Friday, January 31, 2014

Sex Reverses Cognitive Decline of Aging. At Least in Rats.

1. Dear Advertisers, I am disgusted with the way old people are depicted on television. We are not all vibrant, fun loving sex maniacs. Many of us are bitter, resentful individuals who remember the good old days when entertainment was bland and inoffensive. The following is a list of words I never want to hear on television again. Number one: bra. Number two: horny. Number three: family jewels.

2. Aging is associated with compromised hippocampal function and reduced adult neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus. As new neurons have been linked to hippocampal functions, such as cognition, age-related decline in new neuron formation may contribute to impaired hippocampal function. We investigated whether a rewarding experience known to stimulate neurogenesis in young adult rats, namely sexual experience, would restore new neuron production and hippocampal function in middle-aged rats. Sexual experience enhanced the number of newly generated neurons in the dentate gyrus with both single and repeated exposures in middle-aged rats. Following continuous long-term exposure to sexual experience, cognitive function was improved. However, when a prolonged withdrawal period was introduced between the final mating experience and behavioral testing, the improvements in cognitive function were lost despite the presence of more new neurons. Taken together, these results suggest that repeated sexual experience can stimulate adult neurogenesis and restore cognitive function in the middle-aged rat as long as the experience persists throughout the testing period. The extent to which changes in adult neurogenesis underlie those in cognition remain unknown.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

bounded in a nutshell

O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.
I'm not the only one who has been brought up short by this "infinite space" quote.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Decisions, decisions

Do I want hand bag wine boxes or a motor unicycle?

No, I want hand bag wine boxes and a motor unicycle.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sir Nicholas Browne

Sir Nicholas Browne, who has died aged 66, made his mark as a diplomat in the difficult arena of Iran, where he served twice as chargĂ© d’affaires, then as Ambassador (from 1999 to 2002); he was also the author of a highly influential internal report investigating why Britain had failed to anticipate the fall of the Shah in 1979.
A distinguished namesake to add to the author of Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather Trilogy (Cambridge Film Handbooks).

We're homonymous.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Internet of Things

I'm very far from sure I would want my fridge gossiping about me to my washing machine behind my back. I know this because I would like to eavesdrop on other peoples' fridges gossiping about them with their washing machines behind their backs.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Burns Night

Haggis, tatties and 'neeps last night. Once a year is enough I feel.

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the puddin-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o' a grace
As lang's my arm.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Older than God

Gedion Zelalem turned out for Arsenal last night as they beat Coventry last night in the FA Cup. His birth-date of Jan 26, 1997, means that he is the first Arsenal player born after Wenger took over as manager on Sept 30, 1996.

I was already 35 then. Old enough to be his grandfather with a bit of initiative.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Glass Cages

When I was in University I would read anything at all when I was in the library as long as it was nothing to do with the Chemical Engineering I was ostensibly studying. That must be how I came, in those days, religiously to read Taki's column in The Spectator.

Not only is it still running apparently, all these years later, but Charles Saatchi has taken umbrage at some comment or other in it about that unpleasant business of his break up with Nigella Lawson, and written to the Spectacularlyboring as follows:
Dear Ms Taki: Although The Spectator is a lovely read, I always skip your column, I’m afraid. I am simply not interested in your social life. I know that you delight in telling readers that your friends of Prussian nobility find you hilariously entertaining company at their swanky Europoncy parties.
But it was very hapless of you to spring to Nigella’s defence last week (High life, 18 January), as she always found you toe-curlingly vile, and would have been aghast at having you as her valiant supporter.
People tell me that in your unreadable column you also like to brag that you are a Black Belt at karate. Well, me too, old boy. But apparently your ‘fights’ are genteel affairs, against other soppy geriatrics rolling around the floor in crisp white outfits, in some bit of Judo Kai nonsense. Mine take place in cages, 20 feet square, unofficial little events with no gloves, no rules, and the loser being carried out, usually battered to bits. You will understand why I laughed out loud at your schoolyard boast that I should try throttling a real hard case like you.
Charles Saatchi London SW3
Taki has replied.
I am 77 years old, 5ft 9in, and weigh 185lbs. I am willing to face him any time under cage-fighting non-rules, which will be a first for me. I need three days’ notice.
I await developments with interest.

