Friday, July 31, 2015

Be still my beating heart

I may try and install it over lunchtime. If it fries my system and you never hear from me again, it has been nice knowing you.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like "I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive. ..." And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going about 100 miles an hour with the top down to Las Vegas. And a voice was screaming: "Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn animals?"
Then it was quiet again. My attorney had taken his shirt off and was pouring beer on his chest, to facilitate the tanning process. "What the hell are you yelling about?" he muttered, staring up at the sun with his eyes closed and covered with wraparound Spanish sunglasses. "Never mind," I said. "It's your turn to drive." I hit the brakes and aimed the Great Red Shark toward the shoulder of the highway. No point mentioning those bats, I thought. The poor bastard will see them soon enough.
Perhaps the greatest pair of opening paragraphs in history. These days you can get the story free (and entirely legitimately) from the Rolling Stone website. I, however, can remember buying it as a Paladin paperback in the Cardiff bookshop Lear's in the late 70s.

That is the same place (now lost to us) where I got my imported Tom Wolfe Bantam paperbacks. They seemed glamorous, I remember, because the odd glossy page of advertisements was bound into them.

It doesn't make sense now, but that is how it felt at the time. (I must have that translated into Latin so I can use it as a motto.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Amazon launched music streaming service in the UK yesterday. It is free to Prime customers like me, so I tried it our last night on the web and the iPAD app. It's OK. I suppose all these Spotify rivals are all pretty much of a muchness. That said, the lack of adverts is a big plus.

I was surprised to find I couldn't seem to access it on the Amazon Fire Stick. Checking the interwebs today suggested that I should. Maybe I am just too dim. I will look again later.

As a vaguely related Amazon aside I have got Miracast working via the Fire Stick to use my TV as an extra Windows 8.1 monitor, but the latency seems to make the mouse unworkable. Chalk more noodling around with little to show for it up to experience.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Bear with me

Khabib Nurmagomedov is most known for bringing the high-level wrestling prowess of the Dagestani’s to the UFC’s lightweight division. His grit and grappling game quickly garnered him six wins, most recently defeating Rafael Dos Anjos. It’s been a little over a year since we’ve seen Khabib step into the Octagon, as he was forced to pull out of his May 23rd bout with Donald Cerrone due to injury, but he’s still making headlines in Russia.
He’s also known for an incredible video of him as a child, full-on wrestling a bear. The video speaks to his hard-nosed reputation, and frankly, is downright cute relative to the brutal history of humans boxing these great animals. No other details were known besides the fact that it happened, until now.
Recently, Khabib’s father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, gave an interview to Russian media outlet where he spoke about being his son’s coach. Abdulmanap is a black belt in Judo and master of Sambo and Freestyle wrestling, and in the interview, it’s clear that his guidance played a major role in the development of MMA champions in the region. He also explained the circumstances behind the famous bear-wrestling video.
“In the west, Khabib’s has an entrenched image of a guy who fought as a child with the bears. For the people from the United States—this is madness. Tell me, was it for fun or part of his training?” the interviewer asked.
“First—a father always wants to check on what his son his capable of. It is a pity that there were no fights more interesting when he was younger. In the end, this was a test of character more than exercise,” he answered.
I know what you are thinking, but where could I even have got a bear when Ben was nine?

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Benevolence Of Sister Mary Ignatius

I am going down to Cardiff again on the weekend to see Mum and Dad. I think it is important that the universe knows I am missing out on on the Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra at the Garage in Highbury on Saturday so to do.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

a film about Haruki Murakami

As his first two "kitchen table" novels are published in English for the first time.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Taking the retromingent

Sir Thomas Browne.
This 17th-century English physician and philosopher, living in provincial isolation from literary London, managed to cultivate the most sonorous organ-voice in the history of English prose. At a time when the prevailing plain style was growing dull and insipid (John Locke is an example), it was Browne who showed the way to new possibilities of Ciceronian splendor. In doing so, he became a prolific contributor of novel words to the English language. Among his 784 credited neologisms are “electricity,”  “hallucination,”  “medical,”  “ferocious,”  “deductive” and “swaggy.” (Other coinages failed to take: like “retromingent,” for urinating backward.)
Good Old Uncle Tom.

