Thursday, 31 December 2009

Happy Gnu Year!

Wishing a great 2010 to one and all.

Grow into these trousers... >>

Monday, 28 December 2009

Just how I like my pizza

Via Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 27 December 2009

A thought for a Sunday

"An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind".

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
(1869 – 1948) Grow into these trousers... >>

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Chistmas

This is the best Christmas song ever!
Have a wonderful time - love you all...

The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl - Fairytale of New York
Grow into these trousers... >>

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Late night music

And Merry Winterval to all:

Intro and Outro- Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band
Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 20 December 2009

A thought for a Sunday

The real reason for the poor outcome of the climate change summit?

Via The Real MFG, credit Joel Pett. Grow into these trousers... >>

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Brrrr - it's cold

The North wind doth blow and we shall have snow,
And what will poor robin do then, poor thing?
He'll sit in a barn and keep himself warm
and hide his head under his wing, poor thing.

Anon (C. 1600) Grow into these trousers... >>

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

A memory jogger

There was some of the 1990s where the music hit the spot. I love this song but I can't remember if it's the original video or not. Anyone have a better memory?

PULP - 'Live Bed Show'
Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 6 December 2009

A thought for a Sunday

"The mind likes a strange idea as little as the body likes a strange protein and resists it with similar energy. It would not perhaps be too fanciful to say that a new idea is the most quickly acting antigen known to science. If we watch ourselves honestly we shall often find that we have begun to argue against a new idea even before it has been completely stated".

Wilfred Batten Lewis Trotter (1872-1939) Grow into these trousers... >>

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Dead, ill, abducted by aliens?

No, still here. Thanks to everyone who's been asking if I'm OK; I'm fine.

So what's happening? A couple of weeks ago I caught a cold and felt a bit down, I had no concentration or enthusiasm and couldn't be bothered with the blinking box on my desk. As a result things began to slip. After a few days I was back on my feet but I still had no interest in things online. It's strange but I felt that, after spending the best part of 20 years in front of a screen, I'd had enough. "I'll blog and do my emails later on" was a regular thought, but it never got done. So, apart from DVDs, audio books and the occasional computer game, the PC has been off (I never realised how many programmes on Radio 4 are repeated through the week).

In the last day or two I'm feeling different and bouncing back. I still have old emails to catch up with and, even though I'm normally a very lazy Facebooker (don't bother), I have a surprising backlog of requests and whatever to respond to. I will get to it all soon.

Cheers all, I'm not far away. Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 29 November 2009

A thought for a Sunday

"I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go. Things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they're right. You believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together".

Marilyn Monroe (1926 – 1962) Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 22 November 2009

A thought for a Sunday

"Only when the tide goes out do you discover who's been swimming naked".

Warren Buffett (b. 1930) Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Trousers demand independence!

It must be true;
Step Hen Fri says so in this broadcast from the year 2034:

So is the past tense of making a Twitter post 'to twat' as in:
I twat a funny link yesterday,
you twat celebrity photos,
they twatted about...? Grow into these trousers... >>

A thought for a Sunday

"A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason".

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) Grow into these trousers... >>

Friday, 13 November 2009

A little something to chew on

Yummy. Or maybe not.

The nerd in me first thought of Klingons, but then I wondered what's the most revolting thing you have ever eaten?

My tale:
Many years ago I knew some Japanese chemists who each were working in the UK for a year at a time. One guy in particular became a good mate. He used to get food parcels from home and shared the best Pot Noodles ever, ever, ever! He also used to get bags of tiny, dried, silvery fish which he munched like crisps. They were just about acceptable, but not really to my taste. The worst of all, the most disgusting thing, was sun dried cuttlefish, which to my friend seemed to be a delicacy.

To me it was like chewing a ball of string flavored with rotten fish. Truly revolting.

I got my own back later with a chunk of Blue Stilton cheese which, to my great laughter, he spat halfway across the room. It's all a matter of taste. Grow into these trousers... >>

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

I haven’t had one of these for a long while

Where is Gilbert Murray when you need him?

Re:confirm your information's for delivery
Ali Mustafa []
Sent: 11 November 2009 07:26


We decided to communicate with you via this medium as instructed by United Nation to inform you of the release and arrangement to deliver your long awaited consignment through an assign UN Diplomat.
...forward to my Commission the followings: copy of your identification (either driver's license or Intl. passport copy), your office & home address, telephone numbers (including cell phone no. for effective communication) and also the name of your nearest Intl. airport to your city.
This delivery is urgent so do not hesitate or delay to send the requirement at( to avoid unnecessary delays.

Get back as soon as possible.

Alhaji Ali Mustafa
For UN Diplomatic Unit
Tel: 00233243147583.

