Sunday, 29 November 2009

sumptuous sumptuary and massive yachts

People are so boring these days, you probably think, rightly. For instance: Lord Moyne. When he was pottering around on his yacht, he wore his red flannel suit. Really? Yes, really. Why would I make it up?

I wish I could find a picture of it. I can't. I can, however, find a picture of his yacht. It was originally a ferry called the Dieppe, which he converted. It's bigger than my yacht.

He renamed it the Rosaura and travelled the world writing books about pigmies and eskimos. You probably know of him, if at all, as the most famous person blown up by the Zionist terrorist Stern Gang in 1944. (Apparently even this is wrong - we now call The Stern Gang Lehi, an acronym for Israeli Freedom Fighters.)

Also: he was, with Churchill, one of the early anti-Hitlers. He thought the Gold Standard was stupid. His oldest son Bryan married Diana Mitford, who left him for Oswald Mosley (Moyne campaigned successfully for her internment at the start of WWII) and he had, for what it's worth, a good and brave Great War.

And it's not as if Churchill didn't climb over Blitzed London in a siren suit:

But still, A RED FLANNEL SUIT?! To the conceivable surprise of those people who assume that things get more extreme over time, and who package the past into a stuffy bowler hat and monochrome fustiness, and who do not even realise they are classic fallacists of the whig school, people with responsible jobs wore wackier clothes than they do now, and that's just how it is. For instance, when I was reading about the small fuss caused by Barack Obama bowing to The Japanese Emperor (Americans do not bow to people who aren't bowing back, and so on), I remembered a bit in Lords of Finance (yes, it's been a while, hasn't it? I can't believe you still haven't read it) where some American undiplomats turned up to an economic conference in London...

Senator Key Pittman of Nevada, who strongly advocated the remonetisation of silver, which Nevada mined like crazy, favoured bright yellow bulbous-toed shoes. When he was presented to George V and Queen Mary, he didn't bow and said ‘King, I’m glad to meet you. And you too Queen.’ He was drunk a lot of the time, and could spit tobacco juice into a spittoon with great accuracy. He was discovered one night by floor waiters in Claridges sitting naked in the hotel pantry sink pretending to be a statue in a fountain; another night he shot out the lights on Upper Brook Street; and when someone rejected the remonetisation of silver, he chased him at gun point through Claridges.

This man wore yellow bulbous-toed shoes. Who knows what colour that suit he's wearing is.

(In 1940, Pittman drank himself to imminent death days before an election. The Democratic Party let Nevadans think his illness was temporary and they elected a dying man. Legend says he was already dead an on ice. Legend is wrong.)

At the other end of the scale, Congressman Samuel D McReynolds (Tennessee) hardly attended the conference because he was desperate to get his daughter presented at court. He threatened the Prime Minister's personal private secretary that the American delegation would go home if this didn't happen. According to Wikipedia, he was succeeded by C. Estes Kefauver. I know how he feels.

put it on the board

I said I'd done my predictions but didn't have time to write them down. These were pre-Thursday, as should be pretty clear in a number of cases:

QB: Rodgers, Peyton Place Manning, Palmer, Favre, All The Philip Rivers Flow Into The Sea, Tom The Brady Bunch, Brees, Kurt Warner Brothers, Big Ben*, McNabb

RB: MJD, Peterson, Jackson, Williams, Grant, My Fair LaDainian Tomlinson, Johnson, LeSean Bones McCoy, Thomas Mr Jones, Addai

WR: Vincent I'm Sorry Ms Jackson, Rice, 85, Fitzgerald, White, DeSean I'm Sorry Ms Jackson, Wayne, Welker, Moss, Ward

Jackson's banged up. Big Ben's not playing.

*Non-playing. All rankings will be of top 9 rather than top 10 as a result

Thursday, 26 November 2009

on my desk in the british library

- Clandestine Erotic Fiction in English 1800-1930
Lady Pokingham or They All Do It, giving an account of her Luxurious Advantures (sic), both before and after her Marriage with Lord Crim-Con

- Hugo Gernsback and the Century of Science Fiction
In discussions of science fiction and utopia, Hugo Gernsback traditionally functions as the token buffoon

- Classic Angling, Issue 61
Neil Freeman, his house overrun by angling artefacts, finds the ideal way to restock a new home and still please his wife: by stocking it with attractive (but still fishing-oriented) ceramics

come up and see my sometime

My sometime is amazing. No, that was just a typo.

This evening, as extensively trailed, I'm in Windsor doing a book swap and talking about whatever the audience wants.* It's a really good evening, again as extensively trailed.

Related interviews here and here.

* I notice that in my extensive trails, I use the same blog title. If you come tonight, do not expect me not to repeat jokes.

what? is it any given sunday already?

Yes, it is. By which I mean it's Any Given Thanksgiving, and so three NFL games take place today.

I have done my weekly predictive sums. I beat all-comers in Week 11 on what was, as you will easily be able to predict from this, a very unpredictable week of fantasy scoring.

I talked about this with two friends. One said that since Fantasy is a derivative industry, this meta-challenge with (other) fantasy experts is two steps derived from the activity generating what I as a top economist have to call 'value'. Another offered to help me make a spreadsheet for next season which showed if there were players who experts consistently mis-valued. Be still your beating hearts.

