Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Milly Dowler

LONDON (Reuters) - A former nightclub doorman has been charged with the murder of teenager Milly Dowler, one of Britain's most high-profile unsolved crimes.

Prosecutors said on Tuesday they had charged Levi Bellfield, 41, with the schoolgirl's kidnap and murder.

This is good to see, five years after I wrote about it here,

THOUGH the mills of God grind slowly,
Yet they grind exceeding small

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Making History

Webcast continues with the first attempt to collide protons at 7 TeV (3.5 TeV per beam). Live satellite coverage begins via EBU. From 9:00 to 11:00, coverage will include: live footage from the control rooms of the LHC accelerator and experiments; step-by-step explanations of how the LHC teams bring beams into collision, with commentary from the team operating the LHC accelerator; and interviews with leaders of CERN and the LHC experiments.

Live now!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Children are the future

I was drawn into a Mexican stand-off with some particularly unsavoury representatives of local youth yesterday, involving masonry, scrap metal and arson.

Never mind, unpleasant as it may have been it was scarcely DR Congo.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


It seems that Uma Thurman's latest movie only sold one ticket in the UK when it opened last Sunday.

I went to see Shutter Island yesterday and I was bored rigid. There were twelve producers in the credits; 'nuff said.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

On Dec

I went - it's a long story - officially to accept the money that the Bomber's school raised for the DEC Haiti Appeal, and found - to my delight - that the giant cheque that HSBC provide for such events is, in effect, a whiteboard that gets wiped down between gigs then reused.

It is good to get even a small chance to keep Haiti in the public's mind; the rainy season will start in the next week or so, bringing chaos to the tented cities, and that is likely to be followed by hurricanes come summer.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Compare and contrast

"Brown's website as mad as he is," said the Register yesterday summarising a comprehensive shoeing for

They end the piece shrewdly however:
Compare and contrast with an earlier investigation - the Queen seems to have keywords, Twitter and YouTube all sewn up.

Her site even includes a Google Map of Royal visits showing where Prince Philip is likely to be insulting the locals next.
How true. How very true.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Compare the meercat

Half the people who ask me where I was last week seem to think I'm saying Slovenia when I enunciate Cervinia. If they subsequently accept that I skied from Slovenia into Switzerland one afternoon I make a mental note to include them in my five vegetables per day and move on.

It reminds me of an exchange when Carlo, our instructor, was trying to establish his group's names.

Carlo: ... and your name is?
Sean: Sean.
Carlo: John?
Sean: No Sean.
Irene (in a beguiling Irish lilt): Is it Shaun S H A U N?
Sean: No it's just Sean. (suddenly inspired) Like Sean Connery.
Carlo (the clouds lift): Ahhhh ...... JOHN Connery.
Sean (resigned): Yeah

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Guy de Snowboard

The Bomber and I took an afternoon off skiing last week for a taste of snowboarding.

You haven't lived until you've had an Italian boarding instructor called Mohammad screaming in public that your pelvis is wrong.

I was pathetic, while the son and heir glided effortlessly down resembling nothing so much as Rio's Christ the Redeemer statue in elegant motion.

My theory is that by drilling new motor skills like this into middle age I can benefit from brain plasticity even if it is at the cost of bruised body rigidity the next day.

I hope to give it a better shot next year.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My craft or sullen art

A public service announcement...

The Dylan Thomas Prize is offered by the University of Wales to a writer under 30 whose published book (it can be a novel, a collection of poems, a travel book, a play, etc. but I believe it needs to have been published in the last year - go and look at the specs for more details) is deemed by the prize committee most worthy of recognition. It need not have anything to do with Wales, and is open to writers of all nationalities! It is a large cash prize, and they are eager for submissions, so please forward this announcement widely if you know of anyone who might be interested.

Entries must be received by 30 April 2010.

Hat tip: Jenny D

Monday, March 22, 2010

Back in the loop

For all yesterday's protestations of disengagement, I did read Green Zone: Imperial Life in the Emerald City while I was away.

I'd also downloaded In The Loop from the BBC IPlayer to watch in Italy, but decided on reflection that a film with a swearing consultant in the credits was probably best not shared with a nine year old; he tended to relax with CBBC's Deadly 60.

I watched the movie last night, and lines like "You know they're all kids in Washington? It's like Bugsy Malone, but with real guns," really resonated after reading about a twenty-four-year-old who had never worked in finance being put in charge of revitalising Baghdad's stock exchange in the Green Zone book.

There's also a lot in the film about the tension between the State Department and the Pentagon that might have eluded me if I hadn't been primed by Imperial Life.

At least I am back on the bridge with a full load of scepticism ready for the Prime Minister's speech about "his vision for a new digital Britain in a major speech" this morning.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ignorance is bliss

I'm back, but I haven't heard a news bulletin, read a paper, or looked at the internet since I left for Italy.

