Friday, June 30, 2023

I learned the truth at seventeen

Mason Mount will join Manchester United on a five-year contract, with the option of a further 12 months, after Chelsea finally accepted a deal worth up to £60million for the midfielder.

And Mount will pocket at least £78million in wages if he stays at Old Trafford for the full term of his deal, as he will be paid £250,000-a-week, plus bonuses that could earn him up to £300,000-a-week.

The £138million total is 5.75 per cent of the £2.4 billion announced for the NHS over five years by Steve Barclay the Health Minister today. 

Just over seventeen Mason Mounts doesn't sound quite so extravagant. Come to think about it, a Premiere League squad consists of up to twenty five players, so you couldn't run a football club for five years with players on equivalent deals for £2.4bn.

It is mind boggling really,

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Text is already technology

Generative AI models like chatbots learn the patterns and structure of their input training data, and then generate output inspired by its inherent patterns. The training data is a corpus. The corpora of Large Language Models are nothing more, though certainly nothing less, than unstructured libraries; books stacked at random in boxes, but read thoroughly as they are being unpacked. 

Thus, what this latest artificial intelligence advance is presenting us with is not a step change or discontinuity but rather another rung, one further up the ladder. A ladder footed by Plato's Socrates in the Phaedrus, that Derrida has been wobbling, up till now, on the top of; not because his technique was poor but because he had climbed further than anyone else and was on his tip toes.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023


I read a rave review in the Torygraph yesterday: Accidental Death of an Anarchist: never has this satire on police brutality felt so bitingly relevant. In the wake of the Casey report, this take on Fo's play is acutely topical – and its star, Daniel Rigby, delivers a comic tour de force. (It is here but behind a paywall.)

Looking at the website, I see that it got five stars from the Daily Mail as well, while the Socialist Worker weighed in with "combines biting humour and knockabout fun with a shattering satire on institutional power.’ How's that for squaring this circle? I think we have found August's theatre visit.

Also looking at Paapa in the NT's 'The Effect' for September. Nothing may come of it though as I didn't like the last two things I saw by its director Jamie Lloyd (Cyrano de Bergerac, and The Seagull).

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

How I spend a typical day

Monday, June 26, 2023

Jeremy Seabrook

I picked Steve up in Bath on the way back from Cardiff to London yesterday. His son is at Bath Spa University so we put all of the possessions from his accommodation in the back of the car and set off. (Rebecca and Harry had already left on the train.)

This meant that he was with me when I stopped at Hammersmith to take PG out for his weekly grocery shop. To my surprise they bonded, as we drank coffees in COFX, over a writer called Jeremy Seabrook, Peter having directed a play of his called Life Price in 1969, and Steve having read his work on social and economic justice in a professional capacity.

PS I noticed from The Guardian that there was a documentary called "The Clinic" on ITV last night: the story of the rise and fall of the Tavistock Centre's Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS). It is available here on itvX. Steve is at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. I wonder if he knows about the show or might be interested in it?

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Wilson Road

It was a relief to see Mum in Ty Gwyn yesterday after all the time she had spent in hospital. Something as small, for all that she was in a wheelchair, as sitting in the garden with coffee and cake was like the lap of luxury. John came with me and Anne-Marie arrived shortly after us and we talked about her growing up in Ely.

John and I drove there afterwards. If you head down east along Archer Road from outside our maternal grandparents' place and turn left at the roundabout you will be in Wilson Street. The second right then will be Snowden Road, where Kyrees Sullivan, 16, and Harvey Evans, 15,  were killed in May when they crashed while riding an electric bicycle through the suburb after having been followed by a police van.

I imagine the picture shows where the fatal collision happened.  The park gates a little further up are where most of the memorial decorations are fixed. I didn't want to photograph that as people were still laying wreaths and I thought I would be intruding.

