Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Education, Education, Education

By observing the following six rules any boy of twelve can easily protect himself from the attacks of a full-grown man:

I. As your opponent makes for you, step quickly under his arm, and, stooping, grasp his left ankle with both hands, fingers interlocked. Rise smartly, and with a circular motion throw him over your right shoulder.

II. Enraged, your adversary will reach for you with his right hand. Step lightly aside, and, as his arm passes you, strike it sharply with your fist. This will break his wrist.

III. Your antagonist will now reach for you with his left hand. Take two rapid steps backward and kick his open palm, at the base of the thumb, upwards. This will dislocate his shoulder and cause a compound fracture of his left floating rib.

IV. Your mortified foe will attempt to kick you. Catch his foot in your left hand and twist his leg off at the knee.

V. Your enemy will make an effort to kick you with his other foot . Step quickly behind him and butt him in the small of the back with your head. Properly administered, this blow should break and dislocate every vertebra in his spinal column.

VI. The last attempt your adversary will make will be to bite you. As he opens his mouth place your open left hand on his forehead, and, thrusting your right down his throat, take a good hold, and with a long, strong pull, turn him inside out. This trick is somewhat dangerous and should only be tried by an expert, as otherwise your opponent may be painfully injured.

From the apparently genuine "The foolish almanack for the year 1906 A.D. and the fifth since the discovery of race suicide by President Roosevelt ..."

Any intelligence on what is being spoofed by "the discovery of race suicide by President Roosevelt" gratefully received.

Monday, August 30, 2010


Last August I thought I had Japanese knotweed all over the back garden. Now I think it may just be bindweed, but I'm still pulling it up over a year later, and I wouldn't be surprised if it takes me another twelve months to get rid of it completely.

I've pretty much given up on looking after the lawn while this war is on, as I'm forever pulling foot long ropes of roots up through it.

Medicinal and other uses - http://earthnotes.tripod.com/bindweed.htm.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Cardiff City are joint top of the Championship after beating Portsmouth 2-0 away. Sweet revenge for being beaten by them in the 2008 FA Cup Final.

It's too soon to get carried away though. The new FantasyFwit game and website could have been made for long term City followers.

Each week you have to pick a team you reckon are most likely to screw up: you are awarded points according to the accuracy of your prediction. There are any number of ways to acquire points, but the basics are as follows. All players on a losing team score one point – that's doubled if you lose by three goals or more. The most disappointing player on the pitch, chosen by a panel of F**wit experts scores an extra three points. (On the first weekend of the season this accolade went to Wayne Rooney.) An own goal gets you three points – with a bonus for comedy value – as does giving away a penalty

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Oh Krapp

Michael Gambon's going to be doing Krapp's Last Tape in London from the middle of September. I learned of this from an advert on Facebook, that took me to its Fan page where I registered my Like. I'll certainly try and go. Its Beckett so book it.

That said, I'm now getting tugged on the sleeve about this production by targeted adverts everywhere. I've seen it on the Google ads on the blog itself (subtle and understated they are to be found at the very bottom of the page), and on the Google mail web client that I use to manage a few email accounts.

It's starting to get on my nerves. I had imagined myself as something of a twinkle toed sprinkler of fairy dust when I'm writing. The idea that impersonal number crunching engines should look at my blog and correspondence and decide that "plays and novels of loneliness, despair and human degradation" are right up my alley is deeply discouraging.

Prodnose: Never throw letters around carelessly. It could spell disaster.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fighters Uncaged

The Bomber and I are agreed. The new XBOX for his birthday at the end of September, then Microsoft Kinect for Christmas.

Bring on the heroically unPC Fighters Uncaged:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Among the new films

Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky
Darling! Divine! It's divine! It's divinsky!
(She looks a mess in her little black dress
and his Rite of Spring's held together with string.)

I have no idea what I mean by this.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I am not a free man, I am a number

The Bomber is back later today from three weeks in the States, and I have missed him very much indeed.

