Tony Blair is happy at last

Today’s announcement makes Tony Blair one of the happiest men in the country.

The effects of horse manureI first met Tony Blair in the summer of 1996, when his lorry turned up in my drive. He was selling composted horse manure, he said. I looked at it. It was good. I bought some. I took out my cheque-book to pay him and asked him what name to write. He shifted from one foot to the other and looked embarrassed. I asked him if he preferred cash and he said no, a cheque was better. What name, I asked again. He looked more embarrassed. “Tony Blair”, he said, and gave me his card.

I avoided his eyes. The matter was too painful for discussion or even for silent sympathy.
Continue reading

Dyslexia in Chinese

This article from the Guardian suggests that people who are dyslexic in English won’t necessarily be dyslexic in Chinese.

The argument turns on dyslexia being a defect of phonemic processing, and since Chinese is not a phonetic script, being bad at phonemes doesn’t cause trouble.

If the argument were true then it might suggest an explanation of why older scripts (such as Chinese and hieroglyphic Egyptian) represent words and concepts rather than sounds, and perhaps even why the first phonetic scripts were syllabic. One might say that phonemic analysis is a skill that took time for the human race to learn.

There are many missing parts to the story, which the journalist presumably had to leave out to save space.

  • Is dyslexia worse in Italian than it is in English? It should be worse because English is less phonetic and so depends more on whole-word memory and less on the analysis of phonemes, but it should better because Italian has fewer spelling rules to learn.
  • Does Chinese dyslexia exist and in what does it consist?
  • Why, if English dyslexia is about phonemes, do similar-looking letters (d/b, p/q) get confused?

St Ronald Aquinas

Here is a hitherto unsuspected passage from the Summa Theologiae:

HARD KNOCKS

The notion of a bazaar is ‘that form of vendition in which things of the least possible value are sold at the greatest possible price, by those who most want to get rid of them to those who least want to acquire them, for charitable purposes’.

Continue reading