Saturday, April 29, 2017

Echo Look

Introducing Echo Look—everything you love about Alexa, and now she can help you look your bestUsing just your voice, easily take full-length photos and short videos with a hands-free camera that includes built-in LED lighting, depth-sensing camera, and computer vision-based background blurSee yourself from every angle with the companion app. Build a personal lookbook and share your photos.Get a second opinion on which outfit looks best with Style Check, a new service that combines machine learning algorithms with advice from fashion specialistsEcho Look helps you discover new brands and styles inspired by your lookbook
At last, an Echo product I don't feel the slightest inclination to buy.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Nobody knows

We think we know more than our ancestors, but as individuals we know less. We rely on the expertise of others, comforting ourselves with an illusion of knowledge... more »

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Singlegate alumnus

Above is the absolute screamer of a goal that Callum contributed to Chelsea's FA Youth Cup win last night. Observe that after he scores he pulls his socks up and makes the sign of the cross. What a testament to the ethos instilled at Singlegate primary school.

Exactly 10 years ago (Icons passim) I was picking him up to take him to Muay Thai with Ben and Jonnie. I remember the night well as my son and heir split his chin open in the Hendries' garden as I was assembling the troops so I had to cancel martial arts and take him to A&E at St. George's instead.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Hogarth Express

The average journey time between London Waterloo and Richmond is 32 minutes. The fastest journey time is 16 minutes. On an average weekday, there are 300 trains per day travelling from London Waterloo to Richmond. The journey time may be longer on weekends and holidays.
There was a piece in the Grauniard this week about Virginia and Leonard Woolf founding the Hogarth Press at a house in Richmond in 1917. We used to have an office a couple of doors down from Hogarth House. It is a short walk from the train station. That's probably why the scene above from The Hours always makes me cry with laughter. Virginia goes crazy missing London and missing life when she is, in truth, only about half an hour from Waterloo.

(Oh, hello. I have written about this before. Still, it never gets old.)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

statute of limitations

We only came second in the Antelope quiz last night, after winning it the week before, and were thus confined to a £25 as opposed to £50 bar tab prize.

Luckily I had found a winning voucher from January 2015 so we supped for free.

I reckon I've been going to the Antelope on Mondays for five years now. I am pretty sure that the first time I turned up was the 2012 May Bank Holiday just after getting back from the Brean Sands rugby tour with Ben.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Alexa, when does Coffee in the Wood open?

If you add your address to an Echo speaker it can bring up local information. This is the app "card" I got after asking about a nearby coffee shop.

Alex herself told me it was open and would close at five.

Pretty impressive.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Memory Play

I didn't make the gym, brunch or the beef festival yesterday, but we did get to the Glass Menagerie.

The production's official trailer is above to prompt my memory at some time in the future.
Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Time is the longest distance between two places

My brother John is up this weekend so I am queuing this post up on Friday as the schedule is busy (see Icons passim).

We are due to have been at the Old Ruts Cheese and wine evening last night.

This morning, as this post lands, I plan to have nipped out early to the gym to get half an hour's cardio in, but - of course - that might not happen.

I am recommending Tooting for brunch. Tota ( opens at 9 am. There are also various Indian and Sri Lankan options that open a bit later.

We are going to see The Glass Menagerie at a 2:30 afternoon matinee in the Duke of York's theatre; forty odd minutes up the Northern Line to Charing Cross and then a three minute walk.

There is a Beer and Cider festival at the Sultan (a pub local to my house) this weekend so we may well come back and show our noses there afterwards.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Bordering on the absurd

Russia ‘moves troops and equipment’ to North Korea border

Until I read the headline above I had not the slightest idea that Russia had a border with North Korea. Remember that next time I start boring you to death with my geopolitical insights.

Herewith the North Korea–Russia border skinny courtesy of Wikipedia. "There is one crossing on the North Korea–Russia border: the Friendship Bridge over the Tumen River". My italics.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Sinckler for detail

I watched the England Italy six nations game in the Royal Standard back in February. Due to general mystification and heated debate sparked by Italy's no-ruck tactic, everyone in the bar was talking to each other and when Kyle Sinckler came off the bench latish in the game, a Scouse bloke told us that he had been his first coach just up the road at Battersea Ironsides.

Apparently his mum brought him along (in a full Manchester United kit) thinking rugby might be more to his taste after getting complaints that - while keen on soccer - his playing style was a touch robust for the code.

He also went to school at Graveney, which is about a mile from my house, and is mentored at the Harlequins by Adam Jones.

I was delighted to see him make the New Zealand tour as a shock Lions selection yesterday.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

You're joking - not another one!

I agree with Brenda from Bristol.

British prime ministers used to be free to hold a general election whenever they felt like it - but new laws passed by David Cameron's coalition changed that.

