Saturday, February 27

Food: Clockjack Click for more info

Hmm. Chicken. Prepared over a rotisserie. Served in a trendy yet clean environment, complete with eclectic chairs and the like. A whole bird of which came to £20.

Yes, that's right, just when I thought that the hipsters had already done chicken I find a place that does it even harder. But thus is the hipster way.

But okay, look: the food was good. The main event that was the rotisserie chicken (strangely that was pretty much the only item on the menu that was halal) was succulent and tasted pretty good despite my discarding of the skin (we went sauceless). The sides of fries were decent enough too, and the home made lemonade did hit the spot.

But there's something inherently wrong about sullying the simple nature of chicken with a lather of fad and then charging an obscene amount for it. So despite rather enjoying my time there I really can't recommend Clockjack, you know, on philosophical grounds. But if you did happen to want a great photo of a cooked chicken (you know, for social media reasons) I guess there is no better place to go.

Cube Network: Leadership for Muslim Networks Click for more info

Today, Cube Network hosted a day of mini lectures and introductions centred around the running and leading of Muslim networks in the workplace. Judging by the audience, "workplace" in this context meant the professional and corporate type, although the lessons learned would actually be applicable to different workplaces and even other aspects of life. Briefly, the topics were:

  • Influencing without authority - where we learned about the mechanisms available to empower opinions which may not otherwise find representation, so things like lobbying, media influence, key groups.
  • Leadership in the face of adversity - where it was explained that in an Islamic context, leadership doesn't necessarily have to be overt or even about the results, but can be about the effort and journey.
  • Facilitation - more of a workshop where we brainstormed about the steps we could take to promote change in the workplace.
  • Legal rights and the Equality Act 2010 - where we learned about our rights as minority employees, and what recourse we could have if these rights were ever infringed upon
  • The Islamic case for leadership - where a frank and pragmatic explanation was given as to why leadership is required in the context of Muslim networks in the city
  • The Islamic Workplace Index - the attempt to create an authoritative ranking of the 100 most Islamic friendly places to work in the UK

Now, full qualification: I know some of the guys who are involved in the Cube Network relatively personally. But any personal bias aside, it was refreshing to see a corporate aimed and structured series of presentations that were at all times pivoted around our duty to God and our struggle to get to heaven. I felt that as a result a lot of what was said was to-the-point, honest, credible and transparent, something which is usually missing from other leadership programmes (be they labelled with an Islam prefix or not).

Of course whether there are any longer term changes remains to be seen. But as an introduction or start to a larger context it was quite fun, and I look forward to seeing what else comes out of this series.

Tuesday, February 23

Film: Deadpool Click for more info

It says a lot about society the number of times (three to be precise) I had to warn friends not to take their nephews to this film. I mean I get that it's a superhero film, and superhero films are for kids in the main. But come on guys, isn't being a responsible adult about being diligent? At least check the rating (15) before you offer to take an 8 year old.

And it's a good thing that the warnings were heeded. Deadpool offers up strong language, heavy violence, nudity and pretty much anything that is bad for the soul. This is not a film for the saintly.

On the other hand it's also a lot of fun. The action and humour are all on point (largely because of the aforementioned vices) and it's clever too, with the continuous breaking of the fourth wall that the comic is so well known for translates well onto the big screen.

If I have any complaints it's that the story isn't that sophisticated; we essentially have a bunch of set pieces tied together with a love story of some sorts. But that's okay because I'm not sure anyone would want to take the film seriously in that way. But as something to enjoy and chuckle at, it does the job... and on that aspect alone it gets my recommendation.

Monday, February 22

Science Showoff Click for more info

Well isn't this a treat? A amateur cabaret night themed around the weird and wonderful world of science, Science Showoff is just the ticket for some geeky release. But it's actually more than that, as you actually really do learn something too.

Such is the genius of even today's line up, all of whom are considered to be fresh meat. I only stayed for half of it, but in that time I learned about heart disease, cancer of the uterus research, evolution and saw some contemporary dance demonstrating the magic of stem cells.

It was a laugh, it was insightful and yes, it was oh so geeky. It's the grassroots stuff that takes me back to Rebel Muzik, and has definitely found a future place in my diary.

Sunday, February 21

Food: Al Souk Click for more info

Grammatical errors aside, Al Souk (urgh) was actually quite the quick win. The food was good, fast and cheap and combined with the local location we turned around a pretty decent meal for £8 per head (albeit using a Tastecard) in under 90 mins. That's not bad for the standard starters and two sticks of kofta for the main. For a default choice there's much worse options, so this will go down as the place to go for a quick local bite.

Tuesday, February 9

Film: The Big Short Click for more info

I'd like to think that for anyone who's been in finance for a relatively long period of time that The Big Short is not saying anything new. The final message that the film has (spoilers!), that for some reason we tend to place authority in people who wear suits, is a lesson anyone who's worked in a corporation would know about - that these things are run by people and that people are on the whole, stupid, lazy and/or bent. The only real difference with banking is that the product we're dealing with is money and so all of a sudden it's more important (or maybe less believable).

But still, The Big Short is a fun film, with respect to the subject matter, the "true events" it's based on as well as the way in which it's presented - many of the characters break the fourth wall for instance. I guess the fun is there to balance out the rest of the film which is pretty much a depressing indictment of our society. Recommended.

Thursday, February 4

Food: All Star Lanes, Brick Lane Click for more info

To be frank I'm not sure it's even fair to include this place in my listings. The only reason one would ever eat here would be to follow up on a spot of bowling (which was bad for its own reasons), so maybe expectations should have been set low. But just for completion we paid almost £20 a head for really shoddy food. The service was okay, but one can't really eat that.

One to avoid then, even if you wanted to follow up on a spot of bowling.

Monday, February 1

Book: Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson Click for more info

I'm really not sure where to start with Cryptonomicon. I mean for sure it was an amazing read and has definitely made my top ten of books ever read. But to describe why I enjoyed it so much is difficult.

Cryptonomicon is ultimately a work of fiction, but that is kind of diluted by how much of the real world it borrows from. Not only do we have a mention of Turing, but he's actually quite important as a character in the story. We have a world war going on, as well as the impending dotcom bubble of the 90s brewing. For me it actually be came a little tricky navigating what was fiction and what was not, but after a while I did manage to start trusting the book.

Cryptonomicon is also mainly a thriller about technology. But that too is diluted by the immense level of characterisation built in by Stephenson - see the chapter that describes the motivation behind and physical response to having a bowl of Cap'n Crunch for breakfast.

Cyrptonomicon is also very well structured and accessible. But this is despite having multiple arcs and sub-arcs and being set in two time lines and multiple locations. The book has a level of depth which places a lot of trust and even burden on the reader, but I suspect a second reading would be extremely fulfilling.

So yes, Cyrptonomicon is a book that makes you work hard but rewards you for that effort. Recommended.