2016 — 29 October: Saturday

I have an ongoing problem with Time.1 Here, for example, is a book — I'd spotted the title, quite by chance, in an essay I was reading last Saturday morning — that Mr Postie really didn't do any favours to while struggling to force it through my front door's little letter slot yesterday before I had time to leap up to stop him:

Disch book

I'd not even heard of it but, since I generally found Tom Disch to be a challenging writer, I thought I'd try some of his non-fiction. I like the Blish "spindizzy-style" flying city made to resemble a chandelier.

Both Clive James and PJ O'Rourke...

... seem to have taken somewhat against that lovely Mr Trump (of Doom) fella. Wonder why?

Clive: "Donald Trump has not yet been elected president, so my plans to leave the planet are still on hold... but I would rather not have to book my seat on the rocket just because some baroque narcissist in the Oval Office had declared atomic war on North Korea, or South Dakota, or whatever target took his fancy when the hottest patootie in the West Wing typing pool swerved away from the outstretched plea of his tiny hands." (More.)

PJ: "I mean, this man just can't be president. They've got this button, you know, in the briefcase. He's going to find it." (More.)

I can't help recalling what Richard Dawkins had to say a while back...

The population of the United States is more than 300 million and it includes some of the best and brightest that the human species has to offer, probably more so than any other country in the world. There is surely something wrong with a system for choosing a leader when, given a pool of such talent and a process that occupies more than a year and consumes billions of dollars, what rises to the top of the heap is George W Bush. Or when the likes of Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin can be mentioned as even remote possibilities.

Date: August 2011


... for brekkie if I'm to have time for lunch before a bit of taxi-to-hospital errandry this afternoon. I hope there aren't any footie crowds to impede my stately progress through Soton.


... to chuck out the asinine two-page letter2 I received from HM Revenue & Customs just over seven years ago. I was invited to consider coughing up £405-60 to "make up the gap" they had noticed in my National Insurance contributions during my first year of retirement.

Since I had 40 years of contributions counting towards my basic State Pension, and only needed 30 years (at the time) for a full basic State Pension, I ignored it. The letter also showed that they were unaware of Christa's death despite having then paid me a one-year bereavement benefit. (Mind you, I had to notify six separate parts of Toyota before they stopped trying to sell her a new car.)

In my first flush...

... of enthusiasm when I swapped out my Audiolab A/V pre-amp for the Rotel I'd assigned all my kit its own, separate HDMI input on the Rotel (because I now could, and it obviously made for easy source selection). This included the Humax PVR which, until then, I had been connecting via one of the two HDMI inputs on the Oppo Blu-ray player. So I was now "missing out" on any potential video processing improvements courtesy of the Qdeo wizardry in the Oppo. Not much of an issue for the last year, though, as I simply haven't used the Humax from one month to the next (except as a radio).

But now that it's recording the new series of "The Big Bang Theory" for me — and I was unimpressed by the video quality of last week's recording — I tried reconnecting the Humax PVR via the Oppo, which seemed to produce better results. It's now occurred to me that I never tried connecting the i5NUC's HDMI output via the Oppo — doing so might 'fix' the HDCP issue that was blanking the screen display. I shall try a little experiment after my hospital trip.

A cynical...

... one-liner from De Tocqueville:

The American Republic will endure, until politicians realise they can bribe the people with their own money.

Date: 1840

Found in my choice of hospital-waiting-reading in the 1996 essay by Timothy C May on The Impact of "True Names". He adds "We reached that point several decades ago".

I've just eased up...

... on the frequency with which changes to files on my SSD NAS are automatically backed-up on to my NAS #1. I don't really need them to be backed-up each and every time I make a change to a file. I suspect once every six hours will (a) be more than enough, and (b) will give me a fighting chance of spotting, and correcting, errors. It makes no difference to the 'speediness' with which files respond to my edit and save requests.

Who knew...

... that getting a perfect 1080p/60Hz Linux desktop on my 60" Kuro plasma screen from the i5NUC was as simple as plumbing its HDMI output into one of the Oppo's3 two HDMI inputs instead of going via the Rotel? Video and audio application playback from a NAS box is also flawless, can easily be set to full screen, and still "reports" itself present and correct back on Skylark in a NoMachine Remote Desktop Access window from which I can easily control it.

I hate to think just how much angst I could have saved myself by trying this stupidly simple manoeuvre months ago! The i5NUC's media playing capability is fully confirmed, and the Rotel is relegated to the same audio-only rôle that was exactly how I was using its Audiolab predecessor.

While I'm in this...

... madly-experimental mood, I've also removed the spare (and, so far, unused) 250GB SSD from the i5NUC, amended its /etc/fstab entry accordingly, and will now be installing this SSD in BlackBeast to run Mint 18 on in a completely fresh installation. But not tonight! I shall, of course, temporarily remove from BlackBeast the other three 480GB SSDs — carefully labelled — so that when/if it all goes pear-shaped I should be able to stick them back in and resume life on the back-level Mint 17 system currently on one of them.

Precisely which one is a surprisingly good question...

Now, which clock shall I tinker with first?


1  Actually, I have more than one. I even wrote a little rumination about one of my problems a while back.
2  Or perhaps I should frame it?
3  Because the Oppo's own HDMI (video) output bypasses the Rotel pre-amp and goes directly into the Kuro, there's no chance for any HDCP interference from the Rotel (which, despite being a superb audio pre-amp, is known to have a few deep-seated HDCP issues — not always resolvable by firmware upgrades, according to the web's rumour mills). Plus I already found out in 2009 (when it rejected my first Onkyo A/V amp) just how choosy the Kuro can be about what it's prepared to accept its video from.