1) Stupid riots about stupid cartoons, most of which were, it needs to be pointed out time after time, were actually cartoons about potentially refusing to offend Muslims by doing what was originally asked. I object to death threats against the guy who did the bomb/turban image, but death threats to the people who did some of the others is just staggering in its daftness.
2) Al Quaida claiming that the cartoons were part of an American plot and various other people claiming it was the Israelis. I am as fond of conspiracy theories as the next person, but get a frakking grip...
3) Everyone's least favourite archbishop, Akinola in Nigeria, actually inciting riots that killed a lot more people with weasel words along the lines of 'Muslims should realize that they do not have a monopoly on violence'. So, gays in the priesthood is something to destroy Anglicanism over, but all that turning the other cheek stuff, not so much.
4) South Dakota. I am sick and tired of anti-abortion people claiming that unborn children are fully human from the moment of conception. Here's the thing, I don't think they believe that, because if they did, they would be desperately trying to ensure that every embryo is baptized and every miscarriage given the same funeral as an adult. And they would be as keen on pursuing polluters whose emissions cause misgarriages as they are about persecuting women and doctors. It is about making life difficult for women, and almost nothing else. Not really.
5. New Labour corruption and greed. Tony Blair is not going to sack Tessa Jowell over her husband's money-laundering for Berlusconi, because he has been so totally in the Italian's pocket himself, free holidays and all. And the idea that Tessa Jowell gets to say ' ah, I am a little fluffy head who signs papers my husband puts in front of me ' makes me want to vomit.
On the other hand, I saw and reviewed Capote - watch this space - as well as Aeon Flux and Lucky Number Slevin, neither of which was memorable; Seven Swords, which was huge fun; Wedding Crashers which was inadvertently slashy; and Syriana, which I might still get to review. Also, it has the wonderful bit where the two future suicide bombers are playing football and discussing the Spiderman movies in the light of what the Koran says about spiders. This was 1) quite naughty 2) a terrible warning to all exegetists of pop culture 3) perhaps the most apposite fake Tarantino moment ever.
I cooked fjm's baked date, lentil, rice, onion and allspice pilaf and roasted a spatchcocked chicken with shallott vinaigrette. Both wonderful, even made by me. On the other hand, I stupidly called out for Chinese takeaway and was ill for thirtysix hours; I really do have to assume that all cheap chicken has been fed on fishmeal and may spark my fish allergy.
Bright blue skies and really really cold weather.
Started writing Superheroes! with some of the general explaining bits. The book will take shape as I work; they always do.
Read a terrific manuscript about neuroscience and music by a man called Levitin, who seems to demonstrate that musical appreciation, memory and performance are as crucial parts of what makes us human as language. A lot of this is an attack on Pinker for claiming music as an irrelevant adaptation - which Pinker deserves for making the claim at least partly to discredit Gould's ideas about spandrels and exaptation by saying, well OK, this may happen but not for anything important. It also occured to me that Levitin needs to read Dunbar, because Dunbar's ideas about language as deriving from phatic noises used in long-distance primate grooming would apply in spades to music.
Also, if he is right, and music is all about socialization, what are the long term consequences of cults like Wahabism and to a lesser extent some Christianity which try to excise music from culture? All the stuff Shakespeare says about music and personality suddenly looks closer to modern neuroscience.
Watched a documentary about ageing and immortality. If they can give me another century of thinking and reading and listening to music, I'll take it. If I can have it without pain and in a body closer to when I was young and cute, I'll take it enthusiastically. Aubrey de Grey, who thinks he has cracked it, said quite rightly, yes, perpetual youth and extended life spans would create endless problems, but are we really going to condemn ten thousand people a day to death rather than try to solve those problems?
Guarantee me another century, subject to drowning, and acts of God's believers, and I will put much of the time into working on the problems of the world. I really don't believe that death adds savour to life - I have seen too much of it in recent years. But hey, believers who want to go and be with their imaginary friend, or people who think dying is more stylish, they're welcome to it.
As it is, I will probably die of old age a few months before the cure for it comes on line, and those of you that do get to live forever will live long enough to forget me.
Which is something else to be depressed about, vaguely. But damn, that pilaff and that spatchcocked chicken were good.