Monthly Archives: February 2020

On thin ice

I was talking last time about The Ride Across Lake Constance by Peter Handke. Lake Constance, or der Bodensee, sits between Germany, Switzerland and Austria. But the play itself gets its title from a South German legend about a horseman who sets out to ride to a village on the shore of the lake. It is winter, and it is snowing.

Lake Constance der Bodensee
Map of Lake Constance (der Bodensee)
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Ride across Lake Constance

45 years ago I was in a play called The Ride Across Lake Constance. We put it on at a little fringe theatre club in Regents Park Road, Primrose Hill, called The Howff. ‘Howff’ is a Scottish word for meeting place or haunt. The building seems to be a wine shop now, so I guess it could still qualify as a howff of sorts. But to give you an idea of what it was like in the early 1970s, a review in the New Musical Express of a Sandy Denny gig the previous year talked of ‘the customary Howff fringe-theatre crowd who usually yap in cultured Hampstead tones’.

Our production was done on a shoestring, as you can see from the poster:

Peter Handke Ride Across Lake Constance
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Five uneasy pieces

Violinist Joshua Bell is currently Music Director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields in London. He was born in 1967 in Bloomington, Indiana. At 14 he played with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Riccardo Muti, and he made his Carnegie Hall debut at 17 with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. In January 2007, at the age of 39, he was playing to a packed house at Boston’s Symphony Hall, where half-decent seats start at $100.

Joshua Bell
Joshua Bell in 2010

But three days after that performance he was busking at the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station in Washington DC. He always plays the same violin though, a 1713 Stradivarius. He had bought this a few years previously for an estimated $3.5 million. He played for 43 minutes and made $32.17. Continue reading

Brexit, error correction and Germany

I mentioned last time a few qualms I had with David Deutsch’s views on Brexit, and in particular on First Past The Post (FPTP) vs Proportional Representation (PR). I should probably dig more into what Karl Popper had to say about error correction and falsifiability, specifically in relation to political rather than scientific theory. But until then, here are some more of my worries, this time about how Deutsch applies the idea of error correction to modern German history. Continue reading

David Deutsch and Brexit

David Deutsch is a clever man: physics professor at Oxford who pioneered quantum computing. He is also a keen promoter of fallibilism, the idea that we can be mistaken in anything we think or do. In this he sees himself as a follower of Karl Popper, a Viennese philosopher of science famous for (among other things) claiming that a theory is only truly scientific if it is falsifiable. Continue reading