Tuesday, October 31, 2023


Future perfect, present tense,

Past continuous.

In the lane that’s by the church,

St Joseph’s, that is,

I can feel the sacristy;


“What is that, a sacristy, 

You old altar boy?”

The holy things are stored there,

Until we need them.

“Date and the time of this need?

Who’s allowed inside?”


Monday, October 30, 2023

the best time to plant a tree is always twenty years ago

If there is one complaint about the Jazz Café's  Havana Música on Saturday it is that Jane and Ben weren't all that impressed with their food (miso marinated monkfish with curried rice, coriander & chilli, and jerk chicken with rice and peas, pickles & jerk bbq sauce  respectively).

Eat your way around the world in London went to the Cubana restaurant seventeen years ago and seems to have had a good time (see Icons passim).

Maybe we should add https://www.cubana.co.uk/, as well as catching up with the Chef movie, to any follow up.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

I Like it Like That

Jane, Ben, Simona and I had a wonderful time watching Havana Música with Carlos Miguel Y Su Dimension de Cuba from the mezzanine restaurant at the Jazz Cafe last night. I was beyond flattered that Simona took the time off work to come with us when she didn't even do that for the Saturday of her own birthday. By locking in rest before the big night (prehab?) I managed to walk to the tube for quarter to seven and get home more than five hours later having eaten a starter as a main course and drunk a few glasses of wine. Unheard of stamina and appetite for me lately.

Ben, as I am, is a big fan of John Favreau's movie 'Chef.' I kept thinking of it last night As Sofía Vergara's father's character in it is a Cuban musician performing in one scene in a club not unlike the JC. Actually the whole film is resonant, including a Miami to Nawlins road trip not unlike one for me, Ben and Raybs that l've got a bucket list version of.

I may watch it again later while trying to stuff a counterfeit Cubana panini down my gob.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Then I was back in October

There's a new edition of Jonathan Holloway (Icons passim) and Liam Grundy's podcast out. When I got home yesterday I drew the curtains, kicked off my shoes and lay on the couch to listen to it.
Walking Out: A wide-ranging discussion rarely touching on the pressing matters of the day. Social, Sexual, Psychological and Political matters are never intentionally on the agenda.
Seventeen minutes of guileless, prelapsarian bliss.

Compare and contrast. Ben Jamal, Steve and Rebecca's friend, is the Director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Here's what he was tweeting later the same night.
Both in the same world. I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Friday, October 27, 2023

One Day in Gaza

From Olly Lambert on Vimeo.

I thought enough time had passed to send Hannah a sympathetic note about Palestine without it seeming intrusive, and received a typically gracious and generous reply.

My email included an apology for, my all but complete, ignorance of the region's history and circumstances. I told her that until I looked at Gaza on Google Maps, I had no idea it was on the Mediterranean coast and asked her to imagine what this implies about everything else that has passed me, and my peers, by. All we can do is plead with her people not to despise us when our self-styled cognoscenti, start holding forth advising her people from this deep well of ignorance. 

I mentioned this in passing to Sean, who also knows her. He owned up as well, saying:
I only found out about Gaza’s location because a former student of mine, now an award-winning documentary maker called Olly Lambert made a film about The Day of Peace there a few years ago.
Maybe there's a lesson here about civilised and constructive conversations; own up pre-emptively in one's arguments to one's blind spots.

Thursday, October 26, 2023


Have I found a poet new to me, contemporary and yet good in McSWEENEY’S of all places?

Lately, there’s been a glitch in the present tense,

the blackbird calling from the holly tree

and that frost-scent on the wind in late July,

a spindrift from the east that finds me out

as stranger to the soul

I took for granted …

Give me a little less

with every dawn:

colour, a breath of wind,

the perfection of shadows,

till what I find, I find

because it’s there,

gold in the seams of my hands,

and the night light, burning.

Give me these years again and I will

spend them wisely.

Done with the compass; done, now, with the chart.

The ferry at the dock, lit

stern to prow,

the next life like a footfall in my heart.

Or is it just that I am a miserable bastard lately? We can find out kicking off from here, I guess.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023


The woman who, in the process of being released, stepped back to take the Hamas' guard hand and say "Shalom" is what inspired yesterday's post. It changed Levinas' "The Other precisely reveals himself in his alterity not in a shock negating the I, but as the primordial phenomenon of gentleness," from sounding pretentious to a blissful truth.