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town

This quirky drinking den is hidden beneath The Breakfast Club in London. On entering to the Spitalfields branch, you must announce to a member of staff that you'd "like to see the mayor" before being led downstairs through a secret door disguised by a SMEG fridge. Once inside, feast on American-style diner food (we like the pulled pork sliders, £9) and try a Peanut Buttercup (£9), a mixture of chocolate, peanut butterand bourbon.12-16 Artillery Ln, London E1 7LS, 020 7078 9639
It sounds far fetched I know, but the 11 Best Secret Bars in London list attests to it, and there is a website at

I am certainly not brave enough to check it out sans backup. One for the bucket list next time my brother John is up in the smoke, perhaps?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Too close to home

British ISIS fighter who posed next to Ed Balls and dreamed of becoming the first Asian Prime Minister 'is killed in drone strike'
  • Reyaad Khan, known as Abu Dujana, left Cardiff to join ISIS in Syria in 2013
  • His death announced on social media by ISIS's other fanatical supporters
  • South Wales Police said today it is aware of the claims he is dead
  • Khan was 'thrilled' when he got to meet Labour Minister Ed Balls in 2009
  • Released sickening video urging Britons to travel to Syria in June last year
According to the Daily Mail, he went to St David’s Catholic sixth-form college. What's that? Four or five hundred yards from the house where we were brought up, and where Mum and Dad still live.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Musical Map: Cities of the World

The most distinctively popular songs in Cardiff GB relative to the rest of the world, for example, are listed here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


I am writing this on Wednesday morning.

I forgot to tug on the world's sleeve yesterday which is rather unlike me.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Cray me a river

I got telephone call from some one at the Fish Movements Team at the Environment Agency about my application to trap crayfish.

It seems that there aren't any in the Wandle, as "there is no way for them to get in."

The guy told me that he could issue me a license but he didn't think it was worth it and advised me that the River Mole which runs through Surrey before joining the Thames at Kingston is crawling with the things if I wanted to reapply to catch them there.

I suppose the Mole is not all that far away, but it is perhaps too inconvenient for me to go and set the trap one day and then come back a day or too later to retrieve it.

Chalk one up to experience I suppose. I should also acknowledge that it was a decent gesture to call me. It would have been easier for the Agency simply to deal out a  useless license and leave me to my own futile devices.

Here are a few links I had been saving up for the project that (just like my Swedish trap) are now likely to lie here forlorn and unheeded.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

We 3Rings

I was off the grid yesterday as I was back in Wales seeing how mum was after her fall. Dad's not a lot of use in, or out, of a crisis these days. If he wrote a weblog it would contain the same entry repeated every day indefinitely.

Hive announcing plans last week to expand from central heating control to sockets, bulbs and motion detectors reminded me of the 3rings plug which lets you know - via an inbuilt mobile phone - when an appliance hasn't been used for a while..

I might put it on their telly rather than the kettle but I think the idea is sound as a way of flagging that something might be going wrong.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Eyes on the prize

Here is a pretty shoddy phone camera shot of the Bomber's school rugby player of the year award. What can I say about my lack of photography skills? At least the trophy is recorded for me to look back on now.

He dropped out of athletics last night as he was "too tired" and he can't do the YDL meeting on Sunday as he is away with Alex at Alfie's birthday.

Pre season rugby training starts next Wednesday, and as he far prefers that to track and field, it looks like we might be done with javelin and 400m for another season.

It is a pity as he has a real talent for them, but what can you do?

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Become a fixer, not just a fixture.

