Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Life Goes On

Last night Buckingham Palace.

First thing this morning Ford Wimbledon because my temperature and petrol gauges have stopped working along with the speedometer and rev counter.

"We'll probably have to send out for the parts, it'll almost certainly mean replacing the whole instrument panel ......" etc.

Welcome back to real life.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What I learned yesterday

The Statute of Merton or Provisions of Merton (Latin: Provisiones de Merton, or Stat. Merton), sometimes also known as the Ancient Statute of Merton, is considered to be the first English statute, and is printed as the first statute in The Statutes of the Realm.
The statute's terms were agreed at Merton between Henry III and the barons of England in the 20th year of Henry's reign (1235). It was another instance, along with the Magna Carta twenty years previously, of the struggle between the barons and the king to limit the latter's rights.
Amongst its provisions, the statute allowed a Lord of the Manor to enclose common land (provided that sufficient pasture remained for his tenants), and set out when and how manorial lords could assert rights over waste land, woods, and pastures against their tenants. It quickly became a basis for English common law, developing and clarifying legal concepts of ownership,and was one of the English statutes carried over into the law of the Lordship of Ireland.
It is strange to think of the mighty oaks (common law and Parliament quite possibly) that have grown over nearly 800 years from a promulgation that almost certainly took place in the the exact (currently modest) spot where I enjoyed a goblet of wine with my lunch yesterday.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

a priori

You are warmly
invited to a modest medieval luncheon with
Merton Priory Trust
at home in the Merton Priory Chapter House
at 12 noon on Saturday 26th November 2011

We hope our friends, volunteers and their partners will be able
to join us to celebrate the end of a busy year for our historic
scheduled ancient monument, culminating in the recent transfer
of the premises, together with substantial funding, to the
Borough and the continuing care of the Merton Priory Trust.

It's a glamorous life.

Friday, November 25, 2011

My End of the Northern Line

Balham - Gateway to the South.

Tooting - Holiday 2011

Colliers Wood is synonymous with entertainment!

"Hang on... I'll just check my diary... Oh dear. I find I'm watching television that night."

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The New Ninja Gummer

The dentist referred the Bomber to an orthodontist after his last check up.

At that consultation, the orthodontist x-rayed his jaw and showed us the results. It looked like something from the movie Alien with multiple rows of incisors. His milk teeth seem to be too solid to make way easily for their adult versions.

And so it came to pass that he has had five teeth extracted and is sitting in the office for the morning as the injections wear off, though I will be packing him off back to school for the afternoon.

His appointment with the dentist was at 8am this morning. I am an evil parent.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Me! I Disconnect From You

Since the American social psychologist, Stanley Milgram, conducted his famous ‘small world experiment’ in the 1960s, it has been commonly accepted that most people have six degrees of separation between them.
However, a vast new study by Facebook’s data team and the University of Milan, which assessed the relationships between 721 million active users (more than 10 per cent of the global population) of the social network, has found that the average number of connections between people has dropped to four.
Facebook have also upgraded insights, their statistical data on pages. There is a new metric called "Friends of Fans" which is the number of people you can potentially reach if everyone you are connected to talks about your Page to their friends.

The British Monarchy has 118,757,848 Friends of Fans. That's right, one hundred and eighteen million, seven hundred and fifty seven thousand, eight hundred and forty eight.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

O Winter! ruler of the inverted year

Do I need this now the nights are drawing in? Yes I think I do.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sports Round Up

Chelsea 1 Liverpool 2, and Newcastle above Chelsea in the Premiership. Well I never.

The Bomber played in a Rugby Festival just beyond Guildford today. Five games in a day and an hour's drive each way is too much for 11 year olds I think. It is as long as a school day. No wonder they looked a bit jaded by the last match. He was as good as ever though. I saw last year's coach in the gym on Saturday and he told me that had heard how well Ben was doing this season, so I'm not imagining it.

By an odd coincidence Ben's mate Jonnie was playing football for AFC Wimbledon away in Aldershot at the same time, so we were all going down the A3 in tandem.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Kindle Daily Deal

Amazon have found a new way of syphoning money from me. I picked up A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan on impulse yesterday as a Kindle Daily Deal.

In a related development their whispernet delivered Matt Polly's latest to me earlier this week just as I finished book one of 1Q84, so I will polish that off before returning to the adventures of Aomame (青豆)and Tengo (天吾).

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Coalition Christmas

How to make the perfect Christmas roast. Tell interns they must make a perfect Christmas roast if they want a job. Tell them to bring it to your table. Throw them on the street without a penny. There will be more from Nickella's Coalition Christmas soon.
"Ghost of the Future," he exclaimed, "I fear you more than any spectre I have seen. But as I know your purpose is to do me good, and as I hope to live to be another man from what I was, I am prepared to bear you company, and do it with a thankful heart. Will you not speak to me?"

