2010 — 17 December: Friday

Another chilling reminder1 as I slowly wake up to Chopin, Mozart, and the first cuppa of the day. I refuse to listen to the spoken word "news" channel until I can deal with it — some days, that's never :-)

It's 07:50 but feels too early for breakfast.

It occurs to me (belatedly, like most things do) that one reason I've not yet heard back from my half-aunt with the unreadable CD-R backup of all her music is that she may well still be working her way through one of my interminable lists to find out what, if anything, I can help her replace. Peoples' priorities do vary, too (as well as their tastes). On balance, a Good Thing.

Right. I'm off for my daily bracing dip into that "shallow and unreliable electronic repository of dirty pictures, inaccurate rumors, bad spelling and worse grammar, inhabited largely by people with no demonstrable social skills" that is the Internet. 90% of boys in the UK — I've just been assured — are below average in their reading skills. I very much hope I misheard that stat as it shines a dubious light on the BBC's grasp of a rather basic concept.

Bicameral breakdown

I've had my own private doubts about Julian Jaynes, though I've still yet to cull his 1976 book from my shelves:

Jaynes held that consciousness was invented by the ancient Greeks between 1400 and 600 B.C. He argued that there was a dramatic appearance of introspection in large parts of the "Odyssey," as compared with large parts of the "Iliad," which he claimed were composed at least a hundred years earlier. The philosopher W. V. Quine once told me that he thought Jaynes might be on to something until he asked Jaynes what it was like to perceive before consciousness was invented. According to Quine, Jaynes said it was like nothing at all — exactly what it is like to be a table or a chair.

Ned Block in NYT

Having just finished scraping the car, I know what it's like to be an iceberg.

Being a huge fan of nominative determinism, how come I've only just noticed that the piece about the relatively recent genetic rift between humans and chimps (ScienceNOW Daily News, 27 Feb 2007) was reported by a lady called Ann Gibbons? I must be going bananas. Time to prepare for my blast of fresh air.

Having walked the good walk...

... of about 6.5 miles around the edges of Hursley and Compton I've returned, grabbed a quick bite to eat, made myself a nice hot cuppa, and therefore have just enough energy to tackle the Barclays Online Banking system for real, now that — two minutes after I got home — Mr Postie delivered the dinky little PINSentry card reader that was the final piece of this complex jigsaw. I seem to have accumulated more cards, PIN numbers, passcodes, login userids, memorable words etc for this one pair of dear Mama's accounts than all of mine put together.

(I will gloss over the Barclays error messages that required data re-entry, but that could all have been avoided by better instructions — who knew an invented reference phrase such as "Expenses #1" would be rejected until I'd reduced it to pure alphanumeric without spaces, for example? And when the less than polite error messages appear at the top of the window, casting inevitable aspersions on my intellect, they push the Green "Continue" button off the bottom. Tut, tut.)

Still, the amount of my first "expenses claim" has just left her account and, with a following wind, may now end up in mine sometime before the end of the year, assuming I got the destination details right. We shall see. The whole process took about 20 minutes but there is absolutely no way it would be even almost suitable for use by the demented account holder herself. We inexorably become slaves of our own systems, and they increase in both number and perceived complexity without in any sense getting smarter. But then it's never seemed to me that humanity, en masse, is getting smarter, either. One of our conversational topics during the walk, in fact.

Now I read here that the next boss of Barclays is stepping up three months early, and cutting his pay "potential". Since he's received £75,000,000 in pay and bonuses in the last five years it's entirely appropriate that his surname should be "Diamond", I suppose. It's still an obscene amount of money. Wonder what he'll have to say to that dynamic duo of Osborne and Cable next week. "Yes, sir, no sir, three bags full, sir" I expect.

It may be only 20:04 but...

... my current energy level is pretty low. It's already -4C outside, and the incoming tales of traffic and weather are most discouraging. I shall spend the rest of the evening in "feet up" mode, I think. [Pause] Crikey! I was idly checking my own online account (I generally do this daily as I'm not completely convinced by the integrity or security of our [for want of a better word] bankers) and, to my "not inconsiderable" surprise, the transfer from dear Mama's account (which set off more or less instantly) has now already shown up in my account.



1  It's currently -5C outside, but at least it's also dry.