All The Social!

I have been outside! To boardgame meetups and Cincinnati Pride! Look at my socializing! And with that done, I will now become a hermit again for a few months. Don’t want to exhaust myself, do I?

(okay, as it turns out, early July will see me in Chicago to see Los Campesinos! twice in two days, and then Carly Rae Jepsen the following Friday. Oh, and a trip to Raleigh sandwiched between!)

And I know I’ve been a broken record for the past couple of months, but as of a couple of hours ago, I have finished the main text block for the early release of the book. Is it finished? Ahahahahah…no. But as of today, I am basically tinkering and re-writing bits here and there. So, let’s not have any big developments in deep learning between now and November, shall we?

This Is A No Smoking Cinema

It has been another week of mainly writing and old British TV. Here’s the exact point where I paused Cracker and bought the entire series from Amazon (only £12!):

Obviously, I knew it was set in Manchester. But what I hadn’t realized was as it was filmed in the mid-90s, it is a good archive of all that made Manchester when I was living there from 1997-2000, a large chunk of which is no longer there anymore. That Odeon was a regular haunt on Friday and Saturday night, walking past BBC North and the hallowed halls of Halon Menswear down the Oxford Road. In a pre-smartphone era, I have few pictures of my time there1, so having some evidence that it all existed would be nice.

I also watched Blackeyes, a Dennis Potter serial that has not been repeated or released on any other format since its first broadcast in 1989.

And…well. It’s gloriously inventive, with four or five levels of metafiction going on at any one time. But the misogyny is…well, I know it’s somewhat the point, but it does feel like Potter is having his cake and his eating it. Which, to be fair, he admits in the narration! But that’s a bit like having your cake, eating it, and then pulling out a sheet cake. I liked it, but it’s not something I’d actively recommend to people. Double Dare is probably the one I’d suggest if you’re after a non-singing play. And it’s only about an hour long!

The Long June March continues. This week: GANs, super-resolution (“computer: enhance!“), and fancy GPU calculations. So close to the end, and yet still so far.

  1. Of course, this also means that there are no pictures of my short-lived glitter days, so there are some positives from a lack of photo evidence. Also, when Matt took my camera into the bathroom at that ball, he was too drunk to do what he was planning on doing with it. And boy, that was a buried memory. [return]

Back! Back! BACK!

I’ve been waiting for The Story of 1988 for a long time. The school year of 198889 was a weird time for me; due to a quirk of class sizes and where birthdays fell, most of my friends skipped Class 3 and went straight into Class 2. I responded to this by having an odd year: Ian went Pop. I don’t really have any other way of describing it; I was one of the popular members of the class. I was the one who brought in Smash Hits, the one who knew about house music, and the one who hung out with everybody.

I really can’t work out who that person was. But I still have some of their copies of Smash Hits. And The Story of 1988 is part one of their Imperial Phase. Tiffany, Kylie, S-Express, Bomb The Bass, The Primitives, Yazz, The PSBs, Wendy James…

Sorry, Transvision Vamp flashes.

Paddy McAloon doing ‘hot dog, jumping frog, Albuquerque’ with all the conviction of the world, Now 11 through Now 13, the blackest of Black Type, and taking the piss out of Paul “Macca Wacca Thumbs Aloft” McCartney every fortnight.

Anyway, it mostly lived up to my expectations, with one glaring omission: No Timelords. Not entirely sure whether that’s down to the Glitter connection or whether they’re just saving it for The KLF proper, but given that The Manual also came out in 1988, it was weird for them to not even get a cursory mention either in the programme itself or the follow up Hits programme. Obviously, the Christmas performance isn’t going to be broadcast, but they’re surely going to show the actual Number One performance which doesn’t feature Glitter at all, right?1

Incidentally, Pop Ian reverted back to Normal Ian in Class 2. Honestly, I think Pop Ian would have been annoying to live with from 10-16, so it was probably for the best. Now, of course, I am doing with the kids at all times, surfing on the information superhighway and using emoticons. That’s what the cool kids are using today, right?

