2016 — 22 January: Friday

It's too wet for pleasant walking, though I prefer this to snow and ice. I'm predicting a day of music, reading, and — who knows? — maybe even some local entropic skirmishes. Those could be said to have begun yesterday when I finally returned to their owner a clutch of items that had been propping up my dust here for well over two years, in several cases. And I also applied some grease to the up-and-over garage door mechanism. That's a first! I have learned1 (the hard way) the consequences of neglect, benign or otherwise.

I have an...

... afternoon tea and biscuit treat lined up on the other side of the village. That's always a Good Thing.

I suspect...

... the most accurate adjectival phrase for Janet Malcolm's current NYRB book review of the "unauthorised life" (of Ted Hughes) by Jonathan Bate would have to be "hatchet job". I've never read anything quite like it. I recall reading of her doubts about ever possessing "accurate knowledge of another person" a couple of years ago. And I certainly enjoyed reading a previous review (of Joseph Mitchell) by her some months ago, too.

As "Arts&Letters" puts it: beware the scorn of Janet Malcolm :-)

Just what we need?

I don't make this ridiculous stuff up, you know:

MP's sleaze

The plural "scandals" is a nice touch, I feel. Though I'm left to wonder quite how they choose to define "sleaze". Perhaps — like porn — they all know it when they see it?

Another example, in the context of electricity distribution on the other side of the planet:

Paul Adams, the head of Jemena, owned by Chinese and Singapore interests and which owns a transmission network in Victoria, accused households wanting to quit the grid of being "greedy and selfish."... The networks lobby ... has even proposed to hit households with a fine or compulsory fees if they quit the grid. Or they'll do what? Disconnect them?

Giles Parkinson in Grauniad


... my maddeningly unsuccessful search ("of many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore") for my mislaid copy of Phoebe Gloeckner's first book on Tuesday, and having seen there was now, in any case, a revised edition containing new stories, I simply bought a replacement2 copy:

Gloeckner and Huang books

The other title ("1587: a year of no significance" lest you have difficulty making it out — its Yale University Press cover designer is, I suspect, either or both misguided and colour blind!) is one I found after first traversing a long and largely serendipitous book and web-browsing trail. It cropped up as a direct result of my reading some ranting by "Mencius Moldbug" that happened to be critical of Charles Stross. Moldbug quoted an extract from Huang's book that (seeming, as it did, to come directly from Sir Humphrey's style of ministerial obedience-training) caught my interest:

It must have been some time before the young emperor grasped the mechanics of the institutional process, of which he himself was the central figure. There is no evidence, for instance, that, when in those early days he carried out his official duty in a way not fundamentally different from calligraphy lessons, he fully understood the import of his own rescript Acknowledged, which really meant that the suggestion or request embodied in the paper had been politely rejected, and that, considering the noncontroversial nature of the proposal, no action would be taken against the writer of the paper or others mentioned therein.

Date: 1981

The BBC and Linux

A chum tells me that the BBC tells him that "The BBC Store is not currently supported by Linux and there are no current plans to make the BBC Store available to stream and download via Linux". So they don't want my business, clearly. I generally admire the BBC, but I fear they won't succeed in displacing my choice of OS. I have asked to hear their cogent reasons. Their web submission form wouldn't allow me to specify either my OS or my level of web browser. But they still expect their licence fee. Amazing.

Even more amazing? I first had to ask Mrs Google to tell me where this BBC Store lived. I couldn't find that information on their Home page. That's not going to do much for the £1.2 billion revenue they are hoping to raise, is it?

This was what I said:

You must have cogent reasons. I should be fascinated to hear 
what they are. I don't run OS X or Windows and make only very 
limited use of Android devices. You don't even permit me to 
specify Linux Mint 17.3 below!!! Or Firefox 43. 

Can you spot...

... the fatal logical flaws in friend Chloe's reply? I can.

Dear David,
Thank you for contacting the BBC Store Team. I am going to explain to you everything you need to know regarding your query.
The BBC Store is not currently supported by Linux and there are no current plans to make the BBC Store available to stream and download via Linux. Our development team are regularly making updates to the BBC Store so please keep an eye out for any updates.
You can find all of the operating systems that are supported in our FAQs. We have attached a link giving you all of the information needed.
If you encounter any more problems. please don't hesitate to contact us.
We hope you continue to enjoy BBC Store.
Best wishes,

Chloe, from the BBC Store team, mere minutes ago today

Obviously, the only appropriate reply (made using Imperially-sanctioned vermilion ink) will simply say "Acknowledged". Now, where's my calligraphy brush?



1  I also now know that a white garage door shows up dirt every bit as effectively as a white car.
2  Murphy's Law now guarantees the swift emergence from hiding of my February 1999 copy of the first edition. I detest Murphy.