Friday, January 30, 2009

John Crane

I got a text from Ollie yesterday to say that her father had died so I went round to pay my respects.

I had to visit because after gazing at my phone for a while I realised that crafting an SMS message equal to the gravitas of the occasion was beyond me. It will probably seem natural to our children.

Dr John Crane of Arsenal and England had a full and stimulating life, and struck me as a good egg the few times I met him.

Rest in peace.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

a barrage of abuse

The Government wants to exploit the Severn bore.

Surfies want to surf it.

I was born close to it, but I've never seen it and never even heard of it until comparatively recently.

At least the barrage might discourage immortal jellyfish.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

two and eight

Internet Explorer 8 RC 1 available for download now!

There was a time I would have been all over this like a cheap suit. In 2009 (as with Windows 7) I couldn't give a monkey's.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Sweeney

"Get your trousers on, you're nicked"
"Shut it!"
"We're the Sweeney, son, and we've haven't had any dinner yet, so unless you want a kickin'..."
"Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven!"

Monday, January 26, 2009


After yesterday, shut up already. As everyone seeks more and broader connectivity, the still, small voice speaks only in silence.

What does the contemporary self want? The camera has created a culture of celebrity; the computer is creating a culture of connectivity. As the two technologies converge — broadband tipping the Web from text to image, social-networking sites spreading the mesh of interconnection ever wider — the two cultures betray a common impulse. Celebrity and connectivity are both ways of becoming known. This is what the contemporary self wants. It wants to be recognized, wants to be connected: It wants to be visible. If not to the millions, on Survivor or Oprah, then to the hundreds, on Twitter or Facebook. This is the quality that validates us, this is how we become real to ourselves — by being seen by others. The great contemporary terror is anonymity. If Lionel Trilling was right, if the property that grounded the self, in Romanticism, was sincerity, and in modernism it was authenticity, then in postmodernism it is visibility.

,,,,,,,, read on ........

Sunday, January 25, 2009

the great aeropagus

Here, from the White House Blog, in his first weekly YouTube video address since being sworn in as the 44th president of the United States, President Barack Obama discusses how the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan will jump-start the economy.

I haven't watched it all the way through (which maybe reflects the value of the exercise), but it is astounding the think how quickly blogs and inline video have gone mainstream. I remember feeling eccentric when I was first fiddling about with them.

All this in the same week as Benedict XVI has used the Vatican YouTube channel to tell us that the internet is a new way to speak of God.

It's all very intriguing though - to my mind - curiously reminiscent of the tendency of super villains in Batman to announce their nefarious schemes by taking over all the channels of all the screens in Gotham simultaneously.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

By Royal Appointment

I made my own mayonnaise for the first time this week; whizzing it up in my mini chopper was no trouble at all to my surprise.

After it had lurked in the fridge for a couple of days, I improvised a coronation chicken (which was actually created for the Queen in 1953).
Coronation Chicken was invented for the foreign guests who were to be entertained after the Coronation. The food had to be prepared in advance, and Constance Spry, who also helped with floral arrangements on the day, proposed a recipe of cold chicken in a curry cream sauce with a well-seasoned dressed salad of rice, green peas and mixed herbs. Constance Spry's recipe won the approval of the Minister of Works and has since been known as Coronation Chicken.
I love the detail of Ministerial Approval.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Millions of middle-class drinkers putting health at risk with evening tipple

This suggests they do not believe they are drinking too much and that simply having a large glass or two of wine each evening is an acceptable way to unwind after a stressful day at work.
I bet history will prove the millions right and the Cassandras wrong.

I also drink to Obama who - I wager - might agree over a ciggie and a sharpener at the end of a hard day.

Prodnose: Tobacco, booze and now gambling?
Myself: I may be drunk but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


A new application has been launched for the iPod touch to help gun users line up a clean shot at their target.

The BulletFlight app, which costs £6.99 to download from the iTunes store, has been developed by Runaway App to turn the iPod touch into a ballistics computer which the company says can provide “quick solutions in the field”.

Users can mount their iPod touch to their rifle, and then use the iPod’s touch-screen to tap in details about the wind conditions, ammunition type, distance to the intended target and even the wind speed.
BulletFlight is not the first shooting application for the iPhone and iPod touch – that honour goes to iSnipe – but it’s the latest in a long line of unusal apps for the devices, which have included simulated beer-pouring, a fart machine, and even “breathalysers”.

Srabismus software?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Smoke and fire

I don't smoke. I never have and I guess I never will, but I don't smoke in the same sort of way that I don't play backgammon.I never got around to learning and don't really fancy it.

I don't confuse tobacco with a moral issue, and I'm disinterestedly appalled by the self-righteous wrath visited on smokers these days.

All of which may go some way to explaining why I find it strangely reassuring that Barack Obama still sparks up occasionally.

Long may he continue to cadge the odd Woodbine and step out of the Oval Office for a crafty snout. It helps me to think of him as a human being rather than a dry and humourless, health-guideline-issuing scold.

