Sunday, January 17, 2021

Kate Bingham

I am off to see PG's this morning. I will do his shopping and drop it off, and then ferry him along to his COVID shot and back.

Ages ago he identified  Kate Bingham is the only bright spot in the Government's response to the virus.

How does he do stuff like that? I've never previously given much truck to intuition but I can't really see any other explanation.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Paved with Good Intentions

These pages are my time machine, and tell me that on the equivalent weekend both last year and the year before my brother John was visiting me. He obviously isn't this year. As for the video above, I found out recently that Chris Rea wrote "The Road to Hell" about the M4 after he was stuck on it for hours after flying back into Heathrow. Demonstrating I like to think John's grit in managing to get here in 2019 and 2020.

In 2018, Burt Reynolds died in the same week Dad was admitted to a care home. Reynolds' swan song 'The Last Movie Star,' led John and I to create the 'Ageing Curmudgeon Confronts Mortality' film genre as a tribute to our old fella.

Kodachrome was another film with the same theme. ditto 'The Meyerowitz Stories' (Icons passim).

Today though I watched Lucky, a Harry Dean Stanton led contribution to the field. We had identified it before but never got round to it. Now it is free on Amazon Prime Video there is no excuse.

It is fantastic.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Splendeurs Et Miniseries

 Frankie sent me a message last Sunday morning so I could tell Peter it was Helen's birthday today. Unfortunately I didn't read it until I had left but I remember that he had mentioned that very day that he thought she would like Balzac so I emailed him and he recommended either "Lost Illusions" or "Splendeurs Et Miseres Des Courtisanes" as a gift from the two of us.

"Lost Illusions" has been delivered. The English title of "Splendeurs Et Miseres Des Courtisanes" is "A Harlot High and Low." I can't speak for everyone, but the latter doesn't scream light-hearted, surprise token birthday present to me, though I have been chuckling to myself imagining it dropping unexpectedly through the letter box.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Decagonal and Quasi-Crystalline Tilings in Medieval Islamic Architecture

The conventional view holds that girih (geometric star-and-polygon, or strapwork) patterns in medieval Islamic architecture were conceived by their designers as a network of zigzagging lines, where the lines were drafted directly with a straightedge and a compass. We show that by 1200 C.E. a conceptual breakthrough occurred in which girih patterns were reconceived as tessellations of a special set of equilateral polygons (“girih tiles”) decorated with lines. These tiles enabled the creation of increasingly complex periodic girih patterns, and by the 15th century, the tessellation approach was combined with self-similar transformations to construct nearly perfect quasi-crystalline Penrose patterns, five centuries before their discovery in the West.
Everything is coming together as investigating the possibilities of geometry in art with the son and heir fuses with reading the Arabian Nights with chums.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021


Marshall McLuhan (Hat tip Marina Warner)

 Electric circuitry is Orientalizing the West. The contained, the distinct, the separate—our Western legacy—are being replaced by the flowing, the unified, the fused.

Girih (Persian: گره‎, "knot", also written gereh) are decorative Islamic geometric patterns used in architecture and handicraft objects, consisting of angled lines that form an interlaced strapwork pattern. I wonder if there is a connection between them and the Penrose tiling I was burbling on about yesterday?

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Kites and darts

I thought of Ben (Icons passim) when I read this interview with Roger Penrose in the SpectacularlyBoring. 
If you’re doing algebra, you just write down the answer. But for geometric or visual work, you have to translate it into words. That takes time. Often the visual people literally don’t finish the papers. The result is that algebraic people do better in exams, so you find more of them at universities.

Unless I miss my guess, the Bomber and I are going to be all over the golden ratio and local pentagonal symmetry like a cheap suit. Keeping it real, I have ordered a magnet pack "Gee thanks Dad!" so that we can investigate it - drum roll please - by attaching things to the fridge.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Xinjiang's Ying and Yang

After the Decameron, at the rate of one story a day, and then Don Quixote, at the rate of one chapter today, we are now working through the Arabian Nights. I leave it up to you to guess the rate.

The Hunchback's Tale, comes quite early on.

In China a tailor and his wife meet a cheerful, drunk hunchback playing the tambourine. They're entertained and invite the hunchback over for dinner. When the tailor playfully stuffs the hunchback's mouth with fish, the hunchback chokes and dies. The tailor panics.

His wife convinces him to leave the body at the home of a Jewish physician. The physician believes the hunchback fell down his stairs and died; his wife tells him to leave the body with their neighbor, the king's Muslim kitchen steward. 

The steward sees the body on the doorstep and starts beating it, convinced it's the unknown thief who's been stealing his food. Fearing he killed the hunchback by accident, the steward leaves the body at a shop door. 

A Christian tradesman who works as the king's broker wanders by, drunk. The broker worries the hunchback will steal his turban and beats the body. A watchman stops and accuses a Christian of killing a Muslim.

Ultimately his execution is ordered. Before this can happen, however, the steward confesses to the murder. He doesn't want to burden his conscience with the death of a Muslim and a Christian. The steward takes the broker's place until the Jewish physician admits to the crime, fearing he'll cause the death of two Muslims. He takes the steward's place. Then the tailor confesses and takes the physician's place. It is almost funny as the executioner tires of the rapidly changing victims.

What we actually have here is a charming parable about religious tolerance and honour.

I was watching Prof Wen-chin Ouyang's lecture "The Curious Life of Objects in the Arabian Nights" on YouTube last night. About three quarters of an hour in ( she identifies where in China this story is set. It is Kashgar. Population 85% Uyghur.

