Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

Home

www.google.co.uk


Recent Comments


Monthly Archives


Most recent entries


Search


Advanced Search


Other Blogs I write for

Brian Micklethwait's Education Blog

CNE Competition
CNE Intellectual Property
Samizdata
Transport Blog


Blogroll

2 Blowhards
6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adloyada
Adventures in Capitalism
Alan Little
Albion's Seedling
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
Alex Singleton
AngloAustria
Another Food Blog
Antoine Clarke
Antoine Clarke's Election Watch
Armed and Dangerous
Art Of The State Blog
Biased BBC
Bishop Hill
BLDG BLOG
Bloggers Blog
Blognor Regis
Blowing Smoke
Boatang & Demetriou
Boing Boing
Boris Johnson
Brazen Careerist
Bryan Appleyard
Burning Our Money
Cafe Hayek
Cato@Liberty
Charlie's Diary
Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry
Chicago Boyz
China Law Blog
Cicero's Songs
City Comforts
Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog
Clay Shirky
Climate Resistance
Climate Skeptic
Coffee & Complexity
Coffee House
Communities Dominate Brands
Confused of Calcutta
Conservative Party Reptile
Contra Niche
Contrary Brin
Counting Cats in Zanzibar
Скрипучая беседка
CrozierVision
Dave Barry
Davids Medienkritik
David Thompson
Deleted by tomorrow
deputydog
diamond geezer
Dilbert.Blog
Dizzy Thinks
Dodgeblogium
Don't Hold Your Breath
Douglas Carswell Blog
dropsafe
Dr Robert Lefever
Dr. Weevil
ecomyths
engadget
Englands Freedome, Souldiers Rights
English Cut
English Russia
EU Referendum
Ezra Levant
Everything I Say is Right
Fat Man on a Keyboard
Ferraris for all
Flickr blog
Freeborn John
Freedom and Whisky
From The Barrel of a Gun
ft.com/maverecon
Fugitive Ink
Future Perfect
FuturePundit
Gaping Void
Garnerblog
Gates of Vienna
Gizmodo
Global Warming Politics
Greg Mankiw's Blog
Guido Fawkes' blog
HE&OS
Here Comes Everybody
Hit & Run
House of Dumb
Iain Dale's Diary
Ideas
Idiot Toys
IMAO
Indexed
India Uncut
Instapundit
Intermezzo
Jackie Danicki
James Delingpole
James Fallows
Jeffrey Archer's Official Blog
Jessica Duchen's classical music blog
Jihad Watch
Joanne Jacobs
Johan Norberg
John Redwood
Jonathan's Photoblog
Kristine Lowe
Laissez Faire Books
Languagehat
Last of the Few
Lessig Blog
Libertarian Alliance: Blog
Liberty Alone
Liberty Dad - a World Without Dictators
Lib on the United Kingdom
Little Man, What Now?
listen missy
Loic Le Meur Blog
L'Ombre de l'Olivier
London Daily Photo
Londonist
Mad Housewife
Mangan's Miscellany
Marginal Revolution
Mark Wadsworth
Media Influencer
Melanie Phillips
Metamagician and the Hellfire Club
Michael Jennings
Michael J. Totten's Middle East Journal
Mick Hartley
More Than Mind Games
mr eugenides
Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism
My Boyfriend Is A Twat
My Other Stuff
Natalie Solent
Nation of Shopkeepers
Neatorama
neo-neocon
Never Trust a Hippy
NO2ID NewsBlog
Non Diet Weight Loss
Normblog
Nurses for Reform blog
Obnoxio The Clown
Oddity Central
Oliver Kamm
On an Overgrown Path
One Man & His Blog
Owlthoughts of a peripatetic pedant
Oxford Libertarian Society /blog
Patri's Peripatetic Peregrinations
phosita
Picking Losers
Pigeon Blog
Police Inspector Blog
PooterGeek
Power Line
Private Sector Development blog
Public Interest.co.uk
Publius Pundit
Quotulatiousness
Rachel Lucas
RealClimate
Remember I'm the Bloody Architect
Rob's Blog
Sandow
Scrappleface
Setting The World To Rights
Shane Greer
Shanghaiist
SimonHewittJones.com The Violin Blog
Sinclair's Musings
Slipped Disc
Sky Watching My World
Social Affairs Unit
Squander Two Blog
Stephen Fry
Stuff White People Like
Stumbling and Mumbling
Style Bubble
Sunset Gun
Survival Arts
Susan Hill
Teblog
Techdirt
Technology Liberation Front
The Adam Smith Institute Blog
The Agitator
The AntRant
The Becker-Posner Blog
The Belgravia Dispatch
The Belmont Club
The Big Blog Company
The Big Picture
the blog of dave cole
The Corridor of Uncertainty (a Cricket blog)
The Croydonian
The Daily Ablution
The Devil's Advocate
The Devil's Kitchen
The Dissident Frogman
The Distributed Republic
The Early Days of a Better Nation
The Examined Life
The Filter^
The Fly Bottle
The Freeway to Serfdom
The Future of Music
The Futurist
The Happiness Project
The Jarndyce Blog
The London Fog
The Long Tail
The Lumber Room
The Online Photographer
The Only Winning Move
The Policeman's Blog
The Road to Surfdom
The Sharpener
The Speculist
The Surfer
The Wedding Photography Blog
The Welfare State We're In
things magazine
TigerHawk
Tim Blair
Tim Harford
Tim Worstall
tomgpalmer.com
tompeters!
Transterrestrial Musings
UK Commentators - Laban Tall's Blog
UK Libertarian Party
Unqualified Offerings
Violins and Starships
Virginia Postrel
Vodkapundit
WebUrbanist
we make money not art
What Do I Know?
What's Up With That?
Where the grass is greener
White Sun of the Desert
Why Evolution Is True
Your Freedom and Ours