ESPN aggregated - 68
Matthew Berry - 67
Wk 10 ranking - 114
Season ranking - 82
RFH - 67

Running Backs
ESPN - 117
Matthew Berry - 127
Wk 10 ranking - 131
Season ranking - 123
RFH - 117

Wider Receivers
ESPN - 208
Matthew Berry - 219
Wk 10 ranking - 444
Season ranking - 310
RFH - 208

I will do something with these numbers at some point. This week I have written down my rankings but I don't have time to type them. I should be somewhere else.

Gregg Easterbrook, since I speculated that he was maybe a horse's arse based on something I can't even remember, has been good. I imagine he read this and upped his game, and he is welcome back into the fold of my Nemeses.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

where do they all come from? where's the factory?

Name a male member of The Corrs who doesn't believe in climate change.* Yes, that's right, it's Jim Corr.

Jim says:
My name is Jim Corr. I have been studying what is referred to as the New World Order the past couple of years. I invite you to come with me on a journey, so we can attempt to get closer to what is really going on in the world today behind the movie that's presented to us via the television set

Jim buys into all the half-baked conspiracies. On the subject of 9/11, he says:
that event is the nexus doorway into the bigger picture, being the push towards global governance, the formation of an elite run totalitarian One World Government with the subjugated masses underneath.

Read more here. Jim Corr uses the word 'elite' very, very frequently. He explains that you learn the truth about the conspiracies behind 9/11 after 'a little research'**. This is literally true. Jim Corr is an idiot.

* This is a great post about climate change scepticism. Basically, it says, 'sceptics' are being disingenuous, and none of them will put their money where their mouth is.
** I do not have the time or energy to explain what this word means to Jim Corr, and he wouldn't listen anyway.

RT @matthew

This was a comment on the New Yorker adverts below:
Matthew said...

Was inspired to click on They have a pair of mittens for $245 ( Tagline "You will never buy another pair of mittens again".

Monday, 23 November 2009

inspiring photo essay v: bobotie

This has taken forever to get round to. It is hard for me to imagine how you have contained yourselves.

Bobotie is the signature dish of South African cuisine, which does not rank among the world's top cuisines. All the same, it's delicious, and this is how you make it.

In its simplest form, you don't need any of the vegetables that I use. My bobotie is sort of based on how I make Bolognese. But since this is both a recipe and an important historical document of something that literally happened in history, the photo essay begins with a tray of roasted squash with chilli and garlic, as more or less per Jamie Oliver. Key things: don't bother to peel the squash; salt generously. These will take 30-45 minutes to cook at about 3/4 of your oven's power. I only wish I could be more precise. Before roasting, the view will be not unlike this:

Thirsty work, you are thinking, and you're right. I recommend a Dark & Stormy, which you make as if it were a gin and tonic, but using dark rum and ginger beer, and also a quarter of a lime, squeezed.

If you have any vegetarians in the room while you are cooking, they will be obsessed with nibbles. Make them buy their own nibbles.

Put some sausages to cook in the oven, since the squash are already roasting. Also some carrots. Maybe fry up some red peppers and broccoli. If you are a terrible photojournalist, don't bother to take pictures of this stage but move straight on to the main event. Fry some chopped onion in some oil, and after it's softened, add a couple of generous dessert spoonfulls of assorted powder. You could make it two spoons of medium curry powder, or you could, as I do, substitute some of that for mustard powder and paprika. Fry for another couple of minutes.

What next?

Oh yes, I remember. Brown some mince in the pan. As a rule of thumb, one big onion does 500g of mince, so you might have to repeat the procedure more than once. If you have a vegetarian in the house, you might make a batch out of the Quran. I mean Quorn. (Don't kill me for that joke. It was just a joke.) Then combine all the ingredients, including the sausage, which you should chop up into the Quran, I mean the Quorn, I mean the meat version, trying not to think of that incredible pool of fat that emerged from them.

You will now have a load of stuff and be wondering why the hell you have curried a Bolognese, especially when I tell you to put some chopped tomato in.

Oh, hang on though! What's that stuff on top! Yes, people, we're not in Kansas any more, because that is a dollop - a really big dollop - of chutney. You can be creative here. I once achieved astonishing results with a pork and fried apple bobotie, no vegetables, with apple and ginger chutney. Suit your meat to the chutney you have available. Don't be afraid of mangoes. The sweetness works well.

And if you thought you weren't in Kansas before, you're really not going to be in Kansas when you read what happens next. Take a load of bread, probably three thick slices per 500g of meat, and soak them in milk. Then mush these up in your hands, spoon into the pot, and mix thoroughly.

And then, as Kansas disappears between your ruby slippers, quickly get some more milk, break 1-2 eggs into it per 500g of meat, and whisk.

Having ladled the mixture into a lasagne dish or whatever,

you should definitely take another photo of what it looks like when you pour a very thin layer of the eggy milk on top prior to baking for forty minutes at 2/3 oven power.

I mean, why wouldn't you?

Then eat the bobotie with rice and some chutney. Nice lime pickle is really good with it. Lime pickle really varies though.

If I have seemed cagy about quantities, it is because my safety first policy meant that when I cooked for eight, including a vegetarian, I made enough bobotie for eight, plus for me for four of the next five nights, plus for eight more people on the fifth of those nights. It was really nice. I particularly recommend it with a chocolate cake with, basically, sequins that a neighbour has made for another neighbour's birthday.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

lies, damn lies and tony romo

I keep saying I haven't got much time on Sundays. I really don't today.

