Monday, December 31, 2018


At the end of this month, just as we were getting used to the year 2018, scientists are telling us that we have to end it. They’re creating a whole new year, not-so-cleverly-named “2019,” without taking any poll, survey, or referendum. Now I know that it’s been a year of ups and downs, but did they even bother to ask the American people about it? No! They’ve been planning this for months and refuse to propose any alternatives, despite all the money and financial support given to them via government grants that OUR tax dollars pay for.
These scientists are just passing the buck, blaming an old Pope in Italy several hundred years ago, who decided that what’s happening way up in outer space should determine how we live our lives down here on good old Mother Earth. Together, they have literally given our rights away to alien forces. The more conservative calendars, the older ones that know better, don’t have the year abruptly stop at the end of December. But the calendar they tell us to use leaves absolutely no room for dissension. Just as the days are getting longer again and the sun is spending more time shining down on us, they want us to suddenly change the way we plan our precious time in that sun.
See also: Brexit. "Yeah, they say two thousand zero one nine party over, Oops out of time," as Prince would have it.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

My given name is Nicky, I come from Cardiff City, and I'm doing very well

29 Dec Pro14: Scarlets 5-34 Cardiff Blues
29 Dec Leicester City 0-1 Cardiff City 
26 Dec Leicester City 2-1 Manchester City
22 Dec Chelsea 0-1 Leicester City
Cardiff City beat a Leicester City team yesterday in the Premiereship that was coming off successive victories against Chelsea and Man City.

A little later, the Cardiff Blues (with Dan Fish starting at 15) crushed Scarlets' hopes of setting a new Pro14 record with a thrilling bonus-point win in Llanelli that brought Scarlets' 26-match unbeaten home run in the league to an end.

 I'm typing this in Gatwick waiting for Ben to arrive back from Orlando. I'll tell him he's a day late after such a good Saturday for the old home town (looks the same as I step down from the train).

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Is Science the Subject of Philosophy?

Steve told me on Boxing Day that I should add Kingston University to my list of organisations offering free public lectures.

I am now booked onto Catherine Malabou: Is Science the Subject of Philosophy? Miller, Badiou and Derrida on Thursday 17 January 2019.

I will be the bilious old man harrumphing from the back row.

Friday, December 28, 2018


Protestations to the contrary (Icons passim) it seems that I do often quote The Sun here when it comes to Callum.
Chelsea fans rage at Callum Hudson-Odoi being subbed off
The winger was brought on just before half-time only to be subbed off five minutes from time - but Maurizio Sarri later confirmed it was due to an injury
.........However, some eagle eyed fans were quick to notice Hudson-Odoi limp off holding his hamstring - while Sarri confirmed it was a hamstring problem the winger suffered.
One said: "Callum Hudson-Odoi is injured, calm down guys."
Another said: "Don’t know why some Chelsea fans are having a go at others about the Hudson Odoi coming off situation when we all didn’t know it was because of an injury in the first place."
Certainly a firm fan favourite.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Capra Cinematic Universe

We watched It's a Wonderful Life at Anne-Marie's on Christmas Evening. I was forbidden from listing IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: TOP NINE FAN THEORIES.

1. George Bailey was dead the entire movie.
2. George and Mary are undercover Soviet agents
3. Mr. Potter is literally a “scurvy little spider.”
4. Bailey Building & Loan is built atop the Hellmouth
5. Young George Bailey didn’t stop druggist Mr. Gower from sending a boy poison; he stopped
him from sending Captain America serum
6. Bedford Falls is part of the Capra Cinematic Universe (CCU)
7. Zuzu’s petals are opium-strength poppy
8. George’s life would have been transformed if it had just not been for World War One, the Great Depression, and Christmas
9. “Old Maid Librarian” Mary would have actually been way happier than Mary Bailey.

