2009 — 24 December: Thursday

Midnight again. I just stuck a cautious nose outside the front door to sniff the weather. Moist, and chilly, but seemingly no longer freezing, and the drive seems to have de-iced. But I'm not going to step outside until daylight — the scrapes I picked up after my black ice tumble are quite enough to be going on with. From the latest forecast it look as if we're going to get the wet stuff down here while the rest of the UK gets battered by the frozen variety again.

There seemed to be two sets of thunder passing over during the evening, too. It was almost enough to distract me from my new hobby! Plus, when I was watching another Seinfeld there was a nasty moment when the amplifier conked out briefly. If that was spike protection cutting in I guess that's OK but I still hate it when that happens.


Icy roads and freezing fog...

... just about everywhere except here, it seems, this morning. Suits me, as I'm currently in mild hibernation mode. Peter offered to drive down, pick me up, and drive up to the Midlands but I wasn't having any of that until the temperatures have risen. So, he, too, is having a quiet "at home" up in Battersea. And now (08:41) I've just learned that cancer protects against Alzheimer's and (you hafta smile) vice versa. In the former you have excessive cell growth and, in the latter, excessive cell death. God evidently has an infinitely wide streak of infinitely black humour in her. I wonder if cups of tea stabilise cells?

Her black humour also comes out to play in the form of heavy rain precisely during the walk from car to (horribly crowded) shop. But I'm now (09:54) back with a less sparse cupboard to help me make it through to the new year down here rather than up there (as it were). About that breakfast, Mr Mounce; can we get on to it right away? OK, gotta go.

Collateral damage and Thomas Aquinas

Well I never really thought about it in quite that light before.

Originating as a euphemism for the killing of noncombatants during the Vietnam War, collateral damage relies for its moral justification on the Doctrine of Double Effect (DDE), which was introduced by Thomas Aquinas and has been used to show that agents may permissibly bring about harmful effects provided that they are merely foreseen side effects of promoting a good end (hence, the double effect).

Randall L. Schweller in The National Interest

Glad we sorted that out. Though it sounds to me like a variant of Spock's "The needs of the many" speech. Aren't sociologists and political scientists just unmitigated little bundles of joy? DDE comes up in medical ethics, of course, as I now know only too well. (Example.) It can even lead us to further contemplation of the undelightful trolley problem. Maybe it's just the season of good will...

Well, it's 11:11 and still grey, still raining, but so what? It's much better than the horrible black ice1 of late. Breakfast is loaded. The cuppa is fresh. What's next, Mrs Landingham?

When did Emma Kirkby become a "Dame"? (June 2007, apparently.) I first became aware of her beautiful voice on the Hildegard of Bingen recording that was one of my earliest CDs:


I notice that Hyperion have reworked the artwork slightly from my original CD's layout at some time during the past 24 years. Christa took me to Bingen in September 1974 on my "meet the about-to-be in-laws" visit — it's one of the tourist attractions about 50 km from Meisenheim in the Rhineland-Palatinate.

Cruising along...

... the information superhighway (I was reading a piece on "dark matter" by Paul Davies) I hit a patch of ice and woke up in the world of Molesworth. Bring me custard!

Weather or not

Len popped over earlier, so I'm now reunited with my tiny Linux netbook as well as re-equipped with some Scientific American mags to catch up on. The weather has derailed (or, in Yelavich's language, "caused the loss of synchronization of") my plans to visit my cousins in Birmingham. But it's crawled a little above freezing hereabouts and the stuff has mostly now been washed away. (Though not yet in all of Winchester, I gather.) Peter is reluctantly staying put up in Battersea but sounded fine during two calls today. We'll probably travel up in a couple of days. So I'm off out on a nice healthy local walk tomorrow with Mike and chums, followed by a non-Xmas meal. I think it's fair to say that I now loathe this festive season, but I enjoy my chums.

Time to rustle up an evening meal. It's 17:58 already.

When I've worked out what to decant it into, I shall also be uncorking my "damson brandy" then coating the bits of fruit in molten chocolate to make a form of truffle.

The cull continues...

I suppose it's an unusual way to spend Christmas Eve, but I'm working my way along the book shelves, trying to select what to part with. Should the criterion be simply "read it"? Or, "never going to read it again"? Perhaps "not going to finish it"? Maybe "no longer even know why I bought it"? (Quite a common category, that one.) All too many, of course, simply fall into the "just can't bear to part with it" camp. Though an increasing number fall into the "Life's too damn' short to waste my time on that" category. It's that damnable 'completeist' streak raising its ugly head again.



1  The bruise on my back from yesterday's little slip is fairly spectacular, I have to say. It made turning over in bed a somewhat more thoughtful procedure than usual. The scraped knuckles seem to be healing.