The book's subtitle is memoirs of a distinctly average human being. I am pleased to report that the memoir itself is slightly above average. The book The book's subtitle is memoirs of a distinctly average human being. I am pleased to report that the memoir itself is slightly above average. The book shows in detail how hard it was for him to make it as a stand up. From humble beginnings to Maths teacher and finally a comedian. He also mentions what actually causes his right eyelid to be "lazy" or droopy: an infection as a child. He admits there's no actual deviation there. He mentions, how he is often critiqued about talking about race too much. He responds on two counts. First, it's up to him what he talks about, and given he is Asian, he's hardly going to talk about being white is he? Two, if what he talked about wasn't funny market forces would put him out of business.
My boss was shouting about how he had let down the school, his parents, himself … It was all very standard except that the boy, apart from looking sorry for himself, kept farting loudly every thirty seconds or so. What confused things further was that the lad kept apologizing, but I couldn’t figure out whether it was for what he had done or for the farts. My uncertainty was settled when my boss said, ‘Now go to bed or the toilet, or whatever the hell you have to do!’
‘Can somebody explain to me why somebody as unfunny as @RomeshRanga keeps managing to get on TV?’ And then I feel the warm glow of knowing that my very existence is making that person angry. The rage might even shorten their life. I feel so fortunate.
Have you watched any Eddie Murphy recently? It’s still amazing if you’re a fan of homophobia.
Not as good as the predecessor but still good enough to read. It's as though as the publishers gave Kay a call to say, "We need a book for Xmas and weNot as good as the predecessor but still good enough to read. It's as though as the publishers gave Kay a call to say, "We need a book for Xmas and we'll pay you handsomely. Any chance you could scrape together some anecdotes that didn't make it in the first book?" Ok, that's a bit mean. I think the problem with this book is, there's no narrative like in the first one. It's just a lose collection of anecdotes that don't go anywhere.
The book was also very short.
I once asked a medical student to shave a patient before an ECG. Fuck knows what the poor patient thought was happening when the student came into his cubicle, removed his five o’clock shadow and tidied up his sideburns.
‘You didn’t ask the right questions,’ he says, every syllable a dunce’s cap thudding onto my head. ‘You see, 99 per cent of the time you’ll get the answer by taking a thorough history, before you even lay a hand on the patient.’ ‘Have you recently been using a candy cane as a dildo?’ Of course! I’ll add that to my list of icebreakers.
A couple of paediatric nurses are running around, recruiting volunteers to be Santa for an hour or two in the grotto they’re running in outpatients.I make my excuses. ‘But . . . I’m Jewish!’ ‘The kids won’t know!’ the nurse replies, then pauses. ‘Assuming you’re not planning on showing them your penis?’
I drive back home myself, five hours later and two hours late, covered in fluids that would give the most specialist fetish clubs in Berlin a run for their money
This is as close to fame as I’m likely to get: I’m never going to appear on Big Brother – if I wanted to share a sweaty dorm with people whose mental age was twelve I’d have become a scoutmaster.
An entertaining read. What surprised me most about this was how much of a pothead, Louis was in his youth and early adulthood. I enjoyed learning of hAn entertaining read. What surprised me most about this was how much of a pothead, Louis was in his youth and early adulthood. I enjoyed learning of his past and parents. And how he got his big break to be on TV through Michael Moore's TV Nation. In fact, they nearly sued Louis for using the format in Weird Weekends. We learnt about Louis marrying his childhood sweetheart, then divorcing her to find his current wife.
What did annoy me about the book was his copious use of French words. Overall though he is a skilled writer. It was a pleasant surprise to learn Louis's affinity for fame and that he enjoys twitter accounts such as "no context theroux" and "theroux bot". It's nice to know that Louis suffers from anxiety and his on screen persona is somewhat based on reality. Even to this day he gets nerves during filming, which show's he's human.
