rashbre central: August 2020

Monday 31 August 2020


We decided to visit the seaside by train. 

We walked to the train station and noticed the big signs about wearing face masks. Of course, we did. 

Except, we were the only people on the platform to be wearing the face masks. A couple of unmasked older men were sitting on a station bench chatting. It turned out that they were not waiting for a train, but had just strolled down for the view.

Then we could see another group of maybe nine upper-teenagers. Not a mask in sight. It was mainly females, but with around three males lounging on the platform. I guess the herd immunity must have been in play although there were clearly too many of them clustered together for it to have been a single bubble.

Then, eventually, two more people arrived and immediately donned their masks. 

I'm wondering now, as I write this, whether I'm reactionary or neighbourly?

Saturday 29 August 2020

Minack Theatre - Educating Rita


About time to see some live theatre. This was Educating Rita at Minack Theatre, in Cornwall. It was actually our second attempt, having previously been along on a day that it was cancelled because of high winds and rain. When we were told, we had just set out from St Ives, and were slightly surprised that it had been cancelled. Sure enough, that evening, sitting in the pub garden, we got well-and-truly soaked. The rain came down like some kind of comedy show. I retreated inside at one point for a complete change of clothes. Yes, Minack had got their weather forecast right.
We managed to get some more tickets for another day, and decided to make a round trip of it. The show was early evening and didn't finish too late. Thoroughly enjoyable, with Stephen Thompkinson and Jessica Johnson as Frank and Rita, performing on the cliff edges as if it was the spires of Oxford. Around two thirds of the way through, the weather changed. Frank and Rita continued unabashed. The audience shuffled slightly and battened down for the rest of the performance. To the credit of the cast and the rest of the production crew, the show really did go on, and you'd be hard pressed to tell that they were combatting the elements. Only in the last encore did the main characters turn around and we all saw they were - well - soaked through.

Thursday 27 August 2020

you're unbelievable

There is a bit more effort required from the UK to watch the US political conventions, compared with being in America when they air. They are on those difficult-to-find channels at the back of Virgin's menus and the broadcasts are generally at uncivil hours.

Nonetheless, there's a kind of evil fascination to watch the worst of them at work. The  Republican National Convention’s defence of  “Western civilization,” shout-outs to the COVID's discredited treatment hydroxychloroquine, curious words about Democrats keeping Black people on “mental plantations,” and denunciations of the “China virus.”  

Awful twisted stuff designed to snare the less-educated.

There was gratitude that President Trump gave up his “life of luxury” to rule the country. 
That St. Louis couple who recently waved firearms at Black Lives Matter demonstrators from their front lawn, and a different elderly stunt-couple who spoke of wanting “this nation to continue to be the beacon of hope for the world,” while they looked lovingly at a section of border wall being installed. 

Dangerous rabble-rousing stuff.

There was talk of Donald Trump not being racist, juxtaposed without irony against racist warnings to white voters that Democrats want to “abolish the suburbs.” 

Inflammatory stuff showing Donald just doesn't care about anything except himself.

My favourite for blatant bombast was Donald Trump Jr.'s girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former Fox News personality who dialled it up to the max and strutted onto the flag-bedecked stage.  

Guilfoyle brought the convention’s fascist timbre to the next level.

“They want to destroy this country and everything that we have fought for and hold dear,” Guilfoyle said, describing the Democrats. “They want to steal your liberty, your freedom, they want to control what you see and think and believe so that they can control how you live. They want to enslave you to the weak, dependent, liberal victim ideology to the point that you will not recognize this country or yourself.” 

Old school fear, uncertainty and doubt. Curious that Kimberly Guilfoyle-Newsom was once married to a Democrat.  

Her message riffed on a hidden (dog-whistled?) "Democrats Make America Weak Again" theme and wasn't officially in line with the positive and uplifting tone that the Convention announced. 

Trump Senior hugged her afterwards.

Wednesday 26 August 2020

Blame the servants

Statistics lesson: Neither of the men in ties has a clue although they both know 'ego sum stultus'

Bozza has fired top DfE civil servant Jonathan Slater over the exam results fiasco. Gavin Williamson earlier denied making the resigning Ofqual boss Sally Collier a scapegoat for the exam results.

It goes to show how little attention the top people gave to the statistics before they went public and Bozza himself demonstrates the lack of understanding of a statistical haircut. But then, why should he, when the number of independent schools reaching a 9 grading was five times higher than all schools.

I also notice the modest curve on the all schools graph, compared with the laughably immodest curve on that from the 529 ISC. Pay Per Performance (PPP/P3) anyone?

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has retained his position, ironically, despite his sacking for allegedly leaking information from Defence about Huawei the last time he held senior office. 

Monday 17 August 2020

Play On, Christina Nott


I've already got 2 or 3 books in the release pipeline, so I reckon this one will hit the streets in early December.

This is a further follow-on to the Archangel series, comprising:

  • Archangel - where Christina Nott's backstory is established (Icelandic, but trained mainly in Russia)
  • Raven - Corporate corruption.
  • Raven's Card - Political corruption.

Then, finally we get Christina back on the road with a band. The only thing is, she's still beholden to the FSB and gets mixed up in some tricky business in Saint Petersburg. 

We get to see her perform with a band acting as a support act to another band who are danger of splitting up. 

Music, Money, Manipulation and I daresay some Mayhem too.

Maybe I'll serialise a couple of sections from the novel, whilst I decide whether to ARC (Advanced Readers' Copy) it.

Play On, Christina Nott.

Wednesday 12 August 2020

The bamboo forests of Norton Security

Sometimes it is like walking through a bamboo forest. 

This was supposed to be an easy one, but I knew in advance it would be difficult. 

I was removing Norton Security from an Apple Mac. I decided the system is designed to make it almost impossible. 

it is socially engineered to make the merest enquiry about the use of the removal tool fail. 

A few examples. 

1) Ask the help system. It froze only allowing entry whilst simultaneously holding down a mouse button. 

2) Checking with Google. Symantec has packed the top of a Google search with pages they control, all of which offer misleading advice. 

3) Attempting to use the so-called remove button built into the utility. Except the helper agent that runs the button was not working so the button didn't show. 

{Most people will have given up by around here}

4) Attempting to download the uninstall helper. Except every copy of it was the one for Windows. 

5) Being pointed to a (you must be joking) separate page to download someone else's utility (Nope).

6) Being patronisingly asked after I'd looked at each of their help pages, whether it was useful (No)

7) Being pop-up asked if I needed help (Chat) but then ignored.

In the end, I used the Activity Monitor to force crash the Norton helper agents that were still running. This simulated a Norton failure. 

Then I pretended I wanted to re-install the product. Norton gave me a link to a failed installation page for Mac and from there I was able to navigate to find this helpful page:

 It includes a link to the utility file: 

which in turn requires one to boot up and run a Mac Terminal Session (ie in Unix) to work through the script. 

 Halfway through, the script failed too and simply hung. 

I rebooted and then re-ran it and sure enough, it carried on to delete about 100 Norton files scattered all over the Mac. I know these files are used to provide nag scripts to re-install the product, so it was necessary to get rid of them all. 

 However, it worked.

Tuesday 4 August 2020

Testing the limits of lock-down.

Time to test the limits of the lock-down. We're off for a few days recreation.
Maybe we should take to the sea?
Perhaps find some exotic shores?
Should we enjoy the local culture?
Maybe look for signs of civilisation?
Or we could enjoy the views?
Perhaps we could chill by the pool?

Then again, we could do all of these things.