Sunday, February 28, 2021

Triple Crown

Sometimes comment is superfluous

Saturday, February 27, 2021

‎Rockonteurs with Gary Kemp and Guy Pratt

I have been surprised to find that I haven't mentioned the ‎Rockonteurs podcast with Gary Kemp and Guy Pratt here before as we are already up to episode 24.

Episode 25 with Alice Cooper should come out in the wee small hours of the morning and I will, as usual, summon it via Alexa and listen as I potter through my tasks before setting off to meet the day. 

That Cardiff connection is that back on 1973 Leo Abse MP asked the Home Secretary to ban Cooper from the UK because of "his incitement to infanticide and his commercial exploitation of masochism is evidently an attempt to teach our children to find their destiny in hate, not in love." These days Alice comes across as one of the nicest men in the world in interviews as well as a first class story teller.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Passed his best

It has occurred to me that I haven't commented on the passing of the great Chick Corea on these spindrift pages.

Let's put it this way, I came down and started playing Stevie Wonder's Overjoyed the other morning. It came out in F rather then E flat for some reason and it didn't sound as good as this.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Inch by Inch

Icons passim

We are in hell right now, gentlemen believe me and we can stay here and get the sh1t kicked out of us or we can fight our way back into the light. We can climb out of hell. One inch, at a time.

I woke up yesterday morning and glanced with disdain at the pipe cleaner attached to my shoulder. There used to be an arm there. I flexed the bicep, or at least nerve endings and receptors told me I did. There was no visible response from the limb itself.

Later I got a WhatsApp message from my brother

  💯 press up challenge.Are you joining me?

I am joining him.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Working backwards for Christmas, to prove that I love you.

June 22: My birthday.

June 21: Step 4 – All legal limits removed on mixing will be removed and the last sectors to remain closed, such as nightclubs, will reopen. Large events can take place. Tomorrow!

May 17: Step 3 – Indoor venues such as the inside of pubs and restaurants, hotels and B&Bs, play centres, cinemas, museums and group exercise classes will reopen. The new indoor and outdoor mixing limits will remain for pubs and other hospitality venues. Back to the gym and hot yoga?

April 12: Step 2 – Reopening of non-essential retail, hair and nail salons, and public buildings such as libraries. Long overdue haircut.

March 29: Step 1, part 2 – Outdoor gatherings allowed of up to six people, or two households if this is larger, not just in parks but also gardens. The Hendries' investment in garden furniture and heaters starts to pay off?

March 8: Step 1, part 1 – People can meet one other person outside for, say, a coffee or picnic, not just for exercise. Children will still count towards this. Be still my beating heart.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Put your lips together and blow

Ludwig Wittgenstein’s famously apophatic conclusion to his TRACTATUS LOGICO-PHILOSOPHICUS is:

Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.

We are also told that Frank Ramsey famously replied:

What we can’t say, we can’t say, and we can’t whistle it either.

Considering Ramsey actually composed the 'official' translation of the Tractatus from German into English this has always struck me a tad disingenuous. Pulling his own leg?

This month's audible credit has been spent on Frank Ramsey: A Sheer Excess of Powers by Cheryl Misak so maybe after I have got through that I will be able to cast some light. (Misak's Aeon essay Philosophy must be useful may be worth your attention if you are intrigued at all.)

(My brother John's latest Audible credit was spent on Stephen Fry's Orwell Collection: Animal Farm & 1984.)

Monday, February 22, 2021

forgone all custom of exercises

Boris' roadmap out of lockdown is to be revealed today, not enough and not soon enough to make any noticeable difference in the immediate future is my prediction.
I have of late—but wherefore I know not—lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises, and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air—look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire—why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors. What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world. The paragon of animals. And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me. No, nor woman neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

give me the hook or the ovation

Thomas Tuchel says he was unhappy with the performance of half-time substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi after the Blues were held to a 1-1 draw at Southampton in the Premier League. The Chelsea manager said of Hudson-Odoi, who was taken off in the 76th minute: 'I had the feeling he was never really into the game.' 
I didn't see the game so I have no idea about the merits of this decision. It does seem very harsh though. Can't be an easy life growing up in public like Callum.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Walk between the raindrops

Matt Hancock : Your report specifies intelligence/counterintelligence with SW19-Corps.

Myself : I'm not presently disposed to discuss these operations, sir.

Matt Hancock : Did you not work for the Hendrie-A in SW19-Corps?

Myself : No, sir.

Matt Hancock : Did you not assassinate a government tax collector in Quang Tri province, June 19th, 1968? Captain?

Myself : Sir, I am unaware of any such activity or operation... nor would I be disposed to discuss such an operation if it did in fact exist, sir.
This will be my first and final comment on last night in the Hubble.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Thai me up, Thai me down

A Thai action movie last night, plus food from Thai Town in the High Street. The Thai Town platter to start, then Pad Thai. 

