2013 — 2 February: Saturday

I only realised for the first time this morning that the house is so quiet1 I could, with my head in one position on the pillow, actually hear the clock that I park on the gas fire downstairs. Until I switched on the dirge2 (by Smetana) offered by BBC Radio 3, at least.

We've just been promised...

... wintery blasts for our Wherwell walk later this morning. But fresh air is fresh air; one of the best things in Life, and still free until our guvmint Overlords find some way of wrapping it up into a PFI con-trick and selling it back to us...

An interesting piece on "geeks" here.

Turns out that yesterday's "Other", bringing me that newly-published PG Wodehouse book of letters...


... was simply a large, unmarked, white van. It will be (geekily?) interesting to compare and contrast the selection with those in Frances Donaldson's excellent 1990 compilation. [Pause] Right. Time to pack a simple lunch, wrap myself in something a bit warmer, and set off.

More expense, to boot

It was, as expected, bright and sunny, but with a bitingly cold wind from time to time as we circumnavigated various rather soggy bits of the Test Valley. Jolly good for us, no doubt. When I got back I was sitting quietly on the back patio steps cleaning the worst of the accumulated mud off my trusty boots, only to discover a large split in one of them. That explains its recent readiness to let water in, I strongly suspect. Of course, had I cleaned the mud crust off earlier I would have known this sooner. <Sigh> My next pair — this time, I'm trying Brasher instead of Hi-Tec — is en route.

Now, about that next cuppa...

I had more than...

... one manager in IBM whom I strongly suspected couldn't type "spell" accurately enough to invoke the delightful spelling checker we were offered as part of one of our (usually dreadful) office systems. As for the understanding and/or correct use of the apostrophe... well, this chap has the right attitude to employing grammatically-challenged people:

Writing isn't in the official job description of most people in our office. Still, we give our grammar test to everybody, including our salespeople, our operations staff, and our programmers. On the face of it, my zero tolerance approach to grammar errors might seem a little unfair. After all, grammar has nothing to do with job performance, or creativity, or intelligence, right?
Wrong. If it takes someone more than 20 years to notice how to properly use "it's," then that's not a learning curve I'm comfortable with. So, even in this hyper-competitive market, I will pass on a great programmer who cannot write.

Kyle Wiens in HBR blog

Gotta love the URL, too :-)

The very next blog I happen to look at perfectly illustrates the point. It's written by an ex-bond trader with a PhD in physics from Johns Hopkins:

The Gaussian Copula Function, opaque to most, is convenient to blame. It allows us to shake off our collective sense of guilt. It obscures the real crime with a motive that doesn't take a gang of teenage sleuths and they're dog to sniff out: greed.

Chris Arnade in SciAm blog

Could have been a careless webmaster, I suppose.

One disadvantage...

... of waking up quite so early, of course, is the increasing urgency of the need for further sleep even though the (-1C) night is still young, as it were. Oh to be a bear, now that winter's here.



1  At around 05:55, at least.
2  The Balanescu Quartet's rendering of Kraftwerk's "Autobahn" is also pushing somewhat in that direction. Not the usual string quartet fare, to be fair.