Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Brian Micklethwait on "Real Democracy Now" in Parliament Square this afternoon
Rocco on "Real Democracy Now" in Parliament Square this afternoon
Six Thousand on Some batsman – some neck
Darren on Some batsman – some neck
Michael Jennings on Thoughts on habits and on changing incentives with the passing of time
Rob Fisher on Thoughts on habits and on changing incentives with the passing of time
James on Charlie Hebdo demo in Trafalgar Square
Brian Micklethwait on Charlie Hebdo demo in Trafalgar Square
Tom on Charlie Hebdo demo in Trafalgar Square
Tom on Golden Gate being built – Severn Road Bridge ditto – C20 photography – Hitler's paintings
Most recent entries
- Drone on the White House lawn
- BMdotcom What if? of the day
- Move over CND
- Photographers - photographers with hats (one of the hats being rather scary)
- “Real Democracy Now” in Parliament Square this afternoon
- Big cats jacket
- Drugs drones
- Some batsman – some neck
- Thoughts on habits and on changing incentives with the passing of time
- BMdotcom (mathematical (and sporting)) quote of the day
- Two pictures of the Shard behind some railings
- Smartphones and tablets at the Charlie Hebdo demo
- A feline Friday at Guido
- Hand done photos
Other Blogs I write for
6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adventures in Capitalism
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
Another Food Blog
Antoine Clarke's Election Watch
Armed and Dangerous
Art Of The State Blog
Boatang & Demetriou
Burning Our Money
Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry
China Law Blog
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Communities Dominate Brands
Confused of Calcutta
Conservative Party Reptile
Counting Cats in Zanzibar
Deleted by tomorrow
Don't Hold Your Breath
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Dr Robert Lefever
Englands Freedome, Souldiers Rights
Everything I Say is Right
Fat Man on a Keyboard
Ferraris for all
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From The Barrel of a Gun
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Here Comes Everybody
Hit & Run
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Laissez Faire Books
Last of the Few
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Lib on the United Kingdom
Little Man, What Now?
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L'Ombre de l'Olivier
London Daily Photo
Metamagician and the Hellfire Club
Michael J. Totten's Middle East Journal
More Than Mind Games
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My Boyfriend Is A Twat
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Nation of Shopkeepers
Never Trust a Hippy
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we make money not art
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This and that
A man believed to be a recreational drone operator accidentally crashed a small device onto the White House grounds early Monday, investigators said, briefly triggering a lockdown and reinforcing concerns about security at the executive mansion.
Lexington Green, here:
What if … ?
What would a history of the British Empire look like if it did not use the “rise and fall” metaphor?
What would that history look like if it examined not just the political framework or just the superficial gilt and glitter, or just the cruelty and crimes, but the deeper and more enduring substance?
What if someone wrote a history of the impact of the English speaking people and their institutions (political, financial, professional, commercial, military, technical, scientific, cultural), and the infinitely complex web of interconnections between them, as a continuous and unbroken story, with a past a present … and a future?
In other words, what if we were to read a history that did not see a rising British Empire followed by a falling Empire, then a rising American Empire which displaced it, but an organism which has taken on many forms over many centuries, and on many continents, but is nonetheless a single life?
What if we assume that the British Empire was not something that ended, but that the Anglosphere, of which the Empire was one expression, is something that has never stopped growing and evolving, and taking on new institutional forms?
What if it looked at the unremitting advance, the pitiless onslaught, universal insinuation, of the English speakers on the rest of the world, seizing big chunks of it (North America, Australia), sloshing up into many parts of it and receding again (India, Nigeria, Malaya), carving permanent marks in the cultural landscape they left behind, all the while getting wealthier and more powerful and pushing the frontiers of science and technology and all the other forms of material progress?
What if jet travel and the Internet have at last conquered the tyranny of distance which the Empire Federationists of a century ago dreamed that steam and telegraph cables would conquer? What if they were just a century too early?
I recall musing along the same kind of lines myself, a while back.
The important thing is, this mustn’t be advertised first as a plan. If that happens, then all the people who are against the Anglosphere, and who prefer places like Spain and Venezuela and Cuba and Hell, will use their ownership of the Mainstream Media to Put A Stop to the plan. What needs to happen is for us to just do it, and then after about two decades of us having just done it, they’ll realise that it is a fate (as the Hellists will describe it) accompli.
