2015 — 24 May: Sunday

Yesterday's latest bricks of Stross got off to a pretty good start — and a nice musical accompaniment — though (inevitably) I got a bit sidetracked1 by a "review" of yet another book about the fascinating Nicolson family. This one's by Vanessa, Harold's granddaughter. Though, as you can see here...

Vanessa Nicolson book

... the blithering idiot who wrote the Grauniad's subheading mistakenly identifies Vanessa as the incestuous offspring of her grandmother (Vita Sackville-West) and her father Ben (Vita's older son).

So I turned the latter part of yesterday evening into a leisurely re-examination of the three volumes2 I have of Harold's diaries and letters (covering 1930 to 1962). These were edited by his younger son Nigel in the 1960s. Harold was one of those splendid chaps who lived in a ramshackle castle and — rather like his transatlantic counterpart, Arthur M Schlesinger, Jr — knew "everybody that mattered" (as Trollope might have put it) in political and cultural society at the time.

By contrast, I know nothing and nobody. Heck, I didn't even know that, when you retire, you shockingly discover there's suddenly a whole lot less time available than you'd ever have imagined. Most odd.

Alas, it's a lot...

... less sunny this morning. A triple layer of clothing, therefore, as I vaguely contemplate some breakfast. Not to mention the four parked vehicles straddling my drive. Still, I wasn't planning on going out today.

When I were a lad...

... bankers were respectable folk, trusted to countersign a passport application (for example). Mind you, so were priests, stockbrokers and insurance agents. Things change.

Starting as early as December 2007, currency traders at several multinational banks formed a group dubbed "The Cartel." It is perhaps fitting that those traders chose that name, as it aptly describes the brazenly illegal behavior they were engaged in on a near-daily basis. For more than five years, traders in "The Cartel" used a private electronic chatroom to manipulate the spot market's exchange rate between euros and dollars using coded language to conceal their collusion. They acted as partners — rather than competitors — in an effort to push the exchange rate in directions favorable to their banks but detrimental to many others.

Loretta Lynch in US DoJ

The humongous fines imposed were lower than expected — hence the share prices of these criminal corporations actually rose "in relief". I would still look pleasurably at the spectacle of some bankers' heads impaled on spikes "to encourage the others". Not going to happen, of course.

Surely it's a little ironic...

... that in Ireland — a country with a very smelly reputation for Catholic priestly child-fiddling, cover-ups, and worse abuses (rather like the UK, in fact) — the archbishop of Dublin has now called for a "reality check" to "get in touch" with young people in light of the referendum approving gay marriage.

archbishop of Dublin

Or is it just me that finds the idea of a senior priest calling for a reality check, erm, unreal? I also thought the Jesuits reckoned it only needed seven years... See above re heads and spikes.

Having finally...

... found one of those elusive round tuits, I set off to do something useful with last Thursday's little 5TB USB3 drive. I took a reasonably cold-blooded look at all the stuff I have squirreled away on my 4TB NAS drive and concluded the highest-value data (if only in terms of the sheer time it would take me to regenerate) was my music. So that's what I'm backing up first. Silly me, thinking USB3 is fast. My thought process — such as it is (these days) — was to eliminate as many "middle men" as I could by connecting the drive directly to the USB3 port on the back of said NAS, and then doing a directory drag'n'drop via the Synology's Linux GUI. I figured this cuts out any latency from the network, and from BlackBeast's own USB controller.

Fine in theory. However, these days the six-to-eight MB of a typical MP3 is a "small" file. I had over 55,000 such files last time I looked, and that's just counting those ripped directly from my CDs. Podcasts and programme downloads from the BBC, NPR, and from Mr Bezos all boost that total considerably. And small files are the time-soaking devil of multiple file transfers. I'm currently just letting it do its thing (16.5% so far) while I read some more Stross and start to wonder vaguely about a bite of lunch. In between satirical email exchanges with Big Bro's brother-in-law. And less satirical ones with a neighbour who was told by Amazon that her parcel had been left with "David at 19" when it hadn't.


John Nash and his wife have been killed in a taxi crash in New Jersey.

I only put...

... the Linux variant of Dropbox on to BlackBeast a week or so back. Nor did I ever get into the habit of using any of the extra space that came with my smartphone for two years. Just as well, as I got a popup (wonder how that worked?) almost immediately followed by an email:


I expect I'll cope :-)

File-copying is ongoing. Over ten hours into the process and two-thirds of the main set of MP3s are in their 'spare' home. The 5TB drive is pleasantly warm to the touch. Patience is a virtue...



1  As ever, by that "butterfly mind" that dear Mama hated so much.
2  I bought my hardback trilogy in October 2006 just before I began my pre-retirement leave from IBM. £12-99 for the set, secondhand, from the British Council Library. And in pretty good nick, too.