Actually I am thinking of watching Five Came Back on Netflix to learn more about the Capra Cinematic Universe.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Hard Candy Christmas

Hey, maybe I'll dye my hair
Maybe I'll move somewhere
Maybe I'll get a car
Maybe I'll drive so far
That I'll lose track
Me, I'll bounce right back
Maybe I'll sleep real late
Maybe I'll lose some weight
Maybe I'll clear my junk
Maybe I'll just get drunk on apple wine
Me, I'll be just
Fine and dandy
Lord it's like a hard candy Christmas
I'm barely getting through tomorrow
But still I won't let
Sorrow bring me way down
I think it is widely acknowledged that there is a Dolly Parton for every occasion. I'll be getting drunk on pickle backs as opposed to apple wine today but apart from that I think she has nailed post Noel Wednesday morning coming down.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Ghosts and Ancestors

Ben got me a book called Happiness for Humans as a Christmas present. "Part love story, part meditation on the role of AI in our society, Happiness for Humans by P.Z. Reizin is a fun, light romance that also happens to ask some important questions about what it means to be human-and what it means to be in love." Gosh. It might be a good book or a terrible book, but it certainly demonstrates  that he has paid attention to what I am thinking about lately.

He also got me a plastic expandable thingummyjigger that you can us to bring four pints back from the bar. James Oakes - the world's leading gadgeteer - lent me his at a Ruts game earlier this season and I have lusted after it ever since, Chalk another one up to the Bomber's powers of observation. I am humbled.

I'm gonna add this song to our set tonight. Alright, this is the final days of Patti's first pregnancy. And I receive a surprise visit from my father at my home in LA. Now he'd driven 500 miles unannounced to knock on my door, that's his style. So at 11 a.m. we sit Sunday dining room, and we're nursing morning beers, that's his style. That's my father's breakfast of champions. When, my dad, never a talkative man, right, blurted out, "You've been very good to us". And I nodded that, that I had, ya know, and uh, and he says, "And I wasn't very good to you". And, the room just, was, stood still. As to my shock, ya know, the acknowledgeable was being acknowledged, if I, if I didn't know better I would've sworn an apology of some sort was being made, and it was. Here in the last days before I was to become a father, my own father was visiting me to warn me of the mistakes that he had made, and to warn me not to make them with my own children. To release them from the chain of our sins, my fathers of mine and our fathers before, that they may be free, to make their own choices and to live their own lives. We are ghosts or we are ancestors in our children's lives. We either lay our mistakes, our burdens upon them, and we haunt them, or we assist them in laying those old burdens down, and we free them from the chain of our own flawed behavior. And as ancestors, we walk alongside of them, and we assist them in finding their own way, and some transcendence. My father, on that day, was petitioning me, for an ancestral role in my life after being a ghost for a long long time. He wanted me to write a new end to our relationship, and he wanted me to be ready for the new beginning that I was about to experience. It was the greatest moment in my life with my dad, and it was all that I needed.

Monday, December 24, 2018

I am large, I contain pulchritude


I do not want much this Christmas time
There is but one thing I need.

It is not a gift that can be placed beneath the holiday tree,
The house is fill’d with merriment, I breathe the fragrance of the festivities,
I invite my soul to celebrate.

I do not require to hang my stocking
Thereupon the fireplace
My hair, my tongue, every atom in my body form’d from this air
feeds the Yuletide fire
and the very spread of my thighs proclaims noel.

I would only like for my own—more than you could ever know—
not this earth, which is only sufficient.
No, I shall desire the huff of my breath, the constellations of my heart, the sound of my barbaric yawp as it strikes the goose down of the morning.
And perhaps you,
Though you shall assume that every atom of you was form’d by me.

Who shall bring this to me? I need not Santa Claus!
Divine am I!
For I make my own wish come true.
Clear and sweet is my soul, naughty and nice is my spirit.

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself
(I am large, my stocking contains multitudes)

I hear you whispering there O Santa Claus,
O red hat—O jolly lips—O canes of candy,
Ye who cannot possibly fulfill me. I am unfillable.
No jolly old elf could make me happy.

It matters not if it snows,
Nor how long you wait beneath the mistletoe
Each delicious moment I spend with myself is not a burden.
(The elfin folk already know this to be true.)

