Archive for curator

All Remaining Paper

‘Remove all remaining paper before reloading.’, it says here. It says so on the front of my printer. Being so literal minded, I find I don’t quite know what to do with this. Whilst it’s plainly something to do with the paper feed tray, the object so enlabelled, I cannot help but feel that it must apply to some greater referent.

All remaining paper? It would be such a huge undertaking even were I certain that it applied to me in particular. After all, I know I’m not the only one in the world with such a printer. I can’t even be certain that no other type of printer does not have a similar demand plasticly and blackly emblazoned upon it. Perhaps it’s intended for the first person who both feels moved to obey it and is capable of doing it? For it ought to be reasonably clear that once somebody has removed all remaining paper, whether or not they reload afterwards, that it will be no longer possible for anybody else to do so, except trivially. I mean, were I certain that someone had indeed done the necessary, and consequently that no scrap of paper remained, then I could feel easier about my inaction since my doing nothing would be all that’s necessary to remove all remaining paper.

But of course this will not do. I know I’m outcopping on the flaky rock of rationalisation. I know, and cannot unknow, that paper is produced more or less continuously in gloopy vats of sticky fibrous whiteness. And the sighing — nay moaning — of air dryers whispering with their hot sweet breath over the sheets of floppily freshformed laminas, well, it keeps me awake at night so it does. So much paper. And nearly all of it remaining. It’s just not possible for one person to remove it all. Then it hits me. The removal of remaining paper is intended as a communal activity. It’s obvious. Why did I not see this before? Why else would they mark everybody’s printer with such an exhortation? In the hope that just one of us might do something about it? Of course not. It isn’t cost-effective.

This realisation has hit me with the same dread certainty of one who discovers, when one is about seven years old, that one is supposed to join the cubs. Despite all the voices inside you which rage against it, despite all the cries, the protests, the echoes of which you can feel humming within your very teeth, you know that you must thrice dib and triply dob with all the rest of them.

They say a child has no conception of this kind of catharsis. They lie. They say it would not occur to a child to rail against such monstrosities, for it knows no better. They fib. They say a child will not question authority until it has seen its own betrayal enacted in its own parent’s humanity. They tell porkies. Children know. Adults forget — it screams for epithesis, scit infans, adultus obliviscetur.

But all of this Munchish, Baconian screamery is to no avail. We all give in in the end. We capitulate and eventually become our own internal scout, guide, soldier, wac, rear admiral, judge and Ian Drury all rôled into one. We see that everybody else is already at it. Why else would they be trying to eliminate all the trees in all the parks in all the world? Why the deliberate introduction of Dutch Elm disease? Why all this land clearance in the Americas and in Africa and in Malaysia? Why all this schlaßenbrennung? To get rid of the wood of course. To remove all possibility that any paper might remain.

Were it not such a desperate thought, that all the trees be doomed, one might easily be seduced, entranced, enraptured and bewitched by the scale of such a collective-unconscious-bogglingly grand concept. The organisation that must have gone into it. The marshalling of forces, the necessary indoctrination. In all that time it must have taken to educate entire populations for this task, imagine all the civilisations that must have fallen, risen, fallen again, like the heaving breast of some gigantic Cartlandish heroine finding herself under the spell of a still more corpulent Sir Jasper.

But we have forgotten, have we not, that all of this is merely means to an end. I feel it is up to those of us who know, who have remembered, to remind all these countless generations of actors, generals, cooks, thieves, wives and lovers, that after all of the remaining paper has been removed, we are expected to reload. There’s no point in it otherwise. We must warn everyone now, before it is too late. We rush collectively towards our own annihilation. It may not have occurred to anybody that perhaps it were wiser not to reload, that we don’t really have to remove any remaining paper, let alone all of it. We must fly, fly like the wind. We must feel the swish of hair in our mouths, the brush of furze and gorse against our bare ankles, the rivulets of sand between our toes. Will you join me in this noble task? Dare you refuse? I know you cannot.

Phrygian = subtonic – Dorian

A bunch of musically related posts are being re-hosted on another site. This one specifically is now over here.

Major minor teatime diner

A bunch of musically related posts are being re-hosted on another site. This one specifically is now over here.

Pitch Axis Considered Harmful

A bunch of musically related posts are being re-hosted on another site. This one specifically is now over here.

What was that Programme?

For no good reason I can think of, an episode of Dr Kildare I saw rattles around and resurfaces every so often in my brain, on a timescale of roughly a decade, but without the regularity that might suggest.

