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August, 2012:

How times change…

I have been re-organizing stuff round here (decorating) and found a slim volume aimed at gels from the typing pool in their first gaff. It’s called, “Cooking in a Bedsitter” by Katherine Whitehorn. First published in 1961 this “New and Fully Revised Edition” dates from 1982 [it was probs anachronistic then].

Here is a sample recipe, with preamble:


Curry finds itself in this section [“Cooking to Stay Alive” – the other section being “Cooking to Impress” – basically a potential boyfriend/suitor who is simply assumed to generally take you out to nice restaurants but now wants to see your diggings!] because it is useless to try to impress anyone with a curry nowadays unless you have spent several years out East and are prepared to talk about it, as well as cook, for hours on end. When it comes to really elaborate curries it is much better to be on the receiving end, and fortunately most people who live in bedsitters know at least one Indian or Pakistani who is delighted to make a curry for an admiring friend [!]. Moreover, they are apt to know their proportions only in terms of .01 grains of saffron per half a sheep, so that they will often make enough curry for you and everyone on the staircase to feed off for a week.

However, here is an unassuming straightforward curry that will work on meat, fish, or any odds and ends you happen to have over.

I have lived almost all of my adult life (and much before!) within easy reach of Indians, Pakistanis (and Bangladeshis – though obviously that country didn’t exist in 1961 when this book was first written and there are also of course Sri Lankans) who were delighted to cook for a paying customer (or maybe possibly an “admiring friend”) or indeed sell the ingredients so you can do it yourself*. I also “love” the racist assumption that you will have a curry wallah on the staircase and their mission is to feed. And also the similarly racist assumption that a native Brit (whatever that means) can’t cook top-notch sub-continental food without having tales to tell of tiger-hunts, malaria and meeting a guru who gives you the recipe upon a sacred scroll that once wrapped the Koh-i-Noor etc ad nauseum. Rather than a book by, say, Madhur Jaffrey (available from all good book-sellers).

Anyway, here is the recipe. Now note this well because I know of one (admittedly unlikely circumstance – guess – it shall be revealed) where it might prove useful…

Curry for Meat, Fish, Rabbit, or Leftovers.

2 onions
2 tomatoes (or squeeze of tomato paste)
1 teaspoon meat extract dissolved in one cup water
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/4lb/100g meat or fish or mince
1 dessertspoon flour
fat for frying

Fry onions gently for 5 mins. Add tomatoes and flour; stir. Add meat extract and water; stir. Add curry powder and KEEP THE HEAT LOW AT THIS POINT (too much direct heat seems to burn off the taste of the curry and leave only the sting – if this happens, add more curry, if you can bear to [!] ). Add meat or rabbit and simmer 1hr. If fish, add after 1/2hr. (1 1/4hrs)

This is even better if you let it get cold and then heat it up.

I’d argue if you have got this far in producing this dish fit for the very Moghuls themselves it’s utterly superlative if you bin it and then phone Sayeed down at “The Last Days of the Raj” and order a lamb bhuna.

Unless of course via some peculiar spacetime conjunction between our Universe and Discworld you have Fred Colon and Nobby Nobbs round for tea**. Death wouldn’t like it mind – he’s into proper Klatchian.

* I used to live in Levenshulme, Manchester and they even had a hybrid Polish/Iranian grocer.
** Though Mrs Colon always added turnip for the wateriness and sultanas for a “taste of the exotic”.

Friday levity


H/T Andrew Bolt

Neil Armstrong

I know Nick has had a draft lying around for a while (so have I; I just keep them on my own hard drive), so I hope he doesn’t mind me jumping in, but some comment should really be made on the passing of Neil Armstrong before the week is out. It already feels a bit like raking over old news. The reason I’ve held off (and it seems to be the case for Nick, too) is that there really isn’t much more to say that hasn’t already been said. His name will be remembered long after any of us are gone, after David Cameron, Angela Merkel, and President Obama become mere footnotes in history. We don’t know the identity of the first vertebrate to haul itself out of the primoridial ooze; we don’t know who disovered fire, the smelting of bronze, or of iron. But Armstrong, the first living creature to set foot on the moon, the first from this planet to set foot on any other, his name, his words, his deeds, have been recorded, and will not be lost as long as humanity endures.

