2012 — 27 November: Tuesday

Unlike me,1 my lovely late wife took a lively interest in gorp such as the stuff that one of my banks has attached (just for me, because I'm "affected") to its latest online monthly statement. In future (unless I get up off my arse and do something2 drastic, like making a decision) instead of them paying me (a trifle) for giving them the not exactly onerous job of keeping my monthly pittance from IBM in their careless coffers, they now will cancel said trifle and are urging me instead to consider the manifest benefits (to them) of my 'switching' to a childishly-named account whereby I pay them (a double trifle) and receive, in turn, up to 3% cashback for items (such as subscription TV payments [not the BBC] and mortgage payments) which — to adapt the immortal words of Henry Reed — "I 'ave not got".

Perhaps if, like Christa always cheerfully did, they brought me my morning cuppa in bed...

To add further insult, victims of "minor crime" will no longer receive compensation for things like broken noses or wrists, thus saving our desperate Chancellor £50,000,000 per year to put towards a couple of rivets in his guvmint's new nuclear submarines to stop them leaking.

Now, about that cuppa... It is, after all, already 07:09 and time is money!

I'd overlooked...

... this recent interview with the chap whose excellent "Black Swan" helped distract me during Christa's final illness in 2007. Source and snippet:

In Taleb's view, small is beautiful. Corporate mergers never work. "It's not a good idea being large during difficult times." And, when companies think otherwise, it's the "hubris hypothesis". After reading this section of the book I flick to the cover to check who printed it: Allen Lane, an imprint of Penguin. Which has recently merged with Random House to create one big mega-publishing company.
"Your publishers haven't actually read your book, have they?" I say.

In The Black Swan, one of Taleb's great examples of "non-linearity", or Black Swan behaviour, was blockbusters. There's no predicting what will be the next breakout success, or next year's 50 Shades of Grey, but when they take off, they fly off the charts, as The Black Swan did. The book itself was a Black Swan phenomenon. As Taleb is fond of pointing out — and as the small print beneath advertisements for mutual funds states — past performance is no indicator of future growth. Penguin seemed to have overlooked this point too since they paid him an astonishing $4m advance for this book.

Carole Cadwalladr in Observer

Hubris? Such a lovely word. "Remake", not so much. There's a remake of "Yes, Prime Minister" heading towards us...

It is Lynn's contention that The Thick of It was a sitcom for the Blair-Campbell moment and his implication is that Yes, Minister/Prime Minister will last much longer. He's probably right; it is Whitehall's Jeeves and Wooster, after all. And life goes on imitating it. Before David Cameron's last reshuffle, Francis Maude's officials drew up a memo for his expected successor. But Maude survived, heard of the memo and demanded to see it. Drop Maude's plans for reforming the civil service, it advised. Pure Sir Humphrey.

Michael White in Grauniad

I look forward to Maude's diaries in due course. [Pause] I was just about to nip out for some of the bulkier household necessities (chocolate bars, for example) when I noticed it was both cold and raining. I shall therefore waitabit, like Eric Frank Russell's slo-mo aliens, or Roger Zelazny's Great Slow Kings. [Further pause] Jeez, Louise, it's f-f-f-cold out there! I've put the car away even though I'm off out again tonight for a celebratory natal meal. 10:48? — by my reckoning that's well into next cuppa territory.

Perhaps I should...

... just climb into BlackBeast's case?


This is the "gadget display" of the Open Hardware Monitor.

I confessed...

... back in April that it's not completely unknown for me to re-read books occasionally, particularly those written by Jane Austen.3 My own school choices for Eng Lit were the 'usual' suspects: Shaw, Shakespeare, and Dickens. But just as Tessa Hadley belatedly discovered a previously-unnoticed "little shepherd boy" in Emma so I — in browsing through Martin and Laura Gray's 'advanced' York Notes on P&P — found this:

The chapter [12] concludes with a chilling list of the young Bennets' excitements: dinners, a flogging and an impending marriage.

Date: 2001

Who dares say Austen is boring after that? Or could I be reading too much into an innocent assertion? I must get out more.

And, given the email I've just had from the care-home, I may be able to do exactly that. They're finally re-opening for visitors tomorrow, after their 21-day battle with the "gastric bug". More evidence, if any is still needed, of the joyful nuances of 'Intelligent Design' among the more elderly set. Or perhaps it was triggered by the 'flu vaccine?

1,109 days later

I shall now keep this for a while...


... compare and contrast here. Don't miss that little word "Hard", though, will you? :-)

Well, I've just heard Poulenc's "Aubade" for the first time. Not bad.



1  In so very many ways :-)
2  What are the chances, I wonder?
3  I sometimes wonder what my son must make of this late conversion of mine. I still have one of his GCSE essays on "Pride and Prejudice" that doesn't make much effort to conceal his own distaste of that comic masterpiece.