As ever lately, we landed with a bump. When I played the video I had embedded on the blog post back, I found that The Times had edited this gesture of hope out.

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Bearing Witness


In the 1950s, Levinas emerged from the circle of intellectuals surrounding the philosopher Jean Wahl as a leading French thinker. His work is based on the ethics of the Other or, in Levinas's terms, on "ethics as first philosophy". For Levinas, the Other is not knowable and cannot be made into an object of the self, as is done by traditional metaphysics (which Levinas called "ontology"). Levinas prefers to think of philosophy as the "wisdom of love" rather than the "love of wisdom" (the usual translation of the Greek "φιλοσοφία"). In his view, responsibility towards the Other precedes any "objective searching after truth".

Levinas derives the primacy of his ethics from the experience of the encounter with the Other. For Levinas, the irreducible relation, the epiphany, of the face-to-face, the encounter with another, is a privileged phenomenon in which the other person's proximity and distance are both strongly felt. "The Other precisely reveals himself in his alterity not in a shock negating the I, but as the primordial phenomenon of gentleness."


Monday, October 23, 2023

The Revolutionary Catechism

The Duties of the Revolutionary toward Himself

  1. The revolutionary is a doomed man. He has no personal interests, no business affairs, no emotions, no attachments, no property, and no name. Everything in him is wholly absorbed in the single thought and the single passion for revolution.
  2. The revolutionary knows that in the very depths of his being, not only in words but also in deeds, he has broken all the bonds which tie him to the social order and the civilized world with all its laws, moralities, and customs, and with all its generally accepted conventions. He is their implacable enemy, and if he continues to live with them it is only in order to destroy them more speedily.
  3. The revolutionary despises all doctrines and refuses to accept the mundane sciences, leaving them for future generations. He knows only one science: the science of destruction. For this reason, but only for this reason, he will study mechanics, physics, chemistry, and perhaps medicine. But all day and all night he studies the vital science of human beings, their characteristics and circumstances, and all the phenomena of the present social order. The object is perpetually the same: the surest and quickest way of destroying the whole filthy order.
  4. The revolutionary despises public opinion. He despises and hates the existing social morality in all its manifestations. For him, morality is everything which contributes to the triumph of the revolution. Immoral and criminal is everything that stands in its way.
  5. The revolutionary is a dedicated man, merciless toward the State and toward the educated classes; and he can expect no mercy from them. Between him and them there exists, declared or concealed, a relentless and irreconcilable war to the death. He must accustom himself to torture.
  6. Tyrannical toward himself, he must be tyrannical toward others. All the gentle and enervating sentiments of kinship, love, friendship, gratitude, and even honor, must be suppressed in him and give place to the cold and single-minded passion for revolution. For him, there exists only one pleasure, one consolation, one reward, one satisfaction – the success of the revolution. Night and day he must have but one thought, one aim – merciless destruction. Striving cold-bloodedly and indefatigably toward this end, he must be prepared to destroy himself and to destroy with his own hands everything that stands in the path of the revolution.
  7. The nature of the true revolutionary excludes all sentimentality, romanticism, infatuation, and exaltation. All private hatred and revenge must also be excluded. Revolutionary passion, practiced at every moment of the day until it becomes a habit, is to be employed with cold calculation. At all times, and in all places, the revolutionary must obey not his personal impulses, but only those which serve the cause of the revolution.

Hamas didn't make it up.

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Nice One Cyril

I missed Gary Marcus' keynote* at the 'Chat GPT and Other Creative Rivals' conference I attended in the middle of the year. I am disappointed about that now that he has started throwing shade at the UK's upcoming vainglorious AI Safety Summit; something that has also been on my to-do list.

Telegraph (paywall):

Meet the AI heretic battling the hype with a warning for Rishi Sunak

Tech expert Gary Marcus is the dissenting voice in a clamour of paranoia and veneration

In a fortnight, the UK’s AI Safety Summit will assemble the great and the good of artificial intelligence, in the hope of creating an international “Bretton Woods”-style agreement to regulate it. Although he was one of three experts invited to give testimony to the United States Congress on AI regulation, alongside OpenAI founder Sam Altman, Marcus hasn’t been invited to Buckinghamshire. He isn’t surprised that his views aren’t welcome. 