By all accounts, he was a humble, not to say shy, man who shunned adulation. But it’s not adulation – we know he didn’t do it at all alone, and won his chance to be first almost by lottery – just a simple statement of fact: like Rameses or Caesar, his name will be known to schoolchildren in not just hundreds, but thousands, of years. Of who else, in our lifetimes, can that be said?

The well established definition of madness

…is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  Standing on the sidelines and seeing this slow-motion car crash unfold seems a bit like heckling a steamroller.  Nonetheless, the truth shall set you free and all that, so let’s examine the current proposed remedies for the economic malaise.


Well, on the one hand we have the usual suspects, Krugman, Bernanke, Geitner, Mervyn King et al. What do they make of the current situation?  More of the same please and this time let’s really have a good crack at it. 


We get the usual criticism of the non-existent austerity, then calls for more government intervention, cuts in base rates and pressing Ctrl-P on the keyboard of some central bank computer.  Thus the great and the good are now promising us QE3 in the United States.  They have only printed nearly $2 Trillion thusfar so we can hardly expect such trifling chump-change to have any impact apparently.  The ECB balance sheet is up more than 50% since 2008 and if they are to avoid bankruptcy, if any European country falls down watch for much, much more.  The Bank of England almost looks like a small player in this having printed only £375B (anyone think we’ve seen the last of this?).    


Realistically the kind of neo-Keynesianism advocated here died in the 1970’s. The theory went “if you have inflation, that is a sign the economy can’t produce enough goods and there is over-consumption and too much money chasing to few goods, so raise interest rates and taxes to stifle demand and choke inflationary pressure”  Anyway, if you still have a straight-face and haven’t decorated your computer screen with cornflakes it continues “but if there is unemployment and a slow economy, cut interest rates and taxes (the last bit tends to be forgotten) do some public-spending (never forgotten) and hey presto, all will be okay”


Well the Stagflation of the 1970’s destroyed this theory; killed it stone-dead.  Yet like some kind of George Romero creation, the zombie of Keynesianism still stalks the corridors of power.  There are basically two reasons for this; first Krugman and many a lesser known establishment economist runs a kind of intellectual cover for this nonsense.  The media swallow this dross more or less whole and so when the shadow-chancellor goes on TV and talks about the ‘cuts’ being ‘too-far, too-fast’ there are those who take him seriously.    


It seems like the mainstream media is an unofficial accomplice of the banking crime syndicate which is running/ruining our markets and economies. Nowhere is this despicable relationship more apparent than in its deliberate efforts to grossly misinform investors on the critical subject of risk.  Honestly, does anyone think it smart to keep money in bust banks that pay sub-inflation interest rates?


So who is advocating the alternate position?  Well not the government obviously.  No actual cuts are being made and they continue with near zero interest rates and QE.  Nor anyone much they let near a TV camera.  It is simply a case of looking for yourself on the internet or reading some of the excellent stuff Murray Rothbard or the Mises institute put out.  We can hardly be surprised by this.  What politician would say “You need less of me, less taxes and we also need to abolish the fiat magic money tree”  But at the risk of sounding all Fox Mulder ~ the truth is out there.  Sure there will be plenty of people to mock and ‘Scully’ you, but when this nonsense reaches its endgame, at least you can be prepared.  And what will that be?


Well the only trick in the bag of governments and banks is ‘stimulus’ via cheap money be it QE or low/zero* interest rates.  At some point, confidence will disappear in paper money and the government bonds that promise it.  As we can observe from many examples from history, money will become hot (i.e. people will want to hold goods not money).  Real interest rates will climb as investors disengage from bonds and pile into tangible assets (thus further stoking inflation).  Also the government’s ability to borrow will decline sharply as we have seen in Southern Europe already.  Thus serious inflation and really spicey interest rates.  I hate to sound gloomy and I wish it wasn’t so but the worst is yet to come. 


