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CABINET OF CURIOSITIES (NEW CONCEPTS)
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Mick Harper
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All Ports Warning

Avoid Maryland Cookies Minis. This is the deal:

1. You spend a bit of time getting into the packaging
2. You spend a bit more time getting into the packets of minis inside the packaging
3. You eat a bag of minis (together they are the equivalent of one to two Maryland cookies)
4. After such an investment you feel entitled to another bag
5. One more because you are testing them for a well-known Applied Epistemology site
6. Put two fingers up to the health nazis by having another one
7. There's only two left, who needs them cluttering up the place?
8. Start clearing up empty bags, wrappers, crumbs etc
9. Issue all ports warning
10. Get on with the important things in life.
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Mick Harper
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I now have a Kindle and a Kindle cover though unfortunately the cover is for (I assume) an earlier version of Kindle since it doesn't... er... cover it. Never mind, the point is I'm part of the Kindle generation. I haven't been part of a generation since I was part of the Pepsi generation. And it feels good like I knew that it would. I haven't danced to James Brown for some time either.
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Mick Harper
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I have by accident -- there was no mention it existed -- got to a screen on my Kindle that says

Page 1 of 29
Chapter 1
Getting Started

Unfortunately leaning how to get to the next page is (I presume) on the next page. Getting to it is proving a problem. I have touched the screen in every place and in every way I can think of. I have pressed every cross, arrow and doodad on show but that does either nothing or takes me back to where I have already been. I'm completely stymied. As I write this I have noticed it has turned itself off. I have tapped it all over but it won't turn itself on again.

Sure, I will work it all out eventually but why is it made so damned hard? Why not a good old-fashioned booklet of basic instructions tucked in the place where there's a good old fashioned booklet listing legal gobbledegook in seventeen languages? What must it be like for people who aren't the greatest brain in the known universe?
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Mick Harper
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You move your finger up the screen to go down to the next screen. Only a software engineer would have thought that one up.
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Mick Harper
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Your Cultural Queries Answered

You: Why would the Guardian review a new production at The Leeds Playhouse, an obscure provincial theatre?
AEL: It will be because it is a new groundbreaking play, probably with left wing undertones.

You: No, it's the old warhorse The Importance of Being Earnest.
AEL: There you go, Wilde was gay.

You: Yes, but zillions of Earnests are being put on all the time everywhere without the Guardian reviewing them.
AEL: Does the Leeds production have something the others haven't got?

You: An all-black cast.
AEL: If you knew that, why are you bothering us?
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Mick Harper
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This Week's Shopping News & Style Advice

Red Salmon is now cheaper than either sardines or tuna but there are worries about salmon farms. Purchase Princes Wild Pacific Salmon and leave in the tin when serving at dinner parties.

For some reason black peppercorns are unavailable at Tesco's. You have not used ground pepper since you left home after university. Purchase Tesco Ground Pepper and decant two teaspoonfuls in a suitable receptacle. Say to your guests, "I find ground pepper packs a much bigger punch than those awful peppercorn mills, don't you?" [It's actually true which always helps.]

Proprietary tinned soup is now £1.50 a pop irrespective whether it's Heinz Cream of Haggis or just plain Cross & Blackwell Vegetable. For some reason that escapes me, Tesco and Sainsbury are offering the same thing at 50p a throw. Say in a loud voice, "Honestly, who can be arsed to make their own in today's world, so I'm afraid it's tinned. Rodney and I mainly go for own-brand because of the airmiles issue. I think you'll find it amusing."
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Wile E. Coyote


In: Arizona
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They no longer have "best before" dates on fresh fruit & veg products in Sainsbury. This is tremedous news. Wiley, can now only be criticised for not getting items, not on bad dates. It beats me why they havnt thought of this years ago.
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Mick Harper
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I have just had a new hard drive installed which has necessitated re-joining everything all over again. Mostly it is do-able (even for me) but rejoining AOL for my emails was tricky because it was so long ago all my passwords, phone numbers and rescue email accounts were null and void.

It turned out I could give them my new mobile number and they would let me back in. So if anyone ever wants to read anyone's AOL emails just give them your mobile number and they'll ring you straight back with the entry codes.