While we are on the subject of MMA, ahead of the UFC Fight Night in London early in March, I was watching the video below in which James Haskell met up with Jimi 'The poster boy' Manuwa who will be headlining at that event. Four minutes and thirty seconds in James (of Wasps and England) and Jimi (the fighter) do some of the hot yoga that is part of Manuwa's training. That is right, hot yoga like what I do once a week. Maybe I can fight the winner of Saatchi versus Taki?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

boot to desktop in Windows 8.1

From the Start Screen, click the Desktop tile to enter Desktop mode.

Right-click any open area in the taskbar, then click Properties.

Click the Navigation tab, then check the box next to Go to the desktop instead of Start when I sign in.

Click OK, then reboot.

You need to know this, trust me.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

first as tragedy then as farce

The Sunday Telegraph's Merger of Palace staff is latest step on Prince of Wales's journey to kingship and the Buckingham Palace reshuffles key personnel in 'first step to bringing Prince Charles to the throne' in the Mail on the same day are about the unification of the Monarchy's press operations. I wonder where we will end up as that shakes down? Prognosis not good, I imagine.

We've also probably worked with the Police enough over the years to watch Danny Boyle's Babylon, Sunday 9th February on Channel 4 with a degree of discrimination, as the London's Metropolitan police come to terms with Liz Garvey – an American visionary from the world of new media, parachuted in to revolutionise a PR department struggling to keep up in an age of rolling news, smart phones and a news-breaking, information-hungry public.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Interesting Facts about the Sun

We are back on top of the Antelope quiz with a £50 bar tab for next week.

Victory clinched in a tie breaker by yours truly, confirming that the sun is mostly comprised of hydrogen.

Order is restored to the universe.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Railway Man

I went to see a movie called The Railway Man yesterday. It is the story of Eric Lomax, a former PoW who confronts his Japanese torturer. The film starts with an encounter on a train in 1980.

One of the first jobs I ever had was a summer holiday spent in Barclays Bank in Caerphilly checking the takings from Carrefour, one of the first hyper markets in the UK. It was probably around 1980.

I remember one of the women who worked there saying that her father had been a Japanese prisoner in World War II, and would still sometimes wake up screaming and try to climb out of the bedroom window. Just like scenes in the film that I may otherwise have found far fetched.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Burning Chrome

Summary: This week's Google Chrome update added some significant new features to its Windows 8 mode, effectively turning the browser into a stripped-down version of Chrome OS, with its own taskbar and window-management tools. But who's it for, really?
Not me if this morning's experience is anything to go by.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Honey & Co

Clients took us out to lunch yesterday, which made a pleasant change. They took us to Honey & Co. Reading Grace Dent's glowing review before we went it, I noted it serves up "Israeli food sprinkled with the homespun kitchen wisdom of its Algerian, Moroccan and Iraqi Jewish cooks."

As if by magic, Eat Your Way Around the World in London, is rebooted with Israel finally ticked off the list.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Fans for the memory

Some time ago, we shut off our last physical server, having moved everything to the Amazon cloud.

Now that  I am using a Surface Pro 2 as my main machine, plugging it into a docking station when I am at work, there are now no conventional desktops running either.

So, for the first time in I don't know how many years, there isn't a single cooling fan humming in the background as I work.

I should get rid of all the junk and chill in this new Zen workspace.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

According "to the legend"

If Wikipedia is to be believed, the current line up of the Puppetmastaz is:
  • Mr. Maloke: band leader, mole puppet
  • Tango Troublemaker: producer, rapper, blue bird puppet
  • Panic, the Pig: rapper, pig puppet
  • Snuggles the Bunny: rapper, rabbit puppet
  • Wizard The Lizard: rapper, lizard puppet
  • Ducci Prosetti: rapper/Producer, dragon puppet
  • HipHopNotist: rapper, gecko puppet
  • Frogga: rapper, frog puppet
  • Ricardo Prosetti: rapper/Producer, frog puppet
  • Flix: rapper, bat puppet
  • Turbid the Toad: frog puppet
  • Ryno: rapper, rhino puppet
  • Croucholina: toad puppet, dancer
  • Croucho: toad puppet and brother of Croucholina
  • Pit: Rapper, frog puppet
  • Dino Prosetti: producer, fish puppet
  • E-Wizz: Rapper, humanly puppet
  • Midi Mighty Moe: DJ, fly puppet
  • Big Eye: alien puppet
  • Rita: reggae puppet
  • Keil Pittler: demagogue puppet
  • Bloke: clown puppet
  • Lisa
  • Buddha
  • Richelieux
  • Hammerhead Rapper, Shark puppet
  • Dogga Dacoda
  • Harold
  • BumbleBee
  • Squidrick A.K.A. Squidone: Rapper, octopus with hat
  • Yobo: rapper and entertainer, twin brother of Star WarsYoda
  • Peppino
  • Orango-Thang
Sometimes, I just get a feeling I will like something even before I have heard it.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

survival of the misfits

There being no quiz in the Antelope last night - Antic group annual staff party so the 'Nonce was closed as well - I took myself up town to the Soho Theatre to see Robert Newman's New Theory of Evolution.