1. Gladwell: Marbury over there on the right drew my attention to the Gladwell-Pinker dabate as to whether the draft selects rationally with respect to quarterbacks. Gladwell says, basically, no, and Pinker says, basically, it doesn't do as badly as Gladwell says, and Gladwell, basically, skewers this rhetorically more than he skewers it actually.

I remember reading around this when the article first appeared in the New Yorker. My take, since you are so keen to hear it, was that there is a correlation which Gladwell skates over because he wants to make a point whch is rhetorically defensible enough to be getting on with, since his life's work, which he has spent over 10,000 hours on and so he is basically a genius at, is to generalise surprisingly, interestingly and with enough truth to provoke people to readjust their assumptions.

2. Hardly any Nemesis space, ironically, since Mike Tanier has his best week of the season. Seriously, just go and read it. Oh, ok, one highlight about a new head coach:
“I had all the answers when I was an assistant,” he said. “I wish I had more answers now.” It’s easy to have all the answers when none of the questions asks how to build an offense around Jamaal Charles.

3. How is your nascent top statistical study going?
You are too kind. Anyway, I have produced a set of numbers based on last week's predictions. I made some good calls - Jerricho Cotchery for instance, and keeping Miles Austin out of my top ten. I made some bad calls everyone made - Marques Colston and Hines Ward. I made some special bad calls all my own - thinking Dallas and Green Bay would have a shoot out and scoring various players accordingly.

What I have done is created a single number from my Top 10s by adding the difference between my predictions and the actual results. I have then done the same for ESPN's aggregate prediction, Matthew Berry's prediction, a robot strategy based on feeding back in last week's Top 10. Next week, I will add in a robot strategy based on cumulative season form.

The robot killed everyone on wide receiver by not picking Colston. Because I am using CBS stats, which are the only ones easily availably, I am making the not-totally-common-sense decision to rate Colston 567, like they do, because he lost a yard on the night and was therefore worse than a zillion people who didn't play.

ESPN - 68
BERRY - 77
ROBOT 1 - 94

ESPN - 157
BERRY - 162
ROBOT 1 - 181
HUDSON - 199 (Mendenhall, in particular)

ROBOT 1 - 210
HUDSON - 733
BERRY - 790
ESPN - 795

Even without the Colston issue, the Robot would have won here. WRs are the most random scorers; I did best here; seems likely that luck favours you more in more unpredictable games. The sample size is very small so far. It will take several weeks before the really stop statistical journals start paying attention.

My predictions this week are, and now I've got a stinging headache so I can't bear to look at my computer for another second:

QUARTERBACKS: Brees, Warner, Rodgers, Big Ben, Peyton, All the Philip Rivers Run Into the Sea and Yet the Sea is Not Full, Brady, Schaub, Favre, Palmer

RUNNING BACKS: Jackson, Peterson, My Fair LaDainian Tomlinson, MJD, Jones, Addai, Wells, Johnson, Mendenhall, Forte

WIDE RECEIVERS: Rice (really? What am I thinking?), Fitzgerald, Ward, Andre the Giant, Wayne, White, Colston, Welker, Jackson, 85

Vision. Blurring.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

a box of oranges, or maybe a playstation. or a pony

Adverts down the edges of one spread of the New Yorker:
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Friday, 20 November 2009

stories of old kilburn town, and other public appearances

1. I will tell my first story of Old Kilburn Town at The (excellent) Good Ship's excellent wordPLAY evening on January 5th. It will be about love and artificial intelligence, and it will be very moving and funny. The protagonist's name is Tom, but that's a coincidence if you are my friend Tom who lives in Kilburn. I had to call him something and I went for the most boring name I could think of. (That was a joke, Tom.) (Good grief, get a sense of humour.)

2. If you are so obsessed with wordPLAY, presumably you'll be coming on December 1st, where the brilliant Susannah Pearse will be singing.

3. But before all this, there is next Thursday's Firestation Book Swap. Not only will I be talking, but when I swap my book, which is a really good one, I will be sweetening the deal with a brilliant compilation cd. The book swap will not end as late as says on the website, by the way. We've all got homes to go to, and very few of them are in Windsor.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

housekeeping / local streetscenes

1. The mysterious kitchen leak looks like it will occasion a new cupboard, some things called plinths that aren't what I call plinths and maybe a new floor, but we can hope and dream this will not be the case.

2. I am buying a chair from an incredibly kind woman who lives nearby. This is a horrible thing I saw when I was going to try it out:

3. This will not be the kind of streetscene I describe in my eagerly awaited stories of Old Kilburn Town. They will mainly deal with Tom, who works in an Artificial Intelligence laboratory and wants a girlfriend. I'm obsessed with AI stories at the moment.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

the wisdom of terry pratchett

1. Top international biblical scholars reading anything I write will be familiar with the relentless Ecclesiastes. In The Truth, Terry Pratchett's at it too (The Truth is about newspapers):
The press waited. It looked, now, like a great big beast. Soon he'd throw a lot of words into it. And in a few hours it would be hungry again, as if those words had never happened. You could feed it, but you could never fill it up
I don't think 'beast' is an accident either.