Three or four hundred from the lamppost, south down Wilson Road, is the primary school where mum taught a class of 60. Five hundred yards further down the road and over the junction with Cowbridge Road is the St Francis of Assisi Church. If the residents of Ely aren't our people who are?

Saturday, June 24, 2023


NEW YORK, June 22 (Reuters)

New York lawyers sanctioned for using fake ChatGPT cases in legal brief

 A U.S. judge on Thursday imposed sanctions on two New York lawyers who submitted a legal brief that included six fictitious case citations generated by an artificial intelligence chatbot, ChatGPT.

U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel in Manhattan ordered lawyers Steven Schwartz, Peter LoDuca and their law firm Levidow, Levidow & Oberman to pay a $5,000 fine in total.

The judge found the lawyers acted in bad faith and made "acts of conscious avoidance and false and misleading statements to the court."

Levidow, Levidow & Oberman said in a statement on Thursday that its lawyers "respectfully" disagreed with the court that they acted in bad faith.

"We made a good faith mistake in failing to believe that a piece of technology could be making up cases out of whole cloth," the firm's statement said.

Hallucinations, sometimes called confabulations or delusions, in Chatbots. A curious thing about them is that nobody seems really to understand how they occur, Large Language Models being, to all intents and purposes, opaque. We should all be both more intrigued by and worried by them.

Thursday, June 22, 2023


HMT Empire Windrush docked in Tilbury on 22 June 1948

Well I never. The first of the Windrush generation arrived exactly 13 years before I was born. I haven't made that connection before.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Running Interference

Myself: “Whatever happens will be for the worse, and therefore it is in our interest that as little should happen as possible” as Lord Salisbury said.

Prodnose: This is one of these secret message things I suppose, intelligible to a select coterie, possibly resonant for you when revisited in some tranquil future, yet opaque to the great unwashed, and breaching no confidentiality agreements?

Myself:  Give this job to Clemenza. I want reliable people, people who aren't going to be carried away. I mean, we're not murderers, in spite of what this undertaker thinks...

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Hop to it

 Hello, Ben has broken his foot on account of being a halfwit. That is all.

Monday, June 19, 2023

Volume III: Quantum Mechanics

 Probably ought actually to read The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Volume III: Quantum Mechanics before giving you the benefit of my opinion.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Kindly Leave The Stage

We did the gig last night. It went surprisingly well given the circs. An abiding memory for me will be the image of Jenny holding the music in one hand while lowering the mike to the level of the bell for Emily's sax solo.

Having played a funeral and a birthday in 2023 I am now in the market for a wedding.

No pressure, but if anyone is thinking about popping the question check the dates against my diary first .....

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages

On Saturday next week, I am going to walk from St Francis' Church, where mum and dad were married, past the primary school where she taught, and on to Archer Road where my maternal grandparents lived. I reckon it will take about a quarter of an hour.

Frank Road, Stanway Road, Grand Avenue and Snowden Road from the graphic to the right are all present and correct around the route as you can see from the map I have embedded above.

This is all dirt-under-the-fingernails real to me. Anyone (resident or commentator) who wants to accuse me of anything voyeuristic can kiss my arse.

I am with the people of Ely (still being harassed by the police) on this one.
The claims of a police pursuit were initially denied by Alun Michael, the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales, but the force has since confirmed a van was following Kyrees and Harvey before the crash.

The two officers in the marked vehicle who were following the pair were served with gross misconduct notices earlier this week.

Friday, June 16, 2023

More I cannot wish you

Guys & Dolls at the Bridge Theatre last night. It was great. The immersive production works a treat. While I remember though, there was - as so often these days - a daft virtue signalling inexplicable gay moment in it that served no purpose aside from confusing the plot.

St Illtyd's Anthony O'Donnell was Arvide Abernathy in it, a mere 37 years on from me seeing him in Giordano Bruno's Candelaio for the RSC in the Barbican in 1986.

I also saw him, excellent as the poet-baker Ragueneau, in Stephen Rea's Cyrano de Bergerac at the National in 2014.

