For some reason that is beyond me, apart from the lure of at least some fascinating places, I have found myself undertaking the following crazy sequence of keynote addresses and papers over the next five weeks:

1. Spiritual Booze and Freedom: Lenin on Religion

– 13-15 October: keynote address at the 50th anniversary of Beijing Languages and Cultures University.

2. A Revolution is a Miracle: Lenin and the Translatability of Politics and Religion

– 20-23 October: paper at ‘Lenin’s Thought in the 21st Century‘, Wuhan University, China.

3. Venerating Lenin

– 20-23 October: paper at ‘Lenin’s Thought in the 21st Century‘, Wuhan University, China.

4. Old Wine in New Wineskins: Reassessing Dynamic Equivalence

– 25-28 October: keynote address at ‘Translation and Interpretation in the Age of Globalization: Looking Back and Looking Ahead‘, Central Universitar Nord din Baia Mare, Transylvania, Romania.

5. Antonio Negri and the Bible

– 2 November: keynote at ‘The Book of Job in Philosophical Perspective‘, Faculty of Theology, University of Oslo, Norway.

6. Miracles Can Happen

– 8-11 November: paper at ‘Weighs Like a Nightmare‘, Historical Materialism 2012, SOAS, London.

7. What Exactly Did Credit Mean in the Ancient World?

– 17-20 November, paper at The Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting, Chicago, USA.

8. Living a Life of Luxury? Subsistence Versus Trade in the Ancient Economy

– 17-20 November, paper at The Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting, Chicago, USA.

9. Race Matters in Political Theology

– 17-20 November, panel at The American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Chicago, USA.


Oslo has really turned it on for November, with record low temperatures, snow storms and very icy footpaths. The first freezing day I strode out the front door, only to go skating across the ice, almost going arse over tit. I soon noticed that all the locals had unconsciously reverted to the winter shuffle – short steps at a high rate to avoid an embarrassing slip and crash. It took a while for me to recover that habit from two decades ago in Montreal. But spare a thought for the roof workers, scaling steep icy rooves for repair, since you can’t really leave that job until spring:

If anyone happens to be in Oslo today and near the big shiny steel and perspex block known as the library of the University of Oslo (Georg Sverdrups House), the following scintillating event will be under way.

TIME: Wednesday September 15 at 1.15pm – 6.30pm
PLACE: Undervisningsrom 1 Georg Sverdrups hus


13.15 Introduction, Jorunn Økland, professor, Senter for Tverrfaglig Kjønnsforskning (STK, Centre for Gender Research), Oslo

13.30 Ilana Pardes, Professor of Arts and Letters, Hebrew University of Jerusalem: ‘Freud, Zipporah, and the Bridegroom of Blood’.

14.30 Roland Boer, Comrade, University of Newcastle, Australia. Paper: ‘Freud, Adorno and the Ban on Images’.

15.30-16.00 Coffee/tea

16.00 Erik Steinskog, Associate Professor, Department of Arts and Cultural Studies, Section of Musicology, University of Copenhagen. Paper: ‘Of Mice and Men – and Moses: Voices in Kafka and Schoenberg’.

17.00 Hedda Høgåsen-Hallesby, Ph.D.-fellow, STK. Paper: ‘Monotheism and Synesthesia: The Word becoming Flesh in Strauss’s Salome’.

17.45 Øystein Gullvåg Holter, Professor of gender equality and masculinities, STK: Response

Although I am going to be writing regular pieces for Aussie Travel Advice, which will soon turn up on my links list and therefore be the best travel website in the world, until then the best website for the kind of travel I like is The Man in Seat 61. Forget about planes and shit like that – especially since the Ice Dragon has made it clear she doesn’t like planes very much – for The Man has all the information you could possibly need on trains and ships, anywhere in the world.

For example, I am planning a trip from Sofia (Bulgaria) to Yalta (Ukraine) and then to Oslo via Warsaw. I could take the crap way and fly, or I could go by ship and rail. Instead of useless websites without vital information, the man in seat 61 lets me know:

a) I can take a ship on the Black Sea from Varna or Istanbul to Odessa, and then on to Yalta.

b) From there it is the longest tram in the world to Simferopol and then train to Kiev, Warsaw and the Baltic port of Swinoujscie.

c) Last leg is a ship from Swinoujscie to Copenhagen and then train, ship and train to Oslo.

And what’s so damn good about it is the legend of how it began: one day back in 2001 The Man bought a discount book on how-to-html – as something read on the train. Now he’s had millions of visitors, has won awards, written a book, is making a TV series, and … can help me get around.