The Surrey League 1 fixtures for the newly promoted Old Ruts U15s have been released.

18/10/2015 KCS Old Boys Home 11.00
22/11/2015 Richmond Away 11.00
13/12/2015 Guildford Home 11.00
10/01/2016 Reeds Away 11.00
31/01/2016 Warlingham Home 11.00
20/03/2016 London Irish Away 11.00

Here, by way of an aide-mémoire, are links to last season's league one table and results. London Irish seem to be much the best, but after that there doesn't seem to be a lot between all the other non-relegated sides.

It is going to be a tough season. Just staying up in the top division for 2016/7 is enough of a target for the campaign I think.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

It's Not About The Nail

"Don't try to fix it. I just need you to listen."

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

my italics

Think Greece's current economic malaise is the worst ever experienced in Europe?
Think again. Germany, economic historian Albrecht Ritschl argues in a SPIEGEL ONLINE interview, has been the worst debtor nation of the past century. He warns the country should take a more chaste approach in the euro crisis or it could face renewed demands for World War II reparations.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Mr. Ritschl, Germany is coming across like a know-it-all in the debate over aid for Greece. Berlin is intransigent and is demanding obedience from Athens. Is this attitude justified?

Ritschl: No, there is no basis for it.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Most Germans would likely disagree.
Ritschl: That may be, but during the 20th century, Germany was responsible for what were the biggest national bankruptcies in recent history. It is only thanks to the United States, which sacrificed vast amounts of money after both World War I and World War II, that Germany is financially stable today and holds the status of Europe's headmaster. That fact, unfortunately, often seems to be forgotten.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: What happened back then exactly?
Ritschl: From 1924 to 1929, the Weimar Republic lived on credit and even borrowed the money it needed for its World War I reparations payments from America. This credit pyramid collapsed during the economic crisis of 1931. The money was gone, the damage to the United States enormous, the effect on the global economy devastating.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: The situation after World War II was similar.
Ritschl: But right afterwards, America immediately took steps to ensure there wouldn't be a repeat of high reparations demands made on Germany. With only a few exceptions, all such demands were put on the backburner until Germany's future reunification. For Germany, that was a life-saving gesture, and it was the actual financial basis of the Wirtschaftswunder, or economic miracle (that began in the 1950s). But it also meant that the victims of the German occupation in Europe also had to forgo reparations, including the Greeks.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: In the current crisis, Greece was initially pledged €110 billion from the euro-zone and the International Monetary Fund. Now a further rescue package of similar dimensions has become necessary. How big were Germany's previous defaults?
Ritschl: Measured in each case against the economic performance of the USA, the German debt default in the 1930s alone was as significant as the costs of the 2008 financial crisis. Compared to that default, today's Greek payment problems are actually insignificant.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: If there was a list of the worst global bankruptcies in history, where would Germany rank?
Ritschl: Germany is king when it comes to debt. Calculated based on the amount of losses compared to economic performance, Germany was the biggest debt transgressor of the 20th century.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Greece can't compare?
Ritschl: No, the country has played a minor role. It is only the contagion danger for other euro-zone countries that is the problem.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: The Germany of today is considered the embodiment of stability. How many times has Germany become insolvent in the past?
Ritschl: That depends on how you do the math. During the past century alone, though, at least three times. After the first default during the 1930s, the US gave Germany a "haircut" in 1953, reducing its debt problem to practically nothing. Germany has been in a very good position ever since, even as other Europeans were forced to endure the burdens of World War II and the consequences of the German occupation. Germany even had a period of non-payment in 1990.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Really? A default?
Ritschl: Yes, then-Chancellor Helmut Kohl refused at the time to implement changes to the London Agreement on German External Debts of 1953. Under the terms of the agreement, in the event of a reunification, the issue of German reparations payments from World War II would be newly regulated. The only demand made was that a small remaining sum be paid, but we're talking about minimal sums here. With the exception of compensation paid out to forced laborers, Germany did not pay any reparations after 1990 -- and neither did it pay off the loans and occupation costs it pressed out of the countries it had occupied during World War II. Not to the Greeks, either.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Unlike in 1953, the current debate in Germany over the rescue of Greece is concerned not so much with a "haircut", but rather an extension of the maturities of government bonds, i.e. a "soft debt restructuring." Can one therefore even speak of an impending bankruptcy?
Ritschl: Absolutely. Even if a country is not 100 percent out of money, it could still be broke. Just like in the case of Germany in the 1950s, it is illusory to think that Greeks would ever pay off their debts alone. Those who are unable to do that are considered to be flat broke. It is now necessary to determine how high the failure rate of government bonds is, and how much money the country's creditors must sacrifice. It's above all a matter of finding the paymaster.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: The biggest paymaster would surely be Germany.
Ritschl: That's what it looks like, but we were also extremely reckless -- and our export industry has thrived on orders. The anti-Greek sentiment that is widespread in many German media outlets is highly dangerous. And we are sitting in a glass house: Germany's resurgence has only been possible through waiving extensive debt payments and stopping reparations to its World War II victims.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: You're saying that Germany should back down?
Ritschl: In the 20th century, Germany started two world wars, the second of which was conducted as a war of annihilation and extermination, and subsequently its enemies waived its reparations payments completely or to a considerable extent. No one in Greece has forgotten that Germany owes its economic prosperity to the grace of other nations.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: What do you mean by that?