Yeah, sure :) Grow into these trousers... >>

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

LRO re-images Tranquility base

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has been in its final orbit for almost two months now and has passed over the Apollo 11 landing site again, but this time only 50km above. The full power of the camera is now revealed.

The Sun is almost directly overhead, so the surface seems 'flat' with no shadows, but look at the big bright blob. That's the landing stage of the LEM, the four dots around it are the landing pads. To the South are the scientific instruments they left behind and snaking around are the tracks left by Armstrong and Aldrin.

The whole image is little more than 100m across, if there were astronauts there now they would probably be visible. Amazing.

See Bad Astronomy for more. Grow into these trousers... >>

Monday, 9 November 2009

Is the Catholic church a force for good in the world?

Make up your own mind watching this debate with Archbishop John Onaiyekan, Ann Widdecombe MP, Christopher Hitchens and Stephen Fry.

The Intelligence Squared Debate (Part 1/5)
Grow into these trousers... >>

Al least John has some standards

Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 8 November 2009

A thought for a Sunday

For The Fallen

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is a music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted:
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables at home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end they remain.

Laurence Binyon (1869-1943) Grow into these trousers... >>

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Late night music - The blues


JOHN MAYALL MICK TAYLOR ; Blues For Lost Days '03
Grow into these trousers... >>

In praise of Spitzer

Launched in 2003, the Spitzer infrared space telescope is past the end of its primary mission. The coolant for the main camera is all used up, but even so there is still important scientific work it can do.

Never quite so visually stunning as Hubble, the results from Spitzer are sometimes astonishing and still worth a look.

The following video from IRrelevant astronomy outlines some of the findings from Spitzer and is presented by Felicia Day and Sean Astin.

Hang on ...

That Felicia Day? This Sean Astin. Yup, seems right (?)

Behind the Scenes: When Galaxies Collide

HT BA Grow into these trousers... >>

Thursday, 5 November 2009

So this is what I have to look forward to...

Head rungus!

Well at least I can supply this restaurant in Yunnan, China:

Click for the full menu and read on...

OK I once had a friend with athlete's foot but, now I've joined the old folks club, can the other oldies around here tell me how they cope with outbreaks of rungus?

Via Grow into these trousers... >>

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Amazing drumming

{Picks up lower jaw from floor}

The Top Secret Drum Corps from Basel, Switzerland.
This beats any other tattoo I've ever seen:

Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 1 November 2009

A thought for a Sunday

"Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends".

Maya Angelou (b. 1928) Grow into these trousers... >>

Saturday, 31 October 2009

It's Halloween

And I always think of this epic story of intrigue, mystery and witchcraft by the renowned Jewish poet Rabbi Burns.

Envoiceulated by Karen Dunbar

Grow into these trousers... >>

Friday, 30 October 2009

Job Done!

Now I stand on my own feet. Today was my last day at work.

But I must say that today the warmth, friendship and generosity of my former workmates has been overwhelming. I feel quite emotional. I won't miss the journeys to work, especially in the cold and dark of the coming winter, but I will miss the camaraderie.

Well, a stage of my life ends. New beginnings? You bet, and maybe I can find time to blog more :)

Anyway, for tonight...
Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Late night music

This warm and haunting piece hardly needs an introduction.

Joaquín Rodrigo, Concierto de Aranjuez.

Rodrigo captures Spain's history beautifully; a culture crystallized in music.

Concerto Guitar Rodrigo De Aranjuez

Guitar: Taymaz Hemmaty
Cor anglais: don't know :(
Grow into these trousers... >>

A thought for a Sunday

"There is one kind of robber whom the law does not strike at, and who steals what is most precious to men: time".

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769 – 1821) Grow into these trousers... >>

Saturday, 24 October 2009

One week to go!

And I will finally have shrugged off my shackles and be walking the free and verdant Earth.

Time is dragging. The days seem to pass with their usual regularity, I keep busy and time flies (like a banana), but the days are so slow to add up to weeks. I am so frustrated, I want my last day at work to come as quickly as possible.
In the meantime here are some links I was going to post last week:

I'm sure most cat owners will have seen this...

Via Skepchick comes a chart showing something we should all be aware of, so I was once told.

An image which has so much future in it:

Live to 100, feel like you're 50
A soon to be former colleague outlines a new research project at Leeds University.

All I can say is: 'Come on Eileen'

Grow into these trousers... >>

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

A bit of boogie

The Grateful Dead - Alabama Getaway
Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Today's silly joke

Once upon a time…

In a faraway land the King found his dominion under threat from a rebel group seeking to overthrow him. Calling for his spymaster, the King gave instruction to find the ringleaders and bring them to his justice. By the skill of the spymaster the rebels were soon infiltrated and the King's own cousin, the Count, was implicated.

