Sunday, May 31, 2009

Thank you and goodnight

Myself: I screamed a scream in time gone by, when hope was high and life worth living .......
Pierce: X
Amanda: X
Simon: X
Ant 'n Dec: But it's your votes at home that count.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

It's not me, it's you

"I make multi-million $ decisions on a regular basis — why is it soooo
difficult to decide what to do with my hair
Time Magazine's "Twitter's Biggest Egos, Exposed" is required reading as an introduction to "where self important tweets get the recognition they deserve."

Unintentional comedy (or at least I think so) from the social media maelstrom.

Barack Obama's Facebook Feed is a deliberate pastiche, bit still very funny.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Bleak Bloke

The Romanian philosopher EM Cioran remains one of the most difficult modern writers to come to terms with. With an aphoristic, charged, almost violent style, and a portfolio of subjects well outside our contemporary philosophical mainstream – despair, ecstasy, boredom, insanity, suicide, crime, illness, nothingness, music, sex, entropy, all considered as raw and immediate experiences, not as matters for academic investigation – he can seem like an atavist, a soul in permanent unarmed combat with the mores of enlightened society. “Annihilating,” he wrote in The Trouble with Being Born, “flatters something obscure, something original in us. It is not by erecting but by pulverising that we may divine the secret satisfactions of a god. Whence the lure of destruction and the illusions it provokes among the frenzied of any era.”
I never fail to be astonished by the people and things that we're apparently not supposed to laugh at.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Last night as I was listening to Chris's Last FM radio station, and pondering how - sprogglewise - it would infect mine, I decided that he had done enough to earn his own anagram.

Henceforth then, Christopher Howell, with a nod towards his nautical bent, shall be the Whole Ship Chortler.

The Chortler joins the Bomber, The Burglar, and the Bear (who has his own category) in my descent into incomprehensibility. The final destination is incoherence.

Select something below to pipe him on board.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Amanda Grayson

When we were watching the new Star Trek movie a couple of weeks ago, the Bomber leaned over and whispered, "I think the ones with the pointy ears are the Treks and the other ones are the Stars." Trekkie lore is acquired a posteriori (sitting down in front of a screen) as opposed to a priori it seems.

I've only discovered since watching the film, that Spock's mother was played by Winona Ryder. (Plot spoiler: Anyone who can watch the scene in which she dies without laughing must have a heart of stone.)

But Winona Ryder as Spock's mother! Heathers was made 21 years ago? Dear me I feel old.

Myself: I had a similar shock in Trevor Nunn's acclaimed 2004 production of Hamlet at the Old Vic, in which Imogen Stubbs (a slip of a girl as far as I am concerned) played Gertrude.
Prodnose (adopting sarcastic Cambrian lilt): There's posh you are.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Driven to Distraction

You can read about "Twitter, Adderall, lifehacking, mindful jogging, power browsing, Obama’s BlackBerry, and the benefits of overstimulation" in New York Magazine, but The Profit Burglar is off sick and I have to gird my loins and get stuff done.

I have so many demands on my time that "12 Essential Rules to Live More Like a Zen Monk," will be more use than Twitter today.

  1. Do one thing at a time. This rule (and some of the others that follow) will be familiar to long-time Zen Habits readers. It’s part of my philosophy, and it’s also a part of the life of a Zen monk: single-task, don’t multi-task. When you’re pouring water, just pour water. When you’re eating, just eat. When you’re bathing, just bathe. Don’t try to knock off a few tasks while eating or bathing. Zen proverb: “When walking, walk. When eating, eat.”

  2. Do it slowly and deliberately. You can do one task at a time, but also rush that task. Instead, take your time, and move slowly. Make your actions deliberate, not rushed and random. It takes practice, but it helps you focus on the task.

  3. Do it completely. Put your mind completely on the task. Don’t move on to the next task until you’re finished. If, for some reason, you have no choice but to move on to something else, try to at least put away the unfinished task and clean up after yourself. If you prepare a sandwich, don’t start eating it until you’ve put away the stuff you used to prepare it, wiped down the counter, and washed the dishes used for preparation. Then you’re done with that task, and can focus more completely on the next task.
Don't give up on lists of 12 items after the first three.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sunday, May 24, 2009

John Roberts

Here's a good popular piece on John Roberts, Chief Justice of the United States, and perhaps George W's most robust contribution to American public life

......... Obama has at most one more chance to take the oath of office, and Roberts will probably have a half-dozen more opportunities to get it right

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Strategy Tax

10 months into netbooks, I have given up on Linux and gone back to Windows XP. I just got fed up of not being able to run stuff like the motionbased agent, Nokia PC Suite etc. with out messing about with WINE.

Ironically it is just as Chris has launched himself into the self same territory.