We (plus a lot of other friends) are doing the Richmond To Windsor Bike Ride on September 5. I am number 1248 and he is number 1249, so there will be a fair few people there.

Then on September 26, I'm doing the 30th Anniversary SwanseaBay10k with my brother. I'm number 35787 in that. There can't be thirty six odd thousand competitors surely? That said I seem to remember that the elite Kenyans had practically finished by the time our part of the throng managed to get past the starting line last time I did it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sir William Topaz McGonagall

...... Poet and Tragedian.

For the stronger we our houses do build,
The less chance we have of being killed.
I didn't know until I read it here, that the immortal McGonagall tread the boards as well as versifying.

McGonagall as Macbeth refused to die when run through by Macduff; he maintained his feet and flourished his weapon about the ears of his adversary in such a way that there was for some time an apparent possibility of a real tragedy. Macduff, continually telling him to go down became at length so incensed that he gave him a smart rap over the fingers with the flat of his sword. McGonagall dropped his weapon, but dodged and pranced as if to wrestle. Macduff threw his sword aside, seized Macbeth and brought the sublime tragedy to a close in a rather undignified way by taking the feet from under the principal character.

Monday, August 23, 2010

swarm in here

I suggest you count your bees, you may find that one of them is missing.
After a 3-week boot-camp rehearsal period in Battersea Park, hundreds of youngsters dressed as bees swarmed across London to create site- specific happenings last weekend, highlighting the recent alarming drop in the honeybee population.

The project - called "S’warm" - was the largest performance that the U.K.’s National Youth Theatre has put on.

To think I missed it (c.f. the mouse problem).

Sunday, August 22, 2010

World Party

And if you listen now
You might hear
A new sound coming in
As an old one disappears
See the world in just one grain of sand
You better take a closer look
Don't let it slip right through your hand
Won't you please hear the call
The world says

Put the message in the box
Put the box into the car
Drive the car around the world
Until you get heard

Now is the moment
Please understand
The road is wide open

My brother, my sister in law, and my nephew have taken the bull by the horns and set off to travel the world for a year. They've got as far as the wonderfully named Swakopmund in Namibia. We can follow them on http://www.3worldwanderers.blogspot.com/

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Nothing is funnier than unhappiness, I grant you that.

This morning the Telegraph in its mission to explain informs us that yoga protects the brain from depression.

Yesterday the message on the same pages was that the drug Ketamine acts like "magic" lifting people out of depression.

It stands to reason then that combining horse tranquiliser injections with asanas would have you walking on air.

Am I really learning anything by reading this twaddle day after day?

Friday, August 20, 2010

What is that your business?

According to the Torygraph science coverage this morning the universe is to expand for ever even though the Moon is shrinking. Don't even get me started on ketamine for depression.

Depression and cosmology? Proof again that all human life is in Annie Hall:

Doctor in Brooklyn: Why are you depressed, Alvy?
Alvy's Mom: Tell Dr. Flicker.
[Young Alvy sits, his head down - his mother answers for him]
Alvy's Mom: It's something he read.
Doctor in Brooklyn: Something he read, huh?
Alvy at 9: [his head still down] The universe is expanding.
Doctor in Brooklyn: The universe is expanding?
Alvy at 9: Well, the universe is everything, and if it's expanding, someday it will break apart and that would be the end of everything!
Alvy's Mom: What is that your business?
[she turns back to the doctor]
Alvy's Mom: He stopped doing his homework!
Alvy at 9: What's the point?
Alvy's Mom: What has the universe got to do with it? You're here in Brooklyn! Brooklyn is not expanding!
Doctor in Brooklyn: It won't be expanding for billions of years yet, Alvy. And we've gotta try to enjoy ourselves while we're here!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Chicken Bones

A music video - hat tip Babylon Wales - shot in Cardiff.

Bessemer Road market .... the memories ........ the memories .....