It is good to catch up every 17 or 18 years.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Holding Space

Fingers crossed it won't happen, but I think I may be confirming some bad news here later.

It is confirmed, Ryan fell asleep at his mum Deb's and Dave's house last week and didn't wake up. I am devastated. God knows what it is like for them. I only really spent much time with  him on our annual skiing trips but did so for enough years to do so from when he was a boy until he was brining his daughter. The image above is  tribute his friends have done I think (I pinched from Karen, his aunt, on Facebook.)

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Less running in the family

After arriving on hospital on April 26th for a hip operation on the 27th Mum got out of the CAVOC ward in Llandough yesterday, and is back in Ty Enfys: 48 days in hospital. Apparently the day was a logistical nightmare which gave her some stress, but I hope things will start to relax now.

Also in family health news, I tripped and fell again the day before yesterday (Icons passim) hurting a rib this time. Slightly unnerved I messaged my diagnosis of peroneal nerve damage to a friend who is a reconstructive plastic surgeon, and I am really proud she thought my diagnosis may be right. Have you ever heard of such a ridiculous thing to regard as an accomplishment?

Yesterday, I took my foot along to Ollie who is a physiotherapist. She said I have drop foot (, told me to make an appointment with my GP, gave me a restorative band exercise. and came up with the interesting the idea - from my gait - that I had had the condition for a long time before it was exacerbated.

I have booked an enhanced access telephone appointment with the The Vineyard Hill Road Surgery for 6:30 pm on my birthday. I wonder what an enhanced access telephone appointment is.

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

More running in the family

John and I went to Central to see Mia and BA (Hons) Acting cohort in a Pinter double bill on Saturday; Party Time / Celebration.

She was in Party Time: a scathing and amusing attack on the increasingly powerful and narcissistic super rich, set against the backdrop of terrifying state oppression.

It was paired with Pinter’s final work, Celebration, a delicious comedy about the vulgarity and materialism of the nouveau riche, bur we didn't see that as she was only in Party Time so we sneaked out before the second one, but she and all the cast were certainly good in the first.

Peter directed a Pinter double bill 'Landscape and Silence' in New York's Lincoln Center's Forum Theater, as long ago as 1970; fifty plus years ago, so we as a family have got form with this sort of thing,

Monday, June 12, 2023

Running in the family

I finished writing the horn section (Emily sax, Megan trumpet) for the Honky Tonk Women instrumental break yesterday. I used software called MuseScore. It is free to download and will actually play what you write on versions of the instruments. Here is the native file of the arrangement. I wonder if my brother John would find it a useful product now he is writing songs?

Sunday, June 11, 2023


 As previously reported (Icons passim), I tripped and fell on my way out of the AI conference last week, and have had some sort of problem with my right foot since. No pain, but it feels "flat" somehow.

I took advantage of yesterday's yoga class to give it a more thorough check. The issue seems to be that though I can move the foot down and two the sides, I can't move it, or indeed the toes on the end of it up.

According to ChatGPT:

The movement of the foot upwards is called dorsiflexion It involves the contraction of the muscles in the front of the leg and foot, such as the tibialis anterior, the extensor hallucis longus and the extensor digitorum longus These muscles are connected to the foot by tendons that pass through the front of the ankle joint . The tendons help pull the foot upwards when the muscles contract. 

Some possible injuries that can affect dorsiflexion are tibialis anterior tendonitis, which is inflammation or degeneration of the tendon of the tibialis anterior muscle, and ankle joint restriction, which is when the ankle joint is tight or scarred and limits the range of motion Sometimes, a tendon transfer surgery may be done to restore more normal movement to a foot that has lost function due to nerve damage or muscle weakness

Deep peroneal nerve damage? Perhaps Ollie or Renu can point me in the right direction.

Saturday, June 10, 2023

Stop all the clocks

We finally got a headstone for dad.

