4 September 2011

I ran across the following correction in the Guardian the other day:

An article looking ahead to what the world might be like in 2109 made some gloomy predictions but added: “It’s not all bad news. Advances in medicine should boost mortality rates in countries such as the UK.” That would not be good news, but fortunately medical advances are more likely to cut mortality rates and boost life expectancy.

Which just goes to show – even “great” newspapers sometimes get it wrong and need to issue the occasional correction or clarification.

Exclusive to all newspapers:

CorrectionIn last week’s Befouled Weakly News we said: “it was glorious to enjoy all the boys’ company for some part of the summer. I’m not sure where we went wrong but all three were/have been a great delight and enjoyment, quite unlike, I’m sure, the feeling my parents experience whenever I visit. They are kind, thoughtful, generous and helpful, qualities which I clearly lack but ones which Penelope possesses in abundance. It’s obvious where those genes came from.”

CorrectionI was taken to task by one subscriber, Hanover Mom, who suggested that: “You are in big trouble now, big brother! Whatever in the world did you think you meant in saying, “It’s obvious where those genes came from.” Perhaps, after a teeny little bit of thought, you might want to restate that terribly insensitive remark. Or maybe the best explanation is that you were switched at birth and our “kind, thoughtful, generous and helpful” son (who probably is handsome and talented beyond belief) is living happily anonymously performing his spontaneous acts of kindness in some small town in middle America. Oh the sadness of it all. Besides: That no doubt explains why my other five birth children are perfect in every way, especially kind, generous, and helpful.”

CorrectionThe News is delighted to have an opportunity to “restate” that remark: It’s clear that our boys get their kind, considerate, thoughtful, generous and helpful genes from their grandparents as well as from their mother; clearly those same genes skipped a generation in my case (or I was indeed switched at birth) and clearly my other siblings got more than their share of those “good” genes.

CorrectionI think on this occasion I will take the advice I am frequently handing out to politicians and/or others who find themselves in a deep hole of their own making: Stop Digging!

It’s official – summer is now finally over. Penny’s sister J flew back to Toronto on Thursday and we are once again on our own. It’s been wonderful having her here – she is “kind, thoughtful, generous and helpful” (oops! I won’t go down that road again). Molly, in particular, will miss the long walks in the morning and it’s not just that we will miss those manifestations of fairies in the kitchen when the dirty dishes miraculously clean themselves; she’s just a nice person to have around.

I went along to Daventry library on Tuesday afternoon to apply for my Old Age Bus Pass. It’s another example of the excesses of the People’s Republic of Great Britain and, no doubt, one of the reasons why this country is bankrupt. Anyone over the age of 60 can apply for a free bus pass valid for off-peak transport throughout England. As part of the cuts, the Coalition government is in the process of sliding the age out to 65 so, even though I turned 60 in December, the earliest date I could acquire my pass was 6 September. Since it takes up to ten days for the pass to come through I went off on Tuesday to apply so that it would arrive soon after I was eligible to use it.

Bus PassI had imagined in this technological age that I would probably be able to apply online. Clearly, however, that could be open to widespread fraud so I was required to present myself at the local library. Fortunately, ours in Daventry has not yet been axed as part of the Coalition cuts – something approaching half the libraries up and down the country are under threat of closure. So, off I went clutching my passport and driving license in order to prove that I am as old and decrepit as I claim to be.

When I arrived and stated my intention, I was told that I needed a recent utility bill or bank statement to prove my address and hence my entitlement. It would have been nice if the web site outlining the process had bothered to include this important bit of information but there we are. Off home again and then back to the library clutching a recent bank statement (as well as my driving license and passport) which I handed to a very nice woman who scrutinised them carefully and then conceded that she was “not an expert” when it comes to operating the computer for the bus pass process. I was passed off to her sidekick who clearly was the computer expert as the process is indeed completed online but only from a secure county council connected computer.

The first step was to take a digital photograph to identify me which was accomplished with little drama. Good job I was wearing my “good” sweater! Then, it was fire up the computer, upload the photograph, fill in the details and fire it off to the powers that be in Northampton.

All of which would have been fine had the library broadband not been powered by steam and/or a hamster with a bad leg pedalling somewhat less than furiously in its wheel. I frequently complain that my broadband is slow. Mine is faster than the proverbial speeding bullet compared to what they have to endure. As someone once said: slower than a one-legged dog on tranquilisers. The system was quite incapable of uploading the photograph which, as it is the first step in the process, made it somewhat difficult to complete the rest. After four attempts the librarian came to the conclusion that she would need to fill in the details by hand and either attempt to upload it later or put it in the county post. A great system which would be even better if it worked. I’ll let you know when and where I get to on my first free journey.

I ran across the following recently:

Happy Birthday PC

IBM PCThe PC was 30 years old in August. It began as a revolutionary desktop machine, released by IBM on the 12th of August 1981, and its launch saw the birth of ‘personal’ computing. The first to go on sale used an Intel 8088 processor running at 4.77MHz and came with 16KB of RAM – expandable to 256KB if you had the cash – with a 160KB floppy disk drive as its only storage mechanism. The IBM PC was uniquely ‘affordable’ at $1,565 for the basic configuration, but its contribution to the world of computing went beyond the price tag. The PC was IBM’s first system to be built under what the company called Open Architecture, meaning that it used off-the-shelf parts rather than custom-built components. That allowed other manufacturers including Compaq – now HP – to produce “IBM PC compatibles” – still-cheaper clone systems that were able to run software designed for IBM’s more expensive original. Within four years, the PC was outselling all other personal computers combined. And it’s still going strong. Over 300 million will be sold worldwide this year.

Where would we be without it?

Love to you all,

Greg