A busy schedule at work, a new blog to (partially) take care of, an end-of-the-year mood which has to do with some concerns expressed earlier on this blog. What better opportunity for writing this post than to rely on:
– someone else’s blog, yet properly dealing with libraries and the idea of the “common good”;
– Marguerite Yourcenar’s wonderful novel L’oeuvre au noir – whose English translation has the same title I have chosen for this post, and where the following quote – aptly dealing with numbers and men – comes from: «Man is as yet an enterprise, beset by time and necessity, by chance, and by the stupid and ever increasing primacy of sheer numbers.[…] It is men who will kill off man» (from Farrar, Straus and Giraux’s edition of Yourcenar’s book, found here; as for the French original: «L’homme est une entreprise qui a contre elle le temps, la nécessité, la fortune, et l’imbécile et toujours croissante primauté du nombre […]. Les hommes tueront l’homme», p. 305 of Gallimard’s 1968 edition, available at the UvA Library).
– a thorough inquiry, from the Department of Mathematics at the University of York, on the origin of the well-known saying “lies, damned lies and statistics”, which is to the point of this post’s mood as well;
– two witty cartoons from one of Italy’s best known and most appreciated children book’s illustrators and political cartoonists, Francesco Tullio Altan: not only a gripping visualization of some of the above mentioned concerns, but also a convenient link to a forthcoming post on the Blog Nostrum. As for the cartoons’ texts: the two ladies (found here), “We stand for State schools. You really are a bunch of losers!”. The two gentlemen (source), “Water privatization: it is just like privatizing air! Keep calm: one thing at a time”.
Season’s greetings from Amsterdam.