Websites


Mainstream Media

BBC
Guardian
Economist
Independent
MSNBC
Telegraph
The Sun
This is London
Times


Syndicate

RSS 1.0
RSS 2.0
Atom
Feedburner
Podcasts


Categories

Advertising
Africa
Anglosphere
Architecture
Art
Asia
Atheism
Australasia
Billion Monkeys
Bits from books
Bloggers and blogging
Books
Brian Micklethwait podcasts
Brians
Bridges
Business
Career counselling
Cartoons
Cats and kittens
China
Civil liberties
Classical music
Comedy
Comments
Computer graphics
Cranes
Crime
Current events
Democracy
Design
Digital photographers
Drones
Economics
Education
Emmanuel Todd
Environment
Europe
Expression Engine
Family
Food and drink
France
Friends
Getting old
Globalisation
Healthcare
History
How the mind works
India
Intellectual property
Japan
Kevin Dowd
Language
Latin America
Law
Libertarianism
Links
Literature
London
Media and journalism
Middle East and Islam
Movies
Music
My blog ruins
My photographs
Open Source
Opera
Other creatures
Painting
Photography
Podcasting
Poetry
Politics
Pop music
Propaganda
Quote unquote
Radio
Religion
Roof clutter
Russia
Scaffolding
Science
Science fiction
Sculpture
Signs and notices
Social Media
Society
Software
South America
Space
Sport
Technology
Television
The internet
The Micklethwait Clock
Theatre
This and that
This blog
Transport
Travel
USA
Video
War


Friday April 20 2018

When you think of lions in Trafalgar Square, you think of lions like this one, as photoed by me, in January 2015, at the Charlie Hebdo demo:

image

But one of my favourite lion in Trafalgar Square photos, which I took in April of 2014 but never got around to putting here until now, was this one:

image

I think it’s the leather handbag that makes this so good.  This is a lion quietly going about her business (it feels like a her despite the mane), not conquering the world or even aggressively promoting anything.  She’s just out shopping.  She does have a rather startled expression on her face, but that’s because she’s being photoed.  She’s not angry you understand, just surprised that anyone should be interested in photoing her.  “Ooh, hello dear!  Are you photoing me?  I hope I’m looking my best.” And maybe a bit scared that I mind have designs on her bag.

More seriously, I like to photo, and to show here, faces where face recognition is not an issue.

Thursday April 19 2018

Via Scott Adams, I encountered this, from someone called Peter Smith:

Been chatting to my wife while Twitter was down. She seems nice.

But what does she now think of him?

Wednesday April 18 2018

Yes, last night the Castalian String Quartet played late Haydn (op 76 nos. 1, 2 and 3) at the Wigmore Hall.  Wonderful.