Just under 7,000 words on the book this week. Oh, and I added an extra chapter for fun. It’s a useful chapter, I think - who doesn’t want to know about how to debug neural networks? But maybe not the best time to add it so close to the impending Deadline of Doom. On the other hand, it is pretty much finished…

  1. After re-watching the programme with a very confused American, I did notice that there’s a two second clip of them at the start. Incidentally, I highly recommend finding an American to watch the show with you. “Who are all these people?”, “Why do you call them bross instead of bro s?” “He looks like a slightly Asian Stephen Fry!” It’s very entertaining. [return]

And Vanished

I am a lot more sanguine about the book this week than I have been for the past month. There’s been a lot of low-key freaking out about how much still needs to be done, and how close the deadline is for publication this year. As of this weekend, though, I have one more chapter to write and I’m at the point where I might have to eject some things from my outline to fit within the originally specified book length. Which is a rather nice position to be in! Let’s hope that I can continue the pace through June.

Wait, how did it get to be June?

Some big things this week in ‘lost media’ (and you know me, I do enjoy seeing YouTube clips filmed through Lucozade packaging). Firstly, the long-lost alternate ending of Quantum Leap:

Beth: You’ll find him.

Al: And what makes you so sure?

Beth: Because that’s what friends are for.


Secondly, an ITV sitcom that was so badly received that it was taken off the air after the second episode, and has never been shown since. Although Hardwicke House is absolutely terrible, one of the lost episodes features Rik & Ade doing a proto-Bottom routine and so has been something of a holy grail for UK comedy fans. And as of last week, the whole thing is now up on Youtube, sandwiched between episodes of The Dot Stop of Playdays.

I don’t recommend actually watching it, but fun to see it turning up in broadcast quality after being unavailable for 32 years…

Finally, as tomorrow seems to be the day that Apple sticks a knife in its back, I would like to declare that I may be the only person on the planet that doesn’t hate iTunes. I know, worse than Hitler…

Terminate with extreme prejudice

Chemical warfare works, people. Dead ants as far as the eye can see

This week, I settled into my 40s by having an exciting night going to a different supermarket…and going to the gym. Honestly, I don’t know how to contain myself with all this wild hedonistic fun. And I spent Saturday night watching World In Action episodes from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Admit it, you’re jealous. Tonight? Tonight, it’s Columbo and deep learning papers. The life. Right here.

Anyway, June approaches. Now June is a sunny month and full of long days. Which would normally be great, but I’m about to enter a crunch period at work and on my book (available to order now on Amazon, coincidentally!). So I feel like instead of being outside enjoying the summer, I’ll be looking out of the windows as the sun sets every night. sigh Still, it could be worse. I feel like I’ll be happier come July or August, though.

Lastly, hurrah for a Bank Holiday Weekend! On both sides of the Atlantic for once.

Ant Farm

In contrast to last week, at least one major event happened this week, but I probably shouldn’t talk about it. It’s absolutely hilarious, mind you.


In other news, I seem to have an ant invasion. So many ants. They’re only little ones, but once they get into the hundred counts, that doesn’t help so much. sigh They’re happily eating all the poison, but instead of toddling off and dying, they just keep coming. Everything itches.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Ian Pointer (@carsondial) on

But! Foxes! Maybe they can chase away the ants. Otherwise, I’m doing to continue to use an arsenal of chemical warfare against them…

The Phantom Holiday

It still feels odd to be working on a Bank Holiday. At least I get one at the end of the month, even if it’s not quite in sync with the Spring Bank Holiday. Besides, I was in the UK for Good Friday, and BBC1 didn’t even seem to care. Disgraceful behaviour! Standards have fallen! etc.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Ian Pointer (@carsondial) on

A weekend of writing, chocolate-making, and a return to the Asian Food Festival! Which was in a different location this year, affording views of both concrete and the Roebling Bridge. Discovery of the day was probably Bánh xèo, which I will be attempting at home at some point.