So, along with the rest of the world, but in my own idiosyncratic way, I wish him well as the new era dawns.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

wherewith the Tragedy

I read ceasefire, and I think:
Samson made Captive, Blind, and now in the Prison at Gaza, there to labour as in a common work-house, on a Festival day, in the general cessation from labour, comes forth into the open Air, to a place nigh, somewhat retir'd there to sit a while and bemoan his condition. Where he happens at length to be visited by certain friends and equals of his tribe, which make the Chorus, who seek to comfort him what they can; then by his old Father Manoa, who endeavours the like, and withal tells him his purpose to procure his liberty by ransom; lastly, that this Feast was proclaim'd by the Philistins as a day of Thanksgiving for thir deliverance from the hands of Samson, which yet more troubles him. Manoa then departs to prosecute his endeavour with the Philistian Lords for Samson's redemption; who in the mean while is visited by other persons; and lastly by a publick Officer to require his coming to the Feast before the Lords and People, to play or shew his strength in thir presence; he at first refuses, dismissing the publick Officer with absolute denyal to come; at length perswaded inwardly that this was from God, he yields to go along with him, who came now the second time with great threatnings to fetch him; the Chorus yet remaining on the place, Manoa returns full of joyful hope, to procure e're long his Sons deliverance: in the midst of which discourse an Ebrew comes in haste confusedly at first; and afterward more distinctly relating the Catastrophe, what Samson had done to the Philistins, and by accident to himself; wherewith the Tragedy ends.
Then I read things like this and I wonder. Literature; a consolation, an analgesic, a lesson, a warning, a refuge, or a coward's bolt hole? Inevitably, stage left, "The Second Coming" swings into view, reduced by my Olympian detachment to a stream of bathetic cliches:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
I can quote Milton and and Yeats while children burn in phosphorus. Clever old me.

Monday, January 19, 2009


The bomber had a friend staying over the weekend, so more than two years later I applied myself to cooking perfect chips a la Heston Blumenthal.

They were a brilliant success beyond compare and I basked in the adoration of my eight year old critics.

I cooked from the recipe in my copy of Family Food: A New Approach to Cooking.

I've dug it up in The Times as well.

Check it out. Cooking three times and cooling in the fridge twice seems a lot of effort, but it doesn't really eat up a lot of the day if you are around the house.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Expert Sex Change

'Who Represents' is where you can find the name of the agent that represents any celebrity. Their Web site is:

'Experts Exchange' is a knowledge base where programmers can exchange advice and views at:

Looking for a great pen? Look no further than 'Pen Island'. It can be found at:

Need a therapist? Try 'Therapist Finder' at:

Then there's the 'Italian Power Generator' company. Check it out at:

Hat tip, my brother John.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

How was your week?

In work, the following lines have been much on my mind:
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
At least I'm getting to the gym, but the time in the office can't be doing my cortisol levels any good. I hope a weekend with the bomber will improve my mood.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Lunar Society

Though nary a mention of it appeared here, I recently read Enlightenment: Britain and the Creation of the Modern World (Allen Lane History)

I found the British philisophes of the 18th century rather congenial so - as a glancing reference to my trip to Birmingham yesterday - I offer you the Lunar Society.

As does Melvyn:
In the late 18th century, with the ascendant British Empire centred on London, a small group of friends met at a house on the crossroads outside Birmingham and applied their minds to the problems of the age. Between them they managed to launch the Industrial Revolution, discover oxygen, harness the power of steam and pioneer the theory of evolution. They were the Lunar Society, a gathering of free and fertile minds centred on the remarkable quartet of Matthew Boulton, James Watt, Joseph Priestly and Erasmus Darwin. The potter Josiah Wedgwood, another member, summed up the ethos of this group when he said that they were ‘living in an age of miracles in which anything could be achieved’.

But how did the Lunar Society operate? What was the blend of religious dissent, entrepreneurial spirit and intellectual adventure that proved so fertile and how did their discoveries permanently change the shape and character of this country?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Never say Dai

Seducer of the Valleys dies after riotous life of wine and women.

David St Vincent "Dai" Llewellyn, 4th Baronet Llwellyn (2 April 1946 – 13 January 2009) was a Welsh socialite. He was born in Aberdare the son of 1952 Summer Olympics gold medallist showjumper Sir Harry Llewellyn, 3rd Baronet.

He grew up at Llanvihangel Gobion Manor near Abergavenny and was educated at Hawtreys Preparatory School and Eton College. He then attended Aix-en-Provence University in Southern France and worked as a travel agent, male model and as the social secretary of the Clermont Club.

A Welsh Born Icon

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Kru Johnny told me at his last lesson that the bomber needed to get a "cup" to protect his nether regions now that he is sparring more. I went to JD Sports and checked out the boxing and cricket gear but to no avail.

Then - deciding that online was the answer - I went to Amazon and ordered up a Blitz Sport Male Groin Guard Standard (X-Small).

