Friday, April 30, 2010

Go the whole hog, Mog!

The Bomber is playing in the Mini & Junior Rugby Festival hosted by Burnham on Sea RFC this Saturday and Sunday.

It is organised by Gulivers Travel, and we are being put up at Pontin's Brean Sands Holiday Camp.

I'll probably be offline for the next few days, but if I'm needed urgently try the camp's Lunars Showbar.

Living well is the best revenge.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Gordon Brown is a solipsistic boor, and (never mind yesterday's shenanigans) you should have realised that when he turned his back on tradition in 1997 by arriving to deliver his first Mansion House speech wearing a lounge suit - rather than the traditional black tie. It was the act of a cad and a bounder.

Thus, boorish as he is himself, his administration is one in which boorishness flourishes. This is the thread that links such apparently disparate disasters as the Damian McBride scandal, and last week's mocking of the Pope even if that particular stench emanated from the bowels of the Foreign Office.

So there.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

3rd Mon

Let the record show that the Bomber did his 2nd to 3rd Mon grading in judo last night.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Interview with a vampire?

On April 14, 1976, Denis Dutton and Michael Palencia-Roth, both editors of Philosophy and Literature, along with their colleague, Lawrence I. Berkove of the University of Michigan – Dearborn, interviewed Jorge Luis Borges at Michigan State University, where he was visiting professor for the winter term. This Philosophy and Literature interview is made available online here for the first time.

I have no personal system of philosophy. I never attempt to do that. I am merely a man of letters. In the same way, for example that — well, of course, I shouldn’t perhaps choose this as an example — in the same way that Dante used theology for the purpose of poetry, or Milton used theology for the purposes of his poetry, why shouldn’t I use philosophy, especially idealistic philosophy — philosophy to which I was attracted — for the purposes of writing a tale, of writing a story? I suppose that is allowable?
I think we'll allow that, yes, if we get “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” out of it.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

There you go

I completed my third triathlonesque Childline Challenge in Swansea this morning in my fastest time so far. Icons passim delineate the 2007 and 2008 campaigns, and the event itself took a sabbatical last year.

Intriguingly, I tweaked my lower back in a forward fold at the beginning of Bikram yoga yesterday morning, and was in such pain that, for a while, I couldn't even stand never mind bend. I would have quit (what with a triathlon the next day) but I was too crocked even to get up and walk out. As I lay there however, I realised that there was nowhere I could go that was going to make my back better, so I persevered in the hot room emphasising stretches as I gradually improved, but easing very gently into any twists.

I was largely fixed come the end of the session, and well enough to cycle, swim and run this morning; lesson learned.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

We are Iron Men

Iron Man 2 hits theaters soon and Marvel and Paramount are teaming up to put together some very cool augmented reality web experiences.

At the UK Iron Man 2 website, users can use their webcams to get suited up with either an Iron Man or War Machine helmet, as well as take a look at what the HUD (heads up display) would look like through Iron Man or War Machine’s perspectives.

These sorts of features are pretty standard AR-fare these days, but what makes the Iron Man 2 approach interesting is that you can record your interactions and then link to the videos on Facebook or Twitter or embed them on your own website.

Definitely something to for the Bomber and me to try out once we catch the movie. (Iron Man: icons passim.)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Pope? Nope

A bid to bring the Pope to Colliers Wood when he visits Britain later this year has failed.

His Holiness had been invited to the area to view the remains of Merton Priory, the site of England’s first parliament and the place where Pope Adrian IV was educated in the 12th century.

The spiritual leader of Britain’s Catholics will visit the country from September 16 to 19. He is set to stay at the Apostolic Nunciature in Wimbledon Village - the home of his representative in the UK.

The invitation to visit the site was made by the mayor of Merton, Councillor Nick Draper, who is a trustee of conservation group the Merton Priory Trust.

While I'm on the subject, Dominic Lawson throws a cat among the pigeons, to my approval.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

500 years of democracy and peace

Eat your way around the world in London was back on the road last night for the first time since 2008.

We eased our way back in over a fondue at the St Moritz, and navigated there via my phone's GPS. Times change.
Established in 1974 the St.Moritz is London's oldest Swiss restaurant. Genuine traditional Swiss cuisine prepared and served under the auspices of the renowned proprietor and chef Armin Loetscher.
Follow the links for our real and imaginary destinations.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Satire Boom

Women who wear revealing clothing and behave promiscuously are to blame for earthquakes, an Iranian cleric says.

Hojjat ol-eslam Kazem Sediqi, the acting Friday prayer leader in Tehran, said women should stick to strict codes of modesty to protect themselves.

"Many women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray and spread adultery in society which increases earthquakes," he explained.
Padawan Prodnose: Did the earth move for you?

Obi-Wan Myself: I felt a great disturbance in the Farce, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out the same joke at the same time.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

No names, no pack-drill

The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which "people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it". The unskilled therefore suffer from illusory superiority, rating their own ability as above average, much higher than in actuality; by contrast, the highly skilled underrate their abilities, suffering from illusory inferiority. This leads to a perverse result where less competent people will rate their own ability higher than more competent people. It also explains why actual competence may weaken self-confidence because competent individuals falsely assume that others have an equivalent understanding. "Thus, the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others."

