Sunday, October 31, 2010
I've not read HRH's latest offering myself, but she quotes him as saying "no brain-scanner has ever managed to photograph a thought, nor a piece of love for that matter" which strikes me as odd because, as I understand it, Richard J. Davidson, Director, Lab for Affective Neuroscience & Waisman Lab for Brain Imaging & Behavior, UW-Madison Psychology Department has.
It is published in Regulation of the Neural Circuitry of Emotion by Compassion Meditation: Effects of Meditative Expertise as figure 2.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
I think it is a kaleidoscopic marvel of a book, and I'm glad to have enterntained it. Bizarely I was nudged into reading it when I told Miranda the story of Penylan Well (see Icons passim) and she told me that she had just finished it herself and that it was "a book about someone who spends a lot of time in a well."
It took a long time to get through as it weighs in a little over six hundred pages and it fell into the role of the book I read for half an hour every other day when I do my exercise on the stationary recline bike in the gym. This, if I ever lend you my copy, explains why it looks so careworn; there is a lot of sweat on it. The red thumb print that also adorns a page, though it looks like blood, is just paprika infused oil that oozed from a chunk of chorizo.
In an alternative universe Murikami won the Nobel prize for literatiure in 2000 (Icons passim). This year in this universe Ladbroke's had him as third favourite to win it at 7/1, but it went to Mario Vargas Llosa.
Friday, October 29, 2010
Hillary Clinton and Cherie Blair launch mobile phone scheme for women in developing nations.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
The tumult and the shouting dies—
The captains and the kings depart—
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
As Facebook continues to devour everything in its path even Roger Scruton is wading in and invoking, by way of explanation and much to my delight, Hegel's notion of Entäusserung. (That's all clear then.)
Last night's programme also included the trailer for Catfish, the other Facebook movie.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
It's a churrascaria, a restaurant serving grilled meat, and in this case offering as much as you can eat: the waiters move around the restaurant with the skewers, slicing meat onto the client's plate. This serving style is called espeto corrido or rodízio.
Hugh, whose idea the visit was, discovered the concept in Richmond, Virginia of all places.
Good company and friendly helpful staff, this is one to visit again.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
It's a subject for another day, but I think that the evidence that is emerging that the mind can change the brain's structure is likely to be one of the most profound discoveries of our age.
The point I want to make this morning is that as I was watching The Big Silence - in which a Benedictine introduces five ordinary people to silent, monastic contemplation - on BBC2 last night I was struck by the amount of overlap there was at the level of practice with Buddhist methods.
I suppose that if meditation really is therapeutic, we shouldn't be surprised - looking at it phenomenologically - if parallel approaches arise in different cultures.
Compare and contrast:
Friday, October 22, 2010
The Odd Boy lay down by the football field
Took out a slim volume of Mallarme
The centre-forward called him an imbecile
It's an Odd Boy who doesn't like sport
Sport, sport, masculine sport
Equips a young man for Society,
Yes, sport turns out a jolly good sort
It's an Odd Boy who doesn't like sport.
I have dropped the Bomber off at an early morning running club before school today. He was signed up after his cross country triumph last week, and certainly seemed keen enough considering the hour I had to rouse him from the arms of Morpheus. From Friday week, he wants to do indoor cricket as well which means he'll be doing judo Thursday evening, running Friday morning, and cricket Friday evening.
Andy asked him to have a trial for AFC Wimbledon, but he has politely binned that notion having given his heart to rugby football. If he'd taken it up he could have been playing or training in some sport or other six days out of seven.
I'm in a bit of a quandry. I can see that - given that he seems to be quite able - it is likely that he will get a lot of opportunities to try out interesting recreations, but I also see a danger of it getting overwhelming.
I'd be perfectly happy if he just stayed with judo and rugby plus whatever he does in school to be frank, but on reflection I think that the prudent way to handle this going forward is to be equally relaxed about him giving things up as well as taking things up.
Note to my future self - the day he says he wants to quit judo or rugby, grin and bear it regardless of what you would actually prefer.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
When you are proficient with the small sword and sabre, the quarter-staff and bayonet, you will know at once what to do with the leg of an old chair, an iron bar, a hop-pole, a boat-hook, or even a lady's parasol. Depend upon it that any moderately strong and active man who is a good boxer, fencer, and wrestler may be a very nasty customer for even two or three footpads to attack.I can't get enough of this stuff.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Prodnose: Yeah, I sorta dabble around, you know.
Myself: They're wonderful, you know. They have... uh... a quality.
Prodnose: Well, I would-I would like to take a serious photography course soon.
Myself: Photography's interesting, 'cause, you know, it's a new art form, and uh, a set of aesthetic criteria have not emerged yet.
