Wednesday, 31 October 2012

up there with the greatest ever signs

It's on the Kilburn High Road. I still think it lags behind the old ones at Cambridge railway station which read, Welcome to Cambridge, home of Anglia Ruskin University.

Also, why drink stupid old brandy when you can drink BrandX?

Monday, 29 October 2012


I mainly take my sophisticated US election analysis pretty much straight from Ian Leslie's Marbury blog. It is grim to analyse the potential effect of Hurricane Sandy, but of course it is relevant. On average, Ian thinks it will let the President look presidential, and that's a plus.

Seems plausible. But I am worried (as someone who would massively prefer Obama to win, surprise fans) that anything that makes people feel glum will work against the incumbent. Tiny things make differences, however much people want to deny it. Just look at this incredible story by Tyler Cowen and Kevin Grier about the small but potentially vital swing that is caused by home state college football victories. The fate of US healthcare (for example) depends to a huge degree on what happens in Ohio in a very tight race, and the Ohio result could swing by the margin of victory based on a football result.

In other very interesting news purloined from one of my many internet sources, but I can't remember which one: on the difference between David Foster Wallace and Brett Easton Ellis, and why the former's style of putting everything on the page with great and beautiful clarity is the dominant style in the American arts at present, at the expense of the elliptical and ironic.

Friday, 26 October 2012

park and bark

This is a great expression I was introduced to by my friend Jon Taylor, over on the right. It describes a certain sort of increasingly rare opera performance - star singer gets booked, turns up and give 'his' Falstaff, and that's that. The conventional wisdom is that this is dying out and singers are having to act more. You can read more about how it is a myth here, but the main reason for the link is that I really like the name of the Washington Post's classical music columnist.

Except the main reason is that when I looked up the origin of Park and Bark as a phrase, most the links were to places near airports where you could leave your pets. This place in Georgia has suites.

In other news: if you're incredulous as to how high-profile paedophiles get away with it, read this by Malcolm Gladwell. It helps if you realise that Penn State Football is more like Liverpool Football Club (storied, revered) than it is like anything in any university in the UK.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

a 2-d hotel and other important maths problems


The famous maths hotel is the Hotel Infinity, which you can use to explain how there can be larger and smaller infinities. This picture of a 2-D hotel somewhere on the A41 just south of Finchley looks like it should be part of a similar paradox-slash-conundrum (or Doctor Who episode). It even has an appropriate name.

Tangentially, am I the only person who, whenever they see this picture, thinks: It took me a while to work out why he was doing this, but I am not going to beat myself up over it because it isn't an 'M'. It isn't. It's an infinity symbol really.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

back in the saddle

I have no good reason for fiddling with what the blog looks like. I mean to make it look better in a more complete way at some point, and I will.

Since last: I am married (it is brilliant, and it was brilliant); I have got all the proofs and notes for The Dazzle off the desk and I'm really pleased with it; we have recorded series two of Warhorses of Letters (I think the cast was even better than they were the first time, if you can imagine such a thing) and watched 3/4 of the Ring Cycle at Covent Garden. I am not going to review it, but some of my thoughts are over on the right in a match report. (Because of all the weddings, etc., I am in and out of hockey until the end of November, so reports are a group effort this season.)

This is the most boring blog post of all-time.

In film news: Sneakers is a movie about Cold War espionage and paranoia that I really liked when I watched in an attic in 1993 or 4 but which, it transpires, doesn't really stand the test of time. Unlike, I am almost certain, WarGames, whose maguffin is much more sensible. I caught half an hour of WarGames the other month and I was very annoyed to have to leave the house.

In other news of computers which might or might not be sentient: I enjoy the thought of a movie called The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, especially since it's about quizzing.

In other news of sentient computers, have I mentioned Giles Goat-Boy by John Barth? I have never read anything by him, including it, but I have read the start of it and think it might be amazing. This was on holiday. I can only half-remember what was going on, because it was just a few pages, but it seems to be about a novel which purports to be the autobiography of a computer who has a child by a virgin, and the book's preface is a series of opinions by the editorial team as to whether it should be published. What is not to like about this? I will report back in The Future. (I only realised a few days ago that John Barth wrote The Sot-Weed Factor which is quite high on the list of books I have most often nearly bought in shops only to, in the end, not quite buy for some reason).

This is too long, like the match report. Blame Wagner.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Gosh. Busy.

1. This horse is called Pot8os. 'What?' I hear you cry. Well, the truth is stranger than fiction: fact.

In 1773 a racehorse was bred by Willoughby Bertie, 4th Earl of Abingdon out of Sportsmistress by the mighty Eclipse. He was named Potatoes.

A waggish stable boy chalked his name on his stall 'P O T' and then 8 'O's. Bertie rightly found this funny. The horse's name was thereafter spelt Pot8os, or sometimes Potoooooooo. He won 34 of his 40 races, which is not small potatoes.

2. I love this analysis of password codes. I dare say we all use the same password or paradigm for lots of things. The xkcd comic strip is one of my favourites.