What makes me laugh is that I went to Amazon and searched within its sandbox, because I was too nervous about what Google might return if I crafted a search around "boy" and "groin".

Think tank slams paedophile paranoia culture indeed.

Monday, January 12, 2009


The suffix -stān (spelled ـستان in the Perso-Arabic script) is Persian for "place of", derived from the Indo-Aryan equivalent, -sthāna (स्थान in the Devanāgarī script), a cognate Sanskrit suffix with a similar meaning. In Indo-Aryan languages, sthāna is also used as a word to mean "place". Those countries, mostly Central Asian, whose names end in -stan are informally called the Stans.


  1. Afghanistan - Afghans
  2. Kazakhstan - Kazakhs
  3. Uzbekistan - Uzbeks
  4. Pakistan - Prince Harry 'Paki' row: 'He has to learn a painful lesson'

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Time is a funny thing. Time is a very peculiar item. You see when you're young, you're a kid, you got time, you got nothing but time. Throw away a couple of years, a couple of years there... it doesn't matter. You know. The older you get you say, "Jesus, how much I got? I got thirty-five summers left." Think about it. Thirty-five summers.
All I seem to do it work lately, so I have got no time to play with the likes of he Web-based AWS Management Console, which in this first release provides management of your Amazon EC2 environment via a point-and-click interface.

Play with!
God help us. Bring on Douglas Adams' Total Perspective Vortex:
Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love's day;
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the Flood;
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow.
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.

But at my back I always hear
Time's winged chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long preserv'd virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust.
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none I think do there embrace.

Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may;
And now, like am'rous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour,
Than languish in his slow-chapp'd power.
Let us roll all our strength, and all
Our sweetness, up into one ball;
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life.
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Friday, January 09, 2009


Microsoft begins Windows 7 push and the world yawns.

Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Here, God help us, is the Israeli Defence Force's YouTube channel. I couldn't believe my ears when I heard a spokesman refer to it on the radio.

"Hamas Militants and Weapons in Urban Gaza Hit by Israel Air Force 6 Jan. 2009." Words fail me.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Books and Bookmen

When I was queuing in Tesco Express yesterday I noticed (due to its distinctive cover) one of the staff lending a mate - who looked like he was going off shift - the book above.

I thought it was esoteric fayre when I blogged from it last month; fun to be proved wrong.

Monday, January 05, 2009

The evil of banality

Stephen Fry (stephenfry) is now following your updates on Twitter.

Check out Stephen Fry's profile here:


..says my inbox, but I STILL DON'T GET IT!

Twitter reveals mundane lifestyles of celebrities, says the Telegraph this morning.

Quite so. I must be getting old.

Sunday, January 04, 2009


A student from Ayrshire was left in a state of shock when his online banking statement showed him to be overdrawn by almost £100bn.

Donald Moffat, 38, from Irvine, said that on Tuesday morning his Barclays account was showing two separate withdrawals of £50bn.

Two separate withdrawals of £50bn is more than twice as funny as one of £100bn.

Eat your heart out Bernard Madoff.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

No Trumpets Needed

As ordnance flies back and forth between Israel and Gaza, I'm reminded of an optimistic story by Michael Morpurgo in Riptide 2. Human nature scrubs up a lot nicer in fiction than in life too often.

The tale's called "No Trumpets Needed". You can read in here in Google Book Search.

I'm intrigued by Google Book Search, of which I know practically nothing.

Friday, January 02, 2009

The Killers

If I was to edit "The Essential Ernest Hemingway" it would be a very slim volume. That said, I can't deny that "The Killers" is a great story. Apropos of nothing it also struck me over the weekend how similar the set up is to "Dancing Dan's Christmas". One can almost imagine them both being handed in for the same creative writing assignment, which just goes to show something or other:
The door of Henry’s lunchroom opened and two men came in. They sat down at the counter.

“What’s yours?” George asked them.

“I don’t know,” one of the men said. “What do you want to eat, Al?”

“I don’t know,” said Al. “I don’t know what I want to eat.”

Outside it was getting dark. The streetlight came on outside the window. The two men at the counter read the menu. From the other end of the counter Nick Adams watched them. He had been talking to George when they came in.

“I’ll have a roast pork tenderloin with apple sauce and mashed potatoes,” the first man said.

“It isn’t ready yet.”

“What the hell do you put it on the card for?”

“That’s the dinner,” George explained. “You can get that at six o’clock.”

George looked at the clock on the wall behind the counter.

“It’s five o’clock.”

“The clock says twenty minutes past five,” the second man said.

“It’s twenty minutes fast.”

..... read on .....

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Annual Report

I'm nine pounds lighter this morning than I was on January 1, 2008. My weight seems to vary quite a lot from day to day; I've been as little as 13 st 2 and as much as 13 st 7 this week, but I am consistently less than last year.

Nothing dramatic but better than getting fatter.