Other than yesterday’s outing though, it has been a very quiet week. Boring 40s, ahoy! I’d like to say that things will be more exciting next week…but…

How About A Nice Game of Chess Instead?

There is, of course, the theory of it all. This is going to cost a lot of money and we will need to dig all around your basement. And you know that, have steeled yourself for it. It’s going to be okay.

Then the jackhammers kick in.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Ian Pointer (@carsondial) on

The foreman talked to me on Tuesday and told me that he recommends that people don’t see what’s going on until the project is at least over half-way done. But I’d already gone downstairs, seen the carpets pulled back, the massive holes chipped into the sides of the house, the large trenches in the garage, the destruction in the bar. I didn’t even know you could pull that table in the bar out

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Ian Pointer (@carsondial) on

By the end of Thursday, they’re done and things do look better. The basement will still be a mess while the concrete cures, and I have to find somebody to re-lay the carpet. But maybe the house won’t leak anymore. And maybe the new iron bars on the foundation will stop the house from attempting to slip off it. Things won’t be quite the same again down there, but I guess that’s what you do when you own a house.

I eventually found where they’d put the bar table. As I tried to work out how I was going to put it back, I saw that previous occupants had left a mark to be discovered in times like this. I guess I’ll have to add to it before it goes back.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Ian Pointer (@carsondial) on

To celebrate having something of a basement again, I watched the second greatest film in the world: WarGames1. I joke about how good this film is, but on this go-around, I think I was taken aback by…how WOPR uses the exact same methodology as things like AlphaGo and the OpenAI 5, even to the extent that one character talks about how it’s a ‘hallucination’ of a war., exactly the same way that PlaNet and similar techniques work for reinforcement learning.

Anyhow, you should watch WarGames again (and Sneakers from the same writers, which is actually a little better). It’s a shame however that Ally Sheedy’s character has so little to do - there’s a moment where she touches the computer screen and the film threatens to go off in a completely different direction, but 1983 and all that…

  1. The greatest film of course is the first 25 minutes of Transformers: The Movie. “Here, kids! All the characters you love die in terrible ways! Buy the new toys!” [return]

Flipping Over The Water Table

To celebrate having lived in Cincinnati for a year, I have spent the weekend moving everything away from the walls in the basement in preparation for a week’s worth of (quite expensive!) building work that purports to fix a) my water issues, and b) my previously-unknown foundation issues. What fun!

Other than that, a very uneventful week. I didn’t even leave the house until Thursday evening, and that was only because I had nothing to eat on Friday if I didn’t go shopping. I’d like to say that this allowed me to get lots of things done…but I hardly did anything. Decompression after London, perhaps.

But! I finally got around to making Detroit-style pizza, something that I’ve been itching to do for years:

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Ian Pointer (@carsondial) on

(thanks to Tammy for supplying me with the pan!)

More exciting updates next week as I relate how I share my house with a bunch of builders and still try to get work done!

You Ought To Tie Those

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Ian Pointer (@carsondial) on

For anybody reading who was also at university with me, yes, that really is David Warner signing “So do I” on a Titanic DVD as part of my 40th birthday presents from my sister. Apparently he was quite confused, but appreciated it when explained that it had developed into a university slogan. Ah, memories…

As I write this, it’s 25°C and I’m sitting on a blanket in the middle of Hyde Park as a rather fun weekend draws to a close. Some highlights!