Ritschl: The Greeks are very well aware of the antagonistic articles in the German media. If the mood in the country turns, old claims for reparations could be raised, from other European nations as well. And if Germany ever had to honor them, we would all be taken the cleaners. Compared with that, we can be grateful that Greece is being indulgently reorganized at our expense. If we follow public opinion here with its cheap propaganda and not wanting to pay, then eventually the old bills will be presented again.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Looking at history, what would be the best solution for Greece -- and for Germany?
Ritschl: The German bankruptcies in the last century show that the sensible thing to do now would be to have a real reduction of the debt. Anyone who has lent money to Greece would then have to give up a considerable part of what they were owed. Some banks would not be able to cope with that, so there would have to be new aid programs. For Germany, this could be expensive, but we will have to pay either way. At least Greece would then have the chance to start over.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

bad news

Mum has fallen down the stairs and broken her arm.

I was going to drive straight down to Cardiff when I heard this morning, but my sisters dissuaded me.

I will go next weekend. Ben and Alex are away visiting Alfie for his birthday so I am free.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

gaze long enough into an Abbeyfest

A free summer festival which once saw 2,500 people through its doors has been scaled down for the second year running due to security concerns.
Abbeyfest has hosted open air concerts, theatre and comedy shows in Merton Abbey Mills in Colliers Wood since 1998.
But last year it shed its popular jazz and blues concerts after organisers said a bout of anti-social behaviour meant they couldn't afford the security needed to police it.
Festival founder Peter Wallder, 52, said: "It's a few things.
"The most important issue is a minority of people carrying out anti-social behaviour - people dealing or drunk.
"The vast majority was there to have a great time and this element was creeping in, so it was becoming more and more difficult for people to keep it safe."
After big sponsors like Marks and Spencers pulled out, he said it wasn't possible to fork out about £20,000 needed to hire private security.
The festival was in some ways "the victim of its own success" because it became so popular it was too expensive to manage, he said.
This is such a pity. The first gig would have been last night if the traditional timetable was followed.
Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an Abbeyfest, the Abbeyfest will gaze back into you.
Friedrich Nietzsche

Friday, July 10, 2015

Awards Evenings

Old Ruts U14 Team 8"x12" £7.00. What a bargain. They start pre-season training as the U15s the week after  next.

That is the Old Ruts Awards Evening from a while back. Ben won the school equivalent Year 9 Player of the Season last night.

