2010 — 28 May: Friday

It's somewhat after midnight, with some lovely music on "Late Junction", and I've recently returned from seeing Dara O'Briain at the "Anvil". He is very quick-witted, in both good senses of the phrase (indeed, his brain outputs to his mouth almost faster than either his vocal chords or the listeners' ears can properly process at times). Although I've avoided computer games in almost every shape and form on almost every platform,1 when he launched into a five-minute riff on such games, and how they are presently the only mass entertainment art-form that actively punishes the consumer for inadequate appreciation or application, it had me in stitches with eyes watering.

Driving home with a very bright full moon not far above the horizon was oddly disconcerting, but there were no further demonstrations of the effectiveness of the ABS brakes. Still, who knows what the morrow may bring? G'night.

Passing the buck

One of my far-flung chums feels my fairly chronic lambasting of the banking fraternity — right up there with IBM management — is possibly more of a gut feeling than dispassionate conclusion. I wonder if he read what Carl Sagan had to say about gut feelings? (As opposed to any Grand Unified Theory.)

Anyway, as a pre-breakfast treat he's very kindly sent me a link to a nicely-written report seeking to place our current planetary financial mess into what the author sees as its proper context. Rather cheekily said chum (through whose ancient hands has passed far more salary and responsibility than mine) also suggests it might be a bit heavy for one of my "skipping through the daisies" Molesworthian persuasion but that my Big Bro (whom he's never met, but through whose ancient2 [and, I might add, non-broadbanded] hands etc etc) might find it interesting. Source, snippet, and related Ron Cobb cartoon from 1975:

The public, which is cynical about such things, expects elites to work to benefit themselves. But at the same time, there are limits to the behavior the public will tolerate... With the crisis of legitimacy still not settling down after nearly two years, the reaction of the political system is predictable. It will both anoint symbolic miscreants, and redefine the structure of risk and liability in financial corporations. The goal is not so much to achieve something as to create the impression that it is achieving something...

George Friedman in Stratfor

And people sometimes say I'm cynical.


Interesting to see that 35 years ago the villain was the polluting industrialist whereas today it's the guy with a gang of spivs at trading screens. Time (09:58) for some breakfast, to stuff the next crockpot, and assess the state of play of what then remains (if anything) of the reasonably sunny morning. There is always the task of carton stuffing to fall back on but its entertainment value is not as high as I might wish.

Hah! At last it can be admitted:

But here's a badly kept secret: An awful lot of best-selling adult books have the large fonts, short chapters and simple ideas of young-adult books anyhow.

Janet Maslin in The NYT

As I've previously admitted, I have never read a book by John Grisham. Where do I go to shoot myself? Perhaps Chris will let me borrow his air-rifle. I had a go yesterday: excellent fun. [Pause] How did it become 12:45 already?

A sunny September Sunday in 1988

Dear Mama was staying with us (a visit we truncated after a week, and were never to repeat again) so the three of us left her briefly to her own devices (or to mine if you count the various items of audio and video kit lying around) while we disappeared on the Lab social club treasure hunt, whizzing sedately round South Hampshire trying to follow a series of cryptic clues.

Treasure hunt

Combined IQ of 450 or so and you can't solve a few clues? Pathetic! Team Mounce avoided the booby prize (only to be given it by the winner, since said booby prize was a booklet about where to take kids in Hampshire). We finally snuck home after the cream teas, whereupon Peter disappeared on to his games computer and Dad, leaving nanny to some rubbishy TV soap, finished off some books data base entering.3

I shall shift another six cartons in a few minutes, and then impose myself on R&E to blag what will be a much-needed cuppa by then. It's 14:59 — tick-tock, tick-tock. [Pause] Now it's time to unleash the next crockpot, but I shall wait until the end of the News Quiz. "The female body clock is the plainer gentleman's friend..." asserts Mr Hardy this week. Meanwhile, looking through the list of "dissolution honours" is faintly emetic.

Short circuit

Our cousins' efforts on open access to guvmint data look pretty cool. Our own beta variant has just been put on "hold", it seems. (Source.)



1  Apart from dalliances with moon-landing simulations on a dec System 10 at Hatfield Poly and a similar item at ICL's Bracknell System Test machine hall in the mid-1970s.
2  From the earliest times the old have rubbed it into the young that they are wiser than they, and before the young had discovered what nonsense this was they were old too, and it profited them to carry on the imposture. (From W Somerset Maugham's "Cakes and Ale".)
3  Including what was then the newest David Lodge novel — the superb Nice Work, which was turned into a very good TV series the following October, but has yet to appear on DVD, dammit — that I'd persuaded out of the sales girl about one week before its official publication date in one of my many regular book shops.