Apr. 18th, 2006

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A couple of weeks ago, I picked up one of the Que sais-je? books. Que sais-je? is famous in the Francophone world, an indispensable reference series published since 1941 by the Presses Universitaires de France. It unfortunately doesn't

This particular title was the second edition of journalist Philippe Decraene's 1961 Le panafricanisme. It's a worn edition, the pages having advanced past yellow to brown, the inscription in ink of the name of one Martha Taylor, "28/11/61" in Strasbourg still living, an address in the German city of Köln on the inside back cover written in pencil fading. The detail given to the abortive plans for border changes is interesting--the irredentist longing for a Greater Somalia, the plausibility of a unified Senegambia, the failure of the Federation of Mali, even a United States of Latin Africa proposed by the Central African Republic's first president Barthélémy Boganda, based on French Equatorial Africa, that would stretch at least as far as Portuguese Angola and Belgian Rwanda--not least because none of these projects ever worked out in the end.
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I have read and I do like the stories of I, Robot, and when I was much, much younger I did read the Foundation trilogy along with Foundation's Edge and Foundation and Earth. Despite this, I hadn't gotten around to reading The Caves of Steel. I remedied this lack over the weekend.

The verdict? Surprisingly good. )
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I was riding north on the Dufferin bus to work this morning. Just a minute before it crossed to Bloor and the Dufferin TTC station, I heard a woman who was standing parallel to the driver, in the aisle, speak.

- Do you want to use your sex life to cover up the archival material?

At first I thought that she was speaking to the driver, but then as she continued I realized that she was off having her own little conversation. We passengers flashed grins at one another.

- Do you really think that you can use your sex life to cover up the archival material?

Descending into the subway, to my delight I found that she was also headng east. So, I boarded her subway car. In the ensuing dialogue, conducted as she spoke into something small that might well have been a recording device, she castigated this person, "a general and a movie star," for being a self-indulgent moral monster. "I think you'd like to use it to put the blame on other people. I think you like that kind of thing." Not to worry since she said that she had "thousands of pictures, all the materials" at hand.

If the woman wasn't recording background material for fiction while peforming impromptu mass-transit theatre, someone should use that material. This is, as a point of fact, one reason I love the TTC: Everyone's on board. I'm just having fun trying to figure out who the protagonists of this conversation could possibly be.
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