This explains a lot.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Port Out Starboard Home

The bomber was playing in the Surrey Mini Rugby A Festival yesterday. It was sponsored by Land Rover and the programme was full of adverts for independent schools.

After that we tootled over to Ascot Racetrack (on the occasion of Ollie's birthday).

Posh for the day.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Still Sproggling

David Goodman,'s chief, talks to Emma Barnett about how the music site is going back to its roots, having terminated on-demand streaming, with a renewed focus on scrobbling and personalised internet radio.

Coming up for a year after my post about scrobbling to LastFM from Spotify, I listen more and more to my custom radio station. I did so last night while cooking dinner, and again this morning. The new strategy sounds good to me.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Election Debate: The Verdict

James Wannerton, 51, is president of the UK Synaesthesia Association. He experiences words as tastes and textures, a neurological condition known as lexical-gustatory synaesthesia.

Gordon Brown's name tastes horrible, and his flavour was nasty – like soil mixed with Marmite. That said, he was good on education, when he tasted of peaches, sliced potato and bacon.

Nick Clegg tastes of a pickled onion yet he kept turning soft, mushy and warm. Immigration was good for him. His speech reminded me of sweets I had as a kid – fruit pastilles, Spangles and liquorice.

David Cameron's flavour was best. He gave me a taste of ink, which I find comforting. His name tastes of macaroons, but he said sorry so frequently it covered the macaroons with condensed milk.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


How the gods rewarded Portsmouth (Icons passim):
The South Coast club’s win over Cardiff City in the 2008 FA Cup Final triggered bonus payments that helped to drive them into administration this season, and the consequent nine-point penalty resulted in their demotion to the Coca-Cola Championship.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Time and Tide

GRAY gnashed his teeth with envy as he saw a mighty store
Of DVDs neglected on his fellow-creature's shore:

I didn't watch Looking for Eric again last night.

Amazon proved that although there is a limit to the number of books I can read, there doesn't appear to be any related constraint on the number of books I can buy.

Amazon again, plus the £3, £4 and £5 bargains in Sainsbury, seems to be nudging me in a similar direction vis a vis DVDs. Looking for Eric is merely one of many repeatedly postponed platters.

I shudder to think how long I have had an unmolested shrink-wrapped copy of Human Traffic, bought because it was shot in Cardiff but never actually viewed. It is at least seven years.

Justin Kerrigan, the writer and director, took a whole decade to come up with his next movie. I Know You Know is also set in Wales and just released.

Out of guilt I have decided to recommend it to you sight unseen (review here), and to anoint Mr Kerrigan (Cardiff 1974) as a Welsh Born Icon.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pull my ring

Unpacking the shopping yesterday, I discovered to my dismay that the can of corned beef I was shelving had one of these new fangled ring pulls.
I don't want a ring pull, I want an old school dangerous corned beef can; come to think if it, it is a tin can not a can.
When I was first fending for myself all those years ago I used regularly to come home, somewhat worse for wear, open a tin with the key (as illustrated) and then slice the top of my right thumb trying to get the meat out.
I imagine if you took my fingerprints you would see that I still bear the scars, but I'm nostalgic for the rite of passage.
Moving on, I cooked roast duck with berry sauce and celeriac puree last night, and very nice it was too. Merci, Monsieur Blanc.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Half cut to the chase


Wilson (reading from an encyclopedia): P O O K A - Pooka - from old Celtic mythology - a fairy spirit in animal form - always very large. The pooka appears here and there - now and then - to this one and that one - a benign but mischievous creature - very fond of rumpots, crackpots, and how are you, Mr. Wilson?" "How are you, Mr. Wilson?" Who in the encyclopedia wants to know?

The Púca (Old Irish for ghost), (also Pwwka, Pooka, Puka, Phouka, Púka, Pwca in Welsh, Bucca in Cornish, Pouque in Dgèrnésiais, Puca or Puck in English, Glashtyn, and Gruagach) is a creature of Celtic folklore, notably in Ireland, the West of Scotland, and Wales. It is one of the myriad of faery folk, and, like many faery folk, is both respected and feared by those who believe in it.
According to legend, the púca is a deft shape shifter, capable of assuming a variety of terrifying or pleasing forms, and may appear as a horse, rabbit, goat, goblin, or dog. No matter what shape the púca takes, its fur is almost always dark. It most commonly takes the form of a sleek black horse with a flowing mane and luminescent golden eyes.
Frank Kelly Rich

Read a good book alone in a quiet place and you will absorb and understand the beauty of a perfectly worded sentence. Read in a crowded and loud room and you will skim the beauty and absorb nothing. The same goes for drinking. There are no distractions to divert your attention from the rich bite of a mouthful of bourbon. You will notice the vast array of flavors and aromas. You will realize hidden depths of taste in a cocktail you had imagined a shallow pond.
Elwood P. Dowd:
Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, "In this world, Elwood, you must be" - she always called me Elwood - "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

It's your round

I went to Richmond's Orange Tree theatre yesterday (largely because I'd never been there before) to see a revival of an Alan Ayckbourn farce directed by the great man himself.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I am Hit-Girl

I went to see Kick Ass last night.

