2016 — 14 January: Thursday

I was pleased to be able to identify the music playing on BBC Radio 3 when the system powered on. Even before my initial cuppa! It was "The Chairman dances" by John Adams; my appreciation of him has been slowly evolving into a full-blown liking.

But I was dismayed...

... to learn yesterday that the BBC has once again unkindly dismantled their iPlayer digital music delivery system to the point where my "get_iplayer" utility is currently comprehensively broken. Yet again. And me a UK-based licence fee payer, too. It is simply not convenient to be able to listen to the things I want when it suits the BBC to make them available rather than when I want.

And it's much preferable to download them quickly and then listen at my leisure. If I ever get any. I certainly can't be doing with all this old-fashioned "real time" working. I bet they wish to introduce some sort of fee/subscription system. I further bet their ex-fizzy drinks marketeer — the overpaid cretin who was thwarted in his ambition to close 6Music — is busy at work on this somewhere.

With luck, and a following wind, I have a lunch date today.1 It's currently very cool, but dry so far this morning. Now, about that tea...?

Six years ago...

... I spotted an amusing demonstration of the application of the "Drake equation" to a more, shall we say, Down to Earth problem. Here's an even earlier (1999) variant, well worth a read.

I note that same ¬blog page happens to mention the excellent writing of William Zinsser. There's a lovely snippet by him in the first essay in Michael Dirda's recent book ("Browsings"; it arrived three days ago) of his own collected columns. Dirda lifted it from Zinsser's book "Any Old Place With You":

One August evening a few years ago, on a park bench in Manhattan, I turned to a willowy blonde named Caroline Fraser, who happened to be turned to me, and spoke the words that started it all: "Let's get married and take a trip to Africa."
Her blue eyes widened, and I searched them for an answer. But I could see only two words: "Drink Budweiser." They were reflected from a blinking neon sign.

Date: 1957

Zinsser died on 12 May last year. His death was announced by Caroline Fraser Zinsser, his wife of nearly 60 years. That's definitely the way to do it!

Boys and their toys

Anyone who thinks nuclear weapons are a Good Thing is not fit to live on this planet.

Trident and insanity

I firmed-up my opinion while working in the 'rescue' and 'signals' sections of what was then called "Civil Defence" in the mid-1960s as part of Phil the Greek's award scheme. I have seen no evidence to change my mind since that distant era.


Though Thunderbird once again fired up initially off-piste (on the unavailable portion of the desktop that belongs to the Kuro plasma screen whether it's awake or not) closing and re-starting my email convinced it to straighten up and fly right. Much easier than trying to grab and move the window with keyboard alone. Trust me; I've tried.

After a tasty lunch...

... in the "White Horse", in Otterbourne, we whizzed quickly down to PCWorld to (in my case) re-inspect those large screen TVs before picking up a little USB memory stick for Iris to use as (yet) another backup device. It suited me to be out and about because those cheerful chaps from Southern Water had given me precisely five minute's notice of "cutting me off" for the three hours they deemed necessary to repair something in their pipework locally... "If you find either of these discolouration problems occur after our emergency works please run your tap for a few minutes or wait to allow the water to settle."

Look what I found shivering on my doorstep when I eventually got back:

Caesars and Diary

"The Caesars" (which sounds as if it could well be the equal of "I, Claudius") was broadcast on Sundays between 22 September and 27 October 1968 on ITV, in monochrome. Having inspected my 1968 diary — one of the last things Christa ever read, oddly — I find I was always otherwise engaged.2 For example, on 13 October, enjoying my little flight in the Aeronca that Big Bro helped build. My diary notes:

It was a thoroughly enjoyable flight. Simple
controls — throttle, 'stick' and two pedals.

As for "Diary of a Teenage Girl", it's based on the book by Phoebe Gloeckner. Need I say more?


On the evidence of the first episode ("Augustus") I have chosen well. And I clearly missed a treat nearly half a century ago. Cue the phrase: better late than never.



1  And another walk on Friday.
2  I was spending much of that period either filling in Uni applications or (more enjoyably) romping through the EE 'Doc' Smith "Lensman" paperbacks that I'd then just received parental permission to buy, at 45 shillings total (a fortune), reading "Lord of the Rings" for the first time (much more fun than Chemistry "A"-level revision), listening to "The Hobbit" on the radio, and seeing a performance in London of "Fiddler on the Roof" (with Alfie Bass in the lead) for my 17th birthday.