Archive for the ‘Odds And Ends, Miscellaneous’ Category

Why I Hate Television

My readers, insofar as I have any, will wonder why I begin with such an obvious title, feeling that it hardly needs saying. The genesis of this piece is admittedly peculiar. None of my “African family” understand, and my French is not good enough to present ideas at that level. So I am going to […]

Jules Verne’s Television

Most people are aware that Jules Verne wrote the first story about a giant submarine, the first modern story about travel to the moon and much else. He could be inspiring even when his technology would never have worked. Less well-known is his prediction of television, but in a quite different form to what we […]

What Is It With Those Fusion Furnaces?

We are not, of course, meant to stop and think about our involuntary consumption of elevator music and café background playlists, much less imagine a world in which one might drink and study and talk without them. A variation by which I have been horribly earwormed at Christmas is heavily reliant on the likes of […]

Posted on December 31, 2011 at 16:40 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink · One Comment
In: CULTURAL ODDS AND ENDS, Odds And Ends, Miscellaneous

If You Want To Do The Time, Ask A Policeman

I was reading the other day about how a nineteenth-century Frenchman named Vidocq invented the idea of publicising fictitious crime waves in order to create a market for the police services he was offering. He was a master con artist and police double agent turned top national crimefighter – which not even Dr. Moriarty managed […]

Sitting At Their Feet

I was sent up to Oxford by philistine middle class parents who had no idea what went on there, or even what this thing called education might truly be, but just wanted the bragging rights. That is not to say that, looking back, I would consider that education was something Oxford actually provided. The pretenders […]

The Realism Of Wire-Fu

Watching Zhang Yimou’s Hero, I was struck by how the woman warrior dies in just the same way as the men. Perhaps, for all its magic realism, wuxia is more grounded than Western entertainment, which tends to treat women as either victims (those annoying idiots who try to run away in high heels) or else […]

The Demographics Of Decibels

The noise level in a Spanish restaurant is tremendous, but that is not because anybody is shouting or behaving uncouthly; what is happening is that everybody is merely talking, but quite loudly – no doubt because of both the Latin sense of the dramatic and the stadium effect of trying to be heard against the […]

The Borders Of Europe

Because there was once a lady of that name who was, er, abducted by a bull, we in the westernmost peninsula of the Earth’s main land-mass are much given to hypostatising “Europe”. Following the ancients and medievals, we imagine that the Old World must be divided into three continents and thereby three cultural units. We […]

Posted on January 5, 2012 at 11:31 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink · 3 Comments
In: CULTURAL ODDS AND ENDS, Odds And Ends, Miscellaneous

How Did “We” Become The Wonders Of Creation?

There are two ways of writing history, which I call “we” history and “it” history. The second tries to answer the questions, What actually happened, and why? The first, however, is only interested in “How did WE become what WE are today?” The “we” may be a value consensus, as in the Whig Interpretation of […]

The Land Of Kim Il Advisory

In the old days films simply had minimum ages for admission, and the reasons for the classification had to be pruriently guessed at. Now American websites are full of “parental advisories” for each movie, describing precise levels of unsuitability for children based on the nature and frequency of swear-words, bare breasts and so forth. There […]