Thursday, 28 April 2016

Kim's firework show

I see Kim Jong Un is still trying to cheer us up with his missile circus.

Seoul: North Korea tried and failed to test fire two powerful, new mid-range ballistic missiles on Thursday, ahead of a landmark party congress that opens next week, South Korean media reported.

The Yonhap news agency said the North made a second attempt to fire a Musudan missile in the evening, after a similar test in the early morning ended with the missile plunging to earth.

The Musudan is believed to have an estimated range of anywhere between 2,500 and 4,000 kilometres (1,550 to 2,500 miles). The lower range covers the whole of South Korea and Japan, while the upper range would include US military bases on Guam.

The missile has never been successfully flight-tested.

So that range of between 2,500 and 4,000 kilometres is rather closer to 0 kilometres. It all makes one wonder if there is any such thing as intelligence. Maybe the jury is out on that one but on the whole I think intelligence is one of those myths we cling to with such fondness.

After all, what on earth goes on in a chap like Kim's head? Where does he think he is going? Where does he think he is taking North Korea? Why is he so fat and what is that hairstyle all about? Deep questions I think you'll agree, but not easy ones to answer this side of eternity. Especially the hairstyle.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Plague graves

Five crude gravestones lie by the side of a path on the hillside above Curbar village in Derbyshire. Approaching four hundred years old, they are the graves of the Cundy family, all killed by a local outbreak of plague in 1632. The stones were overgrown and invisible for years until a local woman located and uncovered them in the thirties.

Just above Curbar is a footpath across the fields to Baslow. About 300 yards along this path are the Cundy Graves. The Great Plague came to Curbar in the 17th century, although 30 years prior to the more famous Eyam Plague. The Cundy family were from nearby Grislowfield Farm and perished in 1632. It is not known who buried the family but Thomas and Ada Cundy together with their children Olive, Nellie and young Thomas each have a slab carved with their initials.

I hope the kids died first. What a morbid thought that is, but I hope they did. Not that it matters now. Below is a closeup of Ada's grave.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Creeped out by the masses

Penetrating article from Brendan O’Neill in spiked. In his view the political left now favours the EU because it has become in O'Neill's words radicals for the status quo.

The thing driving these radicals for oligarchy is distrust and even disdain for the living, breathing practice of democracy. The further removed the left becomes from ordinary people, the more it sees aloof institutions or cliques of experts as the best guarantors of progressive change. The story of the modern left is one of utter disappointment with the little people. It is creeped out by the masses, whose passions and interests it simply does not understand. Where the left is increasingly identitarian, anti-growth, eco-obsessed and sneering about modernity, ordinary people remain stubbornly interested in jobs, growth, making ends meet, having more and more stuff, and seeing people as people rather than as identities. This chasm between the left and everyday people explains the left’s move towards being pro-state, pro-welfarism, pro-expertise and pro-Brussels: it doesn’t trust Us, and so it turns to Them, to try to secure a few social reforms.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Where trust is a design problem

From an alphr interview with Michael Gough, chief design officer in the Applications and Services Group (ASG) at Microsoft.

Take sound. There are people here who focus full-time on the personality of sound. Cortana is not going to be successful unless she is trusted, so what’s the voice of trust? What’s the vocabulary of trust? What’s the cadence of interaction to trust a voice? That’s a design problem, a really hard one.

Victoria Wood

Yesterday evening we watched one of those tribute shows about Victoria Wood. In general we still enjoy her humour and even saw her live show at Nottingham many years ago. Unusual for us because we are not celebrity buffs. She was very impressive, holding the audience for over two hours.

We found last night’s compilation amusing enough, but but behind it was that inevitable sense of loss and change. Comedy has a tendency to date and remain funny mostly to its own generation. Even last night the smiles and chuckles felt a little like cultural loyalty.

As for the channel swimmer sketch, it’s a strange one. Not really funny at all. Revealing and almost disturbing in the way it brings out the bleak mechanics of our sense of humour. What makes us laugh? Even the most gifted comedians don’t usually tell us. Not explicitly. Bad for business I suppose, but that channel swim sketch is explicit enough.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Heat Wave 1976

From the YouTube info.

Various shots of people walking around in T-shirts and shorts during the hot summer weather of the 1976 heat wave. The cameraman seems to focus on women.

Forty years ago but how well I remember it. Rot box cars, crappy beer and idiot politics. Happy days.