Friday, June 09, 2023

Take it Ely

More on the location of the Cardiff riots (see Icons passim about how close to it mum and dad got married). Mum was a teacher at St Francis R C Primary School; walk to the end of Snowden Road where the trouble was and turn right into Wilson Road. You can't miss it. My maternal grandparents lived in Archer Road; again go to the end of Snowden Road but this time turn left onto Wilson Road, then - at the round about - turn into Archer Road.

I ain't buying the notion this area is populated by a feral underclass.

I went to see Michael Sandel last night, and I ain't buying his snake oil either. Typical codswallop "In the UK, it takes a median five generations for children from low-income families to approach the average income in their country." 

What, with the best will in the world can this statement mean? 

What is the provenance of the data supporting it? It is a simplification but a median derived from five 25 year generations implies a 250 year data set at the centre of which it sits. Where did the analysts get that from? 

What is even being said? Will all the descendants of low income families be middle class in five generations. If not the figure is meaningless unless we hear what percentage of the entire generation "made it."

God give me strength. If I manage to turn a debutante in to a crack whore will I be contributing to social mobility in Sandel's fairy tale of good versus evil?


See also

Thursday, June 08, 2023

Honky Horns

I'm going to have to write a horn section part for Emily on tenor sax and Megan on trumpet for our Honky Tonk women cover Saturday week.  All I have managed so far is eight empty bars. It took me about 20 minutes to work out that the program automatically re-pitched the key signature for Bb instruments so I had to select G for it to appear as A. If I entered it as A the five sharps of B major appeared to my complete and utter bewilderment. The next part of the plan is to remember how to input notes in MuseScore.

Wednesday, June 07, 2023

Among the new limericks

There once was a club for queer comedy

That Adrian gigged as a wannabe

He brought his friend Nick

Who was thicker than thick

And thought all the gays were just friendily

After letting him down several times as he hadn't given me enough notice, I got a week's for last night's stand-up gig. (You have to admire someone with the fortitude to harangue an audience via voice prosthesis after a laryngectomy.) That is how your roving reporter was sitting in row three at the Queer Comedy Club last supporting Adrian and sitting through the other acts. He was on first in the second half, and I thought he was pretty good. As for a lot of the others, I had no idea what they were talking about. It must be very different, gay culture. I got a message from Steve about something else during the show and replied between acts:

I am supporting Adrian at the queer comedy night. I understood precisely nothing that was said by the last act although he appeared to go down well.

Tuesday, June 06, 2023

Attention Is All You Need

Computer Science > Computation and Language

The dominant sequence transduction models are based on complex recurrent or convolutional neural networks in an encoder-decoder configuration. The best performing models also connect the encoder and decoder through an attention mechanism. We propose a new simple network architecture, the Transformer, based solely on attention mechanisms, dispensing with recurrence and convolutions entirely. Experiments on two machine translation tasks show these models to be superior in quality while being more parallelizable and requiring significantly less time to train. Our model achieves 28.4 BLEU on the WMT 2014 English-to-German translation task, improving over the existing best results, including ensembles by over 2 BLEU. On the WMT 2014 English-to-French translation task, our model establishes a new single-model state-of-the-art BLEU score of 41.8 after training for 3.5 days on eight GPUs, a small fraction of the training costs of the best models from the literature. We show that the Transformer generalizes well to other tasks by applying it successfully to English constituency parsing both with large and limited training data.

Time I think to knuckle down and start reading and working hard on this stuff rather than just waffling.

(The genius of the USA is in the names of the authors: Ashish Vaswani, Noam Shazeer, Niki Parmar, Jakob Uszkoreit, Llion Jones, Aidan N. Gomez, Lukasz Kaiser, Illia Polosukhin.)

Monday, June 05, 2023

Who said I didn't kill anyone?

