2011 — 13 February: Sunday

My subconscious1 has obviously been mulling over yesterday's TV licence thoughts. I'm left wondering what the attitude of our lovely authorities is to a chap who uses digital TV boxes just for radio and is quite willing to unhook their "dark" side...

The living room A/V system in all its no-TV glory...

It makes for an elegant little setup:

hi-fi system diagram

A chap can dream :-)

Time (07:45) for another cuppa and maybe even an early brekkie.

Do you suppose...

... the author would agree that his "profligate minority" includes those at the top of the banking and financial "services" sector? I somehow doubt it. Source and snippet:

Everyone agrees that the root of the crisis was borrowing too much and saving too little. To respond by forcing savers to offer a negative rate of interest to distressed borrowers just seems perverse. When you consider that most households in Britain are actually net savers, the policy looks more debatable still. The thrifty majority is being forced to pay for the sins of the profligate minority.
Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, says he understands the frustrations of savers. Yet he asks them, in effect, to shoulder the brunt of the inflationary adjustment to wealth.
The politics are easy enough to understand, but the economics are indefensible. By supporting housing investment, the effect of negative real interest rates is to perpetuate a fundamental misallocation of capital at the heart of the UK economy — housing.

Jeremy Warner in the Torygraph

I distrust something that starts "Everyone agrees" since my instinct is to mutter "Well, I don't (necessarily)". It seems to me that in this case the "piggy bank" bits of the High Street banking system were lending out the same imaginary cyberspatial money over and over again to people who borrowed on a promise of ever-rising property prices and had no realistic chance of paying it back. Meanwhile, the inextricably-linked "casino" bits of the system were busily spinning their unstable plates2 on poles in a smoke- and mirror-filled back room in whatever ways would maximise their annual bonuses.

Financial regulation? Don't make me laugh!

Play it again, Sam

There's interesting material here from the BBC Trust on BBC plans for permanent online archives. Very encouraging. And, yes, I am perfectly aware that "Play it again, Sam" was never spoken in the sublime Casablanca :-)


As a kid I would sometimes amuse myself by writing out, from memory, a scene-by-scene description of a film I'd seen. I scanned this frame, however, from Richard J Anobile's reconstruction in book form. Over 1,500 frames and every line of dialogue from the original soundtrack. Cool!

Here's another frame by frame reconstruction. [Pause] I must have missed the memo about 64-bit IE9 and Flash Player incompatibility. Despite having just downloaded the Adobe Beta "Square" thingie I see a nice black screen. Not exactly prime time viewing. (Works fine on Firefox — of course.)

Mad, madder, maddest

I'd intended to comment on this sad but compelling use of technology, but I got side-tracked by a (slightly) more amusing little gem. Source and snippet:

Even worse, when [my bank] phoned me up they started by asking me for my date of birth. I'm not being caught by that, I thought, and refused. I told them that they urge me to keep that information private. I wasn't going to hand it out to any Tom, Dick or Harriette. They said they could not continue the phone call until I had verified my identity with the security information. Fine, I said, I will phone you back. They agreed and told me who to ask for once I had phoned the central bank answering service. So I did.
And the first thing they asked me for was my date of birth.

Rupert Matthews in BBWatch

I also wonder how a Luddite like me is supposed to step up to Google's 2-step verification. Or is it Google's "collect phone numbers" scheme?

I'm listening to...

... the BBC 6Music documentary on the late, great, Kenny Everett while I've been browsing through Patrick Woodroffe's Hallelujah Anyway. There's a delicious little aside on page 2 that I would have scanned, but it was too close to the book's spine and I didn't wish to risk damage. So here's my slightly re-engineered version of it:


Oh dear!

I mean, I know it takes all sorts... but confronted by this does one laugh or cry? Definitely time for my next cuppa! And is it just me, or does it seem funny that "The Terminator" is cited here? (I have a copy of Gustave Doré's illustrations of Dante's Inferno which I was leafing through only yesterday, as it happens.)

You can never go back


Wayback machine

While I'm prepared to accept that a mug and a torus are topologically equivalent, I fail to understand how my washing machine knows how to turn a subset of my shirts inside-out. I don't recall Christa ever having this problem. Perhaps she turned them inside-out before loading the machine?

Later: 'Four weddings and a funeral'

If there's a better wet winter evening's viewing then I've yet to see it. I estimate by now I've seen the film about 15 times (until now, invariably in company — of course — including three cinema visits) and it works its magic every time. Superb. Carol and I agreed, too:

Me: Just got back from seeing 'Four weddings and a funeral'. What a shameless load of tosh. I loved it, of course.
She: I too saw Four Weddings and a Funeral, with exactly your reaction. My first movie in a theater in about five years! Went with Haibts; Lu was expecting something entirely different and (I think) disappointed, but I enjoyed the nonsense thoroughly.

Me: I read (I think in the current Playboy) an interview with Mel Gibson in which he (rightly) characterises the UK tabloid press as the world's worst. So you can perhaps imagine the fun the headline writers have been having with Hugh Grant just lately: Four Weddings and a Fun Oral being one of their efforts. Now I like a pun possibly more than the next man, as I suspect you realise by now (within IBM, is the Lotus position to be part of our PBCs?) but the sleazy hypocrisy of our lesser journalists is as staggering as the high circulation of their nasty newspapers.

Date: 22 May 1994 / 25 May 1994 / 6 July 1995

This is pretty fontastic. (Works well in Chrome, too.)



1  By far my best thinking cap.
2  Overloaded with incomprehensible derivatives and collateralised debt obligations.