2. TP's good, but he didn't predict superinjunctions:
'Then I'll ban him from doing it!'
'How, sir?'
Vimes looked a little deflated. 'You can't tell me that as commander of police I can't stop some little ti- some idiot from writing down anything he likes?'
'Oh, no, sir. Of course you can. But I'm not sure you can stop him writing down that you stopped him writing things down'

the last word on mermaid erotica, i promise*

You already know how mermaids have sex, it's just your brain hasn't connected a familiar image with the question. How exciting is that! The reveal is below.

You can ask the internet how mermaids have sex. If you do, you get people complaining irately about how the original Hans Christian Andersen illustrations have a tail starting below the bum, and then things got Disneyfied. Or a serious-sounding guy explaining
They can leave the water for certain limited periods of time, when this happens they assume human form, similar to the selkie. It is during these periods that they choose to mate, unsuspecting mates would not be able to tell them from anyone else.
in such a forlorn way that I am CERTAIN that this happened to him.

But then you notice that The Mermaid Problem is literally a thing to the extent that Wikipedia has a quite long page of all the places it's appeared in literature and popular culture (Futurama and Red Dwarf are just two places that think reverse mermaids are more sensible, and Magritte painted one):

The blog Confused? Let's google it Has done the best work on this for hurried readers, and it turns out that answer has been in front of your eyes all this time, as I promised.

In ye olden days, mermaids looked like this:

(Ok, technically this is a melusine, I think, but let's for now assume that melusines are the basis for mermaid myths, since they look more like mermaids than stupid manatees.) Where have you seen one of these before? Oh yes! Here!

And we can all imagine how, well, like I said, that's your lot.

* For now. If you come to my much anticipated Kilburn storytelling session, probably be in January, who knows?**
** I know

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

mermaid spider erotica II

I know I promised more cookery lessons, and they're coming, but I need to finish what I started.

Further to yesterday's speculation as to whether a mermaid is a fish or a person, sexually, The Shark and the Mermaid by Billie Myers nails its colours pretty clearly to the wall. I don't know why this YouTubist has done a video with dogs. In fact, wait a second, dogs, shark, mermaid, nookie? Maybe it was The Vet!

Further to which, after posting the piece of erotic mermaid fiction with fluorescent eggs I movingly analyse below, The Vet asked:
Well, what do you guys think? Will I be able to make the transition from the children's morality market to the convenience store romance section? And, do you like the scene? Helpful comments certainly welcome. I'm sort of new to mermaid romance/erotica....
Samantha K wrote:
The writing is good, but some of the dialogue is a bit shifty. Why mermaid erotica?
How long is a piece of string?

Arabesque was more fulsome:
Vet, you are a multi-talented genius. How anyone can make such a transition from children and YA to romance is beyond me, but you, sir, pull it off flawlessly.
Just like the mermaid. Sorry
Who knew that mermaids would make such a perfect subject for a romance novel?
Was it me? No
I think this would be a best-seller at the convenience store in only a matter of days after publication.
All this COULD be irony. I don't think so, but it could be
I had a friend, skilled in the writing of mermaid erotica, read this over
Hold up! Surely SHE knew that mermaids would be a perfect subject for a romance novel, even if I didn't (I don't) (I mean I didn't)*
and she would like to point out that Seraphim is a male mermaid's name, not a female.
Oh yes! I knew there was something odd about it! No, wait a second, was the odd thing that it was obviously a male mermaid's name (the pc term is 'merman')? I think it wasn't. I think it might have been that 'Seraphim' is not a-
She suggests replacing it with something such as Ariela or Lilayn or Monyata, or any other female name.
These are excellent suggestions, but since she's his protagonist, I think The Vet should use a name that will make the her stand out from all the other mermaids. What about Kate? Sue? Alice? Marie? Emma?
Otherwise, it is very good (and accurate!)
Mermaids really do have fluorescent eggs and no port in a storm
the scene is excellent, very graphic but described in such a poetic manner as to be beautiful.
I cried twice
Are you sure you've never written in this genre before?
No one - literally no one - could be that good first time

* Google returns 296,000 hits for 'mermaid erotica'. For 'vet erotica' the number only rises to 358,000. The first hit says: 'every conversation seems to return to interspecies erotica'. The most promising erotic fiction on page one is Bunny Love, in which 'A lonely veterinarian experiences erotic romance at a Wiccan retreat.' We've all done it.

Monday, 16 November 2009

mermaid spider erotica

In response to literally a request, and in an attempt to satisfy some Google weirdos, I have been researching the subject of mermaid-spider erotica. This stuff is harder to find than you'd think, so I see why people have now and then washed up on my shores.* What you mainly get is stuff about Spider-man and the Little Mermaid, seldom together.

Cosmo's sex positions pages are your best bet. This is The Mermaid:

Er, mermaid? Is it, er, no, not that. Is it, no, that can't be it. Is it underwater and the picture doesn't make it clear? I can see how this is a sexual position of some kind (I've read books) but whoever named it needs to wake up and smell the mermaids.

