Saturday, June 30, 2007

Muslim terrorists ... car bombs, airport attacks

What a sorry state of affairs. The UK is under attack again, and first impressions are that it's fellow brown skins who are behind it. The only reason we do not have mass casualties on our hands is luck, well luck and stupidity on part of the terrorists. I offer the following deep and insightful observations:

  • When the first two cars were found, sterling actually rallied on the day and the FTSE posted a healthy gain. I wonder if the markets will put in a similarly robust performance on Monday's open.
  • If this terrorism business carries on, it may be more difficult for brown skins such as myself to secure employment, not that I am trying.
  • Gordon Brown's emergency address: Couldn't they find an alternative term to 'vigilence'. The Bank of England and European Central Bank have used this term endlessly in warning of their alertness to signs of rising inflation. Only market heads will know what I am talking about here.
  • More on Gordon Brown's emergency address: Was he talking from number 10? If so, they really need to change their wallpaper: horrible, wide, vertical red stripes.
  • These terrorist activities surely lessen my odds of ever securing membership of a traditional, stuffy golf club, at least at the margin. I realise this long-term goal is more of a fantasy, especially considering the state of my golf game (a poor short game, and no long game to speak of).

Internet Explorer not working with Livebox wireless?

About a year or so after receiving my Livebox (pictured) from Orange, I decided to plug the thing in. Wimbledon demanded a wireless connection.

Here are the problems I encountered along the way, along with fixes:

1. Livebox installation CD doesn't work. A very poor start.

Go to the Orange Livebox site and follow the instructions for manual set-up .

2. Computer detects wireless signal and Firefox browser goes on-line without a glitch, but Internet Explorer refuses to acknowledge the connection and keeps asking to connect to the old SpeedTouch modem.

In Internet Explorer, go to Tools>Internet Options. Click on the 'Connections' tab and select 'Never dial a connection'. Then click on 'LAN Settings' and select 'Automatically detect settings'. That should do the trick.

3. Endless rain delays at Wimbledon. No solution.

Bruce Lee quote

Don't think. Feel.
It's like a finger, pointing away to the moon.
Don't concentrate on the finger, or you will miss all the heavenly glory.

Bruce Lee, Enter The Dragon (1974)

Friday, June 29, 2007

Wimbledon - the best match so far

Tipsarevic versus Gonzales.
I was puzzled why they were given centre court.
Until I watched them play.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

People knocking on my door

You get all sorts: people wanting to buy your car, sell double-glazing, spread the word (of Jehovah). Today, a man in a track-suit tried to sign me up for Karate lessons.


The TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Conference brings together the great minds of the age. The organisers say 'We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world.' Describing the conference, they say:

... the event sells out a year in advance — and the content has expanded to include science, business, the arts and all the big global issues facing our world. Over four days, 50 speakers each take an 18-minute slot, and there are many shorter pieces of content, including music, performance and comedy. There are no breakout groups. Everyone shares the same experience. It shouldn't work, but it does. It works because all of knowledge is connected. Every so often it makes sense to emerge from the trenches we dig for a living, and ascend to a 30,000-foot view, where we see, to our astonishment, an intricately interconnected whole.
The whole thing used to be a relatively private affair, but in April this year they started putting their best lectures on the internet. These are well worth watching if you have 18 minutes spare. Here is my favourite so far:

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

This is the living

Wireless internet connection, feet up, blanket, Wimbledon on television (Come on, Tim!).

Monday, June 25, 2007

The RMF Clubhouse

We tried ploughing the fields again this weekend but disaster struck. Halfway through the second round, when we were at furthest possible distance from the clubhouse and car, the heavens opened up and unleashed a torrent of rain on our heads. Going against conventional thinking on what to do in a storm, we sought refuge under some trees with golf clubs serving as additional lightning conductors. This must have angered the gods because the storm moved directly over our heads and intensified. Now we were getting very wet. We had no choice to make a dash for it, and we got truly soaked (and muddy) in the process . A total wash out. Still, there were some highlights from the first round:

