Presences, 1989. Image: the new Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg.

Scrapbook February 2017 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

The Wind in the Willows – A new version of Kenneth Grahame's classic, beautifully illustrated by David Petersen.

Will the real Schubert please stand up? – Franz Schubert, master of disguise.

CAGW in proportion – The Blaise Pascal guide to Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming.

Finding Trumpy – The four unaccounted hours of the most powerful man on earth.

Alistair Cooke: urbane BBC opiner – If only Letter from America had taken comments.

The media: Nixon's revenge – Fings ain't wot they used to be. Better get used to it and stop grumbling.

Quote and image of the month for January – Quote: Wilhelm Busch, [Sahst du das wunderbare Bild von Brouwer?]. Image: Adriaen Brouwer, Die Operation am Rücken.

Scrapbook January 2017 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

Figures of Speech discussion group – Talking amongst ourselves.

Bedlam through the peephole – A glimpse of the enlightened inmates up close.

Trembling above the abyss – Goethe conquering one of his demons in Strasbourg Cathedral.

Climate scientists – Some good, but most are just a basket of disreputables. Would you buy a used thermometer from any of them?

Pie-in-the-sky charts – Just run that decarbonisation thing past us again, would you?

We'll do it our way – Blaming the Amis the European way.

Franz Peter's family – Marking the 220th anniversary of the birth of the composer Franz Peter Schubert.

Charlie to the rescue – The future King saves the world with a stroke of his pen.

Blacking up for beginners – The harmless pleasures of byegone days.

Deutschland, Deutschland über alles – 220 years and still going strong – well, some of it at least.

Facing facts in the post-fact era – Few facts, not much truth and plenty of fake news.

Quote and image of the month for December – Quote: Berger and Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality. Image: Lorenzo Lotto, Annunciazione.

Scrapbook December 2016 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

On the road to nowhere – At the moment short, but tremendously expensive. That's OK, the French are paying.

Backup hell: a visit to the crypt – Christmas, the traditional season for tales of horror.

Beyond analysis – Geertgen tot Sint Jans' painting Geboorte van Christus / Nativity at Night.

Rolling noiselessly through the void – A meditation upon Saint Lucy's day, data adjusted.

Judge Judy, the Divine Comedy for our times – The TV programme is a moral compass among the lost souls of modern America.

John Betjeman's poem 'Christmas' – It takes a proper Christian to write a Christmas poem.

'Modesty' – or not, as the case may be. – Antonio Corradini's veiled masterpiece: no modesty at all here, in any sense.

Energy made easy – The thinking person's guide to the Energy Derangement Syndrome (EDS).

The Nobel Ceremony 2016 – The bling! The frocks! The food! The hypocrisy! No wonder King Charles the Unbathed looks grumpy.

Who is Schober? what is he? – Why are you asking me? I've no idea either.

Growing up, growing apart – All change: Sweden, Germany and Austria

On the couch – Austrian analytics: detachment, integration, inferiority, compensation.

Family life – Depravity, tragedy and 'bluebottles' taking notes.

The cloud of unknowing – Managing the documentary record.

The Schobert wakes – Schubert and Schober: charisma, friendship, money and social power.

The cultural circles: 1815-1823 – The singer, the salons, the reading club and the dilettante.

The dark years: 1823-1826 – Schubert's crisis years, Schober in Breslau.

The final Schubert years: 1825-1828 – The days of wine and roses in the coffee-house.

After Schubert – Moving on and falling out.

Quote and image of the month for November – Quote: Jules Laforgue, Winter Coming On. Image: Édouard-Léon Cortès, Place de Madeleine, après la pluié.

Scrapbook November 2016 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

OUP WOTY 'post-truth': WTF! – OUP discovers 'objective facts' and sticks it to us knuckledraggers. We still won though, and that's a fact.

Man and machine – The Bad Aibling rail crash 09.02.2016: the idiot who operated the system, and the idiots who designed it.

Climate cognitive dissonance – Coping with uncomfortable climate facts: time to give up?

The Schubert trajectory – Standing back for a detail-free biography.

Esprit de corps in elected bodies – Lurches to the left of me, lurches to the right, here I am: stuck in the middle with you.

Quote and image of the month for October – Quote: René Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy, Meditation III. Image: Edward Hopper, Automat.

