The Snow In The Summer or So-So

Week of 4 September 2017


Martin Schulz: "I refuse to imagine a Europe where lorries and hedge funds are free to cross borders but citizens cannot"

9 September 2017
Jerry Pournelle

The death occurred yesterday of Jerry Pournelle.

Sci-fi author, though never crossed our radar. Computer journalist, but Byte was too expensive and something we could only flick through in Smiths.

Jerry Pournelle entered our life in 2000, when we stumbled across his daybook. This could be the answer to our writer's block, a less structured, more organic way to document things. Seventeen years later, we're still following the basic structure. Pournelle had a voice, and we thank him for helping find ours.

He leaves many acolytes, a special tip of the hat to Dave Farquhar. Jerry Pournelle also leaves a method of political thinking (belief in state control, orthogonal to belief in rational solutions) and an Iron Law of Bureaucracy:

In any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people.

First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.

The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.

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The weeknotes
TV and radio notes

The Reunion (R4, Sun) looked at Solidarity. The entire history of Poland in the 1980s is perhaps too big a topic for this show.

Lots of stuff for the Week: Streetmate and Dress to Impress next time, Lego Masters, with Cannonball and The Crystal Maze to follow.

On this week's Blue Peter

World record special World record - tallest stack of baseball caps on one head / World record - most balloon animals in one minute / Radzi vt - peas from field to frozen in 150 minutes / Badge wall / Fan of the Month with Hacker T Dog / Barney vt - car ballet training (pt 1 - concludes next week) / World record - team limbo in 3 mins

Next week

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Vintage Top of the Pops + 34 Years and 2 Months

4 November 1982 The first episode hosted by Mike Smith, a recent signing from Crapital Radio. Mike always thought that Top of the Pops was ephemeral, and he never approved his episodes to be re-broadcast on UK Old or on BBC4. Sarah, his widow, has upheld Mike's position, and advised fans to watch the clips on the internets.

Most of the episodes that BBC4 don't show get uploaded by other people. This was uploaded, but so far after the event that we missed it. So it's a different review this week, the new studio performances, and some of the videos.

(As an aside, we may have written the three saddest words of the year: "Sarah, his widow".)

Wham! kick off tonight, Young guns (go for it) features George and Andrew hiding behind Pepsi and Shirlie. It's a bold, brassy number, loud and uptempo, a great choice to start the show. In the song, George teases Andrew for his betrothal, intimating that he's missing out on so much. For instance, the physical closeness of a good man.

On the same subject, Diana Ross's video for Muscles. We're back with Blancmange Living on the ceiling, Neil in dark shades looking like the slightly pretentious art student from Harrow. A confusing performance, never quite got the hang of it.

John Cougar's Jack & Diane is simple, nostalgia for a bygone youth. We'll skip Shakin' Stevens' I'll be satisfied, saw that video two weeks back.

Daryl Hall and John Oates made one appearance in the TOTP studio, this for Maneater. Most of the backing band is in a triangular structure behind the stage, lit with lights on the struts. Daryl sings from behind his keyboard, John prances about with his guitar. The star may be the red-jacketed sax guy.

The Piranhas are back, Zambesi is even more barking than last time. The parrot is still on drums, with a pith-helmet explorer on the keyboard. Still got Dennis the Menace on vocals, but the backing schoolboys have become two out-of-work jockeys on hire from Honest Ron. The lion doesn't sleep, but sits on the sidelines reading the racing form.

Zoo's performance is to Ooh la la la (let's go dancin'). Kool and the Gang allow some of the members to strut their stuff in brief solo routines. By now, it should be clear that Zoo will be disbanded sooner or later.

Culture Club are still number one, repeated from four weeks ago. The audience dance to Sharon Redd's Never give you up.

Wham! hit the show running, Blancmange were also strong, and we enjoyed the Piranhas.