The Count was taken to the dungeons and given to the torturer for the extraction of the truth. Under questioning the Count refused to yield so, with a nod from the King, the torturer began to cut off the Count's toes. "Tell us names and places" said the King. "Never" screamed the Count. The torturer began to cut off his fingers. "I will never tell" cried the Count. Then his feet were sawn off. Then his hands. Still the Count was resolute.

Now, the King was a kind and benevolent person, and he viewed the Count with new honour. For withstanding such agony and still refusing to confess, the King thought to end the Count's misery by granting his death. The executioner was summoned.

It was not a good day for the executioner. He had not expected any business today and his axe was with the smith, for a service (normal things: sharpening, balance check and a good polish). However he did have his trusty hatchet, with which many had been dispatched to oblivion. At a sign from the King the hatchet fell, but at that instant the Count's resolve broke. He cried out "Hold, I will tell all". Too late, the executioner's blow was swift and it was out for the Count, so to speak.

The moral of this story is below the belt.

Don't hatchet your Counts before they’ve chickened.
Grow into these trousers... >>

A thought for a Sunday

"As for me, all I know is that I know nothing. I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing."

Manuel, Fawlty Towers

Socrates (c. 469 BC–399 BCE) Grow into these trousers... >>

Saturday, 17 October 2009

I know I've been quiet

Don't worry about it! There's been much I've had to do, and much more I still have to do. I've been doing some of it today whhich is wwhy I now haave an elevated blood/alchoholl level. I never expected so much though.
Two weeks, 10 working days, till I hand in my key fob, pick up my P45 and go to the pub.

This October is the longest month of my life.

Grow into these trousers... >>

Monday, 12 October 2009

Late night music - The animal eating song

And I don't know why either...

Burl Ives - I Know An Old Lady
Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 11 October 2009

A thought for a Sunday

"Music does bring people together. It allows us to experience the same emotions. People everywhere are the same in heart and spirit. No matter what language we speak, what color we are, the form of our politics or the expression of our love and our faith, music proves: We are the same."

John Denver (1943 – 1997) Grow into these trousers... >>

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Ooo, Err, Just had an internet outage

And it was horrible. I got home from work and fired up my trusty workhorse only to find that Firefox wouldn't connect. ARGH!

Immediately I blamed myself, in an "I didn't do it" sort of way, but then I noticed outgoing network traffic when the should have been none. Double AARRGH - VIRUS. No internet connection and my virus scanner (AVG) has failed.

Calm me says: OK don't panic. Look at what's happening, go: Start -> run -> cmd -> netstat -?
(I had to be reminded of the netstat switches) then netstat -a -n

And it's all local network traffic, 192.168.x.n or Hmmm.

Hang on... no internet connection.

I look at the cable modem, RDY light off SYNC light flashing. No connection! Triple AAARRRGH. The outgoing traffic is just my computer 'trying' to connect. So I off/on the modem and twizzle all the connections. No difference.

Then! Then I cursed The Gypsy* who is re-laying some flagstones in front of the house where the wires come in. "Nah" says he "Not bin ahghtside i'this weather.**"

With a sigh I resigned myself to a weekend of service calls and no internet. So, for fun, I dug out an old game (Neverwinter Nights) and fought mythical creatures for a while (great therapy for a DnD nerd like me).

After a long night I looked at the modem again. RDY light on SYNC light on, back on line. Yay, it was their fault not ours. Bastards though, it was off for hours.

Internet service providers have a lot to answer for. There would be at least 50 gnolls, countless kobolds and orcs, and a giant still virtually alive but for Branson.

I virtually feel I could kill something...

* He is a very close friend, he can take it.
** TRANSLATION: I did not work outside today, it was raining.
Grow into these trousers... >>

Thursday, 8 October 2009

LCROSS to slam into the Moon

The Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) will tomorrow experience a rather abrupt deceleration as it plunges into a crater near the South pole of the Moon.

Launched together with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO - the one with my name on it) LCROSS clung to the final stage of the rocket motor and fuel tank. In a long looping orbit, LCROSS has slowly pointed the spent stage on a suicide dive into a crater where the Sun never shines. Shortly before impact LCROSS with detach from the rocket stage but follow it down a few minutes later. As the rocket stage hits and throws up debris LCROSS will fly into the plume with all detectors on full. Wow!

The LRO will be watching from orbit and ground based telescopes too. Let's see what's thrown up, some people hope to detect water, maybe lots of it, I just want to hear the results. Grow into these trousers... >>

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Late night music

It's a long intro because Stevie dedicates the song to her dad, but that's fair enough, it's worth it.

