Bridging the gap

The rest isn’t silence.

I’ve been intending to post something here for some time, but every time I’ve tried to do something about it, I eventually look at what I’ve written and decide that I can’t be bothered posting it.

The start of this term has been busy with the practice for the individual orals, the practice for IGCSE speaking, the Written Assignment, and the actual individual orals all being dealt with in the first three weeks. As a consequence, the winter holiday is a distant memory with a feeling of unreality about it. The coming week will be the first normal week we’ve had all term, but the week after is the mocks (yes, already), and by the time those are out of the way, the final exams for English B will barely be a month off.

In other news, I decided to buy myself some nice speakers for my laptop when my latest set of Edifier R10s started giving off a hum. This time I bought a set of Edifier M3 Plus speakers which consist of a tube-shaped sub-woofer and two golf ball like satellites, which I tried with my Walkman and suspected that the sound was better that my big Edifier R30s. (Yes, I do seem to have a thing for Edifier speakers; I did look at some Logitech speakers, but the model I considered had too much bass and no control over it.)

I finally did something about getting better broadband at home, and have switched to China Mobile. The new service offers 10Mbps, which is a marked improvement on the pitiful 1.5Mbps which I’d previously had. The downside is that China Mobile appears to block Live Journal even although I am able to access it from school. In better tech news, I found I was able to chat to Mum and Dad on Skype using my phone.


Indo-European Linguistics by James Clackson.

This is an overview of issues in Indo-European, laying out issues in phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and affiliations among the IE languages. In my own field (stress assignment), Indo-Europeanists generally think in terms of paradigmatic shifts rather than morphologically generated patterns, which is a little like applying templates to the process. An interesting book which gives some insight into the limits of our knowledge of (P)IE.


Empress Dowager Cixi by Jung Chang.

In her book, Chang shows that the picture we have of Cixi is not exactly accurate and that while some of the charges levelled at her are well founded, the author presents a woman who ought to be lauded rather than reviled. As well as trying to correct the bias against Cixi, Chang also shines the light on the people who helped her, including foreigners such as Sir Robert Hart, who was instrumental in improving the Chinese government’s finances. Chang also takes quite a few implicit swipes at the present dynasty with the Dowager Empress and her supporters being keen to put reform into practice rather than waffle about them and make empty gestures.


Proof.

Gwyneth Paltrow fears that she might’ve inherited her father’s mental illness. “How shall I play this part?” thought Gwyneth, and said to herself, “Like a very damp, monochromatic sponge.” Film of the play. Yawn.


Michael Collins.

The American version of the road towards Irish independence. Michael Collins fights to free Ireland from the clutches of the British Empire while conducting a bromance with Harry Boland which turns sour when he returns from London with a declaration of almost independence and triggers a civil war. Harry is killed in the internecine fighting, and de Valera apparently entices Collins to a remote part of the countryside where he can be assassinated. History takes a drubbing at the same time.

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2 thoughts on “Bridging the gap”

  1. It’s a while since I read a proper history book, so do you think *Empress Dowager Cixi *will rivet my attention and provide a more balanced perspective than I got in the 1960s when studying Chinese history at the University of Canterbury? The view then was mainly negative.

    Is the version of *Michael Collins *the one starring Liam Neeson made in 1996? I have it here and enjoyed both the film and the documentary which includes a lot of footage of actual newsreels of the time. I don’t know how far the film makers “adapted” the true story but the sets were remarkably similar to the some of actual venues of the real events shown in the newsreels.

    1. I think you’d be interested in Chang’s book. She’s a readable author, and this isn’t a historical account for an academic audience.

      Yes, Michael Collins is the film with Liam Neeson in it. If I remember correctly, certain things were glossed over (his more amorous exploits among others, I believe), and there was never any hint that de Valera was involved in his assassination.

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