I love the public library service for what it did for me as a child and as a student and as an adult. I love it because its presence in a town or a city reminds us that there are things above profit, things that profit knows nothing about, things that have the power to baffle the greedy ghost of market fundamentalism, things that stand for civic decency and public respect for imagination and knowledge and the value of simple delight.
“So sudden loss causes us to look backward – but it also forces us to look forward, to reflect on the present and the future, on the manner in which we live our lives and nurture our relationships with those who are still with us. We may ask ourselves if we’ve shown enough kindness and generosity and compassion to the people in our lives. Perhaps we question whether we are doing right by our children, or our community, and whether our priorities are in order. We recognize our own mortality, and are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame – but rather, how well we have loved, and what small part we have played in bettering the lives of others.”
– Barack Obama, Tucson Memorial Speech, 2011.
Pope Benedict XVI is visiting Scotland and England over the next few days. I have never lived anywhere with a big Catholic community and it is interesting to see how Glasgow is reacting. I do not know if it is the result of the Glasgow Airport terrorist attack, but the amount of security is quite surprising; The main motorway is being shut down for an entire day, several areas surrounding the park where the Pope will address pilgrims have been shut off and certain trains are designated pilgrims-only. This reminds me of when George W. Bush visited Denmark at his height of his unpopularity – boy, it was fun to navigate Copenhagen that day – but mainly it strikes me as odd that a religious leader can generate so much fuss.
Then again I identify as a secular humanist. One of these days I need to make myself a “Humanist; Not a Dawkins Fan”, though. One of the Pope’s aides have pulled out of the UK visit following an interview wherein he criticises the UK for “a new and aggressive atheism”. The media have reacted strongly to this, of course, but I think I know which brand of atheism the aide is referring to and, honestly, it is a form of atheism that makes me uncomfortable too. I need to write more about this, but suffice to say that a) I’m puzzled by the Pope’s visit and b) I hope all my Catholic friends in Glasgow will have a memorable and good day.
If course there is one religious belief with which I do feel connected: Forn Sidr or Asatru, the belief in the old Norse gods. I grew up with the stories and while I do not believe, there is definitely a connection. I think it is about growing up in a landscape where you see remnants of the ancient past everywhere and seeing the forces of nature unfold before your eyes. Again, I need to write more about this.
And there is a knitting aspect, of course.
Last night I cast on for Idunn. I assumed this would be a commuter project: The February Beret by sockpixie. I made this hat in orange last year and it turned out to be the most flattering hat I have ever owned – well, apart from the rusty orange hue. As soon as I finished it last year, I began thinking about those two precious balls of Scottish Tweed DK in “Apple Green” from my stash. Ever since Rowan discontinued Scottish Tweed due to supply issues, I have been acting all dragon-like what with the hoarding and jealous guarding.. but yarn is really meant to be knitted up and so here we are.
And Idunn was a Norse goddess associated with apples.
I don’t think it’ll be much of a commuter project because I’m halfway done. Just in time for the first autumnal winds and heavy rainfall. I love being a knitter.
PPS. I shall be in Copenhagen November 4 until November 8, so get in touch if you know of any knit night/knit event/yarn sale.
I am home after three days working in Yorkshire. The sun was out the first two days and our surroundings were beautiful and very rural. During one meeting I spotted a pheasant walking about on the small hill outside and predictably enough I saw plenty of sheep, cows and even deer. I do not live far from nature here in Glasgow, but it is nice when you do not get a constant background hum of traffic.
And I got a lot of knitting done during meetings, in the evenings and on my epic five-hour-long train journeys.
Harmony is working up really well. I am past the first lace chart and the rib section and well into the second lace chart. It is my sort of project, really – lace charts, fine gauge yarn and a staggering amount of knitting to be done – and I’m happy to sit knitting it.
Harmony is my only project at the moment, though, so I will need another project to keep my sanity. I have a gazillion ideas in my head right now (most of which involve completely insane fair-isle, thank you Ben) but I may have to stick to summery yarns right now which limits me a bit.
I have been catching up on the Eurovision Song Contest – I was stuck on a train during the first semi-final which was heartbreaking and had to rely on text messages from Other Half (“Poland’s a pervy Hungarian animated short film”) which was fun, but Clearly Not the Real Thing. You can still catch me talking ESC on BBC World Service’s Digital Planet but for me it is now all about the second semi-final. I have high hopes after seeing energetic songs (and Belgium/Russia) making it out of the first semi-final, so I’m hoping the trend will continue with Turkey, Romania, Azerbaijan and Denmark qualifying easily with a surprise surge of love for Cyprus. I also think Armenia will do well.