Of course, there are several chapters dedicated to Jimmy Savile. Ultimately, Theroux reflects his regret of not being to unmask the true evil side to him. Afterwards, he accepts that it wasn't possible for him to unmask him. Even if he followed up on leads.
The book shed a light on why My Scientology Movie had those bizarre reenactments. For one Scientology wouldn't agree to any interviews, two it was the bright idea of Larry Charles, a director they were talking to in the early days.
What slightly diminished my enjoyment of this book was the fact I had to read 300 pages in 10 days, otherwise suffering penalty of a library fine. Though I comfortably met this target in the end.
He was a deep sleeper and needed a lot of pushing and humping. Years later, when I mentioned this fact in an interview, Nick Clegg issued a statement: ‘I have no recollection of Louis Theroux waking me up in the morning.’ I didn’t mind, though it makes me wonder if I was humping him hard enough.
The pessimistic liberalism of Max Weber, the idea that lives in the West are becoming bureaucratized and regulated and imprisoning, that society isn’t progressing but getting worse
This may have been the weirdest part of Sarge’s critique of my performance – his disappointment at the consistency of my vomit.
‘No, not at all. It’s been a permanent source of regret that the one thing I’ve never been involved in is a sex scandal.’
- The immortal words of Neil Hamilton
Greater love hath no man than this: that he should not spray his friend with some kind of combination of piss and poopoo.
I was with my brother in the sauna and the man kept sauntering past and ‘accidentally’ letting his bathrobe fall open and then standing there with his willy out. (In this analogy, in case you are wondering, I am the elderly man and the Scientology movie is the man’s genitals.) But I deferred to Simon’s greater experience and agreed to go, let slip my bathrobe and dangle my willy-movie one more time.
‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ Uh-huh. OK. Unless it leaves you in a wheelchair, with PTSD and feeling suicidal.
After reading these ~350 pages I now feel like I know less about Quantum Mechanics (QM) than before I started. There were times when some of the conceAfter reading these ~350 pages I now feel like I know less about Quantum Mechanics (QM) than before I started. There were times when some of the concepts were beyond my comprehension (e.g. Popescu-Rohrlich boxes) but hopefully with some more reading and research, I'll be able to understand them.
Ball starts to say, fundamentally that the crux of QM is that measurement on a system affects the outcome of measurements on the system itself. Quantization is not a requirement for QM. The book did solve a long held mystery of mine. How did Schrödinger come up his famous, eponymous, wave equation. He took the equation for waves and tweaked it using intuition, to what he thought would apply to particles. Miraculously it worked. Squaring the wavefunction of an object gives you the probability of finding the object at a given position when measured. QM is often misunderstood as a theory governing things only very small. However, entanglement shows that quantum effects can propagate over vast distances (non-locality).
Schrödinger's cat, commonly misunderstood, is dispelled with swiftly in many ways. Firstly, in the way that Tegmark explains, the cat will die if in a vacuum, otherwise it'll interfere with air molecules (the environment) and decohere and no longer exhibit quantum effects (wavefunctions of macroscopic objects can't interfere or exist in a superposition if they aren't coherent). Further, the notion of a superposition of dead and alive states is meaningless, unless we define what they mean in quantum terms and then calculate the wavefunction. As an aside, Ball explains that superpositions aren't fragile. As they "decohere" their quantumness spreads out into the environment creating a large entity. System and environment merge into a single superposition. This effectively destroys the superposition as we can't discern it anymore by looking at a small part of it. Interestingly, physicists are actually trying to do this experiment dubbed Schrödinger's Kittens, albeit with much smaller matter - water bears (think around mesoscale/millimeters).
QM teaches us that the order in which we do things (e.g. measurements) matters (non-commutable) dubbed Quantum Contextuality. In classical physics it doesn't matter. This partly explains the double slit experiment, you are in effect doing two different experiments to elicit a classical or quantum outcome. In terms of the uncertainty principle, this explains why we get the results we do. You can't know all the details of a quantum system, the more you measure, the more it will decohere. Until eventually it behaves as a classical system only.
The Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI), was devised as a way to deal with apparent wave function collapse and where it goes afterwards. So now you've created an even bigger problem, of a parallel universe, rather than the smaller problem of wavefunction "collapse". Ball says the MWI is false because it cannot deal with the transfer of consciousness (to other "yous") after universe splitting, as it depends on user experience. Arguments I find more compelling are as follows: science has always told us that the very fine details don't matter and they should hardly be splitting universes. Proponents of MWI feel uncomfortable with proposals such as, Quantum Russian Roulette (if MWI is correct they shouldn't). Finally for me personally, we can't do an experiment to prove MWI correct, so it is unscientific in this regard. MWI does not tell us how the splitting occurs, only that it does.
I was pleasantly surprised to find several pages devoted to quantum computing (QC). Ball says that QC won't necessarily revolutionise home computing. Although they may solve P=NP type problems quicker, breaking current encryption methods easily, they wouldn't really speed up things modern computers already do well. QC is a long way off anyway, currently they can just about find prime factors of 21. It was interesting to learn how they worked.
Ultimately, Ball concludes QM is a theory about the representation and manipulation of information. Further, that the theory needs rewriting from the bottom up (Quantum Reconstruction) so that it's not about waves or particles. That if you start with a few fundamental rules, properties do emerge that describe behaviour of quantum objects.
Concluding, Ball condenses QM down to 3 axioms: 1. You can't transmit information faster than light (no-signalling) 2. You can't deduce or perfectly copy the information in an unknown quantum state (no-cloning) 3. There is no unconditionally secure bit commitment (relating to cryptography)
Much of the problems talking about QM come from language. In that, we lack the vocabulary to accurately describe properties of quantum objects. We have to borrow words such as spin and entanglement.
Entanglement could be the key to the long-standing mystery of how to reconcile quantum mechanics with he theory of gravitation as supplied by general relativity
Not ‘here it is a particle, there it is a wave’ but ‘if we measure things like this, the quantum object behaves in a manner we associate with particles; but if we measure it like that, it behaves as if it’s a wave’
Not ‘the particle is in two states at once’ but ‘if we measure it, we will detect this state with probability X, and that state with probability Y’
What the MWI really denies is the existence of facts at all. It replaces them with an experience of pseudo-facts (we think that this happened, even though that happened too). In so doing, it eliminates any coherent notion of what we can experience, or have experienced, or are experiencing right now. We might reasonably wonder if there is any value – any meaning – in what remains, and whether the sacrifice has been worth it
When someone explains something in a complicated way, it’s often a sign that they don’t really understand it. A popular maxim in science used to be that you can’t claim to understand your subject until you can explain it to your grandmother.
The key difference between classical and quantum mechanics is that the first calculates trajectories of objects while the second calculates probabilities (expressed as a wave equation)
I knew little of Modi before I read this book, which I picked up on a whim. What I learnt was that, he is a highly arrogant, egomaniac with delusions I knew little of Modi before I read this book, which I picked up on a whim. What I learnt was that, he is a highly arrogant, egomaniac with delusions of grandeur. He refers to himself in the third person (which is a red flag right there) and takes advice from his astrologer. What kind of person has a suit tailored that has your name stitched into it over a thousand times? Worryingly, you can draw many parallels with Trump's campaign for America: divisiveness, attacking the media/using social media, thin skinned and a populism strategy. Though at least Modi's modus operandi is a little more subtle and less extreme.
On Godra, Price gives both sides to what happened, the reader will likely draw the conclusion that Modi did not do enough as Chief Minister to stop the violence quickly enough. It is difficult to say whether Modi really holds nationalistic views himself. It appears he does condone divisive rhetoric by his subordinates but is this to pacify the Sangh and win elections or is it because of his ideology?