I checked out the Queen of Denmark album its from on Spotify. A little too much of the shoegazy pie for my taste, but pleasant enough.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Venus and Mars

It was the battle of men vs. women at the American box office this weekend, a conflict won rather handily by Sylvester Stallone and his muscular man-team of action heroes. The Expendables dominated the charts, parachuting into first place with $35 million. That meant Julia Roberts’ spiritual and romantic quest in Eat Pray Love had to make do with discovering itself in second place, with a decent $23.7 million.

After a false start, I am actually reading Eat Pray Love and the moment, and rather enjoying to be honest. Make of that what you will. There is still something atavistic in me however that thrills to see Eric win out in the battle of the Roberts.

Exhibit A: 8 million views

Exhibit B: 1 million views

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Justice must not only be done

... it must be seen to be believed.

Transcript of Chris Poole Churm Rincewind before the Honorable
Thomas W. Phillips Justice Cocklecarrot on April 22, 2010.
Mark Krotoski Tinklebury Snapdriver
Assistant U.S. Attorney

Q. And is there any significance to "new fags"?

A. That is the term used to describe new users to the site.

Q. What about "b tard"?

A. It's a term that users of the /b/- Random board use for themselves.

Q. What about "troll"?

A. Troublemaker.

Q. "404"?

A. 404 is the status code for not found. It means essentially gone or not found.

Q. Not found on where, the 4chan site?

A. 404 is the http status code for not found, a page not found by the Web server.

Q. In what about "peeps"?

A. People.

Q. "Rickroll"?

A. Rickroll is a mean or Internet kind of trend that started on 4chan where users -- it basically a bait and switch. Users link you to a video of Rick Astley performing Never Gonna Give You Up.

(Uproar in court)

On September 16, 2008, during the 2008 United States presidential election campaign, the Yahoo! personal email account of vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin was subjected to unauthorized access. The hacker, David Kernell, had obtained access to Palin's account by looking up biographical details such as her high school and birthdate and using Yahoo!'s account recovery for forgotten passwords. Kernell then posted several pages of Palin's email on 4chan's /b/ board. This unauthorized access was ultimately prosecuted as four felony crimes punishable by up to 50 years in federal prison

Monday, August 16, 2010

millions on website redesigns as job cuts loom

Councils are spending millions on redesigns of their websites despite facing the biggest funding cuts in their history, the Telegraph can disclose.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Have you ever felt that 1 Corinthians 13 is following you round?

I had to do it as a reading at one of Kevin's weddings. (Prodnose: Bride or groom? Myself: Season ticket.) My father quoted in his speech a couple of weeks ago, and now it has turned up towards the end of my reading of Tim Parks' Teach Us to Sit Still.

It's about love. " In the original Greek, the word αγαπη agape is used throughout. This is translated into English as charity in the King James version; but the word love is preferred by most other translations, both earlier and more recent."

So we get:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

Intriguing isn't it?

"Agape is one of several ancient Greek words for distinct types of love, one which became particularly appropriated in Christian theology ..... in contrast to philia—an affection that could denote either brotherhood or generally non-sexual affection, and eros, an affection of a sexual nature."

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis suggest that that differences in the way languages encode cognitive categories affect cultural values to the extent that speakers of different languages think and behave differently because of it.

It's all food for thought, when you consider the meaning a naive English speaker who knows what pediatrician and Francophile mean might derive for paedophile. I know our manners are bad. Perhaps our language is coarser than it might be as well.

Love is too weak a word for what I feel - I luuurve you, you know, I loave you, I luff you, two F's, yes I have to invent ...

Alvy Singer
Annie Hall

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Après le déluge

Myself: A storming set from Damien Flood in the rain at AbbeyFest last night.

Prodnose: Enough with the water references already.

Seriously, it was a great performance for the event as it was seasoned with enough familiar covers to carry the audience along. Some of the folk who play here get a bit too cerebral.

It was good to see Mornington Lockett on sax and Frank Tonto (System X) on drums in the band. Like the old days.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A bit of Tom Jones

In a late night bar, Henry is approached by a mysterious woman who offers to sell him the severed "manhood" of Wales' greatest vocal entertainer… Believing he can make a fortune selling the infamous appendage on to obsessive fans, Henry stumps up the cash.

