2008 — 19 July: Saturday

I got sidetracked while preparing tonight's picture of Christa:

Christa outside our Farmhouse flats, 1975

Four-fifths of the recent acquisitions:

As I said, I managed a couple of minutes in the Arcade bookshop yesterday.

Four books

The Kynaston is the next part of this long story. The Mount I mentioned as a likely acquisition. The Idler and Hodgkinson are both things I've read in the past. And (to answer a lunchtime question slightly more fully) no, I've never read all my books at any moment in time, nor do I finish every book I start — I do start every book!

The other fifth, by the way, is too large to fit on my flatbed scanner, so I had to pop it on the floor and use my camera. Crude but effective:

Comix artists

The sun appears...

... to be trying to break through the clouds of midsummer. The question is, where is the son? I think he's due back from France about now. Oh well, time (09:29) for the initial cuppa of the day to kick me into slightly less inaction. And a few minutes to finish off the A/V system reconnection as far as possible in the absence of the replacement HDFury dongle. Then (mysteriously, breakfast is still not begun) it's time to hear Phill Jupitus on a cartoonist odyssey. "The worse things are for the country, the better they are for satirists" says Garry (Doonesbury) Trudeau. Excellent.

Well, the son obviously reads this as he's just rung to reassure me of his safe return last Wednesday, and to suggest a visit next weekend. That will be nice. Better clear out his room again, dammit. Meanwhile, a lovely punchline to an interesting short essay:

A recent issue of the American Economic Review includes numerous papers under the rubrics of "Neuroscientific Foundations of Economic Decision-Making" and "Cognitive Neuroscientific Foundations of Economic Behavior." ... Driven out of their original domains because they are too ungainly or too out of date, Hegel, Marx, and Freud succumb to an academic makeover. In the mall of education, they gain an afterlife as boutique thinkers.

Russell Jacoby, in Gone, and Being Forgotten

Too much ungoodness... dept.

Since the Humax Freesat HD box allows you to go "off-piste" (as it were) by tuning in satellite channels other than those currently signed up to (and appearing on) the Freesat EPG, I thought "Why not give it a go?" and took it out for a little test drive. An hour later, having waded through the several hundred TV and radio channels freely available, I decided to reset the box to its factory defaults, and start again, just with the Freesat offerings. I was horrified at just how much low-quality "stuff"1 (for want of a more unkind word) is cluttering up the airwaves.

Unless I'm mistaken, the UK economy is now being propped up by the telephone sales of an endless array of costume jewellery and garden and kitchen gadgets, interspersed with an endless array of bored-looking sultry ladies reclining on sofas and just waiting to speak to me for £1-50 per minute. Then there were the religious programmes, the music videos, and (with strangely higher picture and sound quality) the adverts. It all reminds me of John Brunner's The jagged orbit somehow. Mind you, I've just heard the phrase "impartation of facts" on a BBC radio channel...

How long before...

... "low value consignment relief" is stopped? Fascinating VAT-dodging story is here. "The tax ploy, which is not unlawful, works by exploiting a VAT exemption on goods priced below £18 that are imported by individuals into the UK from outside the European Union." No doubt this is also propping up the Guernsey economy.

I'm only 25% Welsh, but...

... this is ridiculous: Monty Python's Life of Brian is still banned in Aberystwyth. (Source.) It's true, what Edward Thomas said in Punch on 18 June 1958 — There are still parts of Wales where the only concession to gaiety is a striped shroud. I don't know exactly which 25% of me is inherited from my maternal grandmother, but I do remember she had a wicked sense of humour. Maybe that's why she left Wales?

Here, by the way, is the new state of the A/V stack. Compare and contrast with the mess last Sunday.

AV stack

I even have one shelf spare!



1  I shouldn't really be surprised, I suppose. When they dug up our road over 20 years ago and offered us cable TV to try out I signed up for everything going on a month's trial although, to be fair, I did tell the sales chap I would only keep the system if it exceeded the capability of my existing system. When I switched on their piece of junk and found precisely one film (out of 501 on offer that month) I would have wanted to see (had I not already had it [at the time] on LaserDisc) I cancelled the contract and returned the so-called state-of-the-art system within less than a week. (It took 23 months before I got my refund. They basically had no process in place for subscriptions cancelled before they'd got on to the system in the first place.) State-of-the-art at the time, I discovered, consisted of composite video and monophonic analogue audio. If you wanted accompanying stereo sound for, say, a movie with a Dolby Surround soundtrack, you were expected to dedicate a spare preset on your FM tuner to a particular frequency — if you then changed the channel you were watching, you had to change your FM tuner to match sound to picture. Amazing.