Whatever your opinion of Modi or his politics, the man knows how to run a highly successful national campaign. Borrowing tropes from the Clinton, Obama and Blair campaigns and building on these with his own ideas. In sum, he made the whole election about himself, that rather than electing an amorphous party, the BJP, you were electing him. He embraced technology, beaming holograms into distant villages, where they didn't even own a TV, he held umpteen rallies throughout the country and unleashed blistering attacks on Congress. Don't forget to add in a couple of catchphrases into the mix as well. And it seems to have worked for him again in 2019 too.
It was quite impressive to see a man of humble beginnings (low caste, Dalit) and chai wala be elected Prime Minister with a majority in a country with over 1 billion in population. Let's not forget that after Godra he was very much a pariah and there was resistance in the BJP against his selection. All this notwithstanding, the final chapter sees Price unleash his most blistering critique yet in The Modi Defect. As with any populist, it is likely that Modi has over promised and will under deliver as Price says. Not to say the PM hasn't made some modest progress but his first budget wasn't very radical and more in line with something Congress would do. Modi is essentially a crony capitalist, giving government jobs to friends and businessmen who helped him on his campaign trail, a different form of corruption than the usual cash for state jobs. The defect is the qualities that helped him get elected will stop him being successful in office.
Whether in his heart Modi has moved on from his more hardline interpretations of Hindutva ideology is impossible to judge.
Sometime after 1500 BCE, in the early Vedic period, republics governed by assemblies became common. So much for the idea that the benevolent British who first bequeathed India democracy as a last act of generosity before leaving the country to fend for itself.
"I believe your life is pre-decided so why worry?"
- N. Modi
He has an ambivalent relationship with the journalists' profession. He is desperate to know what they are saying about him and puts in enormous effort to ensure they write about him in the way he wants.
The Supreme Court expressed dismay that thirteen thirteen of the 45 ministers in Modi's first government were facing pre-existing criminal charges, including rape, attempted murder and intimidation. [...] The number of ministers implicated grew to 20 out of 66, almost a third.
I really enjoyed the first parts of this book, mainstream Astrophysics and how we know the stuff we do. Tegmark told us how the ancients deduced valueI really enjoyed the first parts of this book, mainstream Astrophysics and how we know the stuff we do. Tegmark told us how the ancients deduced values like the diameter of the Earth, merely by observing the position of the sun at two different points at the same time (work out the difference in the angle of the sun at noon, then scale this up using the distance they are apart). The ancients deduced that the Earth is spheroid, given that ships on the horizon disappear bottom first, and you see their tops last (Yes, flat-earthers are stupider than people from millennia ago).
I was a staunch skeptic of the multiverse but Tegmark argues well and has convinced me that some form of multiverse likely exists. If space is infinite, then there must be planets very similar to Earth in the unobservable universe (Level 1). I didn't fully understand Level 2 (pockets of inflation with different values for constants) but I was willing to give the author the benefit of the doubt. The so called many world's interpretation (Level 3), I do find ridiculous and remain unconvinced (partly because I don't fully understand it), the theory that the universe splits every time a decision is made. Tegmark does say that the Quantum Mechanics math is simplest in this interpretation and is the reason for apparent randomness in the universe. The Level 3 Universe lives in the infinite dimensional magical land of Hilbert Space, which we cannot reach, to test this. How convenient. He also unifies Level 1 and 3. I am rather ambivalent to the inclusion of his personal forays into academia and I'm not sure they add much. Though his tale about re-discovering decoherence was rather amusing. I always wondered that if the world was quantum mechanical, then why do we not observe quantum mechanical behaviour in our macroscopic world? The answer is decoherence or the breaking of "quantum secrecy" and is built on the idea of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. The way I understand it is, once an object has interacted with something e.g. air, then decoherence occurs, the wavefunction appears to collapse as does the various superpositions, and we don't get any quantum weirdness only classical physics.