  • Abs: Shoots two under his handicap to bring his average shot per hole down to 5.01, almost cracking the 5 stroke benchmark.
  • Levi: Gets the most value for money. Never have we seen a man put with such confidence.
  • Priyesh: Has an excellent session on the driving range and takes the only birdie for the day.
  • Riz: Pulls out a hickory shafted, mashie-driver (an antique club found in my garage) and delivers a beautiful drive down the 7th. Lowlight: Manages to pitch the ball into the driving range on the 2nd!
Here is the updated scorecard:

Caddyshack golf quote

'I'm going to give you a little advice. There's a force in the universe that makes things happen. And all you have to do is get in touch with it, stop thinking, let things happen, and be the ball.'
- Ty Webb, Caddyshack

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Another quote from 'No Tie Required'

'My swing is full and smooth, and I am in complete control as the dead centre of the sweet spot hits the ball and sends it in a soaring trajectory to land with just the right amount of fade and check to bounce right around a guarding bunker and roll down the narrow neck of the green towards the pin. I am in the textbook follow-through position and just know that years of playing have, at this precise moment in time, kicked in to make me now and forever Man and Swing in Perfect Harmony. Then I three putt for a bogey.'
- No Tie Required, Christopher Cairns

Monday, June 18, 2007

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Paul Pott sings opera

No, not Pol Pot you fool, I said Paul Pott...he's not your average Carphone Warehouse salesman:

Friday, June 15, 2007

'If' by Rudyard Kipling (1895)

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Katlama mystery

I've just finished eating the rest of the katlama we bought from Imran's restaurant in Birmingham over the weekend. 'What is this katlama?', I hear you ask. It's a savoury, meat-filled, pastry type-dish, a little slice of deep-fried heaven. And it's only £1.20. For some reason I can't find any decent images of the katlama on Google, other the image below that I took from an Uzbek food site!

For some unreasonable reason, the katlama is impossible to find in London. I have searched far and wide. I'm sure it's out there, somewhere ... this beautiful thing.

I often dream of opening up my own katlama shop in London but I know I would eat all the stock before the first customer came through the door.

Golfing photos

Tee-offs land within inches of each other ... beautiful

A meaty 170-yard hold, with a hefty left-to-right slope

A typical day in the life ... it's tradition to lose a ball or two

Monday, June 11, 2007

Golfing madness continues

(a little chip with the mashie-niblick here should do the trick, a what, what what)

We managed to squeeze in three rounds this Sunday, fighting severe hay-fever all the way. Here are the highlights:
  • Abs - makes the modest tweak of straightening up the club-face for three beautiful tee-offs in succession. A nice round brings his handicap down a notch.
  • Myself- Having landed in the bunker on the final hole, I put a little too much juice on the ball on my second shot and sent the ball flying straight over the green and into the deep rough. The next machete hack pushed the ball forward a couple of yards. However, the fourth shot with the p-niblick worked a treat, with the ball chipping up on to the green and bobbling straight into the hole, allowing me to escape with a 4.
  • Course highlight - A pheasant running across the fairway on the 5th.

The clubhouse - live score card update

I've added a new row to show 'average shots per hole'.

Friday, June 08, 2007

More from the clubhouse

For the golfing enthusiasts among us, I present the links to all the earlier golf posts on this site:

No Tie Required by Christopher Cairns

RM Golf Clubhouse - Live scorecard

RM Golf Weekend

A few golf videos ... watch and learn

Golf Shop - The Sports HQ


P.G Wodehouse on the golf bug

And here is a selection of video clips of Tiger Woods in slow motion. It is a beautiful thing. Enjoy.

And for a little variety, here is Ernie Els (aka the Big Easy).

Thursday, June 07, 2007

No Tie Required by Christopher Cairns

I'm currently reading 'No Tie Required' by Christopher Cairns, another golfing enthusiast. I knew it was going to be a good read when, a few pages in, Cairns writes:

... whenever I have been lucky enough to hit an iron squarely on the meat, as Wodehouse puts it, the resulting shot has felt as light as a feather, as if not so much as a blade of grass, let alone a golf ball, has impeded the clubhead's progress throughout the swing.