Often, when I watch string quartets in action I feel a bit sorry for the second violin and the viola.  Not with these players.  Even the most innocuous and repetitious little chords, chugging away in the background, were made to come alive.  Every note, every phrase, especially every chord, had been thought about, but unlike with some of the latest string quartets, the result was not, despite my early fears, any excessive yanking around of the tempo and general over-emphasis on passing detail at the expense of the bigger musical story and the longer musical line.  There was plenty of detail, but all in the service of the pieces as a whole.

Here they are, soaking up the applause at the end:

image

And here they are taking a bow:

image

I was going to call this posting The Castalian String Quartet take a bow.  But when a string instrumentalists take a bow, is that bow to rhyme with how (the lowering of the head forwards when being applauded), or is it bow to rhyme with go (the thing they each use to play their various instruments)?  The English language is, to borrow a phrase I recently heard being used to describe a rather over-enthusiastic expert on something or other, a minefield of information.

Whenever I really enjoy a live concert, I tend to rootle around afterwards in my CD collection to see what recordings I have of the music I just saw being played.  While concocting this posting, I had this cd on in the background.  Also wonderful.

I’m guessing from all the microphones that were to be seen last night, which my photos only show a few of, that there may soon be a cd of this concert.  I hope so.

Tuesday April 17 2018

This morning I get a phone call:

Me: Hello.

Voice at the Other End: Hello.

Me: Who is this?

Voice at the Other End: Me.

That is such a perfectly idiotic answer.  And such a perfect joke, provided only that it isn’t happening to me or to you.  It should be in an American sitcom, and I am sure it has been.

The subsequent conversation included this:

Me: I am going to blog this.

My thanks to Me.

Monday April 16 2018

Twitter is causing ever more interesting things to pile up on my computer screen, and slow everything down.  (I know, “bookmarks”.  Hate them.) So, here is a blog posting consisting of such links.  Which I can come back to and follow through on but probably never will, but possibly just might.

Eyebrows - we all have them, but what are they actually for?

The Kremlin has a Reckless Self-Image Problem.

Via 6k, how to take bizarre photos by stuffing wire wool into a egg whisk, setting the wire wool on fire, and swinging all that around on a rope.  Do not try this at home, unless you want to burn down your home.

Next, a Twitter posting about cactus patterns:

So frustrating! My cactus patterns are going viral on FB, but the person who posted the photo of them a) didn’t credit me and b) deletes any comments I write responding to people asking for the patterns.

But what if she made that up? As a ruse to get the world to pay attention to her cactus patterns?  Or, what if she hired, in good faith, some sleazy “internet marketer” who deliberately posted her photos on some faked-up Facebook site, minus any credit, told her about it, and then blocked her complaints?  The sleazy internet marketer then advised her to complain about this to all and sundry, knowing that all and sundry would sympathise.  She seems like an honest person, doing honest business, which is why I pass this on.  But a decade of internetting has made me cynical.

Next, a Spectator piece about someone called Scaramucci, who is writing a book about Trump.  The piece says more about Scaramucci than it does about Trump, but his book sounds like it will be quite good.  Scaramucci sounds like he has his head screwed on right, unlike a lot of the people who write Trump books.

Also in the Spectator, Toby Young realises that his wife is smarter than he is.  And she chose to stay at home and raise their kids because that’s what she wanted to do.  You can feel the tectonic plates of Western Civilisation shifting back towards stay-at-home mumhood, even as mere policy continues to discourage it.  Jordan Peterson, take a bow.  That man is already raising the birth rate in rich countries, by encouraging both fatherhood and motherhood.  The only question is: By how much?  Trivially, or significantly?  My bet, with the passing of a bit of time: significantly.

George Bernard Shaw tells it like it was and is about Islam.  I lost track of how I chanced upon that, but there it is.  These days, GBS would probably get a talking-to from the Thought Police, a talking-to which might well include the words: “We’re not the Thought Police”.  If the Thought Police were to have a go at her, they just might get an earful themselves.

Mike Fagan liked this photo of Mont Saint Michel with sheep in the foreground.  I can’t any longer find when he liked it, but he did.  Reminds me of this Millau Viaduct photo, also with sheep in the foreground.

Boaty McBoatface got turned into David bloody Attenborough, but Trainy McTrainface proudly rides the railway lines of Sweden.  As usual, You Had One Job supplied no link (so no link to them), but here’s the story.

