The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.

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10:10am on Saturday, 26th September, 2020:

Essex Girl


I don't know if it's deliberate or accidental, but this advertising poster in Sainsbury's looks meant for Essex.


11:50am on Friday, 25th September, 2020:

Round Three


Now that Poseidon has brushed aside the competition, I now have to decide how best to use him on the cover. People have already made some suggestions, so I've put some of these together and here they are. Refinements are entirely possible, so if you have any ideas for how I can make any of these look better then let me know and I'll create an example for discussion.

1 2 3
4 5 6
7 8 9

#1 is the original.
#2 has a different font and no box.
#3 has the same font and no box.
#4 has rounded box edges, a sea-green colour, some transparency, and the box colour uses the darkest colour from the image.
#5 is black and white.
#6 has a sea-green box with some transparency.
#7 is the image from round 2.
#8 is #7 but brighter.
#9 is #7 but darker.

In all the images, I changed the subtitle (removing "to conduct") and removed the child standing on the right.

What do you think?


9:21am on Thursday, 24th September, 2020:

More Scores


The scores for the second round of voting are in!

It's another clear win for Poseidon.

Newcomers Freya (G) and Apollo (A) didn't work any magic. Newcomer Goddess (F) was unable to tear votes away from Cleopatra (D). Newcomer WWJD (B) actually got 4 positive votes, but also 2 negative ones; similarly, old hand Let There be Light (E) garnered 4, but only lost 1. Poseidon (C) remained ahead of Spring (G) in the out-of-copyright-cartoons-from-Punch category, and is the overall winner.

Thanks for your votes, folks! I shall now work on different looks for the Poseidon cover and put that to the vote, too. Although I'm good at technical drawing, I'm hopeless at anything that doesn't involve a ruler and set square, so whatever you collectively decide is guaranteed to be better than anything I could have concocted on my own.

Oh, I nearly forgot! I'm thinking of changing the subtitle from "A Guide to Conduct for Would-Be Deities" to "A Guide for Would-Be Deities". Does that work better?


8:54am on Thursday, 24th September, 2020:



It was raining heavily when I went for my health-giving walk this morning; so heavily, in fact, that there were streams running down the road alongside the pavement, overwhelming the drains. This meant that for most of my journey, any vehicle that came within two feet of the kerb could drench me.

I was expecting this to happen when the vehicle in question was a BMW, Audi or Mercedes, because (in the UK at least) drivers of expensive German cars have a reputation for putting themselves before others. I was wrong, though: they were as reluctant to throw water at me (or at least down the side of their car) as everyone else. This was rather refreshing. There was one exception, a woman driving a Mercedes, but I'll give her a pass because a lorry was coming the other way so she had no option but to drive through what by then was starting to look like a brook. Fortunately, I spotted what was going to happen and got my umbrella down in time to avoid a soaking.

The only vehicles that made no concessions whatsoever were buses. Four went past me and every one was driven as if the rain was a mere illusion. Only in one case did I need to use my umbrella for protection, though, as I could duck into people's driveways on the other occasions.

Ah, British weather. It's weird that we can get used to how changeable it is but we can't get used to how changeable the government's rules on Covid-19 avoidance are. It's not as if the forecasts are accurate for either of them.


9:33am on Wednesday, 23rd September, 2020:

Lockdown Economics


I don't get how lockdown economics works.

If a sports stadium is only allowed to hold one eighth of its capacity, why haven't ticket prices gone up?
If a restaurant can only use a quarter of its tables, why haven't meal prices gone up?
If a cinema is only allowed to fill one seat in ten, why haven't seat prices gone up?
If a bar can only hold half its usual number of patrons, why haven't drinks prices gone up?

If supply is low, prices rise. Is it that at such higher prices, demand would fall even faster? Or is it that organisations with deeper pockets keep their prices low in order to bankrupt their competition?

I'm sure there must be some logic to it.


2:08pm on Tuesday, 22nd September, 2020:

Voting Results


The result of the public vote is in! Counting +1 for a definite yes and -1 for a definite no, here's how it came out.

A clear win for Poseidon, there.

Needless to say, my own favourite (which I would have used had I not possessed the sense to ask other people what they thought) was the one that scored -2.

The format of the covers did not go down well, and another one was proposed. Of the five covers that would have scored 6 or more if I hadn't counted negative votes, it worked well with four of them (the other was too square to use).

Here are the winners in the new format, along with four new cover ideas for you to condemn.

Let's go with letters this time:


1:27pm on Monday, 21st September, 2020:



Having spent the last two weeks editing the pop-sci book I've been writing for the past couple of years, and in so doing gained some degree of respect for people who have to index books for a living, I've now reached the point where I can consider making an actual physical tome.

