2015 — 7 October: Wednesday

I'm not sure if re-reading Lois McMaster Bujold's "Komarr" counts1 but it helped get me through yesterday's ingloriously dull autumn rain. This morning — after first realising my 'emergency' LED torch in the corner nearest the (generally quite dark) hallway could really now use a new set of batteries as its present ones are "March 2009" and their resulting glimmer is barely enough to see the needle of the barometer twitch a little upward — I'm somewhat dubious about the prospect of afternoon sunshine for our planned walk.

Breakfast comes first, though. Then Dr Fang. Which is still a better day than the new boss of Volkswagen faces. Eleven million European vehicles to have their software, erm, upgraded. Crikey. Wonder if there will be any nice fat boardroom bonuses?

From the little I could tolerate of Iain Duncan Smith's Tory party speech, I'd say Steve Bell's cartoon captures the essence of the man.

This rings...

... horribly true. It's a panel from Part 2 ("Things right-wingers see no need to worry about"):

Tom Tomorrow

No more Dr Fang for six months (with luck). We chatted about Canon digital cameras, RAW format processing, hi-res screens, and the increasing deficiencies of OS X. My kind of dentist.

The gears of our guvmint's...

... Department for Work and Pensions turn rather slowly. Today's snailmail to "Mr David Bounce" asks when dear Mama was admitted to her nursing home as "We need this information to determine if the move would have affected the benefits." It seems a bit late, but what do I know?

It comes from a State Pension and Bereavement Specialist, with a 'cwmbran' email, was sent from Post Handling Site B in Wolverhampton, and (if undelivered) is to be returned to a PO Box in Belfast.

I've replied with a brief, factually-correct answer. Who knows what mischief that will cause?

Grey Gardens...

... is a 1975 documentary I watched, years ago. It showed the slightly-mad, genteel squalor in which "Big Edie" and "Little Edie" Bouvier Beale lived out their more than slightly eccentric riches-to-rags life in the Hamptons. I decided to take a chance on the 2009 HBO film that retells their story. Not least because it was scripted by Patricia Rozema, who did excellent work on a 1999 version of "Mansfield Park" and an interesting 1995 film called "When Night is Falling" that I enjoyed just a couple of months ago.

DVDs plus book

Being then in a Jessica Lange "mood", I also got the film about Frances Farmer. Another bizarre life story. And it turns out John Freeman's life was a few sigmas away from the normal, too. I was only aware of him as one of the earliest of the TV 'celebrity' interviewers, back in that innocent age when people being interviewed talked about themselves rather than merely plugging their latest "product".

Following a chat...

... last week, I was sent a link to the "23andMe" DNA Genetic Testing and Analysis outfit. At £125, I managed to contain my interest. This morning, while leafing through an issue of "Focus" magazine in Dr Fang's waiting room, I read an article by a BBC chap who'd undergone this analysis and reported his findings. It was quite interesting, but his GP opined It doesn't really much matter what genetic markers you turn up with. Our advice is still going to be 'Eat less. Drink less. Don't smoke. Exercise more.'

Sensible advice. I think I can manage that. Especially in light of this item on phools and phishing, (from a pair of Nobel winners):

Akerlof and Shiller assemble suggestive evidence that alcohol consumption does far more damage to health than we think. Their larger theme is that "alcohol studies remain largely underfunded," and without the necessary research, "we are especially prone to be phished for phools, since we cannot know whether we have the right story." In their view, significant federal tax increases on ethanol (the kind of alcohol in alcoholic drinks) could have major health benefits — but the industry has successfully worked to prevent any such increases.

Cass R Sunstein, reviewing "Why free markets make fools of us" in NYRB



1  As "hibernation", that is.