Friday, May 01, 2015
When going to a wedding, or a christening or a baby shower or other similar event, particularly when the host has explicitly said that gifts should NOT be brought, you have a number of options:
Do as the host says, just come and celebrate the occasion but don’t bring a present. Again, that’s what the host wanted.
If you can think of a particular thing that you know the host was looking for but haven’t been able to find yet, then if you can get hold of it then it would be a great gift, But only if you know it was something the host was definitely searching for.
What is not acceptable is to:
Give a token gift just because you think it inappropriate to go without one
Give money or vouchers
Make a donation to a charity of your choice in their name
Friday, April 24, 2015
In one of the most expensive and most conservative areas of London, in a small street of sober Georgian terracing, there is one house that has been painted with bright red stripes. That isn’t new information, it was prominent in local and even national press. And incidentally in time I think the new paintwork currently seen as garish and out-of-character and objectionable will come to be seen as neighbourhood attraction and slapped with a preservation order.
But the point is that the neighbours did object. Quite rightly. Not to the unplanned colours, but to the owner had wanted to build a massive basement extension, going down two whole floors of the entire property’s footprint. It would have caused massive disruption and massive mess, the houses on either side would have become virtually uninhabitable for months on end while bulldozers and diggers ploughed in.
The issue here is a planning loophole. While a party wall agreement goes a tiny way towards helping to allow for risk of structural damage, it in no way recompenses the afflicted neighbour. And that’s something that helps nobody. If at the end of the work there is minimal exterior change, as with mega basements and similar development, then planning rules become almost irrelevant. Yet it is not the end result that pees off the neighbours, it is the hell they must put up with to get there.
If there was a legal obligation to properly compensate the neighbours for that disruption then the central house owner would have been allowed to build their desired basement palace but the afflicted parties would be paid appropriately for that disruption.
Islam is not a race anyway, it is an idea. Some think a good idea and some think a bad idea. The sort of idea that is "encouraged" by nonsensical crimes of blasphemy and apostacy.
If an idea is scientific it is open to scientific testing. If an idea is ridiculous it is open to ridicule.
Mais je ne suis pas Charlie. Je n’ai pas le coeur ou le génie. Désolé.
Friday, November 28, 2014
You have a small job that needs doing. Say the replacement of a fitting in your house or car.
You have a choice of two workers. You think the job should take about an hour. Each of the workmen quotes for the same time, say two hours. But that’s acceptable, it allows for contingency, the almost inevitable exposing of hidden issues, the development of requirement, and more importantly it is a standard figure that all workers quote for this type of task.
One knocks off the work in a hour. Doesn’t tell you she has finished. Doesn’t bother you with the inevitable little difficulties encountered. Just finishes the work and goes home. Great. But you wish she had told you of these things, so while inner workings exposed you could have got a few other things sorted, without the extra cost of a new start. You wish she had shown you so you would know what to expect when problems recur. You wish she had paused to allow review and further improvements.
The other worker keeps you thoroughly informed of every issue, every variation, every achievement. That’s good, it means that while the box is opened up for the fix, other improvements can be done at virtually zero marginal cost. But it is bad too, because it is draining of your own time. And the job itself inevitably takes longer than the first case.
It is obvious and predictable to say the ideal worker should be a blend of the two types. We never have the ideal.
Saturday, November 22, 2014
"I am now Madame Artura, twitter psychic - send me your bank details and I will send you some guff about one of your dead relatives"
It was routed through the account of near neighbor and local hero Arthur Smith
so clearly not a scam
bank details below for any psychics looking up
Sunday, November 02, 2014
I'm not even talking of the obvious and unarguable fact that there is a spectrum of drug power and danger, obviously there is, but I refer to something else, the fundamental attitude toy have to any individual drug ...
It is either prohibit and penalise and punish
it is support and offer treatment
The first of these is the choice of the fascist, the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the ignorant anti-scientific blockhead
The second is the woolly liberal, the focus of right wing outrage, the one who wants to spend your hard-earned taxes on benefits and treatments for s scroungers and layabouts.
But there is a third option. A way both groups above can be satisfied. Really. I don't necessarily endorse it but it really needs more press...
Friday, October 31, 2014
Meanwhile the #notinmyname bandwagon repeats that these are not representative of true M's
Yes - we do not expect that M’s everywhere need to state again, every time it happens, that it is nothing to do with you.
However - IS and Al-Q and the rest are not real M but western M's are? Rubbish. They are M just as you are. Accept it.
They and their teachers simply choose to emphasise different parts of the book to you and your teachers. They might choose to take certain bits literally, you might choose to ignore certain bits, should we have an objective competition to see who adheres more?
It is not simply a case of numbers here, of IS being only a small minority. You know full well that even your definition of whether you are a true believer is not defined by democracy.