Stevie Nicks - Landslide - Soundstage 2008 HQ part 14
Grow into these trousers... >>

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Buying a camera

I have never been much of a photographer, though I admire the skill. Mum and dad had a nice Konica 35mm which I liberated from taking family holiday snaps; and then took pics of woodland and lakes and the sea when I was on holiday! I'd be aged about 16-18. Then, in my mid 20s I was shown how to develop and print in black and white to produce laboratory images. Gel documentation, autoradiography and the like; though I did a few rolls of B&W snapshots to see how that worked (with a borrowed camera).

That is about my total knowledge of photography and that was 30 years ago. OK my ex would sometimes give me this plastic thing, tell me which button to press and say "just point and shoot", but that's a different story.

It's a new digital age and I want to buy a camera. I'm obviously looking around myself and I have some ideas, but I'm asking everyone and I value the opinions of folks with more experience.

Firstly, I've set a budget of £350-400. Secondly, you may ask, why do I want a camera anyway?

One big reason is that near where I live there is a lot of history and I hope to make some interesting blog posts. I can easily find evidence of Robin Hood*, the Industrial Revolution, the Brontës and a lot more**, within a mile or two of home.

Insects and wild flowers are also a fascination (gardens are too). I would also like to be able to photograph the Moon. Not with astronomical precision but to capture mood. Tripod? Got one!

So I want a camera with a decent zoom to pick out say, architectural detail or blow up the Moon, but with the ability to get up close when needed. Am I expecting too much? Should I save up for separate lenses? Have you a camera that you love and trust.

What would you recommend?
* the legend anyway.
** I even know where there's a public air raid shelter from WWII.
Grow into these trousers... >>

Monday, 5 October 2009

Heretic? Dammed sure I am.

Pat Condell gets a bit hot under the collar expressing his feelings about religious leaders. He's pretty much right of course.

The arrogance of clergy


heretic – noun:
  1. a professed believer who maintains religious opinions contrary to those accepted by his or her church or rejects doctrines prescribed by that church.

  2. Roman Catholic Church. a baptized Roman Catholic who willfully and persistently rejects any article of faith.

  3. anyone who does not conform to an established attitude, doctrine, or principle.
Regarding religion, I'll take number 3.
Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 4 October 2009

A thought for a Sunday

"The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure , the process is its own reward."

Amelia Earhart
(1897 – missing 1937, declared dead 1939) Grow into these trousers... >>

Friday, 2 October 2009

Late night music - Shaft

Isaac Hayes - Theme from "Shaft"
Grow into these trousers... >>

Two great cartoons in ~ a week

Abstruse Goose is on a roll.

Click the cartoon to read on:

Grow into these trousers... >>

Thursday, 1 October 2009

A silly song for a laugh

I've no idea why this popped into my head, but...

Mike Nesmith - Rio
Grow into these trousers... >>

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Till death us do part

Though a little non-PC today, Warren Mitchell's character as Alf Garnett in Till death us do part is still great comedy.

Alf Garnett on the British Empire
Grow into these trousers... >>

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Late night music - Beth Orton

I love this song, it resonates with me somehow. The original (and best) version is here:

Beth Orton - Stolen Car

but it's embed disabled. Click the link or watch her live at Glastonbury; where she makes a big booboo in the middle :)

Beth Orton - Stolen Car live @ Glastonbury '99
Grow into these trousers... >>

Wicked illusion

Do NOT try this if you suffer from epilepsy or any strobe-light induced disorientation or nausia!

If you've done acid or mushrooms it's a doddle :)

  1. Go to this link

  2. Stare at the moving pattern for ½ a min

  3. Look at your hands

Via the Bad Astronomer, from Richard Wiseman on Twitter (whatever that is). Grow into these trousers... >>

Monday, 28 September 2009

Beware of stealth cat

Ninja cat comes closer while not moving!

Via Cosmic Variance. Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 27 September 2009

A thought for a Sunday

"... nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. This is one of the hardest lessons for humans to learn. We cannot admit that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous -- indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose".

Clinton Richard Dawkins (b. 1941)

From River Out of Eden (1995) Grow into these trousers... >>

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Wild Horses

A while ago Duncanr of Madhatters posted a version of the Rolling Stones' Wild Horses by BGT favourite Susan Boyle. Much as I like Susan's voice and her personality, which comes over as being down to earth and genuine, this is not the song for her. The arrangement is utterly wrong, piano it too prominent and too jarring and the cheap strings sound false. Overall it's too sweetly sung for me and I feel Susan doesn't connect with the song. She sings it too ... nicely... when it should have some grit.

