Tuesday, 2 June 2020

A Welcome Discovery

Intending to arrange a virtual meeting I looked for my microphone. Alas, it was so ancient that its plug would not fit any of my computers. A friend suggested that one or more of my computers might have a built in microphone, but none was mentioned in either of the computers' lists of devices. Desperate, I opened the utilities to configure a microphone. While the desk top machine just told me no microphone was connected, the laptop suddenly found a microphone. I confirmed its existence by recording myself congratulating myself on having one.


Sunday, 31 May 2020

Contradictory Instructions

In late march we were bidden to stay at home as much as possible and to avoid social gatherings, conducting our social lives through the Internet or by telephone. Yet shops selling the electronic equipment we need for such communication were forbidden to open.

Assess the intelligence of our rulers in the light of that contradiction.

Saturday, 30 May 2020

No More Late Nights

I've noticed that the street lights are switched off earlier than they used to be. They used to go off at midnight, but now they are always off by the time I go to bed, which is almost always between 23 hours and midnight.

I guess that is because late night adventures are rare under present conditions.  So far as I recall, I haven't been out after  19 hours for at least two years, and have never been out after 22 hours since moving into this house more than five years ago.

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Some Advantages of being Anti-Social

I haven't had a cold for a very long time, and wonder if the precautions against the corona virus have helped. I suppose they must have blocked other infections too, and while colds were rarely fatal they were a great nuisance. It would be good to avoid them.

We can't stay locked away indefinitely, but a great deal of social interaction could be avoided. We need to work, and shop, and many of us would find it hard not to encounter others in the process, though the 'lock down' has taught us to reduce the number of those encounters.

Leisure activities involve a great deal of unnecessary interaction. We could easily dispense with crowded places of entertainment. Theatrical performances, films, concerts and sporting events could all be watched on line. Tourism could be replaced by an augmented Google Earth. With less travel there could be fewer visits to restaurants - eating together must involve an exchange of bacteria and viruses, especially when the eating is accompanied by conversation, a potent way of generating infectious aerosol droplets.

Friday, 22 May 2020

A Simple Deterrent

I notice the police are said to be finding it hard to deal with people illegally camping overnight and using local residents' gardens as lavatories..

Why not just pop a few lumps of sugar in the culprits' petrol tanks? As a child I was told that was one way members of the French resistance used to disable German Vehicles. I guess it would still work against most modern vehicles,

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Sheltered from Vectors of Infection

I haven't had a cold this year. Avoiding the infection we all dread may be protecting us from other infections. For the past few years I have only rarely had visitors and my outings have consisted of daily walks to the shops and fortnightly bus journeys to Leicester for U3A meetings. I haven't been to Leicester or travelled on any public transport since late February and have been to the shops only three times in the last six weeks.

When the health crisis is over we may consider how often we need to meet large numbers of other people. Apart from work, shopping, and visits to doctors or dentists, we rarely need to be in close proximity to other people except to engage in carnal relations, and even they could be replaced by artificial insemination by post. We can exchange thoughts and ideas by email or by reading each other's web sites and blogs.

Sunday, 3 May 2020


We rightly wince when someone refers to some object, event or person as 'more unique' than another, but often overlook less patently absurd uses of the word.

Applied to any particular individual object or event 'X is unique' is vacuously tautological. Provided we take into account all properties, including temporal and spatial, there cannot be two individuals with precisely the same properties, since to assert there are two individuals meetings a certain description implies there is some way of distinguishing them, because we need to distinguish them in order to count them.

If "unique" is to be used to assert anything untrivial it must apply not to an individual but to a particular description of an individual. For instance compare:
(1) Boris Johnson is unique in being a British Prime Minister living with his mistress in Downing Street
(2) Boris Johnson is unique in being Boris Johnson

(1) and (2) are both true, but only (1) is informative.

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Ungrammatical Imperative

When agents of the Government enjoin me to 'stay home!' my immediate reaction is to regret the absence of a preposition. When people use language so ineptly I hesitate to trust anything they say.

'stay!' without a preposition refers to a state of affairs, as in 'stay awake!' 'stay dry'. Without a preposition one can't tell whether one is supposed to stay away from home or stay at home.

Thursday, 9 April 2020

Living in Slow Motion

This morning I arose promptly when my alarm clock awoke me at 7:00, had what I considered to be a quick bath and dressed. By the time I got downstairs ready to prepare breakfast it was 7:50.

How can it have taken me so long to do so little ? A few decades ago I could have done all that in at most half an hour.

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

A Ridiculously Redundant Statement

"Power is no protection from harm" various ministers and spokesfolk have said of the Prime Minister's admission to hospital. I fear that anyone foolish enough to have thought otherwise would not be open to persuasion.

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Dyeing the Countryside

I worry about the news that Derbyshire police put dye in a lake to make it unattractive to visitors.

Dyes are complex chemicals that need to be handled with caution. People often wear protective clothing when using them. Could water from the lake migrate though rivers or streams and reach reservoirs? Might the dye poison wildlife? If it makes the water look black it is absorbing light and that would make the upper layers of the water warmer and the lower levels colder than usual, and that could affect aquatic plants and animals.

Did the police concerned know the answers to those questions? Did they even ask the questions?

Sunday, 29 March 2020


As I arose this morning I looked out of the window and saw flakes of snow in the air.

Fortunately they were small and few in number and soon gave way to sunshine, but seeing them reminded me how fickle the weather can be.