There are explicit passages that they use to explicitly justify their actions.
They believe their interpretation of the book as you believe yours.
Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Every new system we build is by definition new, therefore not clearly defined, therefore subject to change.
During many years trying to develop massive princely systems, I always believed there was a more agile way.
From the agile manifesto, my personal top five:
1. Released development is the measure of progress.
2. Welcome changing requirements - even late in development.
3. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
4. Promote sustainable development - should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
5. Simplicity - minimizing the amount of work done.
And to prove this is the right approach - wherever a group is relatively free from red tape, as in some business units who happen to be independent of formal IT, this is how we develop.
Friday, September 26, 2014
I don’t think I frequent the high street as much as I used to. Many high streets are struggling. Those opinions are not really related. Nevertheless:
• You don’t allow traders to set up stalls in the middle of a prime location (like a pedestrianized high street) without significant rent, so why buskers who are far more intrusive
• You don’t allow the music from top shop or record shop to spill so far out of the store that it can be heard at the other end of the street, so again why can street musicians do it
• You choose to select the music that you play on your device, you individually choose the song or album or even if you use it for radio then you choose the radio station – you do not have a radio station imposed upon you
• You choose the times when you want to listen to music and the times when you want to go to the shops and the two do not necessarily have to align
• Just because some people like a particular band does not mean that they have a right to make everyone else listen to that particular band
The local council may do nothing about this, and I may avoid the high street because of this, we'll see.
1. They expect people to misplace or forget the payback periods, to not bother with the deliberately archaic methods they insist upon for reclaiming.
2. The more cunning method. They sell policies, collect full subsidy up front from the network provider, then conveniently go insolvent before the cashbacks are due.
I can handle the first. This post is basically a reminder. But I vaguely expect the second.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Personally I think I get a much better view from my own kitchen window. You can see the details of the trees and features. You can sometimes see little animals.
The only reason that so many people think the view from the tall towers is great is because they have allowed so many other tall towers. Basically they block off light forcing new ones to be even higher.
Yes it is all about us vs them. If all other buildings around you were two storeys high, you would get a much better view and a much better life from a four storey block than you would from a twenty storey block in the midst of other twenty storey blocks.
The density argument is rubbish too. Central Kensington is one of the most densely populated areas in Britain and central Amsterdam is one of the most densely populated cities in Europe – both have strict planning laws restricting height, yet they have some of the most desirable housing in the world.
Most families want a house with a garden. Surveys prove that. But developers make more money from massive apartment blocks and try to convince you that the view is great.
Tuesday, September 02, 2014
Thursday, August 14, 2014
To avoid having to tell people if it’s a girl or a boy
To hang bits of metal from the holes to accessorise
To avoid possibly difficult argument later when the cold might not actually want it done
To provide a permanent mark of ownership so people know they belong
To support the gold and jewellery business who would otherwise go bust
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
People in our culture have been doing it for hundreds of years
It has to be done anyway so just get it done as soon as possible
I know a little baby who barely cried so it can’t hurt much at all
My family/friends did it and I don’t know of anyone that got infected
It is my baby so I can do whatever I like to it
Friday, July 11, 2014
Met the teachers of both my children. My car had its annual MOT check. I had a routine dentist appointment. Had to make time for a medical visit too.
So five separate verdicts:
• Splendid progress, pretty damn excellent all round
• Most areas well above average, freakily unnaturally brilliant; a few areas well below but nothing serious
• Some parts excellent, but some things really in a bad way need major changes
• Just normal really, in a good way, just as expected for age
• Very tired, on last legs, not much more life expected
Not necessarily in order.
Friday, May 09, 2014
Thursday, July 18, 2013
A first five five tips from my time on the course, though not necessarily from the actual course material:
1. You will got most benefit and best performance by concentrating on developing your strengths, not from compensating for your weaknesses.
2. Only you know your strengths. Other people may know and advise about what you are good at, but that is not the same thing.
3. Even if they ask for specific help and advice, don't provide specific help and advice for your team members. Instead encourage them to find the answers themselves.
4. Being a manager, developing team members, that is just as important as leading the team, providing them direction.
5. An organisation, however large, only needs one leader, but it may require plenty of managers.
So those are teachings, will see if they become learnings.
Friday, May 10, 2013
I went to college with Michael Gove. He appeared to be a bit of a pompous snob even then. But at least I thought he was literate.
He attacked something written in the Guardian Education pages by the children's author "Mr Rosen criticised the test on the basis that there was no such thing as correct grammar"
Yet Mr Rosen said no such thing.
Saturday, March 09, 2013
If a share price decreases by 10% in one year then increases by 10% in the next year then the net effect is a decrease – the investor has lost out.