(*I discount ideas about negative interest rates.  If you want to kill your own banking system in about 14 days, this is how to do it.  Not even our politicians are that dumb.  Ditto price controls ~ I can’t imagine anyone thinking this is a good idea)

Peer and Unclothing in Las Vegas…

As The Lone Stranger rides into the Sun Set, and is summoned to Balmoral for words of advice and admonishment from his “Dad” (though what sort of ticking off Chuckles Buggerlugs III can possibly administer after the “Tampon Tapes” episode, I can’t possibly imagine. Hasn’t got a hairy be-kilted leg to stand on, has he?).

Is that it? is that all this Carry On was all about? A couple of grainy pathetic pics of a bloke ripped to the tits and enjoying himself? What a strange faux pious yet prurient people we Brits are. We watch entire series of “Reality” programmes where parents film their kids getting up to no good in Benidorm and laugh about it, but when it’s the very brave bloke who is third in line to the Throne does it, the Chicken Little’s are out in force.

“dreadful role model… unacceptable behaviour… and from the lefties… rich bastards running amuck on our money… etc etc et bleedin cetera.

Time to grow up Britain. Harry did nothing that the rest of us haven’t done or would do, given the opportunity at his age. He’s young, he’s single and he’s rich. He may be on Bollinger and the rest of us on Snakebite, but he’s a bloke, just like us, foolish and fancy free maybe, but he who is without sin, let him cast the first stone. I’ll bet Harry is now the best loved Royal of the entire crew.

My heart bleeds…

Oh dear, how sad, never mind. I’d shut the whole place down entirely myself.

You have one new text message ~ duck!

Now if I was Iran and I wanted to fuck with Israel in a way that hurts ‘em, but not to such a degree that it invites or otherwise justifies a military attack, I look at this report and I chuckle.


The idea is apparently* that if Israel attacks Iran and if Iran shoots back, there will be some national text message system of warning, 


So straight away, I’m getting my telecom guys to create fake attack warning messages.  This disruption to the Israeli economy and general shredding of nerves could be achieved really cheaply whilst causing considerable disruption.  If it ever comes to a shooting war, I am also monitoring the official Israeli texts saying that the last one was an Iranian fake and sending out duplicates of them if I ever do attack to maximise the results of the attack. 


And it’s not like Israel could really complain about cyber-warfare with Stuxnet and all, although I am sure they would be whining all the way to the White House about it.



(* I’m still not entirely convinced this isn’t just enhanced sabre rattling, though you can never rule anything our when lunatic asylum one deals with lunatic asylum two).

The taxi telescreen ~ even Orwell didn’t guess at this.

 This is a really good example of how something, once unthinkable, becomes the exception, then less the exception, then accepted and finally, the rule.


For reasons best known to themselves, Southampton City Council think it’s okay to record your every movement and sound when in one of the cabs they run the protection racket for (i.e. licence).


The notional excuse is to protect drivers, but that can’t be the real reason.  If you want to protect yourself as a driver, just buy a camera and have a sign in the cab declaring it’s there.  If passengers don’t like it, they can get another cab.  The council have no business here.  Similarly the idea that it somehow protects passengers is equally redundant.  If you want to record your cab journeys, do so.  Just let the cabbie know what you are doing and if he doesn’t like it, no contract. 


So what are they really up to?  Well part of it must be the belief that this is a good thing.  Some of ‘em actually believe the stuff they come out with and think it somehow couldn’t happen without the beneficent coercion of local government to compel it.  Others are probably just nasty Stasi freaks who like more control and more surveillance.  I wonder what happens to a day’s seemingly uneventful recording?  Is it deleted, relayed somewhere, backed up? I just don’t know.  My suspicion is that it maybe one of the latter choices because the alleged cost of £700 is quite a lot for videocam these days without some spicey features, even assuming inept government procurement, (although you can never quite rule out official stupidity).    


It’s hard to believe this stuff could catch many criminals, how dumb would you have to be to talk in front of a witness let alone a camera?  The council reckon it was evidential in a few attacks, but again, no need to involve the council or have them compel it as above.