Thank you Paul Marks for telling me about someone telling me about Napoleon’s greatest foe.  His name?  Smith.

The sun is now spotless, or it was on April 11th.

David Baddiel has doubts about the bloke who said “gas the Jews” rather a lot, to a dog.  As do I.  It should be legal, but don’t expect me to laugh.

Tim Worstall:

All of which leads to the correct Brexit stance to be taking. No deal. We’ll go to unilateral free trade and the rest of you can go boil your heads. We’ll give it a couple of decades and we’ll see who is richer, OK?

Quillette: The China Model Is Failing

The three temporarily separate Elizabeth lines.

Wisdom.

Anton Howes on Sustained Economic Growth.

John Arnold made a fortune at Enron.  He is now spending some of it on criticising bad science.

Human genes reveal history.  This book is number (about) twenty on my to-read list.

Philip Vander Elst on How Communism Survived Thanks to Capitalist Technology.

And finally, Bryan Caplan still thinks this is pretty good.

I now feel much better.  And more to the point, my computer seems a lot sprightlier than it was.  This has been the computerised equivalent of cleaning my room.  The job is not done, but I have taken a chunk bite out of it.

Sunday April 15 2018

I liked this, from the Megan Mullally character in Will & Grace (latest series, episode 6, beginning of):

“Sorry I’m late, but I got here as soon as I wanted to.”

At their frequent best, American sitcoms keep on nailing down these universal feelings about the world and its various demands, yet in a way that you never heard before.  It’s like they show you the world, but with perfect subtitles attached, explaining everything.  My sense is that a gag like that one is proposed by one person, and then talked through by a huge team of gagsters at a big table for about half a day until it is polished and refined down to its pure and perfectly funny essence.  (Either that, or some bloke just thought of it, just like that.)

In general, I really like American sitcoms, because, in addition to being funny, they are another world, but another world where they speak an almost identical language to mine.

In English, and also in American it would seem, sorry is definitely the hardest word.

Saturday April 14 2018

Indeed.  Last night I was walking somewhat exaustedly from St James’s Park towards Victoria, and this took me along Petty France, which is where the Ministry of Justice is to be found.  This is the one that used to be the Home Office and which looks like an Eastern Bloc Embassy.  And in Petty France, right next to this Ministry of Justice, I spotted this:

image

Yes, an urban fox.  You expect to see such beasts in the more sprawling London suburbs, the sort that contain lots of open spaces and vegetation.  But not trotting along the pavement, right past a major government ministry.

It was getting dark rapidly, and for some idiot reason I had set my camera to make movies instead of regular photos.  But that did at least mean I could pick out a less bad still shot.

Luckily, the quality of the photo is not the point here.  It’s the principle of the thing.  Cats and dogs, yes.  (At first, I thought that this fox was a cat.) Horses, carrying policepersons, exercising themselves in between riots.  Good.  Ducks.  Pigeons.  Herons (see below).  That’s all fine.  But foxes?  That was a real surprise.  And a definite first for me, in central London.

Friday April 13 2018

Yes, way out west.  Barnes.  I was there earlier in the week with GodDaughter 2.  We dined here, right beside the river.  Very nice.  Very appetising.

It was a dull day just like today, but I had my camera with me anyway, and in among photoing the bridge upstream and the bridge downstream, I also photoed various birds.  Including this one, which I suspected was a heron and which a little bit of image googling confirmed was a heron:

imageimageimage
imageimageimage

The first three came out quite well, but the final one, bottom right, is the heron disappearing across the river, in a bird blur, with an even blurrier bird reflection underneath it as it flew away.  My camera moving excitedly didn’t help, but I still quite like it.

My favourite, however, is the first one, top left.  In that one, I particularly like the goofy way that the heron seems to have its knees pointing inwards, like he has been caught breaking some rule, and is shuffling his feat.  Or her feet.

Thursday April 12 2018

At the time of the Scottish Independence referendum, I discovered in myself a great fondness for the Union Jack.  Not for its political symbolism.  I see the break-up of the UK as pretty much, in the longer run, inevitable, and probably desirable.  We’d be rid of Scotland’s stupid politics, and they have to live with all the consequences of their stupid politics and would shape up.  Win win.  No, I just like the Union Jack as a design.

One of the many things I like about the Union Jack is how you can change the colours, yet still keep it clearly recognisable, as an altered Union Jack, but still a Union Jack.I don’t know any other flag design that works so well that way.