The magic bullet for defeating the multiverse argument was that these hypotheses do not make any testable predictions and are therefore unscientific. Tegmark counters saying that the multiverse is a prediction of a testable theory, that of inflation. However, he later admits the theory of eternal inflation is flawed because the data doesn't back it up (The measure problem). Later he backtracks on this, are you as confused as I am? To pacify your doubts of the multiverse he uses a bizarre theological argument borrowed from Alan Guth:"Cars are created by car factories, rabbits are created by rabbit parents and solar systems are created from gravitational collapse in giant molecular clouds. So it's quite reasonable to assume that our Universe was created by some sort of universe-creation mechanism." ...And what created the universe-creation mechanism? Turtles all the way down!
Unfortunately, when the chapter on the Mathematical Universe Hypothesis progressed, it did devolve into philosophical gobbledegook and I struggled to follow his arguments. Helpfully, at the end of each chapter there is a summary containing the main points. A central question to the universe is why can mathematical equations describe reality and I think the author says, it is because it is a mathematical structure (Level 4, different equations of Physics). He says everything that can be expressed mathematically exists as a mathematical structure in life. Though the evidence he provides for Level 4 in a figure is rather tenuous, that of "Unreasonable effectiveness of math in physics". His later argument is fine tuning, it is highly unlikely that numerous constants would all be finely tuned to ensure life.
The last chapter I really enjoyed where he talks about the future of physics and existential threats. Though I think the AI Singularity should be treated with skepticism. However, his idea that if an AI were to achieve sentience would effectively become a god (through omniscience), I agree with. Literally deus ex machina. He didn't really explain what the death bubble hypothesis was in much detail. Self-referentially, he also deals with anti-intellectualism, something which is highly pertinent today. He argues we should use similar marketing techniques that opponents use without lowering ourselves to their levels of lies.
If we're lucky congress may solve a 20 year old problem today. When in fact they should be solving problems arising in the future.
My guess is that we'll one day, understand consciousness as yet another phase of matter.
The quintessential toilet book. The prose is rather unsophisticated, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It's a welcome break from some of the heaviThe quintessential toilet book. The prose is rather unsophisticated, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It's a welcome break from some of the heavier stuff I read. The title is a euphemism for Acaster's fuck-ups, which he regaled on Radio X. They're mostly average, though there are a couple of stories that do stick in the mind, like his days working in a kitchen and getting hit in the nuts by thrown potatoes. He is mostly responsible for the situations he lands himself in. I guess we'll never know where the parrot goes at 6 pm after all......more
What a goldmine of information on the world of offshore. Bullough delves into the history and explains how we got into this situation. The post-war BrWhat a goldmine of information on the world of offshore. Bullough delves into the history and explains how we got into this situation. The post-war Bretton Woods agreement actually ensured global financial stability for decades, with no global recessions such as those we have seen more recently. Well it did until it was undermined by eurodollars and effectively crippled. Critics will of course say, that under the current system we can grow more quickly without the agreement than under it but then of course you have to put up with near financial ruin, bailing out banks.
There's three different types of money hidden away in Moneyland. Legitimate (such as the Jews/refugees hid during WW2) to stop the Nazis stealing it. "Naughty", wealthy individuals dodging taxes. "Evil", money stolen from state budgets by officials. Why have so many fledgling democracies been entrenched in poverty for so many years, despite being rich in natural resources? Simple, massive corruption. Leaders run scams whereby the state budget is siphoned off to themselves via money laundering.
One thing I always wondered was why do the leaders of countries always steal so much? Aren't they content with a few million? It's all a giant pyramid scheme, once you've started to steal a little, you need to pay off officials so they don't raise the alarm about your scam. Then they need to pay off their underlings and so on and so on...
All the kleptocracy wouldn't be possible unless it was enabled by the West. Where legions of lawyers, accountants, estate agents don't ask questions about where this money has come from. All they're after is a slice of the pie and they'll keep quiet (Swiss banking secrecy). Though it was quite satisfying when US law (FACTA) broke the secrecy laws. It's no wonder that it's hard to track dirty money, when the orchestrators hide behind complex corporate structures such as nested shell companies. Here bizarrely no-one owns a company.
