2011 — 16 January: Sunday

It's creeping ever closer to my decrepit old brother's 65th birthday.1 But now (01:02) it's definitely time for sleep.

Shooting fish in a barrel

Big Bro rose, overnight, to my bait. He confirmed he's in Brunei, waxed lyrical about the climate he's been enjoying, and strongly denied any suggestion of any ill-effects of his vast age. Tee-hee. Here, I almost caught a glimpse of the sun earlier, but the clouds blocking it have turned very nasty. Still, we've tentatively planned a burst of fresh air for tomorrow.

It's 09:47 and just about time for a second cuppa. I note the overnight spam mail has returned in some force. 73 items, all but two of which were correctly filtered out. Yet another strike (if you ask me) against Intelligent Design.

Sorry? Me? Get outta here!

An enticing idea:

In 2009, when banker remorse was still very much in, some of Diamond's colleagues put on a fine display of apologies for the select committees, without, naturally, ever admitting personal culpability. Fred the Shred: "I apologised in full and I'm happy to do so again." Even his apologies were worthless, inflated, sorry excuses for the real thing. But what would have been enough to satisfy our requirements? Only the executives' enforced bankruptcy, accompanied by some visible collective disgrace along the lines of the burghers of Calais, accompanied by castration (probably under anaesthetic) and the lifelong wearing of a scarlet B might have produced something approaching forgiveness and even then, people would still be ruined and the bankers would not be sorry.

Catherine Bennett in The Observer

It seems that last Wednesday's oddly low-key patch was merely a pre-req for the imminent Win 7 SP1. What larks, heh, Pip? (Source.)

We're living in scar(y) times when...

... I can choose from at least seven (I assume, not very different and probably somewhat indifferent) magazines all devoted to the art of the tattoo but my harmless little Book and Magazine Collector has had to shut up shop. Still, I got my latest issue of The Word. Soton was a bit drizzly, quite crowded, and there's a nasty chill to the wind. Let's hope it was blowing all the flu viruses away from me. (I avoided West Quay.)

Time (13:38) I made myself a bite to eat.

A heart-warming tale

Pat in Edinburgh: As I rushed from work to catch an early evening showing of the 1970s classic "Five Easy Pieces" at the Cameo Cinema in Edinburgh, it was clear that I was going to miss the magnificent first five or ten minutes of the film, which I grudgingly accepted. However, as I ran into the cinema the projectionist popped over and asked if I would like the film to be restarted. (Just heard an hour or so into the 15 October BBC podcast from Kermode and Mayo.)

This was amusingly-written. Source and snippet:

Somehow or another, as conversations with me so often do, homosexuality came up as an example of a complex human behavior which evolutionary psychologists try to understand.

I wish I'd had a notebook in hand to scribble down the young employee's comments word-for-word, so as to provide you with a proper ethnographic account. But here, in a nutshell, is what he very confidently said to me, flavored with the peculiar vernacular flourish found in this part of the world: "Aye. Don't get me wrong, I've got nothin' against gay people. But what I don't get is why they'd choose to be selfish and not 'ave a family and kids — like which is what we're here for, how's you's go against evolution by not continuin' the line cause you's can't help the species without having kids. Just seems selfish-like to me." I replied that, as a gay man myself, it's not quite as simple as 'choosing' not to breed; since women are as arousing to me as that half-eaten pepperoni pizza sitting on that table over there, I said, I couldn't get an erection to inseminate a woman for the life of me. I do, however, I continued, get a mighty erection by seeing other men's erections, so therein — I pointed my finger to the heavens for emphasis — lies the true Darwinian mystery! I then took my pizza and left. In haste.

Jesse Bering in Scientific American

Another thing to worry about?

The Suck Fairy :-)

Nice to find this interview with Maurice Sendak. Even though it's left me wondering where my copy of "The Art of Maurice Sendak" has currently parked itself. I bought that in Putney on my last-ever visit to the HQ of ICL in March 1981. I'd just resigned (to join IBM) and was having a ball at my "termination" interview.

No sign of the...

... Sendak hereabouts (which is odd, 'cos it's a large book, and that limits the likely hiding places2) but look what I found while I was rooting around. Peter was more excited by the snow that Xmas (1984/5) than he was about having just started school. And I'd just given Christa an edition of Nutcracker (illustrated by Sendak) for her birthday in December 1984:

Christa and Peter, January 1985

January 1985 brings back memories of the population of the IBM Hursley Lab decamping in a fleet of coaches down to the then-new Bournemouth International Centre for a fatuous3 "rouse the troops" exercise called Progress 85. Still, at least one of my CICS books got a fleeting mention from Judith Hann — she was then about half way through her two decades as a presenter of BBC TV's "Tomorrow's World".

Spot the Sendaks:




1  My server logs suggest he may now be back in Brunei. Bet it's warmer than here.
2  Mystery solved! Both "The Art" and "Nutcracker" are partially hidden behind my hard-working little intranet web server all of four feet from where I'm sitting. And, of course, in the last place I looked.
3  My jaundiced opinion may have had something to do with it being my first day back at work after a bout of one of Peter's hell viruses. (I swear he used to specialise in bringing tiny life-forms back from school, incubating them with little ill-effect on himself, and then unleashing them on his long-suffering father.) Or it may just have been the complete waste of time and money.