Just before leaving for Yorkshire, I followed an amazing thread on MetaFiler. MeFi is a decade-old message board and one night a user posted that two friends of his had found themselves in a potentially dangerous situation – could anyone help? Newsweek has a comprehensive look at the story, but you will want to read it all unfold on the MetaFilter site. Best of the web, for sure, and proof that social networking has more to it that celebrity tweets and Farmville..
And Neil Finn sported a moustache on BBC’s Later With Jools Holland. Sadly, I’m all a-Twittering about that bit rather than the other bits..
.. I told my Other Half that I did not feel like breaking up my long-term relationship with Neil Finn (after all, it’s been nearly twenty years – that is commitment, I’ll have you know) but more like entering couples’ therapy. My Other Half did not answer me. He is also not going with me to see The Crowdies next week. I wonder why?
Despite the upheaval and emotional turmoil (in more than one way – I am not that shallow), today has been a nice day. I was given a big box of posh chocolate because I did someone a favour. It was unexpected, but very lovely. I also have a finished object to show off (if I can decide whether it is a fascinator or a corsage).
I put a lit candle on my window-sill tonight. It is a Danish tradition to do on the evening of May 4 in memory of May 4, 1945, the evening the Nazi Occupation of Denmark ended. I lit the candle in memory of family members, now long gone, who fought with the Danish Resistance. I also lit the candle thinking about democracy and the forth-coming British general election. I cannot vote in this election, and I have a sinking feeling about its likely outcome, but I appreciate living in a democracy (albeit one with a wacky voting system).
And BIG, MASSIVE congratulations to the Hand-Knitted Pirate who is now Doctor Hand-Knitted Pirate.
In time you’ll recognise that love is larger than life
And praise will come to those whose kindness
leaves you without debt
and bends the shape of things to come
that haven’t happened yet
One of the loveliest things ever sung.
Today is a tired, quiet day at Casa Bookish. I have booked train tickets for a trip to West Yorkshire next month. I am spending nearly five hours each way travelling through Berwick-Upon-Tweed, Durham and York until I reach my destination. It sounds heavenly: me, my iPod, my knitting and beautiful vistas. True to style I have already begun plotting my knitting project and have settled upon Peace with a Kidsilk Haze self-designed scarf as back-up plan. Meanwhile, my Millbrook cardigan is flying off the needles. I separated for the sleeves today.
And around the web:
The secret to Farmville‘s popularity is neither gameplay nor aesthetics. Farmville is popular because in entangles users in a web of social obligations. When users log into Facebook, they are reminded that their neighbors have sent them gifts, posted bonuses on their walls, and helped with each others’ farms. In turn, they are obligated to return the courtesies. As the French sociologist Marcel Mauss tells us, gifts are never free: they bind the giver and receiver in a loop of reciprocity.
A very interesting look at the curious popularity of Farmville.
Those who wonder whether the social media will “affect the outcome” of the [British general] election are asking the wrong question. It is affecting the outcome of everything, from having an idea, buying a pair of jeans or going on a date. It is not the dweeby tweets of campaigners, or the sad slanging matches between beer-fuelled political hacks that matter. What matters is that a new conversation is out there, and the first politician to look vaguely like they knew this got a (what may be short term) boost from this.
Paul Mason looks at how technology may be shifting electoral behaviour. I am not eligible to vote in the UK general election, but I still follow the election with a mix of bemusement, incredulity and curiosity. Earlier this week I checked the main candidates running in my local area – let’s just say, it was interesting.
Finally, can you believe that these people get to make calls on how we all look? No, me neither..
The wise elders would explain that inside the aircraft, passengers, who had only paid the price of a few books for the privilege, would impatiently and ungratefully shut their window blinds to the views, would sit in silence next to strangers while watching films about love and friendship – and would complain that the food in miniature plastic beakers before them was not quite as tasty as the sort they could prepare in their own kitchens.
The elders would add that the skies, now undisturbed except by the meandering progress of bees and sparrows, had once thundered to the sound of airborne leviathans, that entire swathes of Britain’s cities had been disturbed by their progress
Alain de Botton wrote his piece in reaction to the last few days’ “travel chaos” (i.e. man is not greater than nature). I am reminded of Ben Marcus’ The Age of Wire & String, a strange little book which I struggled to understand. I think it is the ritualised language both de Botton and Marcus use.
Completely unrelated: Death Metal Lyric OR William Blake Quote? Go on ..
Meanwhile I am still torn on whether to use a particular yarn for a particular cardigan pattern. When I look at the yarn I think “texture! cables! I have 1700 yrds!” but the cardigan is rather plain and takes 1050 yrds. Woe.