If I worship one thing you must know
It cannot be found in a church,
It is my tussled crown of hair! My beard like gander rear!
The muscular fields of my back, the trickling sap of my girth.

I sing only of myself!
B’cause baby, all I want for Christmas is me!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

"Fog in Channel; Continent Cut Off"

Anne-Élisabeth Moutet
Yes, you British drink too much, and I love you all the more for it
It wouldn’t be Christmas without the annual splurge of stories about emergency services steeling themselves to deal with “binge drinking Britain”. This year, the NHS has set aside £300,000 for “drunk tanks” over the festive season: specific areas where the irresponsibly plastered can check in after 23 Christmas Eve pints without having to add to A&E bottlenecks.
Still, in the spirit of holiday cheer, as a French native, I would like to make a case for British drinking culture. Not the paralytic, bare-legged, mini-skirted ladies slumped outside the city centre pub at the end of a heavy night, or the louts making a scene on the last train home, half-empty cans in hand.
No, I mean the drinking culture embraced by the vast majority of British people. You don’t know how lucky you are.
There’s the joy of arriving at a British friend’s house for lunch, and after journeying through hail, sleet and gridlocked traffic, being greeted with those magic words: “What you need is a stiff drink.” All the better when this is a G&T served English-style (equal measurements of gin and tonic, from what I can make out). The meal itself is always generously and unpretentiously lubricated with “whatever’s going”: wine, beer or buck’s fizz, a recipe for teary reminiscences, embarrassing confessions and endless laughter.
Then there’s your cosy, convivial pub culture, which ought to be listed as intangible heritage by Unesco. What could be more pleasurable than savouring a few too many dark ales while sitting by a crackling fireplace wreathed with tinsel the night before Christmas, or, sozzled on sherry, linking arms with strangers and bawling out the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne on New Year’s Eve?
We French drink well – expertly, even – with a lot of showing off on vintages and terroirs and grape varieties. But we don’t really indulge to excess. This is not virtue so much as a testament to our obsession with looking sophisticated, and our determination never to let our masks drop. Life in France is about keeping up appearances, often at the expense of enjoyment.
At least someone French will miss us when the inevitable hard Brexit crash lands.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold

Ben and his mum flew out to Orlando yesterday to spend Christmas with Rayburn in Florida. They were due to depart from Gatwick with Virgin Atlantic at one in the afternoon, so I feared the worst after the multiple drone sightings that had brought the airport to a standstill.

In the end their flight was transferred to another operator and they ftook off from Heathrow at about quarter past three. I was amazed they got out of London at all.

When you think about the airport chaos and the recent O2 outage (Icons passim) it shows how vulnerable we are to failures in new technology.

Don't even get me started on the Spengler's-Decline-of-the-West disaster of my mobile phone giving up the ghost today. All I will have to do is buy a new one and transfer the SIM card but I feel that the bottom has dropped out of my world.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Chalice featuring Belly

All together now:
Bangers in the building and they banging
Calm down bruh don’t panic
Hey hey hey, he he he
Smoking on the weed I got a chalice
I was rather taken by Donae'O's Chalice ft. Belly when I heard it on the radio yesterday so I am sharing it above for your aural and visceral uplift.

I used to know a girl who was actually called Chalice. The good-humoured delight anyone of Jamaican extraction took in her name is how I know now that (deep breath):
A chalice, also known as a wisdom chalice or chillum chalice, is a type of cannabis smoking pipe used most often by members of the Jamaican Rastafari movement. It is a sort of water pipe with a hose, or drawtube, for inhaling; the water cools and filters the smoke and the hose provides additional airspace for cooling.
Come to think of it, Chalice featuring Belly would have been a good description of us as a couple; the relationship having predated my gym going days.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

My music pulls me through.

Soul Music (a series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact) is back on Radio 4 for series twenty seven (27!). Next up is "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" which we can hear on Boxing Day.

While I think of it, Radio 2's The Rolling Stones in Blue is probably worth a listen as well.

