Tuesday, November 30, 2010

dawn: a command line poem


Monday, November 29, 2010

"Mistah Kurtz, he dead"

MacKenna (Icons passim) was back in town from Kinshasa over the weekend. Alan Doss has retired and Rod is now the Political Advisor to the Force Commander for the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

I find it impossible to hear this without:
Well, you see, Willard, in this war, things get confused out there. Power, ideals, the old morality, and practical military necessity. But out there with these natives, it must be a temptation to be God. Because there's a conflict in every human heart, between the rational and irrational, between good and evil. And good does not always triumph. Sometimes, the dark side overcomes what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature
... reverberating through my head.

It is strange to think I've known him for about a quarter of a century without realizing he can speak French. How did I imagine he operated in francophone Africa?

I couldn't help but explore the Wikileaks US embassy cables database with this in mind today. There is only one single cable from DR Congo, a country as big as Western Europe.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Frozen Pitches

No rugby for the Bomber this morning, due to frozen pitches.

It is worth observing on the plus side of the electronic communications revolution that SMS, email and the web let the club get the message round in double quick time, so we're playing chess in our dressing gowns rather than turning up to find that the game is off.

(He has just taken my queen with a sucker punch of a move. Morning chess without caffeine seems to be a mistake.)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Don't forget to remember

Cardiff City will go to the top of the Premiership if they beat QPR this afternoon.

I can remember walking up from Wimpey in Hammersmith to see the same fixture years ago.

Looking at the record of head-to-heads on the Cardiff City Mad site I can't work out if that was the FA Cup in January 1990 or the League Cup in August 1999.

My sense of when events ocurred before I made daily notes here is - to say the least - fluid.

Friday, November 26, 2010

the value of nothing

While the bomber was doing his maths homework last night, I decided to exhume my legendary mental arithmetic skills and back-of-the-enveloped that I will need to put aside about £290 a month from now until his first day if I am going to save up £9,000 a year tuition fees before he starts university.

Then I realized (is this a reproach to my teachers?) that I had missed a year out of my sum and the figure is actually more like £260.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gross National Happiness

The BBC announces that the "Prime Minister David Cameron is launching a £2m project on how best to measure the nation's happiness," and I join in the general chorus of derision.

Matthieu Ricard, Buddhist monk and world's happiest man, says much the same thing as the PM and I nod sagely.

Mote and beam, Sir? What do you think?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

strange solitary crazy Catholic mystic

Continuing with the Duluoz Legend I have been astonished to discover that Desolation Angels appears to be out of print.

This seems to be a ridiculous state of affair in the age of the Kindle et al. Reputations wax and wane, but Kerouac is surely a significant figure in 20th century American letters.

I can see him on YouTube on the Steve Allen Show, and even hear him singing (I use the word advisedly) "On the Road" via Spotify, but I can't break the spine on a new copy of one of his novels.
“I hope it is true that a man can die and yet not only live in others but give them life, and not only life, but that great consciousness of life.”
Myself: Not if they can't get hold of the book, mate.

Prodnose: “My witness is the empty sky.”

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

St Cecilia's Day

I went to see the Bomber playing the recorder at a Wimbledon Music Festival Roadshow yesterday in the Great Hall at King's College, under the auspices of the Merton Music Foundation.

It was lead by Piers Adams "regarded by many to be the greatest recorder player of our time" and it was great.

Entre nous, I only went out of duty but I enjoyed it tremendously.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Duluoz Legend

I went to see Canaletto and his Rivals in the National Gallery yesterday; a fact I record here only because an earlier post informs me that it was an astounding three and a half years ago that I went to see Canaletto in England at Dulwich.

