Friday, June 29, 2007

Excuses, excuses

Just been on a little trip down Ipswich way, where I used to live. It was mainly distinguished by the variety of train delays. There has been severe weather of course: cue a couple of hours running very slowly past some wet fields near Grantham. Then there has been a derailment on a bridge near Ely, which is proving very tricky to sort out, as some empty trucks are hanging above the river. And how do you get a crane in to such a marshy landscape to lift them out? Over to some Network Rail engineers.

And this morning, coming back via Cambridge to avoid the derailment, we were held up by a swan on the line.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Right inheritance

I'm currently enjoying Joan Fisher Box's biography of her dad, the statistician R.A. Fisher. It's impossible to study stats without getting to know something about him, but the full story is even more interesting. One surprise for modern readers is his activity in the field of eugenics. At this point we all shuffle nervously, because as modern liberal citizens we don't talk about that embarrassing stuff any more. Fisher talked about it a lot though. He served on a Royal Commission in the early 30s on the problem of the number of mental patients, which much exercised the government of the day. Their final report suggested a program of sterilisation (albeit voluntary). That was about as close as we got in this country to fully fledged eugenic laws. It was ignored by the government and that was that.

Reading the wikipedia article on eugenics filled in some fascinating detail. I liked the Nazi justification of their eugenic policies by the great success that many US states were already having with their own version.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

That wet stuff's a bitch

Monsoon-like conditions greeted me this morning. Fleshmarket Close had a burn running down it. I more-or-less dried out on the train, but then Glasgow was about as wet.

Coming home was dry until I got to Newington, when there was a fresh cloudburst. I sheltered in a close (or was it a pend?) with some bewildered tourists.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Nature watch

We've not had any bird watching for a while...

From the office window I can see that some seagulls have raised chicks on one of the rooftops opposite. They are nondescript balls of grey feathers, which hides them rather well against the gravel covering of the flat roof that their parents have made home. All this in the block next to Central Station, and about eight floors above the traffic. No doubt they are being raised on fish supper remnants and discarded kebab.

We hear a lot of bleating about the fragility of the natural world, but some of it is incredibly tough.

Monday, June 04, 2007

It's Monday, bah!

This weekend was the last Munro party of an old friend, so there was a gathering of aging reprobates in Glencoe. Dave's last hill was Stob na Broige, at the other end of the Buachaille from his first, Stob Dearg. A pleasing symmetry. The day was miserable, as is standard for such events.

My boots died on the last part of the walk out. I think they're going in the bin.

Back to the Kingy for a meal and ritual abuse of the other walkers we met (Did ye see that guy? What a twat!).

Great to meet some old faces again, after too long a gap.

A Sunday of gentle rain and reminiscences followed.