It feels great.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Alps

I am off to Cervinia for a week's skiing and internet purdah.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

White Heat

At the Labour Party conference in 1963 Harold Wilson famously declared that a New Britain would be ‘forged in the white heat of (the scientific and technological) revolution’. Three years later a government department was established that would not only be instrumental in the realisation of this goal, the Ministry of Technology, but in the words of its first Minister Tony Benn, would provide Britain with the role she was searching for since the demise of the Empire. The Wilson government not only asserted that technology was the key to the modernisation of British industry and if you take Benn’s view foreign relations, it believed that the country was living through a ‘scientific age’ that would fundamentally transform it.

Well that worked then.

Labour set a target of universal access of 2Mbps by 2012. The Tories promise 50 times that ........ zzzzzzzzzz - Conservative Technology Manifesto launched Thursday, March 11 2010.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

wrapped in clumps of barley

I finished reading Pico Iyer's The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama earlier this week, and coincidentally on the on the 51st Anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising Day.

According to the Teleegraph:
Traditionally, Tibet's high priests have searched for the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama after his death. It took four years to discover the current incarnation, Tenzin Gyatso, in a small farming village in the region of Amdo.

However, the current Dalai Lama, 74, has suggested that his reincarnation may not take place inside China, or that he could nominate and train his successor while he is still alive. He has also said that the position of Dalai Lama may die with him.

Padma Choling, the new governor of Tibet, took the unusual step of making a public statement on the sensitive subject over the weekend, during the current National People's Congress meetings.

Mr Choling's comments raise the possibility that the Dalai Lama could be succeeded by two new Lamas, one chosen by Tibetan monks and another by the Chinese government.

Beijing has its own method for naming religious figures in Tibet, based on a lottery that uses a golden urn with names wrapped in clumps of barley. It was used by the Communist party to select its own Panchen Lama, the second highest-ranking figure in Tibetan Buddhism.

My italics: "Beijing has its own method for naming religious figures in Tibet, based on a lottery that uses a golden urn with names wrapped in clumps of barley." It beggars belief. Even my alter ego is reduced to open mouthed incredulity.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Monday, March 08, 2010


The Police API allows you to retrieve information about neighbourhood areas in all 43 English & Welsh police forces. All forces are required to keep this data accurate and up to date, so the API provides a rich and definitive data source for information such as:

Neighbourhood team members
Upcoming events
Crime levels & statistics
Nearest police stations

The API is implemented as a standard XML
REST web service using HTTP GET/POST requests.
Far from perfect, but a move in the right direction see Icons passim.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Good morning

I went to the British Museum yesterday, and saw the Staffordshire Hoard and the Warriors of the Plains exhibition.

I wasn't exactly overwhelmed with either to be frank, even though the latter had scalps.

Perhaps I'm getting jaded.

All the best,


Saturday, March 06, 2010

Heart of Stone

Members of the Desarmes family left Haiti two weeks after the devastating earthquake in January, joining their eldest son in Chile in what seemed a refuge from the chaos of Port-au-Prince.

Their sense of security lasted barely a month, until another powerful quake shook Chile at the weekend.

All the immediate family survived both quakes, but now, for fear of another quake, they sleep in the garden of a home that the eldest son, Pierre, found for them near the capital, Santiago.

I am trying not to laugh at this, but failing.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Link Life

We stopped off at Burlington Bertie's fancy dress shop on the way to judo last night so that the Bomber could get a Viking helmet to complete his Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III costume for Dress up as a Book Character day in school today. (Hiccup is from How to Train Your Dragon, soon to be a major motion picture.)

At judo, I read on the notice board about the London International Judo Open which is part of SENI, the International Combat Sports Show, which is on at the EXCEL centre 29 and 30 May. That might be worth a visit.

After that we ate at Steak Out in Tooting, which is good for him because he doesn't have to wait for me to cook when we get home and so gets to bed earlier, and good for me because it is unlicensed so I don't drink.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


We are off to Cervinia skiing in a couple of weeks, and it has just struck me that I can download content from the BBC IPlayer while I'm here, and then - as I have 30 days to watch it - throw the netbook into the suitcase and have some material with me to while away the inevitable longueurs of the journey or an odd slow evening.

John Sayles' Honeydripper for example, is only just over 600MB in Windows Media Player format.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

In the long term

Both email and snail mail have tipped me the wink that the Childline Challenge is back on this year - after a sabbatical - on April 25th.

Good news. I am up for it again, though I may have to tug on your sleeve as there is a minimum £100 sponsorship commitment.

Let's try and get our ducks in a row, for the year's events.

I've already had some prelminary discussions with Rob about the Springfield Triatholon on June 2oth, but I have just discovered that it is on the same day as the London to Brighton Bike ride.

I've only done it once, but the usual crew are up for the London to Windsor Bike Ride on September 5th. Andy and I should be doing the shortened 29 mile version with our kids (Jonnie and Ben) this year.

I've put on a few pounds since the begining of the year. Perhaps if I commit to train for the currently distant (Sep 26) it will help focus my mind.

Monday, March 01, 2010

I'm against it

Should some kinds of music, especially pop, be positively discouraged, others encouraged? Standing with Plato, Roger Scruton answers a resounding yes... more»
It is always fun to see Professor Scruton kicking against the pricks, though I'm surprised to see his truculent disquisition illustrated with YouTube clips. I do hope he's not mellowing.