You are welcome to compare, here are the Stones being sweet:

Rolling Stones - Wild Horses [3:02]
Grow into these trousers... >>

Thursday, 24 September 2009

The wise master speaks

Abstruse Goose hits the spot again :)

Click the image to see why.

Grow into these trousers... >>

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

In praise of Chas 'n' Dave

Dave has announced his retirement (best of luck) so here's Chas & Dave at their best:

Chas + Dave-The Sideboard Song
Grow into these trousers... >>

Remove radioactive dirt 2½ times better

Here's one for nursemyra, if she's surviving the dust storms in Australia (and the post Rapture tribulation).

OK, take some everyday dirt and make it "radioactive" (OMFSM, I shudder to think what isotope). Now apply it to a young lady's face and clean it off with different soaps, cleansing and cold creams.

Take measurements with a Geiger counter which ticks at a constant rate.

Announce the efficacy of your product to the world! It's easy...

Shocking 1950's Commercial! [1:34]

via the all knowing Orac. Grow into these trousers... >>

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Your music homework

Learn this piece for a recital in the morning:

Faeire's Aire and Death Waltz
(from "A Tribute to Zdenko G. Fibich")
Words and music by John Stump - Arranged by Accident

Peanuts from Clinton's, cattle provided by Farmer Bull. Grow into these trousers... >>

Monday, 21 September 2009

Late night music

Annie Lennox- Why [5:22]
Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 20 September 2009

A true prophet speaks

Well, he sings... But his song is as true now as the day it was written.

Bob Dylan - A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall Live 1971 [6:07]

Bonus track: I sent this to my ex when we split up, evil bugger
as I am...

It's all over now baby blue [4:15]
Grow into these trousers... >>

With friends like this who needs...?

My eyes are still watering - with laughing.

Blindfolded and Tricked [0:43]
Grow into these trousers... >>

A thought for a Sunday

"The fight is won or lost far away from the witnesses, behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road; long before I dance under those lights."

Muhammad Ali (b.1942) Grow into these trousers... >>

Saturday, 19 September 2009

I just fancied listening to this song

Then I found the entertainment police at YouTube had deleted the links I'd posted last year. Oh well, I just had to find them again.

The awesome Pretenders. Don't you just love Chrissie Hynde?

The Pretenders - Night In My Veins (live) [3:39]

The Pretenders - Brass In Pocket [3:06]

The Pretenders.- Back on the chain gang [3:39]

Bonus track :)
Pretenders - Talk of the town (Live '08) [3:20]
Grow into these trousers... >>

Friday, 18 September 2009

I was going to post a really good video

But there was a bug in it:

Grow into these trousers... >>

Another silly site to keep an eye on

Animals with lightsabers:


Grow into these trousers... >>

Thursday, 17 September 2009


My thoughts are with Mary Travers (November 9, 1936 – September 16, 2009)...

puff the magic dragon (live)
Grow into these trousers... >>

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

A zoom-in view of the cosmos

The Universe [3:32]

Posted today by GrrlScientist.

Now, go vote for her to be the official Quark Expeditions blogger on a trip to Antarctica. I've mentioned this before.

If you haven't voted yet, well go do it.
The world's birdlife is telling you to:

even the Digital Cuttlefish gives it's endorsement. Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 13 September 2009

A thought for a Sunday

"It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things".

Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519) Grow into these trousers... >>

Saturday, 12 September 2009

No, no regrets

I listened to a Radio 4 programme this afternoon about the song The Look of Love (3 days left to listen). The song is well known from the 1967 James Bond film Casino Royale; but somehow, as cool as Dusty Springfield's version was, there is an underlying laidbackness to 'The Look of Love' which even Dusty fell short of. I remember a much better version in French, and I don't think it was Mireille Mathieu either, who is oft cited online. I have a memory of the song much slower, a deep woman's voice, breathy, quiet and sensual. I can't find it online, but then I thought of Édith Piaf.

Sadly Édith had left the stage before 'The Look of Love' was even written, so I was wrong there, but then I found this timeless gem:

Edith Piaf - Non, je ne regrette rien (1961)

To compare, the studio version is here. Grow into these trousers... >>

Friday, 11 September 2009

Classic comedy - Tommy Cooper

Have a laugh with me to a master comedian and skilled magician, Tommy Cooper.

Tommy Cooper - Spoon / Jar

More magic below the belt.

Tommy Cooper "Magic Cloak"

Tommy Cooper - slow motion

Tommy Cooper - The "Hats" Sketch
Grow into these trousers... >>

Gordon Brown apologises for past treatment of gays.

