April 25, 2012

Night Mayor

I am, it's fair to say, no psephologist. Still, I can't help looking at the London Elects [1] booklet that arrived today with a vaguely analytic, but probably more jaded, eye.

Note, for example, that the London Assembly has 25 members, of which 14 are elected on a constituency basis and 11 London-wide. The major parties are putting up 11 London-wide candidates plus local candidates in each consistency. (For some reason the Conservatives have 12 floating candidates in addition to their 14 constituency ones. Presumably their last place nominee, Christopher David Hampsheir, is some kind of work experience intern -- or else someone in Conservative Central Office is showing their customary disregard for basic arithmetic).

Most of the fringe parties, on the other hand, are fielding few or no constituency candidates and instead putting all of their rotten eggs into the London-wide basket. In particular, the Christian Peoples Alliance (no apostrophes allowed) have a full 25 candidates on the London-wide roster, presumably on the basis that a disappointment shared is a disappointment halved. Or something. Clearly these imbeciles have no chance at all in any actual constituency and they're just hoping to mop up the residual city-wide moron vote. But you would hope that even the most mathematically inept of Christian dipsticks would recognise that they cannot hope to elect more fundamentalist berks to office than there exist offices for the said fundamentalist berks to be elected to. Then again, these are the sort of people who like to legislate the value of π, so perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that they consistently outperform two short planks in the World Thickness Championships.

Also notable is that notorious Little Englander Europhobe pissflaps UKIP, while owning up to their city-wide candidates, are polling in the constituency (and indeed mayoral) elections under the grindingly disingenuous tag Fresh Choice for London; thereby loudly announcing to us all that they think we're completely fucking stupid. I would like to imagine they are wrong, but you know...

Finally, I am thankful not to live in the constituency of Havering and Redbridge. For some reason those poor berks are not only being subjected to the usual rogues' gallery of emetic twits but also representatives from the BNP, the National Front Putting Britain First [2], the English Democrats Putting England First [2], the aforementioned UKIP masquerade Fresh Choice for London and some nutter running as the "Residents' Association of London". As if to prove that satire is not dead, the Lib Dems (may their name live in infamy forever for simpering complicity in the rape and murder of the NHS) are contesting this same seat with a candidate who is actually called Islam. So that'll be a sensible contest, then, and certainly not a dispiriting circus of racism and stupidity. The very idea.

1 "London Elects"? Is this really the best an army of PR wonks could come up with? Fire every single one of those motherfuckers right now.
2 No, honestly, I am not making this up.

Posted by matt at 4:14 PM | Comments (0)

April 17, 2012


I'm not going to post a lot of wedding pictures here. There are already plenty on Facebook and also on Google+ for FB refuseniks. So this is just for decoration:

top of the gherkin

A very lovely day was had -- by me and Ian, certainly, and by all accounts everyone else had a good time too. I was sort-of surprised by how nice it was and how well it went, since in the final couple of weeks I had gotten totally over the whole thing; but of course not that surprised, because, well, duh!

Speeches went by the wayside, which is probably just as well -- I had already boiled down the posted text to something marginally less pompous and wanky, but was probably a bit too tipsy to do it justice and not at all sorry to avoid trying. Neither of the other intended speakers seemed exactly disappointed, although apparently a very small number of would-be listeners grumbled. Too bad.

And now it's all over, visitors departed and wedding cake leftovers distributed. On with life.

Sights currently set on this job at Imperial (I assume that link will die in a couple of weeks). No idea what my chances are, but I'll keep you posted...

Posted by matt at 3:24 PM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2012


I have no idea if this is what I'll actually say tomorrow afternoon, in the post-ceremonial, post-prandial alcoholic haze, facing all those merry faces. But for now it approximates what I think I want to say...

Thank you all for coming.

Really that's all I have to say. I could, and perhaps should, stop there. But of course I won't. It's my wedding, something that -- thank fuck -- doesn't happen every day. So I'm going to pontificate a bit -- which, if I'm honest, probably does happen pretty often...

I'd like to draw your attention to how very strange an occasion this is -- and, frankly, what an odd collection of people you are. A set that has never been brought together before, and in all likelihood never will again.

That is something to be proud of, I think; and to be grateful for.