Finally, Springsteen on Broadway is out on Netflix. I watched about half last weekend and was enthralled. Then, and more by chance than by design, I was distractedly exposed to the rest as I was using the video to check and fix the broadband in Mum and Dad's on Tuesday night so I didn't give it the attention it deserved. I think I will take an evening over the holidays to do the whole two and a half hours of the show again.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

My life in microcosm

Sunday marked the final day of a centuries-old tax of paying to cross between south Wales and south-west England. Charges on the M4 and M48 Severn bridges were axed on Monday.

Naturally then, on Tuesday, after a meeting in Telford I drove back to visit mum and dad in Cardiff on the A449 and crossed from England to Wales for the first time in my adult life, by something other than the now toll-free bridges.

Deduce your own moral.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Where does the time go II

More Lewis (see Icons passim). Sometimes I feel as if everyone Ben ever met grew into an effective sports person.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Chelsea could cash in on Callum Hudson-Odoi as Bayern eye £25million bid in January

Current Bun
CHELSEA look set to sign Christian Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund – and that could hasten the exit of Blues starlet Callum Hudson-Odoi from Stamford Bridge. 
The 18-year-old is yet to make a Premier League appearance this season, and will be out of contract in 2020. Blues boss Maurizio Sarri looks increasingly likely to cash in on the youngster while he can.
The forward is reportedly a transfer target for Bayern Munich, who are hoping to have the same success in recruiting young English players as Borussia Dortmund and Hoffenheim.
I don't often quote The Sun, but it has to be said that Callum has come a long way from the Odeon with me and Ben.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

half Dan, half Fish

I was on the office yesterday when I noticed that the Cardiff Saracens game was being shown live on Channel 4 and that Dan Fish had started, so I rushed home to catch it.

We lost but the Blues were winning at half time due to Dan's try a minute into the video above. You can go directly to it at

Saturday, December 15, 2018


I bought a handful of tickets this morning for The Convert at the Young Vic, so that is where the official Paapa Essiedu Colliers Wood Stalking Society will be on January 17th next year.

Letitia Wright is in it as well, and as the last thing I saw in the theatre was Hayley Atwell in Measure for Measure, it has struck me that both these leading ladies are in the Marvel Avengers Endgame trailer that dropped just over a week (and over seventy million views) ago.

They are both blink-and-you'll-miss-it picture cameos, but I have done the leg work so you don't have to watch it with your cursor on the pause button.

I know this is beyond sad. Whatcha gonna do?

Friday, December 14, 2018

Deck the halls with boughs of holly

I am due at the first Christmas do of the party season tonight.

I will try to be jolly but my hedonic set point is more along the lines what Ross Bullen is implying in his "Literary Alternatives To “Ghosting” At Parties". Please don't take it personally. I am pretty much like this with everyone.
Tell everyone you’re leaving the party to buy a bottle of wine and that you’ll be back in ten minutes. Board the nearest ship. Sail across the Atlantic and get shipwrecked on a desert island. Survive as best you can, living off the island’s meager resources. Meet a native, give him a new name, and tell him that he is your slave. Return to the party after 28 years (make sure to bring your new slave with you). As the hosts struggle to recognize your weather-beaten visage, tell them the story of your hardships and adventures. Also, tell them that you forgot to buy wine.
Arrive at the party and say nothing. If anybody asks if you want to have a drink, say, “I would prefer not to.” If anybody tries to get you to answer a question about your job, say, “I would prefer not to.” Eventually, your dispassionate silence will make everyone so uncomfortable that they will just leave you alone in the host’s apartment. The police will arrive and haul you away to jail. Refuse all offers of food and starve to death. Become a metaphor for the human condition.
Die of consumption before the party starts.