Prodnose: Aesthetic criteria? You mean, whether it's a good photo or not?
I've watched all seventeen minutes so you don't have to.
They key quotes are:
- Gracie Carvalho (nibbling with no shirt on): It’s been incredible. Even though I was partially naked and only 18 years old I’m loving it!
- Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (jumping out of a pool deshabille): I love doing shoots like this where you’re not representing a piece of clothing or a designer — you’re actually representing yourself, and that’s really exciting. It actually gives you an opportunity to give more of your soul and your heart in the picture.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
As a planet, we collectively spend 3 billion hours a week playing computer and video games. Today’s youth are contributing a particularly heavy share of that load: The average young person in the UK will have spent 10,000 hours playing games by the time they turn 21. It’s enough to make you ask: Shouldn’t we all be doing something better with our time? Something more productive than, say, slaying virtual monsters, racing virtual cars, and managing virtual football teams?I'm not sure I agree with Jane McGonigal, but that is an intriguing thesis, artfully expressed.
But the gamers (and they make up more than a third of the UK population) may be on to something: It turns out that gameplay is extraordinarily productive. It may not increase GDP. But it does produce, more cheaply and reliably than almost any other activity, the positive emotions – such as delight, curiosity, pride and bliss – that scientists say are crucial to our health and success in real life.
It turns out that people who experience on average 3 positive emotions for every 1 negative emotion they feel live 10 years longer. They’re more successful at work, school and personal pursuits – and they also have longer, happier marriages. Scientists say it doesn’t matter where you get these positive emotions – it just matters that you sincerely feel them. And if you watch the faces of gamers while they play – whole-heartedly engaged, passionately motivated, and intensely rewarded – you know that they’re not just playing games. They’re also building up their inner reserve of good feelings.
They’re also producing social capital. Research from major universities such as MIT and Stanford show that we like and trust other people more after we’ve played a game together -- even if they’ve beaten us. More importantly, scientists have discovered that we’re more likely to help someone in real life after we’ve helped them in a cooperative game. Games aren’t just making us happier – they’re also building up our social bonds. No wonder 40% of total hours spent on Facebook are spent playing games. Our 3 billion hours a week gaming are producing the two most important aspects of well-being – positive emotions and positive relationships. There’s simply nothing better to be doing with our free time.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Standing on the touchline on a crisp October day, sipping coffee from a polystyrene cup, munching a bacon bap, and watching the kids play rugby is probably as close to content as I will ever get in this vale of tears, so it is worth recording.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
I thought it was great. Though the shows are completely unalike it reminded me of my similarly serendipitous discovery of Curb Your Enthusiasm all those years ago.
I can get the first three series from Amazon for £26.93 but I've still only watched one episode of The Wire, and I've had that for over a year now.
There are people with worse problems I suppose.
Friday, October 15, 2010
- so many of the writers who make me laugh these days are women
- there is no correlation between the amount of stuff one buys on Amazon and the time available to consume it
- there's a Kindle in my future and this is not necessarily a good thing.
Before I first acquired a Kindle, exactly one year ago, I didn't usually buy books while under the influence of alcohol. I won't say I never did it, because that would be a lie. But it wasn't a habit. After a couple of glasses of wine, I tend to fixate on the present. I have no use for five to seven days' delivery time. The Kindle is wonderful for drunk people because you can climb into bed, press one button, and The Anatomy of Melancholy instantaneously materialises before you, plucked by the so-called Whispernet out of the surrounding ether.
The number of books I buy while sober is, I have noticed, inversely proportional to the number I buy while drunk. It's a zero-sum game, as Proust once observed of wet dreams: when all the resources are consumed in the night, none are left for waking life.
Counting free samples and e-books from the pre-1923 copyrightless domain, the total number of books I "purchase" per month has actually gone up by about 200%, while the number of books I purchase while sober has dwindled to about 5% of the total. You used to be able to say that someone's library looked like it had been assembled by a drunk person. Now, for me, the metaphor has become a reality.
..... read further......
Thursday, October 14, 2010
The second and third acts were harrowing and masterly. I can't help but admire Trevor Nunn's technical skill in marshaling his resources on the stage, crass as it may seem to make that remark of a play about the trenches in the Great War.
While I'm on the subject of theatre visits, and for the sake of completeness I also recently saw Cyrano on the Moon at the Wimbledon Studio. It was balderdash.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
I also cancelled going along to watch, but come the day one of the three members of his year's team had to drop out and I'll be darned if Ben didn't take the spot as a substitute, grit his teeth and come home first out of a field of eighteen in the boys' year five race. (The school also won the whole event overall on points for the first time ever he told me.)
Cue wild celebrations (apple crumble) in Browne acres.