Hot on the heels of my earlier post, The Prime Minister has issued an apology to Alan Turing and countless other gays victimised by the backward laws of the last century.
"Thousands of people have come together to demand justice for Alan Turing and recognition of the appalling way he was treated. While Turing was dealt with under the law of the time and we can’t put the clock back, his treatment was of course utterly unfair and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him. Alan and the many thousands of other gay men who were convicted as he was convicted under homophobic laws were treated terribly. Over the years millions more lived in fear of conviction".

"I am proud that those days are gone and that in the last 12 years this government has done so much to make life fairer and more equal for our LGBT community. This recognition of Alan’s status as one of Britain’s most famous victims of homophobia is another step towards equality and long overdue".
Long overdue, but welcome. Read the full statement here. Grow into these trousers... >>

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

A bit of music

Or poetry set to music, I like early James.

James - Sometimes
Grow into these trousers... >>

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

A call for an apology to Alan Turing

In 1952, World War II code-breaking hero and the father of computing Alan Turing was convicted of that most heinous of crimes, being born a homosexual.

Following Turing's prosecution he was further humiliated by having his security privileges withdrawn and by being chemically castrated, then an experimental "treatment", for his non-existent illness. Turing committed suicide in 1954.

There is an online petition to the Prime Minister calling for an apology to Turing and a posthumous pardon. There are currently 30,327 signatories, including myself. The petition reads:
"Alan Turing was the greatest computer scientist ever born in Britain. He laid the foundations of computing, helped break the Nazi Enigma code and told us how to tell whether a machine could think.

He was also gay. He was prosecuted for being gay, chemically castrated as a 'cure', and took his own life, aged 41.

The British Government should apologize to Alan Turing for his treatment and recognize that his work created much of the world we live in and saved us from Nazi Germany. And an apology would recognize the tragic consequences of prejudice that ended this man's life and career".
Please take a moment to go and sign the petition and reflect on Turing's impact on our modern world. That man should have had a knighthood at least, not persecution. Grow into these trousers... >>

Monday, 7 September 2009

The best excuse ever?

As if anybody needs one...

Billy Connolly ~ Masturbation
Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 6 September 2009

A thought for a Sunday

"People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use."

Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (1813 – 1855) Grow into these trousers... >>

Saturday, 5 September 2009

The times they are a changing

Some folks may have noticed that I've been a bit quiet recently. There has been a lot on my mind, much thinking and planning. I have heard a wind blowing for a long time, and I listened to it's whispers. It has given good advice. Times for me are going to change. Don't worry, it's nothing bad. I welcome this as a rare opportunity.

I am going to take voluntary redundancy from work, and retire.

Scorpions - Wind Of Change

There are many reasons for my decision. The Faculty of Biology at Leeds Uni is in serious debt, over six million pounds and set to rise to twenty million over the next few years. Even though I have been assured my job is safe, it would change beyond recognition in the restructuring and I will not be a pawn, a bargaining chip, between different departments. Finance/purchasing apparently want me. They can fuck themselves.

I worked for more than 30 years in biochemical research before moving into IT, mainly because my heart and my interests drew me there but also because of the sit down nature of the job. My health has been in decline over the last 6 to 8 years and has plummeted over the last 9 months. Why stick it out only to be in a position I don't want and still face possible compulsory redundancy in the near future?

Everyone I have spoken to (unofficially) tells me I would be crazy not to accept the generous payout, officially of course it is up to me to decide. I have decided. I intend to enjoy whatever time I have left. Look for me: you will find me in my garden or in the kitchen, cooking and making homebrew from the fruits and flowers of the local fields and hedgerows. At last I may have time to fully explore this 'music' thing which has obsessed me all my life.

I finish work at the end of October. It will be with a heavy heart for good times past, a sigh, a smile and then WOOHOO!!!!! Grow into these trousers... >>

Late night music - John Martyn

Yes it is late, but this song was irresistible. I loved the late John Martyn.

John Martyn Live - John Wayne
Grow into these trousers... >>

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Doh - been tagged

Thank you duncanr (sigh). OK, I'm game...

1. Grab the book nearest to you, turn on page 18 and find line 4. –
"-bers's mentor, W.P. Ker, though likening Beowulf in"
(introduction to 'Beowulf, a verse translation by Michael Alexander').

2. Stretch your left arm out as far as you can & catch _____ – Empty air, but about as far again is a hi-fi speaker.

3. What is the last thing you watched on TV? – I don't have a TV but I did watch some of the last Test Match, one teatime in the pub.

