2014 — 4 February: Tuesday

I love1 our political leaders — particularly the younger, keener, ones who commission reports into alleged party voter manipulation, and then try to suppress publication with the suggestion that we simply "move on" in the declared absence of any "wrongdoing" — which is why it's now a really difficult problem for me to decide where my next vote is best placed. My attempt to access the text timed out this morning. Mind you, the BBC's radio news summary painted a rather more sensational picture than I was able to read here.

It's not just Labour, inevitably, who favour a shroud of secrecy. Or who wriggle in the sunlight:

The work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, was accused on Monday of obfuscation, hubris, discourtesy, and sweeping problems with the universal credit system under the carpet in bad-tempered exchanges with the all-party work and pensions select committee.

Patrick Wintour in Grauniad

I occasionally try to think of a single guvmint IT system that ever came in on time, under budget, and fully up to working specification, under any flavour of administration. There must be one, surely?

Then there's the BBC!

MPs have accused the BBC of arrogance and "half-truths" over a bungled IT project that cost licence fee-payers nearly £100m. The Labour MP Margaret Hodge, chair of the Commons public accounts committee, said the BBC's handling of its Digital Media Initiative (DMI), abandoned at a cost of £98.4m last year, was "almost beyond parody" and revealed a "jungle of bureaucracy" at the corporation.
The committee heard that only one programme had successfully incorporated the new system, the BBC1 science programme Bang Goes The Theory. The former BBC director general Mark Thompson admitted it was "apt", Hodge telling him: "You couldn't think of a better title."

John Plunkett in Grauniad

It doesn't appear to have made the "cut" for inclusion in the radio news so far. Oh dear: the archive database cost £3m a year to run, outsourced to IBM, and replaced a system that cost £780,000. Coles [director of operations] admitted it was "appalling value for money".

Seeing some senior heads stuck on spikes "to encourage the others" could be a satisfying TV programme. Bet it wouldn't get commissioned.


... who says romance is dead?

Consider the way in which capitalism and love work together in our culture — as in the case, say, of an engagement ring. I used to be in the luxury jewelry business, and let me assure you that you simply cannot convince a person that two months' salary is appropriately spent on a twentieth of a gram of crystallized carbon (a one-carat diamond) without yourself buying into a complex system of deceptions about money and romance.

Clancy Martin in BookForum

This morning's 10 o'clock shower (outside) is tending more towards the hurty hail variety at the moment.

Blanc et Noir?

Glossing over the unwanted invitation to desert my preferred optician of the last 25 years or so (now how the hell did they get my details?) and the sadly-necessary new 'Authentication' card to enable me to continue to deplete dear Mama's small pile of gold to keep her care-home smiling, we finally arrive at two very tasty sets of Blu-ray — thank goodness!

Blanc et Noir?

Time for lunch, methinks. The tum rumbles ever on.

I nipped out...

... this afternoon to re-unite my previous Oppo's remote control and operating2 manual with its new owner now that the player has come back from its repair session with Dr Oppo to fix the disk drawer that was sticking. But I can't say the weather out there is getting steadily more enticing. However, that hasn't stopped the intrepid trio from making tentative plans for a Friday ramble — preferably one that's largely, or even wholly, road-based. We just need to find some quietish roads.

Now, about that next cuppa...

About Time?

Delightful film, possibly holding extra meaning, or at least resonance, for an elderly parent after a happy marriage :-)

I recommend it. Loved the Lindsay Duncan line: "I am so uninterested in life without your father."



1  Though not much.
2  Plus all-important "here's how to change Blu-ray zone settings" crib sheet. Not that the new owner has yet admitted to having any BDs other than Zone B (as far as I know).