Scrapbook October 2016 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

The Man in Black: an expert writes – Art historians – they are just not like us. The tedious tale of this slapdash portrait continues.

Freedom of speech – Alive and well and at ease in Swizerland, its home since the 18th century.

A victim remembers – A gentle encounter behind the tarpaulin.

The conquering hero – That Batley and Spen by-election.

Schiaparelli – Yet another European bites the dust on the red ink planet.

The Man in Black – No, not that one, the other one – the expensive one. It's still all about cash, though.

Brian Cox: the zombie staggers on – Back in your box, Jean-Jacques!

Those formative years – It's always the same in hierarchical societies.

Those formative years – The truth never hurt anyone. The compact guide to developing a thick skin.

John Dalton, 250 years old – One of the founding fathers of the Scientific Revolution. Thank you, Sir.

The grape harvest – French white wine: alcohol, child labour, girls for hire and a certain unmistakeable 'finish'.

Babi Yar – Where is there an end to it, the soundless wailing.

Bible studies – Short meditation for Sunday 2 October involving the Bible, that essential book for atheists. Oh… and that other book.

The Jacobin Conspiracy – Making the mood music of Schubert's times.

Circles of conspiracy – Secret meetings, handwritten circulars and strange gestures.

Franz Hebenstreit – The hothead cavalry lieutenant with the big voice.

Andreas von Riedel – The mathematics teacher. How much can a man survive?

Joseph Vinzenz Degen – Some pieces of silver. Fortune favours the betrayer.

Making the punishment fit the crime – Learning from the conspiracy. Closing down discussion and criticism.

The atmosphere under the belljar – The calm people of the becalmed empire keep their noses clean.

Quote and image of the month for September – Quote: Marianne Hem Eriksen, Doors to the dead; T. S. Eliot, Burnt Norton. Image: Martinus Rørbye, Entrance to an Inn in the Praestegarden at Hillested.

Scrapbook September 2016 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

Wrong again – And again and again. Ashes and hyssop time on this blog.

That Sappho thing – Hold on tight to your dreams.

Rustling inspiration – More for Schubert fans: a closer look at Wohin? from Die Schöne Müllerin.

Channelled speech – Decorating the slaughterhouse with geraniums.

The houseman's friend – An illustrated guide to emptying the Gtech floor cleaner: a disgustingly filthy corner of the internet.

Wishful thinking – There are practical limits to making allowances, however worthy.

Churchill in Zurich – Seventy years ago on 19 September 1946 Winston Churchill delivered his famous 'Europe' speech in Zurich. Only the people were delighted.

Franz's belljar – The belljar of the Austrian Emperor Franz II comes down over his people. Young composers included.

The other Spaun – Crazy uncle Franz Seraph von Spaun: an heroic life of principled resistance bordering on the psychotic.

Walking with Walser – Martin Walser, Heimatkunde and the art of leaving things unsaid.

In praise of Stephen McIntyre – Dipping a curious toe into the murky pond of climate science.

Quote and image of the month for August – Quote: Friedrich Schiller, Wilhelm Tell. Image: Ernst Stückelberg, Wilhelm Tell mit Sohn/William Tell and son.

Scrapbook August 2016 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

Arthur Szyk: FDR's 'Soldier in Art'Satan Leads the Ball considered.

Climate alarmism – Down the rabbit hole into the strange, topsy-turvy world of climate alarmism.

Citroen DS23 – Gone but not forgotten: the rustbucket goddess remembered.

Artificial Intelligence – Not a very intelligent thing to have.

Portrait of the age – Joseph, Leopold and the Enlightenment manifesto made visible by Pompeo Batoni.

The shipwreck on the winedark sea – Tempestuous times for patient polymaths with time on their hands.

The antennae of the race – A lot of crackles, whistles and static during a storm-tossed life.

Non-linear obscurity – Looking inside his head. Obscurity, manifestations, light and shade in fragments.

The Odyssean shipwreck – Struggling on with the windswept Odysseus: over, on and under the water.

The Pisan shipwreck – Pound scribbling in the shipwreck of the prison camp.

The shipwreck in Rock Drill – The white goddess hits the waves in an ample bikini. Grab it while you can.

The shipwreck in Thrones – Getting to the end of the journey, somehow.

Conclusion and bibliography – Was it worth it, the great tempest? No.

