Category Archives: Miscellaneous

The New Routledge & Van Dale Dutch Dictionary

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The New Routledge & Van Dale Dutch Dictionary
Second Edition
Routledge/Van Dale – £125.00

Even though the Dutch language, Nederlands), is spoken by twenty-four million people as a first language – obviously within The Netherlands itself as well as sixty per-cent of Belgium (predominantly within the Flanders region) – it remains the third most widely spoken of the Germanic language after English and German.

Outside of the Low Countries, it is the native language of the majority of the population of Suriname and also holds official status in Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maartin, which are constituent countries of the Kingdom of The Netherlands. Then of course, there is South Africa and Namibia, where Afrikaans has evolved into a mutually intelligible daughter language of Dutch, spoken by a further sixteen million people.

This, in conjunction with the fact that I am half Dutch myself, is what triggered me into thinking it was nigh high time I owed a decent Dutch dictionary.

So where else/further to look than this?

The New Routledge & Van Dale Dutch Dictionary is literally the finest, if not the best Dutch/English dictionary available (especially this second edition). Reason being, this more than comprehensive and contemporary two-way dictionary is ideal for Dutch language learners and users at every level.

Some of its key features include over 32,000 Dutch entries in the first edition, with a further 9,000 new definitions and headwords – supported by a further 18,000 translations not to mention a really helpful pronunciation aid. And talking of headwords, there has been a substantial expansion of them throughout this dictionary, which, suffice to say, is in keeping with changes in both the Dutch and English languages themselves. As a result, this second edition includes a further 3,000 new examples.

Along with including the past tense and past participle forms of Dutch irregular verbs, all words also appear in an English spelling. Although interestingly, to avoid confusion, American spellings have not been included; which I do have to say I find of particular interest. For purposes of clarity if nothing else.

That said, perhaps a little clarification with regards the English and American spelling(s) might not go amiss: American spelling can be easily predicted on the pure basis of British spelling(s). For example, many words ending in ‘our’ (humour) and ‘tre’ (centre) are spelt ‘or’ (humor) and ‘ter’ (center) in American English.

Moreover, unlike British spellings, the American equivalents do not always use double consonants; thus American English has words such as ”traveler” and ”jeweler” as opposed to the British ”traveller’ and ”jeweller.” As such, where British and American English differ lexically, there are entries for both.

The New Routledge & Van Dale Dutch Dictionary also includes phonetic transcription, conjugational information (added to the Dutch verbs after relative headwords), while Dutch nouns have been gender marked, which I’m sure many students of the Dutch language will find particularly helpful (for speedy referral if nothing else).

Finally, this altogether handsome and easy to use Dutch/English dictionary benefits from easy referencing, along with an exceedingly well defined – if not improved – format and layout.

In all, the most agreeable and superlative of Dutch dictionaries currently on the market.

David Marx

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Disrupt

disrupt

Disrupt
100 Lessons in Business Innovation
By James Bidwell
Nicholas Brealey Publishing – £20.00

In the fourth chapter of Disrupt – 100 Lessons in Business Innovation, there’s a drop-quote which reads: ”The BBC wants to create personalised media that feels natural to the audience and exciting for the storyteller as it scales for millions of individual members.”

Hmm, does this then account for the vast amount of badly written, shonky-shite on the BBC of late? The sort of television that is nigh impossible to watch, let alone have beamed into one’s living room? Personally I think it does, as when anything is overtly analysed – which is to say researched and horribly dissected to such a dense, mathematical degree, that all initial innocence has been horribly suffocated by a menagerie of marketing geeks – there’s no room for true invention.

Nor growth, which might partially explain why Eastenders – surely one of the most odious of television programmes in the history of television programmes – continues to both disrupt and pollute the airwaves.

In and of itself, none of the above ought be in the least surprising; especially when one considers the following (which follows on from the aforementioned quote in the chapter entitled ‘Entertainment’): ”The system also raises the question of the ethics of personal data. How much do we really want media companies to know about us, and at what point does personalised entertainment become, or rely on, a significant invasion of privacy? In the age of big data, with governments knowing ever more about us, it may seem like a more frivolous concern, but it is valuable to constantly keep a check on who is tracking, selling, sharing and applying our personal data, whether it be governments or TV channels.”

If nothing else, much of what James Bidwell has written within these 260 pages is reflective of an increasingly fragmented society.