World news

The Pope disowned the Spanish Inquisition, accusing it of "errors and excesses". This was not expected by the Spanish Inquisition. The Conservatives held Alberta, winning 75 of the 79 seats in the provincial assembly.

Lorries can get heavier: the maximum laden weight goes up from 32.5 tonnes to 38 tonnes. The government gave cautious support for longer shop opening hours at weekends and on Sundays, but will not make time available in the new session. The Speech from the Throne included measures to privatise British Telecom, protect people's data on computers, and to improve the equal pay laws. The FA will accept no tickets when their men's team play in Greece in November.

BR announced plans to electrify lines in East Anglia and up the East Coast. Electricity to Harwich in 1985, Norwich in 1987, but the plans to Leeds and Newcastle will need to be made cheaper.

Miles Kington noted that the first programme on Channel 4 was a repeat. "I was sitting in a hotel bedroom in Le Touquet two months ago, watching an extremely boring, in other words riveting, television quiz game. And what do you think the point of the game was? That's right. Two competitors were given nine random letters out of which they had to make the longest word possible." The Times television guide described Countdown as "fast-moving", which was nonsense even at that time.

European football. Spurs lost 4:1 (5:2 on aggregate) to Bayern München, a match played in swirling fog. Swansea fell out to Paris St Germain 2:0 (3:0). Celtic went out to Real Sociedad, in spite of a win 2:1 (2:3). Aston Villa are still on to retain the European Cup, beating Dynamo Bucharest 4:2 (6:2). Aberdeen progressed in the Cup Winners' Cup, downing Lech Poznan 1:0 (3:0). Cologne beat Rangers 5:0 (6:2), Dundee Utd over Stavanger 0:0 (3:1), and Shamrock lost to Universeta Craiova 0:3 (0:5).

High pressure persisted for much of the week, with a decently mild southerly airflow. Temperatures of 13°C over southern England.

Other television

Saturday Superstore featured the Children's Department Wedding of the Century, between Mr. Keith Chegwin and Miss Maggie Philbin. Even Posh Paws dressed up for the occasion. Clock On is a sketch series with Christopher Lillicrap, Su Pollard, and Tony Maiden. Dexy's Midnight Runners are the special guests on Crackerjack.

Eureka begins on BBC2's youth slot on Thursday, Jeremy Beadle (and Clive Doig behind the scenes) dramatise the invention of everyday objects. The company: Madeline Smith, Bernard Holley, Mike Savage, Pascal King.

Sheena Easton's on The Late-Late Breakfast Show. The much-trailed Beau Geste began in the Sunday serial slot, and a new series of Hi-de-hi will keep us sniggering into the new year. Riverside is BBC2's youth music series, this week reviewing all the synth bands of the moment.

A new series of Ask the Family, just seven shows this year. 19p for a pint of milk, and a call-out to Flick Colby. There are more on One Man And His Dog. QED pondered if the Turin Shroud was a relic from Nazareth, or a 14th century fake. (Hint: it's the latter, but we won't know until 1988.) Top Gear had a sober and sensible examination of the M25, a motorway around London.

Radio 3 spent its Saturday afternoons reliving the music of one decade. This week, Alan Freeman relives the hits of the 1760s, with JC Bach, WF Bach, CPE Bach, Gluck, and Haydn. Later, the station spent an hour discussing literalist interpretations of the Bible creation story. The Sky at Night discussed a theory that a comet hit Earth and wiped out the dinosaurs.

S4C began broadcasting with Croeso i S4C. A day later, Channel 4 kicked off with Countdown. George Spenton-Foster resigned as director of Brookside, protesting against the bad language in the soap. The second night contained a documentary about weedkiller, and Friday had a documentary about early cinemas. The Tube and The Friday Alternative began long runs.

Jackanory featured Robert Swann reading from Rumbelow Road by Gabriel Alington, a wartime story where a young lad befriends a Polish refugee. On Rentaghost, Meaker gets a voice like a foghorn.

