2014 — 24 July: Thursday

Starting the day the Microsoft way1 while supping my first cuppa. I'd stumbled off to bed last night, sleeping like the proverbial log despite the heat, but somewhat defeated by another of yesterday's video acquisitions, Terry Gilliam's latest lump of weirdness:

Zero Theorem BD

Even though Mr Bezos applied a £3-01 refund as the price had dropped since I first ordered it, I now suspect "I woz robbed". It very belatedly occurs to me, by the way, that what dear Mama chose to characterise as my butterfly mind could just be a very mild case of attention deficit wotsit. I'm perfectly capable of becoming absorbed — some might say, to the point of minor obsession — if something actually succeeds in capturing my attention. I just hate being bored.

A sillier than usual BBC Radio 3 "ad" for the upcoming WOMAD has just sent me scurrying across to my smartphone in case that was the source of one of the odd noises. I really should know better.

I'm glad...

... to discover that I safely pre-date the arrival of the "precariat".

However beautiful or banal the exterior, curtained in glass or blank with concrete, the buildings served as hives for the masses who performed their varied tasks to produce the evidence of profit. They were Taylorist cathedrals, and new techniques of ergonomics and personality-testing for employees compounded the organisational religious zeal, so that individuals more than ever before became bodies operating within physical space, whose 'personalities' were tested for the lack of them in the search for compliance and conformity. Business jargon added mind-conditioning on a par with air-conditioning, keeping everyone functioning optimally within the purposes of the mini-city.

Jenni Diski in LRB

That "organisational religious zeal" was touched on, rather earlier, in a favourite book of mine:

In corporation religions as in others, the heretic must be cast out not because of the probability that he is wrong but because of the possibility that he is right... Not all corporations, of course, have a leader to whom divinity could be attached with even a remote appearance of credibility... The industrial religion also has a hereafter, but it starts at sixty or sixty-five instead of death.

Antony Jay in his 1967 book Management and Machiavelli

In my case, it started at 55 :-)

This made me laugh. [Pause] The current temperature in my living room (27.4C) does not incline me to laugh. It's 11:33 so today's lunch date will be aiming at a place with air-con.

Today's gripe...

... was how to get back the menu bar missing from the version of Firefox currently shipped in Mint 17. I admit I hadn't even noticed it had gone until I tried to set my preferred home page. User Interface design is still more of an art than a science, and it's very clever coding to allow users to customise their choices. But it strikes me as overly capricious to break a working arrangement of long-standing.

As an auto-didact...

... I can hardly fail to applaud the re-appearance of some books under the venerable Pelican imprint, can I?

Five new Pelicans

I'm less keen on the first five titles chosen, however.

When our original...

... wooden gate at the side of the back garden had rotted to the point that we more or less had to replace it, we did so with a custom-made wrought-iron gate. Initially, its lock neatly aligned with the other half of its socketry (there's doubtless a technical term) attached to the brick pillar opposite the one on which the hinges live. Small-scale tectonic shifts gradually shifted said alignment out of, erm, alignment, so we resorted to a padlock. Further shifts in the relative position of the two brick pillars eventually stopped the gate actually shutting, and therefore, for the last two or three years, I've simply been using a house brick to keep the thing closed. Except for when I wheel out one or other of the two bins each week.

Meanwhile, Christa had long ago got fed up with cats easing their way through the gate into the garden and rigged up a deterrent wire mesh, cunningly held in place by barbed wire, to block access through the lower half of the gate to all but the most gymnastic of our feline visitors — the ones prepared to leap up, and through, quite a narrow gap in the ironwork. Not many do that.

This evening, I've just been treated to a silent but deadly real-life jungle drama: a rather cute little black rat whizzed underneath the gap at the bottom of the gate and thence onto my garden's concrete path, and then wheezed to a halt there, unaware of my observation. Meanwhile, a distinctly thwarted-looking grey cat paced up and down on the other side of the mesh, licking its chops, and swishing its tail in what I interpret as a miffed manner. If Mr Moggie is too thick, or too lazy, to work his or her way round to one of numerous other access points, Master Rat may yet live to see the light of another day.



1  With my second 'out of band' update in two days. A new build / upgrade of Silverlight on this occasion. I know this gorp lives on BlackBeast because of the subtle wording "Update for" prepended to its name. Beyond that, I don't have Clue 1 as to what it does or why I "need" it. Today's little lump of goodness claims to fix a memory leak when switching between tabs or pages in a Silverlight app. There's an art to writing such uninformative bulletins that I'm sure I used to possess, too.