Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Flannery O'Connor

O'Connor described herself as a "pigeon-toed child with a receding chin and a you-leave-me-alone-or-I'll-bite-you complex." When O'Connor was six she taught a chicken to walk backwards, and it was this that led to her first experience of being a celebrity. The Pathé News people filmed "Little Mary O'Connor" with her trained chicken, and showed the film around the country. She said, "When I was six I had a chicken that walked backward and was in the Pathe News. I was in it too with the chicken. I was just there to assist the chicken but it was the high point in my life. Everything since has been anticlimax.”

O'Connor's reaction to Langkjaer's abrupt departure from her life—the writer's inspired revenge on her erstwhile "material"—can be gauged by the brilliantly acidulous short story "Good Country People," clearly modeled after O'Connor's thwarted romance, in which a crudely manipulative Bible salesman kisses the one-legged philosophy Ph.D. Joy/Hulga prior to running off with her wooden leg.

American Southern Gothic Catholicisim; what's not to like?

Monday, March 30, 2009

I Maxxed Out

The 3-D animated event Monsters vs. Aliens opened in first place, as expected, with a super-solid $58.2 million gross, according to Sunday's estimates from Media by Numbers.

Assuming that early figure holds, DreamWorks Animation's movie garnered the year's biggest debut so far, besting Watchmen's $55.2 mil.

I took the Bomber to see the 3D IMAX version of Monsters vs Aliens over the weekend, and I've seen the certificate 18 Watchmen on IMAX without him.

Neither is a great film, but given these figures maybe the age of the IMAX event movie is at hand.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

We'll aways have Paris Hilton

Frankly, there's never been a better time to have nothing interesting to say.

Marina Hyde on the debased coinage of celebrity made me laugh yesterday.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Albert Einstein's old school marriage contract follows. I particularly admire B. The two clauses taken together seem preclude everything.

A. You will make sure
- that my clothes and laundry are kept in good order;
- that I will receive my three meals regularly in my room;
- that my bedroom and study are kept neat, and especially that my desk is left for my use only.

B. You will renounce all personal relations with me insofar as they are not completely necessary for social reasons. Specifically, you will forego
- my sitting at home with you;
- my going out or traveling with you.

C. You will obey the following points in your relations with me:
- you will not expect any intimacy from me, nor will you reproach me in any way;
- you will stop talking to me if I request it;
- you will leave my bedroom or study immediately without protest if I request it.

D. You will undertake not to belittle me in front of our children, either through words or behavior.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Kirk Reid

A serial sex attacker who targeted lone women in south London over a six-year period has been found guilty of rape and sexual assault.

Kirk Reid, 44, of Colliers Wood, was convicted of two rapes and 24 sexual assaults but police believe he was behind at least 71 attacks on women.

He targeted women late at night in the Balham, Clapham and Tooting areas.

Another charmer for the Colliers Wood hall of fame. Another exhibit. How do you like these three?

...to be continued.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Intimations of limitations

“If you think IT is the solution to your problem, then you don’t understand IT, and you don’t understand your problem either.”

I think this report is wise and important.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Muay Thai Abbey Mills

Kids muay Thai lessons will be at the Colour House Theatre in Merton Abbey Mills 6pm until 7pm Monday and Thursday until further notice.

Do you remember that Woytek gave Ben a lesson at the end of 1996? He is fighting in Thailand now. If you are on Facebook, you can see him administer a knock out here.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Who Watches the Mr Men

I still haven't got round to Watchmen even though I can see it in IMAX in Wimbledon. In the meantime, this is genius. Hat tip Simon B.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ain't it grand

A wonderful, wonderful match with a climax as good as any in Six Nations history. The upshot of it all is that Ireland are Grand Slam champions, 61 years of longing ended with a performance of courage and composure. Ronan O’Gara scored the winning points with a drop goal, but this was a magnificent team effort.

No doubt the twists and turns of this extraordinary encounter will grow in the telling, but it will be difficult to exaggerate the exuberance of the scenes at the end as Brian O’Driscoll went up to claim the spoils.

Wales did their bit. They were brave and resolute and they got very, very close to upsetting Ireland, but they were unable to shunt destiny aside.

Ah well. There was last year, and there's always next year.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The New Winter Bomber

Ben in Austria last week, adding skiing to parkour and muay Thai. I used to worry that maybe I might be pushing him to do things, but Gordon advised me as follows; "if he shows enthusiasm, encourage him". So that is what I try to do.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Decorative rather than useful

Jerry Jalava has built a special prosthetic finger which contains computer storage for photos, movies and other useful files.

While the prosthetic looks like a normal finger Jerry can peel it back from the 'nail' and plug it into the USB slot on his computer using it as an additional hard drive.