What would sex be like with a mermaid? I literally don't know. Someone on Yahoo calling themselves The Vet (disturbing train of thought I am not going into) is moving from children's stories into mermaid erotica (disturbing train of thought I am not going into) and here is an extract:
With one hand on his rock hard member and the other searching desperately for a port of entry he broke true love's kiss and looked confused, yet longingly into Seraphim's eyes.
This is brilliant storytelling. So much, so fast. He's excited. He's confused. He's in true love with a mermaid he has only just met. She is called Seraphim (quite common for mermaids to name themselves after the plural of a kind of angel)
"Where do I put it?" He asked between gentle strokes on his throbbing spear. She purred sing-song through the water
So. Much. Information. He's taken a spear (mermaids are dangerous, or was he hunting sharks and a mermaid turned up? Maybe she rescued him from sharks. Probably that, in fact). Also she can purr, and when you are underwater a purr sounds sing-song, unlike a purr,
lightly tickled the head of his shaft and laid her fluorescent orange eggs across the sea floor
That's what colour mermaid eggs are
with a twitter of ecstasy, and moan of release.
a) subtly going for the new media market; b) where are they released from? Surely it might be a port of entry in a storm?
"Spill your seed over them," she sang to him across the sea, "And we'll have a legion of young!"
Desperately he reached for one of her pert breasts and picked up the motion of stroking that he'd grown all too familiar with as a lonely deep sea fisherman, and thought 'Aw, for goodness sake....'
He is not alone.

What I thought when I read this was: if she is laying eggs, she is basically a fish. Is it bestiality? Has anyone ever asked this before? Yes they have, on the forums of, where the consensus is that it depends what you're doing. Anal sex with a minotaur, fine: oral sex from a mermaid/merman fine; centaur having sex with a woman, bestiality. I still worry about the eggs issue, though.

'Spiders?' you are wondering. Cosmo says this:

It's additional advice is that holding onto each other will lead to 'ultimate' friction. I think 'ultimate' friction would be self-defeating in this context, but whenever you try to say anything about sex, in my experience, you reveal that you don't know what you're talking about.

This must have been what a seven year old boy in LA thought when he started reading an old nature book he got from the library to his mother about a year ago, and it went:
The small male walked carefully into her nest. He approached her slowly and reached out with his long legs to tap her and stroke her. She accepted him quietly. Soon he moved around her, rapidly spreading a thin covering of silk over her. They stayed together for two hours. After they mated, he left quickly!
Apart from that I don't have long legs, this seems pretty lifelike.

*Will I have improved the situation by writing this post? I am not sure I will have.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

my fair ladainian tomlinson

(I love this joke. It might become my official NFL blog-posting title.)

I am going to be running an experiment on fantasy football predictions. Over time I will take various approaches, and analyse their effectiveness. I am starting with what we in international competitive diving call a 'high tariff' approach. Why? Fun.

Dramatic irony fans will particularly enjoy my predictions on. Commentary will follow.

This week, I will be ranking wide receivers according to a complicated experimental metric of which I will only give you the tip of the iceberg. You should take my advice seriously, because I have a PhD in history. My designated Nemesis is the might of ESPN, and specifically Matthew Berry. My hypothesis is basically this: individual player scores can be predicted moderately well over the long term. A game is not a long term. Thus, weekly predictions are a crap-shoot and I reckon I, who has been following the NFL obsessively for a season, might be able to perform averagely well. I am perfectly prepared for my hypothesis to be disproven. It will take a few weeks, of course. At least one week I will be helped by a top statistician from the LSE who has, on listening to my description of most statistical analysis in the NFL, said, 'Hah, Bayesians!'

I am focusing on Wide Receivers first, since they are the most luck/variation strewn.

Notes on my rankings:

Do I really think Roddy White will be top scorer? No. It's really hard to guess this stuff, and I would say that there is only a 75% chance that all my predictions are perfectly accurate. But I don't think it will be Randy Moss either, because most weeks it isn't. Every week some WR gets two touchdowns, and I don't know who it will be this week, and I actually secretly fancy it just might be Greg Jennings in a shootout, partly because he's in my fantasy team and if he does it will make me look like a crazy futuristic genius. But I am not putting him #1 in my predictions all the same. It's not science.

I am including some bonus fun facts. Can you guess which one isn't true?*

1. Roddy White (10/21) - Roddy's real name is Sharod, which is not a real name
2. Larry Fitzgerald (1/2) - Larry is three weeks older than Greg Jennings, and that has to be worth something. His dad Larry was the first sportswriter to cover his son in a Super Bowl
3. Brandon Marshall (8/12) - The Beast is a good nickname, which he shares with South African prop forward Tendai Mtawarira. Tendai like me, was born in Zimbabwe. Thus, in a logical paradox that even Zeno could not have unpicked, I am Brandon Marshall. I will score at least one touchdown, and gain at least 90 yards, unless I am wrong