If a share price increases by 10% in one year then decreases by 10% in the next year then the net effect is a decrease – the investor has lost out.
This happens year after year after year.
If the price changes are more than 10% each year then the investor loses even more.
Friday, March 08, 2013
I thought I had learned my lesson.
No more investing in individual shares, even supposedly safe ones.
Surely the all share index is the safest place to invest.
Columnists talk about record highs for the all share index. They are lying.
Since 1999 the FTSE has gone from 6024 to 6224 – without accounting for inflation.
Even in the most basic bank account at 1% per year, the index should be at over 8000 now.
Thursday, March 07, 2013
The past: Over many thousands of years all of Europe has shared the same major events. From stone age settlements to Roman invasions to Angles and Saxons and Normans, through renaissance and enlightenment and revolutions, the same groups have spread through all Europe. For better or worse, most of us are even subject to the same royal group, the interlinked descendants of a small number of dark age warrior chiefs are spread across the thrones of Europe.
The current: Britain, like the rest of Europe, is defined by its infrastructure. The very qualities that so appeal to American tourists, our patchwork farms and narrow winding streets around ancient buildings, are the qualities that constrain our development. For all the culture of the Native American they have not left a corresponding network of medieval cities to be built upon and around. The decisions that we must take with regard to balancing of conservation and development are European scale decisions.
The future: New York, with its regular heavy snowfall and freezing winters, is close to the same latitude as balmy Lisbon. In the absence of the warming Gulf Stream we would have a similar climate to Alaska. The melting of the Greenland ice cap may have a drastic effect on the associated ocean currents. While the rest of the world “enjoys” global warming, like the elite enjoy their tropical holidays, Europe may enter a new ice age. Britain is in the same boat as France and Scandinavia. Except that we don’t have a big enough boat.
So why the massive surge to nationalism, to “UK Independence”, to cutting ties with “Europe”? It is just the same players, the murdochs and the bankers, wanting less control over what they do so they can have more control over what we do.
Thursday, December 06, 2012
The property benifits from having a large fitted kitchen/diner, seperate reception, integral garage which includes a seperate w/c ... This house is a must see so call now to aviod disappointment.
Let me know if you need to employ a proofreader.
Let me know if you are interested in renting it.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
After four games of the season, the Deccan Chargers were top of the league. Their main strike bowler was a skiddy slinger called Fidel Edwards who was finally getting the luck that seemed to have deserted him in the West Indies. However the Chargers lost both games after he was called back for the test series in England, and I gave them little chance today against the mighty Mumbai. However the Deccan backup bowlers held their nerve, the Deccan catchers held their catches and young Rohit Sharma played the game of his life to set up victory.
Meanwhile in England, Fidel Edwards kept making chances, his mates kept dropping them.
Meanwhile in the real world, and also in TV job-seeking world, it is interesting to see who stays loyal to their work friends when they no longer work with their friends.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
For the main course, the Kolkata Knight Riders batted first against Delhi, and actually put up a fairly decent target. But defending that score was an absolute joke. Kolkata literally threw it away, they bowled ok but the fielding was abysmal, they dropped chance after chance after chance. The team couldn't catch a cold. Or worse.
O, I got a new keyboard too.
Monday, May 04, 2009
Anyway, watched s0me c0medy today. N0t a scripted drama but the run chase 0f the Deccan Chargers. While the televisi0n pundits saw them at the t0p 0f the league and theref0re b0ringly predicted that they w0uld g0 0n t0 win it, I have l0ng been saying that their g00d initial results were 0ver-reliant 0n just a c0uple 0f stars, they didn't have the strength in depth needed even in a 20 0ver game. I have been pr0ved right, s0 far, the pundits were wr0ng. Yet they get paid f0r their insight. I wish I did. I need t0 get a new keyb0ard - until I d0, n0 m0re p0sts.
Sunday, May 03, 2009
In the second game, a surprise for two reasons. Firstly a comparatively one-sided game, nearly two overs to spare in the run chase. Secondly the result itself, mighty Mumbai mauled by the resurgent Challengers who seem a different (better) side now that KP left them.
Meanwhile, leaving aside the massive subject of swine flu, the more relevant issue at least in terms of my current routine is the rather more basic question: does bacon kill you? I saw a good answer to that question today, written by Professor David Colquhoun. Worth reading. Unless you're a quack or a homeopath.
Saturday, May 02, 2009
Game two, even without Freddie, despite a poor start, Chennai turned the game from the moment Raina pulled off a stunning catch. Yet another last over classic.
What else happened today? The sun was shining, went into town for some shopping. Bit scary, saw first-hand how the deadly virus is spreading...
yes, the religious nutters were on the streets handing out leaflets again.
