April 27, 2007

Panic in Illinois

From the Chicago Tribune:
Allen Lee, an 18-year-old straight-A student at Cary-Grove High School, was arrested Tuesday near his home and charged with disorderly conduct for an essay police described as violently disturbing but not directed toward any specific person or location.
So much for freedom of speech.

(Actually, I expect that someone somewhere in Illinois will eventually stumble across a copy of the Constitution and notice the First Amendment. But I'm not holding by breath.)

April 26, 2007

Cookery books

My top three recipe books.

1. Step by Step Indian Cookbook by Mridula Baljekar. Favorite recipes: Onion Bhajiyas, Kofta Bhuna, Chicken Korma, Keema Mattar.

2. The Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces by Diane Seed. Favorites: Trenette al Pesto, Spaghetti Maria Grazia, Pasta alla Primavera, Pasta con le Fave al Proscuitto.

3. Supercookery! edited by Isabel Moore, for Lamb Ragout, Hoppin' John, Fenouils a la Grecque.

April 22, 2007

Gun nuts

Clive Davis would like a “grown-up debate” on gun control.

Fat chance.

National Union of Jokers

So, a British journalist is kidnapped by Palestinians and the NUJ responds by voting to boycott Israel!

Adloyada has a link-filled post setting out the background.

April 21, 2007

Home cooking

This weekend, I've mostly been chilling with the boys. No 1 Son arrived Friday, and he and the Big Fella cooked the family dinner: Szechuan Chicken and Aubergines in Black Bean Sauce. And very nice it was too!

I'm keen to ensure that all the boys can cook before they leave home and they’re rising to the challenge.

But teaching them to clean up after themselves, now that’s a different matter.

April 20, 2007

Virginia Tech

With so much media attention focused on the killer, it's easy to overlook the fallen. From today's Times: "The victims, their worlds and lives cut tragically short."

April 18, 2007

Painting by numbers

A domain coloring of Log(z).

From "Visualizing complex-valued functions in the plane" at MAA Online.

April 17, 2007

Poetry corner

Called to mind

For some (strange and possibly unknowable) reason, reading the tributes to Kurt Vonnegut Jr put me in mind of one of the poems of Edwin Brock.

Five Ways To Kill A Man

There are many cumbersome ways to kill a man.
You can make him carry a plank of wood
to the top of a hill and nail him to it. To do this
properly you require a crowd of people
wearing sandals, a cock that crows, a cloak
to dissect, a sponge, some vinegar and one
man to hammer the nails home.

Or you can take a length of steel,
shaped and chased in a traditional way,
and attempt to pierce the metal cage he wears.
But for this you need white horses,
English trees, men with bows and arrows,
at least two flags, a prince, and a
castle to hold your banquet in.

Dispensing with nobility, you may, if the wind
allows, blow gas at him. But then you need
a mile of mud sliced through with ditches,
not to mention black boots, bomb craters,
more mud, a plague of rats, a dozen songs
and some round hats made of steel.

In an age of aeroplanes, you may fly
miles above your victim and dispose of him by
pressing one small switch. All you then
require is an ocean to separate you, two
systems of government, a nation's scientists,
several factories, a psychopath and
land that no-one needs for several years.

These are, as I began, cumbersome ways
to kill a man. Simpler, direct, and much more neat
is to see that he is living somewhere in the middle
of the twentieth century, and leave him there.
So it goes.

April 16, 2007

Easy listening

Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour - I've heard people talking about it but I only just got round to listening to it.

Highly recommended: the man's a natural DJ.

Go Bob!

April 14, 2007

Daily Tao

You can get it here.

Family life

I spend a lot of my time shopping and cooking for the family. The Big Fella is 12 now and, over the last couple of years, his tastes have really branched out. Here are his top five home-cooked meals:

Chicken Fajitas
Kofta Bhuna
Jerk Chicken
Chicken Korma
Looking at that list, I've got to wonder how well we're integrating. I mean, it's not very British, is it? Though to be fair, the Big Fella is also very fond of roast lamb and Toad in the Hole.

[You might want to Google that last one - I had no idea what it was until the first time Mac cooked it.]

April 13, 2007

Anonymize your blog

The BBC shows you how.

Since I closed down my old site a year ago, I haven't had any more phone calls from people with Middle Eastern accents complaining they had "issues" with my blog. And that's a Good Thing.

But I could have avoided the problem entirely if I'd followed the Beeb's advice. And yes, occassionally those phone calls still worry me - they know where I live.

April 12, 2007

Anti-Americanism at the BBC

It looks like they might be starting to take anti-Americanism a little more seriously at the BBC.

The US is perceived by many as an international bully, a modern day imperial power. At this critical moment in history, Washington correspondent Justin Webb challenges that idea.

He argues anti-Americanism is often a cover for hatreds with little justification in fact. His three part series takes him to Cairo, Caracas and Washington but it begins where anti-Americanism began - in Paris.

I think it's a shame the series won't be examining the roots of British anti-Americanism. But still, it's a start.

April 11, 2007

1781 and all that

Via Harry's Place, I learn that the Oxford Union will shortly be debating the motion: "This House Regrets the Founding of the United States of America".

Cornwallis surrendered more than 200 years ago, guys. Get over it!

April 10, 2007

Alternative history

Over the last couple of weeks, a number of US commentators have expressed surprise (and, in some cases, dismay) at the lack of outrage in Britain over the capture of their sailors and marines by the Iranians.

Today, Greg Djerejian imagines the reaction in the US if the captured personnel had been Americans.

It's not flattering.

April 09, 2007


I promised myself a while back that if I ever started blogging again I'd add Neo-neocon to my blog links.

Job jobbed.

Knut job

Looks cute, don't he?

But don't be taken in. Never judge a bear until you've heard him talking to his agent. Pootergeek has the lowdown.

Hundertwasser's toilet

This is Mac's favorite toilet.

It's 11,000 miles away in New Zealand and the picture shows the mensroom; so, it's neither convenient nor appropriate. But it does look good.

April 08, 2007

A scanner obliquely

According to Norm:

"Sometimes a person can scan the news and feel the world is only to be approached obliquely, if at all."



My apologies to Natalie Solent. Who, for some reason, had been listed in my blog links as Natalie Nolent.

Oh dear.

Coward's deal

From last week’s Sunday Times, AA Gill imagines Noel Coward presenting .
Deal or No Deal
I see him walking on like Mr Bridger from the Italian Job, doing
that funny little Queen Mother wave: “Too kind, too fearfully kind. You’re mocking me with kindness. Please, please, no more. Madam,” he would say, "you are Deirdre. Deirdre – how charming. Now I see you in the light, I realise you couldn’t be anything other than a Deirdre – a name you have utterly, utterly made your own. I forbid anyone else ever to be called Deirdre.

“Now, Deirdre - Dear, dear Deirdre – promise me, whatever pitiful little nest egg you take away from this farrago, you won’t do a thing with your hair. You will promise me, Deirdre, won’t you? You will leave it just the way it is. It’s so blissfully, blissfully you.
“Now, Deirdre, which numbered box do you wish to broach? Sixteen? The common little man with the appalling necktie? You think he’s hiding a fortune, Deirdre? He’s certainly ugly enough. I have always found wealth to be nature’s consolation for Medusan hideosity. Well, common little man, reveal the contents of your cartouche. Oh, Deirdre, the wretched little man has purloined your dreams. If that’s the damnable banker again, tell him I’m entertaining and unavailable. The impertinence of tradesmen.”