Get to the party early enough to hide your secret wife in the attic. Once she’s safely locked up, start chatting with a nice young woman named Jane. Try out the brooding bad-boy approach — she seems to like that. Don’t say anything when your secret wife occasionally escapes from the attic and tries to attack Jane or set you on fire. Things go well until your wife burns the party to the ground, you are tragically blinded, and Jane blocks you on Tinder.
Excuse yourself from the party, go to the bathroom, and build a Victorian-era time machine in the shower. Travel to the year 802,701 A.D. and convince a dozen Morlocks to come back with you. Bring them to the party and introduce them to the other guests. Once the Morlocks have finished eating everybody, slip out the bathroom window, grab an Uber home, and catch up with The Great British Bake Off on Netflix.
Die of consumption before the party starts.
Swing by the graveyard on your way to the party. Dig up a few fresh corpses. Defy the laws of God and man by making a living creature out of dead flesh. Once the monster stirs to life, freak out, run away, and just go to the party like nothing has happened. Eventually, the monster crashes the party, starts strangling your friends, quoting passages from Paradise Lost, and eating all the finger foods. Tell the surviving guests that you need to leave in order to chase the creature to the ends of the Earth, and also to buy more Doritos. Follow the monster to the Arctic, get stuck on an ice floe, and — just as you are about to perish — get rescued by a passing ship. Tell your life story to the ship’s captain, and eat the last of the Doritos while you lie on your deathbed.
Die in a gutter before the party starts, probably from consumption (with a hint of alcohol poisoning).
This strategy is ideal for family gatherings. Tell everyone you are going to perform a play about your mother’s relationship with your new stepfather, Claude. Begin the show with a monologue that requires you to dramatically weep three times in the first five minutes. The party will break up before the second act, and you can go back to shitposting about Claude on Facebook.
Tell everyone at the party how much Infinite Jest changed your life. Trust us, nobody will ever start a conversation with you again.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Nobody owes nobody nothing.

Ben and I went to Creed II last night in the Odeon in Wimbledon. Good fun and a creditable addition to the Rocky canon. Standard adult tickets are £14.25 each though.

Afterwards, as is traditional, we went to Wahahaca. We had the Favourites set menu. Serves two: £17.75 each, £35.50 total, plus £4.10 each for two Coronas and a tip.

Thus, including the gratuity the evening totals about eighty quid.

I'm not moaning, it just put the stint I am going to try and do today helping out in the food bank in perspective.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

If you want more, more, more

The Bomber has passed his driving theory test at the third time of asking. I am about to do Hugh Grant's embarrassing dance from Love Actually around the office and then down the stairs outside.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Tweet Charity

I agree with this. Good idea. I would be happy for a charity to get my refund.

I can't do this today but I think I can spare two hours on Thursday morning.

Monday, December 10, 2018

I knew a phoenix in my youth, so let them have their day.

Cardiff City beat Southampton on the weekend, so we are fourteenth in the Premier League today.

All the teams below us - Newcastle,  Crystal Palace, Burnley, Huddersfield, Southampton (obviously) and Fulham - lost. "It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail." as Gore Vidal said.

Watford (one above City but six points clear) are next up, 3pm on Saturday.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

The Loyal Opposition

For all the background reading I have been doing on deep learning, I am still completely baffled as to how and why neural networks work at all. Perhaps I am just temperamentally unconformable with connectionism.

What I think I will do is start following naysayers like Gary Marcus and see what I think of their criticisms.
Deep Learning: A Critical Appraisal
Gary Marcus
(Submitted on 2 Jan 2018)
Although deep learning has historical roots going back decades, neither the term "deep learning" nor the approach was popular just over five years ago, when the field was reignited by papers such as Krizhevsky, Sutskever and Hinton's now classic (2012) deep network model of Imagenet. What has the field discovered in the five subsequent years? Against a background of considerable progress in areas such as speech recognition, image recognition, and game playing, and considerable enthusiasm in the popular press, I present ten concerns for deep learning, and suggest that deep learning must be supplemented by other techniques if we are to reach artificial general intelligence.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

too hip for the room

I'm thinking of starting a version of Tinder for people my age; it's called carbon dating.
I made up that joke and I think it is pretty funny.

Friday, December 07, 2018

O2 be in England (gedditt!!)

I was twigged to yesterday's O2 outage early doors yesterday as I got a call from my brother while I was still in the changing room after 7am yoga and noticed my phone's general distress.