The food was better than the film for all that the trailer is great. At least I can't be accused of being relentlessly highbrow.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

kiss away each hour of hiraeth

When referees fight back: Darren Drysdale confronted Ipswich player Alan Judge face on - but was he right to do so?
Former referee Keith Hackett gives us his view on Drysdale's 'rutting stag' as we ask, what happens next and has this ever happened before?
Dad would have said that Darren Drysdale was "dropping the bean" on Alan Judge above. I don't think I have ever heard anyone else use that colloquialism.

He refereed for a bit after he stopped playing. In one game things got so heated he stepped out of the field of play and announced that now he was over the touchline he was no longer an official so anyone who wanted to sort things out the old fashioned way was quite welcome to join him. I know what all secretly wish Darren Drysdale had done that with this pipsqueak.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Roneo'd, docketed and stereotyped

 It looks like if you change the name servers for an AWS registered domain you need to do it in the "Registered Domains" section rather than changing the DNS records in "Hosted Zones." 

AWS: Nick - I'll be very brief, look, the lengths go through to you direct via Admin, not via us. Read the orange handbook, love.

Well that's been my morning so far and it isn't even eight yet. How are things with you?

The change was from


.. in case I need to switch it back.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Riverside Recollections

I thought I should pop this up here. It is all mist to the grill.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Words fail me

Somehow Louis Rees-Zammit's second try yesterday is better with commentary in French.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Stick to what you know

I noticed an AppleTV app on the Amazon Fire TV stick so I have got that up and running, though it was a pain in the backside as you have to validate it via an Apple device so I had to find and recharge an iPad I hadn't used for five or six years.

There is also a NowTV app, so 2014's box (icons passim) may go the way of all flesh.

There is also a Disney+ app but I am sulking because they have been beastly to Gina Carano (Icons passim).

Friday, February 12, 2021

Piecing it together

 Undergraduates Hunt for Special Tetrahedra That Fit Together

A group of MIT undergraduates is searching for tetrahedra that tile space, the latest effort in a millennia-long inquiry. They’ve already made a new discovery.

What Aristotle started over 2,000 years ago, a team of 30 undergraduates at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is continuing. They’ve been capitalizing on a recent mathematical advance that has injected new life into a millennia-long quest to identify shapes that can perfectly fill, or tile, three-dimensional space.

“It’s quite exciting but also at the same time a little intimidating to know some of the greatest minds have been working on this topic,” said Yuyuan Luo, a first-year MIT student participating in the work organized by MIT professor Bjorn Poonen. 

Aristotle’s interest in the question arose as a rebuke to Plato, his teacher. ......... read on .........

I am seeing these issues everywhere now. How little geometry, it seems, we actually understand. Next stop protein folding?

Thursday, February 11, 2021


 I saw Ben last night. Nominally to eat sushi while watching Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends. We succeeded at that, and darn good it was too, but before we watched:

The whole Kites and Darts thing is going really well.  Next stop meteorites in Siberia then girih patterns in medieval Islamic architecture.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

the wind of change

This week, the Crown Estate sold seabed rights to six offshore wind developments for £879m.

The £879m of option fees are paid to the Crown Estate to secure the rights to lease the seabed in each year that the wind farms are in development. They equate to £110,000 per megawatt per year, compared with £20,000 the last time a leasing round was held in 2010. More than £8bn could be paid to the Crown Estate over 10 years.

When the wind farms begin generating electricity, these option fees stop and developers instead pay 2pc of gross turnover to the Crown Estate as rent.

The Queen gets something called the Sovereign Grant in exchange for surrendering all profits from the Crown Estate  to the government. Every year, the Queen is given an amount of money equivalent to 25% of the Crown Estate's profits. 

The Sovereign Grant for 2020-21 is £85.9 million. That is now due to be boosted by 220m per year.

An increase in the grant to from 15% to 25% was approved by Parliament in March 2017, to help lay for a £369 refurbishment of Buckingham Palace.

I ranted about this earlier this week (see Icons passim). I am astonished that it is not more controversial.

On the day of the sale "Empty shelves: No custard creams for Brits in Belgium" was the lead business story on my BBC News home page

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Soccer for geeks (Pay attention there at the back Callum!)

Stop nagging! Of course we can apply Euler Characteristics to find out the number of hexagons and pentagons on your football.

For every surface S there exists an integer chi(S) such that whenever a graph G with V vertices and E edges is embedded in it so that there are F faces (regions divided by the graph), we have V - E + F= chi(S).

For a sphere chi(S)=2.

So, if we have P pentagons, and H hexagons we can calculate the number of vertices as follows:

6 vertices for each of the hexagons, i.e. 6*H.

5 vertices for each of the pentagons, i.e. 5*P.

But we have counted each vertex three times (once for each adjacent polygon) so the number of edges E = (6*H + 5*P)/2.

Substituting and solving this equation we get P = 12. So, there are 12 pentagons.

Moving swiftly along, we can see that each pentagon is surrounded by 5 Hexagons. So there should 5*P hexagons, but we have triple counted each hexagon for each of its 3 adjacent pentagons. Thus the number of hexagons is  5*P/3 which equals 20.

That is why - dunderhead -  there are 20 hexagons and 12 pentagons in that ball you are standing there bouncing.