A society ever more dictated to by B-I-G business, bad government and (perhaps the worst of the lot) soulless media moguls – the accumulation of which is what this cold and most unpleasant of books, fundamentally amounts to.

David Marx

Brittany

Brittany

Brittany
DK Eyewitness Travel – £13.99

With its eventful history, contrasting landscapes, diverse economy and exceptionally rich cultural heritage, Brittany is a multifaceted region. While Breton traditions are very much alive, and while the region is famous for its menhirs, Brittany has also embraced the technological revolutions of the modern age. It is, for example, a major centre of the electronics industry.

                                                                                (‘A Portrait of Brittany’)

I’ve always been a great fan of the Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Travel books; primarily because you always know where you are with them – which might be because of the uniformity of its guides lay-out.

They always begin with a ‘How to use this guide’ section, which essentially consists of a brief description of what lies within: Introduction, Regional Map, Detailed Information on each sight, Major Towns, Street by Street Map(s) and naturally, a section on all the Top Sights.

So far as Brittany is concerned, its 271 pages (excluding General Index, Acknowledgements and a Phrase Book) have been divided into Region by Region – six colour-coded areas for reference (Ille-Et-Vilaine, Cotes D’Armor, Northern Finistere, Southern Finistere, Morbihan and Loire-Atlantique); whereby each chapter opens with an introduction to its respective area, immediately followed by a regional map showing the most interesting towns, villages and places to visit.

As such, navigating one’s way around the chapters and the book in general, is made simple by a numbering system used throughout.

Suffice to say, places of special interest are covered in more detail which may well traverse a few pages. A fine example being the Parlement de Bretagne in the region’s capital of Rennes: ”The Breton parliament, dating from 1618-55, is a major landmark […]. Salomon de Brosse, the architect of the Palais du Luxembourg in Paris, designed the facade in the Italian style. The interior courtyard, by contrast, is built in brick and stone in the French style. The interior decoration of the building emphasizes the hallowed importance of Brittany’s independent political power: the sumptuous Salle des Pas-Perdus, with the coat of arms of Brittany and France, and the ceiling of the Grand’Chambre, designed by Louis XIV’s foremost painter, amply express this […].”

All supplemented with colour photographs, illustrations, cutaways, floor-plans, not to mention a cross section layout of architectural gems – such as that just mentioned above – and a visitor’s checklist (phone numbers, addresses, email information etc), Brittany is a truly terrific guide book. As stated in The Independent: ”No other guide whets your appetite quite like this one.”

Indeed – it already proved itself invaluable on our last visit to the region in October, and will most definitely be one of the first items to be packed on our next visit in December.

David Marx

Age of Discovery

agethumbnail_Age of Discovery PB

Age of Discovery –
Navigating the Storms of Our Second Renaissance
By Ian Goldin & Chris Kutarna
Bloomsbury – £10.99

The new maps and media have also transformed financial connections. Finance is always a good place to look for evidence of social change, because it plays a fundamental role in society. We don’t always recognise that role: ‘finance’ is one of those concepts that get used so much, we have a hard time sorting out what it’s really about.

                                                                                            (‘New Tangles’)

In the big picture, the most important wealth gains happen not among the rich but among the poor, for whom increased income assets yield a dramatically different quality of life and powers of choice.

                                                                                             (‘Vitruvian Man’)

Are the above quotes audacious and far-sighted? Or utterly fraudulent and seemingly bonkers? Well if nothing else, many might interpret this book is a testimony to both sides of said argument, and definitely give people a run for their money – fyu pardon ye much used expression.

After all, haven’t a few of us been (t)here before?

The initial Renaissance, governed by the seminal likes of Columbus, Copernicus, Gutenberg and numerous others, redrew the lateral diagnosis of the world, whereby Western civilization shifted from the medieval to the early modern era. Even if such profound change, did came at a tumultuous price: primarily that of social division, political extremism, pandemics and economic turmoil.

Hmm, sounds like the social trajectory of today’s Tory Party – continuing to make people even poorer than they already are. Or ought to be.

Either way, Age of Discovery – Navigating the Storms of Our Second Renaissance is a tempestuous read of the highest order.