The Chloe Moretz/Nicholas Cage double act is one of the funniest things I have seen in years, though if you hear that I have invested in a balisong on the back of it please contact the authorities.

I liked Stardust as well (icons passim). Does this make me a Jane Goodman fan who can't abide Jonathon Ross?

That said, I would pay to see Wossy try and pronounce Shabba Ranks.

Friday, April 09, 2010


New York is destroyed by 8-bit space invaders, and I am miraculously young again.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Labouring the point

According to the most up to date figures I can find on the web - though, let's be frank, I haven't knocked myself out on research:
In an official submission to the Electoral Commission, Labour admitted that its membership at the end of 2007 was 176,891.
That is scarcely 40 per cent of the 405,000 peak reached in 1997 when Tony Blair took office, and thought to be the lowest total since Labour was founded in 1900.
I would be surprised if this figure has gone up over the last couple of years.

The Prime Minister's wife, by contrast, has 1,117,670 followers on Twitter as I write.

Strange days indeed.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Money Talks; It Says Goodbye

AOL (NYSE: AOL) told employees today that it may sell or shut down social network Bebo this year after deciding it would take too much additional investment to make keeping it worthwhile.
AOL bought Bebo for $850 million in 2008.

850 million here, 850 million there; pretty soon you're talking about a lot of money.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Hard Scrabble

General election, general schmelection; the important news today is that the makers of scrabble have changed the rules (for the first time in its sixty odd year history) to allow players to use, the previously verboten, proper nouns.

Assuming the mantle of Sir Bufton Tufton, Tory back bencher from the shires and old-school clubman, we can only comment that this is:

an act of desperation by the makers, who have presumably noticed that not only can younger people not spell, read or write, they will cry off to their Playstations if asked to cope with the simple and necessary rule prohibiting proper nouns because, of course, they don’t understand the difference between proper and common nouns and have a functional vocabulary of approximately thirteen nouns, which is pretty limiting in a Scrabble context). The logical next relaxation of this rule would be to allow players to play all seven letters at whim, just so long as the resulting word looks pretty or sounds phonetically interesting in the eyes of the individual.
As a nod to the vulgar world of politics however I offer you prorogation (64 points).
Prorogation marks the end of a parliamentary session. It is the formal name given to the period between the end of a session of Parliament and the State Opening of Parliament that begins the next session. The parliamentary session may also be prorogued when Parliament is dissolved and a general election called.
Nick Browne is a constitutional expert.

Monday, April 05, 2010

The Dangerous Book for Boys

I'm back in London, but before we left, the Bomber and I spent a satisfying morning in Cardiff, collecting feathers shed by Roath Park's swans and geese, and then making arrows in Mum and Dad's garden.

We got our fletching instructions from The Dangerous Book for Boys; an invaluable tome. It comes highly recommended by me, the son and heir and all his cousins.

"Why Don't You Just Switch Off Your Television Set and Go and Do Something Less Boring Instead?"

Friday, April 02, 2010

Good Friday

Based on the scriptural details[citation needed] of the Sanhedrin Trial of Jesus, the Crucifixion of Jesus was most probably on a Friday. The estimated year of Good Friday is AD 33, by two different groups, and originally as AD 34 by Isaac Newton via the differences between the Biblical and Julian calendars and the crescent of the moon. A third method, using a completely different astronomical approach based on a lunar Crucifixion darkness and eclipse model (consistent with Apostle Peter's reference to a "moon of blood" in Acts 2:20) arrives at the same date, namely Friday April 3, AD 33.

Whatever did we do before Wikipedia?

The Bomber and I are off to my resolutley offline Mum and Dad's in Cardiff today; back Monday.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

One with everything

Greco-Buddhist art is the artistic manifestation of Greco-Buddhism, a cultural syncretism between the Classical Greek culture and Buddhism, which developed over a period of close to 1000 years in Central Asia, between the conquests of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BCE, and the Islamic conquests of the 7th century CE. Greco-Buddhist art is characterized by the strong idealistic realism of Hellenistic art and the first representations of the Buddha in human form, which have helped define the artistic (and particularly, sculptural) canon for Buddhist art throughout the Asian continent up to the present. It is also a strong example of cultural syncretism between eastern and western traditions.

The origins of Greco-Buddhist art are to be found in the Hellenistic Greco-Bactrian kingdom (250 BCE- 130 BCE), located in today’s Afghanistan, from which Hellenistic culture radiated into the Indian subcontinent with the establishment of the Indo-Greek kingdom (180 BCE-10 BCE).
This is astonishing on so many levels that I scarcely know where to begin. Perhaps I should learn to draw the Buddha's face.