In other news:

New Six Nations TV deal a body blow to BBC which loses rights to show two-thirds of England matches for six years.

BBC Six Nations fixtures (2018-23)
Scotland v England, Wales v England, France v England, Scotland v Wales, Scotland v Ireland, Scotland v France, Scotland v Italy, Wales v Scotland, Wales v Ireland, Wales v France, Wales v Italy, France v Scotland, France v Wales, France v Ireland, France v Italy.

ITV Six Nations fixtures (2018-23)
England v Scotland, England v Wales, England v Ireland, England v France, England v Italy, Ireland v England, Italy v England, Ireland v Scotland, Ireland v Wales, Ireland v France, Ireland v Italy, Italy v Scotland, Italy v Wales, Italy v Ireland, Italy v France.

The boys in the photo will be 22 or 23 when this deal runs out. Old enough to play in it.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

All up in the air

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

‘Butch Better Have My Money’

The following is the transcript of a roundtable discussion held at the offices of Damply Media in Brooklyn, to discuss the cultural importance of Rihanna’s new single ‘Bitch Better Have My Money’. The discussion brought together some of the leading thinkers in their fields for a unique evening of lively debate. PANTOPHAGIA PULPH is a digital sibyl, feminist scholar, literal goddess, and visiting professor at the Jersey Turnpike School of Media and Dentistry, and it’s not her job to educate you. ALAN GORKENBLUM is a respected economist noted for his work in developing nations, his occasional columns in the New York Times, and his influential 1994 paper ‘Could Death Squads Be Good For Freedom?’. PENCIL GLEASE is a radical leftist philosopher and the author of over fifty books, including ‘Why Breakfast Cereal Is Communism’, ‘Why Boy Bands Are Communism’, ‘Why Disneyland Is Communism,’ and ‘Why Capitalism Is Communism’. THE GHOST OF GEORGES RIBEMONT-DESSAIGNES, moderating the discussion, is a sad, tattered, howling spectre, barely capable of speech, his vague form clammy with sadness and regret. HELENA BIBBS is, despite all appearances, an adult woman.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Greece v Germany

With just over a minute of the match remaining Archimedes cries out "Eureka!", takes the first kick of the ball and rushes towards the German goal. After several passes through a perplexed German defence, Socrates scores the only goal of the match in a diving header off a cross from Archimedes.

As the sketch closes, the Germans dispute the call; "Hegel is arguing that the reality is merely an a priori adjunct of non-naturalistic ethics, Kant via the categorical imperative is holding that ontologically it exists only in the imagination, and Marx claims it was offside."

(The replay proves that, according to the offside rule, Socrates was indeed offside, but the sketch, nevertheless, states that the Greeks have won.)

As Greece news live: 'Basis for deal exists' as Juncker plays down Grexit fears ahead of today's eurogroup meeting plays itself out, the more things change the more they stay the same. John Ashton used to say that the reason people get so worked up about national stereotypes is that they are largely correct.

Monday, July 06, 2015

sort out your priorities

Priority booking for Wimbledon Bookfest has opened today for a two week period in which BookFest Friends will get a special 20% early bird discount rate on most events.

We've done the e-commerce integration again at

2015 Highlights include:
  • Opening gala night with Sebastian Faulks
  • Louis de Bernieres with his forthcoming novel
  • Bad Science with Ben Goldacre
  • Ben Fogle on Labradors
  • Literary Bike Ride
  • Rugby World Cup Night with Brian Moore and Friends
  • Comedy on Wimbledon Common with Seann Walsh headlining
  • Vince Cable talking to James Naughtie
  • Tessa Hadley on the Bletchley Girls
  • Dan Jones on The Magna Carta
  • Vogue Editor Alexandra Shulman and Penny Vincenzi at Hotel du Vin
  • Humphrey Burton celebrating Yehudi Menuhin
  • Pop Up Film Screenings of Wimbledon International Shorts Competition and To Kill A Mockingbird
  • Children's events including Michael Rosen
And a special out of Festival event is planned with Boris Becker - date tba

Sunday, July 05, 2015

But which crayfish trap?