Quote and image of the month for July – Quote: Robert Graves, Goodbye to All That. Image: William Orpen, Ready To Start. Self Portrait.

Scrapbook July 2016 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

The Bastille Spirit – The Green Fairy is not your friend, Brendan.

Classic books – The great unread, a mountain to be climbed? Or shall we just skirt round the outside?

Renaissance mechanics – Skilful recreations of some classical paintings as garage workshop scenes.

Devaluing the family – Let's not upset the childlessly carefree with all these nasty value judgements.

Andrea Leadsom, next Prime Minister of the UK – Without a shadow of a doubt.

Dinner in the desert – Help yourself to whatever you want. Just don't vomit on your host.

The cradle of the Habsburgs – Great oaks from little acorns grow.

UK politics grassroots guide – Puzzled and confused by politicians? Empress Maria Theresia knew what to do.

Quote and image of the month for June – Quote: Basil Bunting, Briggflatts. Image: Aureliano de Beruete, Espinos en flor. Plantío de los Infantes (Flowering Hawthorn).

Scrapbook June 2016 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

The Chosen Ones – Toeing the party line.

EU Referendum, mopping up – First thoughts after the non-deluge.

Voters – Now you see them, now you don't.

The fine art of wonderment – The Vincent van Gogh guide to Platonic astonishment.

Infamous last words – For all things there is a time: a time to sniff; a time hold your nose and look away.

Gretchen am Spinnrade – Schubert again. This time the seventeen year-old's 'stroke of genius of the first order'.

The alien hatches – Blood on the body, the table, the walls and the floor – just don't mention the Tiber.

Carbon dioxide: the science is settling nicely – More vindication for the Chief Scientist of this blog.

Ignorant? Uninformed? Thick? – We would really like to have your considered opinion on Brexit.

No X please, you're not British – An electoral shambles, just what is needed for a close-run referendum result.

Sahra[sic] Wagenknecht – Neo-Stalinist political lunatic of the first order; a fantasist, too.

The green tick – The successful parasite does not kill its host. Blood sucking in Norway gone wrong.

Quote and image of the month for May – Quote: Stefan Zweig, Die Welt von Gestern: Erinnerungen eines Europäers. Image: Friderike und Stefan Zweig auf einem Bahnhof/The Zweigs on a station platform.

Scrapbook May 2016 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

At the court of the Sun Queen – One of Hillary Clinton's courtiers speaks out: the result is not reassuring.

Before Schubert – The ancestors who made him possible.

Carl and Susanna Schubert – The pious farmer who educated his sons; the farming family who survived disease and famine to prosper.

The two brothers – Johann Karl and Franz Theodor: from the farming village to the Jesuit High School.

The brothers reach Vienna – Karl lands on his feet in the big city, then helps Franz Theodor to do the same.

The two sisters – Elisabeth and Magdalena Vietz: two sisters for two brothers.

Franz Theodor and Elisabeth's children – The composer's family: fifteen children, few survivors, one musical genius.

European wars – Your cut-out-and-keep guide, specially designed for the use of British Prime Ministers.

In search of lost timelessness – That midnight feeling.

Saving time – Why?

The EU referendum to date – An incoherent shambles, totally predictable.

The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism – One reason among many for the decline and fall of the Habsburg Empire.

On your own – The three pillars of the Protestant revolution: salvation by faith alone, through Christ alone and through scripture alone.

The calling – Do your best with what you are given: the importance of the 'calling'.

The elect – Are you one of the elect? Prove it, particularly to yourself.

The heavenly balance sheet – The cycle of redeemable sin compared with the fixed plan of virtuous action.

Rewards on earth and in Heaven – Irresistable grace will bring the rewards of Earthly life.

For the greater glory of God: Carl Schubert – The servant of the Catholic God leads an upright and pious life albeit without lasting utility.

For the greater glory of God: Benjamin Franklin – The servant of the Calvinist God follows a programme of self-improvement.

The trivial round, the common task – The beneficial effect of work in pursuit of the 'calling'.

Work: unpleasing to God – Work if you have to, but not too hard. It might even be better to live on your own in a cave for a few years.

Quote and image of the month for April – Quote: William Shakespeare, Cymbeline. Image: Dandelions: Two photos of a Swiss alpine meadow taken three weeks apart.