“Generative AI can’t live up to the current expectations,” he says. “It’s simply not smart enough to do many of the things we think it will be able to do. The systems are not transparent, they’re not reliable, they don’t really understand the world. These are very serious problems that are not being faced.” 

Such talk makes him a heretic, and pointing out some very inconvenient truths is not universally welcome. Marcus explains these flaws very elegantly: for years he was The New Yorker magazine’s go-to guy to explain developments in neuroscience and data. Guitar Zero, his book explaining how the brain learns, based on his own initially hopeless quest to master a musical instrument, became a bestseller.

It's his guitar book that interests me today though after John and I spent some time noodling around yesterday, so I've dropped a credit on the Audible version. Maybe my brother and I can listen next time we're driving to or from Cardiff.

On the eve of his fortieth birthday, a professor of no discernible musical talent learns to play the guitar and investigates how anyone of any age might master a new skill.

Just about every human being knows how to listen to music, but what does it take to make music? Is musicality something we are born with? Or a skill that anyone can develop at any time? If you don't start piano at the age of six, is there any hope? Is skill learning best left to children or can anyone reinvent him-or herself at any time?

On the eve of his fortieth birthday, Gary Marcus, an internationally renowned scientist with no discernible musical talent, becomes his own guinea pig to look at how human beings become musical- and how anyone of any age can master something new. Guitar Zero traces his journey, what he learned, and how you can learn, too. In addition to being a groundbreaking look at the origins and allure of music, Marcus's journey is also an empowering tale of the mind's plasticity.

In a quest that takes him from Suzuki classes to guitar gods, Marcus investigates the most effective ways to train your brain and body to learn to play an instrument. How can you make your practice more deliberate and effective? How can you find the best music teacher for you or your child? Does talent really exist? Or is hard work all you need?

Guitar Zero stands the science of music on its head, debunking the popular theory of an innate musical instinct and many other commonly held fallacies. At the same time, it raises new questions about the science of human pleasure and brings new insight into humankind's most basic question: what counts as a life well lived? Does one have to become the next Jimi Hendrix to make a passionate pursuit worthwhile? Or can the journey itself bring the brain lasting satisfaction?

For those who have ever set out to learn a musical instrument-or wishes that they could- Guitar Zero is an inspiring and fascinating look at music, learning, and the pursuit of a well-lived life.

* Keynote

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Hold the front page

My brother arrived on a visit yesterday. He has gone back now.

Friday, October 20, 2023

What is a podcast and how does it work?

The setting for so many of the Arabian Nights, like the stories of Sinbad the Sailor, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, or Aladdin, Baghdad during the Islamic Golden Age had a shimmering image, a dimension of mystery and wonder… Join Tom and Dominic in the final part of our series on the history of Baghdad, as they explore the tales of One Thousand and One Nights, and the city of Caliphs, Hadiths, thieves, and of course, pigeon racing!
The Balfour Declaration was published on the 9th November 1917. It stated the intent of the British government to create a Jewish homeland in Palestine. This week, William and Anita are joined by Tom Segev to discuss the declaration and the ensuing British mandate for Palestine.

Goalhanger Podcasts continues to come up with the goods when it comes to background reading for the WhatsApp group Peter, Helen, John, Frankie and I are on.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

The Death of Ivan Ilyich

Hailed as one of the world’s masterpieces of psychological realism, The Death of Ivan Ilyich is the story of a worldly careerist, a high-court judge who has never given the inevitability of his death so much as a passing thought. But one day death announces itself to him, and to his shocked surprise, he is brought face-to-face with his own mortality. How, Tolstoy asks, does an unreflective man confront his one and only moment of truth?

The first part of the story portrays Ivan Ilyich’s colleagues and family after he has died, as they discuss the effect of his death on their careers and fortunes. In the second part, Tolstoy reveals the life of the man whose death seems so trivial. The perfect bureaucrat, Ilyich treasured his orderly domestic and office routine. Diagnosed with an incurable illness, he at first denies the truth but is influenced by the simple acceptance of his servant boy, and he comes to embrace the boy’s belief that death is natural and not shameful. He comforts himself with happy memories of childhood and gradually realizes that he has ignored all his inner yearnings as he tried to do what was expected of him. Will Ilyich be able to come to terms with himself before his life ebbs away?

