Nothing but the facts

For weeks I have been looking for/trying to remember that wonderful summation of what facts really are, and I just found it:


A piece of information presented as having objective reality.

“We speak of facts as if they were objective reality, but they are really our or someone’s perceptions. In fact, Fact means ‘made by man’ and is a word whose root is Latin, factum, the past participle of facere, to do or make. A fact merely marks the point where we have agreed to let the investigation cease.”
Reading the News, Robert Karl Manoff & Michael Schudson, editors, Pantheon Books, 1987, p.62.

The book itself is described here

Accelerating signs of dying Dutch language?

Dutch, the language of the Netherlands, is dying and not too many people have noticed. I am not referring to the 90% of the world population unaware that Dutch is a language nor for that matter that the Netherlands is a country. I am talking about Dutch speakers, mostly in the Netherlands and Belgium. Few of them are aware of their language’s nearing demise. Almost all of them speak English and a good number of them are competent in German and French as well, not to mention all those who also are somewhat proficient in one to five other languages.
But it is English that is the pernicious killer here. English for years has been the most popular language for pop music, with most of any week’s top ten songs being sung not in Dutch but in English. Such a preference for not-my-mother tongue is unheard and unheard of in Germany, France and Spain.
English is the language of business in Holland and Belgium, certainly in the multinationals and also in the import and export trade which is the lifeblood of these economies. Here, English is trendy.
English has also in the last decade become the academic language of choice. In a successful attempt to attract foreign students, Dutch and Flemish universities and other institutes of higher learning require their professors to conduct their classes in English, even if both the professor and the majority of students in a given class are Dutch and Flemish. It does not take a Delphic oracle to conclude that once the highest level of education is given in a foreign language, the most educated people in these countries (1) will become even more proficient in English and, (2) will, perhaps subconsciously, come more and more to associate their native language as something to speak only, if it all, at home and in shops — an aboriginal dialect.
The trend here, where not only almost every educated person speaks English but where also almost everyone is educated, is accelerating. For at least a generation professional programmers have eschewed translations of technical manuals, preferring the precision and — let’s admit it — better general readability of the original English versions.
Dutch is not yet dead. It does and will survive in pubs and family gatherings, as the tongue of nostalgia and gezelligheid — that lovely and untranslatable Dutch/Flemish word and feeling combining sociability, friendliness, jolliness, merriment, comfort and coziness. But the language itself may be, probably is, dying. One recent case in point: Los diez grandes inventos de la evolución. That is the title of the Spanish translation of Nick Lane’s wonderful new book Life Ascending, The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution, 2009. I bought my copy here in Amsterdam, in a Dutch bookstore, in the original version, the English version.
Where is the Dutch translation? There isn’t one. People here who read books by biochemists read English.

Mi libro favorito del 2009

Me gusta mucho ir de compras, para los libros. Otras personas les gusta jugar al golf o caminar pero yo prefiero leer.

En una tienda de libros a veces pienso que sólo estoy mirando, pero siempre existe la posibilidad de que voy a encontrar algo bueno. En la librería Scheltema in Amsterdam he encontrado mi libro favorito del 2009: Los diez grandes inventos de la evolución por Nick Lane.

Nick Lane es bioquímico y profesor honorario del University College London. Como Ian Stewart escribe, este libro es un escrito fascinante y hermoso que cuenta los grandes misterios de la vida. Este es un ejemplo de por qué me gusta ir de compras para los libros. (Lo he leído en el inglés)

Los Diez Grandes Invenciones de la evolución son el origen de la vida, la creación de ADN, la fotosíntesis, la evolución de las células complejas, sexo, movimiento, vista, sangre caliente, la conciencia y la muerte.

¿Qué vosotros gusta para comprar, y también qué es lo que odias?

2 at Black Cat Poems

Black Cat Poems pleased me this weekend with an invitation for me to publish two poems there and for them to mention and link to my site in their extensive collection.

My link is now up at:

And my two poems there are posted at: