Friday, August 31, 2012

Hello, Hello

Is Vertigo the greatest film of all time, as the British Film Institute's Sight and Sound magazine poll suggests?

I've downloaded an HD hire from iTunes, so I'll have my own opinion after the weekend.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

eschatological musings

93 And immediately there shall appear a agreat sign in heaven, and all people shall see it together.
Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet at Kirtland, Ohio, Dec 27 1832.
Myself: Mormons believe that specific events must take place as signs before the Second Coming can occurr. Ah'm jess sayin' is all.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mind your own business

General Mills, the company behind Cheerios cereal and Häagen-Dazs ice cream, is headquartered on a leafy expanse outside Minneapolis, Minnesota. Enclosed walkways connect a network of modernist buildings, protecting Midwestern workers from heat and humidity in the summer, and bitter cold and towering snowdrifts in the winter. Inside the halls, some 3,000 people work on everything from product development and marketing to litigation, regulation and mergers and acquisitions. The employee base is generally reflective of middle America – predominantly white, casually dressed and possessing a genial, if hard-working, disposition.
Yet there are signs that in some significant ways, General Mills has a distinctly unusual corporate culture. Open the right door on a Tuesday morning and you might find a few dozen team leaders and executives meditating silently together on cushions, steeling their minds for the work week ahead. Enter a conference room later that afternoon and witness more than 50 senior employees from across the organisation standing on one leg in the tree pose as they practise yoga. Note that in every building on the General Mills campus there is a meditation room, equipped with a few zafus – or cushions for sitting practice – and yoga mats where, day after day, employees duck in to grab a few minutes of equanimity in between their meetings. These are the most obvious signs that, as an organisation, General Mills has something resembling a collective spiritual life.

What strange times we live in. Read the whole thing here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


1. Game
2. Match
3. Balls
4. Stringing
5. Striker and Turn
6. Stroke
7. Pot
8. In-off
9. Hazard
10. Cannon
11. Break
12. In-hand
13. Ball in Play
14. Ball in Baulk
15. Forced off the table
16. Miss
17. Running a coup
18. Foul
19. Spot Occupied
20. Push Stroke
21. Jump shot
1. Description
2. Start of Game
3. Mode of Play
4. Scoring
5. End of Session and Game
6. Playing from In-hand
7. Ball on Baulk-line
8. Spotting Object Balls
9. Limitation of Cannons
10. Limitation of Hazards
11. Ball on Edge of Pocket
12. Ball Moved by Other than Striker
13. Touching Ball
14. Fouls
15. Action after a Foul
16. Action after a Miss
17. Four-handed Billiards
18. Use of Ancillary Equipment
19. Interpretation
Myself: Is there anything more reassuringly British than sniggering at imagined innuendos, Your Royal Highness? May I draw your attention to "Playing from In-hand" sir? "Push Stroke" and "Touching Ball" are also excellent options.

Prodnose (thinking quickly): Great and manifold were the blessings, most dread Prince, which Almighty God, the Father of all mercies, bestowed upon us the people of England, when first he sent Your Highness's Royal Person to Las Vegas. For whereas it was the expectation of many, who wished not well unto our Sion, that upon the setting of that bright Occidental Star, the Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth of most happy memory, some thick and palpable clouds of darkness would so have overshadowed this Land, that men should have been in doubt which way they were to walk; and that it should hardly be known, who was to be in a right old two-and-eight of a State; the appearance of your Highness, as the Sun in his strength, instantly dispelled those supposed and surmised mists, and gave unto all that were well affected exceeding cause of comfort; especially when we beheld the Partay established by Your Highness, and Your hopeful Seed, by an undoubted Title, and this also accompanied with peace and tranquillity at home and abroad sort of.

Finbarr Saunders: Your hopeful Seed!!! Fnarr fnarr.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Sallying Fourth

I have just signed up for my fourth consecutive Richmond to Windsor Bike Ride next Sunday. The Bomber - who first did it as a nine year old - is coming along as well as his rugby season doesn't kick off until September 9th this year.

I bought him a new bike this morning as an early birthday present. The agreement being that he does the event on it and then returns it to me until the wheels are officially handed over again on September 30th, the day he turns twelve. Does that sound fair?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

taking the mickey

Myself: Strictly, speed is the first derivative of distance with respect to time.

Prodnose: You're no fun anymore.

Myself: Strictly, the mickey is used to measure the speed and movement direction of a computer mouse.

Prodnose: We used to laugh all the time.

Myself: So strictly mickeys are not precisely measurements of speed and speed alone

Prodnose: I don't care. It's just supposed to be a bit of fun

Myself:: Unflinching moral rectitude and intellectual rigour aren't fun? There are more important things than fun let me tell you.

Prodnose: I'm not bringing you to the quiz next week

Myself: What do you mean an Angstrom is a unit of length not distance? Distance is the same as length! I don't care what it says on your stupid answer sheet ....... it's the same .... it's the same ....  it doesn't make any difference that it's very small ... damn you .... you're all crazy ... am I the only one who's listening to this?  Get me the Imperial College physics department on the phone .... what do you mean they've gone home .. Jeez ....
cont. page 94

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Dai Vinci Coed


   coeden [coed, f.] - (n.) tree; ( woods, wood, timber
     { (tree) Coeden may be more common in some dialects than in others. }
     { (wood) Coeden in the plural "coed" can mean either "a wood": "mynd
       am dro yn y coed" to go for a walk in the wood, or the substance wood,
       timber. }

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Hot Stuff

West Dean being a client, I have been comp'd with tickets for the Annual Chilli Fiesta this weekend, so that is where I will be on Saturday or Sunday.

For the skinny, please see

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

spukhafte Fernwirkung

Quantum dynamics of the avian compass

The ability of migratory birds to orient relative to the Earth's magnetic field is believed to involve a coherent superposition of two spin states of a radical electron pair. However, the mechanism by which this coherence can be maintained in the face of strong interactions with the cellular environment has remained unclear. This Letter addresses the problem of decoherence between two electron spins due to hyperfine interaction with a bath of spin 1/2 nuclei. Conditions necessary for long lived coherence are identified, and a simple yet robust model for sensing magnetic field orientation is presented.
This week I will mostly be failing to understand quantum entanglement.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pussy Riot

The Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which creates an offence in England and Wales of inciting hatred against a person on the grounds of their religion. I railed against it in 2005 (see Icons passim) and I still think it is an absurd piece of legislation.

The bill contains wording to amend the Public Order Act 1986:
  • Section 29A
    • Meaning of "religious hatred"
      • In this Part "religious hatred" means hatred against a group of persons defined by reference to religious belief or lack of religious belief.
  • Section 29B:
    • (1) A person who uses threatening words or behaviour, or displays any written material which is threatening, is guilty of an offence if he intends thereby to stir up religious hatred.
Do you really think that if you stormed a mosque, synagogue or church in dear old Blighty disguised in a balaclava and chanting "Crap, crap, this godliness crap! Crap, crap, this holiness crap!" that you wouldn't have your collar felt?

"And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" as someone once wondered.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Boy and Bicycle

Tony and Ridley Scott were close collaborators from their creative beginnings. Tony even starrted in his brother's first foray into film making (Boy and Bicycle)  made initially on a budget of £65 using a Bolex 16mm cine-camera, borrowed from the Royal College of Art in London, where Ridley was a student.

RIP Tony Scott 1944-2012

Sunday, August 19, 2012


I'm not as a rule much of a man for Peter Hitchen's Why Oh Why Oh Why articles in the gastric band for the brain that is the Mail on Sunday. Today he reports that "puzzled by hearing about ‘Team GB’ during the Olympics" he "sought to find out exactly why the entire United Kingdom wasn’t represented at the Games". I remember that I always had to be very careful to distinguish British and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland construction statistics when I worked at Wimpey so I also raised a quizzical eyebrow at the name Team GB during the games myself.