This short novel was the artistic culmination of a profound spiritual crisis in Tolstoy’s own life, a nine-year period following the publication of Anna Karenina, during which he wrote not a word of fiction. A thoroughly absorbing glimpse into the abyss of death, it is also a strong testament to the possibility of finding spiritual salvation.
Some days the 'blog practically writes itself eh? Guess my latest Audible credit went.

I've got a biopsy lunchtime today.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Angels With Dirty Faces


I did Chemical Engineering in University. All except for one afternoon when I bunked off and went along to American Studies because they were showing a double bill of To Have and Have Not and Angels With Dirty Faces.

Redemption is ever at hand if we only have the courage, and the humility, to seize it. Discuss.

Last verse

What now? It is not practical I know.

To cast a loaded dice for one more throw.

No, no; a beautiful, a hopeless stand

What is this horde? I shall not stay my hand.

I know you now, old foes, old enemies!

Dissembling, Prejudice and Treacheries!

Deception! Here's my sword's point, ask no truce.

I fight and will die fighting. No excuse.

Take what you will, you send me to repose.

Take all; the prize, the laurel and the rose.

You've done your worst and yet I still retain,

Respect you cannot strip me of or stain.

And when I leave tonight to meet my Lord

If heaven's azure vault's not my reward.

And all I left behind on earth was ash

Despite you all I kept, and keep still my .... panache!

What with one thing and another, I've been quoting my own version of Cyrano de Bergerac to myself lately. Rendering José Martí's Cuba Nos Une into English on Sunday reminded me that I have found the way I compile these translations quite educational, so I thought I would share it.

Cuba nos une en extranjero suelo,

Auras de Cuba nuestro amor desea:

Cuba es tu corazón, Cuba es mi cielo,

Cuba en tu libro mi palabra sea.


Cuba unite us, on foreign soil

Cuba the heartbeat, let love uncoil

Cuba your centre, Cuba my sky

Cuba in your book, my word, my sigh

I got a plain vanilla literal English version from Google Translate, then tried to polish it up. What is interesting I think, at least it is to me, is that I went from an alternating line rhyming scheme to couplets and from a freer to a strict nine syllable (five then four) metre without consciously deciding to do it all. Not unlike Cyrano's last words which morphed from the original twelve syllable alexandrine to pentameter. Perhaps it is to do with being steeped in, rather than educated about, English poetry?

Monday, October 16, 2023

Times change, people change, but some things will always stay the same.

Ben and Jane are flying to Florida today to visit Rayburn and his family. They came round with Simona last night and we went to Venus, as it is a bit quieter than the Standard or the Charles Holden. It was Simona's birthday on Saturday, and she had to finish her evening shift before she could get out, with Ben and their friends, celebrating that.

All of which makes it pretty unlikely she will be able to make the Camden Jazz Café with us at the end of the month (passim). I think I will offer her place, if that comes to pass, to old muso-chum Andy M. The universe sent me the message. I had mentioned to Ben in the Holden on Thursday, that Jane, I Andy and his Sarah went to the Jazz Café together years ago to see Boz Scaggs. When Ben went off to the gents I took a look at my phone and there was a WhatsApp on it from Mr Mulford recommending a drummer called Yusef Dayes. Some things never change.

Would love to get Thump The Clouds back in the studio one more time.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Cuba Nos Une

Myself: Cuba nos une en extranjero suelo,

Auras de Cuba nuestro amor desea:

Cuba es tu corazón, Cuba es mi cielo,

Cuba en tu libro mi palabra sea.

Prodnose: Eh?

Myself (distractedly): José Martí, Cuban poet and essayist, patriot and martyr. I've dashed off my own English version if you're interested.

Prodnose (unenthused): Ummmm ...

Myself: Cuba unite us, on foreign soil

Cuba the heartbeat, let love uncoil

Cuba your centre, Cuba my sky

Cuba in your book, my word, my sigh

A treasured development of 2023, at least for me, has been the emergence of a monthly night out for Jane, Ben and I (plus Simona when she can make it). Generally we alternate a pizza at Corleone with an action movie at Wimbledon Odeon followed by Mexican food at Wahaca.

No reason, given my diagnosis, not to punch it up a little. I've long fancied the view overlooking the stage from the Camden Jazz Café mezzanine restaurant. Hey Presto! A table for four is booked; Havana Música with Carlos Miguel Y Su Dimension de Cuba on Saturday 28th October.

