Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
6000 on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Darren on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Michael Jennings on Wedding photography (2): Signs
MarkR on Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
MNB Achari on Google Nexus 4 photos
MNB Achari on The ups and downs of English
Robert Hale on Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
Laurence Sheldon on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Bryn Braughton on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Simon Gibbs on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Most recent entries
- Wedding photography (4): Preparations
- Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
- Reflections on a strange coincidence involving an Android app and a malfunctioning bus stop sign
- Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
- Rothko Toast
- Wedding photography (3): Technology as sculpture
- And another posting from my smartphone
- Posted from my new smartphone
- Google Nexus 4 photos
- Wedding photography (2): Signs
- Wedding photography (1): The superbness of the weather
- A Fleet Street lunch
- So painters also used to “take” pictures
- Funniest run out ever?
- Shadow photography
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6000 Miles from Civilisation
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Adventures in Capitalism
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
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Antoine Clarke's Election Watch
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Burning Our Money
Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry
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Counting Cats in Zanzibar
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Everything I Say is Right
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we make money not art
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This and that
Category archive: The internet
Immediately after my first relaunched Last Friday, the one at which Sam Bowman spoke, I suffered a dose of success depression. This is when you achieve a goal, and then feel not happy but empty, because deprived of the goal. The event had gone well. But I expected a little too much from it by way of immediate good consequences. A wise friend who attended the evening later told me that good results would indeed happen, but more gradually than I had been assuming, and that is now starting to happen.
One of the better consequences of these events is that because I send out emails to anyone I half know or know of who I think might be interested in attending, I have re-established contact with a number of friends and semi-friends who I was in danger of losing touch with.
One such, Alastair James, a libertarian friend from way back, recently sent me an email which included this:
I know you mostly like shots of one thing (often with some clutter in the foreground), but if you are also interested in panoramas I wonder if you’ve ever been to Blythe Hill Fields in Lewisham. I think it has some of the best views in London of Canary Wharf and the City but I rarely see it mentioned.
For years I have been nagging people to tell me about good spots to photo London from, but mostly without success. And now that turns up, pretty much unsolicited, merely through me being in touch with Alastair and discussing his son’s sporting triumphs, they being the reason that he often finds Fridays rather hard to do.
As it happens, I had never heard of Blythe Hill Fields, but it immediately sounded very promising, the clues being in the name. A hill, with nothing in the foreground getting in the way, just fields. Ideal for wandering around on, to find the best shots, and so, yesterday it proved.
I immediately found out where Blythe Hill Fields is (from Google maps), identified the nearest station, Honor Oak Park, and soon discovered (from this train website) that there is a train direct to Honor Oak Park from Victoria, which is very near to me. I also learned (from a weather website) on Monday evening, that the short-range weather forecast for Tuesday was, in a word: superb. Not a cloud in the sky, they said, and so it proved. So, a superb forecast in the other sense also.
Yet again, we see here the working through of one of my favourite Laws, which says that new methods of communication (in this case the internet) do not replace older methods of doing things (in this case going there). Rather do the new methods complement and as likely as not reinforce the older methods. Writing gives people more to talk about. Printing makes writing massively more productive, and gives rise to masses more talk. Television adapts books and sells books and provides yet more conversation fodder. Email makes meetings, at which we can all talk to each other some more, far easier to organise and publicise. And now the internet makes wandering around London (also the world) massively easier.
This posting is already getting rather unwieldy, so I’ll hold the photos I took at and around Blythe Hill Fields yesterday for another posting. Instead let me finish up this posting by quoting and commenting on another bit of the Alastair James email, which further emphasises the point about how the internet makes travelling easier, and in his case more fun:
BTW I recently finally got a Smartphone and I find it much easier to follow blogs since I got it – I’ve always felt guilty sitting in front of a PC reading a blog that I’m doing something unproductive. Anyway I just wanted to say that I’ve been reading yours and how much I enjoy it!
You might be surprised to learn what a difference declarations of that sort can make to the morale of a blogger like me, who doesn’t now get many comments, still less comments like that. Without my Fridays, I never get to hear that, which is a perfect example of a somewhat delayed effect that my friend in paragraph one above talked about.
But note also the smartphone thing. Presumably Alastair now uses his to read blogs in circumstances where more serious work would be difficult, such as while travelling.
I am myself currently engaged in buying a smartphone, helped by my friend Michael Jennings (who is giving the next Friday talk this Friday – do come if you want to). Whereas for Alastair James a key app is reading blogs on the move, for me the killer app is definitely being able to learn exactly where I am at any point in my various wanderings, and how to get to where I want to go to next. It would have come in quite handy yesterday, but because of some serendipity that occurred without it (more about that later), I am actually quite glad that yesterday I did not have Google maps with me. That’s another story, for which stay tuned.