Quartermaster Clerk: One Swedish Crayfish Trap - UK Legal, Otter Friendly.

Austin Powers: [to Vanessa] That's not mine.

Quartermaster Clerk: One credit card receipt for Swedish Crayfish Trap - UK Legal, Otter Friendly signed by Austin Powers.

Austin Powers: I'm telling ya baby, that's not mine.

Quartermaster Clerk: One warranty card for Swedish Crayfish Trap - UK Legal, Otter Friendly, filled out by Austin Powers.

Austin Powers: I don't even know what this is! This sort of thing ain't my bag, baby.

Quartermaster Clerk: One book, "Swedish Crayfish Trap - UK Legal, Otter Friendly And Me: This Sort of Thing Is My Bag Baby", by Austin Powers.


Saturday, July 04, 2015

Crayfish trap authorisation

You must not trap non-native crayfish without written consent from the Environment Agency (EA) in England or Natural Resources Wales in Wales.
You also need permission from the landowner and any relevant angling clubs.
If you trap crayfish without written permission you could be prosecuted.
If your application is approved you’ll get:
  • permission to trap using approved traps (see the application form for details)
  • identity tags for each trap (these must be attached to traps)
  • a catch return form (use this to keep a record of crayfish you catch)
It takes 10 to 20 days to process your application. It may take longer if the water has a conservation designation such as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
In some areas you also need a licence to keep non-native crayfish alive after trapping.
If you are a fish farm owner or fish farm employee you don’t need consent to trap non-native crayfish but you must comply with trap rules.

Native crayfish

Native crayfish are a protected species – you can only trap them for scientific purposes and not to eat or sell.
To do this you need to register with Natural England and follow instructions on the class licence for white clawed crayfish.
In Wales contact Natural Resources Wales.

Crayfish trap rules

There are strict rules about the design and size of crayfish traps because they can harm other wildlife. If traps are the wrong size or design your application will be refused.
Traps must:
  • be no longer than 600mm
  • be no wider than 350mm at the widest point
  • have an entrance no more than 95mm wide
  • have mesh no bigger than 30mm at its widest point
  • have EA identity tags
You must:
  • tell EA or NRW about crayfish you trap using a catch return form (you get the form when you’re authorised)
  • return species not covered by consent to the water they came from

We are back from the Crawfish Boil. Licenses to trap them are free  in the UK. I wonder if I could feed myself catching them in the Wandle before and after work.

Friday, July 03, 2015

First it giveth, then it taketh away

AC/DC arrive on Spotify but Prince has left the building. It is all very confusing.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

" going to be brutal"

Wellington - The Hurricanes-Highlanders Super 15 final on Saturday "is going to be brutal" and could damage New Zealand's World Cup strength, according to All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.
But he admits he wouldn't have it any other way with southern hemisphere club rugby supremacy at stake.
The Hurricanes, with 12 current All Blacks in their squad, compared to five with the Highlanders, have been installed as favourites by the pragmatists for the sold-out game in Wellington.
Rugby romantics, however, are backing the Highlanders who field a band of rugby nobodies with a never-say-die attitude.
Andy H's beloved home town Hurricanes have made the Super 15 finals, so he has booked a table in the Charles Holden for eight o'clock on Saturday morning to watch it over breakfast and a pint. That "is going to brutal" for me and John before the afternoon's crawfish boil. No need to plan anything very elaborate for the evening I feel.

It is interesting to note that the 'Canes have been on a roll ever since Mark Hammett left them for the Cardiff Blues where he also flopped.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Back in Black

AC/DC have finally bitten the bullet and joined Spotify. You may take the rest of the day off while you bang your head on your desktop.