Friday, February 27, 2015

the death of affect

I finally caught up with the first episode of Reginald D Hunter's Songs of the South (passim) which has introduced me the extraordinary murder balled "The Knoxville Girl."

The narrator meets a girl in Knoxville and spends every Sunday evening at her house. One day, they go for walk and, the next thing you know, he's at her with a makeshift club. She begs for her life, but he ignores her pleas, continues the beating even more viciously, and doesn't stop till the ground is awash with her blood. He dumps her dead body in the river, then returns home, fending off his mother's queries about his stained clothes by insisting he's had a nosebleed. After a tortured night, he's thrown in jail for life. His last words before the music fades out are to assure us that he really did love her.

Pondering this, I was wondering if the motiveless serial killer might turn out to be one of the USA's main contributions to the world's culture and mythology.

But hold on, according to Wikipedia:
It is derived from the 19th-century Irish ballad The Wexford Girl, itself derived from the earlier English ballad "The Oxford Girl". Other versions are known as the "Waxweed Girl", "The Wexford Murder". These are in turn derived from Elizabethan era poem or broadside ballad, "The Cruel Miller".
I guess the hillbillies are off the hook.

Prodnose: What's the matter, boy? I bet you can squeal. I bet you can squeal like a pig. Let's squeal. Squeal now. Squeal.
Myself: Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

'Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow'

In 1996, in response to the 1992 Russo-American moratorium on nuclear testing, the US government started a programme called the Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative. The suspension of testing had created a need to be able to run complex computer simulations of how old weapons were ageing, for safety reasons, and also – it’s a dangerous world out there! – to design new weapons without breaching the terms of the moratorium. To do that, ASCI needed more computing power than could be delivered by any existing machine. Its response was to commission a computer called ASCI Red, designed to be the first supercomputer to process more than one teraflop. A ‘flop’ is a floating point operation, i.e. a calculation involving numbers which include decimal points (these are computationally much more demanding than calculations involving binary ones and zeros). A teraflop is a trillion such calculations per second. Once Red was up and running at full speed, by 1997, it really was a specimen. Its power was such that it could process 1.8 teraflops. That’s 18 followed by 11 zeros. Red continued to be the most powerful supercomputer in the world until about the end of 2000.
I was playing on Red only yesterday – I wasn’t really, but I did have a go on a machine that can process 1.8 teraflops. This Red equivalent is called the PS3: it was launched by Sony in 2005 and went on sale in 2006. Red was only a little smaller than a tennis court, used as much electricity as eight hundred houses, and cost $55 million. The PS3 fits underneath a television, runs off a normal power socket, and you can buy one for under two hundred quid. Within a decade, a computer able to process 1.8 teraflops went from being something that could only be made by the world’s richest government for purposes at the furthest reaches of computational possibility, to something a teenager could reasonably expect to find under the Christmas tree.
The Raspberry Pi is a credit card-sized computer that sells for about thirty quid. We have got one in the office (see Icons passim).

Earlier this month the Raspberry Pi Foundation announced the retail availability of their new board, the Raspberry Pi 2; a vastly improved spec for the same price, and on the same day Microsoft announced that they would support it with a free version of Windows 10.

Windows RT was a flop and the Pi is powered by ARM not Intel, but this does offer the promise of a £30 PC later this year when the next version of Windows comes out.

(Disclaimer: as of this morning our shares in ARM had gone up 245% since we bought them.)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Bikram Choudhury is a yoga instructor and the founder of the Bikram yoga method, a wildly popular form of the practice that involves students working through 26 poses in a room that’s heated to 105 degrees. He has also been dogged by allegations of sexual assault and inappropriate conduct for years, with some cases originating at the flashy, self-styled guru’s teacher trainings.
A number of those lawsuits are coming to a head, as the plaintiff in a sixth civil suit alleges that Choudhury raped her during a 2010 training. Another case, regarding a separate alleged rape during a training that same year, is also moving forward, according to The New York Times.
According to my training records I have been to 313 yoga classes since I started. At the moment I get a five sessions a month subscription at Bikram Yoga Wimbledon and generally go at 8 am on Saturday. I stayed in bed and didn't make it last week, and tried and failed to get up early for it again yesterday and now this morning. This means I have to get there three times by the end of Tuesday to get my money's worth. I wonder if there is a psychological element to this with all the controversy that is lapping around? I also suspect Wimbledon is moving away from the method's strict brand. They have started a one hour class; a move that was previously a no-no as Bikram insists on a standard 90 minute set of asanas that should be the same in any hot studio anywhere in the world.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Wearable tomato project

