2016 — 7 February: Sunday

The sky is blue.1 The BBC has just played a piece by Scarlatti (his sonata in D major, Kk. 490) in a recording made, in Paris, by Wanda Landowska as she played just hours before the Germans overran the city in 1940. Distant sounds of bombardment were audible. Weird, and rather chilling.

My mention of Rousseau...

... yesterday reminded me of two things. One was the opening lyric — "Rousseau walks on trumpet paths" — of the lovely track by Joni Mitchell ("The Jungle Line", from her album "The Hissing of Summer Lawns"); the other, an amusing section I had found long ago in his posthumously-published "Confessions".

My illusions about the world caused me to think that in order to benefit by my reading I ought to possess all the knowledge the book presupposed. I was very far indeed from imagining that often the author did not possess it himself, but had extracted it from other books, as and when he needed it. This foolish conviction forced me to stop every moment, and to rush incessantly from one book to another; sometimes before coming to the tenth page of the one I was trying to read...

Date: 1770

I know the feeling. I have the 1953 translation made for Penguin by JM Cohen, who was the chap who also introduced me to much "Comic and Curious Verse" of a rather less elevated nature...

A Woman is a book, and often found
To prove far better in the Sheets than bound:
No marvel then why men take such delight
Above all things to study in the night.

Further comment, as they say, would be superfluous. I shall brew further tea instead!

Data confessions...


... leaves me in a weak position to comment on an email I received from Great Cthulhu's priest as he completes the task of migrating programs and data:

The kicker will come when I have a stub of stuff that I don't know quite what to do with, which will inevitably contain a directory labelled archive, containing (recursively) stuff I didn't know what to do with last time I went through this ... all the way back to my first AT.

Date: yesterday

Though, at least, my stuff only goes back to my 1989 Acorn RISC OS days, not the preceding2 1985 Amstrad CP/M system.

Squishy robots

Science slithers on. (Link.)

Following a trail..

... that began while re-reading this essay, I eventually landed on page 23 of the "Table Talk of John Selden", where this made me roar with laughter:

The Lords that fall from the King, after they have got Estates by base Flattery at Court, and now pretend Conscience, do as a Vintner, that when he first sets up, you may bring your Wench to his House, and do your things there; but when he grows Rich, he turns conscientious, and will sell no Wine upon the Sabbath-day.


If that isn't a well-nigh perfect description of the behaviour of someone like Jane Austen's "Sir William Lucas" character in P&P...

I refuse to be distracted by the Nikola Tesla "Talk" page :-)

Robert Harris...

... is the guest on today's "Private Passions". His choice of Michael Foot's 1980 oratorical demolition (by humour) of Sir Keith Joseph in the House of Commons guarantees I will download it.

I had no idea...

... it was Xmas again already. But it must be; there's a new Neil Gaiman "Sandman: the Overture" prequel on its way to me as I type. [Pause] I enjoyed the Hawking Reith Lectures.

It took me...

... a couple of months longer than I expected to get around to watching this little gem...

The Last Word DVD

... but it was well worth the wait. It's a cracker.



1  And largely clear. The barometer has twitched slightly up from its horrid plummet yesterday, too.
2  Though that's only because the first useful RISC OS code I wrote sucked up all my ASCII data from those strange 3" Amstrad diskettes across a crudely-soldered temporary serial port cable, unset the top bit of every character, and squirted them safely into the ARMs (excuse the pun) of RISC OS.