While viewers here watched Cheggers and Philbin, ABC (Yankee) Saturday morning commercials... NCAA-ball, let's go with Idaho against Boise State... KSTP weekend news... and KGAN election night... if we hadn't seen Channel 4 launch, we'd have seen the children's department continuity, here in full... part of Late Night with David Letterman... From the midweek football, Köln 5 Rangers 0.

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Popular music

The number one singles this week:

25aug 09h TAYLOR SWIFT - Look what you made me do [ 9d13h]
03sep 22h TAYLOR SWIFT - ...Ready for it?         [ 2d11h]
06sep 11h MEGAN MCKENNA - High heeled shoes       [ 1d23h]
08sep 10h SAM SMITH - Too good at goodbyes
UK Charts for w/e 16 September 2017
Number One
Look what you made me do - Taylor Swift - 2nd week (Number 1340 in seq.) Freedom Child - The Script - 1st week (Number 1121 in seq.)
Highest new entryReady for it - Taylor Swift - number 3 Freedom Child - The Script - number 1
Fastest climber
(within top 40)
Swish swish - Katy Perry - up 4 to 8
Boys - Charli XCX - up 4 to 26
ɇ - Ed Sheeran - up 0 to 5
Human - Rag'n'Bone Man - up 0 to 8
Fastest climber
(within top 100)
Crybaby - Paloma Faith - up 68 to 27 Gold Greatest Hits - ABBA - up 33 to 31
Lemming-like fallGlorious - Macklemore ft Skylar Grey - from 24 to 97 Fifth Harmony - from 11 to 95
Top 40 debuts Matoma & The Vamps (duet), Megan Mckenna Beau Dermott, Bicep, Martin Simpson, Walter Trout
Top 100 debuts Gabbie Hanna, Matoma & The Vamps (duet), Megan Mckenna, Rak-Su, Zayn & Sia (duet) Beau Dermott, Bicep


Taylor's second topper was a grat for the album. She was toppled by Megan McKenna, beneficiary of advertorial hours on ITV2. While Megan's two singles held the top spots, Pink moved past Taylor's pair; with Dua Lipa, Little Mix, and Katy Perry just behind, the only blokes in the top eight were CNCO. Is it only a few months since there was much hand-wringing at the lack of women?

In the event, Taylor's old song remains at number 1, outselling Pink, Taylor's new song, Dua Lipa, and James Hype. The last two drop a place. Katy Perry's Swish swish has taken off and enters the top ten, 12-8. Megan McKenna rests at 9, with Far cry from love also in at 13.

A full week on release boosts Maroon 5 (What lovers do, 68-18), Camila Cabello (Havana, 64-20), and Paloma Faith (Crybaby, 95-27). The X Factor came back, and gave quick boosts to Julia Michael's Issues (22), Evanescene's My immortal (28), Naughty Boy's Runnin' (54), and Rihanna's Love on the brain (65, its all-time peak).

Two more new entries into the 40: Jason Derulo If I'm lucky at 25, Matoma & The Vamps Staying up at 39. A late-week release for Zayn & Sia puts Dusk till dawn at 49. U2's new release, You're the best thing about me is in with an anvil at number 61.


Album four for The Script, and their third number one - 2012's Number 3 was headed by The XX. Really. LCD Soundsystem hit 2 with American Dream, their fourth hit album in twelve years and biggest by far.

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark have benefitted from the Top of the Pops repeats, The Punishment of Luxury ties Architecture and Morality (1981) and Sugar Tax (1991) as their biggest studio album; 1988's hits compilation went one place better.

Queens of the Stone Age drop 1-4, and Ed Sheeran holds at 5. Mogwai are in at 6 with Every Country's Sun, their biggest hit in a twenty-year career. Jake Bugg's Hearts that Stain is in at 7, his smallest of four hits. Newton Faulkner's fifth studio set Hit the Ground Running makes 9, a far cry from his two number one albums last decade.