To help find the right buyer, Henry teams up with his slightly dodgy best friend Teddy and together the two head off on an insane journey that leads them deep into the secret world of celebrity body part trading. Along the way, they have a fight with a Gorilla, are bubbled bathed by a randy pensioner, kidnapped by adult babies, break into a police station, take a day trip to Belgium to meet the World's biggest dealer of celebrity off-cuts and even get caught up in the slowest Police chase in movie history… ...and all for
a bit of Tom Jones?

Thursday, August 12, 2010


I see that Ramadan is starting today.

The first time I ever heard of it was when Sami El-Taji fasted when I was working for Fluor aeons ago.

One of nature's aristocrats and a gentleman as I recall.

He was also the first Palestinian I ever met. I was only vaguely aware of them as figures you used to see on the TV surrounded by rubble up to then, as opposed to flesh and blood human beings.

What a dimwit I was in my early twenties.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Newport Retort

Bad news from the Torygraph this morning (confirmed Icons passim):

The hit internet video Newport State of Mind, which sent up the Alicia Keys/Jaz-Z collaboration about New York, has apparently been removed from YouTube in a copyright row.
We will have to console ourselves (hat tip, Chris) with Goldie Lookin Chain's response to MJ Delaney's affectionate take on Jay-Z, Alicia and the Chain's hometown:

Perhaps EMI should make a video responding to this in turn?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Too cool for school

Sign our yearbook by tweeting a message using #yearbook or join the class at www.twitter.com/jobs

All thinking movie goers have a place in their hearts for Wes Anderson. I don't go back as far as Bottle Rocket myself but I've been on board from Rushmore up to Fantastic Mr Fox.

Quite why Twitter have chosen to promote a recruitment drive with a tribute to this scene from Rushmore I don't know, though it looks like fun.

Perhaps they're plugging in to the aspirational "My top schools where I want to apply to are Oxford and the Sorbonne. My safety's Harvard."

Monday, August 09, 2010


Ben's got a friend from a Brazilian family. They were cooking the other day when we dropped him back, and gave me what I would have taken for a chip (French or freedom fry) to sample.

"It's manioc," I was told.

It turns out that manioc is the same thing as cassava, and I remember cassava from the dismissive references made to it in Blood River.

I noticed what I took to be cassava outside the Sri Lankan shop at the bottom of the road, and took it in to ask the proprietor if I was right. He explained that I was, then took out a knife to show me how to peel it, stressing that I should make sure to discard the dry, hard sections at the end.

I took it home, sliced, parboiled and deep fried it, the served it up with some jerk chicken as a tribute to Jamaican Bammy which is deep-fried cassava flatbread.

Hardly "to see the world in a grain of sand," I'll grant you, but still a good example of the rewards of following your eyes, ears, nose and taste buds. A lot of the time the richness of your experience is as much down to your attitude as your environment.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

abbreviated art.

Compare and contrast the sublime:
"I can't think of a nicer place to sit this spring over a glass of rosé and watch the boys and girls in the street outside smiling gaily to each other, and wondering where to go for a nosh."

with the tin-eared:

"I can't think of a nicer place to sit this spring over a glass of rosé and watch the boys and girls in the street outside smiling gaily to each other, and wondering where to go for nosh."

I know I'm late to this but you can read Giles Coren's expletive strewn rant about a sub-editor's mutilation of his copy by the removal of a single indefinite article here.

He is a comedy writer of genius, though it is a Pooterish genius rather than the belle-lettrist genius he seems to imagine.
I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.

Oscar Wilde

Saturday, August 07, 2010

tiny desk

Here's some evidence of Tom Jones stripping his sound down early last year and before Praise and Blame. I really like Brian Monroney's understated guitar playing on this.

What I wouldn't give to see Tiny Elvis perform at the Tiny Desk.

Friday, August 06, 2010


When you are part of a company that is trying to digitize all the books in the world, the first question you often get is: “Just how many books are out there?”