Friday, May 01, 2009
Yes it can. Kolkata won't just crumble to a heavy defeat against the mighty Mumbai. Instead, once again the team wrings every ounce of hope out of its supporters, taking it to the final over yet again.
Game two also went down to the last ball, another excellent match, Yuvraj scored a fifty and took a hat-trick but Punjab just missed out. A great game, and a great result for old Kumble.
Aside - in defence of the "strategic time out". Of course giving it that name is as disingenuous as calling civilian death "collateral damage", but the cricket community is a conservative one, and the old brigade seems to hate this enforced mid-innings advertising break (for that is what it is) whatever it is called. But really it's just the test match mid session drinks break with a different name, no big deal at all. In fact the issue is that it is not used properly. Instead we still get adverts between overs - with the same sponsor's message repeated every single bloody time, that is the most counterproductive advertising imaginable.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
In the second game, another good result. Raina won the match on his own.
By the way, I still get people thinking this is all only about the IPL. At one level it is, but regular readers will know me better than that.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
In game two, another nailbiter. RB from Essex failed again but at least scored more runs than SRT from Mumbai, Slinga Malinga justified my prediction that he would be the bowler of the tournament, but Punjab still crept to victory off the very last ball.
An aside, an insight. The IPL gets stick for being crass commercialised corrupted cricket. And it's true that the short boundaries, the incessant sponsorship and the over-excitable commentators do their best to ruin the game. But as a format 20:20 has great attributes. Every ball really matters, and the most successful bowlers have been the canny spinners and the superfast expresses - these are the ones who the doom-mongers said were only good for test matches and unsuitable for the one day game. They were partially right, "traditional" fifty-over one-day games encouraged medium pace trundlers and bits-and-pieces trundlers - but 20:20 seems to encourage specialism and special talent, and long may it continue.
Monday, April 27, 2009
So time to make some brave predictions.
First game, the Chargers won again, so the commentators say that with their 100% record, they are now favourites for the league title. Just like Alan Hansen always predicts that the team leading the Premiership will win at the end, that the bottom three teams will be relegated. Anyway, they are cowards and they are wrong. The Chargers are overly reliant on just three batsmen (GiGi and Rohit Sharma) and their only real strike bowler is Fidel Edwards. They won't all fire in every match. So despite their 100% record so far, I predict fail.
And in game two, the Indians stuffed the Knight Riders. At least Ganguly was top scorer. But realistically, sadly, it's not looking good for the Bengali Boys either.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Saturday, April 25, 2009
For the Chargers won "comfortably" - only three batsmen made decent scores but countless edges went just wide of fielders and they only had three decent bowlers. Yet once again in my opinion Mumbai had the best batsmen and once again Malinga was unplayable. But the breaks went the way of the Deccans, not just from Ojha. So well played to the winners, but if luck evens out in the end, the Indians will still go through.
In the second game the prince of Kolkata might have led the Knight Riders to a thorough thrashing of the Chennai Super Kings, but the match was rained off.
Friday, April 24, 2009
It's true that the only Bengali playing was for the Punjab side, but there is something about the Bangalore team that makes them a favourite second team. That something is partially the portly figure of Jesse Ryder, proving that an athletic build is no requirement for an athletic performance. But the main reason is undimmed respect for the underappreciated enthusiasm, passion and technical excellence of Dravid and Kumble. Their combined age is more than 70, but as with Ganguly for Kolkata, they embody the spirit of the side far more than the imported captain. They both scored more runs than KP too.
Still, connections, a game between two sides from India being played in South Africa, and the man of the match was a chap with the initials RB from Ilford, Essex.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
According to all match reports, the Deccan Chargers comfortably beat the Bangalore Royal Challengers. Well they did win, but in my contrary view it was not so comfortable. I can't believe that Fidel Edwards will continue to outbowl Dale Steyn, that Ohja will continue to outbowl Kumble, that Jesse Ryder and KP will repeatedly fail.
My prediction, the early chargers will soon be overtaken by now latent challengers.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
"the weather was the most important factor" in the decision to move the IPL to South Africa instead of to England.
According to Vijay Mallya, the owner of the Royal Challengers team (and of Kingfisher Beer):
"I guess weather conditions clinched the issue for South Africa. In England, there were chances that matches would have been rained off. Both teams sharing the point affects the competitiveness of the event."
Today the game in Durban was rained off. In England it was bright and sunny all day.
But it isn't. Stars of the first couple of days are the old dudes: batting legends like Dravid and Tendulkar; bowling legends like Warne, Kumble, Vettori, Bhaji, Murali.
It's not just because these guys are my cricketing idols. It is because they have proved that technique matters, experience matters, style matters.
