2015 — 26 October: Monday

Despite waking at the dictates of Summer Time this morning, overflowing — as usual — with the milk of human kindness and feelings of 'bonhomie' to one and all, my mood didn't outlast the truly horrible music I had to endure while on "hold" to Toyota's car insurance people. I'd left my policy details sitting on my keyboard last night to remind me to make this call. When he eventually answered, amiable Alfie assured me that as a "cash" customer paying in full each year my insurance was "automatically expired for me" unless renewed. He then began his sales pitch for a new policy, but I fear I simply wished him well and hung up.

Time for a change?

I forgot to adjust the time on my watch1 yesterday. Since I also forgot to adjust the date on it 25 days ago, I killed two birds with one stone. You know you're getting old when you first have to remove your glasses to read the miniscule date display. Christa bought me the (expensive) thing for one of my all-too-many birthdays, so I don't expect to replace it any time soon.

There are oddly amusing consequences...

... to having a quirkily-retentive memory. I have to smile, for example, when recalling that Christa bought my present watch in part to replace the self-winding gold Omega that had been one of Dad's prized possessions. That had been reclaimed by dear Mama to re-gift it (if I recall) to Big Bro. She had similarly reclaimed Dad's earlier stainless-steel Omega to re-gift, I think, to my favourite Uncle. And back in 1970 she'd told me to give a watch I'd actually bought for myself to Big Bro, "for his trip2 to NZ".

I can't say I wasn't well-used to dear Mama's cavalier attitude toward 'my' things. Perhaps I should simply use some of my inheritance from her to buy my next watch? That would please my sense of irony, if nothing else.

Unusually for me...

... I actually watched a trailer for the latest lump of "007" courtesy of YouTube on the Tablet PC last night. No doubt that will modify what now gets offered to me next time. Mind you, the last Bond film I watched, with Christa in fact, was Daniel Craig's "Casino Royale" — directed by the chap who'd made the awesome 1985 "Edge of Darkness" TV series. Quite a while ago! To be honest, I only really enjoyed Royale's opening credits. BBC Radio 3's current choice of music is on a 'spy' theme. <Sigh> Time for breakfast.

I'm deeply shallow

News of Lisa Jardine's death reminds me of a callow opinion I expressed a while back:

Listening to NPR's "Car Talk" is somewhat more entertaining than the recently concluded minor-league BBC discussion between Susan Greenfield and Lisa Jardine on what constitutes a polymath and the difference between information and knowledge (and the part — if any? — played by education).

Date: 19 April 2009

I'm insufficiently...

... polymathematical to calculate the odds of two of my three book choices3 today mentioning each of those ladies. But unless Richard Feynman is wrong...

We have had to accept that our home, the earth, is just another planet circling the sun; our sun is just one of a hundred billion stars in a galaxy that is just one of billions of visible galaxies; and it may be that the whole expanding cloud of galaxies is just a small part of a much larger multiverse, most of whose parts are utterly inhospitable to life. As Richard Feynman has said, "The theory that it's all arranged as a stage for God to watch man's struggle for good and evil seems inadequate."

Steven Weinberg in The NY Review of Books

... there seems to be plenty of room for such coincidences, even right here in River City.

Lightweight reading

Booth's biography of Larkin — which I've been on the lookout for since reading Helen Vendler's excellent review in the London Review of Books, last November — repeats Jardine's throwaway assertion of Larkin's being "a casual, habitual racist" from a piece ("Saxon Violence") she had in the Grauniad back in December 1992. But he adds:

Larkin does on occasions entertain some of his correspondents
with expressions of pungent bigotry. However, these are
performative riffs, always requiring inverted commas.

And, speaking of inversion, I first tried inverting the colours of the Goldacre book cover, but it turns out that black on black is even harder to read than white on white. Curious indeed are the ways of graphic designers. Anyway, the first section of his book ("How science works") kicks off with nearly three pages simply asking "Why won't Professor Susan Greenfield publish this theory4 in a scientific journal?"

I've not yet dipped into Cleese's autobiography (which I added simply to halve the price of the cheapest of this trio in a typical Waterstone's marketing ploy). Who knows? Perhaps he, too, has something to say about both ladies?

Black on black

See what I mean?




1  I only ever wear it when I'm going out.
2  She thought it was a trip; I suspected it was a well-planned and well-executed emigration. I turned out to be correct. He fled a moribund UK aviation industry to the other side of the planet. I fled the same industry (but not the country) for the safer and more interesting world of computing. We neither of us regret our choices.
3  A small reward to myself for being "good" and buying a new rug to guard the bit of living room carpet my PC chair sits on. Necessary, if for no other reason than to re-elevate my endorphin levels after forking out £57 for said scrap of rug, dagnabbit. Never knowingly undersold? Bite me!
4  Her opinion that computer games are causing dementia in children. "Allegedly" :-)