First ever blog post by me from a mobile. (DND#0)

You may laugh. Ok, I’m old-fashioned. But in my defence I have to say that until I got this Samsung Galaxy every phone I had would not have made this anywhere near as easy. Not only was I able to download the free Android app for WordPress, but also this phone has an input method called swype which is much faster than the input methods I’ve seen on phones until now. It’s roughly half as fast as writing on a computer keyboard, which means about three times as fast as your usual phone keyboard. Effectively that means that it’s much easier to take a spare moment and keep a diary of what’s going on while I’m out and about.

This brings me nicely into announcing formally something that I only hinted at in an earlier post, namely that in the new year, the start of a new decade in a maybe not strictly mathematical sense, I will be starting a new series of posts on this blog called ‘Diary of the Next Decade’, or DND for short. This will be mainly a series done from the mobile, though probably not exclusively.

Additionally in the new year, I’ll be uploading the new videos added to youtube as they appear on youtube and that will continue to follow the 100 rule, which I’ve already been following for some months, since my thousandth video, which means I only upload the next video when the one previously has either reached a hundred views or else is well on its way there. In between current videos I’ll be uploading the earlier ones, usually in the order they first appeared four years or so previously.

In a few days, I’ll be setting my targets for writing and film making in 2011.

And all this was fairly comfortable to write on my new phone – technology just gets better and better.

Otherwise Engaged (Short story by me for Daily Telegraph Creative Writing Competition in 2008)

The "confusion of tongues" by Gustav...
Old Peleg, preaching

 The Lonely Terrorist sat on a riverside bench in a suburb of New York where he had been commanded to undertake the Engagement, nursing the ancient flask containing the next step for human history, which God had given him.

Dr Samuel Otherwise was near the end of a distinguished career in the sort of science journalists don’t get to tell the half of and most they write is wrong.

Samuel had long since given up expecting anyone else to have any understanding of his work such of it that wasn’t classified anyway – or his wider ideas and beliefs. At best anyone would take it as a joke, but having totally alienated his university friends, he became overwhelmed by ennui early in life as to explaining the Plan of God with rational arguments; everyone’s false premises were so deeply engrained he could do nothing. He could not enable them to see things as God sees them, so insistent were they in seeing things as men do, applying human value judgements to everything, even the brightest and best could not place themselves outside the space-time continuum and perceive the mind of God. Continue reading “Otherwise Engaged (Short story by me for Daily Telegraph Creative Writing Competition in 2008)”

Let’s kiss the face of God today

In Jesus Christ, we are invited to embrace Jehovah the Creator as a perfect human person and find forgiveness in Him.

Mary, did you know, that your baby boy would some day walk on water?
Mary, did you know, that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know, your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know, that your baby boy will calm a storm with His hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
When you’ve kissed your little baby, then you’ve kissed the face of God.

Mary, did you know?
Mary, did you know?
The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak the praises of the Lamb.

Mary, did you know, that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know, that your baby boy will one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy was heaven’s perfect lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding is the great “I AM”.



Question by Timmytom7777777 on Icelandic

Germanic languages and main dialectgroups in w...
"You can have Alsace back, but forget Silesia and get out of Ireland, Cornwall and Pembrokeshire!"

I received the following question from Timmytom7777777 on YT and then got his permission to answer it here so that more people could read it – and also I don’t have a character limitation.

I have a few questions about the gold list method to which I have been unable to find answers. I am currently really fascinated with Icelandic language and have been studying it off and on for about four months. I was wondering how I should apply the gold list method to memorizing the countless grammatical changes to any word depending on its use. Should I write a sentence showing the word being used in each different case. I also have questions on what should be done when writing the headlist. Do I just write the words and definition, say them aloud, and then move on to another headlist after a break? What mental processes should be happening when I go over the gold list? When I see the word in Icelandic for dog should I see a picture of a dog in my mind or should I think of the English translation. I also have a few questions concerning audio. Is it okay to listen to audio while doing the gold list? Also should I practice writing sentences and speaking Icelandic to work on my pronunciation?

Icelandic, for those who do not know it, is highly similar to Old Norse and has a grammar containing largely the same elements as German. Unlike in other Scandinavian languages you have noun paradigms with different endings in Nominative, Accusative, Genitive and Dative. You have weak and strong verbs, and in addition to the usual verbal tenses you have the supine.

This makes it a medium difficult language. Attendant difficulties are the relative paucity of materials and the existance of some aspirated versions of consonants which can be tricky for some to master.  A large number of cognates with English and other Germanic languages gives us some ease in the other direction also. And the language is a beautiful one which easily catches the mind and the imagination.

If you have an audio course in Icelandic, something like a Pimsleur (if they did one, I’m not sure) which doesn’t need much by way of attendant reading and reading and the doing of exercises, then just go ahead and do that course first before starting the Goldlist. That is a good order to take them in. The audio courses are never very long and rarely do more than scratch the surface of the language, and already having an idea of how the words are pronounced, especially how to deal with the double consonants and their attendant aspiration, will avoid the risk that the Goldlist, which is heavily a writing based system, should serve to reinforce a wrong approach to pronunciation. 

When using the goldlist, at headlist stage I will happily include a statement of a grammatical rule in English as a line item, in note form. When dealing with regular paradigms of nouns, I would give all four cases of the noun in singular and plural so that this example noun covers 8 lines in the headlist. But the other nouns that follow the same paradigm I would not write out in that way it would be just “as ‘h’ “. Each class of conjugations needs one noun that you use as the captain of its class, and know it well, and which other nouns are in its team.

Similarly for verbs. I would always write the strong verbs out so that in the headlist all the irregularities can be seen. For regular verbs, just write afterwards the name of the verb whose pattern they follow.