4. Wes Welker (7/8) - if the dinged-up Colts secondary is focusing on Randy Moss, Welker is going to make hay up the seams. Does this sound lke I know what I am talking about?
5. Dwayne Bowe (20/24) - he has a brother called Wayne. He is exactly a year younger than Greg Jennings
6. Percy Harvin (24/18) - a Viking is going to do really well on Sunday. Percy tested positive for marijuana at the NFL combine, adding more fuel to the fire caused by his v. low Wonderlic score, but I still think it is going to be him. My reasons for this are: intangible
7. Hines Ward (6/4) - he is half Korean, is missing a ligament in one knee and has a degree in consumer economics. His nacknames include 'Ketchup', 'Psycho Ward', and 'The Dalai Lama of Football'. His nicknames also include these. He has no nicknacknames. I like the cut of his jib for some reason, and I fancy Big Ben to have a good game
8. Greg Jennings (ESPN 19 / Matt Berry 16) - Greg Jennings was born in Kalamazoo
9. Marques Colston (3/1) - he part owns an indoor football team called the Harrisburg Stampede, he is one of the first seventh round draft picks to start his first regular season game and holds the record for most receptions in first two seasons
10. Jerricho Cotchery (25/26) - Braylon Edwards will attract coverage away from him, and he's an incredibly nice guy, which must make Mark Sanchez want to pass to him
11. Reggie Wayne (4/5) - Reginald DeVincey Wayne was named after a PG Wodehouse character

12. Vincent Jackson (5/6) - even I couldn't defend against this guy. He's a monster. If I played in a keeper league, he'd be my number three WR after Larry son of Larry and Andre the Giant. Or maybe he'd be my number two, since Kurt Warner will eventually take the long walk, and then Schaub is good but not as good as Philip Rivers (All the Philip Rivers Run into the Sea and Yet the Sea is Not Full), so who knows. Not me
13. 85 (11/22) - He'll get a TD and enough yards. Someone made a joke somewhere recently about him, saying that he has a werd inverse ADD - if people aren't paying attention to him, he can't concentrate. If whoever made this joke isn't a Nemesis of mine, then he or she will do until a Nemesis comes along
14. Sidney Rice (15/9) - Sidney's father is Jerry Rice, but not that Jerry Rice
15. Miles Austin (9/7) - honestly? I think Roy Marshall might have a better day than Miles Austin because people will be paying him more attention. But 'The State Capital' is a good enough nickname to add to his hot streak and get him ranked up here
16. Donald Driver (13/15) - Donald went to Alcorn State University. Alcorn is not a state
17. Randy Moss (2/3) - the coach who let him go prior to the 2007 season, saying he was past his prime, said that Moss told him 'I'm too old to practice on Wednesday and Thursday, but I'm not too old to play on Sunday'. Moss is still brilliant and I hav eonly put him this low in my first set of predictions because I am trying to make some waves. If he doesn't get in the end-zone, I might luck out
18. DeSean Jackson (12/17) - DeSean's school team was called the Jack Rabbits. My rabbit is called Jack. This is a joke. I don't have a rabbit
19. Nate Burleson (21/14) - in 2006, he was named the best-dressed player in the league by Maxim. I don't know how much store to set by this. I wouldn't let the style editor of Maxim choose my clothes

20. Derrick Mason (17/10) - Derrick is nearly as old as me. Unlike him, I don't have two children. Like him, when I have two children, I will call them Bailee My-Lin and Derrick II

Quick Picks at RB and QB


1. Steven Jackson (ESPN 7 / Matthew Berry 10)
2. Ronnie Brown (10/8)
3. Michael Turner (4/3)
4. Adrian Peterson (2/4)
5. Thomas Jones (8/6)
6. Laurence Maroney (20/19) - next two years he's going to score a lot of points. Why do I think this? Not really sure. It cannot solely be because I thought of the joke Laurence Maroney of Arabia? No, not solely

7. MJD (6/9)
8. Rashard Mendenhall (13/12)
9. Pierre Thomas (9/7)
10. LT (18/21)

Yes, I have ranked LT at 10 mainly out of sentiment, because we share a birthday. But I do think he's got some big games left in him. I have not put Ray Rice in this list for no very good reason other than that I am in a hurry and don't want to fiddle with it again. I omitted DeAngelo Williams in case of injury. If he starts and plays a full game at full power, consider him my #3.

I have put Steven Jackson on top because I read an interview with him and thought he seemed like a good guy. It was only one interview, so I am not inviting him to dinner yet. If he does come to dinner at mine, this is what the kitchen looks like, as die-hard readers know to their very serious cost in terms of time.

Also, as per the WRs, it's hard to know who will suddenly run for three TDs, and him against New Orleans seems like it Jackson might be a possibility. I think the other person who might have a big week is Marion Barber, fantasy fans. Dallas are going to score a lot of points, and I don't fancy Austin for them. Like I say, I honestly wouldn't be surprised by a big game for Marshall, but ditto Witten and Barber. I've left Barber on my bench all the same.


1. Brees (ESPN 1 / Mattew Berry 1) - I went to New Orleans last year. Based on what everyone said about Brees, I would invite him to dinner
2. Rodgers (2/3) - shootout, like I say. I think the O-Line will just about cope with Ware. Just about
3. Rothlisberger (9/9) - partly because of my new love of Hines Ward
4. Romo (7/6) - he's growing on me
5. Favre (5/2)
6. Ryan (14/15)
7. Brady (3/5)
8. Manning (4/7)
9. Orton (17/17)
10. Warner (6/4)

It's been too long since a picture? What would be a good picture? I am going with the policy chosen by every single nature programme ever made when things look like they might flag. No one doesn't love penguins.


1. The most interesting part of Malcolm Gladwell's football-is-like-dogfighting argument is that players do dangerous things because they are conditioned to please us and the society they are part of. It's a simplification, but it says something real. Players' motivations are, in general, fun. They care about the game, up to a point. They massively care about their jobs and money, like the rest of us. Listen to the ex-pros talking about contracts, or read Jim Bouton's Ball Four.

