Saturday, 30 January 2010

Verbs Transitive and Intransitive

It makes me cringe when restaurant waiters  say ‘Enjoy!’ with no reference to the object, though when I feel charitable I reflect that they may just have been abbreviating ’Enjoy your meal!’

However there is no charitable interpretation of injunctions such as  ’X is hurting’ said by people who mean that X is suffering.

I recently heard President Obama say that he knew people were hurting. 'Whom are they hurting, and why?' I should have liked to ask him. I suspect he wouldn’t have understood the question.

Thursday, 28 January 2010


A lawyer pleading for leniency for a 14 year old rapist urged that he was 'very immature'.

I recall that when I was at Cambridge someone, I'm not sure whether it was Noel Annan or Richard Braithwaite, used to say "When I say someone is immature, I just mean his testicles have not descended".

In that sense the word can hardly apply to a rapist.

For some reminiscences about Cambridge dons of the late 1950's see this page of my web site.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Programmers' Liability

One of today's news items concerned a number of errors in tax codes fllowing the introduction of new software.

We often hear of computer systems malfunctioning at great cost. I wonder if it might help if third parties were allowed to sue those who create the systems.

Those who produce commercial software could be treated in the same way.

I suggest  that both those who produce software for sale, and those who use it, should be liable for its malfunction. That would stimulate the production and use of open source software, where users can legally correct any errors they detect.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Make Your Jam with Brown Sugar

For many years I've used brown sugar in my marmalade, but only very recently did I think of using it for jam too.

I spotted apricots in the market at 2 pounds for 1 pound sterling. So I bought two pounds and made them into jam, using light moist brown sugar. The flavour is subtly richer than that of jam made with white sugar.

Incidentally, don't use dark brown sugar. I once used that for marmalade and found the flavour of treacle overpowering.

Many who write cookery books have not realised that when one makes jam with fruit with stones, there is no need to stone the fruit before cooking. Once the fruit is cooked and the sugar has been added the stones will float and can be removed while one removes the scum and waits for the jam to reach its setting point.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Annual Letters

A few weeks ago I posted on my website a Christmas card and an annual letter, emailing links to various of my friends and acquaintance.

There were nearly 50 visits to the Christmas card, but only 2 to the annual letter.

That suggests that few were sufficiently interested in an annual letter to click a mouse button to see one. I wonder how many of the letters other people print and send by post are read attentively to the very end.

It does not follow that annual letters are useless. I found that writing mine helped me form a mental picture of my year, so I might write another at the end of this year, but if I do I shall write for my own benefit, not for anyone else's.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

An easily made pudding

(1) Take 500 grams of mixed dried fruit, often sold as dried fruit salad and consisting of prunes, apricots pears and possibly apples, and put it in a saucepan.

(2) Add a lemon cut into 4 or 5 thick slices, with one clove stuck in each slice

(3) Sprinkle over the fruit a quarter of a teaspoon full of ground cinnamon and 5 rounded dessertspoonfuls of brown suger.

(4) Add a whole bottle of red wine.

(5) Heat gently till it boils - when I did it that took about half an hour. Keep it simmering gently, with the lid on, for about an hour, then leave to cool.

Eat either on its own, or with ice cream, cream or yoghurt.

The slices of lemon are also edible, be if you do eat one, remove the clove first.

Many years ago I used to do something on those lines with just prunes. I was reminded of it when someone mentioned using dried fruit salad , and when I tried it I found I liked that even more.