2010 — 19 December: Sunday

There still seems to be something awfully "wrong"1 about all this pre-Xmas snow. The "start me up" cuppa is a distant memory, the porch thermo tells me it's a shivery -4C, and Jo Good is plastering my ears with some nice music. On that last point, I was tickled to see (in the latest issue of "The Word" magazine) their final entry in the "best of 2010" feature:


I cannot agree with their final sentence, though. Very little of what's been on BBC3 has been to my taste, though (perhaps oddly) both "Being Human" and "Lip Service" made the cut. De gustibus... and all that.

It's 09:04 and breakfast bells should be summoning me.

What ails Academia?

This scholarly analysis of, well, scholarly analysis is both scathing and well-written. Though (it seems) its subjects would by no means all be able to understand it. Source and snippet:

Professors, these writers argued, are obsessed with producing highly specialized research to meet the priorities of their sclerotic, self-obsessed disciplines. We write more and more about less and less, producing articles and books cast in impenetrable jargon, babbling to one another at some ninety thousand conferences a year for the liberal arts alone.

Anthony Grafton in National Interest

I confess David Lodge's "Small World" springs to mind. Though how that excellent novel can already be 26 years old staggers me. But then, how can Alan Arkin (the grandfather in last night's film "Sunshine Cleaning") once have been the young Yossarian back in 1970?

I live in hope of...

... decreasing the level of entropy in my garage to the point where I can re-insert my car. Meanwhile, parts of the rest of the house are now cluttered with flattened storage cartons and more A/V kit boxes than is wholly decent in these recessionary times. Some of this cardboard is on its way out to the shed at the side of the house, some up into the loft, and some will no doubt find its way to the local tip. Not today, though.

Displacing it all has reminded me powerfully of Bertrand Russell's comment about the two types of work on this planet but at least my labours have got me some fresh air and helped work up an appetite. It's now 13:12 and I think it's time to contemplate some lunch. [Pause] I now await Mike — this afternoon's visitor; he's on the trail of a little amplifier, but that's a story for another time. It's 14:03 so he should arrive in two minutes from now. If he's late I shall tease him as he regards ice and snow as no big deal.


I've been safely delivered back home after navigating Mike across to Brian's to pick up an amp and power supply from him (it's a long story). I'm now supping my next cuppa while listening to Sir Peter Blake sitting in for Jarvis Cocker. How cool is that? (He keeps introducing himself as "Sir" Peter Blake, too, which is rather quaint.) Like young Mr Cocker he seems to have an unfeasibly large range of acquaintances.

I've also just migrated across two of my vital software tools from the one remaining XP machine (on which they were sitting with life-time licenses, so I'm pleased about that) and I've re-bought,2 downloaded and re-installed the "Swiss Army knife" of CD ripping software — Poikosoft's excellent Easy CD Extractor. On the six-core BlackBeast it now rips through CDs at about 30x real time, which is more than adequate. I recall the Intel Core 2 Duo machine managed about 20x while my Pentium D didn't quite manage 10x. Quite remarkable, given the basic bitrate3 (1.41Mbps) of an audio CD.

It's 17:11, already dark outside, and already -3C. I'm guessing this must be winter. Nasty time of year.

Random readers

I found this to be an interesting idea, and very nicely illustrated:


But how does one become a shoe designer, I wonder?

Is it me?

Mike gave me, and I started watching, a film called "I love you Phillip Morris" the cover of which clearly opines it is "outrageously funny" and "hilarious". The flamboyant white-collar conman whose story it is based on is apparently regarded as such a dire threat that he's kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day. Before I pressed "Stop" I found myself wondering exactly which bits were supposed to be funny. So now I've reverted to that fresh take by Elizabeth Kostova on the "Dracula" legend — I'm about one-third through and still somewhat intrigued. It's not bad, exactly, and certainly not so bad that it's good (if you see what I mean) but nor does it (so far) merit the extravagant praise it's had showered upon it. I seem to be getting too grumpy for my own good :-)

Meanwhile, I'd left the security software snooping around doing a full scan for lurking nasties. And here's me thinking I'd now got an uncluttered PC...


Time I rescued my latest cuppa from over-stewing. Mysteriously, it's already 21:41 and a full -5C outside, with bright moonlight. I don't generally have any reason to envy Big Bro, but I note he's probably right now en route from the tropical heat of Brunei to the midsummer heat of North Island NZ as I peel off my gloves and de-ice the keyboard to type another few words... Brrr. I suppose I can hope he doesn't send me another photo of another BBQ Xmas dinner as he roasts in the sun :-)

I hear we're promised a spectacular solar storm (and, just maybe, some Northern lights) in the next day or so. I've never seen those "for real". And I've also just heard that the chap (Anthony Howard) who cut Richard Crossman's fascinating but over-long diaries down to readable size has just died. I really should have kept my copy. Two of the used ones on Amazon are priced at £71 and £142. No wonder I'm not rich.



1  There isn't, of course.
2  When software is this good I have no qualms about updating my copy in this way rather than sifting through an eight-year chaotic email trail on the off-chance of finding a working licence key for a back-level copy.
3  I still remember assertions that the error rate on CDs would render them forever incapable of being used for digital storage. An early CD player from Cambridge Audio boasted an error rate display (though what you were supposed to do with the information was unexplained).