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Living in the Shadow

The film will be screened for the first time at the Colliers Wood Community Centre on Friday, 2 December 2011 at 7:15 pm.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Twit to woo

The more Twitter tells me it’s over Capacity, the more I suspect Twitter still loves Capacity and regularly sits outside her house, weeping.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Directory Enquiries

Recent enquiries received by Foreign Office staff in Spain include a request for Phil Collins' telephone number, whilst a man asked staff to contact his dominatrix after she had left him stranded at the airport.
The only way this could possibly be bettered would be if a man asked Foreign Office staff in Spain for Phil Collins' telephone number because a dominatrix had left him stranded at the airport.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The India Club

After last night's fireworks, we ate at the India Club (Hugh had heard about it somehow on the jungle telegraph):
Beneath the modern, refurbished hotel rooms lies the historically-rich India Club Bar & Restaurant. It first opened its doors in 1946 and over half a century later, little has changed. With features untouched by time, and portraits of Gandhi and Dadabhai Naoroji adorning the walls of the restaurant, it is easy to mistake that you are back in 1940’s India. The modern world has passed India Club by, and we now invite you to experience this miracle of steadfastness.

Originally established by Krishna Menon, India’s first High Commissioner to the UK, and founding members including Nehru and Lady Mountbatten, the building was a hub for political activity. It was here that meetings about the newly independent India took place, and was also a home away from home/an oasis for Indian expatriates and diplomats from the nearby High Commission. With its rich history and faded colonial atmosphere, 143 Strand has become something of an institution.
"Faded colonial atmosphere, is a polite way of describing the decor, but I was enchanted and I'll definitely be back.

I also enthralled my fellow diners by confidently identifying the portrait of Dadabhai Naoroji as Rabindranath Tagore, but I've decided to forgive myself this morning.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Last Night on Earth

I went to see a charity performance of War Horse in the West End. (You should go and see it as well. It is extraordinary.)

On the way home - and well past midnight - I popped into the Tesco Express for the eggs, bread and milk I would need when I woke up. There was a dread-locked skateboarder in front of me in the queue buying two bottles of wine. I didn't even know there was such a thing as a 24 hour hour booze sale license, but it seems they've got one.

Progress over the last century?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day (also known as Poppy Day and Armistice Day) is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth countries since the end of World War I to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty. It is observed on 11 November to recall the official end of World War I on that date in 1918; hostilities formally ended "at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month" of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice ("at the 11th hour" refers to the passing of the 11th hour, or 11:00 a.m.)

Here from the Streatham and Croydon Rugby Club (Icons passim) is a quote to give us pause:
No matches were played during the First World War from 1914-18. With the cessation of hostilities in WW1 , in which thirty three members - one third of the membership in 1914 - gave their lives, those fortunate enough to return were eager to restart the club and play rugby again.
One third of the membership. Scale that up over a country, a continent, a world.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Gog and Magog

I've been pondering checking out the Lord Mayor's show this weekend. I've never taken any notice if it before. Perhaps I'll watch a little on the TV in the morning then pop along for the fireworks in the early evening.

I'm pleased to see that giants are involved. The show's website has its own explanation, but I prefer Wikipedia.
Despite their generally negative depiction in the Bible, Lord Mayors of the City of London carry images of Gog and Magog (depicted as giants) in a traditional procession in the Lord Mayor's Show. According to the tradition, the giants Gog and Magog are guardians of the City of London, and images of them have been carried in the Lord Mayor's Show since the days of King Henry V. The Lord Mayor's procession takes place each year on the second Saturday of November.
The Lord Mayor's account of Gog and Magog says that the Roman Emperor Diocletian had thirty-three wicked daughters. He found thirty-three husbands for them to curb their wicked ways; they chafed at this, and under the leadership of the eldest sister, Alba, they murdered their husbands. For this crime they were set adrift at sea; they washed ashore on a windswept island, which they named "Albion" - after Alba. Here they coupled with demons and gave birth to a race of giants, whose descendants included Gog and Magog.
What elevates that account is the dry language in which this extraordinary information is conveyed. I particularly like the commonplace tone of "the Lord Mayor's account of Gog and Magog says that the Roman Emperor Diocletian had thirty-three wicked daughters" and can't help wondering what a Bible belt fundamentalist would make of it all.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

140 not out

As I was taking the Bomber to rugby on the weekend (he got three tries and "man of the match" thanks for asking) we were weaving through the traffic on the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.

The Edwardian splendour of some of the vehicles we encountered put me in an excellent frame of mind to discover that Streatham and Croydon, the team whose ground we were visiting, having been founded in 1871 were one of the oldest rugby clubs in the world and celebrating their 140th anniversary.

