Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Deep, deep, down

Carrying on from yesterday, reading for background in Iran reminded me that I was finishing off The Smile of Murugan: A South Indian Journey as the bloody conflict in Sri Lanka was playing itself out.

That made me conceive of background to it in terms of the Tamil diaspora and the Chola dynasty; of a millennium or more, not decades.

"This one will run and run," as Fergus might have said.

(It also helped me to get some sort of handle on Rama and Hanuman turning up in the names of muay Thai techniques.)

Monday, June 29, 2009


Four years on I am rereading "Reading Lolita in Tehran" to try and get some sort of fix on Iran.

It is, in light of the death of Neda Agha-Soltan, almost unbearably poignant.

You could also try watching 'Persopolis'.

My advice for today is not to be a woman in Persia.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

That's a cracker

I can't remember where I got this tip, but a foolproof way to finish off your pork cracking is to remove the rind from the joint after cooking and stick it in the microwave for a couple of minutes.

It save all the aggravation of starting or finishing your roast a very high temperature.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Power of Personal Metrics

Using a flood of new tools and technologies, each of us now has the ability to easily collect granular information about our lives—what we eat, how much we sleep, when our mood changes.

I love all this stuff. To easily collect; to boldly go (sic.)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Boy George Michael Jackson Browne: End of an era

Indian defence scientists are planning to put one of the world's hottest chilli powders into hand grenades.

They say the devices will be used to control rioters and in counter-insurgency operations.

Researchers say the idea is to replace explosives in small hand grenades with a certain variety of red chilli to immobilise people without killing them.

The chilli, known as Bhut Jolokia, is said to be 1,000 times hotter than commonly used kitchen chilli.


Australian wallabies are eating opium poppies and creating crop circles as they hop around "as high as a kite", a government official has said.

Lara Giddings, the attorney general for the island state of Tasmania, said the kangaroo-like marsupials were getting into poppy fields grown for medicine.

She was reporting to a parliamentary hearing on security for poppy crops.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Roar with the social lion

The Bomber is going to a birthday party after school today so he's not staying with me tonight.

Yesterday at the theatre the Profit Burglar shrewdly pointed out that this means I am free to go to the comedy at GJ's.

That'll be twice in three months if I make it.

What larks.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

15% of the Seagull

Join us for an evening of new comedy accompanied by a free glass of Pimm's on Wednesday the 24th of June at The Colour House.
That's where I'll be this evening at least. You should come too. It may be great, it may be lousy, but at least they are in there swinging. Theatre on the doorstep; use it or lose it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

There Goes Ryman Pieman

Myself: Yesterday it was my birthday
I hung one more year on the line
I should be depressed
My life's a mess
But I'm having a good time.

Prodnose: So it was! A belated Happy Birthday amigo.

Myself: Maybe I'm laughing my way to disaster
Maybe my race has been run
Maybe I'm blind to the fate of mankind
But what can be done?

Prodnose: Repeat and fade?

Myself: Repeat and fade? Why not? A forbidding, fatalistic philosophy but not without consolation.

The entire company (repeating and fading): Have a good time
Have a good time
Have a good time
Have a good time


The Ginger Geezer (unconvinced in spite of our protestations): Are you having a good time? I sure am. Do you like soul music?

Myself: No

Ginger Geezer: Well, do the trouser press, baby! One, two three!

Myself: Trouser press fever!
Prodnose: Whooh! Whooh!

Myself: Trouser press fever!
Prodnose: Whooh! Whooh!

Myself: Trouser press fever!
Prodnose: Whooh! Whooh!

Myself: Trouser press fever!
Prodnose: Whooh! Whooh!

Myself: Trouser press fever!
Prodnose: Whooh! Whooh!

Myself (normal service having been resumed): The programme you have been listening to is a one-act play in eight parts by G. G. Dunnett for eighteen albatrosses and reservoir. The part of Old Bill was played by a frying pan. The other part of Old Bill was played by Sir Rupert Carpet who found a pair of swimming trunks on his head and was surprised... fades out without repetition.....

Monday, June 22, 2009

Still here

All right thinking people tip their caps to Whit Stillman.

Here's an interview with him about making the great 'Metropolitan' available free in the US on Hulu.

We can't get that in the UK, but we can get the movie on BBC IPlayer free for the rest of the week.

I imagine these developments are not unrelated.

Bring on his follow up, 'Barcelona':
Ted: Spanish girls tend to be really promiscuous.
Fred: You're such a prig.
Ted: No, I wasn't using "promiscuous" pejoratively. It's just a fact. They have completely different attitudes toward sex.
Fred: Well, I wasn't using "prig" pejoratively.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

It was a gas

I'm back from a successful London to Brighton Bike ride, including cresting the Ditchling Beacon without walking on the way up.

