The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.

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11:39am on Saturday, 4th July, 2015:

Unspoken Words


Here are some things I was tempted to say at the supermarket today but didn't:


11:08am on Friday, 3rd July, 2015:

Character Names


I wonder how many children have the given name Gandalf.


3:22pm on Thursday, 2nd July, 2015:



After a breakthrough in my genealogy research, I managed to track my Bartle line out of Yorkshire and into Lincolnshire. I got stuck there, so pulled all the records of Bartle/Barttle/Bartel/Bartell/Bantle/Barthol/Barthole I could find to see if I could assemble the whole jigsaw puzzle.

I couldn't, because the records are too incomplete. However, while looking I did notice this family (not my branch) from Scartho, Lincolnshire:

These are the children of John and Grace Bartle. The first column is the child's name; the second is when they were baptised; the third is when they were buried.

That's a lot of bad luck they had there. The list ends in 1731 because John Bartle himself died 8 Nov 1732.

Their eldest child, Ann, survived and went on to marry one John Farrow on 16 Nov 1742.

300 years ago in the UK, you could have 10 children die in infancy. I wonder how many places in the world there are where that can still happen?


1:36pm on Thursday, 2nd July, 2015:



I received confirmation that my request to have my Honorary Professor title reinstated for another two years has been approved, so I can once more use my business cards.

I actually requested to have it extended for 12 years, but unfortunately someone noticed...


1:12pm on Wednesday, 1st July, 2015:

Up and Down


These were either side of a fireplace in a stately home I visited recently:

I have no idea what they do.

I suppose I could have tested them, but my desire to know what they did was outweight by my desire not to know what fine the magistrate would impose.


1:07pm on Tuesday, 30th June, 2015:



I've just had a quick look at MUD2 via an iOS app called MUDRammer. It's pretty good. I've tried some generic clients in the past, but they haven't tended to do a very good job of dealing with ANSI colour codes, but on my iPad this one works just fine.

If someone had told me 35 years ago that I'd be playing MUD on a pocket telephone, I might have been a little skeptical.

Hmm, actually I'd have been right to be, as I use an Android phone.


10:34am on Monday, 29th June, 2015:



Oh, I just remembered this!

Overheard on a tube train last week: three lads in their 20s have just boarded, and one continues their on-going conversation. "I don't know if I want to watch it any more. What Stannis did to his daughter — that was bang out of order".

I just love the way he talks as if Stannis is going to have some explaining to do next time he sees him in the pub.


6:20pm on Sunday, 28th June, 2015:

Not a Mess


This is what passes for an Eton mess in Bristol:

No cream, no meringue, but apart from that...


5:35pm on Saturday, 27th June, 2015:



I was at the Royal Institution of Great Britain yesterday, for the President's Reception at the British Humanist Association.

They have lots of books there...


10:21am on Friday, 26th June, 2015:

Not a Tree


From BBC news:

Nice try, but that's not a tree, it's a directed graph.


4:37pm on Thursday, 25th June, 2015:



This afternoon, I had a look round the new Essex Business School we have on campus. It's quite impressive:

There's no obvious call for a business school in Essex, but you have to admit that a lot of trees didn't give up their lives in vain for it:

It's quite well designed, unless you want power for your laptop in any of the teaching rooms.


2:18pm on Wednesday, 24th June, 2015:

Unlikely Scenario


I was discussing the sentiment analysis of Twitter feeds with some former students this morning, as you do, and the following scenario came up under the topic of trying to detect the use of sarcasm.

Suppose you're a high-profile and distinguished academic, and you say the following:

"The problem with women in science is that they fall in love with you, you fall in love with them, then they kick up a twitterstorm and force you to resign."

Clearly, this is a joke about the fate of Tim Hunt. Nevertheless, is it something that itself would kick up a twitterstorm and force the academic to resign? After all, the only problem with women in science is that there isn't enough of them, but the above doesn't note that. Maybe the academic would be better off not making the joke at all?

Self-censorship is the worst kind of censorship.

Yes, I am aware that I've used quotes and several layers of framing in an effort to ensure that I'm not enveloped in a twitterstorm myself for raising this question.


3:45pm on Tuesday, 23rd June, 2015:

No, Falmouth!


No, Falmouth!

No, Falmouth!

I swear, people must do this kind of thing deliberately.


9:50pm on Monday, 22nd June, 2015:

Long Journey


I'm in Falmouth for the next couple of day, externally examining the BA in computer games at Falmouth University. I left the house at 7pm, boarded the 17:17 train to London, waited 20 minutes while the train in front was shunted into the sidings because it had "traction interlock", then journeyed to London. I took the circle line to Paddington, where at 10:06 I boarded the train for Truro. I disembarked there some four hours later and took the 14:51 to Falmouth Docks, only I got out at Penryn and walked to the campus.

I don't mind long train journeys, because you can read and fall asleep on them. The London to Truro train was exceedingly busy, to the extent that if you didn't have a seat reservation you were in trouble. Fortunately, I did, and managed to read a paper I was reviewing and finish off a book I'm writing a back-cover comment for, all before we pulled into Newton Abbot. This is just as well, because at Newton Abbot the people who were in the 3 seats around the same table as me rolled up. It was a group of three women aged around 60 who were coming back from a "girl's weekend" in Torquay.

They were very chatty, and not just because one of them had a bottle of diet coke into which she had emptied the half bottle of brandy she hadn't finished the previous day. I got talking to them, which was rather odd as they kept calling me "darling" the whole time (which seems to be local dialect, but would get me sacked if I used it at work). They discussed topics seemingly at random — Elvis Presley impersonators, how to tell by the amount of heartburn you get whether the baby you're carrying will have hair or not, the people on benefits who are just having a laugh, dogs, "Los Vegas", the relative merits of plain versus cheease and onion crisps, their desire for a mobile phone that works in tunnels, how they'd always found Rolf Harris creepy and why cyclists shouldn't be allowed to get it all their own way. I answered questions as to why men don't like shopping, what the local food in Yorkshire is, why I was going to Falmouth and the economy of Greece.

At one stage, the woman with the coke-and-brandy started emptying her handbag. She took everything out of it, but not at once; nevertheless, at times she'd put more on the table than could possibly have fitted it. She was looking for her lipstick. One of the other women suggested she look in her make-up bag, but she said it wasn't in there. Sure enough, when she emptied it the lipstick inside was the wrong lipstick. After perhaps ten minutes of this, she gave up and put everything away. Some ten minutes after that, she suddenly realised she was applying her lipstick and had no idea how it had come into her hand. No-one else had noticed either. She'd just materialised it from the ether.

I don't have a seat reservation for my return trip, so am hoping I won't have to stand between Truro and Paddington.

Penryn station is close to the Penryn campus of Falmouth University, but to get from the former to the latter you have to walk up a steep hill and take a wide circuit round a ring road. Next time, I get out at Falmouth Town and take a taxi...


10:40am on Sunday, 21st June, 2015:

Proper Form of Address


My Father's Day card from my elder daughter arrived yesterday. I could tell it was a Father's Day card because of how she addressed it.


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Copyright © 2015 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).