Peter Hitchens Yesterday

Steel yourself for a drama of pure nostalgia

Why do people bore on about the sweary, repetitive incomprehensible TV drama Succession? The only good thing about it is the opening title sequence. I gave it up months ago.

Try instead, on the BBC iPlayer, a clever and subtle police series Steeltown Murders, starring the always-interesting Philip Glenister.

It is especially enthralling because it portrays events in 1973, as seen by veteran police officers 30 years later in 2003, so it portrays two layers of the past, both of which I remember.

How little we know about what is to come. I especially loved the sign outside the busy mine, proclaiming coal as the ‘fuel of the future’ and the British Rail diesel engines nosing by, pulling mile-long coal trains. Pure nostalgia.

The last episode of Mia's breakout TV drama is on BBC1 at 9pm tonight and it is now officially better than Succession!

Succession is the Gold Standard of Television writing.  It's not only one of the best Drama shows currently on TV but can also be considered amongst the greatest shows of all-time for the Class Audience!  Be it the writing, acting, storytelling, character development - everything about this series is PERFECTION. Not a single bad episode in the whole series & the best thing was how every episode contributed to the show’s story which is utterly gripping & entertaining to its core. 

Still ain't as good as what my niece was in is it numb nuts?! Hashtag #ProudUncle

Sunday, June 04, 2023


On the way out of the Senate House of the University of London, heading to Malet Street you are released first onto a courtyard which in turn leads onto the street. At the gate there is a small (maybe an inch and a half) step that leads up to the road. If you have been in a conference all day and are catching up with messages, you will miss the sodding thing, fall arse over tit and crack the corner of the screen on you new phone. You know, the one you have only had since last Friday since you cracked the screen of the last one!

John my brother recommends getting a screen protector for the new Pixel 6a to stop things getting worse: for example.

There's a Timpson's in the big Sainsburys by the office though, so it had occurred that I could get them to replace the screen on the old 4a.  That way, if the 6a ever went into remission I could just swap SIM cards and go back to the old phone while the new one was repaired and stay online and accessible all the time.

What do we think?

Prodnose: Is this a philosophical thought experiment like Philippa Foot's Trolley Problem or Nick Bostrom's Paperclip Maximiser?

Myself: No. It is genuinely the type of thing I ponder of a weekend.

Prodnose: God give me strength!

Saturday, June 03, 2023

Both Sides Now

Andy M messaged me the clip above last night after hearing the performance on Radio 6 Music a little after nine last night. I love it, especially the way she uses the lower register of her voice, making a virtue of the inevitable changes age brings.

Cards on the table I have long neglected Joni Mitchell because I HATE Big Yellow Taxi with its helium voice and that stupid schoolgirl laugh at the end, but lately I have been having second thoughts.

Diana Krall's 'Live in Paris' cover of 'A Case of You' ( was the first hole in the dyke. It is very often what comes out of my fingers when I sit down and start playing without thinking. The lyrics to one of her songs are the story of my life. I didn't see that one coming.

Andy introducing me to 'Edith and the Kingpin' and the 2022 Newport Folk Festival performance have been the icing on the cake. 

What's a good album for me to start a deep dive on? Mingus perhaps?

Friday, June 02, 2023


July's theatre trip is booked for Thursday the sixth.

Trouf: Scenes from 75* Years

Hannah Khalil, presented with Shubbak Festival

A living, growing record of life in Palestine, life beyond the headlines, life under occupation.

Thursday, June 01, 2023

Stochastic Parrots

I am at the AI conference I told you about (Icons passim) yesterday.

After his introductory presentation, I asked Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt a question. "If a Large Language Model is trained on a huge corpus of existing text, and text is already a limited technological artefact, won't the tacit knowledge that informs so much of human experience be forever outside its scope?" 

A question inspired by Sean pointing me towards Socrates in the Phaedrus. He had to agree that we were right.

My question came two after Geoffrey Hinton's. He was in most of the world's newspapers that morning.

Exalted company.