I found this YouTube video looking for Carlos Miguel. Pretty much what we will see from our vantage point I think.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Negative Capability

Last night's unused ticket was for Burnt at the Stake, or The Whole of The Truth at the Globe Theatre. I just couldn't face it after the week I've had. I was going because it was co-curated by Hannah Khalil, a Palestinian/Irish writer and acquaintance. I wonder if she could face it after the week she's had?

The 2023 Rugby World Cup quarter-finals are with us today. Wales kick off against Argentina at 4pm, and Ireland against the All Blacks at 8. In previous years I would have been down my local from mid afternoon until last orders. Not today.

AFC Wimbledon kick off at home against Bradford City at 3, so that is where most of my season ticket holding friends will be. If they get to the Standard for, say, 5 I can join them for Wales' second half before going home.
I have drunk ale from the Country of the Young
And weep because I know all things now:
I have been a hazel tree and they hung
The Pilot Star and the Crooked Plough
Among my leaves in times out of mind:
I became a rush that horses tread:
I became a man, a hater of the wind,
Knowing one, out of all things, alone, that his head
Would not lie on the breast or his lips on the hair
Of the woman that he loves, until he dies;
Although the rushes and the fowl of the air
Cry of his love with their pitiful cries
Prodnose: Well that's chirpy.
Myself (with some little dignity): 'Mongan Thinks Of His Past Greatness' by William Butler Yeats is not aiming for 'chirpy.'

Friday, October 13, 2023

More matter with less art

I found out at a hospital appointment on Wednesday afternoon that the CT scan I had on Sunday October the first revealed I have pancreatic cancer and that it has spread to some other organs. I also have a blood clot in one lung.

Medics will be meeting in St George's hospital today to decide my recommended treatment so I will probably find out what it is next week.

I have delayed posting about it here as I wanted to make sure I had sat down with the son and heir for a good face to face discussion before letting people know in general, and he and I had already agreed that we would meet socially last night.

Prodnose: Well it's to the point, I'll say that for it.

Thursday, October 12, 2023


There's a BUILDHOLLYWOOD billboard just past the junction with Blackshaw Road that I take when I am walking to St George's.

For some reason lately, it is covered with a montage of posters celebrating something called the Welsh Ballroom Community.

Even on  a day when Wales beat Gibraltar 4-0 in a friendly it seems like a bizarre thing to come across in South West London.

Prodnose: But a good excuse for sidestepping why you were going to the hospital.

Myself: That too ...

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Form is temporary, class is permanent

"How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world."

A beautiful gesture of respect for Portugal, who had just beaten them, from Fiji in the rugby world cup. To the shoulder shruggers, this: 

 "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much."

 "Eyeless, in Gaza, at the mill, with slaves," quoted Peter today. Milton's Samson Agonistes is indeed horribly pertinent to what is unfolding in Gaza and Israel. Thanatos; the unconscious death wish, autographs the scene with innocent blood.

Why was my breeding ordered and prescribed

As of a person separate to God,

Designed for great exploits, if I must die

Betrayed, captived, and both my eyes put out,

Made of my enemies the scorn and gaze,

To grind in brazen fetters under task

With this heaven-gifted strength? O glorious strength,

Put to the labour of a beast, debased

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

The Gender Unicorn

Well that's my next tattoo sorted.
I don't want to write anything here that will identify the chap in question, but- for goodness sake, what kind of smirking, unserious reaction do you think you are going to get from a class of teenage boys if you ask them to "fill out your own Gender Unicorn"?  My best guess would be sniggering and 'word on the street' suggests I'm right. Fashion is one of the most powerful forces in the world. The pendulum swings one way and then back almost as far the other way. Force this stuff down the throats of thirteen year olds and five years from now you will be confronting unreconstructed Andrew Tates.

I need to understand what is going on the country and the world a little better.  Shall I invest an Audible credit in Time to Think, The Inside Story of the Collapse of the Tavistock’s Gender Service for Children by Hannah Barnes? 

I wonder what Steve will make of that?

Then again I seem to recall that the first time I met him I was reading C. J. Chivers' THE GUN The Story of the AK-47 and I don't recall him concluding from that that I was potentially a loon but a hairsbreadth away from Lee Harvey Oswald.