So, for instance, this afternoon, on my way from meeting up with a friend, I was in Wilton Road (I think it was) and I encountered this Union Jack variation:

image

Website.

Wednesday April 11 2018

I have an abundance of CDs, and CDs last for ever, provided you don’t mistreat them violently.  I do not mistreat my CDs at all.  CD players, however, do not last for ever, no matter how well you treat them.  I was in Tottenham Court Road this afternoon, seeking another CD player, small enough to go beside my bed, to replace the small CD player there which is misbehaving.

The weather was grim and grey.  We had a couple of first days of spring a while back, but so far there has been no actual spring.  Not good photoing weather, in other words.  But I did get a few shots of this ensemble, of the BT Tower, pollarded trees, and cranes, of which this was my favourite:

image

I tried a little “sharpen lightly” on that, and it looked, as you would expect, sharper.  But, the weather wasn’t sharp today, so I undid it.  That is exactly what emerged from the camera.

Tuesday April 10 2018

Yes, another illusion, to add to this one, and to make a similar point, by what appear to be rather similar means:

image

The blue stripes do not slope.  They merely look as if they slope.

I found this Here.  I recommend following that link and scrolling down to the .gif there, which proves that everything above really is horizontal.

Talking of horizontal, what happens if I do a horizontal slicing job?  This is just the top blue stripe:

image

The trick still works, even if not as strikingly.  Not that I care much about the details.  That things like this work is what interests me.

Commenting on the previous illusion, Commenter Alastair recommended this book.  It’s now on its way to me.

Sunday April 08 2018

I think this is an amazing photo:

image

Taken by 6k.  Amazing colours and contrasts.

It has a sort of Paradise Lost feeling about it.  Paradise is the beach.  But the sky causes Paradise to be Lost, temporarily I trust.

I have a feeling 6k does quite a lot of photo-editing, based more on what he says than on how his photos actually look.  For the good news is: you can’t tell for sure, just by looking at the photos.  I don’t like it when you can tell for sure that there’s been lots of mucking about with a photo.

I do very little photo-editing, because I consider most of it to be cheating.  The only thing I do quite a lot of is cropping, usually to cut out recognisable faces.

6k is not at his best right now, having recently been worse.  Knee operation.  Hope he gets well soon.

Yes.  From yesterday’s Times, in the Review section:

image

Here is what Roz is making of this.

Sadly, that wonderfully admiring review is behind a pay wall.  But: remarkable.  I don’t know how much difference a thing like this makes to sales, but it surely can’t hurt.  All those favourable Amazon reviews also help a lot, as Roa, unsurprisingly, confirms.

Here is a piece I did for Samizdata, more about crime fiction generally, but provoked by – and giving a plug to – The Devils Dice.

Why all this fuss from me about The Devil’s Dice is because Roz is my niece and because The Devil’s Dice is very good.  See also this earlier posting here.  I have not posted an Amazon review, because If I didn’t say I’m her uncle that would be dishonest, and if I did, then it would be dismissed as hopelessly biased, as it would be.

Roz’s cat is less impressed.

Saturday April 07 2018

Yes, ten years ago to the day, I was photoing photoers, and it is now a vanished era.  Of dedicated, cheap, small cameras:

imageimageimageimageimage
imageimageimageimageimage
imageimageimageimageimage
imageimageimageimageimage

It’s the red ones I like best.

Friday April 06 2018

Just got back from a great talk by Rob Waller at Christian Michel’s, about Artificial Intelligence, dream or nightmare, etc.  Rob himself was quite optimistic, but to illustrate the pessimistic side of the debate, he talked about … well, see above: a robot dog apocalypse.  He mentioned also its creator, Charlie Brooker, which made googling easy.

Here we go:

We’ve all seen movies and TV shows about killer robots. But until Netflix’s new season of its future-shock anthology drama Black Mirror, never before have we seen a terrifying vision of machines run amuck that so closely resembles the design of actual real-life robots — namely, those Boston Dynamics “dogs” that have impressed the world with their remarkable balance, speed, and dexterity … yet also unavoidably make you wonder: What if one was chasing me?

image

But then Rob talked about how AI was achieving huge increases in agricultural productivity and miracles of environmental protection, by doing such things as providing water automatically for migrating birds, and also for crops.  Like I said, he was optimistic.