2016 — 10 November: Thursday

I have more chance of understanding what goes on inside an Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen bridge1 than I suspect I will ever have of understanding or agreeing with a smelly bunch of politicians — I was going to describe them as "people" but that actually can't be right — who in grasping the levers of political control now regard dismantling socialised health care for their poorer fellow-citizens as their urgent #1 top priority.

Even filtered through the BBC Radio news process I couldn't listen for more than a couple of minutes before reverting to BBC Radio 3's musical choices. It's the intellectual equivalent of emulating a threatened ostrich. I shall head out soon on a supplies run, assuming the panic-buyers haven't beaten me to it and stripped the food shelves.

Two pieces...

... of better cheer: I have a lunch date, and my warm jumper has been identified and will shortly be setting off from NZ.

Then there's this...

... serendipitous Asda acquisition last Friday from a co-creator of "Friends", namely "Grace and Frankie". An excellent find — deliciously absurd, neurotic comedy:

Grace and Frankie

No laugh track, some fine ensemble ricochets, very witty dialogue. In fact, I had to ration myself last night to just the first half of Season #1. But then I went on to remind myself of the earlier work2 by this spectacular cast.

OMG :-)

I had somehow missed this gem about Shrub. Source and snippet:

Ever since George W. Bush declared Jesus Christ to be his favorite political philosopher, Republican presidential candidates have competed in a sort of anti-intellectual sweepstakes, each seeking to outdo the others in disavowing science, higher learning, and any deliberate cultivation of the mind. How did a movement once defined by intellectual intensity become so hostile to ideas?

Jennifer Burns in Chronicle

A gloomy race to the bottom.

I'm obscurely pleased...

... to learn, even at this late date, that Ernest ("Kai Lung") Bramah and AE Housman shared the same publisher. (Link.)

My first exposure...

... to Ted Chiang was in November 2009 when I heard a reading of his story (novella, really) "Understand" on what was then called BBC7. It was accompanied by parts of the eerie music track (#3, "rockets fall on Rocket Falls") by the Canadian band "Godspeed you! Black Emperor" from their album Yanqui U.X.O. Tracking that down only happened 11 months later, when I heard it played on BBC 6Music and was thus finally able to find out those vital details. In the meantime, I had also found and read the story3 on the Web though it's since been removed. No matter.

Another Chiang story ("Story of Your Life") has just appeared in film format (as "Arrival" with Amy Adams, and music by Max Richter). This has gone on to my little list. As has a Kindle collection of Chiang's fiction so far, which is not a huge amount but does include both these titles.

I rather regret...

... not having kept my original 1978 Paladin copy of "Tools for thought" (the posthumously-published book by CH Waddington) — we'd long ago established this house has a finite upper limit on the number of books it can comfortably contain! Still, £2.81 for a used replacement copy won't break the bank. (Guess who's just been reading the interesting "Aeon" essay here on epigenetics, and its rôle in a "unified theory of evolution".)

No prizes.


1  See yesterday. I'm not saying it's a good chance :-)
2  When it came to Lily Tomlin's career, I also browsed inter alia what had happened to other members of Rowan and Martin's "Laugh-in", and thus saddened myself (again) with Judy Carne's horrid downward spiral.
3  It struck me as a worthy member of a smallish set of stories all seeking to convey the thought processes of a far higher intelligence at work. I expect the obvious example is the widely-anthologised Keyes' "Flowers for Algernon". Rather less well-known titles include Disch's "Camp Concentration", Wilmar Shiras' "In hiding" and Olaf Stapledon's "Odd John". My personal favourite of these Übermensch tales is Beresford's "The Hampdenshire Wonder".