The history page on their website is full of good things, in the 1890s:
The club used the Greyhound lane ground and began by running 3 sides. The team would practise interpassing on Streatham Common so they were capable of taking part in attacking moves, this being quite a revolutionary step. If moonlight was lacking the ball was wrapped in a large white handkerchief . Experiments were made with floodlighting but these did not prove very successful. The average weight of the team was only 10 stone 11 pounds, but speed understanding and fitness were made to compensate for this. Every Thursday at 9PM there was a club run from the Pied Bull to Thornton Heath Pond and back and on Sunday afternoons there would be a club walk.
Honing fitness on an afternoon constitutional, that's the stuff.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011


Both Modern Warfare 3 and Firefox 8 are released today. I couldn't give a monkey's.

The Bomber, by contrast, has astounded me by discoursing - apparently accurately - about the the troubles of the developers of the former at Activision, the fallout with Infinity Ward, and his worries that Sledgehammer Games will have been up to the job of taking over.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Diary of a Bad Man

The Bomber and his friends actually cry with joy relating highlights (which they all know by heart) from Diary of a Bad Man to each other.

It seems to be a genuine grass roots phenomenon with some episodes garnering more than three million views of YouTube.

Can't say I've watched it much myself but I find this development rather cheering.
.... like the Roman, I seem to see the River Tiber roaring with much laughter.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

How much does the internet weigh?

It has been estimated that the internet weighs about the same as a strawberry.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Bazinga Dr. Gazzaniga

Here is a model piece of popular writing taking in anecdotes, neuroscience and law.
Dr. Gazzaniga, 71, ..... is best known for a dazzling series of studies that revealed the brain’s split personality, the division of labor between its left and right hemispheres. But he is perhaps next best known for telling stories, many of them about blown experiments, dumb questions and other blunders during his nearly half-century career at the top of his field.

Now, in lectures and a new book, he is spelling out another kind of cautionary tale — a serious one, about the uses of neuroscience in society, particularly in the courtroom.

In short, the brain sustains a sense of unity not just in the presence of its left and right co-pilots. It does so amid a cacophony of competing voices, the neural equivalent of open outcry at the Chicago Board of Trade.
Prodnose: Rubbish

Myself: "Out of the mouths of babes and infants," but here's the clever bit.
Can brain science tell exactly where automatic processes end and self-directed “responsible” ones end?

Not now and not likely ever, Dr. Gazzaniga argues in his book. Social constructs like good judgment and free will are even further removed, and trying to define them in terms of biological processes is, in the end, a fool’s game.

“My contention is that, ultimately, responsibility is a contract between two people rather than a property of the brain, and determinism has no meaning in this context,” he writes in “Who’s in Charge?”

Like generosity and pettiness, like love and suspiciousness, responsibility is what he calls a “strongly emergent” property — a property that, though derived from biological mechanisms, is fundamentally distinct and obeys different laws ...
Prodnose: Can we vote on it?

Myself: No. I'm in charge

Friday, November 04, 2011

Oh Dear

I finished the Steve Jobs book a couple of days ago. It's an interesting read, albeit - and perhaps inevitably given the circumstances - rushed and containing some repetitions and infelicitous expressions that would have benefited from an editor's blue pencil.

I had to laugh around page 25 when I read:
Jobs began sharing with Kottke other books, including Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki, Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda, and Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Chögyam Trungpa.
I've read two of them this year, leaving me only an Autobiography of a Yogi short of the full set, and I've even been pondering that though vaguely.

Prodnose: Bleedin' hippy.

Myself: It gets worse.

Thursday, November 03, 2011


You may not have heard of him, but you'll almost certainly have been tempted by one of his goofy inventions. His self-published book contains 200 blank pages, while his other creations include the iNotePad and Credit Crunch breakfast cereal.

Now Sheridan Simove is heading to Silicon Valley after US investors backed his latest venture, a social network which could turn him into Britain's Mark Zuckerberg. The performer, serial "ideas man" and former television executive has built a novelty gifts empire after selling one million products which straddle the line between genius and idiocy.

"My philosophy is, if you throw enough against the wall, some of it will stick," says Mr Simove, 40, an Oxford psychology graduate who was born in Cardiff.
Ladies and gentlemen we have a new Welsh Born Icon.
His Control-a-Woman remote control has sold 250,000 units ("A man said they didn't work. I said, 'What did you expect for £2.99?'").

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Watch the parkin’ meters

After all this time (see Icons passim) more than a quarter of a million followers.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


I'm about 70% of the way through the authorized Steve Jobs biography, and - to be honest - I'm finding it hard to believe he can possibly have been as obnoxious in life as in this portrayal.

Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that conflict is more dramatic than harmony. He seems to have got on like a house on fire with John Lasseter, the creative power house behind Pixar but, in the absence of hissy fits, there's not much of a story in their relationship.