2016 — 11 July: Monday

Less than 2.5 minutes is all it took. That was more than enough to drive me away from the radio "news" channel1 and back to classical music.

Odd. Last night (as midnight approached) I'd been glued to that same chattering channel listening to the 'Science'-oriented stories of "The Moth radio hour" which, being an American show, only lasts for 48 minutes or so.

I recall...

... reading the comment "Do not assume that which you are trying to prove" scrawled by "Chalky" across some of my Junior school geometry homework. Not realising the "rules" of the (education) "game" back then, that had seemed a perfectly sensible short cut to me, since it seemed obvious the things we were trying to prove true were, erm, true. No matter.

This was just a couple of years after Michael Young's satirical "The Rise of the Meritocracy" had been published. That book apparently helped persuade Labour's Education Secretary to declare war on both the 11+ exam and the grammar schools that accepted only those who passed that exam. I had no clear idea about any of this "grown up stuff" at the time, of course. Now I see that Young's son suggests — in an interesting essay called "The Fall of the Meritocracy" — as a way of restoring equality of opportunity: "subsidies for intelligence-maximizing embryo selection2 for poor parents 'with below-average IQs'."

See what I mean about news blurring into satire? If only things were that easy, heh? (Link.)

Big Bro's sister-in-law...

... is going on holiday to be away on the first anniversary of her bereavement. She hopes thereby to establish pleasanter memories, which I applaud. Glancing back "on this day" in earlier times can still catch me out. In 2007, for example, Christa began her chemo. But in 2009 I learned from Laurie Taylor of "fairy-ology". And in 2011 there was some splendid Sam Harris to read on drugs and the meaning of life. (Something I rather doubt genes ever stop to think about.) I see I mentioned the 11+ on this day last year, too.

To keep out...

... all those millions of immigrants now lurking at the border, I've just re-fitted my little padlock to the side gate. (We kept it locked to dissuade youngsters wandering in to retrieve balls and drowning in our pond.) And, of course, that's just triggered recall of a particularly sad little tale — it's "The Closed Gate", which you can find in "Don Camillo and the Devil".

An email containing the phrase "monstrous regiment of women" just led me astray. As an ungodly knave, I was unaware of what John Knox had had to say. This (alarmingly) led me to the "Puritan Hard Drive". I leave that to others for comment.

Don't you...

... hate it when this happens?

John A Ball Zoo hypothesis

Labelled, no doubt, "Mostly Harmless". Guess who's been browsing "Alien Mindscapes"? (PDF file)

One wonders...

... how "President Underwood" might react to news of Brexit:

House of Cards, season #4

In the real world, there's an annual car insurance to be renewed. [Pause] Curiously, my tentative suggestion to drop the annual mileage from the 8,000 currently assumed to a more realistic 6,000 would have pushed up the premium, so I let that sleeping dog continue to lie.


... the short, sharp, downpour failed to find its way in. Good! Meanwhile, I've just learned that Larry Niven's grandfather, one Edward L Doheny, "was the principal operator in the Mexican and Californian oil fields until the 1930s". The Spectator magazines Iris passes along to me contain the oddest nuggets. For example, I found a "Diary" column in which Chris Mullin quotes from an August 2008 interview with The Trump that he found in a volume of Piers Morgan's "bizarrely addictive" diaries picked up in Barter Books, Alnwick.

Trump on George W Bush: "I think he's set back this country 50 years. We were a great country before he became president. A respected country. Whether you like Clinton or you don't like Clinton, we had no deficit for the first time in many years and were doing well economically. And then Bush came in and wrecked it."
Trump on Bush and Iraq: "He invaded a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, absolutely zero. He purposely lied and lied badly and his lies got us into a war."

Date: 13th February 2016

Does that sound like anyone else we know? Mullin let slip he's finalising a "little volume of memoirs" to be called "Hinterland". Excellent news.



1  Petulant politicians protest too much. (I omit the "doth" lest it be, as I suspect, the singular form.)
2  Where's Aldous Huxley when you need him?