Sentences are good for understanding word order, syntax, or examples of how to use words where it differs from English, or where the article use is different, etc. Or if I just liked a sentence and thought it was worth memorizing for whatever mileage I’d get out of it at parties. However, you will get more by building your own zany phrases by combining words on the later distillations. Sometimes a zany combination of words sticks to the long-term memory better than either word did on its own, and producing these combinations is not an activity that seems to switch the conscious memory function on and the unconscious off, which is what you don’t want to happen.

So on the later distillations you are packing more on one line where you had it over various lines, combining items and first and foremost jettisoning from the list items you already remember well enough.

At the end of every 25, you can go back and read them out loud if you like, but just for the pleasure of the sound. Don’t try to remember them or think of ways consiously by whjich you’ll remember them, just enjoy the sound and enjoy the thoughts flowing naturally from the word. You ask when learning the word for a dog, should you see a picture of a dog in your mind. The answer is, don’t push the dog picture into your mind. If you happen to picture a dog, go with it, but don’t go looking for it. Or you might notice something else, such as how “hundur” is like the German word, and has an English cognate “hound”, but don’t necessarily go forcing yourself there either. Let the subconscious do the work. You’re on a train here, you don’t have to hold the steering wheel like when you drive a car.

Then take the minumum ten minute break doing something entirely different, and do another 25!

I would not have music or other audio playing at the same time, I would avoid distractions. I would not be drinking alcohol while doing it, as this doesn’t aid the memory, and I would not do it while in a foul mood or exhausted. It can nicely be combined with exercise, such as doing a machine during the breaks between learning sessions, or doing learning sessions on breaks on walks. Looking back on those days when I did a lot of physically active stuff around the goldlist, I usually have a better recall level.

Don’t expect to ‘feel’ the result of this method like you do in the short term methods where you really feel like you’re learning something and it later wears off after two weeks, but two weeks is the time given to return the course if you don’t like it. This is happening all passively, but happening it is, and using precisely the same subconscious and passive mechanisms that served you so well when you learned your mother tongue.

Abdul’s question on Goldlist scheduling

Arabic as official language
Where does Arabic get spoken as a first or official language?

As part of the discussion in one of the pages here I got into a discussion with how one reader, Abdul, can tailor the goldlist to his study of Arabic. The nesting in the meantime has become so narrow that I need to continue with a fresh article. Have a look under the page “About HTV” to see the earlier part of the conversation, I’m only quoting the latest part.


Hi Victor, That explanation has really helped me out and I think I now know what I need to do. Based on your explanation I attempted to create a basic plan for learning over the next few months, which I really would like for you to see. The one query I had at this stage was ‘overlap’. For example, in my plan I’ve planned to do 4 headlists a day, 7 days a week, 28 headlists a week. Over the course of 4 weeks, this gives 112 headlists and consequently 2800 words. Do I do ALL the headlists first (112) and then move on to D1 – do ALL D1, then D2 and ALL D2, etc etc all the way to D7. That is, do I leave 4 week gaps for all movements across distillations? Or do I move to D1 after two weeks, in which case D1 distillation of headlist 1 will coincide with the beginning of headlist 57 (28 headlists per month, beginning of 3rd week), and this overlap will keep on continuing with D1 distillation of week 3 coinciding with beginning of D2 distillation? I know that sounds complex and I’d really like to send you my excel plan sheet if that’s confused you. I just want to know if its ok to be doing distillations and headlists on one day etc? Many thanks, Abdul

Abdul, you’re welcome to send me the excel file on , however maybe it isn’t needed, as we can try to use the notation to set you a programme.

If I planned to do 2800 words, I would do the following bit of mathematics at the outset.

2800 words, each goldlisted off equates to an average of 3 iterations per word, so it is a task of covering 2800*3 ie 8,400 words, spread over the 8 levels of distillation including the headlist. At a rate of 28 sessions a week, which is, including the scheduled ten minute breaks a 14 hour a week job, you are able to headlist and distill the words you have in your target, namely 2800, in precisely 336 sessions (8400/25) and by the same token you would know all these words if you keep up the work flow without flagging in the course of 12 weeks. However, you know that it is in fact not possible to keep to the standards of delay and still do everything in 12 weeks because you have two weeks minimum standby time for each one, and hence the bare minimum to take it to 7 distillations would be 14 weeks.

I suggest we therefore take the following order:

Action 1 = H1-H2100 which takes three weeks of your time at the work rate
Action 2 = D1 1 to say 1500 which distils H1 – 2100 and takes a little over two weeks so hopefully you don’t run within two weeks of the headlist. If you do, just go back and add H2100-2300 or something to keep the flow right.
Action 3 do the rest of H, that is take H to the target of 2800. This will take you another week. We are into week six at the moment.
Action 4, and 5 So we’re in week seven and you’re turning the D1 words from D1 1-1500 to D2 say 1-1100, which will take you a little over a week, when you get to the end you are still nicely timed for turning H2101-2800 to D1 1501-2000 or however you manage it depending on your material and your confidence.
Action 6 If it were me I’d now be going back to H and adding more words beyond 2800, but if that was the target, then that was the target, so you’re left with nothing to do at H if you want to adhere to the target. If you are now far enough on in time (two weeks) to take the first words of D2 and turn them to D3, then you can do so, and you’ll follow that by doing the second batch of words which initially were H2101-2800 and take them to D2 level. But the process of taking 2100 headwords to D3 and 700 headwords to D2 from the respective preceding distillations is only about 5 or 6 days work at the work rate you gave, so now you have to wait unless you want to add more at H.

And so you continue, until the target is done.

Please let me know if I should elucidaye any part more clearly.

Excellent question, by the way, for which I thank you, and which you every pleasure and success with your study.