The Worldwide Weblog of Donald Pincher

Blogged prose fiction by Joshua Gaskell


I am the WEBMASTER, and it is I that will be presenting to you, READER, the private journal of Donald Pincher, aspiring author. How I came to be possessed of it is no concern of yours. And in any case, if I did go about to tell you by what accident I obtained covert access to the file, it would in this unbelieving age pass for little more than the cant or jargon of the blogosphere. Suffice to say that he types Journal.doc on his computer (Windows ME) and, in his careless cyber-luddism, has left open a pathway vulnerable to exploitation by those of us who know the ways of data capture.
Pincher is a pious, small-c-conservative young fogey of the leftmost wing. He lives unfashionably in the London district of Forest Hill SE23, and devotes his life to writing entries in his Oxford Urban Dictionary, trying to find someone willing to publish his novel – five-hundred pages of relentless socialist manifesto masquerading as literature – and to being fruitlessly apoplectic about the price of things in the capital. A privacy obsessive, much of his novel consists of (in equal measure) decrying the dangers of the internet age, and mocking its pretentions. Which is why I thought it would be funny for him to write his own blog, even if it is one that he doesn’t know he’s writing.
Though the automatic-upload macro I’ve attached to Pincher’s journal makes me something of a deistical Prime Mover, I will occasionally deign to intervene in ‘the cool of the day’ (to footnote, to hyperlink, to tag, or otherwise curate). To this end you will know me by my dark-blue font.
Without further ado, I present to you what I’ve chosen to dub, in the idiom of its unwitting BLOGGER, The Worldwide Weblog of Donald Pincher

Sunday, 19th October 2014

I remember hearing years ago that on any Wikipedia article, if one clicks on the first link and then repeats the process as many times as it takes, one will almost always end up on the entry for Philosophy. The idea is that this phenomenon is consonant with philosophy’s status in the groves of Academe, its broad literal meaning (‘love of knowledge’), and the fact that, no matter the subject, a PhD is a doctorate of philosophy: all roads lead to Rome, but all hyperlinks lead to Athens.

To while away the lonely nights, I’ve devised a similar but more involved game to play on the OED website. Rather than trying to get from the most specific to the most general, I try to get from one word to its opposite. Each new word in the chain is used synonymously in the definition of the previous word. For example,

OED: Getting to the Opposite #1 (Good to Bad)

  1. Good: ‘Having in adequate degree those properties which a thing of the kind ought to have’
  2. Adequate: ‘acceptable in quality or quantity’
  3. Acceptable: ‘Tolerable or allowable’
  4. Tolerable: ‘of middling quality, mediocre, passable’
  5. Mediocre: ‘indifferent, of poor quality, second-rate
  6. Second-rate: ‘A person or thing of inferior class’
  7. Inferior: ‘comparatively bad

The theoretical justification for this game would doubtless have something to do with synthesis and the signifier (all words are contronyms!); but not being one who seeks the truth among the groves of Academus, I just play it for kicks.

Saturday, 18th October 2014

I have the year’s first cold; and, like an infant swimmer, all the water I swallow finds its way out through my nose, leaving me disorientated and block-nostrilled.

Friday, 17th October 2014

A non-illegal way to make people feel uncomfortable on the tube. For this exercise you will need: one mobile phone and one book. N.B. As per Sunday’s entry this will only work on an above-ground section of the network.

  1. Arrange to be sent a series of texts and/or emails.
  2. Get on the tube and start reading your book.
  3. Ignore all bells and whistles coming from your phone; remain engrossed in your book.

This will make your fellow passengers think you are a weirdo and a pariah, much worse than a sex pest.

Thursday, 16th October 2014

UKIP gets a lot of mileage out of promoting and apparently standing up for British history. Of course our history inevitably informs and affects the present, so the question is in what way should it do so? One approach to this would be a sort of differential calculus: historians could take a single day in British history – 3rd April 1964, say – and analyse it in terms of the racial profile of the population, the time in Parliament given over to discussing legislation originating with the European Economic Community, and other such matters. The same could be done for 16th October 2014. There would then be two options of what to do with the snapshots, and when assessing UKIP the electorate must choose between them.

A differential calculus ‘treats of the infinitesimal differences between consecutive values of continuously varying quantities, and of their rates of change as measured by such differences’ (OED). UKIP would have us focus on the first half of that definition: the differences between 1964 and 2014, and the way quantities have varied between them. The other option is to focus on the second half: rates of change as measured by such differences. In other words, can continuity and Britishness be found in a stable set of values or a stable direction of travel?

Wednesday, 15th October 2014

In last week’s episode of The Media Show, Steve Hewlett made the interesting suggestion that the services provided by companies like Google could now (or soon) be described as utilities – ‘regarded as essential to the community’ (OED) – because of how seemingly indispensible they are for businesses and communication.

In March I reflected on the case of public utilities that were privately owned, and then nationalised during and after the Second World War. One might infer from this that in the event of a third world war, Google would be the kind of company that the American government would be compelled to nationalise, on account of how much power doing so would grant them.


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