Under the 2011 Fixed Term Parliaments Act, a general election is supposed to take place every five years on the first Thursday in May. As the most recent general election was in 2015, the next one was scheduled for May 2020.

But an election can be called ahead of schedule for two reasons - if there is a vote of no confidence in the current government, or if MPs vote for an early election by a two thirds majority.

Theresa May has chosen the second option, which would require MPs from her political party - the Conservatives - and also some MPs from opposition party Labour to vote in favour of having the election earlier than that, in this case 8 June, 2017.

Wouldn't it be great if she couldn't get two thirds of MPs votes and the government was forced to table a motion of no confidence in itself?

When will the election after next be? June 2022 or May 2020 or May 2022? Who knows? Who cares?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Not with a bang but a whimper.

North Korea Successfully Detonates Nuclear Scientist
PYONGYANG—Hailing it as a significant step forward for their ballistic weapons program just hours after suffering a failed missile launch, North Korean leaders announced Monday they had successfully detonated a nuclear scientist. “It was with great satisfaction this morning that I witnessed the detonation of a 156-pound nuclear scientist,” Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un said in a recorded statement, which appears to corroborate U.S. intelligence reports that a 0.7-magnitude tremor and large explosion had been detected at a bunker outside the city of Kusong at 9:42 a.m. local time, marking the nation’s first detonation of a major scientist since the days following a catastrophic rocket malfunction in 2012. “With this glorious achievement, our laboratories have begun to move much faster toward completing our goal of building an indomitable nuclear arsenal capable of annihilating all cowardly Western aggressors. We are prepared to detonate multiple scientists every month as a demonstration of our might and determination.” Intelligence analysts have reportedly warned top American officials to take Kim at his word, noting that the North Korean regime has already built up a stockpile of nuclear scientists’ family members it is prepared to detonate at a moment’s notice.
The Onion nails it again.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Brother Bru-Bru

Bruce Langhorne, who has died aged 78, was a guitarist, percussionist, acclaimed composer of film scores, and creator of what many consider to be the world’s finest chili sauce; he also spent five years as a macadamia nut farmer in Hawaii.

Bob Dylan was inspired to write the 1965 song Mr Tambourine Man after he saw Langhorne at a party playing a Turkish tambourine close to a metre in diameter.

Langhorne collaborated with figures such as Joan Baez and Harry Belafonte, but his most significant musical association was with Dylan: their collaboration began on the 1963 album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, and continued for a decade.

He played guitar on many of the singer’s greatest recordings, notably on every track on the 1965 album Bringing It All Back Home, including Mr Tambourine Man. He played the guitar on Knocking on Heaven’s Door, and percussion on Like a Rolling Stone.

“If you had Bruce playing with you,” Dylan wrote in his 2004 memoir, Chronicles, “that’s all you would need to do just about anything.”

Langhorne’s virtuosity as a guitarist was especially remarkable given that the thumb, index and middle fingers of his right hand were reduced to short stumps – the legacy of a ballistics experiment he had conducted at the age of 12 to test how much powdered magnesium might safely be included in a home-made mix of rocket propellant. On the morning of the explosion his mother Dorothy was downstairs in the kitchen, working on her own, less hazardous, recipes.

What a fascinating fella. I had never heard of him until I read this obituary today. Read the whole think yourself. I should pick up some of his hot sauce as a belated tribute.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The penultimate Trump

"The Last Trump" is a science fiction short story by American writer Isaac Asimov. It was first published in the June 1955 issue of Fantastic Universe and reprinted in the 1957 collection Earth Is Room Enough. Although humorous, it deals inter alia with a serious subject, calendar reform.

Plot summary
By order of the Council of Ascendants and approved of by the Chief, it is decided that the Day of Resurrection is due on Earth, despite the protestations of Etheriel, a junior Seraph with responsibility for the world. Whilst he seeks an audience with the Chief to plead for a stay of execution for "his" planet, the Last Trump is sounded, and as of January 1, 1957, time comes to a stop on Earth.

A mysterious figure known only as R. E. Mann (a pun on Ahriman, the Persian name for Satan) makes his way across the world, seeing what has happened in the Hereafter and pleased with it. All the dead are coming back to life, naked and uncaring. He meets a former professor of history who observes that the people have indeed been judged and are not in heaven but hell.

Etheriel has his meeting with the Chief and argues that the date January 1, 1957, unqualified, is meaningless and that therefore the Day of Resurrection is meaningless. The Chief agrees and declares that it will come only when all the peoples of the Earth agree on a common date (which, given the wide variety of cultures on Earth, is extremely unlikely to ever occur). The world is instantly restored to normality.

R. E. Mann, frustrated in his endeavours, plans to promote the adoption of a new calendar system, based on the Atomic Era, to begin on December 2, 1944.
So now you know.