2013 — 2 December: Monday

What is it about Mondays? Since I retired, I admit I feel different (indeed, indifferent) about them. For example, Mrs BBC Radio 3 has just played me a hackneyed piece of Mozart to dispel "the Monday blues" she was obviously certain her audience was suffering from. It would have been more effective had she played some authentic Blues. Still, she is currently being taught a valuable lesson as she is being flooded by texts and emails from listeners who were introduced to classical music from other genres. She was even unaware (judging by the fragment of a call I caught) of the version of the Sibelius "Intermezzo from the 'Karelia' suite" from The Nice. That was probably before she was born.

This artificial cultural divide between the classical (Reith's "serious, worthy") music on R3 that is probably 95% of what gets broadcast on that station and basically all other forms ("popular") of music sprayed out elsewhere on the BBC — and, indeed, across the non-BBC radio spectrum — irritates me. As for opera; let's not go there. I would really rather remain grumpy and ignorant than have my prejudices over-turned at this stage of my life. I still don't know the names of the Bee Gees1 after all.

I obviously lead...

... and equally obviously (I'm forced to conclude), have always led, a sheltered life. Consider the almost throwaway parenthetical aside here:

Balthus was avian in physique though feline in temperament, and his totem animal was the cat. He made his début, at the age of eleven, with a series of forty drawings, in pen and ink, that told the story of a stray cat that he had adopted around Christmastime, in 1919. When she ran away, he was heartbroken, and he turned to art for consolation. Rainer Maria Rilke, a family friend (he was having an affair with Balthus's mother, Baladine), was so impressed by the boy's gifts that he arranged for the drawings to be published as a little book...

Judith Thurman in New Yorker blog

I wonder if Christa knew that? She had, after all, liked Rilke's verse enough to have picked a fragment for her obituary notice in the German newspaper. Still, I have five books of Balthus and his amazing art.

In fact, there's an exhibition of his work at the NY Met though, given Jed Perl's assessment of the event's curator here...

It is also an extraordinarily frustrating event. Sabine Rewald, the
curator at the Metropolitan who organized the show, is a rationalist,
and therefore incapable of grasping the genius of this artist who is
anything but a rationalist — who was one of the greatest dreamers of
the twentieth century.

... I don't think I'll be forking out $45 for the exhibition's catalogue :-)

Privacy? What's that?

An air gap? Really?

Schneier uses tools such as GPG, Silent Circle, Tails, OTR, TrueCrypt, BleachBit — and others he won't name — and has introduced what he calls an "air gap": "Since I started working with the Snowden documents, I bought a new computer that has never been connected to the internet. To transfer a file, I encrypt it on the secure computer and walk over to my internet computer, carrying a USB stick. To decrypt something, I reverse the process. This isn't bulletproof, but it's pretty good."

Jemima Kiss in Grauniad

That's cool. We used to call it "sneakernet". As for hackers. Compare and contrast:

So two of us, at least, now have a permanently-on high speed (adsl) Internet connection which is, we hope, proof against the depradations of the various sociopathic script-kiddies and hackers out there.
Those same morons actually cost the Lab nearly three full days of network access last week as the Code Red worm and several of its variants chomped through a large number of our servers, overloading them with spurious network traffic. Turns out, rather sadly, that we had several hundred more unofficial servers than management actually knew about, and by no means all of them (surprise, surprise) had fully up-to-date security patches.
The main problem I'm told (by the extremely harassed-looking manager whose responsibility is the integrity of our network) remains people bringing their laptops back into work on a Monday after having had them at home hooked up to non-IBM networks and/or letting their kids loose on them. This brings infected machines right inside the firewall and is in fact exactly what happened to the Gates empire in Redmond last week, too. Maybe it will encourage him to make his software a bit less trusting?

Date: 12 August 2001

Trust me to spell "depredations" incorrectly in a letter to my own mother!

My other parent...

... always used to tell me "There's nowt so queer as folk". (Quite why he adopted such a Northern accent when he never lived further north than Alderley Edge baffles me to this day.) I was half-listening to the BBC Radio 4 national news while scoffing my chicken salad lunch. After they'd had a politician wittering on about how changing the goal posts over what constitutes "fuel poverty" was a way of fixing the problem they moved on to their next story. This one was about a chap who's very good at jumping into water. This chap has decided he, well, likes other chaps. And this news — released on YouTube (I gather) — is, well, national news. For today, at least.

The apparently-unsatisfiable celebrity hunger of my fellow citizens subjects only seems to prove that David Mamet was right, albeit in a slightly tangential are(n)a. As he said in Some thoughts on writing in restaurants: "We want to see movie stars' genitals on-screen and to be assured that 'they did their own stunts'."

Never having been...

... one for making over-hasty decisions, and after packing away the latest batch of fresh food, I've just done for my two freezers something that I watched Shelagh over the road do for her store cupboard a couple of years ago. Or was it three? I threw out everything that was either too old for me to recall when or where I bought it, or too thickly-encrusted in ice to be able to see when or where I bought it. At this rate, I may yet start chucking out tins of stuff that I never even bought in the first place. After all, Peter and Peter's g/f almost visibly shuddered on their last visit when I found an open pack of chocolate-covered raisins2 in what was apparently one of the caches Christa had that he knew about that she didn't know he knew about (and I certainly did not know about).

Then, if I dismantle the wall of storage cartons packed with stuff from Christa's study, who knows? I may even open up one or more of her wardrobes and let the moths out. This is exciting. But that's enough madcap adventure for one afternoon.


The new Ansible joyously pointed me here. Priceless.



1  What do you mean, "That isn't opera!"? It's certainly high-pitched squawking — and isn't that, by definition, at the heart of all operatic music?
2  Delicious, in case you wondered.