It rattles mainly because I didn’t understood it. I must have known about surfing – it was about a girl surfer and I don’t remember being all ‘do people actually do that?’ about it. I remember Kildare telling her she mustn’t surf any more, but I must have missed what the reason was. All I have is ’why not? What’s the problem here?’ Naturally, she went ahead and did it anyway, and it didn’t end well. Was that the reason? Perhaps I wasn’t used to seeing unhappy-endings at that age.

Anyway, this Digital Archive of Radio Times from 1923 to 2009 turned up. 1923! It doesn’t seem to give you any access to actual page images – none I can find anyway. The magazine ran advertisements, so maybe they don’t want you seeing what was available for sixpence from Cadbury in 1950 or something.

But they’ve done an awful lot of work reformatting the information for presentation – and searchability – on the web. Very impressive. Not that the text is always accurate – there are spectacular misreadings from the optical character recognition – but that’s only to be expected from machines.

There’s evidence that entries have been corrected by human staff members, just not very much. So your searches are going to miss things. Members of the public are invited to correct the text and to add further information about the entries. Such crowdsourcing means that the information will always be freely available doesn’t it (say yes).

The folk at the BBC even ask you if the program whose listing you’re looking at was actually transmitted. You may find their lack of faith disturbing, but obviously the magazines were printed in advance and you couldn’t reasonably predict things which might interrupt the schedules. Like Churchill dying or Kennedys getting assassinated or whatever. Stuff like that.

So do have a go and clog up those BBC arteries with millions of HTTP requests.

Oh yes – the Dr Kildare thing. I found the episode – two of them (it was a double) split over successive pre-watershed Thursdays, the 6th and 13th February 1964. It was called Tyger-Tyger with guest star Yvette Mimieux, the text for part 1 saying A beautiful girl defies Dr. Kildare’s medical warning that she must give up surf riding. Part 2’s description says In spite of her condition and Dr. Kildare s protests, surf-rider Pat continues to take an active part in the sport. Surf-riding, eh? Interesting. Hyphens even. Is that the staid BBC or is ‘surfing’ not a thing yet?

So, on the whole, I’m none the bloody wiser. But wait – now I have Yvette Mimieux and can go to her page on IMDb and – result! Petit-mal seizures would you believe?

She drowns. Thanks, internet.

Odds and Sod’s Law

Facebook competitions. Lovely aren’t they? The sort where you’re invited to supply some of your contact details in exchange for a token in a pile, one of which will be randomly picked and its owner be declared the winner. The prizes are often rather nice, rather desirable, so you’re tempted. “Facebook already has my contact details“, you think, “… this company isn’t getting any more than I’ve already chucked in Facebook’s general direction anyway“. What’s the harm?

But then they invite you to be a virus. They give you an opportunity to increase your chances of winning. “Invite five friends“, they cry. For every friend that joins in, we’ll give you an extra vote. So the deal here is that, in exchange for you doing their work for them (increasing the likelihood of their getting the large amount of contactage they’re after), you get more tokens in the pile.

Of course you instinctively ‘know’ immediately that this is bollocks. Obviously the more people in the game, the worse your chances are, but you’re thinking “yes but I get more votes, so maybe …?
Let’s do some sums.

Clearly the best way to win is to be the only player. One participant, one token in the pile, it’s the only one that can be drawn, chance of winning – 100%. Easy. Your strategy – kill all those you know who’ve entered. Which means, pretty much – since you don’t know who’s entered, kill everybody but the guys with the prize.

But that sort of behaviour is deemed unacceptable. We know, it’s health and safety gone mad, but what are you to do?

So, like an idiot, you invite your five friends. Let’s assume the worst – they all take up the offer. You’ve now won an extra token for each friend so you have six tokens in the pile. And there are now six people in the game, most – five – with only one token. So you’re better off than they are, for sure. There are eleven tokens in the pile – your original one plus the extra five you just earned, and the five new ones from your friends. Your chance of winning just dropped from 1 in 1 (certainty) to 6 in 11 (about a half) and theirs went up from zero to 1 in 11.

Suppose that each of these friends is as equally idiotic as you. They aren’t going to invite you back because you’re already in, so they each invite five new friends. That’s twenty five brand new people. There are now thirty one people in the game – you, plus five, plus 25 – and there are your six (the number didn’t increase, sadly) tokens sitting in a pile with twenty five new ones from twenty five new people, plus thirty tokens – six each now – from your five successful friends. Your chance of winning is now down to 6 in 61, about 10%. And you’ve lost control over what happens next.