Scrapbook April 2016 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

Cherry blossom – Unfortunately coinciding with April snow time this year.

Dark chocolate, green lunacy – Fear and loathing in the aisles: buying chocolate the insane way.

Out of the swamp – More Schubert. Matthisson and Brun wallow, Goethe and Schubert ascend to the light.

Richard North – Psychiatric case review: condition worsening.

Do not sleep… – …while the stewards of the world are busy.

Imperial chemistry – Emperor Leopold II's secret and dangerous hobby.

The real Lili Marleen – Certainly not hanging around lamposts.

The Habsburg lip – Branding a dynasty with a genetic defect. If you've got it, flaunt it.

Quote and image of the month for March – Quote: Gilbert Ryle, The Concept of Mind. Image: Albert Edelfelt, Good Friends, Portrait of the Artist's Sister Bertha Edelfelt.

Scrapbook March 2016 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

Bedsheet, spreadsheet – How much is your health worth to you?

What's the French for 'dodo'? – Whatever it is, it's dead.

Lenten thoughts, newly assembled – Near the end of the Christian Lent, a period of self-denial and reflection, we ask: Is it good not to spend money?

Heinrich Heine, 17 February 1856 – A tardy commemoration of the 160th anniversary of the death of Heinrich Heine.

The great survivor – The Swiss artist Hans Erni's monster mural Die Schweiz, das Ferienland der Völker. Rescued, but why and for whom?

The Swiss muddle – Switzerland, Britzerland! So much rubbish, so little time to dispose of it all.

The Hans Erni lockdown – Imprisoned in museums and coffee table books, his work is destined for internet oblivion.

Switzerland: now safe to visit – Another spine is pulled from the Swiss hedgehog. It may not end well.

Tristram's bad start in life, 2 March 1718 – Two hundred and ninety-eight years ago Tristram Shandy was conceived – anything but immaculately.

Montségur, 16 March 1244 – The ashes of the 'Friends of God'.

The Cathars, the 'Friends of God' – Recovering the traces of an obliterated monastic order.

The Albigensian crusade – The terrible crusade against its own people and the royal conquest of the Languedoc.

The community under siege – The siege of the hilltop fort of Montségur. Eight months of resistance until the attackers found the fatal flaw in the defenses.

The crowned knot of fire – The fiery end of the 'Friends of God' on Montségur and the obliteration of the movement.

Montségur: video materials – Selected video materials about Montségur.

Quote and image of the month for February – Quote: Fink et al., The Oasis of Happiness: Toward an Ontology of Play. Image: Benjamin Williams Leader, February Fill Dyke.

Scrapbook February 2016 – Scraps, bits-and-pieces, jottings, whatever...

From a night of frosty wreck – From George Meredith's The Thrush in February.

Language Lab – The untouchables: decimate and beg the question.

Swiss democracy, seriously compromised – Fighting the ruling classes. Do Swiss referendums matter, or are they just national focus groups?

False gods in graven images – Will the real John Walker please stand up?

Die Forelle – Fishy tales, speculations, a decade in a dungeon, oblivion and immortality. You can't beat a good song.

Franz Schubert: the Trout Quintet – The young genius playing for his supper in provincial Austria.

Franz Schubert: The Trout – A taste of immortality for a forgotten poet from an unknown composer.

Christian Schubart: the road to doom – How to make enemies and the fine art of annoying nearly everyone at the same time.

Christian Schubart: taking the bait – Muddying the waters and choosing the perfect bait for the victim: a masterpiece!

Christian Schubart: The Trout – The bright, romantic allegory of deception and kidnap on the autopsy slab.

The grass on the weirs – Serenity amid the tumult of life. Reflection and regret.

Quote and image of the month for January – Quote: Edward FitzGerald, The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Image: Ivar Arosenius, Backusfest.

Rabid lexicography – The insensitivity, it drives you mad!

Not like us – Our continental friends, God bless them!

Language Lab – A collection of Americanisms and the Great British Stress Shift.

IKEA's loose screw – The last thing you want in a cheap flatpack company is a screw loose. Steptoe and Son go scandi noir.

Nathan's rings – Lessing's Nathan, not called 'the Wise' for nothing.

Brief Encounter II – Fings ain't wot they used to be: Not every man is Trevor Howard. Girls should listen to the accumulated wisdom of the ages.

