2009 — 28 November: Saturday

After HIGNFY it was an evening of Johnny Cash music and email, basically. Plus, from time to time, listening to the rain on the skylight. So, having done nothing of any great note, how come I'm so sleepy?

Poor Mr Brandreth and his diaries will remain on the back burner again. I note Jo Whiley has been making a perfectly acceptable temporary replacement for Claudia Winkleman. "Questionable legitimacy" of the Iraq invasion, says the latest fallout from our long-overdue examination of recent history. Pah! Tell me something I don't already know. And millions of my fellow citizens also were perfectly aware of at the time. And protesting, but ignored.

Bah, humbug. G'night.

The cheery news chappie...

... who's just bisected the Brian Matthew "Sounds of the 60s" show has promised me heavy showers. At the moment, given the cloudless sky and blazing sunshine, I remain unconvinced and have flung open the skylight. My first cuppa is a distant memory, and it's time to consider my plans for the weekend. Shouldn't take long to think of something...

This rang a soft chime of recognition:

And yet on and on the politicians go, fretting, posturing, pirouetting and focus-grouping themselves into a frenzy, and nobody ever takes it upon themselves to do our elected officials the inestimable kindness of telling them that nobody gives even the smallest smidgen of the tiniest monkey's bum.
I think it's the "elected" bit that lulls them into thinking that they are distinguishable as individuals to anyone outside their immediate family circle or payroll (a recognition factor rendered even smaller, of course, by the frequent substantial overlap between the two).

Lucy Mangan in the Guardian

I've just been offered the word "confabulation" for my delectation. Blimey! If you can't trust what's inside your own head. (I don't know whether my informant was prompted by my recent comments about my dear Mama or by that Mark Twain quote a couple of days ago.) Nice word, Nick. Thanks!

Zombie Nuke Plants

A charmless heading for a chilling article. Not what you'd call a glowing report. Nor this — I still have precisely three incandescent1 bulbs in the house, two of them in the living room, on dimmer switches.

Shunning my venetian blinds (for a change) Mr Postie left his most recent "dropping" next door, but it's just (11:53) been popped round, and will shortly be devoured avidly:


Probably before lunch, in fact. Professor Beer was definitely one of the planet's good guys. And we need as many of those as we can get. POSIWID: "According to the cybernetician the purpose of a system is what it does. This is a basic dictum. It stands for bald fact, which makes a better starting point in seeking understanding than the familiar attributions of good intention, prejudices about expectations, moral judgment or sheer ignorance of circumstances." (Source, inevitably.)


It's just toddling towards 15:02 — the earlier sunshine has disappeared without trace; lunch likewise. And the Beer memoir has also been devoured. Nice little account. Must be time for a cuppa, I guess. Oh, and the suddenly frozen XP has been restarted, too. What the heck was that all about?

Dark suspicions

I suspected the current Private Eye was just "having me on" with their report of a job ad (written in "Birtspeak 2.0") on the BBC web site. It's for someone who will deal with the booking of taxis and couriers (aka The Category Manager — Logistics — Ground Transport).

The description of the key qualities and competencies of the desired individual (but no mention of academic attainments) would stun an ox. The link is here at the moment (though applications close within a week). I actually applied for a job with the BBC about 17 years ago (during one of my periodic phases of discontent with my "little" at IBM). They were looking for a Corporate speech writer, but put me, as it were, on "hold" as that particular part of their organisation suddenly went into meltdown and (apparently) never resolidified. Probably a lucky escape for me. Not to mention the BBC.

Darker suspicions

A beautifully clear explanation (even I can understand) by John Cassidy of recent mad excesses — or "Why CEOs liked risky bets".


Christa and I were united in our low opinion of the bonus culture and the short-term thinking it made mandatory. Of course, accurate risk assessment is a fish of an entirely different colour (or would that be one of Nassim Nicholas Taleb's black swans?). I generally fall back on Yossarian's key exchange with Major Danby, a psychiatrist:

"From now on I'm thinking only of me."
Major Danby replied indulgently with a superior smile: "But, Yossarian, suppose everyone felt that way?"
"Then," said Yossarian, "I'd certainly be a damned fool to feel any other way, wouldn't I?"

It's 18:11 so I guess that's why I'm hungry again.


The tum having been dealt with, and the dishes done, we can move on to tonight's film, which need hardly detain us. It was "Saved!" Moderately amusing, and competently made. But not aligned with my present mood. So, at 22:56, having snacked lightly I've now retreated upstairs, fired up the second XP machine, and am now listening to the readings of "Breakfast at Tiffany's"2 available from BBC7 and the iPlayer. I can still remember seeing the film version for the first time at the St Albans Regional Film Theatre back in my apprentice days, when I was typically seeing perhaps three films a week. (The benefits of no access to, or even desire for, television while living near a city with three cinemas in it.)

I wonder when my Penguin copy of the Capote novella finally went walkabout? I bought it in 1969, and it was still in my catalogue 14 years ago. (I have a bound copy of my catalogue from the days of my [brief] flirtation with book-binding just, as it were, for the record.)



1  Isn't that a crossword clue? "Decline of bright civilisation", or some such? Indeed it is. Proof (of a sort) here.
2  Last mentioned, albeit obliquely, here.