Because, guess what, we probably are already doing it.
What the hell was I thinking, putting up this photo of that demo, when I also had this one to show you:
Two men who are, between them, wearing five different items of headgear. The majority of them rather interesting.
Before and after perusing the remains of that demo I chanced upon yesterday, I was photographing photographers. Here are a few of them:
As you can see from the top left snap, he is photoing Westminster Abbey, and those two dramatic crouching shots, top middle and top right, are of photographers wanting to get the upper reaches rather than the lower reaches of Westminster Abbey in the background behind their friends.
Several quite good additions to the Interesting Hats sub-directory there, especially the gent, middle left, who looks to me like he’s in The Hunt For Red October. Is he being post-modern and ironic? Or does he, perchance, actually mean it? Either way, I don’t like it. I mean, do people now wander around London with swastikas in their hats? But, if you were guessing who the spy was, you’d have to pick the one in the Union Jack hat.
The lady bottom middle is a bit out of focus. But, her hat gets her included nevertheless.
And the gent at the bottom left is not very bald, but he is a bit. He makes it into that sub-directory.
Today, a fine looking day, a day in which many were to be seen wearing both gloves and sunglasses, I went awandering, down Victoria Street to Parliament Square, and then on across the River.
And in Parliament Square, I chanced upon a demo. I hope to do a longer bit at Samizdata, hopefully tomorrow, about this demo. In the meantime, here is a little horizontality, helpfully laid on by the demonstrators:
Click to get the original bigger picture.
If you want further thoughts from me about “that fatuous construct of political malcontents” called real democracy, follow that link.
And see also what I put in this piece about the Charlie Hebdo demo in Trafalgar Square:
… this was not your usual demo, the sort of demo perpetrated by the demonstrating classes ...
Today’s demo was exactly your usual demo. Here is a report of what they were trying to do, that being something to do with “Occupy”. From where I was standing, they failed.
I couldn’t find mainstream media coverage about this demo between this afternoon and now, which could just mean that there was lots and I didn’t find it. Comments on that very welcome.
LATER: Here is an Evening Standard report. It seems that what I saw was a failed Occupy demo, bolted onto the end of a somewhat more successful CND demo against Trident.
ALSO: Daily Mail.
Since it’s Friday, here is a picture I took of the back of someone’s jacket on Waterloo Bridge last Monday:
Click on that to get the original big picture.
I’ve already noted drones being used to take photos, and to save lives (although that is only being worked on). Now, here is a story about drones being used to smuggle drugs. One of these drones crashed, which is how they know. The drugs were too heavy. Man.
Is there anything, as Instapundit would ask, that drones can’t do? During the next few years, we’re probably going to find out.
This morning I had fun keeping half an eye on one of those Big Bash 20/20 games they are having just now over in Oz.
This morning‘s hero was a certain Jordan Silk of the Sydney Sixers, who slogged five such boundaries against the Sydney Thunder. And thanks to the www, I immediately learned about what a long neck the man has.
Silk has a huge neck, but Small has no neck at all. I imagine the (cricket part of the) internet is awash with pictures of these two guys, side by side.
The game was what they call these days a roller coaster ride. One moment half of Sydney was cheering. Next moment it was the other half cheering. Thunder looking like walking it, with the sixers on seventy something for 5 after 13 overs. Then someone is reminded of his team’s name and hits three consecutive sixes to swing it the Sixers’ way. But the Sixers still need way over fifty off the last three overs. In over 18, they get 25! But, next (penultimate) over: 1, 4, W, 1, 1, 1. Thunder look like winners. Sixers still need 23 of just the one last over. Someone called Lalor then comes on to bowl the last over, with bowling figures so far of 3 overs 1 maiden (a maiden in 20/20 being a miracle) 6 runs 4 wickets. And Lalor then goes for 23, and the Sixers win on the last ball. Jordan Silk and his big neck score two sixes off balls 2 and 3 of the final over. But Silk gan only get a single off ball 4, which swings the match back towards Thunder. But then, a tailender, needing 8 off two balls, promptly hits two fours, from his second and third balls faced.
Quite a game.
The one thing I really do not like about cricket writing is whether to put two or 2, four or 4, six or 6, twenty or 20, etcetera. Comments about that, anyone?
