How did I miss that?

Dear Reader,

If you are with us for a while, and your memory still works, you’d remember me mentioning Bill Bryson. And if you don’t, the search function of diablog on top of the right column will lead you to this post, and this one.

The posts are from 2010 and 2011. And somehow I forgot to check, what Bill Bryson had been up to. Apparently he wrote two more books. And one of his older ones, A Walk in the Woods, was turned into a movie with the same title:

A Walk in the Woods


With Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, and Emma Thompson, could you go wrong?

This is a very nice movie. It isn’t a blockbuster comedy. More an escape of an hour and half, that will have you smiling all along. And sometimes laughing out loud. I like it a lot.

And I write “like” instead of liked, because today a movie is available, whenever you want. Not like in the past, when you either saw it at the cinema, or missed it.

Somehow I missed that little movie in 2015. And I am glad I saw it now. And that we have the technique to do so.

Stay tuned,

Engine Room

What does it take?

Dear Reader,

Especially, dear British citizens, what does it take to wake you up?

Slumber is a great state. Warm, cozy, comfortable, free of worries. But every day you leave it, get out of the comfort zone, and start living. At least most of us do. What motivates you to do so?

I ask, because you Brits are asleep when it comes to democracy. I know, many of you still think of yourself as subjects, not as citizens. Those are excluded from this discussion. But what about the other ones? What does it take to wake you up?

Since 2008 or 2011 your government has put all of you under surveillance. All of you, all of your telecommunication. The program is called Tempora, you can read about it here. Presumed innocent does not exist in the UK. Habeas corpus? Gone. The magna carta, of which Glynsky is so proud, has no relevance anymore.

And now your newly re-elected Prime Minister is convinced (emphasis mine):

“For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone.”

Too long? Isn’t that the basis of a lawful state? Obey the law, and you are fine?

Not anymore. At least not in the UK. The UK now has thought crime. Because:

“This government will conclusively turn the page on this failed approach.”

You can read it all commented here. Welcome to 1984.

Just in case someone does not understand:

1) We know what you are thinking thanks to Tempora (emails, web history, chats, sms, etc)


2) We do not like what you are thinking about race, religion, gender, democracy, …


3) You will go to jail.

Back to my question, and I mean it: What does it take to wake you up?

To all others I say: sweet dreams.

Engine Room

Darwin’s reading

Dear Reader,

Sometime high culture gets cut off a bit at diablog. At those times I usually step in and try to raise the bar a bit. Today I picked a find from a short while ago, and start with one of Philippa’s favorites, a map:



It comes from yet another wonderful online project, called Charles Darwin’s Beagle Library. Here is the link:

No, Smiles, this isn’t about dogs. It is the digital collection of all the books, Darwin took with him on his voyage on the Beagle.

Now you can read, what Darwin read on what many consider the most important research trip in human history.

Stay tuned,

Engine Room

Open Maps at the New York Public Library

Dear Reader,

As we at diablog were discussing immigration in the comments of this post, I thought it might be a good time to point you towards somewhere interesting.

Two months ago, the NY Public Library started publishing all its maps. For free. As in free beer. You can start exploring here:

Open Access Maps at NYPL

And what has that to do with immigration?

NYC is the number one spot when it comes to immigration. We are called the melting pot. We have a statue dedicated to liberty, with the famous lines on a bronze plaque:

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

No other place has seen more immigrants, than Ellis Island and NYC. And through the maps you can see, where they lived first. And where they are now.

Continue reading “Open Maps at the New York Public Library”

queen of the dessert…

Dear diablog,

I have just finished reading an extraordinary book which had figured on my Christmas list – I had requested 5 and this was number 2 so my present will last for another month or two, thanks Mme.

I suppose when one is born with the surname Shakespeare it is incumbent to show some writing skills and this young man has kept to his heritage.



The plot is extraordinary in that it is the true story of his aunt who, within the family, was recognised as a bit of a bête noire but now one seemed to be able to tell him why!

All remained a bit of a mystery until…


Continue reading “queen of the dessert…”

Getty giving away oil?

Dear Reader,

Mark Getty is credited with the quote “Intellectual Property is the oil of the 21st century”.

In the 20th century the Getty family made a fortune in oil. Today, Mark Getty – grandson of the founder of the oil company – is chairman of Getty Images.

For Mark Getty and his company, one of the largest suppliers of images for commercial use, the quote makes sense. The man must tell the world that he owns something of value. And he hopes, that we all believe him and pay for the use of photos, he holds rights to. If you are thinking of a church/religion business model right now, you are not far off.

Maybe a little sad for Mr. Getty, but to our advantage, The Getty, part of the J. Paul Getty Trust, started to publish its collection online. For free.

It must be a little bit tough for (not so) poor Mr. Getty seeing what he considers highly valuable stuff being “given away” for free. It is our luck, that the people running his grandfather’s foundation are a bit smarter.

Here is an image of the collection,

the “Young Italian Woman at the Table” by Paul Cézanne seems to be thinking. Something highly recommended by diablog.

Stay sane,

Engine Room

Edutainment – an ancient concept

Dear Reader,

In a recent comment, our beloved commentator Casper


made a wonderful compliment. Diablog inspired her to read, about Sisyphus in this case. What more could we ask for, than inspiring people? Casper, you made my Sunday. Thanks!

Quick question for our young readers: Aren’t the ancient myths part of the curriculum anymore?

Being a lucky guy, the books of ancient Greek mythology were part of my upbringing. Reading the Iliad and the Odyssey. Zeus and the Olympians, Pan and the nymphs, Apollo and Dionysus, plus the heroic sagas about Heracles, Achilles, Odysseus, Jason, Oedipus, Orpheus, etc. Thanks to the internet, now you can get most of it free here. I love it.

Equally, the Roman mythology was available to me. I have to say – sorry Glynsky – it was more or less a copy of the Greek work. There is even a term for this, Interpretatio Romana. But then, the Greek probably took a lot from the Egyptians.

Anyway, as Wikipedia puts it, Roman stories:

Continue reading “Edutainment – an ancient concept”