I am deliberately sneaking the story out on a weekend.

Friday, May 22, 2009


A Welsh guy is putting the finishing touches to an Indonesian action movie. (Thanks to Chris for the tip-off.) You can even follow him doing it on Twitter at

It all seems so remarkable and unlikely that I am hugging myself in my mind. I wish it Tony Jaa 'Ong Bak' breakout levels of success.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


I'm falling in love with music all over again with Spotify.

It sproggles everything I play over to where they are arranged into a library. I think that you can listen to a "radio station" based on it at

What an extraordinary thing that is. There is much to think about in social media.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Expensive (formerly thoughtful?)

I got an email from Siobhan McDonagh, my MP over the weekend. She said:
I talk to many people each week but you are all too polite to ask me any details about my expenses.

That is why I want to make it clear I do not claim anything at all for my mortgage, property maintenance, furniture or food. I pay all these myself.

Under the rules, I could claim for a second home, but I won’t, and I never have – my only home is the same one in Colliers Wood where I have lived since before I was elected in 1997. The only personal expense I re-claim is for transport.

Here's the skinny from her website on her personal expenses, explaining with regard to transport:
I do claim petrol and fares to cover the costs of undertaking my parliamentary work. This includes travelling to various agencies, and going to meetings and other events on behalf of residents. I am not permitted to claim for the congestion charge.
I think that she should be able to claim the congestion charge, making me possible the only person in the country who thinks the system partially unfair to Members of Parliament.

Anyway, she appears to be on the side of the angels which is all to the good.

There is an interactive heat map of MPs' expenses at which is well worth a look.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Comment is superfluous

I met Enoch Powell once. Here is a photo of him on a po-go stick from 1962.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Innovate or enervate

My first post since March about Amazon's offerings. Elastic Load Balancing and Auto Scaling have been launched in the States and are imminent in Europe.

The day we can move our auction system onto this infrastructure and let it size itself can't be too far away. What a boon it would have been in the server meltdown that followed our BBC One Show appearance.

I noted in passing the other day that Twitter uses Amazon for storing images. I wonder what else the Amazon platform underpins?

Immanent as well as imminent?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Another Fine Mesh

I've been following Marc Canter for three years now, and I think he is on to something with this Open Stack.

Like all protocol stacks it is probably more honoured in the breach that the observance, but it is useful tool for arranging thoughts, especially as we are starting to use OAuth in anger for the first time now for some Twitter API development.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Welcome to binge Britain: Polish photographer documents four years of drunken revelry in Cardiff
...... despite the often good-natured antics, Maciej is sometimes taken aback by the levels of drinking involved.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Tears in rain

I was at the movies (avec the bomber and a chum) yesterday marvelling at the incongruity of the Beastie Boys 'Sabotage' appearing on the soundtrack of the Star Trek reboot when Google crashed, so it didn't bother me at all.

That's all. Kirk out.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sick Note

There is an eight year old off sick from school in the office with me today.

That is taking up all my spare attention.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I started listening to musc via spotify yesterday. Just search for Bach and click play; life gets better.

There's a feature called collaborative playlists.

I've set one up. If you're on Spotify and follow this link, you can add tracks to it. "Nessun Dorma" Mr Howell?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Osoto Gari and Tai Otoshi

Kids Muay Thai has ground to halt because of problems with premises leaving something of a hole in the life of the bomber who has been doing it since 2006.

Cycling round the streets the other week however, I stumbled upon a purpose built dojo at Ernest Bevin College, and last night Ben and his mate Prashant bowled up for their first judo lesson which Ben in particular dug mightily.

Balance is restored to the universe. (I could discourse on how muay Thai and judo complement each other, but I might come over as some sort of psycho.)

Monday, May 11, 2009

All the talents

On reading this, I have decided that Marina Hyde should be Prime Minister (for all that she ends a paragraph with a preposition).

She joins Immodesty Blaize who will be Home Secretary in my government of all the talents.

Smashing the glass ceiling and building the glass menagerie.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Hilary Benn, Ed Miliband and Alan Johnson

I was chatting to my Dad about the MP's expenses scandal back in Wales this weekend. He said that, for all the rigorous disdain that should be reserved for the chiselers, it would be nice to here about who - if any - the stand up guys in the cabinet were.

"Hilary Benn, Ed Miliband and Alan Johnson emerge as acmes of frugality who make modest and entirely reasonable claims for performing their duties." says Andrew Rawnsley, and a Google straw poll appears to confirm it.