Training for a marathon? Shigenori Suzuki thinks you need more tomatoes in your system. That's why, in anticipation of yesterday's Tokyo Marathon, the 38-year-old Kagome Co. (a tomato and tomato-based product manufacturer and distributor) employee devised the Tomatan, a handsfree wearable device that sits on your shoulders and feeds you tomatoes at the flick of a switch. "Tomatoes is great for sports," Suzuki explains in a poorly-captioned video on his new technology. "If we would eat tomatoes every day, the lycopene levels in our bodies increases, increases antioxidant power, and helps us to maintain our physical condition healthy [sic]." With the ability to carry up to seven medium-sized tomatoes, this is one wearable you don't wanna be caught running without.
Dr Strabismus (whom God preserve) of Utrecht has been dating a girl with a lazy eye, but they have broken up because she was seeing someone on the side.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Arms Park

The Ruts end of season tour is firming up, we have managed to persuade Cardiff Arms Park to allow us to hire their pitch on Saturday 25th April. Cowbridge have confirmed that they will play us on this hallowed ground.

For the Sunday 26th fixture we are in the middle of organising a double header against two local Cardiff teams, Rhiwbina and Llandaff. Both are keen, just firming up final details.

Current provisional itinerary (though I am hoping that we can make the Blues Ospreys game on Saturday afternoon):

6.30pm Meet at the Club (eat pasta dinner)
7.00pm Coach leaves
9.30pm Nos Da Hostel (eat pizza)

10.30am Cardiff Arms Park V. Cowbridge
13.30pm Cowbridge for food (and a pint)
15.00pm Barry Island Pleasure Park
18.00pm Eat out in Cardiff

10.00am Triangular tournament with Rhiwbina and Llandaff (details TBC)
16.00pm Arrive back at Poplar Road

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Songs of the South

In 1997 Reginald D Hunter swapped Georgia for London, in this three-part music documentary series Reg returns to his homeland to explore its rich musical heritage and sample the new South, a world he left behind with mixed feelings. Reg’s adventure is tempered by original and thought-provoking ruminations on the southern issues of race, pride and identity. A beautiful, original and hot evocation of the cradle of American music.
I stumbled on the last five minutes or so of episode 1 of this series last night after the Bomber had gone to bed. I will try and watch the whole thing on the iPlayer today. On the BBC yesterday the continuity announcer said we could explore the music from the show with BBC Music Playlister on
Reginald D Hunter's Songs of the South playlist.

I had never heard of the BBC Music Playlister up until then, but it does seem to integrate with Spotify. I wonder if I can cherry pick a few tunes to add to my Route 55 list?

Saturday, February 21, 2015


The Bomber is due back from the school's half term Ski Trip to Sansicario, Italy around lunchtime today. I first took him on Bondy's annual trip in 2008, so he's been eight times. Skiing half his life; amazing.

I am off with Dave et al in a fortnight. I have been skiing three quarters of my life; amazing.

Friday, February 20, 2015


Ashdown Sales Ltd are your trusted local professional glaziers and stained glass specialists. We have a well established reputation all over Cardiff as a small business that nonetheless supplies the highest quality stained and regular glass products. Coupled with excellent standards of customer interaction and it's clearly evidents why we're everyone's first stop for glass and glazing services. Need a consultation or advice on any aspect of stained glass windows? Give us a call and we'd be happy to help - free of charge.

Originally founded in 1889, our business is famous locally not only for our longevity but the extraordinary attention to detail we go to on every job we undertake. Our highly qualified and skilled glaziers are more than happy to pay you a visit at home to measure up and start designing your glass installation. This service is offered free of charge and without obligation to all of our customers no matter the size of the job.

159 Cowbridge Road East, Cardiff, South Glamorgan, CF11 9AH
Cardiff: 02920 221573

I tried calling mum yesterday with this information, but I couldn't raise her. This is as good a place to stow it in the meantime.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Geraint Watkins

Watkins was born in Abertridwr, near Caerphilly, Wales.
The 1980s and beyond found Watkins playing accordion and piano with The Balham Alligators, a band that has helped to keep the music of Louisiana alive in London's pubs, of which he is a founding member.
After time in the early 1970s at Portsmouth Art College, he returned to Cardiff and played with Red Beans And Rice and Juice on the Loose. The band, Red Beans And Rice, attracted attention and moved to London to further their career. When they disbanded Watkins played solo performances in London's pubs and with various bands, such as Southside United (with which he recorded an album), the Cable Layers, Klondike Pete and the Huskies, the band of Southend's, Micky Jupp on the 'Be Stiff Route 78' tour. He went on to record an album, Geraint Watkins & The Dominators (1979), produced by Andy Fairweather Low. Session work followed: recording and/or performing with Dr. Feelgood, Rory Gallagher, Andy Fairweather-Low, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, The Blues Band, Box of Frogs, The Stray Cats, Carl Perkins and Eric Clapton amongst others.
Route 55 now has a patron saint as well as an anthem. A new Welsh Born Icon is also inducted.

Easy to say "Bon temps rouler."


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Why go out?