They also care about being perceived as manly. Here's a soccer comparison, comparison fans: stupid English defenders miss vital penalties all the time because they are obsessed with manliness. A few huge games in every international soccer tournament are concluded by penalties. The trope that has grown up around penalties is, 'Who isn't ducking the responsibility? Who is standing up to be counted? Who isn't hiding?' Thus, Jamie Carragher, Gareth Southgate and David Batty can't stop themselves saying they are up for a vital job they haven't practiced and aren't good at. They miss. The press lionises their bravery instead of saying they're idiots.

2. Medical care should be as good as possible, but football's never going to be as safe as sewing, and people are going to carry on taking risks to play it in, at the very least, the medium term. Maybe if we were inventing a new game, we wouldn't make it as dangerous as football. Or maybe we would.

Whatever, the world was not built by perfectly rational technocrats. And here's a comparison with drugs policy, comparison fans: the UK government's chief drugs advisor, a guy called David Nutt, became the government's ex-chief drugs advisor after saying things like, 'ecstasy is less dangerous than horseriding' and 'alcohol causes more damage than marijuana'.* Lots of people have rightly and self-righteously pointed out that he is only stating facts and what kind of moron is upset by that?

I am not, and I absolutely want scientists to describe relative dangers of different activities, and put numbers on them. On the other hand, I can also see why it irritated his employers, and think it demonstrated his unfitness for a role with political implications. Nutt and the Nuttlets want a rational drugs policy covering alcohol and tobacco as well as the illegal drugs, and they say say that the rest of the country has a more mature view of drugs than the politicians.

This is pretty precisely untrue. Well understood science should influence policy. But a mature attitude to the problem of drugs understands that we do not create legal frameworks out of nothing according to ideal rational principles (upon which no one agrees anyway, let's remember).

Smoking and drinking are dangerous activities our society has enshrined as legal. Over time, medical advice and public education slowly helps us reduce the problems they cause, we aren't suddenly going to ban them. Maybe the only rational policy is laissez-faire, but can politicians viably do this? No, obviously. It would be hard even to legalise cannabis, since it makes people psychotic. It might kill fewer people than smoking does, but that's not the point, in the world of the possible. Legalising something that is obviously dangerous is not the same thing as banning something dangerous that people accept. It's mucky and unclear where the lines are, but that's politics and being a grown-up. I don't have solutions.

Football is not about to stop, but scientific reports give people better information on which to base rational decisions. Adults are allowed to take risks. Etc.


Particularly good work from Tanier this week. On New York Jets boss Rex Ryan (Jets and Dolphins are big rivals, Jets are playing the also-Florida-based Jaguars:
Rex Ryan spent two days in Florida during the bye week. He wasn’t scouting the Jaguars; he was relaxing, his identity concealed from Dolphins fans by a wardrobe of Yankees gear. A tough guy on a Florida beach, in disguise, surrounded by enemies: all you need is a femme fatale and a botched robbery, and you have the makings of a great Elmore Leonard novel.
And a couple of classy throwaway lines, the second one of which I haven't got time to explain to casual readers, but it's very good.
Few defenders can cover Fitzgerald one-on-one, and none of them play for the Seahawks

In preparation for the Cowboys’ pass rush, Mike McCarthy must take draconian sack-prevention measures. Aversion therapy works well: for every dump-off receiver Aaron Rodgers ignores, he should be forced to run a lap while listening to a Brett Favre-themed podcast on his MP3 player.
I haven't got time to check, so I may be being terribly unfair, but I'm beginning to wonder whether Gregg Easterbrook might not be a Horse's Arse instead of a Nemesis.

* The untrue fact was that I don't have a rabbit. No it isn't. I don't have a rabbit.

Friday, 13 November 2009

lost books

Lots of brilliant books aren't in the rotation any more. Big up Penguin Classics etc. for doing their best. I have great hopes of this one, which has an amazing cover, and which I bought recently:

And Me And My Big Mouth on the right recommends this, also with an amazing cover:

The ones I am digging around for next are Hitler Needs You by Jack Trevor Story, which contains the below (points out terrific Bookseller Crow)

There's more Story too. And the other author I might start really digging for is Joyce Porter - I once read a not very politically correct seventies spy thriller she wrote called The Chinks in the Curtain. It was great fun. She wrote about a detective called Dover. I should find out more about him. I'll get back at you when I do.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

isles of the sea monsters

You probably check out the strange maps blog all the time, because you are so cool, etc., and I could basically link to everything they ever put up there, but this one crossed my desktop today for some reason, and I really like it.

I think my favourites are Cape of Strangers, Opposite to the Shipyard and Land of the Free (which is what I call Kilburn when I'm not calling it the Gateway to Hampstead)

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

what should i be listening to if i want to be more like you*?

The answers include Shawn Lee's Soul in the Hole (I am not really a soul fan), focusing on Cruel Woman and The Stuff

and Turning the Mind by Maps, focusing on Everything is Shattering.

*You do not want to be more like me**
**Note: this is not me being modest. It's because you're terrific just the way you are

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

dirty books 3

The main thing I have worked out from reading dirty books is that it's more or less impossible to write about sex not-badly, and while most what is writen nowadays is written by women, almost all the people who've done it in History are men, and lots of it is unpleasant for all the obvious reasons, though other lots of it is merely cringeworthy.