It is test cricket at its finest. With cheerleaders :)
Saturday, April 18, 2009
First game was the clash of the titans - the mighty Mumbai Indians, the most expensive team in the league, up against the Chennai Super Kings, the team who might be named after a brand of cigarette but who are captained by India's captain and feature Freddie Flintoff. It was a high quality match, good batting, good bowling, good fielding, and Mumbai won by 19 runs. My gripe is with the "verdict". They gave "man of the match" accolades and money to Tendulkar. The commentator said the decision was a formality. That was the easy option - he scored 59 runs in 49 balls at a strike rate of 120. And he is the greatest batsman of our generation. But today he was overshadowed by a relatively unknown colleague called Abhishek Nayar who scored 35 runs in just 14 balls at a strike rate of 250.
Yet I don't think any batsman really made the winning difference. Mumbai's bowlers deserved the credit. Harbhajan Singh was the one who kept things tight in the middle of the innings, he bowled slow and clever and conceded only 5 runs per over. But the guy who won the match was a young Sri Lankan called Lasith Malinga. He bowled fast, accurate, swinging, yorkers at the most critical stages of the innings, took 3 wickets for 15 and he looked almost unplayable.
But the easy option is just to give the award to the guy who scores the most runs, particularly when that guy is Sachin Tendulkar.
Meanwhile in game 2, the defending champions Rajasthan Royals were bowled out for just 58 runs, the lowest ever IPL total, chasing a Bangalore score of 133 in which Rahul Dravid scored 68 runs in just 48 runs. Deja Vu.
Friday, April 17, 2009
And I thought about the forest. After any clearing, there is a battle for light and a battle for growth between the two types of plant. Who wins?
Well it is obvious that the green climbers grow faster than the trees. They don't need to waste energy putting down deep roots and providing solidity. They may be creepy and parasitic, but they are the ones who get ahead.
But. When we look back at a jungle, or when we look for core essence of the jungle, then we usually think of the trees.
Sunday, April 05, 2009
Talking of Match of the Day, over the last few seasons they have been raving about how consistently superb Brad Friedel has been for Blackburn.
Both James and Friedel were recently released by Liverpool FC for not being good enough. The solution to the problems was to be Jerzy Dudek, the astounding young Polish keeper.
Despite a fine record in saving penalties , Dudek was considered small for a goalkeeper with not enough of a powerful presence. The giant Sander Westerveld was also the regular number one, but he too was let go.
Perhaps Liverpool should look to the future. Chris Kirkland? Scott Carson?
Although they are still playing, and playing astoundingly well, none of them currently plays for the club.
Why do they keep letting their stoppers go? What future has Reina?
Friday, April 03, 2009
But there's a serious point to be made here. It has just been announced that the Maxim monthly magazine will cease publishing a UK edition. I have friends who were on the staff there - they still write good stuff as freelance journalists. But even in conversation with these employees, even at the height of their popularity, I confessed that I never liked Maxim, neither its siblings and offspring such as FHM, Loaded and Nuts.
It would be easy to pretend now that I didn't like them because they were actually soft pornography pretending to be general interest magazines. But I won't pretend. I didn't like them because they were actually soft pornography pretending to be general interest magazines. Exactly same words just different emphasis.
This is dodgy ground. But I'm a right-on PC dude really. Broadly speaking, soft porn portrays a stereotypical image of women. You know the typical attributes, typical poses. But again broadly speaking, hard porn celebrates diversity - women of all different shapes and sizes and behaviours. Not just women, unfortunately. But if we are to celebrate diversity, there will always be some elements of that diversity that are unpleasant.
Disclaimer: I do not purchase pornography of any kind, hard or soft.
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
1. Started out in poverty in the East End of London - couldn't afford shoes
2. Worked at the Ford plant - protested against the violence in 'Nam
3. Eventually found own voice - inspired by Faith
4. Manipulated by the puppetmasters - didn't like it
5. Recently spent a lot of time with people who need therapy
Obviously, that's Sandie Shaw.
I remember that exactly one year ago today, I discovered God. Though I'm not sure of the capitalisation there, I prefer this style. And just a few days ago, I discovered him again, this time he was lurking around on Twitter. Then somebody told me that my discovery was not "the real God", but in no time at all I found "The Real God" lurking around there too.
Talking of capitalisation, the G20 meetings and G20 riots are now going on just a few miles away, but it's all quiet and peaceful at home at the moment - loads of ideas swimming round my head, will develop a few here later.
And the rules will return.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
And so, every 10,000 miles, I religiously got the car serviced at the same main dealer that had sold me the car. The servicing was expensive compared to my local garage, but I wanted the best option for my first new car. No initial concerns. However, driving the car out of the garage after the 30,000 mile service, after barely 28 months of ownership, there was clearly a major problem - running was uneven with a distinct lack of power. I drove back. And there, after a while waiting to be seen, a mechanic changed one of the spark plugs. In the car park!
