Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wandling Free

The Bomber's off school today because of the strike, so he is in the office building a robot arm. We went fishing with Rayburn and his mate last night. It is like a holiday in the middle of the week.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Drop the name, and put your hands in the air

From today, Google is beginning to support authorship markup - a way to connect authors with their content on the web.

Maybe I can finally figure out if it was Irwin Shaw, James Jones, Kurt Vonnegut, Shana Alexander, Joseph Heller, John Knowles, Betty Friedan, Wilfrid Sheed, Willie Morris, George Plimpton, Peter Matthiessen, Bruce Jay Friedman, Bill Styron, Gay Talese, or Norman Mailer who told me what Truman Capote had said about C. Z. Guest, Nedda Logan, Gloria Vanderbilt, Lee Radziwill, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Peggy Guggenheim, Slim Keith or “Babe” Paley?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

primum non nocere

For all my good green intentions (Icons passim) of washing the aphids and ants off my apple tree, I did in fact spread a little ant killer powder around the bottom of the trunk before I went to work.

When I got back there were no ants to be seen and a couple of ladybirds were grazing on the aphids. I reflected for a few moments on the beauty and elegance of the ecosystem and how it was better to work with rather than against nature, before getting out the aphid-killer spray gun that I had picked up at lunchtime and treating the leaves.

One of the ladybirds took off from the tree and landed on the hem of my t-shirt. I noticed it again five minutes later and flicked it off. It landed stone dead on the grass. Perhaps I should have left well alone.

The Boorish Prodnose (tunelessly): But the sun rolling high, through the sapphire sky, keeps great and small on the endless round - (deep breath) - It's the CIRCLE OF LIFE .......

Monday, June 27, 2011

ants and aphids

I planted my apple tree on March 27. See Icons passim, though I didn't blog the specific event I remember it as part of the bucolic interlude.

I've noticed it has been looking rather sorry for itself lately, listing towards the fence with its leaves curled up. When I went to straighten it up with a couple of six foot bamboo poles yesterday I noticed that it was crawling with ants and that the leaves were covered with aphids.

By the miracle of wikigooglisation I discovered that this is ant mutualism:
Some species of ants "farm" aphids, protecting them on the plants they eat, eating the honeydew that the aphids release from the terminations of their alimentary canals. This is a "mutualistic relationship".
These "dairying ants" "milk" the aphids by stroking them with their antennae.
Some farming ant species gather and store the aphid eggs in their nests over the winter. In the spring, the ants carry the newly hatched aphids back to the plants. Some species of dairying ants (such as the European yellow meadow ant, Lasius flavus)[22] manage large "herds" of aphids that feed on roots of plants in the ant colony. Queens that are leaving to start a new colony take an aphid egg to found a new herd of underground aphids in the new colony. These farming ants protect the aphids by fighting off aphid predators.
I actually watched an ant chasing off a fly off a leaf this morning; a fascinating miracle of nature. I still need to massacre the SOBs though. Apparently washing with soapy water may do the trick, so I'll try that first rather than going straight to DEFCON 1.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Go the F*ck to Sleep

Samuel L. Jackson rocks this bedtime story, capturing a hilarious range of emotions as the voice of a father struggling to get his child to sleep. Go the F--k to Sleep is for parents who live in the real world, where a few snoozing kitties and cutesy rhymes don't always send a toddler sailing blissfully off to dreamland.

It really stirs up some ghosts for me, though I remember early mornings as being far, far worse than late nights.

For a limited time you can download Pulp Fiction's Jules wailing take on this rhyme, free of charge and 100% legit here.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Why is in raining in Glastonbury Daddy?

....... the naughty yellow pixies who pull the special, magic Climat-O-Levers which control the weather have been paid by evil capitalists with fat cigars in their mouth and $ signs on their pinstripe suits to make the world’s climate all horrid so that poor, underprivileged and disabled people and endangered creatures suffer – and that the reason we don’t know about it is because the media is run by evil Conservatives who want to keep this truth a secret.
So that's settled.

Friday, June 24, 2011

a trickle of brave finite

Since my birthday, I am the proud owner of an Actifry.