4. Without looking, guess what time it is? – 11:15am

5. Now look at the clock, what is the actual time? – 11:01am. I'm running fast today.

6. With the exception of the computer, what can you hear? – Nothing but the wall clock ticking.

7. When did you last step outside? What were you doing? – Last Tuesday, going to the shops (I've had a stinking cold).

8. Before you started this Q&As, what did you look at? – Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy blog.

9. What are you wearing? – Jeans and a black shirt.

10. When did you last laugh? – Last night, listening to George Hrab's podcast.

11. What is on the walls of the room you are in? - A poster of Jim Morrison, a watercolour (copy) of a butterfly perched on some suspicious looking mushrooms and a copy of William Blake's 'The Ancient of Days' above the fireplace. Oh, and a clock.

12. Seen anything weird lately? – The blackberries have seemed to ripen very early this year.

13. What do you think of this quiz? – A bit of fun.

14. What is the last film you saw? – On DVD: 'The Return of the King', extended edition, disc 1. In the cinema: 'The Fellowship of the Ring', when it first came out. I must get out more :)

15. If you became a multimillionaire overnight, what’s the first thing you would do? – Build a large, heated, conservatory.

16. Tell me something about you that I dunno! – In my late teens I was in a ballroom dancing team for the North of England.

17. If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt or politics, what would you do? – Uninvent weapons of warfare.

18. Do you like to Dance? - Used to (see 16), but I'm nowhere near fit and supple enough any more.

19. Imagine your first child is a girl, what do you call her? – Hallucinogenica Moonray.

20. Imagine your first child is a boy, what do you call him? – John.

21. Would you ever consider living abroad? – No. It's fine to visit but I like home.

22. What do you want GOD to say to you when you reach the pearly gates? – He can begin with an explanation, and it had better be a bloody good one.

23. What time is it now? - 12:44pm, after editing and making mackerel on toast.

Now I'm supposed to tag someone else. Well I would like to tag whoever gave me this cold - with a large staple gun to the nostrils. Grow into these trousers... >>

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Let It Snow

Well I've had another ace weekend... It rained, the beer was crap and now I've got a cold.

But it was fantabulous!!! On Sunday we were at a charity gala day and we were playing late evening, outside, on Simon's mobile stage again. There were tombolas and raffles, bouncy castles for the kids and good food and everything: even a shove ha'penny stall for bottles of wine (shove pound coin really). A day full of fun, music and the utter enthusiasm of Yorkshirefolk. "It's nowt but a bit 'o rain". I love the spirit of the people where I live. Unstoppable!

The charity we were all supporting is brilliant. Let It Snow (, it could have been 'let it rain' given the downpour today :)

What does Let It Snow do? Well, proper winter in my part of Yorkshire is not so deep and cold as I remember from my own childhood. It's more damp and miserable than crystal cold frost and two feet of snow. So the charity takes the snow to the kids, tons and tons of it, to make chutes and slides and snowmen and igloos and have snowball fights and everything else, and there's a visit from Santa.

It's all for children in hospices, when they may never see a true winter or even see the next spring. I'm proud to be able to contribute in my humble way.

Bonus: I am usually the last to get photos and stuff from when the band plays, but not this time. My good friend 'The Gypsy' videoed our set, and I've just done a rough edit. I can't get the aspect ratio right though, YouTube squashes us, but ne'er mind.

ABandinurHead - Honkey Tonk Women - with umbrellas
Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 30 August 2009

A thought for a Sunday

"In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then beleive them to be true".

Siddhārtha Gautama (c. 563 BCE to 483 BCE) Grow into these trousers... >>

Friday, 28 August 2009

Late night music

Jerry Garcia and Dave Grisman. Ahhhhh cooooly cool...

The thrill is gone
jerry garcia and david grisman
Grow into these trousers... >>

Thursday, 27 August 2009

A classic illusion

Penn and Teller saw a woman in half. Good magic, great comedy.

Via Atheist Media Blog. Grow into these trousers... >>

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Convince your friends they are psychic

This is a cool, computer age, magic trick from Barry and Stuart. I have only found this on BBCthree as yet, so it won't embed, but have a look and fool your mates.

The actual video you play is here. Watch it, if you want to get a feel for what happens. Otherwise skip to...

...the explanation.

I'm sure going to pull a jolly jape tomorrow.

The question is 'who's it going to be'?

Someone computer savvy and not usually gullible. Hmmm...

Thanks to Richard Wiseman's Blog for the links, and Richard interviews Barry and Stuart too. Grow into these trousers... >>

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Don't get angry

Inanimate objects have a way of taking revenge.