The car was now drivable, though certainly not ideal, and I brought it back for the next service early, as soon as it hit 39,000 miles. The same dealer serviced it, detected no problem. I got the next service done at the same place, again trusting the selling dealer. Yet pretty soon after that, the engine lost all power again. The dealership had the cheek to charge me a fortune to "diagnose" the problem, and they promptly informed me that one of the cylinders was showing almost zero compression. Only solution, an entirely new engine.
Of course I wasn't happy. But despite all sorts of calls and incidents raised, both to the dealer and the manufacturer, I received not a penny in compensation. Refusing to continue to support that dealer, I eventually bought and fitted a new engine from a local garage. Ironically, I had plenty of contacts in the marketing department of the manufacturer - but all I got were offers of help and zero actual help. The line from the dealer was that I should contact the manufacturer. The line from the manufacturer was that the new car only had a one year warranty, so tough. Technically true. But if that was good customer service, if that was encouraging loyalty and positive recommendation, then …
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
For his soup, he did actually catch a wild snapper one-handed, but eventually decided that real turtle meat was too stringy. So instead he just made soup from stock. In order to make his stock, after extracting the juice from his mock turtle, he froze it, filtered it, froze it again (at -80 degrees) , whizzed it around in a centrifuge, froze it yet again, set it in specially-made watch-fob-shaped moulds, then individually covered each one in gold leaf.
That was the simple soup starter. His main course seemed to be a complete Victorian garden, with everything from the "soil" to the borders to the plants to the "rocks" to the decorative insects having been carefully placed there as part of the whole culinary experience.
To drink - a single beverage that would have the flavours of toffee, hot buttered toast, custard, cherry tart and turkey. But that description was from a book of fiction, a fantasy story created by Lewis Carroll as an exercise in lunacy. It was not a recipe, and obviously it was not meant to be taken seriously ... except by Heston. He really created it. A single drink, together with a custom drinking vessel, that sequentially offered each of the flavours described in the book. His guests were gobsmacked.
And for desert, a giant vibrating jelly made of absinthe, mindblowing.
Heston Blumenthal already runs what is arguably the best restaurant in the world. He takes your senses to the limit, and then that little bit further. He is polite and courteous in his demeanor, yet outrageous and over the top in his creation. He takes the fictional cliché and makes it real. So the punchline: he is the Jim Steinman of food.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
But another thing surprised me too, and this is not something for the organisers to be happy about. The organisation was in some aspects a complete fiasco. So many attendees wanted to see the more popular talks that there were lines stretching around the block; disgracefully, large numbers were turned away at the door of each one. This was especially the case for the keynote addresses but it was even the case for some of the specialist talks. Meanwhile a few of the speakers spoke to half-empty rooms. It was inefficient and pathetic.
This was a technology for marketing conference. The technology was largely about using the internet, eCommerce, databases and CRM to manage demand and supply. I would guess that most visitors registered online anyway. All they had to do was to allow us to register in advance for particular sessions. This would also have allowed them to monitor demand and potentially adjust seating plans as necessary. And this would make it clear to late registering people which sessions they could attend.
It was actually branded as technology for marketing and advertising. If they were advertising particular names as reasons to visit the event, then they had a corresponding obligation to allow us to see those names, or at least to make us aware that we would not see them.
It is not acceptable to justify the mess by saying the sessions were being recorded for later online streaming. People do not attend conferences to queue for their favourite sessions, to be turned away at the door, then told that the event can be viewed on the internet later.
One cannot blame the organisers too much on the first occasion, it is not easy to predict how an event will pan out. But what made the scenario particularly appalling was that exactly the same situation occurred last year.
About using technology for marketing, have they learned nothing?
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Well I said I'd start on the 25 random things. So I did.
I wrote them, but they aren't published yet. None of them are secret, but there is a nagging doubt whether this blog is the appropriate place for them. Obviously there is nothing embarrassing or illegal there, but they look inward whereas most of this blog looks outward.
And I still wonder how the revelation of further personal details would change the opinions of me of those around me. So I don't.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Also, I am not going to explicitly "tag" selected people suggesting that they must pass it on - whoever you are, I do want to learn more about you, but because I'm interested, not because you need to spread the message to avoid an attack of the bad-luck-virus, or an eternity in hell.
Anyway twenty-five points is far too many for one note. I have regularly expressed high fidelity to a simple "top five", and that is more than enough for my suggested user-friendly word limits.
And finally, I cannot simply write "random" things, that would violate my principles. My posts should suggest order and synchronicity in a chaotic universe, so each one must be fairly well themed, the antithesis of random.