I am absolutely delighted at all the different factions here, all the different aspects of the lives for which Ian and I are jointly and severally liable. There are people here who have known one or other of us since birth, people from childhood, from school, from work. People from our youth and -- well, let's call it our maturity. Some we spend lots of time with from day to day, others glimpsed only rarely. One or two I am meeting for the first time. An alarming number weren't even born when the two of us first met, more than two decades ago; when we hated each other.

Between you, you have been party to many, many varied fragments of our lives. You represent the overlapping histories that brought us to this point. An intricately entwined patchwork of fractal connectedness, a network of networks, a grid of grids. The boundaries of that geography of yearning are extremely nebulous. There are no clear points A and B. To pinch a nice phrase from Maggie Armitage, White Witch of the North London Coven of St James the Elder: everything starts and ends in the middle. And here we are, now, in the middle. Stuck in the middle with you.

This is what it means to be human, of course. We are a social species. We exist through our interactions with other people. Cooperation beats defection. We are better together than apart. We all scurry around pantomiming volition, making it up as we go along, not just for ourselves but collaboratively: moment to moment we write each other's lives.

I would like to thank you very much for the life you have, in all your own ridiculous ways, helped to write for me and Ian. You've played a blinder this time. Bloody good job all round.

Our good old English language has a word for this, in all its vagary and grubby complication: family. Like it or not, you all are part of our family. Just think of the cheesy soap opera cum Greek tragedy that might ensue.

The last time I gave a speech like this -- which is to say, without slides or data -- was at a much sadder family occasion; that, ultimately, provided some of the impetus for this one. What I said then was, I think, pretty congruent with what I'm saying now, which may just show up the paucity of my oratorical imagination but I hope not. What we have, what we are, is defined by all the people that we know and love. Today, for me, is about that. So while I am very sad that my father, Peter, could not be here to see it, I am all the more grateful that all of you could.

On behalf of both of us, thank you, again. And please join me in raising your glasses:

To present company... and absent friends.

Posted by matt at 8:54 PM | Comments (2)

April 2, 2012

Drama Queen

As usual, WT lags a fair way behind the ravening social media jabberwock that is Facebook, at least in some regards. But for completeness, there was this:

Discussing that clip's soundtrack with (separately) Davide and Ian reminded me that there's been a dearth of dicking about with GarageBand lately. Coincidentally, a recent app update introduced some new instruments to play with, so here I am playing with them. Really this represents a step backwards in what passes for my music-making, in that it basically just layers together a few automated instrument patterns rather than making any attempt at a watchacall tune, but I enjoyed it anyway.

In other news, I didn't get shortlisted for the CoMPLEX 2020 Science fellowship that I applied for, in a frankly somewhat half-baked fashion, a few weeks ago:

The panel were very impressed with your application, but felt it would be stronger once you have some publications. We may have another call in 6 months time, depending on the outcome of this round.

Not really unexpected, but curses anyway. Although on the basis of some of the reports I've had from spies within the 2020 camp, it's possible I've had a lucky escape.

- I'm at the 2020 external advisory board meeting. Boom - there's the word 'agile' being used.
- Kill everyone in the room.
- I would, but **** is here, and my Jedi mind tricks are useless against a Hutt.
- In that case, flee. It may not be too late to save yourself.
- What you fail to realise, it seems, is that 'agile approaches are the current state of the art in small-scale collaboration' (quoth **** ****).
- Oh well, in that case. Colour me convinced.
- Yes. It was enough to make me consider going back to the 'kill everyone' plan, and taking my chances v the Hutt-with-****-hair.
- Boom. Says **** the Hutt: '2 groups nucleating in this program are implementing some kind of agile process'.
- I am wiping away tears. Not quite sure whether they are of laughter or sorrow.
- Jesus wept. Even over lunch they're at it. Thank fuck I'm off.

Names redacted to protect the guilty, obviously. There is context for all this, which I am not about to go into, but at some point I might get around to explaining just why such bandying of non-skid agility merits execution...

As for the ostensible reason for rejection, my lack of publications is not helped by the fact that someone we might as well refer to as Lord Voldemort is obstructing my small-but-scientifically useful paper because he stupidly considers it to be a threat to a big-but-utterly-meretricious one he hopes to browbeat the editors of some high-profile journal or other into accepting despite its conspicuous lack of utility. I hate science.

Anyway, you must excuse me. I have, inter alia, a large Hilbert curve template to make for Maison Bertaux...

Posted by matt at 4:03 PM | Comments (2)

April 1, 2012

City Jitters 15

Posted by matt at 5:07 PM | Comments (0)