Motorhead come in at 13, their second top 20 set in two years, and they've not done that since the mid-80s when they were a hair band. Starsailor put All This Life in at 14, first hit in eight years, they had two number 2s at the start of the century.

Is there any new talent? Bicep come in at 16. Then it's back to old stagers: Steve Winwood's Greatest Hits Live is at 19, and a twenty-years-later re-release of The Verve's Urban Hymns lands at 21.

Also in the top 40: new entries for Paradise Lost, Walter Trout, Beau Dermott, Martin Simpson, and remixes from T.Rex. HMV's sale this week is of Greatest Hits collections, the most notable climbs are for Abba and Eminem (55-24).

Notable entries lower down: Bars & Melody hit 42, no appearance on The X Factor this time. The series began, and Fallen re-enters at 61 for Evanescence. Steely Dan lost a member this week, their hits album enters at 81. Epica, Daughter, Roddy Woomble, Hercules & Love Affair also enter.

We're interested in entries for the Dixie Chicks (DCX - MMXVI, 52), and Joan Osbourne (Songs of Bob Dylan, 98). Look out next week for Zimm's take the songs of someone who's had much more success than him lately, Bob Dylan Sings Justin Bieber.

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This week's news

Dusty Bin For the last two months, this blog's bins haven't been emptied on schedule. Birmingham council's refuse collectors have been on strike. It looked like the council and unions had settled the dispute in August, but the truce broke down. Now, we find the council leader has misled the people, and has stuck his personal oar into the dispute.

Two points of contention: regrading about 150 posts to avoid an equal pay claim by thousands of women; and a disciplinary matter. The council leader - the not-directly-elected mayor - shouldn't involve himself in individual cases, but has.

The equal pay problem reflects historic errors by the Labour administration from 84-04, where women's work was undervalued. The council is changing the refuse service, and wants to flatten it, taking some responsibility from "leading hands" (who tend to be white men). This will stop other workers on the same grade (often non-white women) from complaining that they're being discriminated against.

Super-hurricane Irma swept over Anguilla, the Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, Sint Martin, to the north of Dominica, and over Cuba.

Catalan constitutional crisis There's a looming problem in Catalonia, where the government wishes to hold a plebiscite on 1 October, with the question whether to declare independence. The regime in Madrid, which claims supremacy over Catalonia, does not wish to countenance this independence, and its client court has called the plebiscite "illegal". Carles Puigdemont, the president of Catalonia, is prepared to damn Madrid and let his people speak.

Sportsball Cork won the All-Ireland camogie title, defeating Kilkenny in the final.

The death of Don Williams, country singer... Troy Gentry, singer with country group Montgomery Gentry... Mike Neville, Tyne-Tees television legend.

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A very humid Monday morning, fog clung to the ground like a moping old woman. Rain solidified for much of Tuesday, giving way to a couple of reasonably sunny days in midweek. Further rain on Friday was the front edge of a vigorous depression, which would mope across the weekend, leaving some very heavy showers around Saturday lunchtime.

More unsettled and cool weather for the first part of the week. It's possible that high pressure might move in from the mid-Atlantic towards the weekend, and this will allow more settled weather to take control. But it's too early to be sure, the remnants of the hurricanes might pack enough energy to disrupt this plan. So do wrap up.

04 Mo fog to cloud       14/21, 1.0
05 Tu rain spells        15/21, 8.5
06 We sunny spells       12/17
07 Th sun to cloud       10/18
08 Fr sun and showers    14/17, 9.0
09 Sa heavy showers      10/16, 7.5
10 Su cloud               8/15, 2.5

Rainfall in September: 30mm; monthly average: 68mm

Degree cooling days: 164
2016: 158/179
2015: 112/113
2014: 166/174
2013: 236/241
2012: 127/127
2011: 148/190
2010: 135/135
2009: 79/79
2008: 114/114
2007: 87/91

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