Curiously, there's a mention of Bill Browder's time in Russia. Where he intially supported Vladimir Putin because he naively thought, he was cleaning up the corrupt oligarchs but instead he just pocketed the proceeds and jailed his political enemies. It also notes how Browder won a landmark case of libel tourism against one of Sergei Magnitsky's tormentors but predictably he stiffed Browder for the bill and absconded to Russia, where he remains a fugitive to this day.
What are the side effects of Moneyland? Well to name a few, nations are robbed of their wealth and are destitute in poverty. Nations are unable to raise taxation on offshore wealth, depriving public services. And Terrorism. Bullough has an interesting theory in that, Alexander Litvinenko was murdered because he was about to blow the lid off the secrets of the Moneyland ratchet. Let's not forget the many murdered Russian oligarchs in London. Places like the UK have actually actively encouraged wealthy foreigners believing it is better to host the tournament than win the trophy, as it will generate investment. But this has the side effect of hyperinflating property prices and creating a shortage of affordable housing in the capital. A leaf should be taken out of New Zealand's book, where it is against the law for foreigners to buy housing.
On solutions, Bullough says at the very least, political parties should refuse to take money from shell companies. Something which seemed too much during the Brexit referendum where the DUP took some $400k from an anonymous company and broke the spirit of the law rather than the letter of the law. A quirk of US law is that citizens must pay tax to the US regardless of residency status. This has lead to the US having agreements with other countries that must disclose assets held by its citizens, so they can be taxed. Sadly, this agreement is not bilateral despite the Obama administration trying to make it so. They crumbled under powerful lobbying.
Thankfully, the British parliament has voted to open up the company registries of its crown dependencies, lifting the lid on secrecy. This makes tracking theft a lot easier, which is what law enforcement spends half its time doing. The UK has also forced companies to designate a 'person with significant control' and certain European countries have compelled companies to disclose 'beneficial persons'.
In the end, the author concludes these partial solutions are not enough and he brings up his catchphrase once again. In that, money can traverse borders easily but laws do not. Therefore, there needs to be some form of international cooperation and homegenaisation of laws surrounding company formation and disclosure. As he points out time and again, if even one jurisdiction doesn't comply then everyone will just move their money there.
So isn't time we stood up to Moneyland? If it threatens our democracy, the quality of our lives and the very lives of our citizens?
The higher up in the Communist Party [of China] someone is, the less likely they are to be willing to sacrifice themselves for the country.
The more plastic bags you wrap around a dog turd, the harder it is for outsiders to realise what’s inside. And if the last bag says Tiffany & Co. on it, perhaps no one will ever realise it’s full of shit.
- On nested shell companies
It must have been very frustrating for Nazi war criminals to have money sitting in Switzerland and no prospect of a decent return. Finally, thanks to Ian Fraser and his team, they had a risk-free and tax-free method to make their secret stash earn a living.
The corruption of Afghanistan’s rulers has stopped them battling opium growers, meaning cheap heroin continues to flow wherever smugglers wish to send it. Russia, which consumes much of the heroin, has more than a million HIV-positive inhabitants, while its health service remains underfunded and its government would rather pursue cheap propaganda wins than help its citizens.
‘She wears a diaper, because she can’t be bothered to go to the bathroom,’ he told me, with a grimace, as he remembered getting on to the plane. ‘It was all well and good until three hours later I look over and hear this “ding”. The stewardess comes over: “I need you to change my diaper.” So they look at me, you like, like, “Let your son do it.” I’m, like, “That’s not my mother.” They made the flight attendant do it. So, yeah, we go above and beyond.’
- On a wealthy Israeli woman
The 1990s in Russia were disastrous. The army lost a war against Chechnya, a region with fewer people than Russia had soldiers. The economy collapsed. The government defaulted on its debt. Male life expectancy fell below sixty years. Epidemic diseases spread fast. The country was ruled by an erratic alcoholic, whose government was bullied by oligarchs and in hock to the International Monetary Fund.