I finished off Kerouac's The Dharma Bums on the tube on my way to The Embankment. It really chimed with me. Here is a crib sheet that Beat Generation scholars can use to relate the characters from the very autobiographical book with their real life equivalents:

Jack Kerouac Ray Smith
Caroline Kerouac Nin
Carolyn Cassady Evelyn
Neal Cassady Cody Pomeray
Claude Dalenberg Bud Diefendorf
Allen Ginsberg Alvah Goldbook
Natalie Jackson Rosie Buchanan
Philip Lamantia Francis DaPavia
Michael McClure Ike O'Shay
Locke McCorkle Sean Monahan
John Montgomery Henry Morley
Peter Orlovsky George
Kenneth Rexroth Rheinhold Cacoethes
Gary Snyder Japhy Ryder
Alan Watts Arthur Whane
Philip Whalen Warren Coughlin

Kerouac wrote that:
My work compromises one vast book like Proust's Remembrance of Things Past except that my remembrances are written on the run instead of afterwards in a sick bed. Because of the objections of my early publishers I was not allowed to use the same personae names in each work. On The Road, The Subterraneans, The Dharma Bums, Doctor Sax, Maggie Cassidy, Tristessa, Desolation Angels, and the other are just chapters in the whole work which I call The Duluoz Legend. In my old age I intend to collect all my work and reinsert my pantheon of uniform names, leave the long shelf full of books there, and die happy. The whole thing forms one enormous comedy, seen through they eyes of poor Ti Jean (me), otherwise known as Jack Duluoz, the world of raging action and folly and also of gentle sweetness seen through the keyhole of his eye.
I'm very tempted to go straight back up the mountain with Desolation Angels which is the next in the series chronologically - though not in the order of publication.

Then again, I am also hearing good things about Life: Keith Richards

It might be fun to read that using Spotify to listen to all the tracks as he discusses them.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Windows 25

Microsoft first introduced an operating environment named Windows in November 20, 1985. I wonder what November 2035 will bring, given the distance between the screenshot above and the Kinect and Dell Duo I blogged about over the last couple of days?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Only Kinect

I was going to buy the Bomber a Microsoft Kinect for Christmas, but I couldn't stand the stress of waiting so we got one last weekend.

The Burglar came round to check it out in the week. The space I had cleared for it to operate couldn't really cope with all six foot three of him but we grokked the idea and began to speculate about hacks.

We have been overtaken by events.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Could this be the one?

The Dell DUO should be out before Christmas. If it does everything it appears to do, pairing it with the JBL Audio Station dock would seem to make it ideal for all the uses the pub computer (see Icons passim) currently serves in Browne acres. That is to say, I could browse with it in tablet form on the sofa in the living room, unfold it into a laptop for casual work, mount in the dock as a bedside radio alarm, or stream music to it when I'm in the kitchen.

What do you think of the video? I know we've been down this road before with hybrids and convertibles running "Windows XP Tablet PC Edition" and that they scarcely set the world on fire, but we live in hope.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Doing what comes naturally

The Indescribablyboring, reporting on the Royal engagement yesterday, made a sage observation about "the official bulletin being released – naturally – on to Twitter and Facebook."

At the time of the announcement the British Monarchy Facebook page had been live for eight days and three hours, and thus became the natural home for proclamations pretty darn pronto.

I am 969 years old in Internet time.

Sorry to be going on an on about the regnancy but I keep on finding stuff I want to scrapbook here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

the day the world turned dayglo

When Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton plighted their troth at 11 am yesterday a lot of our systems lit up like Christmas trees (see numberless Icons passim since this first for-your-eyes-only teaser).

A story with which to bore any future grandchildren methinks.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Los 33

"Brad Pitt may helm Chilean miners film," says the Guardian.

We can only imagine ........

Monday, November 15, 2010


Zeitgeist is "the spirit of the times" or "the spirit of the age." Zeitgeist is the general cultural, intellectual, ethical, spiritual, and/or political climate within a nation or even specific groups, along with the general ambience, morals, sociocultural direction or mood of an era.

