Saturday, August 31, 2019

"O Captain! My Captain!"

Josh Navidi is captaining Wales against Ireland today in the Rugby World Cup warm up game. His father, Hedy, is from Iran and came over to Wales aged 18 to study civil engineering in Bangor where he met his wife, Euros, who is from Anglesey.

The USA is always telling us that the Iranians are a bunch of lunatics and I think that this workaday fact is a good corrective.

I only found out last week, for example, that Iran - which was neutral - was invaded by the UK and the Soviet Union during the second world war in 1941 with the objective of securing Iranian oil fields and ensuring Allied supply lines for the USSR, fighting against Axis forces on the Eastern Front.

The 1953 Iranian coup d'état, known in Iran as the 28 Mordad coup d'état (Persian: کودتای ۲۸ مرداد‎), was the overthrow of the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in favour of strengthening the monarchical rule of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi on 19 August 1953, orchestrated by the United States (under the name TPAJAX Project[5] or "Operation Ajax") and the United Kingdom (under the name "Operation Boot"). It was the first covert action of the United States to overthrow a foreign government during peacetime.

Iran Air Flight 655 was a scheduled passenger flight from Tehran to Dubai via Bandar Abbas, that was shot down on 3 July 1988 by an SM-2MR surface-to-air missile fired from USS Vincennes, a guided missile cruiser of the United States Navy. The aircraft, an Airbus A300, was destroyed and all 290 people on board, including 66 children, were killed.

You're not paranoid if they are really out to get you.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Crossing Incontinence

Over two days on the road I as usual picked up good stuff on BBC Radio 4.

On Wednesday it was The Hansa Inheritance
Why does a medieval trading network still have a such a hold on Europe's imagination? Chris Morris explores the power of the Hanseatic League, a network which stretched from Russia to England, covering all kinds of vital products. It used its influence and sometimes force to protect its position for many centuries. In locations ranging from the Baltic island of Gotland to northern Germany and King's Lynn, he reveals why was it so successful, why its memory is still so strong, and how far it offers a model for today's trading nations.
Yesterday it was Kazakhstan: Port in the Desert
China’s New Silk Road reaches across all parts of the globe; building roads, bridges and towering cities where before there were none. In Kazakhstan, China’s neighbour to the west, this vast project has created a port. But there’s no water there, just desert… and trains running all the way from China through to Europe and the Middle East. Meeting the hundreds of shoppers and traders, it’s astonishing to think that just a few years ago this border was a closed military zone - the frontier between two giant communist states. But turn the clock back further and we discover this part of Central Asia has always been closely tied to China, in languages, culture and contested history. For Crossing Continents, Rose Kudabayeva returns to her home country Kazakhstan, to meet people living along the New Silk Road and record how their world is changing.
All relevant to my burgeoning interest in Eurasia.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

It's such a fine line between stupid, and uh... clever

discontinue a session of (a parliament or other legislative assembly) without dissolving it.
"James prorogued this Parliament, never to call another one"

a small dough dumpling stuffed with a filling such as potato or cheese, typically served as a dish with onions or sour cream.

Given the choice I would rather have a Polish pierogi than Parliament prorogued in September,

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

And if his understanding fail, have patience with him

I am queuing this post up and scheduling it in advance as I am leaving early this morning for meetings in the Midlands before swinging by Cardiff to see mum and dad in their respective care homes.

I was watching a video yesterday called "Why Did United States Enjoy Dramatic Improvements in Living During the Last Century?" (Gimme a break it was a Bank Holiday and I had to blow off a little steam.) George Shultz (born December 13, 1920) still has a brain in full working order and he will be one hundred years old next year; my old man is a slip of a boy by comparison.

I wonder how he does it? Take a look yourself.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

bossa nova

Señorita (half a billion YouTube views) has reminded me I am quite partial to a bit of bossa nova.