I found it pretty disappointing to be honest, which serves me right for going along to have my prejudices polished.

I have a visceral loathing of tabloid-stupid genetic determinism which I see as a throwback to Herbert Spencer's loathsome social Darwinism, and so does Rob Newman.

It's just not very funny.

He is fighting the good fight though.
The wisest thing in the world is to cry out before you are hurt. It is no good to cry out after you are hurt; especially after you are mortally hurt. People talk about the impatience of the populace; but sound historians know that most tyrannies have been possible because men moved too late. It is often essential to resist a tyranny before it exists.
G.K. Chesterton: Eugenics and Other Evils, 1922

Monday, January 13, 2014

Arise, take up your mat

I've been to yoga more than 250 times now. I subscribe to a five class a month programme at Bikram Wimbledon and, barring accidents, you will pretty much always fine me at the 8 a.m. Saturday class.

Having stumbled on this video of the England Rugby League team grunting through asanas, I have decided to post it here and create a new Yoga label for the blog that I can use - retrospectively - to thread together the thoughts that I have shared from the mat over the last few years.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

the b*tches that we need are everywhere around us

Once today's club game is out of the way, Rutlish School Year 8 will travel to Roehampton to take on Ibstock Place School tomorrow.

According to Wikipedia, notables Ibstock Place alumni include:
All very interesting, but it doesn't look like much of a rugby heritage, if I'm not tempting fate.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

the inches that we need are everywhere around us

U13 League 2
TeamPWDLFADiffB PtsPtsAdjust
Old Rutlishians U13430112155663190
Effingham & Leatherhead U13s22007038322120
Sutton & Epsom U13 A410354141-8718-1
Guildfordians U132101553223170
Camberley U132101412219170
Old Reigatian U13210148399170
Reeds Weybridge U13s110027198160
Haslemere U13300340110-7013-1
Last Updated: Dec 30 2013 11:34AM

As you can see, the boys are still top of the table going into Sunday’s game despite losing last time out with a depleted team.

The Ruts are playing at home against Old Reigatians, who have only played two league games this season compared to our four.

They lost 34 – 14 to Effingham and Leatherhead (the team who beat us 36 – 24) and beat Sutton and Epsom (who we demolished 45 – 7) by 35 points to 5.

It looks like it will be a close game. On the positive side we have got all the A team squad available, but we haven’t been able to train or play since before Christmas because of the rain and floods.

Thursday, January 09, 2014


Summly, the news summary app sold by British teenager Nick D'Aloisio to Yahoo! for $30m last year, is to be revamped.
The 17-year-old joined Yahoo! chief executive Marissa Mayer on stage at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Tuesday to unveil Yahoo! News Digest.
The new app will give users news summaries twice a day. Each summary is comprised of nine stories, with each article constructed from multiple sources, which will feature tweets, videos and maps.
"Our goal with the Yahoo! News Digest is to make sure you're always in the know," said D'Aloisio, who is now a product manager at the tech giant.
The app will also record how many stories you have read that day, giving you a score out of nine.

It gives you nine stories, the app records how many you read and gives you "a score out of nine".

Brilliant! I wonder what algorithm is used to calculate the score?

Wednesday, January 08, 2014


Since the Bomber introduced me to FL Studio (Icons passim) I have also discovered its sister product Deckadance DJ software, and I am now as gangsta as it is possible for someone mixing Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb's Guilty with Abba's The Winner Takes It All to be.

In a similar vein, I have also come up with an idea for rebranding Sophie's coffee shop.

Myself: Word is Bond.

Prodnose: Word is Brooke Bond.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Better the Red Devils you know

I can't help but think that Manchester United would have been better off appointing me, rather than David Moyes, as manager because there would have been no night of the long knives for Sir Alex's tried and tested back room staff.

