Thursday, July 02, 2020

Florida: Marion County

Rayburn and his family live in Florida; Marion county to be a little more precise. Corona-virus infections seem to be surging there, and the governor, Ron DeSantis, seems to be a loon.

Rebekah Jones, who says she was fired from her job in charge of the state’s official Covid-19 database in May for refusing to manipulate its figures is running her own privately funded version now at

That is where I will be checking regularly for the time being.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

The Impossible Dream

We have finished reading the Decameron at the rate of one story a day during lock-down.

I never imagined in my wildest dreams that house arrest could go on so long.

When I say "reading" above, I really mean listening as I ingested via audible. I am now very much taken with having a story playing as I go about my morning business so I intend to continue with Don Quixote for the simple reason that the chapters seem to average out around fifteen minutes. There was talk of Sherlock Holmes but his stories seem to range  from around 45 minutes to an hour and I don't have that much time between getting up and then getting down to the day's business.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020


The OneWeb satellite constellation (formerly WorldVu) was a planned initial 650-satellite constellation that was in the process of being built out in 2019–2020, with a goal to provide global satellite Internet broadband services to people everywhere and was previously aiming to provide global services starting in 2021. The constellation was being deployed by OneWeb, formerly known as WorldVu Satellites and headquartered in London, United Kingdom with offices in California, Florida, Virginia, Dubai and Singapore.

OneWeb declared bankruptcy in late March 2020, and has laid off most of their employees (reducing its workforce from 531 employees down to 74) but is maintaining the satellite operations center for the 68 satellites already in orbit while the court determines disposition of the OneWeb assets.

Our government now intends to pay £500m for 20% of it to mitigate the UK’s loss of access to the EU’s Galileo satellite navigation system.

I will continue to follow this with interest as it disappears from the front pages as I find it utterly incomprehensible.

This is the same government that brought us the ongoing track and trace app debacle remember.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Four-square on the Northern Line

The Beeb
Two illegal street parties have been broken up by police during another night of unlawful gatherings in London.
Dispersal zones were put in place in Clapham Common and Tooting Bec Common to clear crowds causing "significant disruptions" on Saturday night.
Tooting Bec is two stops away from me at Colliers Wood on the Northern Line and Clapham Common is only five. What happened to my invitations?

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Hugging the cactus

This video is coming up for ten years old. I hold no brief for Mel Gibson, but I admire the courage this must have taken from Robert Downey Jr. Compare and contrast yesterday's deafening silence and cancel culture in general.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Reading stabbings: Victims were 'true gentlemen'

In the aftermath of the stabbings in Reading a week ago tonight, Douglas Murray has said "the gay press, the mainstream press and gay lobbying organisations like Stonewall are primed for what would happen if a right-wing extremist killed people" but adds "they have no idea how to respond when something like Saturday night happens, so they just cover it over."

Referring to coverage of recent events by 'gay press', he says "they don't know what to do when a young Libyan asylum seeker allegedly stabs three gay men in Reading centre on a Saturday night".

I had no idea the victims were gay. Did you? Victims were 'true gentlemen' said the BBC; quite.

I always knew it would come to this (Icons passim). It gives me no satisfaction to be proved right 15 years later.

Have a couple of neologisms on me:
Islamophobiaphobic: the fear of being thought Islamophobic.
Homophobiaphobic: the fear of being thought homophobic.

The former is now higher up the totem pole in polite society than the latter.

Friday, June 26, 2020

a story goes with it

When I was down in Portishead today Charlie was telling me about a section on the BBC news site called Reality Check and particularly an article called "The fake news about India and China's border clash."

It turns out that he had spent time with both the Indian and Bangladeshi armies while serving with British Forces.

He also told me a story about another part of the world, when he was with a ramshackle Sudanese contingent that accidentally strayed over the border into Eritrea. Vegetation stirred and they were intercepted by deeply camouflaged Eritreans who seemed to appear from nowhere. Luckily for Charlie the officers had been trained and Sandhurst and treated him with exemplary civility. Not so much detailing him as "inviting" him back the their headquarters for the evening.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Rayburn and Kevin, yes. The media, no.

S. I. Hayakawa
The original version of this book, Language in Action, published in 1941, was in many respects a response to the dangers of propaganda, especially as exemplified in Adolf Hitler's success in persuading millions to share his maniacal and destructive views. It was the writer's conviction then, as it remains now, that everyone needs to have a habitually critical attitude towards language—his own as well as that of others—both for the sake of his personal well being and for his adequate functioning as a citizen. Hitler is gone, but if the majority of our fellow citizens are more susceptible to the slogans of fear and race hatred than to those of peaceful accommodation and mutual respect among human beings, our political liberties remain at the mercy of any eloquent and unscrupulous demagogue.
Those are wise words above. Once more with feeling, " if the majority of our fellow citizens are more susceptible to the slogans of fear and race hatred than to those of peaceful accommodation and mutual respect among human beings, our political liberties remain at the mercy of any eloquent and unscrupulous demagogue." I had never even heard of Hayakawa until Rayburn, who lives in Florida now with his partner and daughter, introduced me to his though with the wonderfully understated "I try my best to try and understand what's going on in the world."