I will do this Rick Beato lesson when I get 5 minutes, or more accurately 7 minutes 33 seconds.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Don't be telling me about foot massages

Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire science philanthropist showed up at this weekend’s event by helicopter (with his beautiful young assistant from Belarus). He’ll be in Cambridge in a couple of weeks asked me who he should meet. You are one of the people I suggested and I told him I would send some links.
He’s the guy who gave Harvard #30m to set up Martin Nowak. He’s been extremely generous in funding projects of many of our friends and clients. He also got into trouble and spent a year in jail in Florida.
If he contacts you it’s probably worth your time to meet him as he’s extremely bright and interesting.
Last time I visited his house (the largest private residence in NYC), I walked in to find him in a sweatsuit and a British guy in a suit with suspenders, getting foot massages from two young well-dressed Russian women. After grilling me for a while about cyber-security, the Brit, named Andy, was commenting on the Swedish authorities and the charges against Julian Assange.
“We think they’re liberal in Sweden, but its more like Northern England as opposed to Southern Europe,” he said. “In Monaco, Albert works 12 hours a day but at 9pm, when he goes out, he does whatever he wants, and nobody cares. But, if I do it, I’m in big trouble.” At that point I realized that the recipient of Irina’s foot massage was his Royal Highness, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.
Indeed, a week later, on a slow news day, the cover of the NYpost had a full-page photo of Jeffrey and Andrew walking in Central Park under the headline: “The Prince and the Perv.” (That was the end of Andrew’s role at the UK trade ambassador.)
You can check out the entire PDF of the Brockman/Morozov correspondence about Jeffrey Epstein here. I don't think the the recipient of Irina’s foot massage comes out of it all that well.

Prodnose: I ain't saying it's right. But you're saying a foot massage don't mean nothing, and I'm saying it does. Now look, I've given a million ladies a million foot massages, and they all meant something. We act like they don't, but they do, and that's what's so ****ing cool about them. There's a sensuous thing going on where you don't talk about it, but you know it, she knows it, ****ing Marsellus knew it, and Antoine should have ****ing better known better. I mean, that's his ****ing wife, man, he can't be expected to have a sense of humor about that shit. You know what I'm saying?

Myself: That's an interesting point.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Rumble Fish: He's merely miscast in a play

Time is a funny thing. Time is a very peculiar item. You see when you're young, you're a kid, you got time, you got nothing but time. Throw away a couple of years, a couple of years there... it doesn't matter. You know. The older you get you say, "Jesus, how much I got? I got thirty-five summers left." Think about it. Thirty-five summers.
I may have been remiss in documenting the Bomber's collection of boxing equipment, but I did manage to record that he passed his driving theory test on December 12th last year.

He hasn't got his act in gear yet in terms of passing the practical test, and told me on Friday that his mates have told him it needs to be done within a year; I encouraged him to crack on.

P.S. This link says it is two years but that must remain our secret.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Hang it all

The Bomber has got a heavy bag and a speed ball in his room on my house, both of which are used from a wall mounted rack. I can remember that we have only had the speed ball for a couple of years, but the heavy bag seems to have been here forever.

Somewhat to my surprise I have never mentioned either of them in a post; and as a rule the 'blog is what I use to moor memories to a timeline. I can see from  my scribblings though that Ben did muay Thai from 2006 to 2009 before moving to judo, so the bag must have been here for at least a decade.

Nineteen next month he is talking about taking them away. Perhaps I will buy him this to hang them on.

Friday, August 23, 2019

don't threaten me with a good time

T-Swizzle (for it is she)
And now I love high tea, stories from Uni, and the West End
You can find me in the pub, we are watching rugby with his school friends
Show me a gray sky, a rainy cab ride
Babe, don't threaten me with a good time
They say home is where the heart is
But God, I love the English
I myself will not be loving the English when they play Ireland this weekend, but I must acknowledge (Swifty as I have been since my birthday last year) that these are good, observational, vernacular lyrics.

