2013 — 18 December: Wednesday

The German tributary of the Amazon, in this case, is now suggesting that I can get a 3D Blu-ray of "Gravity" for an unappealing 30 Euros a mere two months from now. No, I don't think so, either. Still, at least the errant copy of the Comics Journal Library Vol. 7 (that I ordered last April) is finally in the delivery pipeline. When we last 'spoke' (back in September) they said:

One of Amazon's aims is to provide a convenient and efficient service;
in this case, we have fallen short. Please accept our sincere apologies.

Remind me...

... not to take my film recommendations from BBC Radio 3 music programmes. Last night's "Dragonslayer" (which also features in Danny Peary's usually-reliable "Film Fanatic" guide) won't be going on to my "must re-watch" list any time soon. Nor could I imagine its music doing much, if anything, for "2001". It had a certain fascination to it, though mostly along the lines of "how much worse can it get?" I wonder what Ralph Richardson's fee was? Or what his uncle Lewis would have said? Probably not:

Big whirls have little whirls,
    That feed on their velocity.
And little whirls have lesser whirls,
    And so on to viscosity.

Lewis Fry Richardson

It was in the collected (and inordinately expensive) scientific papers1 that I unearthed the little verse above. The late Benoit B Mandelbrot (he of fractal geometry, and most recently to be heard from at the 2006 IgNobel Awards "ceremony") described Richardson as "a great scientist whose originality mixed with eccentricity". Much like his more thespian-inclined nephew.

It's been a...

... little over four years since I read Evan Goldstein's review of the second volume of Isaiah Berlin's letters covering the period 1946 to 1960. I decided against it, merely on the grounds of diminished time. Now along comes the next volume and, of course, the next review. This time, by John Banville, and with an arresting opening sentence:

The stoutest defenders of the status quo2 will inevitably be those whom it rewards most richly.

John Banville in NY Review of Books

This lot brings us up to 1975... However, it's now time for me to go and stuff that crockpot. If I get it right it should reach thermal perfection in time for my return from Roger & Eileen's afternoon tea and biscuit emporium.

You can...

... prove anything you like with adroit use of statistics (as wonderfully demonstrated by Darrell Huff years ago). Today, we have numbers of coders:

1 in 387 humans, or about 0.26 per cent of humanity, can code

Simon Sharwood in El Reg

But (as one commenter asks) how many can debug? [Pause] Time for lunch.

I think I have now...

... formulated two universal messages of goodwill for my fellow subjects hereabouts for their use on very wet, rather windy, dark winter evenings:

  1. Wear reflective clothing before dashing across our poorly-lit roads in front of me.
  2. If you feel you must park more or less across the entrance to my little drive, at least have the decency to tuck your blasted vehicle in close to the kerb.

The potted crock smells quite enticing. [Pause] And its taste confirms I haven't yet lost the knack.


... mildly irritating factoid. I recall Christa telling me that I would have to show her how to operate our (then, newish) washing machine. I now belatedly discover that once the door has been shut and the program selected you cannot re-open the door to add the odd sock dropped on the floor even though at that point the machine is not yet switched on.



1  At one time, the most expensive book I'd ever bought was the two-volume collected research papers. And (unless my obsessively-maintained database is telling porkies) I bought that on 11 August 1993. (£95 per volume!)
2  As that old rogue Machiavelli observed: It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage than a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institution and merely lukewarm defenders in those who gain by the new ones. Change management is always tricky.