P.S. He also got four tries against London Scottish on the weekend.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
You have got to watch the video above. I was genuinely crying with laughter. What elevates it to the sublime I think, is the way that our hero looks utterly bored to death throughout, as well as the telling detail of his wordless opening and closing of the brolly before he belabours each consecutive prop.
The Unbreakable Umbrella works just as well as a walking stick or cane but does not make you look funny or feel awkward. Whacks just as strong as a steel pipe but it weighs only 1 lb. and 9 oz. (710 g). And yes, this umbrella resists the wind and will keep you dry in rain just like the best umbrella should. www.UnbreakableUmbrella.com
Monday, October 11, 2010
Yesterday I went to see Robert McCrum at an event in the extraordinary Southside House (of which I'd never previously heard) where Alex Munthe wrote the, by all accounts extraordinary, The Story of San Michele (of which I'd never previously heard).
Sunday, October 10, 2010
At the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel, the owner, Ron DeCar, has 150 ceremonies planned in five chapels, beginning at midnight. He has had to hire extra Elvis impersonators, he said, to bring the contingent to six.So for all the freaks and geeks jumping the broomstick today, I sincerely wish you wish you all the very best.
There was a similar surge on July 7, 2007, and he is already planning for 11/11/11 and 12/12/12.
For those of a geeky bent, the date has another layer of importance — it is made up entirely of ones and zeros, the binary language of computing. Kevin Cheng and Coley Wopperer of San Francisco have been waiting nearly two years for their wedding date to roll around, having realized over dinner with friends in 2008 that, as one suggested, “you could have a binary-themed wedding!” he recalled.
“Both of our eyes just lit up,” he said.
“We’re very much technology people,” Mr. Cheng explained, as if it were necessary to point this out.
The dinner group quickly calculated the more familiar base-10 value of the binary number 101010, and found that it was 42. “That totally sealed the deal!” he recalled.
Footnote: For fans of Douglas Adams, author of the series of science fiction comedic novels beginning with “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy,” the number 42 is instantly recognized as the punch line to one of literature’s most revered shaggy dog stories. In it, super-intelligent beings have created the most powerful computer ever to provide the “Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything.” The computer labors for 7.5 million years. Finally, it answers: “Forty-two.”
Which means, gentle reader, that Kevin Cheng and Coley Wopperer are truly meant for each other.
Wedding vows in Vegas
Weren't meant to last for ages
You've got to be courageous
To play the odds that love will win
Whatever city you're in.
Friday, October 08, 2010
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
I didn't get in. "Please expect long queues," says the website; accurately.
In the absence of my report on Sir John's collections and personal effects, acquired between the 1780s and his death in 1837, you will have to divert yourself with this video of Bruce Lee playing table tennis with nunchucks.
Let's just relish that again: table tennis with nunchucks. He really was comprised entirely of awesomeness.
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
These are happy days with the Ryder Cup regained in Wales in Welsh weather and a USA team gracious in defeat.
Terry Matthews (Newport 1943) is a Welsh Born Icon.
Monday, October 04, 2010
It wasn't broadcast TV or a disc however, it was streamed to the new XBOX over the net. We only stumbled across the feature, but using it was next to effortless, and the quality was fine.
Writing here every day let's me see how much of an improvement that is over four years ago.
I think perhaps my DVDs will have gone the way of my CDs in another forty eight months.
Sunday, October 03, 2010
KINGS FESTIVAL UPDATE : 0600hrs SUN 3rd OCT - FESTIVAL OFF. OVERNIGHT RAIN HAS FLOODED ALL HARD STANDING CAR PARKING. MORE RAIN FORECAST FOR THIS MORNING LATER. SADLY WITHOUT ANY ON SITE PARKING FACILITY THE FESTIVAL IS CANCELLED.First kids rugby cancellation of the year this morning. First of many if last year and the Ryder Cup is anything to go by. I'm surprised we haven't evolved gills in the UK.
Friday, October 01, 2010
SEATTLE – September 28, 2010—IMDb.com, Inc. (www.imdb.com), the authoritative source of information on movies, TV and celebrities, and part of the Amazon.com, Inc. group of companies, today announced and launched IMDb20, the company’s 20-year anniversary campaign. Beginning today, IMDb will treat fans to an original video interview with a different A-list artist each day, culminating on Oct. 17, 2010, (the date of IMDb’s 20th anniversary). The goal of the online countdown and companion editorial section is to celebrate the films of the past 20 years.
Yes my pretties, but in 1992 when it kicked away the shackles of rec.arts.movies and launched itself onto the World Wide Web (a network in its infancy back then) it was known as the Cardiff Internet Movie Database and was powered by a database residing on the servers of the computer science department of Wales' Cardiff University.
For IMDb.com is - and will ever remain - a Welsh Born Icon.