There is a great upcoming events poster in the Standard that doesn't have any upcoming events on it; the very essence of don't threaten me with a good time.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

It keeps coming up (fnar)

Swedish comedian Olaf Falafel has won Dave's "Funniest Joke of The Fringe" award. He took the title with the gag: "I keep randomly shouting out 'Broccoli' and 'Cauliflower' - I think I might have florets".

It is from Falafel's show It's One Giant Leek For Mankind at the Pear Tree.

Last year he was third.

Ten jokes made the 2019 shortlist. Here are the next nine:
"Someone stole my antidepressants. Whoever they are, I hope they're happy" - Richard Stott
"What's driving Brexit? From here it looks like it's probably the Duke of Edinburgh" - Milton Jones
"A cowboy asked me if I could help him round up 18 cows. I said, 'Yes, of course. - That's 20 cows'" - Jake Lambert
"A thesaurus is great. There's no other word for it" - Ross Smith
"Sleep is my favourite thing in the world. It's the reason I get up in the morning" - Ross Smith
"I accidentally booked myself onto an escapology course; I'm really struggling to get out of it" - Adele Cliff
"After learning six hours of basic semaphore, I was flagging - Richard Pulsford
"To be or not to be a horse rider, that is Equestrian" - Mark Simmons
"I've got an Eton-themed advent calendar, where all the doors are opened for me by my dad's contacts" - Ivo Graham

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

No man is a hero to his valley

Nearly thirteen years later I met Uncle Simon, plus his Mrs and kids last night; nice people.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019


I don't know why but it just popped into my head that I am pretty sure that Ruth's dad was from Kashmir, making two of my nieces one quarter Kashmiri.

It shouldn't of course, but somehow this makes me much more interested in what is going on there.

It's not just me.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Sergey Kovalev vs. Anthony Yarde

Those of us who have never forgiven Sergey Kovalev for taking Nathan Cleverly's WBO light-heavyweight title in Cardiff in 2013, dearly hope that fellow Brit Anthony Yarde can beat the Russian in his hometown this weekend.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Right now, I wish I were a damned ranker, like Hook or Hitch.

I am as surprised as anyone else by the fact Wales are now the number one rugby team in the world. The possibility didn't enter my mind after the All Blacks destroying Australia 36-0 on Saturday to win the Bledisloe Cup.

It seems that Wales' 13-6 victory over England means they just squeezed past the All Blacks as they gained more ranking points for beating an England team who were higher in the rankings than the Wallabies.

It's the first time in a decade New Zealand will not be number one when the rankings are released on Monday morning. is the link we will need tomorrow. It is still shoiwing last Monday's positions as I write.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

The fold stands empty in the drownèd field,

We didn't go to see A Midsummer Night's Dream in Morden Hall Park last night because the weather was too bad.
Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain,
As in revenge, have sucked up from the sea
Contagious fogs, which falling in the land
Have every pelting river made so proud
That they have overborne their continents.
The ox hath therefore stretched his yoke in vain,
The ploughman lost his sweat, and the green corn
Hath rotted ere his youth attained a beard.
The fold stands empty in the drownèd field,
And crows are fatted with the murrain flock.
The nine-men’s-morris is filled up with mud,
And the quaint mazes in the wanton green
For lack of tread are undistinguishable.
The human mortals want their winter here.
No night is now with hymn or carol blessed.
Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,
Pale in her anger, washes all the air,
That rheumatic diseases do abound.
And thorough this distemperature we see
The seasons alter: hoary-headed frosts
Fall in the fresh lap of the crimson rose,
And on old Hiems' thin and icy crown
An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds
Is, as in mockery, set. The spring, the summer,
The childing autumn, angry winter change
Their wonted liveries, and the mazèd world,
By their increase, now knows not which is which.
I am such a pretentious ponce. I admit it.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Eat. Race. Win.