  • Tammy being offered a cup of tea, declining, and then being given a cup of tea “just in case you change your mind.”
  • The 688 song playlist for the birthday party which sadly did not reach the amazing heights of selecting The Reynolds Girls or Transvision Vamp, but did open with the ever-cheery “I Trawl The Megahertz.”
  • My delightfully informative Endeavour-inspired tour of Oxford, with highlights such as “that’s an old building”, “that’s probably a college”, and “oops, this is the wrong way.”
  • Whilst delivering a passioned lecture in the shortcomings of the abomination that is the new Westgate Centre in Oxford, I slapped a woman in the face with my gesturing. I’m blaming it on the poor architectural choices.
  • Bicester Village seems to be gentrifying on a geometric scale. It was high-end when it opened, but now it seems to be approaching “oligarchs and people who like a big Pret” level of excess.
  • On that front, Pret is basically our equivalent of Dunkin’ Donuts in Boston, isn’t it? You can’t go 500m without bumping into one, especially in London. I also spotted the much rarer ‘Veggie Pret’ and ‘Petite Prets’ too!
  • The cats essentially moved out for the days we were there and then came back inside just as soon as they were satisfied that I had really left. A little harsh.
  • I know they warn you, but the 191 steps notice in Covent Garden doesn’t convey just how knackered you are by the time you reach the top.
  • My feeling is that we need to make cannabis legal so we can ban it properly from open area just like smoking. This is in no way coloured by the smells drifting across the Park right now. Although it’s hilarious that the Police have signs up saying “you will be arrested!” and people are literally walking around shirtless using bongs (it turns out that I didn’t realize what day Saturday was, did I?)
  • Indiana is quite flat. And so many wind turbines!
  • Of course, I went to the South Bank. Of course, I went to the booksellers. Of course, I looked at the Pelican books. I did move it up a notch though, as I made another tourist back off the Pelican I had briefly put back down to answer a text message. AJP TAYLOR IS MINE
  • I was in Queen Elizabeth Hall when the Mueller Report dropped.
  • We had an amazing 11-course meal in [Roganic]() that was probably better than Alinea or Next (quite cheaper, too!). Only slightly spoiled by an annoying American family next door that managed to demand massive changes to a tasting menu, hassle the staff to speed up service not once or twice but three times, and made comments about Michelle Obama’s arms. Not exactly the best neighbours.
  • I wore out the soles in Tammy’s shoes. I think that possibly beats the time when I made Richard walk the entire Las Vegas Strip.
  • Honestly, I did not realize before I booked that The Tower Hotel was a brutalist outpost on the Thames. Totally a coincidence, I swear. Would have been nice if the A/C had been working properly, but oh such concrete! Also a place where you can take pictures like this that make you think a Victorian East End child in rags is just out of shot.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Ian Pointer (@carsondial) on

  • Tattooing may take longer than originally estimated!
  • My Mum will never forgive me for willingly going on the picnic in the park.
  • Using Apple Pay around London really feels like living in the future. I’ve barely had to get my actual credit card out. That will all change as we head back to the Land of Terrible Banking Choices.
  • I introduced Tammy to both Pointless and Meal Deals, so she’s much less of a tourist! Though she did walk on the right in the Tube…
  • Cakes & Bubbles was good, but ultimately disappointing, considering what Adria has done elsewhere. I liked the chocolate/yuzu/coconut flower quite a bit, but everything else was a little “…and?”
  • The Underground is just so much better than anything DC or NYC has to offer. Even if Tower Hill was shut for the weekend.
  • I approve of the increased incidence of the 1970s/80s NASA logo that people have been wearing around the city. Down with the meatball!
  • Dishoom’s naan rolls are just as good as we remembered. Once the cookbook makes its way to Cincinnati this autumn, there will be many of them in our future. So so many.
  • In contrast to the ruins and the sold-off, it was nice to see some council houses that are still owned by the people. Balfron, on the other hand, is a total disgrace.

All in all, then, a good trip. Feel like I could do with a few more days, but I think also that Tammy would have killed me if I made her walk even further. She only had light bruising on her feet from her boots, honest!

Tomorrow, we get in a plane and the long flight home. Well, to Chicago, as there’s still a four hour car trip back to Ohio after that!

And upon arrival: my goodness, this house is big, isn’t it?