I produced some top notch patatas bravas with it last night. The recipe was my own. I thought it best not to rely on Google's autotranslate:
We can put the sauce in two ways: either mix the mayonnaise with the salsa to take the speck that itch we like it or potatoes once ready we put over the mayonnaise and then a trickle of brave finite, we must be careful not to go with the latter because that brings them itch. And ready a quickie dish and takes us out of a craving for french fries by very few points.
I'm going to try some noodles along the lines of the video below tonight, though I will probably replace the tofu with something edible like chicken.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


In the same month that I completed my "30 Day Challenge" (Icons passim) it is gratifying to read that the WRU have taken up hot yoga as well.

Perhaps this also explains what Mike Phillips was up to at 3am outside McDonalds in Queen Street?

Downward dog, dolphin variation with hands-on adjustments from his instructors by the look of it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Happy Birthday to me

Celebrating Age Festival
The Celebrating Age Festival offers all Merton residents over the age of 50 the chance to learn something new and meet new people. It is co-ordinated by Age Concern Merton and funded by Merton Council.
Oh dear.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Raining Champion

It's the summer solstice today. Last night when I set out for the launch party of Bookfest 2011 at the Wimbledon College of Art, it was raining so heavily I had to put my skiing jacket on and get a cab. What a country this is. The weather is trying to wear me out psychologically.

The party coincided with the College's 2011 Undergraduate show which was fantastic. I recommend it - and particularly the theatre stuff - heartily.

Monday, June 20, 2011

the big man joined the band

When the change was made uptown
And the big man joined the band
From the coastline to the city
All the little pretties raise their hands
I'm gonna sit back right easy and laugh
When scooter and the big man bust this city in half
With a tenth avenue freeze-out, tenth avenue freeze-out
I was down in Wales for the weekend, in happenstance media fast mode, so I didn't even realize that Clarence Clemons had passed. Was it really three years ago that we saw the E Street Band at the Emirates (Icons passim)?

Too much perspective.

Friday, June 17, 2011

I'm willing to be overcharged

Prodnose: You despise me, don't you?
Myself: If I gave you any thought I probably would.
Perhaps I'm turning into a caricature Daily Mail reader, but I can't help but raise a quizzical eyebrow when I read an invitation to tender for an 160,000 euro contract to supply official gifts to the European Police College here in dear Old Blighty.

(That 160,000 euros excludes VAT by the way.)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I heard telephones, opera house, favourite melodies

I heard on the radio this morning that IBM is a hundred years old today. I quit to start our own company in 1996. A lot has changed in the last fifteen years.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A psychologist writes

If you hear someone shouting "help, help, please help!" it is often really a cry for help.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The thrill of it all

Here is the plan for this morning:
8:30 – 9:30: Registration & Solutions Provider Expo (Third Floor, Whittle Room and Benjamin Britten Lounge)
9:30 – 9:45: Welcome Tracy Laxdal, Amazon Web Services (Third Floor, Fleming Room)
9:45 – 10:30: Opening Keynote: “State of the Cloud” Werner Vogels, CTO, (Third Floor, Fleming Room)
10:30 – 11:40: Customer Presentations & Q&A Panel Advanced Innovations, Michael Higgins, Senior Vice President, IT; Forward Internet, Fred George; Canonical, Nick Barcet, Cloud Solutions Architect; News International, Paul Cheesbrough, CIO (Third Floor, Fleming Room)
11:40 – 12:40: Lunch & Solutions Provider Expo (Third Floor, Whittle Room and Benjamin Britten Lounge)
Doesn't seem all that exciting when you put it like that, does it?

Monday, June 13, 2011


I thought it was outrageous when John Hemming MP used Parliamentary privilege to out Ryan Giggs as the footballer behind the notorious super injunction.

As much as anything this was because I felt my gorge rising when I heard him on the radio defending his egomaniacal attention seeking as if it was some sort of Gandhian gesture of disobedience in the service of a noble cause. "Cobblers," I remember thinking, if he really wanted to bring the temple down why didn't he name Giggsy outside the House and challenge the injunction directly?

I was reading something in the London Review of Books the other day, that seemed to me to explain the issues more thoroughly. Perhaps because it was written by Stephen Sedley, who was The Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Sedley until he retired recently.

Here we go:
For more than three hundred years the UK’s constitution has functioned remarkably well on the basis of the historic compromise reached in the course of the 17th century. The 1689 Bill of Rights forbade the impeachment or questioning of parliamentary debates and proceedings ‘in any court or place out of Parlyament’. Parliament in return has made it a rule, enforced until now by the speakers of both Houses, that it will not interfere with the decisions of the courts, whether by anticipating their judgments or by attacking them. If Parliament does not like what the courts do, it changes the law. The sovereignty of Parliament as the final source of law and the sovereignty of the courts in interpreting and enforcing the law are the twin pillars on which democracy and the rule of law in the UK rest. It was the courts themselves which, in the 19th century, extended the privilege of Parliament to cover any fair and full report of what was said there even if it was libellous.

When a member of either House, protected by the privilege which prevents his being prosecuted for it, consciously breaks a High Court injunction by naming an individual who has been anonymised by court order, it suggests two possibilities. One is that he does not understand the constitution; the other is that he does and has set out to transgress it. In spite of protests from members of both Houses who understand very well what is at stake, neither speaker appears at present to have taken any steps against the offenders.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Aussie Diplomacy

An Australian TV presenter tries out an old Buddhist joke (that you've already read here if you've been with me since 2005 -Icons passim) on the Dalai Lama and hilarity ensues.

It seems to me that His Holiness doesn't know what a pizza is, which puts me in mind of his contribution to the Tiger Woods affair. Revealing, in response to a question, that he had never heard of Tiger Woods was probably the only comment I heard that put the whole sorry mess in context.

Having eaten my way around the world, I suggest that it would in fact be on walking into a noodle shop for a thenthuk that the Dalai Lama would ask Mr Ping to make him one with everything.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Les is More

The playable and recordable Google Les Paul Doodle is to be maintained on its own page.

You can strum the strings with your mouse or play it via the keyboard. It works starting on any of the four banks (Z, A, Q or 1). It is in the key of G I think so a note to keyboard mapping would be:
A - G
S - A
D - B
F - C
G - D
H - E
J -F#
K - G
L - A

Clear as mud? If you press the button where the bottom of the second g in Google would be, you can record your masterpieces and get a URL with which to immortalise each.

Friday, June 10, 2011

An Unexpected Party

If I say that he is a Burglar, a Burglar he is, or will be when the time comes.
I sometimes read the Daily Mail over a sandwich in Virgin Active at lunchtime, so I know it well as a gastric band for the brain.

They stuck the boot into our auction system yesterday with the idiotic:
The bargains that really are a steal: All the tools you need to burgle houses... being sold by the POLICE
Which was eerily reminiscent of the Daily Star's intervention back in May with
It is all a load of nonsense, as the comments point out as well as I could.

It sends us more traffic I suppose which should mean the police get more money, but nothing like the online interest that an article on did (see Icons passim). Perhaps the tabloids are getting less and less significant?

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Brixton Beach

The Bomber having conceived an enthusiasm for skateboarding, we went along to Stockwell Skatepark yesterday evening.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

A Twitch upon the Thread

I got an email from Amazon this morning that said:
Are you looking for something in our Biographies store? If so, you might be interested in these items.

* The Seven Storey Mountain
* Apologia Pro Vita Sua
* An Infinity of Little Hours: Five Young Men and Their Trial of Faith in the Western World's Most Austere Monastic Order
* A Thomas Merton Reader
How on earth did they come up with that? Are there Jesuitical algorithms these days? "I caught him, with an unseen hook and an invisible line which is long enough to let him wander to the ends of the world, and still to bring him back with a twitch upon the thread."

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

iCame, iSaw, iConquered

As Michael Corleone has observed:
There are negotiations being made that are going to answer all of your questions and solve all of your problems. That's all I can tell you right now.
Last night, perhaps at the same moment that Steve Jobs was announcing iCloud, I was attempting to set up Home Sharing in iTunes to see how it would play with a PC and an IPad. I got it working eventually which meant I could watch a movie on the IPad by streaming it from the PC but I couldn't seem to copy a film or to get it working IPad to PC. Yesterday may have been a game changer, but - at the coal face - perhaps the promised nirvana is still be some way off.

Jobs is an intriguing character. The commencement address he delivered at Stanford in 2005 is a very moving piece.

I will be interested to read iSteve: The Book of Jobs: The Exclusive Biography when it comes out next year.

Monday, June 06, 2011

dem apples

Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference begins today with a keynote address from Steve Jobs. What will he announce? Who can tell, but it will be hard to live up to Simon Pierro's heads-up.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

back to the beginning

I took Ben and his mate Halex to see Free Run - The Show in the Udderbelly on the South Bank yesterday.

After it finished the boys were trying out their moved in Jubilee Gardens, which is where they had a lesson in 2008 (Icons passim).

Saturday, June 04, 2011

First as tragedy ...

In some modern societies—and certainly Britain is one of them—satire is prophecy. This makes effective satire difficult because reality so soon catches up with it. Satire is also dangerous and perhaps even irresponsible, for no idea is too absurd, it seems, for our political masters and bureaucratic elite to take seriously and put into practice—at public expense, of course, never their own.

Sometimes reality is far in advance of satire when it comes to absurdity. The results, however, are not always funny. If a satirist had come up with the idea of a violent criminal who had spent time in an asylum being admitted by a university to its doctoral program in “homicide studies,” thereafter turning into a serial killer, that satirist would have been denounced for poor taste. But this is precisely what a British university did recently. A man with a long history of criminal violence became a serial killer while working on a Ph.D. thesis at the University of Bradford, the subject of his thesis being the methods of homicide used in the city during the nineteenth century. He himself used methods more reminiscent of the fourteenth.

... read on .....

Friday, June 03, 2011

Dashed off

Hello. I am hurrying down to West Dean this morning.

Last night I saw Spamalot in Wimbledon, and the day before I went to see Kung Fu Panda 2 in the Odeon.

So now you know.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Don’t throw up on the carpet. It’s new.

I finished a 30 day challenge at Hot Bikram Yoga's Balham studio yesterday. That's thirty consecutive days of one and a half hours of yoga sessions in a humid room heated to 40 degrees Celsius.

I started it because I had hurt my left elbow in the gym and I wanted to give it a rest from weights. In the first week, I put out my back out rushing Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose. In the second week I got, what I took to be, gout in my left big toe triggered by dehydration and what may euphemistically be described as lifestyle choices (diet and booze). By this time, it was taking me twenty minutes to get out of bed before I could leave for the 6:30am class, and I couldn't hobble over a pedestrian crossing before the light turned red again.

I remember in this semi invalid period watching some other people in the full expression of Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose. I had no idea we were attempting something that looked so extreme, or indeed that human beings could actually do it.

There is a strange sense in which, if you are committed to doing something every day, there is no rush, and for the last few weeks it has all been on the up. (Apart from one evening where I took a class, ate dinner at 9pm, found that Enter the Dragon was playing at 10pm on the TV, watched it over a wine box, and still took myself off to Balham at six thirty the next morning. That wasn't pretty.)

Then yesterday, as I was looking forward to finishing and chucking it in for a while, I finally got my head turned correctly in triangle pose found myself thinking, "I can probably get the hang of this if I do it forever."

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Lambs' Testicle Kebab

As I've been scooting up and back to Balham over the last month, I've noticed an Afghan restaurant called Diana in Tooting.

The Burglar and I made it stop 48 of Eat Your Way Around the World in London last night.

We rejected the house specialty lambs' testicle kebab in favour of palao, the national dish, meat and stock added, topped with fried raisins, slivered carrots, pistachios; along with non-testicular kebabs, salad and naan. Very fine it was too.

There are pictures of the Buddhas of Bamiyan, on the wall so I suspect the venue is not a hot bed of the Taliban.

It doesn't seem to have a website, but I found this video from the opening.

Not only Britain has talent.

(I've also realized that I have mothballed the server that used to host the maps that have graced these food posts since 2005. I must resurrect the data.)