The term zeitgeist is from German Zeit- 'time' (cognate with English tide and "time") and Geist- 'spirit' (cognate with English ghost, without being really translatable into English - this is why the German term is used).
All of which is a long winded way of saying that the Monarchy Facebook page got teased on "Have I got news for you" see http://www.bbc.co.uk/i/w0yw7/?t=18m54s.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fathers and Sons

The bomber continues to grow like a weed. In the last couple of weeks I've taken a pair of his tracksuit bottoms to the gym myself, as well as trying to kit him out in a pair of mine for running club. Soon his legs will be long enough to reach the ground.

He scored a try and was awarded the Golden Boot as the best player in the Ruts U10s defeat of Dorking RFC today.

On a sad note, I heard today that Rayburn's father has died in the States. I will try and see him tonight to give him my condolences.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

You're my besht mate .....

This week, web security company Webroot released a new Firefox plugin called “The Social Media Sobriety Test” with the tagline, “Nothing good happens online after 1 a.m.”

The deal is simple, download the plugin and customize the settings for a variety of social media sites — from Facebook to MySpace to Tumblr (for the bloggers among us) to e-mail accounts like Gmail or Hotmail.

Set your hours of intoxication, and if you try to sign on to one of those sites during those times, you’ll be asked to pass a test. I tried it out — about five minutes ago and fully sober — and failed said test, however. You try typing the alphabet backwards. It’s not as easy as it looks.

With the week I have had, I am starting to think this should be compulsory.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Faggots and Peas

What with one thing and another we have had to upgrade our troll hunting and comment moderating skills this week.

See http://www.regular-expressions.info/ for general info, but as an example:

will return any word starting fag and ending with nothing or s or got or gots or ot or ots. You join the dots. Don't assume that people typing through gritted teeth will necessarily spell their rants correctly.

I have also discovered that it is impossible to keep a straight face during any conversation about filtering profanity.

Life on internet time: Monday seems a long time ago.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Effin' Ineffable Part II


Prodnose: ?


Prodnose: Ho ho, very satirical.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Shut Up!

Thomas Aquinas, who devoted some two million words to spelling out, in the Summa Theologica, the nature of the world, God’s purpose in creating it and our fate in traversing it, ended his short life (short by our standards, at least) in a state of ecstasy, declaring that all that he had written was of no significance beside the beatific vision that he had been granted, and in the face of which words fail. His was perhaps the most striking example of a philosopher who comes to believe that the real meaning of the world is ineffable. Having got to this point, Aquinas obeyed the injunction of Wittgenstein, whose Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus concludes with the proposition: “that whereof we cannot speak we must consign to silence.”

But Aquinas was exceptional. The history of philosophy abounds in thinkers who, having concluded that the truth is ineffable, have gone on to write page upon page about it. One of the worst offenders is Kierkegaard, who argues in a hundred ways that the ultimate is inexpressible, that truth is “subjectivity,” that the meaning of life can be given by no formula, no proposition, no abstraction, but only by the concrete experience of surrender whose content can never be given in words.

The same idea occurs in Schopenhauer, for whom the truth of the world is Will, which cannot be represented in concepts. Schopenhauer devoted roughly 500,000 words to this thing that no words can capture. And he set a fashion that continues to this day.

Let's raise our glasses to Scruton. Who else makes Aquinas, Wittgenstein, Kierkegaard and Schopenhauer funny?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The trip now longer and stranger

The LA Times weighs in:
How does 84-year-old Queen Elizabeth II -- that iPod-owning royal star of
Twitter, Flickr and YouTube -- manage to get even more hip?

The same way anyone else does: She joins Facebook.
"148,344 people like this" says the page as I write. That has been clicked up at a rate of 540 a minute (coming up for 10 a second) since launch.

Monday, November 08, 2010

What a long strange trip it's been

At last, http://www.facebook.com/TheBritishMonarchy has gone live this morning.

It joins http://twitter.com/#!/BritishMonarchy and http://www.flickr.com/photos/britishmonarchy/ in the social media stable.

That has ticked all the important boxes for the time being I think.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Coming Forth By Day

In a week in which the Queen had been pleased to appoint Mr Neil MacGregor (Director of the British Museum) to be a member of the Order of Merit, I went along to the exhibition Journey Through the Afterlife: The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead at the institution that he heads yesterday.