I've mocked up 9 cover ideas. The pale-peach/yucky-brown (depending on whether you agree with me or with my wife) background can be changed, but it's the rest of the picture that's key.

Do any of them work? Are any of them definite "do NOT use that one!"? Which one, if any, might tempt you to look inside the book if not actually buy it?

Numbering system for comments:
1 2 3
4 5 6
7 8 9

It's fine to insult my graphic design skills, as I know from making previous book covers that I have none.


9:56am on Sunday, 20th September, 2020:



While putting my playing cards back on my bookcase, I came across my copy of Impertinent Questions and Pertinent Answers again.

The side of the box reads, "Makes the World Laugh!", which explains why it has a man with a globe for a head.

Here are some of the cards:

Yes, you could indeed play Cards Against Humanity in the 1930s.


11:51am on Saturday, 19th September, 2020:

University Education in the UK


I'm not worried about this, because education isn't actually the point of universities in the UK.


9:53am on Friday, 18th September, 2020:



Sainsbury's has a section for Polish food, as found on supermarket shelves in Poland.

Poland product marketing is somewhat different to that of the UK.

I don't know what this stuff is, but I call it "froghurt".


10:05am on Thursday, 17th September, 2020:



Two days ago, I was cycling up a hill on a bend and a cyclist came down it in the opposite direction on the wrong side of the road. I had to brake sharply; he shot past, apologising as he did so.

This morning, I was cycling up a different hill on a different bend and a different cyclist came down it in the opposite direction on the wrong side of the road. I had to brake sharply; he shot past, apologising as he did so.

This kind of minor "I know it's wrong but I think it's safe" infraction is what you get when rules are over-prescriptive. People think they can get away with being just a little naughty for their own convenience, so they get a little thrill by making petty violations. Over time, making petty violations becomes normalised. The sign may say you're not supposed to park outside the pharmacy, but you're only going in to buy some paracetamol so it's OK.

When I told my mother last week not to ride her mobility scooter until she got it fixed because the bolt connecting the steering column to the wheel assembly was loose, it wasn't merely a suggestion: more damage could have been done and the wheels could have come off. She figured that the important thing was not that more damage could have been done and the wheels could have come off, but that I would believe she had obeyed my instruction not to drive it. She drove it to the shop and back. The wheels did not come off, but more damage was done: the bolt sheared and jammed the steering mechanism. It's going to cost her an extra £80 to get a mechanic to drill out the remainder of the bolt and insert a new one. "I only went to get some milk".

Unfortunately, some of those rules that people break are there for good reason. Keeping to the correct side of the road is one example. Stopping the spread of COVID-19 is another. "I know we're not supposed to meet in groups of more than six people, but little Olivia is just a baby". Is little Olivia a person? Yes. Therefore, she counts as one of the six. If the government introduced exceptions, people would say the rules were "confusing" and ask for "clarity". When the government is completely clear and unambiguous, they break (or try to think of ways to circumvent) the rules without considering why the rules are there in the first place.

Too many nannying laws makes it hard for people to be law-abiding.

Also, people who think the government has it in for them don't feel obligated to obey laws unless they fear being caught, and entitled people don't think laws they don't like apply to them anyway.


10:20am on Wednesday, 16th September, 2020:



I've just run a virus scan using the built-in Windows 10 virus scanner. Here's the result.

When we wrote programs back in the 1970s, we took the trouble to check for agreement between numbers and nouns. If someone wrote a program that output "1 minutes", let alone "1 hours 1 minutes", they would have been mocked for it.

I don't care how many languages your software has to work in, Microsoft: how hard can it be to find the right word to match an ordinal?!


9:58am on Wednesday, 16th September, 2020:

Dondorf Again


It's bore-you-with-playing-cards time again!

This is a standard Dondorf Club Karte pattern deck but with illustrated aces representing Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. As you can see, they're quite pretty.

This was advertised on eBay as being from 1920, but its particular characteristics (6mm indeces, B. Dondorf Frankfurst A/M on the aces) only come together for the period 1924-1928. This means it's probably missing a joker.

There was a guy on Google+ who used to make really interesting posts, punctuated by almost daily photographs of hyenas. Eventually, I'd had enough of the hyenas and unfollowed him. I'm hoping that antique playing cards are not my hyenas...


8:50am on Tuesday, 15th September, 2020:



Next time BBC medical correspondent Fergus Walsh appears on The One Show from home, he might want to rethink his lighting arrangements.


11:15am on Monday, 14th September, 2020:

No Trumps


In the lead-up to the US presidential elections, even Victorian playing card accoutrements are having their say.

We have two more months of this politicking. Great.


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Copyright © 2020 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).