2014 — 27 June: Friday

It amazes me1 how much more comfortable a morning can feel when a) it's a couple of degrees cooler, and b) the horsefly bites are starting to diminish in both itchiness and swelling.

Rain helps.

Another illusion of mine...

... scattered in the snow, sleet, slush, flurry, whiteout, drift... Still, at least I was in good company while it lasted. (Link.)

Nice to see...

... some comedic nurturing from my favourite curmudgeon:

And at times, it seemed as if she still wanted to make her comedy parent proud.
"I still think of 'Seinfeld' ideas," Leifer confessed. "It becomes part of your DNA. Like, I went to the Hollywood Bowl recently and saw a network president sitting in a box, enjoying his dinner. And I said to [my partner] Lori, 'I should probably go and say hi.' So I went over to him, and he didn't stop eating when I was talking to him! There was something about the coleslaw that was so mesmerizing, he couldn't put his fork down."
"Yes, that would pass," David said. "That would be on the show."

Danielle Berrin in Jewish Journal

Left, Right, and Centre?

Dizzying, isn't it?

Since the cold war ended we have simply found ourselves in a world in which every advance of the principle of freedom in one sphere advances it in the others, whether we wish it to or not. The only freedom we are losing is the freedom to choose our freedoms.

Not everyone is happy about this. The left, especially in Europe and Latin America, wants to limit economic autonomy for the public good. Yet they reject out of hand legal limits to individual autonomy in other spheres, such as surveillance and censorship of the Internet, which might also serve the public good. They want an uncontrolled cyberspace in a controlled economy — a technological and sociological impossibility. Those on the right, whether in China, the United States, or elsewhere, would like the inverse: a permissive economy with a restrictive culture, which is equally impossible in the long run. We find ourselves like the man on the speeding train who tried to stop it by pulling on the seat in front of him.

Mark Lilla in New Republic

Doesn't that work, then? Next you'll tell me that jumping in the air just before a lift crashes into the ground won't help, either. (I never knew how you were supposed to be able to tell the right moment to leap, either, assuming you can't see through the floor of the damn' thing.)

Who am I?

Or should that be "What am I?" (Link.) I particularly liked:

...the case of a transgender person mentioned by Ouellette who
refers to her genitalia as "Schrödinger's vagina"...

That's easily on a par with Mary Roach's quote about the "pelvic educator" here, surely?

It was Dijkstra...

... who in 1977 described the computer "user" as a kind of mongrel with money but without taste, the "average programmer" as the greatest barrier to progress in programming, the "real world" as almost always a symptom of violent anti-intellectualism, and (to cap it all) the introduction of anthropomorphic terminology into computing as one of the worst services rendered to mankind2 by John von Neumann.

Personally, I've never had the slightest difficulty in describing "bugs" in my code as "errors". After all, I made enough of them over the last 45 years.

My post-lunch...

... listening has just informed me that my tongue is a 'muscular hydrostat'. Well, I never. (Link.)

I shall decline...

... today's snailmailed invitation to sign up with "Streetlife". After all, I'm already constantly declining all the cold calls inviting me to claim compensation for accidents I've never had, claim repayments for PPI I was never sold (or mis-sold), fit a new boiler to replace the "old one" that "guvmint records show" I currently have, replace my kitchen, my loft insulation, my glazing... You name it, and someone somewhere (often, if their accent is any indication) on or from the Indian subcontinent wants to sell it to me. How much more socially-networked could I be?

No. I shall simply sit contentedly here in my Fortress of Solitude and await the arrival of Peter and his g/f. They are calling in en route to the IoW for a week or so.

Despite having...

... attended the then-new Francis "scientific method" Bacon Grammar School — the venue for my only appearance on stage as a "gentleman of Japan" in The Mikado — in St. Albans during the 1960s, I was unaware (at the time) of what caused Bacon's death. In March 1626, he was travelling with the King's physician, and they talked of the effect of cold on food preservation. They bought a chicken at Highgate, and stuffed the carcass with snow. Alas, Bacon caught a chill, and fairly promptly died, though not before writing a final letter recording both his mortal ailment and the way his frozen chicken experiment had "succeeded excellently well".

Some 30 years after I'd left that (some thought) fine educational establishment I clipped out a job ad I spotted and sent it in one of my weekly letters to dear Mama for her edification:

job ad

Comment came there none. Meanwhile, to honour my first hypertext link half a day ago, I've been playing "50 words for snow" (of course) by Kate Bush.



1  If no-one else.
2  His original typescript renders it as "manking". Is that Freudian?