Worst of all, the council like this idea but don’t like to be told they are wrong.  So they are ignoring the information commissioner and are appealing at god-knows-what-cost to the council tax payers.  One branch of government taking on another, in a third branch, namely the court system.


Can anyone think of a more futile waste of money?


Apropos nothing, has anyone seen that Clive Owen movie where he robs a bank, “Inside man” I think.  Anyway at the start he flashes some kind of light which disables all the cameras, Sci-fi or Sci-fact and if the latter where can I get one for Southampton taxi trips?

Complete and utter Bollocks Study of the Week Pt 69.

But bloody nice try guys!

This is the study that all us fellas would absolutely love to be true, but it’s the usual crapola based on statistical insignificance and wishful thinking.

But come on ladies, it might be true, think of all the expensive shit you shovel on your faces in the hope of beating wrinkles, the mad diets you put yourselves through to lose weight, the self help books you devour by the ton… You want to be less depressed, become more affectionate, sleep better (it certainly makes me sleep better, and with a smile on my face!) It’s more than a mouthful, it’s a meal!! Swallow don’t spit!

Selective policing

Since when is it the position of the police to police insensivity?

Since when do the police get to invent new laws? Such as: Possession of a dog in the presence of a Muslim?

A dog can render a Muslim ritually unclean, since when is it the role of the police to enforce some groups religious ritual on the rest of us?

Your ritual requirements are my stuff and nonsense. Your freedom to practice your religion also equates to my freedom not to practice it. Maybe the coppers need to be a little more sensitive to the rest of us….

What makes you happy?

I mostly do philosophical pro-voluntaryist, anti-state posts and this may come across as a bit curmudgeonly so I thought a post on what makes you happy.


For me it’s a myriad of things from a nice glass of wine or brandy or a good meal, an open fire in the cold winter, a pool on a hot summer’s day, the love of a beautiful woman, a good day’s cricket, an interesting book or idea, new places, enough cash, achieving goals, of course doing a million different things with my son, and also exercise.  For me this is currently cross country biking or the gym.


With regard to the latter, I don’t know if it’s a testosterone thing, but I don’t like many of the blokes who go to my gym.  This is probably a bit of the alpha male thing, a bit of a generational clash and certainly the fact that some of the younger ones are a bunch of tattooed, plucked-eyebrow, sun-bed addicted, muscle-vest steroid boys.  


With regard to my latter contention, I know the signs since I used to go to a full-on steroid gym in Cardiff in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s and they were openly sold.  It’s that pumped-up look rather like having balloons under your skin and also on some of ‘em your sweat smells quite acrid.  That and you make substantial gains fast and you can do more or less anything in the gym and get big.


Now I’ve been hammering away at the weights for over twenty years now and whilst I won’t set any records, I have some fair totals in the power lifts*.  These are typically ignored by steroid boys who prefer a million bench presses and endless curls for T-shirt muscles. 


Anyway I was doing some dead lifts today and over comes eyebrow boy and his mate, tattoos akimbo.  “Will you be much longer with that mate?” and I couldn’t resist.  “Yes, but you are welcome to alternate with me on the bar if you like”


Well they could hardly wait to show-off and put an old bloke (I’m in my forties, they were early twenties I would say) like me to shame.  So chuckling but with no warm-up, eyebrow one approaches the bar and pulls on it.  It never moved.  So now stern he addresses it and heaves for all he is worth.  Veins appear, grimacing noises are made, all to no avail.  It’s not going anywhere.  So eyebrow two has a go with similar results.  I really had to try hard to suppress the smile. 


So if I may kitty counters, what’s made you happy recently?


(* namely Squat, bench press and dead lifts).

This is an easy one surely?

As a voluntaryist, you tend to find yourself outside the mainstream on most political issues of the day, but every now and again, a tiny ray of light appears.  So it is with this report


which makes the modest and sensible suggestion that if a council or housing association owns a house in a very high value area and it becomes vacant, it could be sold off and the revenue used to buy or build more homes in cheaper areas. 