... As it turns out, I am not in the bunker proper, but on the badly administered rear face where collapsed ground and sandy footprints have stopped the ball rolling all the way in. One confident swing with the wedge-type affair I am carrying soon rectifies that, however, and in no time I am (italics) in the bunker proper. The next splash gets me out and on to the green, some fifteen feet from the pin. Three straightforward puts later I am walking off with a triple bogey six and my enthusiasm for the task ahead undiminished.

The amazing dancing horse

This footage of a dancing horse is a joy to watch. Observe how he moves in perfect step to the music. Remarkable.

ps - yes, I know an RM horse spends his days ploughing the fields and carrying goods to market, not dancing!

Popular British boy's names

The Times reports 'Muhammad is No 2 in boy's names':

Muhammad is now second only to Jack as the most popular name for baby boys in Britain and is likely to rise to No 1 by next year, a study by The Times has found. The name, if all 14 different spellings are included, was shared by 5,991 newborn boys last year, beating Thomas into third place, followed by Joshua and Oliver.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Pictures from Hong Kong

Here are a few pics from Our Man in Hong Kong.

It just keeps on raining

Hi five !

Mystical Buddha statues on the mountain

Go hard Hong Kong Brother Number One!

Monday, June 04, 2007

RM Golf Clubhouse - Live scorecard

RM Golf Weekend

Jolly good show this weekend, what. Each player produced something worthy of note:

  • Abdul : gets the only birdie of the day with a quality long putt from the fringe of the green
  • Ijaz : the most relaxed played in the history of the game; he truly understands what it means to let the clubs 'do the work'
  • Levi : the best approach shot to the green, a beautiful P-Niblick from twenty yards out
  • Riz : Achieves a personal best for the course and gets that little bit closer to breaking 30
The score-card is coming up on the next post.

Is society in decline?

Chuckeroon's recent post on the neglect of public toilets and the decline of civilisation raises an interesting point:

Why is it that all over Europe we are suffering more and more vandalism, violence and public destruction at a time when we were never more wealthy, never had better education opportunity, better healthcare, better more comprehensive legislation on human rights, greater resources to help the disadvantaged? Have I missed something? Am I deluded? I certainly am concerned.
If we look at the long-term trends in the developed world, there is good reason to be optimistic. Just look at the technological advancements over the years, the scientific discoveries that have extended our life spans, the better enforcement and protection of property rights, the benefits from globalisation that have improved the lives of millions; the list goes on. However, over the past forty odd years there is a sense that things have 'gone to the dogs' with a significant reduction in social capital creating all sorts of ills despite the rise in general living standards.

This is an interesting area for further research. For one, I imagine our perception becomes distorted from reality as we age, and that this will always result in older generations thinking society has 'gone to the dogs', whether or not this may be the case. My theory is that the media much prefers to focus on negative news stories so as we age out exposure to this slanted reporting makes us think the world is worse than it really is. My second theory is related to the first. It is that as we age we also observe more and more crimes occurring in our neighbourhood and we confuse the frequency of crime with an increase in total crime. Over the years in my neighbourhood, for example, there have been a host of small crimes, even a few deaths, which could make me think that things are getting worse. However, I question whether the frequency of bad events has actually gone up.

Putting these issues of perception aside, it would be interesting to see what has really happened over the past 40-50 years in terms of crime rates in developed countries. If crimes rates have increased, I imagine a reduction in social capital lies at the heart of the problem. And what could be the cause of this reduction in social capital? I can see many potential causes, including a rise in single-parent households, the introduction of television, meritocracy, even women in the workplace. Clearly, these are not 'negatives' in and of themselves, but they may have played a role in reducing social capital.

I'll stop now as I am just theorising off the top of my head. However, I've bookmarked this as an area for future research.

Friday, June 01, 2007

House prices

A nice little chart from this week's Economist. Of course house prices will keep going up, they just have to. Everybody knows that. Hold on, what's that grey line? It's Japan, where house prices are still some way below what they were some 20 years ago. Oh.

(House prices have recently been falling across parts of America and Spain.)

Oh how the mighty have fallen

The BBC reports on an auction of Jackson family memorabilia in Las Vegas:

"... a copy of the contract for Jackson's purchase of his Californian ranch Neverland in 1987 sold for just $100 (£50)"

"A platinum record for his hit song Billie-Jean also sold for $100 (£50)"