Thursday, 23 January 2014

magic trick

Dr V was a statuesque blonde scientist who invented a revolutionary new putter. Golfers loved her anti-establishment-takes-on-big-business moxie and loved the putter. A young reporter pitched the story to Grantland. The resulting piece, after two years of following up, is here. It's gripping and very weird.

If I were you, I'd read it before continuing with this blog post. Here is a picture to make that easier.
The first commentary I read on the piece came about a day and a half later from Slate's excellent Josh Levin, and it said more or less exactly what I felt. Ever since, reporters have piled onto Grantland for running the piece. It's an easy bandwagon because Grantland clearly screwed up and so you get to definitely be in the right by criticising them. Fine, I suppose but Grantland's explanation of what happened is probably much better reading and also more important.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

crazy antlers

1. Looking at Zoopla idly, like too many of us do, I used to notice all the hearts people put up in their houses for reasons passing my comprehension. These people think their friends don't judge them harshly for it but these people are wrong. Recently I have mainly been noticing the huge amounts of modern-chic taxidermy, especially animal-skulls-with-antlers. These are also de rigueur in gastro pubs. This makes me assume most of them are in houses that have been done up by decorators or designers with a view to a sale and that most of the workmanship in the house will have been done on the cheap.

2. Lots of things I've wanted to link to from Slate's political gabfest lately. There was a great discussion in this one about whether ultra-wealth is screwing up cities, which is the sort of thing you can't not wonder about if you live in London (see Zoopla). What I've been thinking lately is that it's not nurses who can't afford to buy houses in perfectly normal bits of London like Kilburn, it's doctors. For clarity, I think that in a healthy society nurses, teachers, policemen and firemen should be able to buy somewhere to live in Kilburn, but the fact that they can't has been repeated so often over the years that people have stopped listening. The fact that doctors and barristers can't do so is only worth raising on rhetorical grounds because (I hope) it re-enlivens the debate. If people who are rich by any rational standard can't afford to buy a house in Kilburn, it is not 'worse' but it makes the fact that there is a problem even clearer. It's not easy to solve, especially if you want to get reelected, but it's definitely unhealthy. When I moved to London fifteen years ago I was incredibly proud of it. I thought it was the best of the great cities and a huge reason was the mixed housing stock which meant no one area became a slum and no other area became a gated enclave.

3. Gabfest links include crazy ants, which get in your electrics and there's nothing you can do, it's the end of the world, Linda Taylor the welfare queen (real, but amazing rather than typical) and there was something else but I forget it.

Monday, 13 January 2014

i'm a lover, not a fighter

, but I kind of hate this person, who is fictional I can only assume and whose timetable is used by Apple to demonstrate their calendar function:
How visible is it? In case the answer is 'not very', let me help. The purple stuff is work, at first glance. There's a weekly staff meeting and training plans to prepare. There is also, on Monday, the weekly meeting of the Omega Project, so we can probably assume this is the Apple Computer of a nuclear spy or other supervillain. Also in purple is a PTA meeting, so the supervillain is also maybe a supermom (I am being sexist, but overall I am pretty sure this is a woman's calendar and if you don't agree with me, that's fine) who regards school as work and she also finds time at the weekend for both a Community Service Event at St Mary's and the Neighbourhood Council.

Red is for the kids or kid. Adam has footie practise and a rugby game and there is also Sunday bowling at the Biltmore Lanes. This seem quite an American destination for someone who has a rugby game scheduled. Maybe Adam plays for some American pee wee rugby team, of which there basically are none, or maybe rugby was shoehorned in by a lazy advertising team.

Blue is for 'me time' and that means a spinning class, marathon training, pilates, yoga, a garage sale, breakfast with mom, and lunch on Saturday with Pablo.

I hadn't really examined the calendar in detail until I started typing out this email. I feel more strongly than I did when I had merely glanced at it.

Friday, 3 January 2014

particles of batter

A few days have passed, I find. They have not been wasted. I've been a bit businesslike on here for a while, with too few dead earls and so on. I will try to be better. If I'm not, console yourself with this dog. I know funny dogs are just funny dogs, but this is a really funny dog.

I have been looking at old newspapers. I was pulled in by a headline about Prunella Stack, a fitness and women's rights pioneer Britain's 'perfect girl' who gave talks and lectures between the wars and whose aristocratic husband was shot down and killed over France in 1944. The headline ran: Prunella Stack Weds As Police Tackle Mob, and it was in the Montreal Gazette. Apparently 20,000 gawkers turned up to see PS, who usually wore shorts, marry the fourth son of the Duke of Hamilton, Scotland's premier peer and the police had to use regulations designed for football fans to deal with them. (She didn't wear shorts. She wore a gown of parchment velvet with a five yard train.)

One of the things that makes these old pages brilliant is that editors didn't leave space. They did the typesetting and then did all kinds of idiosyncratic things to fill the gaps. On the Stack page is a story about James Mollison, the Australian airman who had flown with and been divorced from Amy Johnson and who was marrying for a second time. His new wife, Mrs Hussey, was the owner of plantations in Jamaica. Under this titbit was a gap before an advert. The Montral Gazette cast around and filled it thusly: For a rye-bread sandwich spread, try cottage cheese combined with chopped dills.

After the PS article, the gap is filled: Particles of batter should be removed from the waffle iron while it is hot. A small wire brush is ideal for this purpose.

Prunella Stack's obituary in the Telegraph, as so often, is brilliant. If you can't turn the following into a good novel, you aren't much of a novelist:

Douglas-Hamilton took Prunella Stack climbing in the Alps and introduced her to his future best man, Prince Ernst August of Hanover, whom he had met when both men were undergraduates at Balliol College, Oxford, along with Adam von Trott, the Prussian aristocrat who would be executed in 1944 for his part in the conspiracy to assassinate Hitler.


All contacts with Germany ceased, however, when war was declared six months later — although the Douglas-Hamiltons’ ties with Germany were possibly what led the deputy Fuhrer, Rudolf Hess, to fly to Lennoxlove, the Duke of Hamilton’s ancestral Scottish home, in 1941 in a doomed attempt to end the war.