For more on the background of this, see Neil Perkin, John Naughton, Chris Wilson. For my first five, see tomorrow.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
1. Out of nowhere, produced a man of the match performance to bowl the complete England cricket side out for 51 measly runs in humiliating innings defeat.
2. Reported that the editor of my hometown newspaper was arrested for "hurting the religious feelings" of Muslims after they reprinted an article from The Independent.
Obviously a different Jerome Taylor. Anyway, this was the supposedly dangerous article, feared by cowards and quislings all over the planet. And this was Johann Hari's response, every word worth reading, just one quote from it:
The solution to the problems of free speech – that sometimes people will say terrible things – is always and irreducibly more free speech.
If only the solution to England's batting order was so simple.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
1. PJ O'Rourke. His book was known to cause extreme offence to all devotees of the lord David Icke. He won't be allowed any nearer than Lizard Point.
2. Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin. Controversial astronaut. It is rumoured that he has evidence that the earth is round. This has caused extreme offence to the National Flat Earth Society, and he will be stopped at all ports.
3. John Barrowman. Apparently he is gay. There must be some religious people who find this deeply offensive.
4. Daniel Dennett. He writes books that are a bit complicated. This is deliberate provocation of the large and respected national society of idiots.
5. Raymond Blanc. In an act of deliberate provocation to followers of the holy Brian, he publicly humiliated (and ate) a snail. Sick. And sacrilege.
These people are dangerous. Foreign Secretary David Willi-banned said: "We have profound commitment to freedom of speech, but we are also bloody scared."
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Similarly I try to avoid obvious and predictable clichés - that is only worth doing if you can be Steinmanesque about it: the future just ain't what it used to be but we'll never be as young as we are right now and if you don't go over the top then you'll never see the other side.
And in various ways at various times I've often suggested that you are completely free to reuse and distrubute anything published here (perhaps you are encouraged to) provided that you acknowledge me in doing so. However I've not yet expressed this opinion in traditional legal language, I'm not sure that I need to anyway, but here for the record are two portions of the Creative Commons Notice that seem to apply here.
1. Licensees (you) may copy, distribute, display and perform the work and make derivative works based on it only if they give the author or licensor (me) the credits in the manner specified by these.
2. Licensees may copy, distribute, display, and perform the work and make derivative works based on it only for noncommercial purposes.
Go ahead. Make my day.
Friday, February 06, 2009
My last post was a very simple one. But it was topical, posted just a few minutes after the incident to which it referred, and it was short, just 34 of my words around the quote.
One of those 34 words was goallessness. Anyone who watched the game, anyone who has watched any football, will know exactly what that word means. But it's not in the dictionary.
Yet I don't care. As Stephen Fry asked of those pedants who obsess about grammatical correctness: Do they ever yoke impossible words together for the sound-sex of it?
Though in my case, it was simply the clearest most concise way of expressing the thought. Without using those bloody txt contractions.
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
After nearly two hours of goallessness:
117 mins: Everton roll forward anew .... and ITV cut to commercials!? Eh? I said EH? Get it sorted please. [...]
118 mins: GOAL! Everton 1-0 Liverpool (Gosling 119')
118 mins: Yes, while ITV were inexplicably, unforgivably on a commercial break, Van Der Meyde scuttled down the right and floated in a cross that Gosling was allowed to take down. He scooped a dainty shot towards the top corner from eight yards and Reina can't get to it! Cue delirium at Goodison! And sackings at ITV, surely.
119 mins: Liverpool are lamping it desperately forward, to no avail. "What in the name of dear God were ITV playing at?" roars Simon Arnold and approximately 233,567 others.120 mins: Peep! Peep! Peeeeep! It's full-time, Everton are victorious thanks to a Gosling goal that all in TV-reliant Britain missed.
Commercials? Inexplicably. Approximately. Three small typos corrected but you get the picture. Clearly not everyone did.
To maintain effective marketing, or to run effective projects, both require constant cycles of prediction and measurement.
For example, first you measure the current one, use that to plan and predict the next one. Measure that one. And so on.
Having been through plenty of campaigns and plenty of projects, I know there are some things that I can predict well. Perhaps an odd predilection for stats helps. Of course we all get some estimates wrong, but the more we do the better we estimate. And I've done loads.
But there are some things that I cannot predict. I cannot predict share prices without insider knowledge. So I agree with what Stephen Dubner wrote on Freakonomics a while back:
Here are a couple of stock-market headlines I’d love to read one day:
“Stocks Surge, Reasons Unknown; May Be Nothing More Than the Random Fluctuation of a Complex System”
“Stocks Dive: Three First-Movers Sold Hard and Then Everyone Else Inexplicably Followed”
Of course, in the second case, if the first-movers sold hard, if you believe that others will also sell hard, then you should sensibly follow.
So my own investment strategy, still holding all my boom-bought shares as they go bust one by one, now it looks very foolish indeed.
