J.G. Links: Venice for Pleasure

Not only the best guide-book to that city ever written, but the best guide-book to any city ever written. Bernard Levin in The Times Joseph Gluckstein Links (1904-1997) wrote Venice for Pleasure in 1966, and it is now in its ninth edition. Venice being the city it is, and Links’s interests being what they are, … Continue reading J.G. Links: Venice for Pleasure


ˈpɒdəʊskæf Podoscaph: A canoe-shaped float attached to the foot, for walking on water The word is formed by attaching the Greek prefix pod(o)- (derived from pous, meaning “foot”) to skaphos, “ship”. In the fifteenth century, Leonardo da Vinci toyed with podoscaph design—but, realizing that they wouldn’t be a particularly stable mode of locomotion, he sketched … Continue reading Podoscaph

Phenomena: Introduction

Hardly a week goes by without some phenomenon in the natural world attracting my attention—the behaviour of waves and clouds, light and shade, animals and plants. There’s a great deal of physics going on out there, hidden in plain sight. Sometimes I can puzzle out what I’m seeing, sometimes I can look it up, sometimes … Continue reading Phenomena: Introduction

Three books About Colour

If you’ve been enjoying Dr Helen Czerski’s BBC4 series Colour: The Spectrum of Science (and why would you not?), then I find a cluster of related books on the shelves chez Oikofuge, all of which I can recommend. Philip Ball is a popular science writer of long experience, and his Bright Earth: Art And The … Continue reading Three books About Colour

Martin Caidin: Marooned

Not a series of novels, but two rather different novels, by the same author and with the same title, written five years apart. Martin Caidin (first) wrote Marooned in 1964. The novel concerned the fate of an astronaut trapped in orbit by the failure of the retro-pack on his Mercury spacecraft. I encountered it in … Continue reading Martin Caidin: Marooned

Reading: Introduction

I’ve always done a lot of reading. And now there’s a whole lot of reading-for-work that I can stop doing and replace with reading-for-pleasure. This is a Good Thing, because there’s something of a backlog of books to be read for pleasure. This photo is of about half the stash: The Oikofuge’s Boon Companion has … Continue reading Reading: Introduction


ɔɪkəʊˈfjuːʤɪk Oikofugic: Having a desire to leave home,  an urge to wander or travel This word was coined in 1904 by the psychologist G. Stanley Hall, in his two-volume opus Adolescence: Its Psychology and Its Relations to Physiology, Anthropology, Sociology, Sex, Crime, and Religion. (Given the title, it’s amazing that he managed to hold it … Continue reading Oikofugic

Words: Introduction

I’ve always loved words: unusual words, technical words, words with interesting etymologies, words that are often misused. For a while at the end of the last millennium, I wrote little filler items about words for the British Medical Journal, under the slightly self-congratulatory title Words to the Wise. Some have survived to become accessible on … Continue reading Words: Introduction

A discursive blog on various topics of minor interest