I suspect that Alastair and I are not the only ones now, finally, kitting ourselves out with smartphones. I sense a general society-wide stampede in this direction, as the iPhone works its magic. The iPhone defines what a smartphone is, and all those for whom money is no object get one. That tells the Taiwanese copyists what to copy at half the price, and now they have pretty much got there.
I will also be buying a “bluetooth” (Michael J says that will work) keyboard, much like the black keyboard in this posting (scroll down a bit), to go with my smartphone, the idea being that I will be able to type stuff in as well as read things. (That keyboard is also a straight copy, in black, of an Apple keyboard, incidentally. Again with the Apple influence.) A smartphone screen too small for typing, you say? My very first computer, an Osborne, had a screen that was hardly any bigger, and I loved that. Osborne equals a very stupid version of a smartphone, plus a keyboard, plus half a ton of electro-crap that is no longer needed. Discuss. I feel one of those ain’t-capitalism-grand postings for Samizdata coming on.
The trouble with my current laptop is that, like the Osborne if with less extremity, it is still quite heavy. This means that I don’t always have it with me, in fact I pretty much now never have it with me, because when I do take it with me on my travels I often never actually use it, and in the meantime greatly resent its weight. The idea is that I will always have my smartphone with me (obviously), and always (fingers crossed) with the keyboard. So whenever a blogging opportunity beckons, when I am out and about, I will be able to respond.
The smartphone I am getting also has a rather good camera included. It’ll be interesting to compare that camera with my present one.
It is now Monday afternoon, but the end of my Thursday Odyssey is hardly yet in site.
My next stop was at Gramex, where second hand classical CDs are on sale, in particular abundance during the last week or two, as it happens.
The BBC is making a big fuss of LPs just now. Fair enough. LPs had a huge influence on the music being created at the time. Pop music was transformed, for a while, by the album, as was Pop Art, the album cover being a new arena for graphic fun and games of all kinds. Remember all those concept albums?
I just about do, but for me, Pop etc. was a parallel universe. I never disliked it, in fact I admired and admire it very much, and I like occasional pop tracks hugely. Pop is hugely better than recent “classical”, classical being basically a museum now. But despite all that, then as now, I still preferred and prefer classical, and for all but a few vinyl-obsessed classicists, the LP was never more than a means of reproduction, a window to look out at the classical garden, and a very ropey one at that what with all the clicks and scratches, particularly during your favourite bits. Classical music was a going concern long before recordings of any kind existed, and classical LP graphics never amounted to much more than pictures of the musicians, fancy ye-olde typography and/or kitschy chocolate box type landscapes. So when classical LPs were replaced by classical CDs, little was lost and a universe of distraction-free clarity was gained. CDs, certainly classical CDs, after a brief interlude of euphoric demand-driven bonanza profits, quickly got cheaper than LPs if you knew anything about how to buy them, on account of them being so much cheaper to make and distribute.
At first, people thought CDs would eventually disintegrate, but actually what was disintegrating was the CD players. CDs last for ever, provided you are minimally careful. Certainly mine all have, the only problem CDs being the ones that were scratched when I bought them. Crucial to the cheapness of CDs is that you can buy them second hand with reasonable confidence. On Amazon, sellers are terrified of a bad rating, and in shops, you can search out scratches for yourself. Often a shop will let you buy and try, and return if it is too much of a mess. Often what looks like a mess plays just fine. (The trick is to realise that scratches often don’t matter, provided they point towards the middle, as it were. The ones that go with the groove, sideways, because they seriously interrupt the one stream of digital stuff, are the killers.)
So for me, classical CDs were love at first sound. I keep wondering if I may soon stop buying them, but the sort I continue to buy, second-hand at Gramex or (more recently) from Amazon, continue to drift downwards in price.
Here is what I bought at Gramex on Thursday:
I paid only eight quid for those. And the one on the left is a double, which I have been looking for cheap for quite a while. Look for them on Amazon, here and here, and you discover (today anyway) that you would have to pay more like thirty quid for those. Plus, there is no postage to pay if you buy them in Gramex, like there is with Amazon. The cheaper the stuff you like to buy, the more that matters.
Which, along with the exercise I get from going there, is why I keep returning to Gramex. Boss Roger Hewland knows exactly what he is doing. He knows all about Amazon, and regularly checks prices there so as to go below them. He buys big collections for about one quid per CD, often within a minute of looking at them. He then piles them high, sells them cheap, and turns over his stock fast. He knows that getting four quid for something he sells in two days is a better deal for him than getting a tenner, but a month later. And he charges more like one quid for less desirable CDs, just to get rid of them and to make it worthwhile for his regulars to keep on visiting.
More and more regular shops won’t or can’t think like this, and in the face of online selling are just folding their tents, to be replaced by gift shops, restaurants and coffee shops. The latter two being what I did next.