Didn't get to use my Ultraflatable2 though. Man they were pushing on an open door selling me that.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Girl Can't Help It

September 30 will be the fiftieth anniversady of Jayne Mansfield opening the Chiswick flyover.

Miss Mansfield was driven to the flyover from Borehamwood film studios, in Hertfordshire, by limousine and cut a red ribbon with gold-plated scissors to open the road.
The glamour of the M4 motorway, oh my brothers, and its many notable junctions.

Myself: Contrary to popular belief, junction 39 does exist. However, it consists of a single slip road completing the missing movement onto the westbound carriageway from the A48 at junction 38, thus there is no exit from the motorway at this junction.

Prodnose: You don't say?

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Good Sport

Winston Gordon helped take the Bomber's judo class last night. He's an Olympian and the 2009 British Judo Open Champion in the 90kg class.

My eight year old is five weeks into his judo career. I think it's a great advert for the sport that an elite player like Gordon takes time out to to bring on kids like him.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


"The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday it had contacted the social networking service Twitter to urge it to delay a planned upgrade that would have cut daytime service to Iranians who are disputing their election."

These are strange times. I wonder where the cards will fall.

Here is a contrary view.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

All this and heaven too

AbbeyFest is nearly upon us for another year, and we're sponsoring it again.

As ever you are all invited to come along and have a drink with us at the free jazz on Friday evenings see http://www.colourhousetheatre.co.uk/abbeyfest/jazzshows.asp

Myself: Recent encounters with structuralist and poststructuralist critical theory, linguistics, and cognitive sciences have brought the theory and analysis of music into the orbit of important developments in present-day intellectual history. Without seeking to impose an explicit redefinition of either theory or analysis, these performances will explore the limits of both while addressing decidability, ambiguity, metaphor, music as text, and music analysis as cognitive theory.

Prodnose: Nice.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Quickening

Highlander II in a nutshell:

Louise Marcus: Okay, now let me just see if I can get this straight. You come from another planet, and you're mortal there, but you're immortal here until you kill all the guys from there who have come here... and then you're mortal here... unless you go back there, or some more guys from there came here, in which case you become immortal here... again.

Conner MacLeod: Something like that.

Myself: Are we clear?

Prodnose: Crystal.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Disraeli Gears

I took my bike in for a service on Saturday. I'd always intended to have it gone over before London/Brighton, but my hand was forced by difficulty moving down from 2 to 1 on my front cogs during my last training ride. This is important as there be hills 'twixt here and there.

It turns out that through indolence I have chain stretch which has been left untreated for long enough for my rear sprockets to be worn as well.
Replacing worn sprocket cassettes and chainrings after missing the chain replacement window is much more expensive than simply replacing a worn chain in the first place.

how express and admirable

Following on from yesterday's post, I found a picture of Ben from a year ago in my log.

I think that there is a story - involving a boy, his mother and a wise man - that may go some of the way to explaining why I train regularly.

"I can't get my little boy to stop eating sugar," complained the mother when granted an audience.

"Come back and see me in two weeks," replied the wise man.

Disappointed, the mother departed, but two weeks later, she dutifully returned with her son.

"Stop eating sugar," said the wise man to the little boy.

"Why did we have to wait two weeks for that?"

"Because," the wise man said, "I had to give up sugar myself."

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Moving on

I find that I have two snatched phone videos of the Bomber doing the same thing two years apart.

Uploaded April 2007:

Uploaded June 2009:

They sure grow up quickly.

P.S. The odd soundtracks are from YouTube's AudioSwap facility. Recommended tracks 1 and 2. Go figure.

Friday, June 12, 2009

More in Sorrow than Anger

WASHINGTON (AP) — The violence that has surged for two years in Afghanistan reached a new high last week, and more difficulty lies ahead, the commander of U.S. troops in the Middle East said Thursday.
Gen. David Petraeus said the number of attacks in Afghanistan over the last week hit the highest level since the December 2001 fall of the Taliban.
That would be the Afghanistan where our deployment might be completed without a shot fired in anger according to John Reid all those years ago.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Hot Verifying Dreamboat

World record for most people dressed as Smurfs in Swansea.

The Welsh city was turned blue as a group of 2,510 people, the majority of whom were students from the local university, crammed into the Oceana nightclub to almost double the previous record.

My land, my alma mater, my goodness.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Face Facts

With reluctance -and now that she has been revealed as the new smokey eyed, Mario Testino lensed, face of Burberry - I have decided to downgrade the whole Emma Watson thing you've got going on from pervy to dirty old man.