Here's what he says:
The International Olympic Committee, that politically correct body, doesn’t seem to recognise the border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland. Could that be why the Olympic Torch veered down to Dublin at one point? I’m not sure.
It’s quite well-known that athletes from Northern Ireland can compete in the Irish or British teams, as they wish. The rule was made in 1952 after two Northern-born swimmers were barred from the Irish team in 1948 amid some bitterness.
The gradual departure of Northern Irish athletes from the British team is a sensitive measure of Britain’s diminishing power. The process is not over.
The red rag waving in paragraphs one and three remind me why I try not to read the Mail, but paragraph two is intriguing and certainly not previously "quite well known" to yours truly.

Point of order Mr Chairman - the Irish rugby team is made up of players from Eire and Northern Ireland. I had long thought that was a unique arrangement. Apparently not.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Vegging Out

My plan for a little later today is to cook this courgette, basil and lemon risotto recipe, using onions and garlic from Bondy's allotment, courgette and basil from my weekly organic Reverford vegetable box, and a wedge of lemon left over from last night's kebab.

Prodnose: Representing for the gangsters all across the world?
Myself: Still got lemon from streets, prepping 213
Prodnose: No stress, no seeds, no stems, no sticks?
Myself: Still D.R.E to the Delia Smith

Friday, August 17, 2012


The Bomber is competing for Herne Hill Harriers at U13 level in the South London Athletics Super 8 League on Sunday.
Super8 is built around 8 events (4 track & 4 field events) and 2 relays. Teams are made up of 8 boys & 8 girls with each athlete doing one track event, one field event and a relay. They score points in their respective disciplines that go towards their individual and team score.
He's only 11 but athletics seems to be organised in cohorts that are two years long; U11, U13, U15, U17 etc.

They are away Sutton Arena and a mini bus will take them from the Tooting track at 9am.

All grown up.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

His Master's Voice

Adrian Bayford who, along with his wife, just won £148 million on the lottery owns and runs a second hand record shop. His father has said that his lucky son was hoping to expand his record shop business using his new fortune.

Helia Ebrahimi, writing in the Telegraph, has pointed out that he could snap up HMV, the British global entertainment retail chain, with "pocket change".

You can run your finger over her back-of-the-envelope calculations here.

In fairness, she also points out that to the while the Bayford business "has grown in recent years, HMV has seen its fortunes dwindle".

Schadenfreude over HMV's misfortunes notwithstanding however, I am rather a fan of Wimbledon's HMV Curzon and I would be sorry to lose it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

At last

Annie Last is the niece of Debs who works in the office next to mine. The Bomber and I watched he come in 8th in the Olympic Mountain Bike race on Saturday; she was the first British woman to qualify for the race in twelve years.

I may well get himself a new bike for his birthday at the end of September, though the spec may be little less refined than Ms Last's, maybe something out of the TREK Dual Sport range.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Cynicism be gone!

The Olympic Spirit: In accordance with tradition, I declare the Games of the 30th Olympiad closed, and I call upon the youth of the world to assemble four years from now in  Rio de Janeiro to celebrate the Games of the 31st  Olympiad.

The Youth of the World: I wanna, I wanna, I wanna ha, I wanna ha, I wanna really really really wanna zigazig ah.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Too Much Reality

The Bomber played tennis as usual at the Sir Joseph Hood Memorial Ground this morning. The Ruts train there sometimes as well if the club is overcrowded.

It is, to all intents and purposes, the same piece of ground Cannon Hill Common where Stuart Hazell was arrested last night on suspicion of Tia Sharp's murder.

Words fail me.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Big Questions

Prodnose: What is the nature of knowledge? Can a theory be valid if it cannot proved? Where does knowledge end and philosophy or religion begin?

Myself: Some people think Jessica Ennis is fat.

Prodnose: At least with the discovery of the Higgs boson, the last gap in the "Standard Model" of physics has been filled.

Myself: There's always that I suppose, but it only encompasses the visible universe .......

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Bird on the wire

Like a bird on the wire,
Like a drunk in a midnight choir,
I have tried, in my way, to be free.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

That's Entertainment

I was saddened to hear that Marvin Hamlisch has died. I wasn't a huge fan of his chat show schtick, but he did have prodigious musical gifts. I have always thought that "What I did for love" is a wonderful understated song, for example.