PS Ever since hacking emails became so fashionable (twenty years ago?) I have followed a strict policy of assuming the whole world will read mine sooner or later. This has not only made me a kinder, gentler e-mailer but it has done wonders for my literary style. In fact I'll be furious if nobody does.
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Mick Harper
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This is the kind of email I like receiving. I don't know what it means but I sure as hell like the fact that (a) it's free but most of all (b) I don't have to do a damn thing.

Hello Michael,
Good news – we’re giving you our superstrong WiFi guarantee, at no extra cost. It’s our promise you’ll enjoy download speeds of at least 20Mbps in every room or get £100 bill credit. Because of that, we’ve made some changes to your terms and conditions.

What’s changing?
Our superstrong WiFi guarantee is part of WiFi Max, and it’s backed up by our signal-boosting mesh WiFi Pods and Intelligent WiFi service. So, if you don’t get at least 20Mbps in every room, you can bag up to three WiFi Pods, on us – and if that still doesn’t do the trick, we’ll pop £100 credit on your next bill. No need to do anything – we’ll make the changes, and you can enjoy an extra little bonus without paying a penny more.
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Mick Harper
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Does anyone know of a method for temporarily slowing down the rate of Mbps? I dug up some paving stones outside my house and had a fiddle around but only succeeded in temporarily slowing down the rate of water, gas and electricity to the street.

"Anyone know what's happened to the water, gas and electricity?"
"Dunno, but my computer is unaffected."
"That's the main thing."
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Wile E. Coyote


In: Arizona
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A new study into peer review finds that only 23% of reviewers say "reject" when a paper has a Nobel Prize winner on it, but 65% say "reject"....... when exactly the same paper..... is authored by an unknown researcher.

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4190976
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Mick Harper
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Given the subjectivity involved, taking the author's eminence into account does seem reasonable. The AE aspect is whether the peer in peer review believes himself or herself to be above or below the reviewee. They are never true 'peers'.

This is specially pertinent to ourselves since academics regard themselves, by definition, to be above us. As you may have predicted, the new book goes into this in some detail and draft copies have begun to fall on seven different mats (we are testing the delivery side of Kindle Direct Publishing) including my own but I am not there to receive it this week, being on holiday.

If all is well, it will go on sale next week.
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Mick Harper
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I have just received said book and it is glorious. If all is well after me and Hatty have danced through the text, it will be on Amazon within days for thirty-five of your rapidly falling British pounds. People are already saying, "It's the new world order!" Ironically at the moment but they'll see.

PS Those of you who purchased Missing Persons -- which covers some of the same ground -- should get in touch and will be provided with a free (yes, I said free) copy of Revisionist Historiography. The rest of you: hurry while stocks (of British pounds) last.
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Mick Harper
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I knew Hilary Mantel very slightly as a correspondent (before she became űber-famous). Everyone I know seems to die before their time. Thank God I don't know myself.
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Mick Harper
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This Week's Shopping Wars

I have found a marvellous new stage for my talents. Since Covid my (only remaining) friend who worked behind the Tesco checkout counter has departed to be replaced behind the glass screen by a succession of girls. I use the word in its original hostile sexist sense. It would appear more efficient for her (actually them) to put the shopping straight into my shopping bag but they have discovered that if they stack it on a shelf next to the till the customer has to reach awkwardly round the screen to get the items and place them in their bags. Since this takes a relatively long time it allows them to finish way ahead of the game, giving them a period of respite staring into space.

Yes, I know, you're all on their side but for me it is particularly difficult (think Tracy Spencer in Bad Day at Black Rock) so I have taken to requesting them to put everything into my bag (which I hold open for them). This is always greeted with rank hostility but in the end they have to do it because it is Tesco policy. Today matters reached new heights when the current 'girl' found a novel way of getting back at me by (1) piling the goods up on the shelf until there was no more room, (2) gathering everything up in two arms before (3) dropping them bodily into my bag. from as high as decency allows.

When the final oddments had been stacked on the shelf, and no more space needed to be created, she stopped and stared at me. I stared straight back. Cool as you like. This could have gone on for some time but with the queue behind me getting restive, she swept them all into my bag. with an air of enfuried resignation the like of which hasn't been seen since Chamberlain in May, 1940.

There was no getting away from it. I had won. Yes, little Mickie Harper had won. Though of course Spencer Tracy is no longer available should they decide to make a film of it.
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