Take the following declaration from chapter eight: ”Donald Trump, prophet and doomsayer. He may shock contemporary norms with the seeming originality of his power-taking, but through a Renaissance lens he is an obvious plagiarist. Ever since descending a gold-plated escalator to declare his candidacy for president of the United States, Trump has stolen his lines and stage directions from a populist play-book that is as old as print” (‘Prophets and Bonfires’).

Let it be said that ”lines and stage directions” are not the only thing that Donald Trump has stolen. Other than holding the world to ransom, he has stolen much of America’s future – but far be it for me to misinterpret the intrepid deeds of such a vile human being.

Tread carefully and digest with caution.

David Marx

That sxit will never sell

shit

That sxit will never sell –
The real story behind Baileys Irish Cream and other great drinks brands
Prideaux Press – £25.00

One thing that struck me throughout my business life was that, no matter how many seemingly successful wine and spirit brands we developed, whenever I walked into a pub all I saw was people drinking beer. It took a long time for me to actually see someone order a Baileys, while Le Piat d’Or was far too expensive for publicans to offer as ‘pouring ‘wine. The great leap forward in the UK came in the seventies and eighties when warm, traditional English Bitter was overtaken by ‘world beer’ – cold, fizzy, bland lager. Lager even stormed one of the great bastions of traditional beer, Ireland, where Guinness was threatened by the likes of Budweiser from America and lagers from Australia, France and the rest of Europe.

                                                                           ‘Roll out the barrel’

If you’re into the drinking culture; an industry, that over the years has evolved unto something of a social, as well as seemingly intrepid media induced frenzy, then this more than attractive and most exceedingly well put together book is definitely for you.

That sxit will never sell – The real story behind Baileys Irish Cream and other great drinks brands, is attractive and exceedingly well put together in as much that if you’re interested, attracted to, or like something, then this is the sort of hefty book you’d like to see written on the subject.

Indeed, these 331 pages(excluding Thanks and Index) are refreshingly laid-out design wise, come replete with drop-quotes and colour photographs, all of which are chronologically compiled so as to entice any like-minded reader into delving further. There again, it’s author David Gluckman, has spent forty-five years working within the drinks industry, having created such well-known brands as Baileys Irish Cream, Sheridan’s, Le Piat d’Or,Aqua Libra, The Singleton, Tanqueray Ten, Ciroc along with an assortment of others. But perhaps more importantly, it’s the way they came about (that will fundamentally surprise you).

To be sure, it’s ultimately the clarity and simplicity of Gluckman’s thinking, that does so much to provide invaluable guidelines to nigh anyone engaged within the actual business of innovation – of which the following ought to perhaps act as some sort of great shining innovative light: ”A legendary anecdote in the brand’s history is said to have occurred when Anthony Tennant (later knighted) took a bottle of Baileys to Abe Rosenberg, head of the Paddington Corporation in New York. Abe was a titan of the drinks industry and the man who had turned J&B Rare into the biggest selling Scotch in America in the 1960s.

The story goes that he held up the Baileys bottle and looked at it with some disdain. ”The green background on the label reminds me of US uniforms in Vietnam” he said. He sipped at the muddy brown liquid with absolutely no enthusiasm. And then, it is said, he pronounced the immortal words ”This shit will never sell”” (‘Baileys was it – there was no Plan B’).

As chief executive of The Marketing Society, Hugh Burkitt, is known to have said of this book: ”A highly entertaining read, which should be studied by all marketers working on new brand development – especially for the remarkable true story of the creation of Baileys Irish Cream.”

If you’re after a read from which to glean ideas, then these nine inspired chapters could well be the premise from which to excitingly embark.

David Marx

Alexander Gardner

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Alexander Gardner –
Visionary Photographer of the American Civil War
By Keith Steiner
Matador – 25.00

How does a camera lie? In this naming of parts, the ways are legion. Most would not question the facts of the doctoring, editing, adjusting of photographs in the modern age of sophisticated airbrushing. The term to ‘photoshop’ is synonymous with contemporary photography in the same manner as to ‘hoover’ is synonymous in domestic management. The alteration of photographs either pre or post exposure is now commonplace, and is not broadly regarded as a breach of ethical standards. The new trope takes its place in a world teeming with smartphone and tablet authored photographs. These photographs engage in stylised composition and promulgate a number of common tropes. Their number renders their imagery indistinct and sometimes invisible.