First I went to Marie’s Thai Restaurant, a minute away along Lower Marsh from Gramex, and had my regular chicken and cashoo nuts with rice and a glass of orange juice, and then killed some more time in a Cafe Nero, while continuing to read about Tamerlane, in a book I recently bought for four quid in a remainder shop. He was born. He deceived. He tortured. He slaughtered. He conquered. He died. His vast empire immediately fell apart amidst further slaughter. What a pointless monster. Read about all that and tell me there’s no such thing as progress.
Coffee shops do puzzle me a bit, though. How to do they pay their rent? The morning and lunchtime rushes I suppose, which I avoid.
The photos below of NHS headlines were taken in one of my favourite newspaper and magazine shops, the one in Victoria Street on the left as you go towards Victoria Station, having turned left out of Strutton Ground. Moments after leaving that shop, I started off back in the other direction along Victoria Street, towards Parliament Square, and took these the two snaps below.
There is not much point any more in taking pictures of just The Wheel. We all know what that looks like. But I still like to snap away at it, when I am able to combine it with other things, such as particularly sastisfying foreground clutter, or a statue:
I especially like the one on the left, partly because the scene will never be repeated. I do like temporary clutter. And I particularly like how it says “ALARMED”, bottom right. I only saw that when I got home.
The statue on the right is the one featured in this posting here, from 2008, which I had of course totally forgotten about but have just been reminded about by google.
That’s right. I went a-googling for “statue outside westminster abbey”, and clicked on entry number four, “images for statue outside westmister abbey”. And guess what the Gold Medal Image was, the very first image, top left, number one on the list. That’s right, only me.
Not long ago, Alex Singleton dropped by. And one of the many intriguing things he told me was that Google really, really likes blogs like BrianMicklethwaitDotCom. This is because blogs like BrianMicklethwaitDotCom have been going for quite a long time, are quite frequently updated with new stuff, and are real blogs rather than fakes. Also, crucially, BrianMicklethwaitDotCom has now no truck with - and never ever has had any truck with - bullshit tricks for boosting traffic as peddled by bullshit tricksters on the www. Google can tell this. Google has its own box of clever tricks to spot anyone trying to do this, and guess who is cleverer, the bullshit tricksters or Google? And Google has worked out that I never do any of that crap. So, Google likes me, and when people look for a picture and I have such a picture, my picture gets to be at or very near the top of the list.
Alex also told me that some quite Big Cheese car maker and car seller had made the mistake of availing itself of the services of one of these traffic booster nitwits. Jaguar, I think it was. And Google proceeded to expunge Jaguar from its listings. So, when you went looking for a luxury car, you got no Jaguars at all. And if you went looking for jaguars, all you got was big black kitties.
At the time, I thought Alex himself might have been bullshitting, but it seems he may have been exactly right.
No, not Jaguar, so not exactly right, and I have only left that in for the kitty connection. Sorry Jaguar. If you want all that removed, just say the word and it will be done. I have just dined with Antoine Clarke, and he told me it was: BMW.
This Samizdata posting, for instance, is about a guy using a great big iPad to photo Westminster Abbey. Scorn was expressed by some commenters at how stupid this man was making himself look. I disagree strongly, as did Michael Jennings.
Michael’s comment about this deserves further attention and here it is in full:
It is believed that the reason that the first generation iPad did not have cameras was because Steve Jobs believed that people using it to take photographs would look ridiculous. This received complaints, not so much for people who wanted to use it to take photographs, but for parents of small children. Point the iPad at the baby, start up a video conference with the grandparents, allow the grandparents to watch the baby, and the grandparents will be happily occupied for hours.
However, people then started using the iPad for taking photographs anyway. So, Apple gave it a decent camera. I have one myself, and I prefer taking photographs with it to taking photographs with a cellphone camera. Whether that is the quality of the camera, I am not sure. (By standards of cellphone cameras, the one in the iPad is of high quality, but most high end phones have cameras of similar quality). I think it may be the screen. Everybody who takes digital photographs knows the experience of taking what you think is a good photograph, but discovering later that it is blurry, but being unable to tell that at the time on the tiny screen on the camera. The iPad has a large, very high resolution screen, so you have a much better ability to tell at once if you have taken a good picture or not. If you haven’t, there may even be a chance to take it again.
A final good thing about the iPad is its fantastic battery life. (This isn’t hard to explain - if you look at pictures of the innards of an iPad it is almost entirely battery). At the end of a busy day, its not uncommon to find that your batteries are low or completely depleted on all your devices except the iPad. You see something that needs photographing, so you use the iPad simply because it is still going.
As for looking ridiculous, that is all about what is normal and expected. If everyone does it, it no longer looks ridiculous.
To me what is truly ridiculous is refraining from doing what works best, because you think that looks ridiculous. It’s like that thing about being cool. If you are trying to be cool, you are by definition failing. If your over-riding concern is not to look ridiculous, then you are being ridiculous.
To illustrate the matter further, