2012 — 28 August: Tuesday

Given that these are technically still the "lazy, hazy, crazy, days of summer" is one allowed to ask why there's a tad of condensation on the living room window this morning?1 Soon be Christmas at this rate. Still, I have a lunch date before then, and also one of those hopeless quests in search of a reasonable birthday card. I have until the end of the week to find something not too emetic.

I shall re-read my Joseph Campbell...


... pick an appropriate face from the thousand on offer therein, and then gird my post-breakfast loins.

In a former life...

... I was a technical writer.2 Quite a good one, actually. So I read this book review with interest. Source and snippet:

Academics in the humanities and the social sciences, it's sometimes suggested, too often wish to give their fields the legitimacy and public authority of science, and so write in highly technical, jargon-laced prose. Academics in the hard sciences, for their part, are too concerned with factual correctness to worry about making their productions agreeable, even to co-specialists. Then, of course, there is the really uncharitable interpretation: Many academics simply haven't got anything useful to say, but if they say it in a sufficiently complicated fashion and use all the vogue terms, they'll get credit for having said something without saying anything worth defending.

Barton Swaim in Weekly Standard

Oh, the hours of endless fun wasted in line-by-line committee reviews of manuals that should have been offered, instead, to the users they were supposedly being written for. Heck, I even had a manager who assured me (with the confidence produced [I suspect] by his Maths Ph.D) that technical reference manuals had to be written in what he called technical reference manual English. But I can equally assure people that he wasn't the chap who received comments like:

Abbey Life (a subsidiary of ITT) have been trying out the Primer. Quotable quotes include: "all evaluations were highly favourable" "far and away the best self-study text we have encountered from IBM or SRA" "attractive and clearly laid out... effective use of colour" "particularly impressed with the approach and standards implicit in the advisory guidelines... the first time that an IBM publication has explained so clearly the reasons for, and the implications of, particular approaches" "we would hope that the style, format and quality could be retained in future publications, indeed that this should be the first in a series"

Date: April 1985

It wasn't, for quite a long time. Long enough for me to leave that department a total of three times during my downward career. Tee-hee. Carol (my co-author on the first edition of the CICS Primer) was solely responsible for the advisory guidelines, of course.

Time (10:27) to inspect the shelves of Waitrose. Mrs Hubbard's cupboard is sadly depleted after the long weekend. [Pause] And back from my heroic quest, dragons slain, card obtained, neatly in time to (fail to) connect with Mr Postie's latest offering. Must therefore remember to take his billet doux with me so I can swing by his lair after lunch.


I'm now predicting an...

... afternoon of unashamed prog rock bliss hereabouts — following our lunch in the Brambridge garden centre restaurant (affording excellent views of the outside diners scattering during a brief but heavy downpour) and subsequent chatter over a cuppa — as I now settle down to listen to these little goodies:

CDs etc

Each pack contains a CD with a re-mastered version of the original album, a second CD of alternate and bonus material, and a DVD Audio with higher resolution stereo and 5.1 surround mixes. It all sounds mighty fine so far. And takes me back over 40 years in an eye blink.

Excellent stuff. But now it's time for something completely different. Indeed, it's nearly time to think about an evening meal. Though it need only be a light snack after the midday one.

I (re-)stumbled across...

... this delicious item a few minutes ago. It still makes me chortle. It's by Ralph Estling and appeared in "New Scientist" some time ago — 2nd June 1983, to be exact — which may say something ghastly about my reading backlog:

The ability of dogs, or at least poodles, to reason like humans, that is, deductively in a logical but totally erroneous fashion because of a posteriori 1 approaches, is hinted at by my colleague Brian Vaux in his account of a black poodle named George.
George was in the habit of raiding the chicken house and making off with eggs, and to terminate this behaviour George's owner carefully emptied the contents of one egg, filled it with hot mustard, and then replaced it beneath a hen. George in due course made off with the egg, attempted eating it, and suffered the consequences. When he had finally recovered, however, George ran back to the chicken coop, sought out the hen whose clutch he had raided, and bit her head off, thus committing both the error of a posteriori reasoning and the logical fallacy of post hoc, ergo propter hoc 2 deduction, which poodles rarely do.

1 applied to reasoning from experience, from effect to cause
2 after this, therefore because of this (a fallacious reasoning)



1  No, I didn't think so.
2  Having just listened to the fabulous programme about Juvenal (thanks for the pointer, Len) I suppose I could say "Tenet insanabile multos Scribendi cacoethes et aegro in corde senescit." (Many suffer from the incurable disease of writing, and it becomes chronic in their sick minds.) I'm sure my erudite reader can pinpoint this as being from Satires #7, line 51 :-)