Judgement, for the Ancient Egyptians, came after a lengthy expedition through the underworld when the supplicant's heart would be weighed on a set of scales against a feather. Fail the test and the too heavy heart would sink down and be swallowed by the Devourer (a crocodile-headed compound of a lion and a hippopotamus). Nice.

I also learned a little about hieratic, a cursive writing system that was used in the provenance of the pharaohs that developed alongside the hieroglyphic system. Being primarily written in ink with a reed brush on papyrus, and allowing scribes to write quickly it seemed familiar in a way that stone carved hieroglyphs never do.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Sold I to the merchant ships

Bob Marley ~ Medium Pastels and Oil pastels

The Egyptian ring wearin', paint slingin', globe trottin' vagabond (see Icons passim) lives in the schizophrenic St Maarten/St Martin in the Caribbean these days.

Two years ago, Paul and I said we'd keep hold of her portfolio until she could send for it. It is still in the office, and a while after that the burglar hung a selection of it up on the walls to pass the time during a slow afternoon.

Last week one of the girls from Time and Leisure admired the portrait of Bob Marley above, so with Tess's permission, we sold it to her.

Any other offers?

Friday, November 05, 2010

people who can't write interviewing people who can't talk for people who can't read

I finished reading The Accidental Billionaires: Sex, Money, Betrayal and the Founding of Facebook yesterday.

It is written using a ridiculous third-person omniscient narrative style that is completely inappropriate for conveying what purports to be a true story. The beginning of every chapter reminded me of the Blues Brothers' Jake had a vision. It was his, the only real one he'd ever had, and he clung to it. Absurd.

Yet the Social Network movie that is based on it is actually rather good. Jaws and The Godfather also spring to mind as fine films made from mediocre books.

What can it all mean?

Next I shall read Jack Kerouac's The Dharma Bums, which I am finally getting around to after reading On the Road in 1988.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

If you want a picture of the future .....

.... imagine a sequined white glove punching a human face - for ever.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Déjà vu

Paul McCartney is promoting his recent release Band on the Run in the NME.

Jerry Brown is the Governor of California, but the Man is still gonna hassle you over your stash.

Spurs are doing well in Europe.

I think it is 1974.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

A messsage from the Candyman

Hello cats and kittens,

Apologies for the cloak and d. over recent weeks. However as it appears this is going to continue for the forseeable I really ought to offer up some sort of breadcrumbs trail as to what's going on. (As you know I am queasy about introducing vulgar real life onto the vaudeville stage so let's keep this crisp.)

After a pretty mouldy diagnosis about a month back I finally begin chemotherapy on Monday with further radiotherapy from January. Yes radiotherapy; can you beat it? This being so, the old treehouse baggy pants will be donned but sparingly. Once the quacks have soundly thrashed this thing I shall return like a rare gas and as if out of a trap. In the meantime I am watching Tommy Steele box sets (and has there ever been a more lying title to a film than TS's "It's All Happening"?) and urge you all to keep yakking up a storm and laugh extra loud at the incumbents.

Thank you for all the best wishes and concern from those who suspected as much about my "condition" and by all means keep ringing up Baylen and Amy to demand more and more Atomic Rooster and Spooky Tooth records.

So. Manly handshake. Walk right on. In the words of King George, "What what and there it is..."
Danny Baker, my favourite "personality" to use a word he would loathe, has issued the dignified statement above about being treated for the big C. I wish him all the best for a speedy recovery. What I wouldn't give to have him in my team in a pub quiz.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Bringing down the curtain

Ben was playing in the Harequins' Curtain Raiser Cup yesterday. They won their first game against Bracknell, but went down to Ealing and then Cobham.

I think these mini rugby festivals are a great idea. The kids get three or four games in a day, and get to meet an unpredictable variety of teams over a season.

The idea does not seem so great, it has to be said, when you are setting off first thing in the morning in the pouring rain and freezing cold.