Well, it all depends ........

Counting only things that are printed and bound, we arrive at about 146 million. This is our best answer today. It will change as we get more data and become more adept at interpreting what we already have.

Our handling of serials is still imperfect. Serials cataloging practices vary widely across institutions. The volume descriptions are free-form and are often entered as an afterthought. For example, “volume 325, number 6”, “no. 325 sec. 6”, and “V325NO6” all describe the same bound volume ......

Prodnose: That old chestnut. There is nothing I like better than a good "same bound volume" ploy.

After we exclude serials, we can finally count all the books in the world. There are 129,864,880 of them. At least until Sunday.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

The annoying orange

According to Mashable, The Annoying Orange is the most watched web series; too much weird ppl in dis world.

Also on the infomaniac beat, RIP Google Wave. "We celebrate our failures," says Eric Schmidt; a modest man with much, it would seem to be modest about. Can Buzz be far behind the hearse?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Feed, Fight, Fornicate

I found myself reading "Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia" last night for God's sake. I can sort of understand how I got there from the "idiot-participatory" martial arts genre via "Yoga School Drop Out", but it still came as something of a shock.

Luckily perhaps, there was a daft assertion about numerology early in the book that woke me from my reverie. [The individual digits of any factor of nine - in turn a factor of three - will always add up to nine or to a factor of nine, for the simple reason that we are recording them in a base ten system Ms Gilbert.]

I tried watching Factotum (a darkly comic adaptation of Charles Bukowski's semi-autobiographical novel about a writer trying to avoid distractions such as his personal peccadilloes of women, gambling and alcohol) to regain some perspective, then set my chest hair on fire "to see what would happen" but I fear it is only a temporary reprieve.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Taking the "p" out of politics?

The internet and the 2010 election

One of the objectives of this short volume ...... is to cut through some of the hype to provide some empirical evidence of the internet’s place in the election and also assess what realistically we might expect from the internet. Hence, Gibson et al’s contribution provides some of the first concerted evidence on the public’s engagement with the internet during the election. The data presented indicates significant rises, since 2005, in internet use across a range of election activities that cannot simply be explained by the growth of the technology alone.

Andy Williamson’s chapter contextualises the role of the internet and social media into longer term changes. One of the suggestions here is that we might not even be looking in the right places to see the influence of the internet, that its real effects are more subtle and away from traditional political arenas in a wider range of online social spaces. The internet is relevant to a campaign because it is an important medium in the lives of so many.

Building on Williamson’s argument, Mark Pack tells us that the internet has now become an organisational necessity for election campaigning but that it has not brought about that strategic change that some have argued we should expect. He argues that the internet has not removed hierarchies or elites. Instead it has created new elites. Pack further suggests that more dramatic changes are likely to occur to the business of governing partly as a result public sharing of information and the opening up of public data.

Matthew McGregor and Will Straw’s chapters focus on aspects of the parties online campaigns. Whilst direct transfer of US style campaigns might not work in the UK, Straw notes that lessons from the 2008 US campaigns were learnt by both Labour and the Conservatives and did play an active part in their 2010 campaigns. He goes further, concentrating in particular on Labour’s use of online tools to help generate local mobilisation and how this might also be taken forward in the context of the current leadership election.

Although much of the media excitement was around social media, one of the key lessons of the Obama campaign was the value of the less sexy email databases and of developing ongoing communication strategies. McGregor highlights differences in the main parties’ strategic approach to new media and suggests that whilst the UK parties arguably began to understand some of the significance of e-campaigning they still failed to fully buy into concept. They still either operated on old-fashioned, top-down broadcasting principles (Conservatives) or only sporadically linked online mobilisation to offline activity (Labour).

A little background reading. It's not all fun and games you know.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Big Weekend

I'm back from Wales and a Big Weekend bookended by a Cardiff Arms Park Mail Choir serenaded anniversary party and the Evolution of Wales exhibition taken in just before departing.

A 4,600 million-year voyage lends a sense of perspective to the M4 you see.