From Fail Blog. Grow into these trousers... >>

Monday, 24 August 2009

Late night music

Jerry covers Bob Dylan's Tangled song

Jerry Garcia Band: Tangled Up in Blue
Grow into these trousers... >>

Dolphins and bubble rings

Amazing behaviour indeed, and a great example of animals at play. As for their skill...

Dolphin Bubbles: An Amazing Behavior [3:25]

I've seen something like this before, so thanks to Atheist Planet for jogging my memory. Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 23 August 2009

A thought for a Sunday

"To correct a natural indifference I was placed half-way between misery and the sun. Misery kept me from believing that all was well under the sun, and the sun taught me that history wasn't everything".

Albert Camus (1913 – 1960) Grow into these trousers... >>

Friday, 21 August 2009

The Edgar Broughton Band

If I came into your city
hung up on a game,
would you give me your assistance
though you didn't know my name?
Edgar Broughton Band - 'Hotel Room' - 1971 45rpm
Grow into these trousers... >>

Thursday, 20 August 2009


Since my 'Thought for' last Sunday I have had Oscar Wilde buzzing round my head.

As well as being an outstanding playwright, wit, and author, he was a wonderful poet.

One of the greatest expressions of love I have ever read is this poem...

Is it thy will that I should wax and wane,
Barter my cloth of gold for hodden grey,
And at thy pleasure weave that web of pain
Whose brightest threads are each a wasted day?

Is it thy will--Love that I love so well--
That my Soul's House should be a tortured spot
Wherein, like evil paramours, must dwell
The quenchless flame, the worm that dieth not?

Nay, if it be thy will I shall endure,
And sell ambition at the common mart,
And let dull failure be my vestiture,
And sorrow dig its grave within my heart.

Perchance it may be better so--at least
I have not made my heart a heart of stone,
Nor starved my boyhood of its goodly feast,
Nor walked where Beauty is a thing unknown.

Many a man hath done so; sought to fence
In straitened bonds the soul that should be free,
Trodden the dusty road of common sense,
While all the forest sang of liberty,

Not marking how the spotted hawk in flight
Passed on wide pinion through the lofty air,
To where the steep untrodden mountain height
Caught the last tresses of the Sun God's hair.

Or how the little flower he trod upon,
The daisy, that white-feathered shield of gold,
Followed with wistful eyes the wandering sun
Content if once its leaves were aureoled.

But surely it is something to have been
The best belovèd for a little while,
To have walked hand in hand with Love, and seen
His purple wings flit once across thy smile.

Ay! though the gorgèd asp of passion feed
On my boy's heart, yet have I burst the bars,
Stood face to face with Beauty, known indeed
The Love which moves the Sun and all the stars!
Oscar Wilde
Grow into these trousers... >>

Mr Bean takes a maths exam

Very funny, I like Rowan Atkinson:

Mr. Bean---The Exam
Grow into these trousers... >>

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Jazz - flamenco fusion

I must admit to a taste for flamenco guitar, it's such emotional music. The master flamencoist (IMHO), Paco de Lucia, has such emotions and can play them. Combined with fusionist Al Di Meola's mastery of free form, the result is classic.

I've never heard this recording before, though the tune Mediterranean Sundance, I have known for a long time. Written by Al Di Meola it's from the album Elegant Gypsy (1977).

Mediterranean Sundance germany '81


I posted another version ages ago, with Al, Paco and John McLaughlin. And yet another with Paco and Larry Coryell, but the entertainment police at YouTube saw fit to remove that one. Grow into these trousers... >>

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

A science quiz

Larry Moran at Sandwalk posted this link to a science questionnaire from The Toronto Star. Some of the questions (and answer options) are a bit badly worded, but overall it's a good test of general scientific literacy.

I got them all right - 26/26 - but I had to deliberate long and hard, here and there, to work out what I was being asked. Grow into these trousers... >>

Monday, 17 August 2009

50 years ago today

Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis released the album Kind of Blue. It's beautiful...

Miles Davis - Flamenco Sketches
Grow into these trousers... >>

Well that was a surprise!

I just phoned Virgin Media (queued about 3 mins) to make some changes to my phone account. I had two phone lines to the house, which I got as a cheap package once (but times change). Anyway, I never use one of them, so the time came for it to go. A very helpful young lady sorted out a new tariff for me and then I asked about upgrading my (sluggish) internet connection. "One moment", she said - background music - "OK, we can upgrade you to 10Mbps for... Oooh! It's 99p a month cheaper than you pay now".

Within a minute of saying yes and putting down the phone my firewall reported 'New Network Detected', I clicked 'Internet Zone' and it worked. Impressive!

Now I'm making toast on a red hot cable modem and wondering what to use the bandwidth for. Any good suggestions? I'm sure I can find something :) Grow into these trousers... >>