Except it might not be twenty five new people of course. Because your friends’ friends may each be shared by more than one of your friends. That’s quite likely. In the extreme case, your little coterie may well comprise only you, your five friends, and one other person you don’t know but who happens to be the common friend of each of your friends. The competition runner is only ever going to get seven sets of contact details out of this sorry bunch – so you have that satisfaction – but what are your chances of winning now? They can’t be quite as bad because your universe is so small.

Well, your five friends each invite the maximum five friends, but four of those friends were (unbeknownst to them – they knew only not to bother inviting you) already in the game (you brought them in) and it’s only the fifth person (the one you don’t know) who is a new joiner, and only one of your five friends is going to succeed in trapping that individual. So there are seven individuals and a pile of thirteen tokens. That’s the eleven before the new round of invitations, plus one for the new individual, plus one introducer’s token for your successful friend inviter. Your chance of winning dropped a tad, from 6 in 11 to 6 in 13. One of your friends has a 2 in 13 chance of winning and your other four friends, and your ‘friend-in-law’, have a 1 in 13 chance. The universe can have a little snigger at this though since it knows that your friends believe – erroneously – that their chances of winning may still increase at any time when their untaken invitations succeed (which of course they never will). So there’s that.

You invited your own competition. How silly of you. If you’d invited only one friend – you had a gun pointed at you, the devil made you do it, whatever – you’d’ve been better off with a 2 in 3 chance.

But you know you’re not the one in control here. Others are going to come in regardless of your meanness in attempting to keep knowledge of this competition to yourself. So having more of your tokens in the pile is always going to be better. In fact, if you’re the only one keeping your friends out, and everyone else is being all lady bountiful with their invitations, then you’ve no chance. So you have to bring in more competition. It’s really annoying.

Aircraft Factory, England, 1917

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The Errr. The Errr.

They do go on about the problem of evil, don’t they? There is no problem of evil. It’s the problem of good that’s the issue.

Why be good when stupidity and ignorance are so readily rewarded? That‘s the problem.

The above is an example of a category error. At first glance it seems to have the required cynical insight. But on further inspection it can be seen to miss its mark.

It’s a common mistake. The topic, the category space (if not quite the subject itself) of the argument is good and evil. But the discussion takes the issue into a different topic – that of right and wrong. There’s nothing evil about (personal) stupidity and ignorance. Whilst they’re not generally regarded as being amongst the set of encourageables, it’s not a crime to be stupid or ignorant. Indeed the point of ‘the point’ is that stupidity and ignorance are commonly accepted as – if not always positively amongst the rewardables – by no means excluded from the unrewardables.

Evil is not being rewarded (here), so the fact that Good is also not being rewarded is beside the point. Wrong may be being rewarded, but the arguer’s not claiming that Right isn’t. So the point is, as they say, moot.

You’ve got to stay on category.

Naturally it may well be still the case that evil and/or wrong is rewarded more than is good and/or right, but that’s not what this (argument) is about.

Ye Olde

It should by now be common knowledge that the use of Ye, for the, is based on a mistaking of the older orthographic rendering of the word the as Þe. Maybe it’s odd that an almost equally common misreading of ſ – the old long form for s, as an f, hasn’t produced a bunch of Ye olde tea fop from Þe Olde Tea ſhoppe, but the shop’s h probably stops that happening.

But Ye Olde has been around a lot longer than I thought. Here it turns up on the occasion of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1887. They even had the quainty-wainty f-word (that’s Fayre) back then.


This picture is an engraved illustration from The Graphic (1869 – 1932) of May 21 1887, reporting on the Newcastle Exhibition where they’d had the wherewithal to build a complete half-scale model of the heavily ſhoppe-laden medieval Tyne Bridge which had been washed away in the flood of 1771.

Said Jubilee is why Exhibition Park was born, and is also what spawned Newcastle Exhibition Ale

Instant Gratification

The long-story form of a joke was designed to enhance the communal experience for the teller and the listener. But our modern listener may become restive. Since one hopes it possible that a joke may remain funny if told another way, we try cutting to the essence. Here goes:

approaches(flood, S)

offers(TS, “truck escape?“)
demurs(ST, “No thanks. God provides.“)
inundates(flood, Ground floor)
relocates(S, upstairs)

offers(BS, “boat escape?“)
demurs(SB, “No thanks. God provides.“)
inundates(flood, Top floor)
relocates(S, roof)

offers(HS, “helicopter escape?“)
demurs(SH, “No thanks. God provides.“)
inundates(flood, S)
relocates(S, Heaven)

queries(SGod, “WTF?“)
responds(GodS, “Sent truck, boat, helicopter!“)

Does it still work? If not, there’s a long version available at radar.