                                                                                                        (‘The Fallen Man’)

With the advent of fake-news currently marauding the airwaves like an out-of-control tyrant from fake-hell; just as much could readily be applied to photography – could it not?

Along with every schism and trajectory thereof.

Just two, highly in-depth qualities which Keith Steiner address, head on might I add, throughout  Alexander Gardner – Visionary Photographer of the American Civil War.

 

A rather lavishly put together book, which takes both the reader as well as the fan of the photograph on something of a magical mystery tour that’s deeply embedded within some of the most perplexing confines of politics, psychology and photography.

The above quotation ought to send many a curious mind unto perpetual motion; the final terminus of which, as Steiner reminds us in the chapter ‘Reflections on a Looking Glass: The Tragedy of Lewis Payne: The Enigma of Identity,’ invariably reads: ”At risk are the very notions of personhood, selfhood, integrity, identity and personal agency. Readers may recall the blood freezing discarnate incantation which transfixed Orwell’s Winston Smith in Nineteen-Eighty-Four (1949) at his moment of greatest intimacy, privacy and personal realisation – ”You are dead.”

From the tragic Rose Woods of Gettysburg to the equally tragic destruction of New York’s Twin Towers, this book’s powerful assimilation of photographs (and I do mean powerful within the catafalque like context of poignancy), truly are something to behold.

If not believe.
If not try and eventually come to terms with.

As such, the 165 pages of Alexander Gardner – Visionary Photographer of the American Civil War are unsurprisingly special.

As Elizabeth Rigby (later Lady Eastlake) once said in 1857: ”Photography has become a household word and a household want… is found in the cell of the convict… and on the cold brave breast on the battlefield.”

David Marx

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

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The Sorcerer’s Apprentice –
An Anthology of Magical Tales
Edited by Jack Zipes
Illustrated by Natalie Frank
Princeton University Press – £27.95

Prejudice in general is a belief system, not a knowledge system about a particular group, and as a belief system, stereotypes of the targeted groups are based on some obvious distinguishing appearances, but more on activities and functions attributed to the group by way of fantasies.

                                                          (‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Harry
                                                          Potter, and Why Magic Matters’).

Well, who’d have ever thought one would read such profundity in a book entitled The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – An Anthology of Magical Tales?

Not I, that’s for sure.
Especially the very opening line: ”Prejudice in general is a belief system.”

Prejudice is indeed a belief system; which can, more often than not, purport to an abundance of seething, opposing disqualification. The terrible manifestation of which can further evolve unto distinct negativity. A most distinct issue upon which editor, Jack Zipes, further continues when he writes: ”Young Bruehl maintains that there are three elementary forms of fantasy, related to sexism, racism, and anti-Semitism, and childism can involve all three forms of fantasy, belief, and action: ”1) fantasies about being able to self-reproduce and to own the self-reproduced offspring; 2) fantasies about being able to have slaves – usually sex slaves – who are not incest objects; and 3) fantasies about being able to eliminate something felt to be invidiously or secretly depleting one from within.”

The latter is something Theresa May ought to be alerted to in the run up to the pending British Election (on June 8th). Let’s face it, May’s all-round embrace of ”fantasies about being able to eliminate something felt to be invidiously or secretly depleting one from within,” is a thought process she has readily subscribed to – ever since she embarked on becoming Home Secretary in 2010.

That said, An Anthology of Magical Tales really ought not become steeped nor embroiled in political tosh.

Indeed, its 348 pages (excluding Preface, Notes and Acknowledgements, Biographies of Authors, Editors, Collectors and Translators, Filmography, Bibliography, Selected and Chronological List of Sorcerer’s Apprentice Tales and Index) is a socially induced, and perhaps visionary book that presents something of a compelling look at ye traditional tale.

As Pauline Greenhill, Co-Editor of Fairy-Tale Films Beyond Disney has since written in relation to ‘The Magician and His Pupil’: ”readers will find trenchant insights and may be surprised to learn that a tale they thought they knew has much greater complexity than they imagined.”

As touched on at the outset, there is a variable complexity entwined within this book’s three parts (‘The Humiliated Apprentice Tales, ‘The Rebellious Apprentice Tales’ and the ‘Krabat Tales’), the sort of which is not only enlightening and entertaining, but also exploratory.

Littered with an array of black and white, full-page figures, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice could even be considered rather subversive – especially when placed alongside so much of what is going on in the world today.

David Marx