cover photo

Simon Anderson

A creature of bad habits

  last edited: Wed, 19 Sep 2018 23:55:38 +1200  
I frequent L'Assiette cafe in Britomart fairly regularly, perhaps more frequently than I realised. The following conversation occurred this morning and is verbatim, to the best of my recollection.

Serveur: "Do you know the character Sheldon from the television show The Big Bang Theory?

Me: "Yes, why?"

Serveur: "When you come in, we get really anxious if other customers are sitting in your spot."


  last edited: Wed, 19 Sep 2018 23:54:50 +1200  
Getting ready for the opera. Please don't message me the result of the All Blacks v Springboks test, I'll be watching the delayed coverage.


The GNU Project

Me and Richard Stallman, back in the day.

The man I once was was not formidable, and I am but his shadow now.

I remember as a child, a card arriving in the mail from the United States Library of Congress, to inform my father his thesis has been checked out from their collection.

Given the comprehensive catalogue maintained by the Library of Congress and the esoteric subject matter of my father's PhD thesis in applied statistics, this was an unusual enough occurrence for the library to inform him, at least at the time and upon the first occasion.

There were perhaps a half-dozen people on the planet who could understand his thesis, all of them prominent. Carl Sagan would phone to speak with my father and it was only much later in life that I would come to appreciate how significant this was: Sagan was composing the Message from Humanity encapsulated on the Voyager probes traveling out of the solar system and in the meantime, chatting to Dad about Mars.

When you're a kid a universe of possibility is in front of you and your perception is stuff like that is it's no big deal, you'll be doing the same one day.

Though I've only ever seen one of them, to my certain knowledge there are four printed volumes of my father's PhD, leather-bound and gold-leaf; his in our family library, the one in the U.S. Congress, and the two held in trust for my brother and I, his children.

Fifteen years ago I casually asked my father when he'd last read his PhD thesis and his answer surprised me. He told me he'd read it again fairly recently but he couldn't follow the mathematics any more, even though he was the author and it was entirely his work. When pressed, he explained that mathematics was a young person's game and he was, in his fifties, beyond it.

I was shocked. In my twenties, still operating under the presumption that one gets better at stuff the older one becomes, failing utterly to appreciate the life lesson my father could teach here if only I'd listen. Needless to say I should have paid attention and didn't. Not, I have to admit, for the first or last time.

Stuff like that simply doesn't resonate when you're young and bullet-proof. And in my case, stoopid.

John Donne warned us that "it tolls for thee" but he failed to fucking mention that you might not hear the gong by the time you're in your mid-40s and hard of hearing. The truth is we're all in decline and middle-age is about managing expectations. What no-one tells us when we're young is that it's primarily about managing our *own* expectations. Shakespeare's "to thine own self be true" ripped us off as well, he should have told us to "know thine own self."

Because that my friends, is one of those secrets to a happy life.

The last age group in football is over-35s. When you're a codger, under-18s and under-30s are fond memories. Once you're over 35 you're over-35s and that's it, there are no later age groups.

You're playing with the same bunch of geezers until you die.

Probably on the pitch.

With a wheezing middle-aged fat guy slobbering an attempt at CPR.

A few years ago I was playing for Eastern Suburbs in a grading game at centre midfield, the engine room, a position which particularly demands aerobic fitness. My opponent at centre-mid had played for Yugoslavia at the 1982 World Cup and was in his 60s. He manshamed me despite being twice my age because form is temporary and class is permanent, but also because he knew his limitations. Where my 35 year-old self imagined it could get to the 50-50 ball with my 20 year-old self's alacrity, my opponent knew himself better.

He cleaned me up. That self knowledge of his own capabilities, even despite the gulf in class mitigated by his advanced age, was the primary difference between us.  

But that self knowledge is not the entirety of it. The fuck of it all is the acceptance of harsh truths, the willingness to keep turning out despite the knowledge that you're not meeting the expectations you once set for yourself.

And that you never will. Across all your fields of endeavour.

I'm less inclined to play snooker, or chess, or football, or engage in any of my other pastimes these days because I don't take pleasure from the pursuit, stymied by the frustration at failing to meet my own expectations.

Because I can't perform as once I could, childishly I do something else.

Knowing those who accept the reality of age and just get one with it are not merely more successful, they're also better men.

-SRA. Auckland, 6/viii 2015. (reposted.)
Facing Unpleasant Facts

  last edited: Fri, 14 Sep 2018 19:09:05 +1200  
I remember lending this collection of Orwell's essays a few months back after a few glasses of wine but I can't remember to whom.

It happens to be a first edition, I'd like to get it back.

A bachelor's refrigerator

The bare essentials.

La bohème

Looking forward to NZ Opera's performance of Puccini's La bohème tomorrow evening.

If only for the opportunity to bust out my opera shoes.

Joe Frazier

  last edited: Fri, 14 Sep 2018 02:12:59 +1200  
Today I celebrate the life of Joseph William Frazier.

I knew Joe personally, though only slightly and all too fleetingly. I knew an uneducated, ineloquent, hurt man. Yet happy, kind and hospitable.

I grew up knowing about Joe. Hearing of his exploits, watching the replays. That indomitable man who held his own at the pinnacle of his sport in the glory, glory days of it.

That left hook. The one that stopped Ali in the 15th at the Garden in the year I was born, in a photograph I have framed, signed by both.

That will. Bursting with pride for the man as he climbs from the canvas six times obliterated in Kingston.

That character. Aghast as he tries to come out,




For the 15th in Manilla. Literally blind after the world's greatest ever televised hiding, both delivered and received. Giving as good as he got.