Also, last night Kevin told me a story about Test and Trace's Dido Harding and a misplaced decimal point that I won't repeat but also won't forget.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Use it or lose it

Pubs to reopen July 4 - here are the rules and guidelines
Pubs can reopen, but only if they follow strict rules to keep customers safe. For now, it's table service only...
It will be great to get back in the boozer, don't get me wrong, but there have been pluses from sitting out in the park as well.  A month ago (Icons passim) I was decrying everyone's lack of mobility sitting on the grass in the park instead of around a table. Earlier this week at my birthday drink (I's P) I couldn't help but notice how much more comfortable everyone seemed ass to the grass; sitting down, then sitting then getting up again.

Use it or lose it. You are all much less likely to fall down and hurt yourself than you were a month ago. Grapple this to thy souls with hoops of steel. Falling down twice is what really impacted most profoundly on my mother's quality of life. Don't let it happen to you.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Plato's Beard

a socially distanced party in the park
I was particularly delighted to get a hand-made card from Ben on my birthday yesterday which contained the quote, attributed to Plato, "Music is moral law. It gives soul to the Universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm and gaiety to life and to everything." How he ever thought of that after listening to me on the quitar or the piano I will never know.

I already knew I shared my birthday with Danny Baker, but I was equally pleased to find that Billy Wilder is a June 22nd man as as well.

Monday, June 22, 2020

The Room Where It Happened

From the Telegraph review of The Room Where It Happened by John Bolton.
Finally, one of the key events over which Bolton eventually quit was Trump’s refusal to countenance a military assault on Iran. The Iranians had shot down an unmanned drone; the military presented a plan to hit their bases, which might have resulted in dozens of casualties. Trump said no. “I don’t like it,” Bolton recalls him stating. “They didn’t kill any of our people.”
For Bolton this was an unforgivable sign of weakness: "the most irrational thing I ever witnessed any president do." Some readers might admire it. For all his faults, Trump has pursued peace and avoided body bags. He is a very human president, perhaps too human – but sometimes he can be surprisingly humane.
I have been saying Trump is a dove for months and everyone looks at me as if I am mad.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

I’m still catching up.

Meet the monk who took a 75-day silent retreat and missed the coronavirus pandemic
How would you explain coronavirus to a younger version of yourself, beamed in from December 2019? How would you explain that, in just a few months, a novel virus has torn across the planet, killing more than 400,000 people and confining a third of the world’s population to their homes? A virus that has incapacitated senior members of the UK government, including the prime minister? And would they even believe you?
It sounds like the sort of light-hearted hypothetical you might be asked at a (virtual) dinner party, but for Daniel Thorson it is not so ridiculous. The 33-year-old lives and works at a Buddhist monastic academy in Vermont, in the northeastern United States, and recently spent two-and-a-half months in a silent retreat, denied any news from the outside world. Upon coming out on 23rd May, he logged in to Twitter and asked his followers: “Did I miss anything?”.
My Zen reply; "You didn't miss anything."
Thorson, who now spends less time on his smartphone and tries to avoid binging on rolling news, is glad he missed what he calls the “anxiety hype cycle” that most of his friends went through in late March, when the world seemed to be falling apart. That said, he is left with one surprising regret. “There is a part of me that wishes I could have been there to watch it, because I've been studying this possibility for years and to have missed it - I don't want to say I feel sad, but it's interesting, I would have liked to learn and see it. But on the whole, what I was doing was so much more valuable than that.
“I’m still catching up.”

Saturday, June 20, 2020

A Slow Motion Car Crash

With Britain in lockdown, the Government has been trying to find ways to ease restrictions without putting public safety at risk; one solution is a contact-tracing app that can enable digital contact-tracing on a large scale.

On May 5, the Government revealed its first attempt at a contact-tracing app. But in a major u-turn, on June 18, it admitted that the app flawed and it would switch to a model being developed by tech giants Apple and Google.

It is an utter and maniacal disgrace that our betters didn't go with Google and Apple in the first place. Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales explains.

I have been doing a little wood-shedding on this as I was bemused by the fact that the Bluetooth LE protocol was central as I couldn't see (in the absence of beacons) how Bluetooth could be used to track locations. I turns out it is used to check to whom you have been close, not where the closeness occurred. The mist begins to clear. Take a look at and the helpful links.

Matt Hancock criticising Apple's Bluetooth implementation, NHSX etc. God give me strength.

Friday, June 19, 2020

The Hissing of Dumber Fauns

England rugby fans could soon be banned from singing 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot'
RFU reviewing use of the American slave anthem which has previously been criticised by academics for cultural appropriation
I am not sure that this has been thought through. How would one go about enforcing such a ban? I remember when we were in school a teacher left at the end of a lesson and then returned in high dudgeon claiming that someone had hissed at her on the way out. I hadn't heard any hissing, but it instantly occurred to me (and many other classmates) that it is possible to hiss invisibly. Practically all of us hissed her on the second and many subsequent exits. It was madness to challenge us like that. The deputy head was summoned as I recall, such was the escalation.

I can remember hearing Swing Low Sweet Chariot at an international for the first time watching on the TV when Chris Oti scored a hat trick against Ireland in 1998. I was bemused to say the least.