Anyway, you are getting under my feet now. Go out and kick 32 polygons worth of leather and air around. I will call you back  in when your tea is ready.

Monday, February 08, 2021

In which I am snarky

 Brian Moore in the Torygraph

England were well beaten in Saturday’s Calcutta Cup and it was only their obduracy, or Scotland’s imprecision, that kept the score-line to a, superficially, respectable 11– 6 loss.

Finally, drop the counter-productive talk of brutality. It creates a one-dimensional prism through which England are seen and, more importantly, see themselves. Brutality should be an adverb, not an aspiration.

Strictly Brian, brutality is a noun. Brutally is the adverb for which you are looking. There is also brutal; a perfectly serviceable adjective.

Man, typing that felt good.

Sunday, February 07, 2021


There is still a poster on the wall of Ben's old teenage bedroom celebrating Wales' famous 30 - 3 Six Nations win against England in 2013. It is a montage of Leigh Halfpenny; Alex Cuthbert, George North, Adam Jones, Alun Wyn Jones, and Justin Tipuric.

Three of them also started in Wales' encouraging win over Ireland today. Off the top of my head (I haven't checked) Faletau and Biggar played in both games as well. That is quite remarkable longevity in such a brutal game.

Saturday, February 06, 2021

The Crown Estate


The CEC manage 55% of the foreshore of the UK and almost all the seabed out to the 12 nautical mile territorial limits, and have in addition the vested rights to explore and utilise natural resources of the UK continental shelf areas, which extend to the 200 nautical mile limits. These rights include the sub-soil, minerals, and substrata below the surface of seabed, but exclude the rights to oil, gas and coal. The CEC license the generation of renewable energy on the Continental shelf within the Renewable Energy Zone out to 200 nautical miles under the Energy Act 2004. They lease sites for undersea storage of gas and carbon dioxide under the Energy Act 2008.

That's right, the Queen owns, and can dispose of as she sees fit, all the rights to off shore power generation in UK territorial waters. Tony Blair's government ceded this to the Crown in 2004. 

Offshore Wind Leasing Round 4 anybody?

This is a disgrace.

Friday, February 05, 2021

Every minute I stay in this room, I get weaker

It has struck me lately that the first scene (as opposed to the opening sequence) of Apocalypse Now is pretty much my experience of lock-down. Truth be told Willard's workout from it is not unlike what mine has been reduced to as well (

Maybe we should start dubbing or subtitling our own experiences over it like the (never getting old) Hitler Downfall meme (

Thursday, February 04, 2021


 "I'll leave it at that I think, whatever it is." Two months on to the day things don't get any easier.

Wednesday, February 03, 2021


 These days I seem to be all about the audio book, and I got two more today.


The Second Kind of Impossible: The Extraordinary Quest for a New Form of Matter by Paul J. Steinhardt  after Ben and I played with Penrose tiles on Monday, and What the Qur'an Meant: And Why It Matters by Garry Wills as background to our increasingly diverse and inclusive (Diverse AND Inclusive? Ed.) Arabian Nights project.

Tuesday, February 02, 2021

You can't get there from here


Born in Cardiff, Glamorgan, Wales on 19 Jun 1961 to Robert Elliott and Anthony John Elliott. Anthony John Elliott married Anabel Meana. He passed away on 28 May 2017 in Gijón, Asturias, Asturias, Spain.

I got an email from an old school friend yesterday. Out on a (COVID sanctioned) walk he had bumped into yet another old school friend who told him a further old school friend, Anthony Elliot, was dead. Died with cancer.

This has hit me pretty hard. We hadn't been in contact for years, but the ancestry link I found above when I googled his name must be correct; he had a Spanish mum and a Cardiff dad. I feel wretched about the fact that he died in 2017 and I didn't find out until 2021.

Let's pretend to cheer ourselves up with an "Ell" story. Julius Caesar was the set Shakespeare for our O level English literature and we were all assembled (mob handed) for a performance of it one evening in the Sherman Theatre, I remember it particularly. Tony Booth was Mark Anthony. 

Understand that in the Sherman in those days, you entered from a corridor and then walked down a few stairs into the stalls; the stage was at the same level as the door and we were right at the front. Ell made an unscheduled loo break and then strolled accidentally back onto the stage only to find himself in the middle of the conspirators. The moment he realized where he was is was is the single funniest thing I have seen in my entire life. He lost his nerve and jumped back down with the rest of us. I love him still but it would have been better if he had possessed the sang-froid to stay on the stage and brazen it out. Maybe even stabbed JC a coupla times himself.

Monday, February 01, 2021

Virtue Ethics

Hooray! I have found a PDF of Elizabeth Anscombe's 1958' paper Modern Moral Philosophy.

I am also working through After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory (Third Edition) by Alasdair MacIntyre.

I can't help but conclude from this turn events, that I am spending too much time alone with my thoughts and that - for me at least - lock-down can't end soon enough.

Finding yourself pondering whether virtue ethics qualifies as a rival approach to deontology and utilitarianism, can't be good can it? It's not like everyone else needs to be rescued from agonizing about how Jeremy Bentham or Immanuel Kant's take on life's little challenges might unfold.