It's still disreputable, but no longer necessarily a matter for the police.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Parable of the Talents

Matthew 25:23
His master said to him, 'Well done, good and trustworthy servant! Since you have been trustworthy with a small amount, I will put you in charge of a large amount. Come and share your master's joy!'
In a nutshell, the reason why the MPs' expenses scandal is so devastating to our political system is that character is a key issue in public life for the simple reason that we have to trust our representatives to make important decisions on our behalf.

If you can't rely on these thumb-on-the scales merchants not to cheat on their out-of-pockets, you certainly can't rely on them to decide about the future of our nuclear deterrent or the National Health Service.

Neither can you trust them not to misuse personal data to smear, sully and taint anyone (me and you included) who happens to get in their way, with the same malicious and cavalier vulgarity with which they plot against and undermine each other.

ID cards anyone?

Monday, June 08, 2009

Living Well is the Best Revenge

Andy and I are training for the London to Brighton bike ride in Richmond Park. (It is almost exactly 10km a lap.)
On Saturday we broke camp and stopped for lunch with Ollie and their two children plus the Bomber at Pembroke Lodge. I had no idea it was there.

In the gardens is King Henry's Mound, with an extraordinary protected view of St Paul's Cathedral in the City of London over 10 miles away. We were pointing the telescope 180 degress in the wrong direction looking west insted of east trying to find it, when Mark Ellen (known to the world as the co-presenter of Live Aid), who was taking a break on a bench with his bike propped up, put us straight.
Funny old world.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Social Media Round Up

Sadiq Khan (MP for Tooting just up the road) announces via Twitter "...I have been asked to be Minister of State for Transport and a Privy Councillor attending Cabinet on transport issues".

Two years ago I went up to see Adam's first fight in Birmingham. Now - via Facebook - I can follow him campaign in Thailand. Sad to see he lost yesterday.

Tess closed her art school and went travelling last year (she is starting a job in the Caribbean next month), but again via Facebook (as she's Dutch) I can still share a joke when Holland beat England at cricket.

I was very sniffy about Facebook and Twitter at first.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Lardy Da

I voted this week, and apparently I was right when I thundered "vote-for-Foulenough-and-duty-free-lard" in the last election.

According to Slate, there is a new wonder food: "Lard has clearly won the health debate".

Alvy Singer: Sun is bad for you. Everything our parents said was good is bad. Sun, milk, red meat... college.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Picture This

21st Century children that they are, Ben and Prash have dug up the British Judo Grading syllabus online and started boning up by pumping the names of techniques into YouTube to watch demos like this.

Fair enough and good for them, and it struck me that technology is now cheap and ubiquitous enough to make video part of training. It would be very simple to record them trying things out and then play their efforts back to them.

However, Sport England came to take some photos of the class in the dojo the other day and had to go through all the bureaucratic rigmarole of getting parents to sign releases for them to be able to use the pictures. What's the point of that? I'm bemused. How does all this sort of stuff protect anyone?

It certainly implies you might as well give up before you start using video in coaching kids.

Something will have to give the era of Microsoft Natal.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

London to Brighton

I've managed to get a late entry for the London to Brighton bike ride. 27,000 of us will pedal the 54 miles from the captial to the coast on June 21.

Since 1980 when the Britsh Heart Foundation first became involved with the London to Brighton Bike Ride, over 650,000 riders have taken part in the event and more than £40 million has been raised to help fund pioneering research research, patient care and vital information.

You can sponsor me online below if you like.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The old fish and soup

Myself (loudly and tunelessly): I'm Burlington Bertie I rise at ten thirty
And Buckingham Palace I view.
I stand in the yard while they're changing the guard
And the queen shouts across "Toodle oo"!
The Prince of Wales' brother along with some other
Slaps me on the back and says "Come and see Mother"
I'm Bert, Bert, and royalty's hurt,
When they ask me to dine I say .......... yes.

Prodnose: You went to lunch at Buckingham Palace yesterday then?

Myself: Yep

Prodnose: Didn't take me?

Myself: Nope. No imaginary friends allowed.

Prodnose: I see.

Myself: I'm a Welsh Born Icon, diacatholicon,
I'm ever so clever and droll.
So when the
Equerry needs vocabulary
served up at the table I stroll
To Buckingham Palace, genus digitalis .........

Prodnose (coldly): Vulgarity and self-importance cannot be disguised by a torrent of words.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Search Me

I have added the new blogger search gadget on the left.

The interesting thing about it is that it returns results from pages to which I have linked as well as my own content.

If I update my blogroll with this, it can be configured to search that as well.

All grist to the mill.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Anatole of Paris

Sent into a reverie by the Telegraph headline "Carla Bruni named 'best hat wearer'" I decided to check out Microsoft's new Bing search engine and Wolfram Alpha on "Anatole of Paris".