I really enjoyed this Amazon Prime series. It is a very odd food/travelogue/sports documentary hybrid. I don't know if the disparate content will appeal to everyone. I might be the only member of its target demographic.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

I clean my gun, and dream of Galveston.

Luca Brasi held a gun to his head, and my father assured him that either his brains or his signature would be on the contract.
That would be the time to bring out the Galvatron AK47 Tactical Pen. I don't know what I have done to make online advertising algorithms punt this kind of thing to me (The Unbreakable® Umbrella?) but punt they do.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Financial genius is a short memory in a bull market.

There was a time, many years ago, when Tumblr was one of the most exciting places on the internet. Those days are long gone now with millennials flocking to more exciting communities such as TikTok and Twitch.
But at its peak, the online blogging service had 20bn monthly page views. It was the go-to place to share photos, graphics and snippets of text. Barack Obama and Lady Gaga were keen users and the site brought in more monthly web traffic than Wikipedia and Twitter.
It was such hot property that Yahoo decided to buy for $1.1bn (£910m) in 2013. Today, however, page views have fallen to just 400m per month and this week the site was brought for less than $3m by Wordpress owner Automattic - just 0.27pc of its original price.
Pippa, my god daughter got a job with Yahoo in 2016, and came and stayed with me while she was finding her feet. It seems like no time ago, but it as long from then to now as it was from her employers buying Tumblr to her starting with them. Back of the envelope calculation the value of Tumblr decreased by about half a million dollars every single day.

It's not really related, but Europe's biggest data centre is a quarter of an hours drive from mum and dad's house. I am astounded. Should I be?

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The Road Not Taken

I just got offered tickets fro Michael Franti and Spearhead in Camden's Jazz Cafe tonight but I can't make it. It is a pity as I haven't been along there for years. Maybe even since Boz Scaggs.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Cancel my subscription to the resurrection

I have been paying attention to David Berlinski and Ben Sasse lately.

I am almost certainly a lost cause in polite society.

Like I ever wasn't.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

The Mad Gardener's Song

He thought he saw an Argument
That proved he was the Pope:
He looked again, and found it was
A Bar of Mottled Soap.
"A fact so dread," he faintly said,
"Extinguishes all hope!"
There was a brief shining moment after Australia beat New Zealand when Wales were the world number one. After losing to England this afternoon, normal service is restored and I am wearing grumble trousers.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Travelling hopefully

If current leaders New Zealand lose their Bledisloe Cup clash with Australia in Perth this morning, Wales will top rugby's world rankings for the first time in their history.

Granted the chances are slim, but it is worth placing a marker about it here on these pages I think.

Friday, August 09, 2019


I will go through these suggestions later.

(I saw Hobbs and Shaw last night with Ben. Russia featured in that as well. Our heroes went there to be kitted out by a gang of lady robbers. The details of exactly why rather eluded me to be frank.)

Thursday, August 08, 2019

What Sid did next

Rugby's loss is music's gain it seems. I preferred him as a gimlet-eyed on-field enforcer rather than a  shy-smile, shoe-gazy guitar jangler, but there you go.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Glass Celine

When Ben was little and on holiday from Primary school, I would bring him into the office and he would play around in the mercifully traffic free Abbey Mills where he knew everyone and everyone knew him.

At that time Tess was running a kids art school and gallery in the shop underneath us. On days when it rained I would project DVDs onto our whiteboard and Ben would watch them with her girls Celine and Annabelle.

All these years later Celine is still a friend of mine on Facebook. She went and studied theatre in Holland (which intrigued me as I have two aspirant actress nieces) and is now involved in running some sort of art collective.

When something of hers turns up on my news feed though, I see through a glass darkly as I have to to rely on Facebook's conversions of Dutch to English.

This week, for example:
Onze vrienden van podium Asteriks hebben een vet mooie pop-up broedplaats in de maak. Deze keer in en rondom de Neushoorn.
has been rendered as
Our friends from stage asteriks have a very nice pop-up breeding place in the making. This time in and around the rhino.

