2016 — 9 June: Thursday

This morning's 23.6C1 is being worked on by the outside chill as I type. And John Adams' "The Chairman dances" is winding towards the 8 o'clock "news" bulletin.

After today's...

... scheduled burst of roof-related rowdiness I should at least once more have a secure, water-tight "lid" on my house. I'm just hoping the mortar repairs to my roof gullies and ridges get a chance to set before the skies can unleash further wet nastiness.

The tiles have been wire-brushed clean of a ton or so of moss, checked for failures and soundness. The botanical wonders growing in, between, and on them have been expunged. After today will come Stage 2: all the brickwork re-pointing, replacing all the rotten and peeling fascias and soffits, replacing all the leaky gutters and drunken downpipes (fixing a leak above the garage door that's been present from Day 1), and rejuvenating the few remaining external wooden window and door frames.

I shall be somewhat "poorer"...

... but that's what happens when you neglect a house for 35 years. This work (which I loathe) needs doing and dear Mama's windfall2 makes this as good a time as any to get it all out of the way before I cave in to any greater temptations in the toy line. (I'm under strict instructions from Peter not to plan on leaving him any of his grandmother's money, though [illogically] he raises no objection to having mine or Christa's!)

So be it. Recall Belloc's story of the late Lord Finchley:

It is the business of the wealthy man
To give employment to the artisan.

If/when I start collecting my State Pension in October, I will (very) slowly refill the gaping hole. You cannot take it with you, for any and all values of "it".


Here's a view of "science" — a word we get from the Latin words for "knowledge" and "know", whatever they both mean:

Even where [science] is swamped by the steamroller of conventional wisdom ... we should stumble our way through the thickets of prejudice to the sunny uplands of objectivity.
But who is to guard that objectivity? This past week has seen the annual open season for "amazing cure for cancer". It comes round every year with the Chicago get-together of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, a world fair for cancer pundits to bid for cash from big pharma and big government.

Simon Jenkins in Grauniad

It's a long time since I saw a steamroller. Here, it seems to mean "political interference" and/or "money".


... the two main roof problem areas is made easier by a helicopter photo from 10 years ago. The base of each of these two gullies is precisely where water finds its way in:

Unwanted water inlets

I've just handed over the three tiles that Christa cannily stashed away in the garage 35 years ago. I unearthed them last year while making a little extra room for the Mazda.

Some of...

... Britten's orchestral sketches were never published because they were impounded by US Customs lest they turn out to be some sort of wartime coded messages. Words are just not quite enough, sometimes, to encompass the splendid powers of official minds at work.

Just as I was setting off...

... to my lunchdate, Mr Postie handed over both these entertainments, which I'm looking forward to...

Spies and Suits #5

... and a totally redundant annual "Savings Promise" wodge of bumph from my online bank, telling me, to two decimal places, in a terribly impressive 3D pie-chart, what I have where (as if I didn't know). It's no longer up-to-date, of course, having taken them over five weeks to collate, print, and mail. One of the main reasons for banking online, surely? I barely had time to think "Why bother? Just pay me as interest the money saved by not printing and mailing this rubbish!" before getting to the line in it that said, mildly apologetically, "In future, you'll only get a copy if you have at least £100 salted away with us."

Although it...

... seems to want to eat 100% of one of my CPU cores, I am delighted by what I've seen so far of the Linux Mint 18 Beta, 64-bit MATE desktop edition. I've been confining it to one of Oracle's extremely handy VirtualBoxes, of course, "just in case". And running it under Linux Mint 17.3 on BlackBeast Mk III with an 18GB virtual hard drive (it needs 10.5GB during installation) and a purely nominal 20MB of display screen memory.

Mint 18 Beta

Very promising. It's not easy to pin down exactly what's changed, but it reminds me once again of why I prefer it over Ubuntu. I shall also take it out for a test drive on Skylark under Ubuntu 16.04 at some point just for fun. But so far: Roll on the Real Thing!


A little pearl, from fairly early in "A Life Beyond Boundaries". Anderson is sketching the outlines of such few experts as existed (or were then developing, at the time) in what was to become known as "Southeast Asia" studies:

When the young [George] Kahin [a pre-war Harvard undergraduate] joined the US army he was trained to be parachuted behind Japanese lines in Indonesia and Malaysia. Needless to say — if one knows the Pentagon — in the end he was sent to Italy instead.

Date: 2009/2016

I have rationed myself to just the first two episodes of "Suits". So far, it's been descending into office soap opera territory with, possibly, a jumped shark bobbing in the background. Pity.



1  Here in the living room.
2  Christa and I were both fully convinced she'd (a) outlive us both out of sheer spite, or (b) failing that, dissipate her entire "fortune" on care-home fees before shuffling off the mortal coil and joining that choir invisible that she more than half believed in for most of her life. She came, by the age of 98, remarkably close to that latter goal. Not that she knew, by then, what was going on.