AWS: Today we are making Windows on EC2 even more powerful by giving you the ability to seamlessly join EC2 instances to a domain that you have configured with AWS Directory Service. After you configure this new feature using the AWS Management Console, the EC2 API, or the AWS Tools for Windows PowerShell you can choose which domain a new instance will join when it launches. You can also seamlessly join existing instances to a domain.

Prodnose: Whatever floats your boat.

Myself: After you have joined your EC2 instances to a domain, you can use Domain Administrator credentials to access the instances via RDP (the generated local administrator password can still be used).

Sheila Heti: I wonder why I am up here on this stage when I’d rather be at home, when being at home would be so much more comforting.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Power of the Pickleback

The Wall Street Journal Feb 28 2013:
FEW DRINKS INSPIRE skepticism quite like the pickleback, the cult Americana-inspired whiskey shot whose signature ingredient can be a deterrent to the uninitiated.
The drink—a slug of whiskey followed by a bracing chaser shot of pickle brine, poured straight from the jar—has gained popularity in the U.S. in recent years as a novel way of making mediocre liquors more palatable.
Now the dive-bar staple is catching on across the Atlantic, with curious tipplers won over by the alchemy that occurs the moment the sweet and sour brine extinguishes the burn of the whiskey, leaving an unexpectedly meaty savor on the palate.
Rather than the anticipated two shots of pain, the drinker experiences something more like a liquid Big Mac.
"The pickle juice acts a natural reset to your throat and taste buds from the harshness of the whiskey," explains Jamie Berger, co-founder of London's Pitt Cue Co. barbecue restaurant, where the drink is the house specialty. To best experience the pickleback, he says, it should be made with "as rough a whiskey as possible."
Mr. Berger claims to have sold Britain's first commercially served picklebacks in 2011, from the Southbank food truck that was the restaurant's predecessor. Word quickly got out, aided in no small part by the drink's novelty. "People would come up and say, 'We want five picklebacks. What are they?' "
I am pretty sure (Icons passsim) that I got my copy of Pitt Cue Co. - The Cookbook before John, but he seems to have drunk more deeply from that particular well than I have. Thus, though I have flirted with the notion of brine and booze in the past (further Icons passim) I got my first real introduction to the wonder of the pickleback at his house last weekend. We need to get to the Pitt Cue Co in Soho next time he is up for the weekend. Saturday at noon at worked well for the Lockhart; we should do the same again for the BBQ joint.

In a not unrelated development, I have also finally worked out how to access JC's Nights of Drink and Dance playlist on Spotify.

It's name however is giving me a disturbing image of him dancing round his crib in his pants à la Tom Cruise in Risky Business. Shudder along below:

an audience with ..

Although I saw Wales squeak past Scotland by 26 to 23 in the Six Nations yesterday on my Jack Jones, I had already watched the England Italy game at Mum and Dad's in Cardiff on Saturday with my brother Vince and nephew Isaac, and after that drove down the M4 to Skewen to catch up with my brother John and nieces Mia and Jasmine as well as Ireland v France.

I don't get to visit family in Wales as often as I should, which is why it is good to see that the Ruts have organised a fixture against Cowbridge at 11 a.m. on 25 April as part of the end of season tour. That is near enough for any grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins of the Bomber to make it along to see him play if they fancy it.

Post Script: Oh hello, Dan Fish got a try for Wales against New Zealand in the sevens tournament in Vegas over the weekend.

Sunday, February 15, 2015


I am back in London in time to watch the Scotland Wales game. It will be on my lonesome at my gaff I am afraid, as all the locals (boozers and people alike) will be focussed on Arsenal in the FA Cup.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine

I'm out of town, and the Bomber is skiing in Italy with the school. In our absence I suggest listen to Time Out's 50 best love songs playlist on Spotify, you hopeless romantics.

Friday, February 13, 2015

This is now officially a thing

John, my brother managed to follow me and my Route 55 playlist on Spotify last night. I managed to follow him but drew a blank on his playlist. This one will run and run.

Playlists made me think of 2011 when I was reading Keith Richards' Life (Icons passim). I didn't really get that far with it. Not because it wasn't good - it was - but I was overwhelmed by all the music he name-checked and kept breaking off to listen to it. I thought last night what a great thing a curated list of all the tracks the book mentions in the order they are mentioned would be and - lo and behold - I fond one. It is embedded below.

This in turn led me to wonder about an audio book version and I found Life (Unabridged) [Audio Download] by Keith Richards (Author, Narrator), Johnny Depp (Narrator), Joe Hurley (Narrator). It won two 2011 Audie Awards – Audiobook of the Year and Best Biography/Memoir on 24 May 2011. Additionally, the audiobook Life was voted Amazon's No. 1 Audiobook of the Year for 2010.

Now that is an interesting proposition. I could get in from work, pour a couple of fingers of bourbon over ice, put my acoustic on my knee, kick back, start off the audio book and then switch to Spotify after any track is described.