I take the view that there should be no state provided housing at all.  If you want something expensive, rationed and crap, get the state to provide it and hey presto.  You can see this with current state healthcare or polish bread queues or roads, no effective price system means resources are allocated by the queue.  But such is the modesty of this one that you would have thought it more or less unarguable as well as being wildly popular politically with voters.  Oh no. 


Shadow housing minister Jack Dromey said: “Councils and housing associations should make effective use of their housing stock but the government should not force them to arbitrarily sell off social homes, breaking up mixed communities and driving out hard-working families on low wages from whole neighbourhoods.”


Now I don’t think of this all-female shortlist bloke as an intellectual giant but he must surely know that loads of social housing tenants are not hard-working because they don’t er…work. 


Well at least the tories will welcome this with open arms right… Er, no. 


The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “This is something that councils can choose to do already.


Can you hear the sound of the buck being passed to councils?  Nothing to do with us.  I cannot see why they are not jumping on this one even to the extent of passing legislation compelling it.  Labour would oppose it and yet I reckon any half decent politician could say to voters “You should not be forced to pay for the unemployed to live in Notting Hill, an area you can never even aspire to live in because of how much we tax you.  Why should you get the 6.45am from Milton Keynes to Kings Cross every day because you can’t afford to live in London while the Jeremy Kyle generation are still in bed in Chelsea?”


Incompetent and not even politically aware within their own grubby parameters.  The Westminster bubble seems impenetrable sometimes. 


Anyone out there an expert, the real deal, in Exchange 2010? In migrating from SBS 2003 to SBS 2011 for a client I cannot induce the 2003 public folders to move or replicate to the 2011 site.

I need an experienced ear….

BTW, the Australian Government are about to fall. The forecasts are Julia will be gone within a week or two. All over behavior from seventeen years ago when she was “young and naive” – her words.

Bad choice of boyfriends I guess.

How to get to the stars…

The Alcubierre drive (or Alcubierre metric see: Metric tensor) is a speculative idea based on a valid solution of the Einstein field equations as proposed by Miguel Alcubierre by which a spacecraft might achieve faster-than-light travel, making travel to other stars a possibility. However, it should be understood that this is different from a ship actually exceeding the speed of light within its local frame of reference. Rather, the ship would traverse distances due to the expansion and contraction of space behind and before the ship, respectively, as indicated in the diagram to the right.

Don’t look at the diagram – it only confuses matters. Basically it contracts space ahead and elongate it behind. Basically it works like this (there shall be some maths a-coming) but this is in principle the guts. The key word is “metric”. Relativity forbids travel faster than light which is a pain if you really want to go anywhere fast. But it doesn’t ban spacetime itself moving faster than light. Now if you can do that you can have a weekend trip to Proxima Centauri. Now that is much more fun than Southend.

And this is how it works… This is the metric…

It gets better. I actually understand this which shocks me…

That is gorgeous. And BTW tanh is pronounced “than”. It is the hyperbolic tangent.

If we can harvest enough “exotic matter” it can be done. Windmills obviously won’t do it. Now the maths is tricky but did you really think tricking the light barrier was “simples” as the Meerkat said?

Oh, there is a problem. And it is potentially a biggie. The fact that the Alcubierre metric is a valid solution of the Einstein Field Equations means it is merely mathematically valid. It does not mean it applies to our universe. For example the Goedelian solutions to the EFEs are mathematically correct but almost certainly don’t apply here. Interesting but not correct.

Monty Hall

Now I first came across this as a postgraduate. Astrofizz. I was on a night out with Leeds University Maths postgrads. I grokked it first off. I really did and I knew why. The mathematicians (and bear in mind this is the second biggest school after Cambridge in the country) were going up the fucking wall. Many beer mats were scribbled upon especially after a mere computational astrophysical fluid dynamicist nailed it straight off and gave the reason. And bear in mind here that Leeds University was the toppest place in the World for mathematical logic. We had PhD students in da logic who had said “fuck you” to Oxford, Harvard and the Sorbonne and they went absolutely mental over a mere trifle to a physicist and a poker player.

So knock yourself out over the Monty Hall Problem…

BTW the best explanation of the Monty Hall problem I ever read is in “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”.