Sex is basically interesting, though, and there are some good moments in the interstices, especially of the Victorian magazine, The Pearl, which was posh and pan-sexual. One story features Steve Broad, and ends with him shaving. You don't know Steve? Well-
More's the pity. A jollier, better-hearted and manlier fellow never pissed against a wall.

Shall I whisper the secret, or one of the secrets, of our attachment? Our pricks were both of a length, and our arseholes the same gauge. Don't infer too much from that admission, it was not often that - but, there, I will tell you a story of Steve Broad that will show you the sort of fellow he was
After various digressions with a young woman called Lettice whose gaze would melt the bark off a tree and whose brother was not one to ruin a good day's sport, and who Steve therefore decides to marry, Steve finds himself in a train with a girl called Kate who has had to dress as a midshipman to escape a vile suitor. Steve is on his way to meet his Lettice's father, but he can't help himself - he is, after all, as jolly and manly a fellow as ever pissed against a wall - and he says:
Well, Kate, love, this is quite an adventure, and I tell you it is a long way to the next station, and as it has been one of the greatest ambitions of my life to fuck a midshipman, this is too good an opportunity to let pass
He doesn't, but he is observed! By an enraged gentleman with
a red, round, indignant face, ornamented with a bristly white moustache and surmounted by a tuft of white hair that made the upper part of the head look like an infuriated cockatoo
Of course, this is the potential father in law, and scrapes ensue. It all ends well for a certain very specific and predictable value of well.

Monday, 9 November 2009

inspiring photo essay iv: baked eggs

Yes, people! Some of you are waiting for coleslaw, and you will get it in the end, but the end is slightly further away than it was because of the baked eggs that I am about to describe and which were supposed to precede my learning coleslaw off my mother but actually precluded that event.

We start with tragic news, and I do not mince my words. The new kitchen has developed two leaks in the two places there were previously leaks. Here is evidence for same.

What can be done? Probably nothing. Might as well give up.

Anyway back to the plot. You have come here to learn how to bake eggs, and I don't blame you, because they are easy and almost instant. You probably have seven people to make a light Friday lunch for because of a fixture pile-up, and you probably vaguely remember seeing this recipe on Market Kitchen or similar. You thought it looked great, but is it all you need to know?

If you are me, yes it is. If you are you, probably not, because scaling issues affect recipes and also there aren't enough inspiring photos to inspire you. Like this one, which gives you a crude idea of what some of the ingredients look like:

Or this one, which ditto:

The key issue you are facing in the baked egg department is cooking vessel. If you have ramekins, then all your christmases have come at once. If you do not, and we do not, then you have to be prepared to use whatever is at hand. First a huge friend visiting from the Ukraine will probably start making gin and tonic because he's on holiday:

Next, you mix some double cream with enough tomato puree to make it very pale pink, and season liberally.

Now for the second gin and tonic. What, really, already? Yes, already.

The other guests have arrived by now and are tearing the chorizo into little bits like ravening beasts. If you have posher chorizo than we had, then that is probably for the best, though this was still delicious and was the best that could be achieved within ten minutes of my castle. (My home is my castle.)

You put some of the cream mix in the bottom of your chosen dish. How much? How long is a piece of string? What you want is a covering a couple of millimeters thick.

Then you cover this cream with a thin layer of shredded chorizo.

At this point, you need to have persuaded another ginny guest to grate some cheddar-style cheese. I think, as per the quoted recipe, that gruyere would also be good.

Why are you showing me this picture, though, instead of the one of the chorizo on the cream, like you should have done? It's a little thing called misdirection, my friends. Some moron didn't take that picture.

Then you break enough eggs all over this to make a layer of eggs, and another very thin covering of cream, and, no, surely I don't need another gin? Oh, it's not gin. Yes, yes, it's very convenient and heart-warming that you all bought the same wine. No, wait, damn, I've forgotten to take the picture with the cheese on the top. At least there's one with the cream.

By now, no, no, I don't need another, oh, ok, yes the plastic on the cupboards IS funny, right, I've, no, who is on charge of the toast? I mean in charge, this is nice wine. We're going to need a bigger toaster.

The oven is hot, 230/gas 8. Some ovens are hotter than others, for whatever reason. Our new one is hotter than our old one. What you need to do is watch it. I didn't, but then I am a magical cook with a mysterious and psychical understanding of food and what its dreaming about if I am drunk. After eight or some other number of minutes, it was bubbling, and I gave it what may have been ninety seconds under with the grill on. That's certainly what I meant to do.

Then you spoon two eggs worth of this onto a piece of toast per person.

For a light lunch, I suggest serving this with salad and maybe another few bottles of wine, and when that runs out, champagne. (It's like Cana in our kitchen sometimes.) If you are still hungry, even though I said this was a light lunch and you have just eaten a plate of cream, eggs and cheese, and what do you want from me, blood?, then why not try a delicious chorizo sandwich, fatso?

But what if you have to sit on a metal chair from the balcony? Won't your bum get cold? Good point, Batman, so sit on the big Ukrainian's jersey.

What do you suggest for pudding? I suggest a bottle of Ukrainian caramel vodka.