Friday, January 30, 2009
From Ann on January 23rd: I think this year is Twitter’s year. I think their tipping point has been reached and passed.
From Stephen Fry just yesterday: Welcome to my twitterworld
But I'm still not sure about it. Two possible reactions:
From the stereotypical new woman, enthusiastic about this new way to communicate:
I am a twitter. Sexy, fun, dietin' manhunter.
Or from the stereotypical dinosaur, a guy who doesn't believe in all this new technology:
I am a twit. Terse, XY, fundie, tin man, hunter.
The same letters in the same order, just slightly different spacing.
Monday, January 26, 2009
1. Give £50 like the first person. This further reinforces the possibly unfair suggestion that £50 is the expected going rate.
2. Give more than £50. Appeases your own conscience; but if the signals theory is correct, this may be even more likely to dissuade later small contributions.
3. Give a sum that is the usual typical contribution, say £10. This could now bring in the others who were prepared to commit that smaller figure but who didn't want to publicly set the precedent.
4. Give an intermediate sum, say £25. This might still perform the signalling function of "it's ok to contribute less" but at the same time it keeps the ballpark figure higher.
5. Do nothing, or contribute offline. May seem the easy option, but it doesn't provide any helpful signal. The charity still appears in the same position as at the start, with a single lonely contribution apparently discouraging followers.
This is not a web issue, the same question often arises where a short list of donations is passed around with any office collection.
So what did you do?
Sunday, January 25, 2009
01. If you swear upon a book of fiction
Does that excuse some faulty diction?
02. If sexuality's a choice, as you say,
When d'you decide you're not gay?
03. It still makes me wonder and chuckle
That religion makes grown adults suckle
04. You have no right to tell me what to do
Who to love and who to screw
05. Lots of loud and mad debates
Between those who take and make their fates
06. A founding father he may be
But Paine was hardly G.O.P.
07. Remember just who is the boss
The one who orders up this toss
08. Murderous dictators, he honestly said,
Are not as bad as old P-Zed
09. Pious man dies, that's a shame
Pious man saved, god's to blame
10. "Blindly follow these rules"
Orders for zealots and fools
11. We carry more hope than we should
But that's not necessarily good
12. If our bodies are so well "designed"
Then the designer who did it was blind
13. We're really not all the same
Except that we don't play that game
14. Like a snowball that's rolling downhill
The Ickefest is gathering swill
15. God may be sexy and hot
But merciful? No, he is not.
16. Oxymoron for christian nation
Simply: science education
17. Bible Magic's what he saw
He'd like to call it vjack's law
18. And to lead this godless fold
Newly ordained Rev'rend Gold
19. To end this back where we began
Obama. Wait to judge the man.
Or in more traditional exposition:
01. Mark P presents Swearing In...the Oath posted at Proud Atheists.
02. The Whited Sepulchre presents The Whited Sepulchre: Light To See By posted at The Whited Sepulchre.
03. PhillyChief presents Religion is a Tit posted at You Made Me Say It....
04. Diana Hsieh presents Duty of Sexual Restraint? posted at Politics without God.
05. Luke Muehlhauser presents 300+ Atheism vs. Theism Debates posted at Common Sense Atheism.
06. Ron Britton presents The Separation of Logic and Fundie posted at Bay of Fundie.
07. Andrew Bernardin presents God Commands: Stay in Line posted at the evolving mind.
08.. larryniven presents Catholicism: false posted at Rust Belt Philosophy.
09. Seth Manapio presents Whiskey Before Breakfast... the Blog: a little dose of god stuff posted at Whiskey Before Breakfast... the Blog.
10. Romeo Vitelli presents Brother XII posted at Providentia.
11. Greta Christina presents Is Hope Always a Good Thing? posted at Greta Christina's Blog.
12. Greta Christina presents Stupid Design: Rube Goldberg Brains and the Argument for Evolution posted at Greta Christina's Blog.
13. Hank presents Why I am not an atheist posted at Dangerous Intersection.
14. Enshoku presents David Icke vs the reptoid army: Can the cats kill the jews? posted at Enshoku's Weblog.
15. Obadiah Shoher presents God is merciful? posted at Samson Blinded.
16. vjack presents How to Defend Science Education in Your State posted at Mississippi Atheists.
17. vjack presents The Christian Bible is Magic: Introducing Vjack's Law posted at Atheist Revolution.
18. Ron Gold presents The Invisible Pink Unicorn: It's Official: I'm An Atheist Minister! posted at The Invisible Pink Unicorn.
19. Melanie Pinkert presents Religion and Politics: Making Peace with Obama's Peacemaking posted at BroadSnark.
And for the next COTG, welcome Ridger FCD.
Er. that's it.