Monday, October 09, 2023

Ostrich Pillow

There's no point hiding from it. If I can get the kick off of Wales' last pool game wrong (passsim), I can potentially get their quarter final wrong.

So here, from the horse's mouth, are the fixtures:

Saturday, 14 October

QF1 - 16:00: Wales v Argentina - Stade de Marseille
QF2 - 20:00: Ireland v New Zealand - Stade de France, Saint Denis

Sunday, 15 October

QF3 - 16:00: England v Fiji - Stade de Marseille
QF4 - 20:00: France v South Africa - Stade de France, Saint Denis

Granted, the tournament itself published them in Central European Summer Time so I have had to convert them to British Summer Time, but I suppose that's kinda the point of the exercise.

If we beat Argentina, we will meet the winner of Ireland versus the All Blacks: Friday, 20 October 20:00 our time.

Lose that and we will be in the Bronze Final: Friday, 27 October 20:00 our time.

Win though, and we will be in the Final itself: Saturday 28 October 20:00 our time. And yes indeed it will be our time that has come.

Sunday, October 08, 2023

Too little too late

I weigh nine stone ten today. This is getting ridiculous.

I was too tired and listless to go and see ABBA Voyage last night. Granted, of all the things I have tickets for, this is the one that will be exactly the same if I do manage to catch it again, but - once more - getting ridiculous.

I missed the Wales Georgia World cup rugby. Got it in my head it was on at 2pm today not Saturday. This is getting ridiculous.

Maybe it is time to own up to myself that I am really not well?

Saturday, October 07, 2023

Select your Budweiser Goal of the Month

Friday, October 06, 2023

Mia Anarchy

Mia told me on Monday that she has made a short film 'Satisfaction' with the girl who won 'Best Supporting Performer in a play' at the 2023 WhatsOnStage awards for her portrayal of Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, and that - now that it is done - omertà is over and it can be talked about. I asked Bing GPT about it.

What do you know about 'Satisfaction' a 2023 short film with Gwyneth Keyworth?

Based on the web search results, here is what I know about 'Satisfaction' a 2023 short film with Gwyneth Keyworth:

•  'Satisfaction' is a British short film directed by James Watkins and written by Nick Hornby. It stars Gwyneth Keyworth as Lucy, a young woman who works as a sex therapist and tries to help her clients achieve satisfaction in their relationships. However, she struggles with her own personal issues and dissatisfaction with her boyfriend 1.

•  The film is a comedy-drama that explores the themes of love, sex, communication, and happiness. It also features some musical elements, as Lucy sings some songs that express her feelings and thoughts. The film has been praised for its witty and realistic dialogue, its charming and relatable characters, and its original and catchy soundtrack 2.

•  The film was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best British Short Film in 2023, but lost to 'The Present' by Jacob Frey. It also won the Audience Award for Best Short Film at the London Film Festival in 2023 3 4.

•  Gwyneth Keyworth is a Welsh actress who has appeared in various films, television shows, and theatre productions. She is best known for her roles in 'Misfits', 'Doctor Thorne', 'Hidden', and 'The Great'. She won the WhatsOnStage Award for Best Supporting Performer in a Play in 2023 for her portrayal of Scout in 'To Kill a Mockingbird' at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre 5.

The answer is a complete load of hallucinatory rubbish.

Thursday, October 05, 2023

The Reversal Curse

Some of the latest AI research projects address a fundamental issue in the performance of large auto-regressive language models (LLMs) such as GPT-3 and GPT-4. This issue, referred to as the “Reversal Curse,” pertains to the model’s ability to generalize information learned during training. Specifically, when these models are trained on sentences following the format “A is B,” they often struggle to automatically reverse this information to answer questions in the format “B is A.” This limitation points to a deficiency in logical deduction and generalization, which are critical for these models to understand and respond accurately to various types of queries. 

At present, there is no established method or framework to completely mitigate the Reversal Curse in auto-regressive LLMs. The research aims to identify and characterize this limitation, shedding light on the challenges it poses to language models. While there have been studies focusing on the influence of training data on LLMs and how they store and recall facts, addressing the Reversal Curse remains an ongoing challenge.
Aristotle, thou shouldst be living at this hour.

Bear this in mind the next time you hear someone getting carried away by the possibilities of generative AI, or being dismissive of the drawbacks.