It has also reminded me that an apology to my family is overdue for all the abuse I gave their eardrums when I was a kid teaching myself The Entertainer on the piano after he popularized it in The Sting. When I site down at a keyboard my neurons fire in a pattern that reflects what the playing is supposed to sound like. Audience members can only hear what it actually sounds like, so my juvenile attempts at rag-time syncopation must have been particularly trying.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Browne with a knee

Arriving at the gym earlier this week without my membership card I announced myself as "Nick Browne with-an-E" so that my bona fides could be checked, only for the London2012-befuddled receptionist to start looking up Nick Brownlee.

Them's the breaks I suppose and - over five years (and half a stone) on from my triathlon (Icons passim) - I will be cheering on the Brownlee brothers on in the Olympic tri today.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Spanking the plank

Since Garageband for the IPAD swam into my consciousness last year (Icons passim), it has been upgraded and extended to the iPhone (and iPod Touch for that matter).

I plugged my guitar into the phone yesterday afternoon (via the trusty Apogee Jam) and had a little noodle around. For all that it seems ridiculous to be cranking out blues riffs into such a small device, it really is a joy to use. It is going to make practicing so much easier that I will have to develop a whole new range of excuses for why I don't do it enough.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Dem apples

The apple tree I planted last year (Icons passim) has borne fruit and I have uploaded a photo directly to the 'blog from my iPhone for the first time. Truly my cup overfloweth.

Saturday, August 04, 2012


I caught the video above earlier this week when  was vegetating in front of a music channel before I went out  and realised that I had seen them filming it near London Bridge when I was there on May 11th.

Don't let the excitement engendered by this revelation distract you from the Olympics though.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Dark Knight Capital

In The Dark Knight Rises, the villainous Bane attacks the stock exchange and bankrupts our hero, forcing him to relinquish control of Wayne Enterprises, by uploading a series of massive automatic and fraudulent trades.

Unlikely as it seems, this is eerily reminiscent of  US equity broker Knight Capital losing $440m yesterday. The huge loss came from orders triggered by a software glitch in Knight’s systems that led to huge price swings in dozens of stocks on Wednesday. “It was a software bug, it just happened to be a large software bug,” Thomas Joyce the Chief Executive said on Bloomberg television with fairly spectacular sangfroid.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Shut It!

Blimey, even Regan in the Sweeney used to give stories to the News of the World on a nod and a wink. The Leveson Inquiry may never end.

Det. Insp. Jack Regan: I sometimes hate this place! It's a bloody holiday camp for thieves and weirdos - all the rubbish. You age prematurely trying to sort some of them out. Try and protect the public, and all they do is call you fascist. You nail a villain and some ponced-up pinstripe Hampstead barrister screws it up like an old fag-packet on a point of procedure, then pops off for a game of squash and a glass of madeira. He's taking home thirty grand a year, and we can just about afford ten days in Eastbourne and a second-hand car. It's all bloody wrong, my son.

Lord Justice Leveson: Right. We'll rise now and resume at 1.50 pm. Thank you very much indeed.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Work Ethic

Your probably working all day like me, but - if it happens to coincide with a coffee break - Winston Gordon will be looking to reverse GB’s dire fortunes in judo when he meets Canadian Alexandre Emond in the ExCeL at 9.51am in the Elimination Round of 32.

As far as I can tell, it will be on the BBC website at
Update: It seems to be on

Just before 10 am: Ippon! Super win.

If he gets through that, other coffee breaks will be as follows:

10:40 - 11:07 Men's -90kg Preliminaries
11:36 - 11:49 Men's -90kg Quarter-finals

14:28 - 15:23 Men's -90kg Bronze Medal Finals Medal event
14:42 - 14:55 Men's -90kg Semi-finals
16:10 - 16:20 Men's -90kg Gold Medal Final

Over and Out: Lost in the second round, dagnabbit!

For the video record:

First Fight
Second Fight