2013 — 24 February: Sunday

There are worse things to listen to while supping the initial cuppa than Tom Waits and his 'Downtown train'. These include the latest batch of surreal news items1 in the 07:30 bulletin. What a weird world we construct for ourselves.

Marginally better than looking out at minor-league attempts at snow, I guess.

In an email exchange...

... with my chum Val in unsunny Stockholm she'd mentioned office behaviour (she's still a wage slave over there and often describes the unreality of what goes on) majoring — as it were — on the minor. I reminded her of a piece by C Northcote Parkinson, written longer ago than I care to contemplate:

And if you really want a clear description of what you might call the Fort Knox syndrome2 in business, you could do worse than remind yourself of C Northcote Parkinson's "The Law". His Law of Triviality (or Point of Vanishing Interest) asserts that the time spent on any item of the agenda will be in inverse proportion to the sum involved.

Date: yesterday

I have no idea if Fort Knox still contains any bullion, mind you. I certainly hope not. (The idea of digging up dirt, refining the trace amounts of gold3 out of it, and promptly re-burying it with armed guards, is more than enough weirdness to be going on with before breakfast.) The Law refers to the way a committee's reduced group IQ only allows it to devote limited attention to the big stuff.

Another email yesterday informed me that "Forbidden Planet" was actually still trading in Soton, but at a new address. I'd simply assumed it had folded its tents when the East Street shop closed. A clear demonstration of how very long it's now been since I last walked in that particular part of town. I shall have to investigate, obviously. Whether the damaged heel is up to that expedition today remains to be seen.

Opining away

Made me smile:

To ask for evidence is a ruthless slur. I saw a TV academic branded a "vile racist". When the accuser was politely asked why they considered this person a vile racist, the answer was "because they are". Others joined in to suggest that asking for evidence of why someone was a racist was racist in itself.
Those who might be knowledgeable are looked upon with suspicion, described as "know-alls", "so-called experts" and "the intellectual elite". They spoil our opinions. The last people you should trust when seeking answers are those shifty characters who have immersed themselves in the subject at hand. The learned have sullied their mind with information.

Robin Ince in Observer

Couldn't agree more or less. Or, as a bumper sticker from the NPR "Car Talk" duo puts it: Unfettered by the thought process.

Made me laugh:

From Graham Mitchell, wine merchant: "Tesco are offering double points with petrol, diesel and burgers. It's the 'only fuels and horses' deal."

Simon Hoggart in Grauniad

Even though I never watched that TV show.

Quack, quack

Replete with information. (Link.)

You know it's cold when...

... your trusty little PC freezes. I was running a routine CPU inspection tool, ironically. It took against my 64-bit Win8 Pro big time. One complete — and only slightly panicked — Big Red Switch job later (one more, that is, than I usually need in any given day) and I can finally reveal further evidence of a sense of humour in the Great Bureaucrat's office:

Kray quads

Big Bro assured me in his email that they were "delicious" eating yesterday. I'll take his word for it. De gustibus non est disputandum as my scarily-effective Latin master Mr. Greenhalgh probably would have said.

About bloody time, too... dept.

Self-explanatory, I trust? (Link.)

See what, exactly?

I read this "closely" if you can see what I mean. And, indeed, am currently wearing glasses that give me a clear focus at "infinity" that is about 80 cm away — perfect for my PC screens and much, but not all, my reading. I have other glasses for driving that correct to 'real' infinity, and a pair of reading glasses that simply correct astigmatism but are otherwise essentially plain glass. You will, unless you wear glasses, long since have glazed over by this point.



1  The death of the chap who built the first Dalek, for example.
2  She had said: It's like leaving Fort Knox wide open while putting a full-scale security system on the tea break biscuit fund. I hadn't the heart to tell her how many years had elapsed since IBM's "executive folly killed off the (tea) trolley" as poet Les Blott once memorably put it :-)
3  All gold was formed, as far as we know, in ancient stellar explosions of unimaginable violence billions of years ago and scattered throughout space. The stellar formation of heavy elements was one of Fred Hoyle's remarkable insights. I think the mechanism could easily be interpreted as proof of a sense of humour somewhere in the Bureau of Universe Creation.