Possibly something has been lost in translation, but the result is Dadaist genius worth of Tristan Tzara.

Monday, August 05, 2019

‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens

The Onion
EL PASO, TX—In the hours following a violent rampage in Texas in which a lone attacker killed 20 individuals and injured 26 others, citizens living in the only country where this kind of mass killing routinely occurs reportedly concluded Sunday that there was no way to prevent the massacre from taking place. “This was a terrible tragedy, but sometimes these things just happen and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop them,” said Indiana resident Janet Clark, echoing sentiments expressed by tens of millions of individuals who reside in a nation where over half of the world’s deadliest mass shootings have occurred in the past 50 years and whose citizens are 20 times more likely to die of gun violence than those of other developed nations. “It’s a shame, but what can we do? There really wasn’t anything that was going to keep this individual from snapping and killing a lot of people if that’s what they really wanted.” At press time, residents of the only economically advanced nation in the world where roughly two mass shootings have occurred every month for the past eight years were referring to themselves and their situation as “helpless.”

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Saturday, August 03, 2019

Nuthin' but a 'G' thang

Scrolling through social media after last week’s finish of the Tour de France, you cannot help but feel that the real winner of the race was the man who came in second, Welsh cyclist Geraint Thomas.
For Thomas, last year’s winner, the 2019 race was the opportunity, at the age of 33, to hold on to his title before the curtain starts to fall on his professional cycling career. Instead, he ensured that his teammate, Egan Bernal, a Colombian 11 years his junior, rode to victory.
For Team Ineos (the rebranded Team Sky), Thomas’s attitude echoed the manner in which Chris Froome, a four-time winner of the Tour, helped assure his own first place in the 2018 race. These demonstrations of teamwork and selflessness stand in stark contrast to the years in which Lance Armstrong ruled the Tour with a brutality that would have made Tony Soprano proud.
The demonstration of grace and magnanimity displayed by Thomas — or “G”, as he is known in cycling circles — is a breath of fresh air. He has lodged himself in the hearts of sport fans by helping Bernal win. Few will forget the picture of their embrace when it became clear the Colombian had claimed his mantle or how, in interviews, he extolled Bernal’s prospects.
My thoughts exactly but expressed more eloquently by Penylan's own Michael Moritz.

Later in the same article, we learn that Thomas came 140th out of 141 entries in his very first Tour de France in 2007. From that debut to winning last year! Could we love him more?

Friday, August 02, 2019

This kind of thing is my bag baby

The semicolon was born in Venice in 1494. It was meant to signify a pause of a length somewhere between that of the comma and that of the colon, and this heritage was reflected in its form, which combines half of each of those marks. It was born into a time period of writerly experimentation and invention, a time when there were no punctuation rules, and readers created and discarded novel punctuation marks regularly. Texts (both handwritten and printed) record the testing-out and tinkering-with of punctuation by the fifteenth-century literati known as the Italian humanists. The humanists put a premium on eloquence and excellence in writing, and they called for the study and retranscription of Greek and Roman classical texts as a way to effect a “cultural rebirth” after the gloomy Middle Ages. In the service of these two goals, humanists published new writing and revised, repunctuated, and reprinted classical texts.
Cecelia Watson (may her tribe increase) has not just written an article The Birth of the Semicolon, she has written an entire book; Semicolon: How a misunderstood punctuation mark can improve your writing, enrich your reading and even change your life.

Thursday, August 01, 2019

South Essex drugs-related death toll rises to six

A sixth suspected drug-related death since the weekend has been identified by police investigating the sale of Class A drugs in Essex.
A woman in her 30s found dead in Southend on Sunday is now part of the investigation, Essex Police said.
It follows the deaths on Monday and Tuesday of two other women and three men, all within a six-mile (10km) radius.
I will be following this. I will tell you why another day.