Transport for London
London Bus electronic timetables, which rely on the O2 network, have been affected. London buses include a SIM-card which transmits to bus stops ahead, giving the arrival time of the bus. These have stopped working.
The network of Santander Cycles, or Boris Bikes, is also experiencing headaches. While users who have a subscription can hire out a one of the on-demand cycles, users trying to create a new subscription at one of the terminals are blocked, since these are also based on O2 connections
A TfL spokesperson said: “We’re sorry that customers are unable to use our Countdown screens at bus stops for live travel information and some Santander Cycles customers cannot hire bikes. This is a result of a nationwide O2 data outage. We are working with our service provider to resolve this as soon as possible.”
Uber affected
Customers took to social media to complain features of their smartphones had stopped working. Several Uber drivers reported on Twitter that they were missing out on trips and work due to the service disruption. The Uber smartphone app relies on mobile data connections to connect drivers to passengers.
What would have happened to all the autonomous cars in our promised brave new world?

Thursday, December 06, 2018

You and AI

Since I went to see Social Justice: An Evening with Alex Vitale and Gary Younge at the South Bank University, I have been more aware of the various series of free lectures that are available in the metropolis. This morning I have added the upcoming Royal Society events to Feedly via this RSS feed.

I can also see that I have largely missed the Society’s 2018 series: You and AI, a collaborative effort to help people understand what machine learning and AI are, how these technologies work and the ways they may affect our lives.

No matter I can catch up with the backlog on video, starting at the beginning with DeepMind's Demis Hassabis on its history, capabilities and scientific frontiers.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

The Book of Job

Almost exactly three months to the day (Icons passim) after falling and breaking her hip, mum is out of hospital. She is going to be in the Ty Enfys Care Home for the time being.

Just to keep me on my toes, however, the gods have arranged for one of my brothers to go down with sepsis.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Learn about the BT Hub Manager

The broadband connection we have put into Bronwydd Avenue doesn't seem to be working, and there is little I can contribute from up in London except to recommend looking at

If John can start up a web browser on his laptop and type into the address bar he may be able to get connection status details that will help us get a better idea of what the specific issue may be.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Man shot by police in raid at house in south London

A man was shot early today as armed officers swooped on suspected robbers in south west London.
Officers from the Met's Flying Squad assisted by firearms officers descended on a small residential street in Wimbledon shortly after 8am on Monday.
Witnesses claimed the suspect was shot in an exchange of fire with police after a stake-out outside a Sainsbury’s store.
The man suffered a gunshot wound during the pre-planned "proactive" operation.
He was taken by London Ambulance Service to a London hospital. Another man was arrested for conspiracy to rob.
This is just round the corner. The bus I took to New Malden on the weekend goes past the Sainsbury's in Haydons Road.

See also and its links in turn; going to hell in a handbasket.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

All the grocery news you can eat

I have finally cancelled my weekly vegetable box, it just seemed to get more meagre and more expensive all the time. I must have been signed up to it for about ten years. I remember signing up after it was on a stall in the Singlegate Summer Fair. Ben was in year three in primary school and he is eighteen now. I remember being converted to the cause as he was podding and eating broad beans as we walked home with our half price remaindered treasure.

There's an Aldi opening in Colliers Wood later this week on December 6th. Perhaps I will replace the box with their weekly Super 6 fruit and veg offers. I think John might have suggested this to me a while ago back in Cardiff.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

René Girard

On Monday, I went to Social Justice: An Evening with Alex Vitale and Gary Younge at the South Bank University. Why didn't I see you there, you lightweight?

Afterwards, on account of being a ponce, I wrote as follows to Rebecca who was also there with Steve:
I can't help but think that René Girard's thought could have helped clarify a lot of Alex Vitale's contribution to last night's event.
In particular, his concept of mimetic desire ( goes a long way to explaining gang behaviour. and the scapegoat mechanism ( underlies the policing reaction Vitale deplored.
See what I mean about being a ponce? Any road, if you need to catch up with Monsieur Girard  in a hurry, there is a convenient overview in the latest New York Review of Books. See

Kirk out.