2013 — 19 October: Saturday

Had I had the patience1 to restrict my AbeBooks searching to "HA" rather than "Harold Alfred" yesterday evening I could have placed my order that much sooner, and without setting up a "Want". Thanks, Roger! Less is sometimes more. Though that won't be the case with Mrs Hubbard's cupboard while I play 'host' to Big Bro for a couple of days. Indeed, if it's stopped raining this morning, I shall nip out for a couple of items I know he particularly likes. He's intending to arrive shortly before lunch on Monday, though hasn't said whether by train or in a hire car.

"Laconic" is but one word (of many) I keep at hand for describing the ol' chap.

I've decided...

... to drag my crockpot out of its summery retirement and inflict one of my delicious "stews" on him. It will feature bits of a dead animal from his own country, which seems only fair fare somehow. The Waitrose carpark was already filling up fast at 08:10 but the biggest hold-up was the chattering trio at my "Quick Checkout" desk. I nearly brought my habitual scowl out of its summery retirement.

Meanwhile, my degree of...

... grudging respect for Win8.1 Pro has crept slightly upwards. Let me justify that extraordinary statement. Last night, I noticed (courtesy of the "Action Center") that Device Manager was showing a problem with the graphics driver on the motherboard's integrated graphics gubbins — this has just a single hdmi output that I use (occasionally) for driving the 60" Kuro plasma screen at the other end of the room. As I now whizz my video files over to that screen2 via the marvellous dinky little WD "Live TV HD" media player I would probably have gone for months without noticing anything wrong.

I set about removing the driver on the grounds that a non-working driver (even though reported as consuming no resources because it wasn't working) simply offends my OCD (in)sensibilities. Besides, the devil makes work for idle code to do. A reboot to finish the removal must have prompted a re-scan of the system, however, since a working driver was promptly re-installed.

I also had to "repair" my Xara graphics software installation to bring that back to life after it started failing with an unhelpful "-6" code and a suggestion that it, too, could do with a touch of re-installing. But nothing else seems to have broken, so I'm declaring the Win8.1 Pro manoeuvre3 a victory and moving on...

... to the next cuppa (and some breakfast).

I was displeased...

... to read of the throat cancer that Felix Dennis has been contending with, but oddly pleased to read this in the Foreword to the book of his poems I bought yesterday:

The inclusion of Eric Gill's illustrations reflect the fact that I have been lucky enough, over the years, to amass one (sic) the largest collections of his work still in private hands. He may have led a reprehensible private life, (in truth, there is no 'may' about it, he most certainly did!) but as a sculptor, wood engraver, illustrator and typographer, he stands very high in the recent history of the creative arts in Britain. Talent has never been any respecter of reasonable behaviour, social mores, or solicitude for others. It was ever thus. And who am I, in any case, to speak of 'social mores'?

Date: March 2013

What a splendid chap! And he was the one branded as "very much less intelligent than your two co-defendants" by the extremely unsplendid His Honour James Morton Michael Victor Argyle QC MC in the 1971 "Oz" magazine obscenity trial.

While browsing Andrew Hill's review of Simon Garfield's new book I was tickled to learn this from the Kremlin.

Microsoft continues...

... to surprise me. I wanted to fire up Internet Explorer to examine my browsing history to confirm the route I'd followed last Thursday to get the Win8.1 Pro download. I figured it was probably wise to be running the thing to help them realise that I was a legit Win8 user. Well, today it starts, hangs, the hourglass spins for a while, and then the whole (blank) window quietly dies. Not much of a flagship web browser.

I resorted to the good ol' right-click on the program executable in...

C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe

... and selected "Run as Administrator". Crazy system.

Some people maintain...

... that the only way to enjoy cricket is to watch the TV picture while listening to the ball by (boring) ball commentary on the radio. I wouldn't dream of commenting. However, the way to dodge the vast wasteland that is TV is definitely to read a good book while listening to a good music recording. My choice of listening — a Guy Garvey "Finest Hour" from about six weeks ago — has just thrown up a snippet from a speech by an American pundit, Newton Norman Minow, made over 50 years ago:

When television is good, nothing — not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers — nothing is better.
But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite each of you to sit down in front of your own television set when your station goes on the air and stay there, for a day, without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland.
You will see a procession of game shows, formula comedies about totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, western bad men, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence, and cartoons. And endlessly commercials — many screaming, cajoling, and offending. And most of all, boredom. True, you'll see a few things you will enjoy. But they will be very, very few. And if you think I exaggerate, I only ask you to try it.

Date: 9 May 1961

Vast wasteland... yep, I can drink to that. Here's the full speech.



1  Or the wit.
2  I've not yet tested this connection since upgrading to Win8.1 Pro. Yet another "round tuit" item on the never-shrinking list.
3  At 3.5GB and a couple of hours it was far more than just an average Service Pack, it seems to me. It felt a lot more like a complete system rebuild with (I think) four re-boots while it was chuntering away. I just left it to, erm, its own devices.