Since 2017, a government crackdown in the far-western region of China known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has seen hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs and other Turkic and Muslim minorities detained in a vast network of purpose-built detention facilities.

Ironic doesn't begin to describe it.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Somthing's fishy

It has struck me that there are Abbey Mills options for sushi to go with Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno (Icons passim) as opposed to more mainstream offerings.

Rock Star Sushi Bar and the intriguing Sugoi. The latter is parked somewhere between beguiling and disturbing:
Inspired in Piss Alley street food market (Tokyo) and Latin American’s (Mexico & Venezuela) street food stalls, we are taking and fusion the best of the Latin and Japanese, traditions, culture and flavors to get a new hardcore street food concept: Noritacos.

Saturday, January 09, 2021

Out of my head

I think that this is gonna be part of my life in lock-down sooner rather than later. I have dug out my old trimmer and put it on charge.

What does one do with the clippings though? I can't have them falling all over the floor. May be I need to do it over the sink or in the shower cubicle and then brush them up.

Friday, January 08, 2021

The boy in the bubble


The son and heir and I watched Rurouni Kenshin a while back. I was amazed to be reminded (Icons passim) that I first saw it almost seven years ago.

He's expressed an interest in seeing the sequel Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno. I think we should accessorize with grub from Sushi Gourmet as there is one in the big Sainsbury's opposite.

Perhaps we should buckle up for the whole series? Next up is Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends. We can get that on Prime Video.

The two concluding entries in what will now be a five-film saga are due to open in Japan this year. The first of the new installments is the confusingly titled Rurouni Kenshin: The Final, which is due on April 23. The second, Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning, is scheduled for release June 4. Both were originally set to bow last summer but delayed due to COVID. Who is to say they won't be delayed again, or when we might get them in the UK.

Thursday, January 07, 2021



The Hong Kong flu, also known as the 1968 flu pandemic,[1] was a flu pandemic whose outbreak in 1968 and 1969 killed an estimated 1–4 million people globally. It is among the deadliest pandemics in history, and was caused by an H3N2 strain of the influenza A virus, which is descended from H2N2 (caused the Asian flu pandemic in 1957-1958) through antigenic shift—a genetic process in which genes from multiple subtypes are reassorted to form a new virus.


Four months into the Hong Kong flu pandemic, American microbiologist Maurice Hilleman and his team had created a vaccine and more than 9 million doses had been manufactured. The same team also played a key role in developing a vaccine during the 1957-58 Asian flu pandemic.

The H3N2 virus returned during the following 1969–70 flu season, which resulted in a second, deadlier wave of deaths in Europe, Japan, and Australia. It remains in circulation today as a strain of seasonal flu.

The more things change the more they stay the same.  As I have remarked before (Icons passim) 1968-69 resonates with 2020-21. Why do we remember the Summer of Love and Woodstock over and above the Hong Kong flu pandemic I wonder?

Also - while we are all patting ourselves on the back about Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca let's revisit a sentence above: "Four months into the Hong Kong flu pandemic, American microbiologist Maurice Hilleman and his team had created a vaccine and more than 9 million doses had been manufactured. "

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

The Girl from Splott

"It's alright I've got another one in my bag." 

You're not supposed to understand any of this. It has the sole function of reminding me about talking to my brother last night.

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Llanwern turning red with dust

 Consett Ale Works

Red Dust, takes its name from the cloud of Iron Oxide, emitted when the Steelworks were in production. In times now long gone, there were red clouds of the dust that would hang over the town, settling on cars and washing hung out to dry! The air in Consett maybe somewhat cleaner now, but the memory remains for many, and lives on in this beer! 

PG's Small Change talks about the red dust from the steelworks when he was growing up. It came up on Sunday when I was telling him about watching On the Waterfront with Ben. I must try and get him a bottle of this Consett Ale.

Monday, January 04, 2021

Chelsea 1-3 Manchester City


Callum came off the bench to grab Chelsea's consolation goal at the death.  Why he doesn't start regularly is a mystery to me.

Sunday, January 03, 2021

I remembered you the first moment I saw you

I watched On the Waterfront with Ben yesterday. Terry Malloy is a longshoreman from an Irish community in New York, navigating between the Scylla and Charybdis of the Church and the mob. That is the same job as my uncle, my grandfather and my great grandfather in Cardiff (Icons passim).

I think knowing that will be good for his imaginative identity.

Saturday, January 02, 2021

Down by the Riverside

To be honest with you (and for all that I say him with my sisters and her friends in a pub in Twickenham before he made it) I am pretty much over Eddie Izzard.

That said, if he is at the Riverside Studios all this month running a dail maramthon on a treadmill and following it up with a stand up set, I have to record it. As much as anything so that I remember to tell G about it tomorrow.

Friday, January 01, 2021

Who made you the Pope?

I watched "While you were sleeping" last night. Previously "The Apartment" has been my official Christmas film. This has now changed. It is my official run up to Christmas film. and WYWS is my official between Christmas and New Year film.

Lucy rescues Peter from the train tracks on Christmas Day, but then - on New Year's Day - and after Lucy has got involved with his quirky Catholic family, Peter wakes up.

I loved this movie so much I remember taking mum and dad to see it. I cannot recall doing that with anything else.

Oh, and there is something of Dad in Peter Boyle's Ox. is the only other time I have mentioned the movie on these pages, and I am very pleased to see Uncle Joseph on the same post.