The finger is not permanently attached to his hand meaning it can be removed when plugged into a computer.
The ingenuity of Christmas gifts has inspired Dr Strabismus (Whom God Preserve) of Utrecht. He has invented the perfect gift for anyone who knows what he doesn't want. It is described in an advertisement as an oblong wooden peg which props up a built-in sieve. The angle of the sieve makes it possible to sift things sideways, so that what falls through goes into a bucket clamped vertically to the wall.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sex scandal politician's singing debut

The best headline since "Sex Change Bishop in Mercy Dash to Palace" is real.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Holiday Schnaps

Austria, whose people I found so jolly, is also the place where today:
Fritzl, 73, is on trial for murder, rape, incest and slavery after fathering seven children by his daughter, who he allegedly raped on a daily basis after drugging her and dragging her into the secret purpose-built bunker in August 1984.

Go figure.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

It's the Heidi life for us!

I'm back from Austria and a whole week with no TV news, no papers and no World Wide Web.

It feels great. Do they, does email, so social networks actually contribute anything much more than distractions from work and life?

Saturday, March 07, 2009

So long, suckers!

I'm off on holiday for a week. For those whose deadlines I may have missed, this:

Productive mediocrity requires discipline of an ordinary kind. It is safe and threatens no one. Nothing will be changed by mediocrity; mediocrity is completely predictable. It doesn't make the powerful and self-satisfied feel insecure. It doesn't require freedom, because it doesn't do anything unexpected. Mediocrity is the opposite of what we call "genius." Mediocrity gets perfectly mundane things done on time. But genius is uncontrolled and uncontrollable. You cannot produce a work of genius according to a schedule or an outline. As Leonardo knew, it happens through random insights resulting from unforeseen combinations. Genius is inherently outside the realm of known disciplines and linear career paths. Mediocrity does exactly what it's told.
Hands up who thinks I'll ski like a genius if I apply my "random insights resulting from unforeseen combinations".

I thought so.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Europa Dope

We are excited to announce several new features for the Amazon EC2 European Region. Starting today, you can launch Amazon EC2 running Windows or SQL Server instances in the EU Region, enabling you to locate your Windows computing resources close to your European customers/partners, as well as to other AWS computing services (e.g. Amazon S3, Amazon CloudFront, etc.). Pay-as-you-go pricing for Amazon EC2 running Windows Server in the EU Region begins at 0.135 per compute hour.
To make it even easier to get started and to manage Amazon EC2, the
AWS Management Console has been extended to the Amazon EC2 European Region and provides the same features as in the US Region, including provisioning and managing Linux/UNIX and Windows instances, Amazon EBS volumes, and Elastic IP addresses.

Two and a half years later, I have finally got what I wanted. I must look at its financial viability now compared to our current investment in kit and current running costs.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

For Pete's sake

I've got a DVD of Springsteen's 1975 Hammersmith Odeon show courtesy of the 25th anniversary edition of "Born to Run " that my brother gifted me for my birthday.

Allow me to recommend this fine BBC Radio 2 documentary about that legendary occasion.

The most heartwarming section is the part about Pete - and here is the detail of genius, an HP sauce rep from Cardiff - who took the whole week off to attend the gig, sought Bruce out, got on well with him, hung out before and after the show, and even had a song dedicated to him from the stage.

History does not record if he gave the boss a Clark's pie.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Martial's Sullen Art

Why do strong arms fatigue themselves with frivolous dumb-bells? To dig a vineyard is a worthier exercise for men.
Two unscheduled days off exercise in three. Am I losing my motivation for the gym and the bike? I'm as thirsty as ever, so Martial gets quoted with approval days after a pathetic Juvenal pun.

'La-di-da, la-di-da, la la'.

Monday, March 02, 2009

The Curse and the Quest

The Bomber is still as in to World of Warcraft as ever.

Blizzard shrewdly allow, and even help third parties with, addons to the extent of supplying a kit.

We downloaded the QuestHelper addon from curse.com yesterday.
QuestHelper tells you how to finish your quests in the easiest, fastest manner. It includes a database of quests, monsters, and items, telling you the exact location of that dang Perfect Satyr Horn you can't find. It also computes the fastest path to complete all your quests - and gain experience - as quickly as possible.
Whatever floats your boat, I guess. QuestHelper has been downloaded over 20 million times. It's Ben's world, I just live in it.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The secrets of belly button fluff

After three years of research, Georg Steinhauser, a chemist, has discovered a type of body hair that traps stray pieces of lint and draws them into the navel.

Dr Strabismus made his discovery after studying 503 pieces of fluff from his own belly button.

Chemical analysis revealed the pieces of fluff were not made up of only cotton from clothing. Wrapped up in the lint were also flecks of dead skin, fat, sweat and dust.

Dr Steinhauser's observations showed that 'small pieces of fluff first form in the hair and then end up in the navel at the end of the day'.

Read on ........