That smile. The simple pleasure Joe took from sitting down with a kid from the other side of the world and a country he'd never heard of just to talk for a while.

One of my fondest memories will remain, bringing that smile to your face Joe. Knowing that once upon a time, I made your day.

Rest in Peace, Champ.

-SRA. 8/xi 2011 (reposted)

A Faux Pas

  last edited: Fri, 14 Sep 2018 01:02:16 +1200  

A couple of years ago I snapped this photograph of my parents and their friends in the central square of Monpazier. Half an hour beforehand a most wonderful faux pas occurred.

A week earlier an ex-pat Englishman, the photojournalist Michael Delahunty snapped a photograph of me and my nephews. Michael and his wife Anni became dear friends, but they hadn't known us for very long when Alex and Lockie came to stay.

When they arrived Lockie wanted to stretch his legs, so he and I went for a walk around the square where we encountered Michael.

"Gidday!" exclaimed Michael, affecting a Kiwi accent. "How'ya doin', cobbers!"

"Your Excellency, allow me to introduce Michael Delahunty the photojournalist" I intoned formally. "Michael, this is Sir Alexander Smith, our ambassador to the Court of St. James."

It would be fair to say this wasn't the greeting Michael expected from two Kiwi jokers wearing t-shirts and jandals.

"G'day Michael, nice to meet you" said Lockie, ever the diplomat.
Questions in the House

Chuffed my research lead to questions in the House today.

The leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition Simon Bridges eviscerated the "Prime Minister" Jacinda Ardern. I'm gratified to have contributed to that.

New Zealand is a small country, a leaf on the wind of international affairs. We've tended to be successful because we've tended to play smart. The corollary to that is the consequences of playing dumb are amplified calamity.

Auckland Fuel Tax


Shore Folk

So the government announced plans today, to build a tunnel underneath the Waitemata Harbour, facilitating transportation between the North Shore and central Auckland.

Like any major project, a requirements specification must be generated and assumptions should be questioned. In this case, the harbour tunnel is predicated on the mistaken belief that ease of transportation and consequent cultural interaction between the North Shore and the central Auckland communities is worthwhile.

It isn't.

If anything, we should be implementing projects to discourage transportation and to discourage cultural interaction.

Shore Folk enjoy a quaint, parochial culture largely unmolested by the vicissitudes of modernity. From an anthropological perspective it would be a great shame for the ShoreFolk to subsume their culture to the imperialism of a fully developed society. Further, assimilation and integration is likely to prove difficult for the ShoreFolk, over-awed by a society at such a latter stage of development.

Many ShoreFolk cultural practices are out of step, indeed disquieting, to Aucklanders. Inter-breeding is a long-established preference passed through many ShoreFolk generations and the genetic consequences are readily apparent and entirely unpalatable amongst the ShoreFolk population. Disabusing the ShoreFolk of this practice risks accusations of cultural imperialism, despite the long-term benefits to the ShoreFolk gene pool.

The ShoreFolk seem destined to become the prevailing underclass, introducing disease and criminality to Auckland as they inevitably, and quite understandably, struggle with modern culture. Introducing the ShoreFolk to the concept of purchasing milk from a supermarket for instance, as opposed to squeezing it by hand from a feral goat or misappropriating a bucket of it from an inattentive neighbour, will be a cultural learning experience for them and a major undertaking for us.

Transportation between the North Shore and central Auckland offers no benefit to either community, the extent of the social development difference is too great. While it is right and proper to ensure that the ShoreFolk receive the benefits of modernity, their culture should be preserved. A more sensible approach would be to introduce the ShoreFolk to modernity slowly, allowing their society to develop at its own pace, by encouraging inter-cultural interaction with a community closer to their own level of development.

Build the tunnel from the Shore to West Auckland.

-SRA. vi/2013 (reposted.)
Me and one of my heroes.

  last edited: Wed, 05 Sep 2018 15:20:17 +1200  
I had the distinct pleasure of enjoying the company of Geoff Howarth OBE and his partner Kate at dinner this evening.

A Mastodon Instance?

  last edited: Wed, 12 Sep 2018 00:59:03 +1200  
Is there any appetite amongst the LittieFluffyCloud community for a Mastodon instance?

Mastodon is the Open Source, federated Twitter alternative. With 6,000+ servers and 12 million users, it's gaining traction.

Hubzilla and Mastodon both support ActivityPub, so there is an evolving level of integration between the two, and between them and other solutions in the Fediverse. Most notably for us, NextCloud.

Let me know if you'd like me to stand up a Mastodon instance, initially for testing.

Confit de Boeuf, avec Chateauneuf du Pape

  last edited: Fri, 31 Aug 2018 23:13:50 +1200  
First world problems: the stress of pairing an unusual dish, an Eye Fillet Confit with Sherry Vinaigrette in Truffle Jus.

I'm pretty sure my choice of a Chateauneuf du Pape makes me boring.

Bauhaus on Art Nouveau.

  last edited: Wed, 12 Sep 2018 01:04:32 +1200  

Bauhaus on Art Nouveau.

I'm fairly certain nobody noticed.

Shirt: Liberty London Ianthe (Paris, 1905)
Pen: Lamy 2000 (Heidelberg, 1967)
Tempus, fugit.


  last edited: Wed, 12 Sep 2018 01:26:10 +1200  

My keyboard and touchpad in French Walnut from Oree Artisans, and mouse in low-rent bamboo.
Christmas Cards

  last edited: Thu, 30 Aug 2018 23:11:18 +1200  

It's August, and I'm starting my Christmas cards.

Because I'm a complete turbo-nerd and the process even involves ice cubes, it takes me a while.