At this blog, I am finding my one-a-day habit quite easy to stick with. Part of this, I think, is that the penalty (in my mind) of failing to do something today is (in my mind) very large, by which I mean very large when set beside the effort of doing something (which can be something very easy to do).
Most people talk about habits and how you get into them as if they are all about, well, habit. The brain is automatically triggered to do whatever it is, whenever, each day, or whenever you have just done something else. You lock your door when you leave your home when nobody else is there. After dinner, you immediately wash up. Whatever. It becomes painful to neglect such habits. And there is, I’m sure, plenty of truth to such notions.
But the relationship between cost and benefit is also significant, regardless of mere mental triggers. The longer you have been able to stick with a good habit, the worse it feels to break it, because of all that past investment. On the other hand, the penalty for sticking with a bad habit (like me failing, yet again, to do a Samizdata posting after a longish dry spell there) is not great. Percentage-wise it is tiny. Instead of your dry spell lasting twenty days, it lasts twenty one days. Big deal.
This is surely part of why getting out of a bad habit is very hard, at first, and getting into a good habit is hard, at first. The prices of each particular failure are small, at first. But as the good habit persists, the price of a failure to maintain it rises, while the cost of maintaining it stays the same, or (because of the mental trigger effect) actually falls. (You get, as the saying goes, into the swing of it.)
Talking about “past investment” in a habit sounds like the “sunk investment fallacy”. This is where you persist in investing in something not because the future investing you do will be profitable, but because of all the investing you have already done, even though future investment will be lost also. But the reason why there is a special name for this error is that the sunk investment “fallacy” feels like it is true even when it isn’t. The label exists because the error is so tempting, and consequently so common. If you do not persist, all that past investment will feel wasted. And of course, if continuing to “invest” in the habit will actually be beneficial (if the habit would be worth starting now even if you hadn’t already started it), then you really would be wasting all that past investment, if you let the habit slip.
I am not sure about this, and am not confident that I have expressed this very well, perhaps because I have it a bit wrong. But that is the sort of thing that this blog is for. I post half-baked thoughts and thereby get to bake them a bit more.
One obvious complaint about this kind of thinking is that blogging is supposed to be fun. Well, for me, it is fun, when I can make myself do it. Above all, it is fun when I have done it. So, although not all aspects of doing it are fun, it is still fun, mostly.
Here, at the end:
You don’t always have to understand exactly what’s going on to enjoy what you’re seeing.
Words to live by, in all manner of situations.
That was said about this fun and games stuff, but I was saying much the same to myself as I watched the fabulously entertaining highlights of the semi-finals of the F(ootball) A(merica) Cup, or whatever they call it over there. A great come-back and extra time win by Seattle. A crushing victory by New England, and accusations that they cheated by softening their balls. What more could you ask for?
Well, what you could ask for is a duet of monodirectional brackets in the heading. But, no need, because there it is.
This posting is a bit of an experiment, because the two pictures embedded in it may not be small enough, to start with, and may have to be made smaller, after all those of you who hang on my every posting, and see it immediately, have seen it immediately. Also, I want to put them on both sides of the posting, and that may not work either. So, patience everyone, and be ready to endure graphic juggling, because these are the kind of things that my posting software is bad at showing me. I have to see evertything in situ, to be sure.
So, to get to the point, what this is about is the way that very small pictures sometimes look quite different to the exact same pictures, but larger, a theme also explored in this posting. And the idea is that the two pictures will go, on the left and on the right, at the top of this paragraph. De-dum de-dum de-dum, computer crap computer crap. Well, touch wood, this is working. There was a bit of fiddling with the instructions about putting pictures on the right or on the left, but I finally cracked that and made it happen.
The point of all this is that the pictures, when small, look quite similar. The only very obvious difference is that on the left there are rather more verticals in the railings to be seen. But click on the pictures and get them ten times larger, and you will see that the focussing is quite different. In the one on the left, the railings are the front are in focus and the Shard is barely discernible behind them. On the right, the big picture shows the Shard quite clearly while the railings are very blurry. Okay, the small pictures are not identical, and alert viewers may have detected the very difference that I say is so unclear in the small pictures, but the small pictures are much more similar to each other than the large ones are.