Mohammed: not my prophet – Do I have a choice? Probably not.

Lunatic calendars – A cheerful month-long Ramadan fast in Svalbard (a.k.a. Spitzbergen) in summer. Is it supper time yet?

Hemingway under the hood – Let's lift the lid on the genius and his chiasmic creations.

Sharing the risk – We agree with Mark Steyn on almost everything — just not this.

Bathtime for St. Kevin – Seventy-two reasons not to read 'Finnegans Wake'. And one reason to do so.

The dismal science – Still guessing after all these years.

The below above – The mould spreads slowly but surely into the jam below.

Sanitised swearing – A trigger warning: sensitive souls should have the sal volatile handy.

Souvenirs – Which is real, the souvenir or the memory?

Rockers do it better – Stylish exits by those two rockers, Lemmy Kilmister and Arthur Schopenhauer. They'll be back!

Quote and image of the month for December – Quote: Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Image: Modesto Urgell e Inglada, La vuelta del entierro/Returning from the burial.

Die Winterreise – Schubert yet again, but no cheerful bits at all this time, just loss, betrayal, rejection, alienation and wandering.

Chapter 1: The birth of the text of Die Winterreise. – The 'Urania' text, the 'Waldhornist' text and Schubert's synthesis.

Chapter 2: poems 1-12 – A narrative of loss, rejection and wandering: the first twelve poems of the Die Winterreise and the narrative thread.

Chapter 3: poems 13-24 – Themes of despair, alienation and wandering: the last twelve poems of the Die Winterreise; thematic structure and the death paradox.

Chapter 4: Wilhelm Müller – The biographical background to Wilhelm Müller's poem collection Die Winterreise.

Chapter 5: Franz Schubert – The biographical background to Franz Schubert's setting of the song-cycle Die Winterreise.

Language Lab – Follicle mites face off, likely causing problems.

M'learned wag – The search for wit in lawyers continues.

Close shaves of the Scholastic kind – We use Alexander's sword to cut the Gordian knot of William of Occam's non-existent razor.

Solar Impulse – More news from the suspension of belief department. This time Wacky Races meets Alice in Wonderland.

Fidei defensor – Defender of the faith: The Christmas message of the second in line to the British throne.

Suspending disbelief in modern life – The operatic guide to the week's news in which we do not go quietly into that good night.

Die schöne Müllerin – Schubert again. Two blondes making out. A talking stream looks on as the hunter gets the girl. Many trigger alerts here.

Chapter 1: The song-cycle and its prologue – The genesis of the idea of a song-cycle from Wilhem Müller's prologue to Die schöne Müllerin.

Chapter 2: poems 1-12 – Love and joy: a structural analysis of the first twelve poems of the Die schöne Müllerin.

Chapter 3: poems 13-23 – Despair and death: a structural analysis of the last eleven poems of the Die schöne Müllerin.

Chapter 4: the context of the work – The problem of the narrative song-cycle; the biographical component.

Quote and image of the month for November – Quote: Wilhelm Müller, Die Winterreise. Image: Carl Julius von Leypold, Der Wanderer im Sturm/The wanderer in the storm.

Shaken, stirred and rusted – Objects of technological desire do not die, they just rust away and become ever more pointless.

The dramatic Climatic Unit – One aspect of climatic nonsense still going strong after nearly half a century and now probably too late to fix.

Language Lab – Today we are reaching out to all the significant others on the planet.

Tumbril for two, please! – The Swedish Charlie tackles the evils of this world: hot baths.

Engaging God: God help us! – After the atrocities in Paris, Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, 'engages God' on a walk.

Enlightenment redux – Brendan O'Neill calls on us to fight for the Enlightenment. Don't bother: it's dead and gone.

Jigsaw-puzzle grammar – Writing for meaning, as opposed to writing for tedious pedants.

Antisocial media – The definitive guide to staying sane in the social media age.

Highbrow cat-stroking – If you don't mind displaying your intellectual credentials, here's how to do it.

Myth Thwitzerland – The 700th anniversary of the Battle of Morgarten in Switzerland and the cloud of unknowing that surrounds it.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau's NBFF – Rousseau befriends an extremely rich autocrat who wants to use mathematical skills to control the world.

