Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sunday, October 28, 2012

War Games

“Talent hits a target no one else can hit; 
Genius hits a target no one else can see.” 
– Arthur Schopenhauer

Friday, October 26, 2012

Toys left in awkward positions #823


Victor was completing a survey today which gets distributed in the schools every year. A kind of child census with lots of intrusive questions like “Does someone help you with your school work?” or “Do you have the internet at home?”.

Question 41 related to race or, more specifically, skin colour. The toe-curling options which the poor child had to choose from would have had focus groups and racial awareness committees in the UK or US in a tailspin: “Do you consider yourself (a) white (b) black (c) brown (d) yellow or ‘of oriental origin’ or (e) indigenous.” 

Victor didn’t hesitate for a moment and - gently pinching the skin on his arm - looked up and said “indigenous”.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


unblocker · exterminator · plumber · electrician · stonemason

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Moving Out

Finally found an exit (thanks to the wonderful generosity of friends Trent and Paige)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

DEAD, Tango!

“Seventy-four percent of dog owners believe that their dogs experience guilt.

There is plenty of evidence for what scientists refer to as primary emotions – happiness and fear, for example – in animals. But empirical evidence for secondary emotions like jealousy, pride, and guilt, is extremely rare in the animal cognition literature. The argument usually given for this lack of evidence is that such secondary emotions seem to require a level of cognitive sophistication, particularly when it comes to self-awareness or self-consciousness, that may not exist in non-human animals.”

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Self Portraits

J, W and R
V, E and W
M (“with swollen eye)

Sao Paulo Street View II

Privileged, technically

I read recently of verbal communication that:
- 7% is based on content
- 38% is based on tone of voice
- 55% is based on nonverbal signals
Considering my linguistic abilities (and I include my native tongue in this), I take great comfort in the fact that the majority of verbal communication is, in fact, non-verbal.

I never quite know if it is due to my deficiencies, their lack of concentration or ignorance of basic vocabulary or a combination of all of the above, but conversations of late have taken on a surreal quality. Sometimes I will say a word or phrase and the unfortunate recipient will smile or nod knowingly, having no idea whether I have just commented on the weather, insulted his mother or - worse still - attempted to impart some word of “wisdom”. It reminds me of conversations in Italy as a child - not knowing the Italian word, I’d add an a, o or i to the equivalent English word and express it with an air of confidence and the ubiquitous wave of the hands. Sometimes working, often backfiring hilariously. 

Three of the four brothers were called together to discuss their recent behaviour in school. Delinquent activities were - to the delight (and relief) of their exasperated teachers - on the decrease, but grades were in free-fall. Zero-sum schooling.

The discipline we had put in place for general misbehaviour in school was a complete withdrawal of privileges in the rescue house (no films, no video games etc) until behaviour improved. It was a serious discipline for a serious situation that - we explained - was not to be tolerated. In order to keep our word, privileges had to be restored, therefore. I explained that I was reluctant to do this, however, because of the obvious trade-off that had occurred. I think I used the word technically about three times during the thirty minute discussion - as if being lawyerly about it all would make the slightest bit of difference. 

A twelve year old should, I think, be familiar with the word technically, but maybe not a ten year old. At the end, as the three were getting up to leave, R looked up at me and rather sheepishly said:
“So we do have our privileges back?”
E stopped in his tracks, swung his head around and beat me to the response.
BONUS Bacon: