Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Venus and Mars

The Cornell Creative Machines Lab has managed to produce stubborn, pig ignorant, insufferably arrogant and self important AI Chatbots with a taste for theologically naive religious controversy.

Can it be that the Turing test will finally be passed by an irrationally ranting and raving robot?

I live in hope.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

quod scripsi, scripsi

I'm back in London after a Bank Holiday weekend in Cardiff.

There's no internet in my mum and dad's house but there is Sky Sport so I watched in disbelief as Arsenal were humiliated 8-2 by Manchester United.

Ans so it came to pass that Icons passim were right on the button:
They've got to play a resurgent Liverpool at home on Saturday and then Manchester United away the week after that. If they don't luck out against either of them, they could go into September with only a single point in the Premiere League.
The next home game at the Emirates is Swansea who haven't managed to score a goal at all so far this season."Get ready to feel the thunder!" as Po has so shrewdly remarked.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Radio Silence

We are off to Wales for the Bank Holiday weekend. I wonder where himself will want to go?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Jumpers for Goal Posts

It's good to see Arsenal through to the Champions League after last night's win in Italy.

Before football was run by supremely rich oligarchs, a jetset playboy such as myself would probably have found polo and motor racing more of a diversion.

I am still at heart more a merino than a Mourinho man.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

White Water Rafting

We're going to Wales over the Bank Holiday weekend so I have booked the Bomber, his cousin and myself into Cardiff International White Water on Sunday morning.

The son and heir has done a sailing course at the Wimbledon Park Watersports Centre this Summer to complement the multi watersports course he did at the same place a couple of years ago (Icons passim).

I wonder if there is any central register I could use to record the courses he's been on? He mentioned that a few of the kids sailing had a log book of some sort but I've no idea what it was.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I spy with my little eye

Police images of looting wanted in Mitcham and Colliers Wood. Anyone with information should call Merton Police on 020 8649 3206.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Deep Dark Secret

Any comments you may have about yesterday should be sent to Deep Dark Secret (5.2% abv) - the award-winning liquorice porter - c/o Northern Brewing rather than to me.

Thank you very much.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

What are we waiting for this Sunday?

I am waiting for the second coming
And I am waiting
For a religious revival
To sweep thru the state of Arizona
And I am waiting
For the grapes of wrath to stored
And I am waiting
For them to prove
That God is really American
And I am waiting
To see God on television
Piped into church altars
If they can find
The right channel
To tune it in on
And I am waiting
for the last supper to be served again
and a strange new appetizer
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder
Lawrence Ferlinghetti (in Cardiff)

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Hola, amigos. Must run. I am off to a legendary International Skateboarding Spectacle with the Bomber and I am little behind schedule.

Data later, skater.

Friday, August 19, 2011


Tiger Bay back in the day.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


I'm reading Quantum: Einstein, Bohr and the Great Debate About the Nature of Reality on the Kindle at the moment. It is a splendid narrative indeed and retails for 99p only in digital form. I wonder how on earth the economics of that pan out?

I recommend it heartily to the science teaching Vince and the the science teaching Chris who sometimes pop their heads in here. (ETH in Switzerland, where Vince was an academic in an earlier life features quite a lot in the pages on Einsten, and Chris is the guy who introduced me to Amazon's e-book reader. It's all deeply intertwingled.)

In a related development I have pre-ordered 1Q84 (See Icons passim for Haruki Murakami) so I imagine that it will simply appear on the Kindle menu when it is published on 18 October. This has got to be the way forward.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Gunner be a long season

I was at the Emirates last night to see Arsenal labour to a 1-o victory over Udinese in the first leg of their Champions' League qualifier.

They've got to play a resurgent Liverpool at home on Saturday and then Manchester United away the week after that. If they don't luck out against either of them, they could go into September with only a single point in the Premiere League.

What price Wenger then? Up until yesterday I thought that perhaps history would reveal Arsene's resistance to blandishments to splash the cash, and his insistence that the club spends within its means meant he was building an institution that would survive and thrive come the inevitable retrenchments in the game once the TV money dries up and billionaires tire of their playthings.

Now I have my doubts.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Concrete Circus

The Bomber and I injected some money into the local economy over the weekend by buying inline skates at the riot-hit Sports World store.

On Sunday we skated all the way back to his Mum's in Morden. I was as tired and as sweat stained as ever I can remember, even with my skates giving up the ghost (blade collapsing to an angle) some way from our destination. I imagine that they weren't designed to bear a load as heavy, clumsy and daft as yours truly.

Himself finished fresh as a daisy.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cardiff City 3 Bristol City 1

Cardiff City yesterday climbed to the top of the Championship table after a comfortable 3-1 victory at home to Bristol City.
Today I will mostly be reposing in a a state of imperturbable tranquility.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Wales 19 England 9

A belter of a Test match. Fast, furious and a real kick in the pants for England. But let’s not talk about that load of rubbish because the Welsh effort was quite remarkable.
Wales will never, ever concede as much territory and possession as they did in an appalling first half for them and win a Test match. But what the heck. They did, through a combination of gritty, organised defence and an attacking display from England which moved from the inept to the laughable. You could see how much the victory meant to Wales. All of a sudden they are contenders again.
Today I will mostly be reposing in a a state of imperturbable tranquility.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

QR Codes


I know I'm late to the party, but I'm starting to wonder of there's not a role for QR Codes in our various apps somewhere or other.

Friday, August 12, 2011

English Riots

The BBC has instructed presenters to refer to "English" instead of "UK" riots in case they upset residents of other regions.

In its latest dictum on how to cover the unrest, the corporation said it was changing policy "in recognition of the sensitivities involved for people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland".
Quite right too.

Why not come along to AbbeyFest tonight? It is only a matter of a couple of hundred yards or so from the burned out Tandem Centre but the show goes on.

In the words of the incomparable Peggy Lee:

I stood there shivering in my pajamas and watched the whole world go up in flames.
And when it was all over I said to myself, "Is that all there is to a fire?"

Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is

Thursday, August 11, 2011

My head in the clouds

SEATTLE, Aug 10, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- (NASDAQ: AMZN) - For over two years, Amazon has been offering a wide selection of free Kindle reading apps that enable customers to "Buy Once, Read Everywhere." Customers can already read Kindle books on the largest number of the most popular devices and platforms, including Kindles, iPads, iPhones, iPod touches, PCs, Macs, Android phones and tablets, and BlackBerrys. Today, announced Kindle Cloud Reader, its latest Kindle reading application that leverages HTML5 and enables customers to read Kindle books instantly using only their web browser - online or offline - with no downloading or installation required. As with all Kindle apps, Kindle Cloud Reader automatically synchronizes your Kindle library, as well as your last page read, bookmarks, notes, and highlights for all of your Kindle books, no matter how you choose to read them. Kindle Cloud Reader with its integrated touch optimized Kindle Store is available starting today for Safari on iPad, Safari on desktop and Chrome at

"We are excited to take this leap forward in our 'Buy Once, Read Everywhere' mission and help customers access their library instantly from anywhere," said Dorothy Nicholls, Director, Amazon Kindle. "We have written the application from the ground up in HTML5, so that customers can also access their content offline directly from their browser. The flexibility of HTML5 allows us to build one application that automatically adapts to the platform you're using - from Chrome to iOS. To make it easy and seamless to discover new books, we've added an integrated, touch optimized store directly into Cloud Reader, allowing customers one click access to a vast selection of books."
I've tried this out and it seems to work a treat with a UK account. It is interesting to see Amazon going down the same HTML5 online/offline route that we are currently recommending to clients.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

End Game

Amazing news from the WBI time machine; it is more than four years (Icons passim) since the Burglar advised me on the Bomber's chess education.

It seems to have paid off as he beat me for the first time last night.

As an aside, when I read chess prodigy Josh Waitzkin's book recently, I was impressed to find him giving the same advice that the Burglar doled out in 2007. That is to say, when learning focus on end games rather than openings.
Lifetimes can be spent memorizing and keeping up with the evolving Encyclopedia of Chess Openings (ECO). They are an addiction, with perilous psychological effects. It is a little like developing the habit of stealing the test from your teacher’s desk instead of learning how to do the math. You may pass the test, but you learn absolutely nothing.

Most of my early rivals were gifted children, and they were prepared with hundreds of traps with which they could win right off the bat. Playing against these kids was like walking through a minefield, but I was good enough on my feet to navigate most of the danger. I often came out of the openings in a little bit of trouble, but then I took control. As our games progressed, my opponents moved away from their area of comfort while I grew stronger and more confident. They wanted to win before the battle began, but I loved the struggle that was the heart of chess. In both the short term and the long term, these kids were crippled
[by their primary focus on opening study]

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

the bush telegraph

The Bomber came back home from the park a little earlier than I had required of him last night.

"Someone's sister got a message saying there was going to be a riot," he said. "So we all went home."

UPDATE: Riots spread to Colliers Wood Tandem shopping centre, says the local paper this morning, so I guess she was right.

I wonder if we will read any editorial comment about social media enabling non-feral kids to steer clear of this madness? I bet not.

Monday, August 08, 2011

the good life

I cooked some spuds from the garden on Saturday. This is the first time in my entire life that I have eaten anything I have grown myself.

By a strange coincidence, the Bomber and I also picked some blackberries in Wandle Park when we met up with the Hendries doing the same thing walking their dog, and plunged in just to be sociable.

I was astounded subsequently to see that 150g of blackberries go for £2 in Sainsbury's.

I hope to get around to the Telegraph's Blackberry and pinot noir jam recipe with the results of our foraging though I am unclear as to what pectin is or where you get it.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

a hiding to nothing

Tottenham is in flames, rioting link it's 1985 again, and closer to home the police have closed Colliers Wood Rec after a stabbing.

Welcome to the weekend

Saturday, August 06, 2011

the horror, the horror.

One-hundred and thirty years ago this month, William Gladstone's Liberal government passed an act which would change the culture, politics, and even the architecture of Wales, for over a century.

Sponsored by prominent Welsh nonconformists in the Liberal party, such as future Prime Minister David Lloyd George, the Sunday Closing (Wales) Act 1881 banned the sale of alcohol in Welsh pubs on the Sabbath.
The land of my fathers. My fathers can have it.

Friday, August 05, 2011

No Left Turn Unstoned

I practically wore out my impossibly glamorous imported Bantam paper back edition of Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test when I was still in school; I probably came to it via the One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest video and on from it to Hunter Thompson.

Alex Gibney and Alison Ellwood’s MAGIC TRIP is a freewheeling portrait of Ken Kesey and the Merry Prankster’s fabled road trip across America in the legendary Magic Bus. In 1964, Ken Kesey, the famed author of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” set off on a legendary, LSD-fuelled cross-country road trip to the New York World’s Fair. He was joined by “The Merry Band of Pranksters,” a renegade group of counterculture truth-seekers, including Neal Cassady, the American icon immortalized in Kerouac’s “On the Road,” and the driver and painter of the psychedelic Magic Bus. Kesey and the Pranksters intended to make a documentary about their trip, shooting footage on 16MM, but the film was never finished and the footage has remained virtually unseen. With MAGIC TRIP, Gibney and Ellwood were given unprecedented access to this raw footage by the Kesey family. They worked with the Film Foundation, HISTORY and the UCLA Film Archives to restore over 100 hours of film and audiotape, and have shaped an invaluable document of this extraordinary piece of American history.
I will be all over it like a cheap suit.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

a hot dense state

Raj: If I could speak the language of rabbits, they would be amazed and I would be their king... I would be kind to my rabbit subjects... at first.... One day, I hold a great ball for the President of France, but the rabbits don't come. I'm embarrassed so I eat all the lettuce in the world.. and make the rabbits watch.
The Adhesive Duck Deficiency
Raj: Big or small, I don't like rabbits. They always look like they're about to say something, but they never do.
The Wheaton Recurrence

Koothrappali's leporine paranoia is one of the many joys of The Big Bang Theory.
Even Prodnose is speechless.
Prodnose: ...........

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Drink and the devil had done for the rest

I am back down in Cardiff today for Jimmy's funeral (Icons passim) which is not really a suitable topic for these spin-drift pages.

Instead you shall have another entry in an occasional series of ludicrously parochial Welsh chest-beating posts.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Hacked off

My Twitter account keeps on getting hacked via - or perhaps more accurately that is where the dodgy posts come from

Twitter Mobile Webread, write, and direct messages access · Approved: Sat Jul 30 2011 12:36:07 (GMT Daylight Time)
The text above showed that it happened over the weekend. I revoked the permission yesterday, but it was reinstated last night. Time for a password change.

Why does every duck egg in the Western hemisphere seem to feel such a burning need to rain on my parade lately? Icons passim.

Monday, August 01, 2011

You can't get there from here

I met up with Kevin back in Cardiff over the weekend. The Bomber and his son got on very well which is a boon.

All in all, it is a long way from St Illtyd's to the Wall Street Journal.