Mars will now say a few words – The God of War speaks on the impending Armistice Day, 11.11.2015

Wiki-wacky – Wiki-wacky-woo, I don't know you. Or much about anything else, for that matter.

Microsoft. How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways… – Vista, Ribbon, Win 8, Win 10. Shall I go on?

All Souls' Day, 2 November – Some thoughts for All Souls' Day, 2 November on the Litany for All Souls' Day of Johann Georg Jacobi, set to music by Franz Schubert.

All Saints' Day, 1 November – Some thoughts for All Saints' Day, 1 November on the painting La Toussaint by the French artist Émile Friant.

How to lose money – Desperate to lose some money quickly? Here's how to do it: buy gold.

Quote and image of the month for October – Quote: Ezra Pound, The Cantos of Ezra Pound. Image: Édouard Manet, Un bar aux Folies Bergère.

Carbon dioxide: the science is settled – The much-awaited canonical statement of this blog on the subject of Anthropogenic Global Warming and Climate Change: our chief scientist reports.

Transitioning to November – Whatever happens, don't mention the H-word! We offer an alternative for those damaged.

Fanatics: the good and the bad – Jean-Jacques Rousseau's good fanatic: let's see how that worked out.

The bad old days – Thank goodness they have gone! Forced gender assignment, a complete lack of ethnic, religious or sexual diversity.

Rousseau! Back in your box! – The Swiss people have spoken. Will Jean-Jacques finally flee back to his sarcophagus, in Switzerland at least?

Troubling the living stream – Easter 1916: The stony heart of fanaticism as seen by W.B. Yeats.

Wittgenstein’s disease – Many people suffer from this disease in silence, attempting to hide their distress from others. A sufferer writes.

Who are you calling a snob? – Classical music? Let's take this outside in the car park.

Red Burgundy – The agony and the ecstasy – How to waste a lot of money and suffer much disappointment in the search for the special one. Skid Row awaits.

Nietzsche's birthday – Friedrich Nietzsche would have been 171 today, so let's dig out one or two of his undeservedly neglected poems to celebrate the occasion.

Rousseau in 'Nature' – He's on the stagger still, this time in two Danish universities. [corrected 17.10.2015]

Business Girls – John Betjeman. For once not the lovable eccentric with a fondness for women, old buildings and steam railways, but the poet. The very good poet.

Data despair – One more push in the battle against 'data are'. There are still pockets of resistance: bitter people with nothing to lose who will probably fight to the last bullet.

EU referendum: No thank you! – Holding a referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union is more than slightly bonkers.

Rousseau staggers on – Latest sightings of this website's favourite zombie. Some people seem quite shocked.

How to end an extremely long poem – You have scribbled 6,000 lines of impenetrable poetry. How do you stop? Like this.

Atlas Shrugged: 'Whatever…'. – The great unread: a literary assessment of Ayn Rand's magnum opus. As doorstopper, serviceable; as novel, beyond awful.

Democracy and delegation – Quote of the day: Modern democracy and delegation from an Ancient Greek perspective.

Celestial advice – There is always room for helpful celestial advice when things don't seem to be going your way.

Jeannot in church – A contribution from a member of the French branch of our therapy group for the liturgically damaged.

The good old days – The good old days of life on the land before the curse of industrialisation.

Quote and image of the month for September – Quote: Blaise Pascal, Pensées sur la religion et sur quelques autres sujets. Image: Hubble, the Pillars of Creation.

Bye bye, democracy. Hello, general will. – The zombie has awakened and is walking abroad once more. Its name? Jean-Jacques Rousseau. …

Tests of faith, the lunatic's friends – Two ancient stories about belief, lunacy, faith and other quite important things.

Schubert, you idiot! – How Franz Schubert managed to write one of the greatest secular choral works, despite messing up somewhat.

S.E.E.D. – It's only now that you find out who your true friends are.

You swine! – It's a pretty horrible smell.

Greenwich Dump Time – Greenwich Gasworks, where are you now? Don't ask.

List of updated content – A list of updated content

Contents list – A complete list of the content on this blog (the page you are looking at!).

Google site search – Use Google to search the articles on this blog.

Blogroll – Some other interesting blogs.

About – About Figures of Speech

Schubert collection – A collection of all the pieces on this blog related to Franz Schubert or his world.