Wednesday, October 04, 2023

Blink and you'll miss it

AncestryDNA have done their annual Ethnicity Estimate update. I am now 97% Ireland, 2% Scotland, and 1% Sardinia. Last year I was 98% Irish, 2% Scottish, and <1% Sardinian. 

The broad and relentless march of science, eh?

Tuesday, October 03, 2023

patient portal

 Dear Nicholas,

This is a message from St George's University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

You will receive a letter by post shortly regarding your new appointment or change to an existing appointment.

You can now manage your letters and appointments online via the hospital's patient portal.

Please register online at https://patients.stgeorges.nhs.uk/token/NP3vPoUFT4

To opt-out of these messages send PORTAL STGH STOP to 62277

This could be useful enough, but there is no appointment information in it before my procedure on Wednesday.

I had hoped it might give me a clue about the Thursday 28 September 2023 9:00 am telephone appointment (Clinic: 2WW Gastroenterology (Triage Service) University Hospital - RJ7) that didn't happen when they didn't call but no such luck (passim).

I mustn't let that slide despite everything else that is going on.

Monday, October 02, 2023

Where the 'Wood, where the 'Wood, where the 'Wood at?

: But down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. The detective in this kind of story must be such a man. He is the hero; he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honour—by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world. I do not care much about his private life; he is neither a eunuch nor a satyr; I think he might seduce a duchess and I am quite sure he would not spoil a virgin; if he is a man of honour in one thing, he is that in all things. He is a relatively poor man, or he would not be a detective at all. He is a common man or he could not go among common people. He has a sense of character, or he would not know his job. He will take no man’s money dishonestly and no man’s insolence without a due and dispassionate revenge. He is a lonely man and his pride is that you will treat him as a proud man or be very sorry you ever saw him. He talks as the man of his age talks—that is, with rude wit, a lively sense of the grotesque, a disgust for sham, and a contempt for pettiness. The story is this man’s adventure in search of a hidden truth, and it would be no adventure if it did not happen to a man fit for adventure. He has a range of awareness that startles you, but it belongs to him by right, because it belongs to the world he lives in. If there were enough like him, the world would be a very safe place to live in, without becoming too dull to be worth living in.

Prodnose: In case you are wondering why there is a blue Toyota in George’s garden, a bloke hit it in his car at 60mph about 5:30 this morning. The police arrested him. He was wasted, they found cider, cannabis and crack in the car.

Myself: Thanks.

Sunday, October 01, 2023

Don't frighten the horses

I have CAT scans of my chest, abdomen and pelvis scheduled  for twenty past nine this morning at Queen Mary's Hospital in Roehampton; two hour fast before.

There is more to write here but I am redacting that content until later this evening as there is a potential social occasion I do not want it to overshadow.

My mobile rang while I was walking down the High Street yesterday afternoon and my colonoscopy is also now booked; quarter to two in the Endoscopy department in St George's on Tuesday.

There were two follow up texts:

1. Appointment booked on 04/10/2023 @13:45
Please collect your laxatives from:
Endoscopy Unit,
1st Floor, St James' Wing,
St George's Hospital,
SW17 0QT

2. Please follow following instructions:
Fasting for 24 hours(with no food), can have water.
Low fibre diet for 3 days before appointment.
Please take laxatives in two parts. First part afternoon of previous day and second part morning on the day of procedure.

My niece Mia is flying in from Nepal and staying with me tonight before an audition tomorrow. The timings, both of today's arrival and tomorrow's appointment are still uncertain, but ideally she, I, Ben and Simona (who I don't think she has ever met) will go out to Corleone tonight.

I am typing this morning but won't publish until this evening as none of them officially know, though won't have failed to notice I am three stone lighter than this time last year, that I am under medical care. It's not a secret and they don't read the spindrift pages, but people they know might and I don't want to chance a less than jolly atmosphere.

Here is NHS 'Colonoscopy diet advice and bowel preparation.' Looking at the Corleone menu, I reckon I can eat garlic bread followed by risotto di mare and drink white wine tonight and stay within the low fibre diet guidelines without drawing attention to myself.

As for the day itself I have opted for the sedatives and cancelled the night's theatre. If sedated I will need someone to pick me up and take me home afterwards. Ollie and Andy Tea will do this. He will come in and collect me while she waits in the car. Probably wisest I think to take all of Wednesday and Thursday off work.