I would have called a meeting with Mike Phelan, Rene Meulensteen and the rest, and said "I'm not entirely clear on what you do but keep on doing it."

"Any problems, the door is always open. Otherwise I'll be in the governor's old office teaching myself card tricks from YouTube and trying to find if he has left any of his legendary wine collection behind."

I bet they'd be in the top four in Premiership and still in the FA Cup.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Windows need be no more than an archaic touch

Back in 1964, Isaac Asimov imagined the world, or more accurately the World's Fair, of 2014 - fifty years into the future.
Bridges will also be of less importance, since cars will be capable of crossing water on their jets, though local ordinances will discourage the practice.
I predict that in the world of 2064 we will not be able to laugh up our sleeves at announcements like that above; the government will mandate that we appear with bare arms so that drones can read the bar codes that have been tattooed onto our biceps. For our own good.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

A description of an absence

Rory Stewart is an interesting man. 2014's chastened version makes some valuably modest observations in this interview from Friday's Grauniard.
Stewart came home when he realised that even the least-educated Afghan housewife in a mountain village knew more about the country than he did. Fluent in Dari, along with nine other languages, he'd thrown himself into the coalition mission with great conviction, but had to conclude that: "In the end, the basic problem is very, very simple. Why don't these interventions work? Because we are foreigners. If things are going wrong in a country, it's not usually that we don't have enough foreigners. It's usually that we have too many." 
Ten years ago he would have listed 10 things Afghanistan needed to build a new state: rule of law, financial administration, civil administration and so on. "And, then you would say, well, how do you do that? Well, I'd say, by a mapping of internal and external stakeholders, definition of critical tasks – all this jargon talk. And I've only now just begun to realise these words are nonsense words. I mean, they have no content at all. We should be ashamed to even use them." 
They are nothing more, Stewart now acknowledges, than tautologies. "They pretend to be a plan, but they're actually just a description of an absence. Saying 'What we need is security, and what we need to do is eliminate corruption' is just another way of saying: 'It's really dangerous and corrupt.' None of that actually tells you how it's done."
In some ways it's a companion piece to yesterday's evisceration of the thumb-on-the-till merchants pushing the internet snake-oil.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

I'm against it.

I find myself curiously drawn to Evgeny Morozov.
To say that Morozov has gone out of his way to irritate powerful and influential people in the tech world doesn’t quite capture it. Doing so is his primary occupation. In the Morozovian worldview, New York University professor and social-media theorist Clay Shirky is a “consultant-cum-intellectual”; Google’s mission is to “monetize all of the world’s information and make it universally inaccessible and profitable”; and Tim O’Reilly, the Silicon Valley publisher and venture capitalist who coined “Web 2.0,” is an Orwellian “meme hustler” and the main culprit behind “the enduring emptiness of our technology debates.” To millions of viewers, TED talks are inspirational speeches about “ideas worth spreading” in science and technology. To Morozov they are a “sinister” hyping of “ideas no footnotes can support.”
Or try this passage. It’s a takedown of a work of technological triumphalism called Hybrid Reality, but it doubles as a summary of his thinking about the entirety of the tech discourse: “[P]erhaps this is what the Hybrid Age is all about: marketing masquerading as theory, charlatans masquerading as philosophers, a New Age cult masquerading as a university, business masquerading as redemption, slogans masquerading as truths.”
The entire Morozov aesthetic is in this sentence: the venom, the derision, the reverse jujitsu of his opponents’ sanctimony, the bald accusation that all the talk about a new age of human flourishing is nothing but an attempt to vamp the speaker’s consulting business. Tech enthusiasts channel hope. Tech skeptics channel worry. Morozov channels anger, and this can be a very satisfying emotion to anyone unconvinced that everything is getting better.

Friday, January 03, 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel

March 7 is the diary date for all us UK based Wes Anderson fans.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

the dock of the day

I just bought a Plugable UD-3900 USB 3.0 Universal Docking Station with Dual Video Outputs for Windows 8.1, 8, 7, XP (HDMI and DVI/ VGA to 2048x1152, Gigabit Ethernet, Audio, 2 USB 3.0 Ports, 4 USB 2.0 Ports, 4A AC Power Adapter) to use in the office with the Surface Pro 2.

I looked at Microsoft's offering, but the fact it uses the Mini Display Port would have meant me buying a separate VGA adapter as well.

Fascinating eh?