2016 — 15 June: Wednesday

With two of my "Gang of Four" already simultaneously (and noisily) grinding out the old mortar on two sides of the house's brickwork before I've even had my first cuppa1 you can perhaps deduce the slothful nature of my start to the day. But you'd be wrong, as I had just got back from a fresh fruit and supplies run when their van showed up, nearly carving me up on the turn into my little estate.


... would be another good day to be away for a few hours as the grinding is far from a pleasant sound and easily drowns out my music. Only the rain, which briefly drove them back into their van, brought any respite. I shall see what I can come up with. Perhaps there's a distant toy that still needs buying?

I had a chance to exchange...

... further "EU in-or-out?" views, this time with the one-time director of the IBM Hursley Lab, as we were strolling the uncrowded aisles of the shopping shelves. We agree both on the folly of a decision to exit, and the appalling "level" of the debate. Nor is the quality of post-exit "leadership" seemingly heading towards us a Thing of Joy and Beauty. But, scanning the tabloids, at least one of them is now more "interested" in what the late Clement Freud did or did not do. If this snippet from the Mail's front page is "news"...

A friend of Madeleine McCann's parents, who were befriended 
by Sir Clement in Portugal, said they would be appalled.

... then I think I must be a banana!

Can you trust anyone?

It seems not, on some days!



... on a larger canvas, I find George Monbiot, bless 'im, painting a refreshingly depressing picture (as usual)...

The European Union is a festering cesspool of undue influence and opaque lobbying. Prompted at first by the tobacco industry, the European commission is slowly dismantling, through what it calls its "better regulation agenda", many of the hard-won laws that protect our health, working conditions and wildlife. Once they are torn down, corporate power will be locked in place through the TTIP — the transatlantic trade and investment partnership — it is negotiating with the United States.
TTIP has two main strands. One is regulatory cooperation, which means standardising the laws on either side of the Atlantic — almost certainly downwards. The other is investor-state dispute settlement: allowing companies to sue governments through an offshore tribunal if a law threatens their profits.

George Monbiot in Grauniad

I confess to having seen the acronym TTIP without bothering to investigate its implications. The world is clearly barking mad.

"Stoned again"?

For my topic now is the world as a whole, heh? I loved his opening salvo:

Of course some of us can remember talking about it before either of these men forced it into the zeitgeist, perhaps in an informal setting where the exploratory mood was enhanced by a joint and we found ourselves starting our sentences with, "Whoah, what if, like..." But now the adventure of ideas, of which any stoner is capable, and indeed of which our ancestors millennia before the invention of video games were capable, has been given weight by the interest of an Oxford philosopher, and cachet by the derivative interest of a rich person. And now when people talk about it they will not say, "Whoah, what if, like..." and they will probably not have a joint in hand. They will soberly, straight-facedly say to their coworkers, "I read this one expert who..." or, more succinctly, "They say that..."

in JEHSmith

Thus are delusions brought to life, and given wings with which to flap around the globe. If I'm living in a video simulation (far from a new trope in SF) how the hell would I ever know? And would it matter? I wouldn't know the difference, after all. Recall Brunner's Shalmaneser, which was wont to chuckle at its own imagination.



1  Let alone any breakfast!