2013 — 21 September: Saturday

A rather dull start this morning1 so I have naturally hastened to put the kettle on, and have already sunk my first cuppa.

Busy, busy

Once again, places to be, things to do... This time, there's a pub lunch date at the Bourne Valley Inn (unless, of course, I fail to find it — in which case I shall have to make do with one of those cereal power bars that Christa learned2 always to carry with her for me). Meanwhile, if I were a player of computer games, I suppose I might be mildly interested in the billion dollar sales (since its worldwide release four days ago) racked up by Grand Theft Auto 5. Rather than simply wondering what that says about human culture and values. Come on... a torture scene in which the player must pull teeth and electrocute an unarmed man? Where's the fun in that?

King Midas in reverse

Roger Waters says he was wrong to sue Pink Floyd. With age comes wisdom, perhaps? (Link.)

Speaking of rich chaps, and, noting that my pension pittance — an elegant sufficiency for a single chap — from IBM puts me comfortably below the current average UK annual earnings of £26,500 I can only smile at news that Her Maj's Loyal Opposition wouldn't regard me as "rich" unless I was one of the "privileged few" pulling in £150,000 or more. (Link.)

Nice to know :-)

What is it...

... about the thought processes of the North American Right? Whatever happened to the concept of seeking factual evidence rather than regarding science as some weird liberal plot? I still say we should let the ants try. (Link.)

I gave in, last night, and downloaded the remaining tracks of that Duke Ellington variation of Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite" that I heard "Sugar Rum Cherry" from, last Tuesday. I was also untickled to note that the Russian guvmint has now apparently officially declared that ol' Pyotr Ilyich wasn't gay, after all. I really think guvmints should have better things to do.

Perfect Friday

I also gave in when I spotted a re-mastered Blu-ray of this lovely Stanley Baker / Ursula Andress caper film that I saw in my wild student days in Hatfield. I jest. It will be replacing a DVD-R I cut from an off-air broadcast quite some time ago. And will be accompanied by "Take a girl like you" (from the Kingsley Amis novel) and "John and Mary" — I seem to be on a nostalgia trip.

Before setting out on my lunchtime trip, I just have time to report on the complete failure of the newly-delivered "Biographies of Eminent Persons, Volume I, 1870 to 1875" to disappoint me :-)

Our obituary column on Saturday contained the name of one of the most active and original thinkers, and whose name has been known through the length and breadth of the kingdom for nearly half a century as a practical mathematician — we mean Mr. Charles Babbage. He died at his residence in Dorset Street, Marylebone, at the close of last week, at an age, spite [sic] of organ-grinding persecutors, little short of eighty years.

Date: 23 October 1871

Isn't that glorious? A five-page obituary of one of my heroes. Magic. [Pause] TTFN

It took 10 days...

... for that book of obituaries to be delivered, and just a few minutes this evening to scan and OCR the complete text of the Babbage obituary. As that dates from 1871, and the book in which it was reprinted itself dates from 1892 — and had lived for gawd knows how long on the shelves of the WH Smith and Son's Subscription Library at 186 Strand, London — I choose to assume that it is out of copyright. So you can read the entire obituary here. It contains an early description of the way the UK guvmint has consistently, and very nearly completely, got its computing knickers in a twist for over 150 years :-)



1  Which is somewhat at odds with what's going to be a day of pleasant and joyful celebration, as it happens.
2  An odd blood sugar quirk (I assume; I've never bothered to investigate) that I shared with my father, but which I'm pleased to note my son seems to have escaped. Genes versus Intelligent Design, heh?