The public will demand a cleansing of the Aegean stables. It will be interesting to revisit this post in a year or so, and see whom has been claimed by the greasy pole, and reflect on the deserving poor.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Cymru am Bliss

I am away in the Principality this weekend, so I am posting this by remote control from yesterday. makes me smile, including as it does Bo Derek, Tom Cruise, and Ginger Rogers.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Re: Retweet

To "retweet" is to repeat/quote someone's tweet. Usually when you come across and interesting tweet and you want to publish it as your own tweet so that people who follow you see it too - you retweet it.
The syntax of your tweet should start with the abbreviation RT or the word Retweet followed by the username of the person who tweeted it (e.g @User) and then finish with the content of the actual tweet.
The ridiculous things I have to learn at my age. I thought RT stood for "Reply To" until this morning.

Oscar Madison: "We're all out of cornflakes. F.U." Took me three hours to figure out F.U. was Felix Ungar!

Thursday, May 07, 2009


Idly leafing through an interview with Immodesty Blaize (international burlesque superstar) in this week's Time Out over brekky this morning I was astounded to discover that she is as smart as a whip.

The biggest shock to my "meat and potatoes" sensibility since I was outraged by how thoughtful and articulate Marilyn Manson could be in answering a question.

Back to the drawing board in terms of prejudices it would seem.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

You Too Tube, You Two

Two headlines from today's Thunderer concerning events yesterday that show how the media landscape is changing:
I also learned yesterday that the Conservative Party has an Online Communities Editor.

Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


Google Latitude can tell you where I am (or rather where my mobile phone is) if I allow it.

I can share it with friends or the world.

Is this good, bad, indifferent, safe or dangerous? Who knows?

Only one way to find out.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Carol Ann Duffy need not apply

Poets Ranked by Beard Weight is a classic of Edwardian esoterica, a privately printed leaflet offered by subscription to the informed man of fashion and as a divertissement au courant for reading bins and cocktail tables of parlor cars and libraries and smoking lounges of gentlemen's clubs.

Typifying a once-popular, but nowadays seldom-encountered species of turn-of-the-century ephemera, Poets Ranked by Beard Weight has become a rarity much prized by bibliophiles, and one that still stands out as a particular curiosity among the many colorful curiosities of the period. Its author, one Upton Uxbridge Underwood (1881 – 1937), was a deipnosophist, clubman, and literary miscellanist with a special interest in tonsorial subjects.

.... read on ..... (I defy you not to)

Hat tip: Jenny Davidson.

In helpless thrall, I can't resist quoting further:
That "exalted dignity, that certain solemnity of mien," lent by an imposing beard, "regardless of passing vogues and sartorial vagaries," says Underwood, is invariably attributable to the presence of an obscure principle known as the odylic force, a mysterious product of "the hidden laws of nature." The odylic, or od, force is conveyed through the human organism by means of "nervous fluid" which invests the beard of a noble poet with noetic emanations and ensheathes it in an ectoplasmic aura.

I shall throw away my razor immediately.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

par le sang versé

A couple of random observations from across the channel and across that Atlantic that you may wish to compare and contrast with our government's attitude to the Gurkhas.
  1. You can apply for French citizenship if you serve in the Foreign Legion for three years. Further, a soldier who becomes injured during a battle for France can apply for French citizenship under a provision known as “Français par le sang versé” (”French by spilled blood”).
  2. On Friday afternoon, the President of the United States attended a naturalization ceremony for active duty service members in the East Room of the White House, along with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano who delivered the oath of allegiance. This is what he said:
"It is my honor and my personal pleasure to be the first to address you as my fellow Americans. ........... You all have your own personal reasons for why you joined the military. But in the service that you render, in the sacrifices that each of you have made and will continue to make, in the commitment you've shown to your adopted nation, you're part of a larger story -- America's story."

Saturday, May 02, 2009

the depression (when everybody was depressed)

Lying in my bed, I pull the silken sheets up tight
I gotta keep my strength up, gotta do a show tonight.
I have a sip of coffee while I'm taking in the news,
Don't need to have a shave 'cause I gotta sing the blues

Then I think I'll get a massage, maybe, lose a little fat,
I have to go downtown in my brand-new Cadillac,
My valet comes and dresses me, I light a big cigar,
Cos' I like to look like Nimrod when I'm riding in my car.

Can blue men sing the whites?
Or are they hypocrites for singing?

I watched a documentary last night on BBC4 about the British Blues boom.

Tom McGuinness talked about playing with Paul Jones in a pub in Colliers Wood, and Bob Brunning featured prominently. Great fun. The Thames Delta indeed, and south of the Fortnum Mason line.

Friday, May 01, 2009

The Gas Man Cometh

I've had to wait at home for a plumber and another guy to look at the bolier most of today.

'Twas on a Monday morning the gas man came to call.
The gas tap wouldn't turn - I wasn't getting gas at all.
He tore out all the skirting boards to try and find the main
And I had to call a carpenter to put them back again.

Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do.