One of the many morals to be drawn from this is that the bigger the screen on your camera is the better, because the bigger the picture, the easier it is to tell exactly what that picture looks like. This is yet another reason why people who take pictures with tablets, the cameras with the biggest screens of all, are being very sensible. They are the ones who know exactly what they are getting, exactly when they are getting it.
In the end, the only cock-up that early readers were subjected to was that in the heading, I at first put that the Shard was in front of the railings rather than behind them.
At that demo a week ago today, there were, of course, and abundance of smartphones being used to soak up snaps:
And there were tablets being used as well:
But more intriguingly, and this was a first for me, I saw smartphones …:
… and tablets …:
… being used actually to demonstrate. And as you can see, I wasn’t the only one who was interested.
I’m not sure what this means. I simply note that it was happening.
When it comes to Micklethwait’s Laws, the best one undoubtedly is and will always be Micklethwait’s Law of Negotiated Misery.
But there is also a Micklethwait’s Law of Shelves. On the face of it, Micklethwait’s Law of Shelves is not that fundamental, but, writing about it now, I do think it explains quite a lot about the world, and about why there is so much stuff in the world, clogging it up. It is a law that, unlike with (so far as I am aware) Micklethwait’s Law of Negotiated Misery, many others have discovered the truth of, even if I’ve not been able to find it spelt out in so many words on the www. Micklethwait’s (or Whoever’s) Law of Shelves states that …:
… there is always room for more shelves.
That’s my bedroom. Imagine what the rest of my place is like.
Sadly Jacob Rees-Mogg is not taking part, his cat wasn’t feline up to it. The big pussy. ...
Guido keeps going on about the Guidoisation of politics. But he, it would appear, is on the receiving end of the ever rising tide of internet cat references.
I’ve just been listening to Christopher Hitchens reading out what is apparently one of the chapters of his book God Is Not Great, and there is a cat reference in that also. Although down on dogs, it seems that the Muslims have tended, historically, to be nicer to cats than the Christians, because Christians have been in the habit of associating cats with the Devil.
Good grief! More Guido moggy-blogging.
Here’s a nice coincidence. There I was writing about how I went from being, in my teens, a bad pen-and-ink picture-maker to, from around 2000 onwards, a far happier digital-photographic picture maker. And here is a picture that captures that kind of metamorphosis perfectly:
It’s one of these pictures by Christoph Niemann. Niemann’s pictures bring to mind that phrase used by one of the alter egos of Barry Humphries, Barry McKenzie, who described paintings as “hand done photos”. These pictures really do only work as photos. Until they are photoed, the job is not done. But the hand-done bit is essential to what they are.
One thing about these pictures that I particularly like, apart from the basic fact that I like them, is their very favourable effort-to-impact ratio. For my taste, too much of the picture-making displayed at Colossal consists of stuff that is quite nice to look at, but which took an absurdly huge amount of time and effort to contrive. Also, there is often no logical or even meaningful connection between how the pictures are contrived and how they end up looking. So, you’ve made a table cloth out of seeds. Clever you. But, why? Niemann’s pictures answer this question perfectly.
But then again, the internet being the internet, if your elaborately pointless pictures catch people’s fancy and thousands glance at them, then I guess that, if you put in a lot of time and effort, you may well reckon than all the time and effort was worth it, especially if you had fun spending it and doing it. And of course it is digital photography that transforms a laboriously produced one-off item of visual art that took far too much time and effort to do, into a mass experience that it made sense to spend a lot of time and effort doing. But, most of these intricate sculptures and pictures at Colossal are just sculptures and pictures that were then photographed. Niemann’s pictures are real Hand Done Photos.
As for me, between being a bad pen-and-ink picture maker and an okay-to-good digital photographer, I endured a big interval during which I made hardly any pictures of any kind. My pictorial enthusiasm expressed itself in the design of pamphlets, and graphic design generally. Basically I became a desktop publisher. (I even earned money doing this.) First I just did publishing, on a desktop, paper-scissors-glue-photocopier. Then computers arrived, and I was an early adopter of “desktop publishing”. Then the internet arrived, and drew a big line under all that stuff. I shovelled all my pamphlets onto the internet, and became a blogger. And, I bought my first digital camera. At first, blogging and digital photography did not mix very well. Now, they mix very well indeed.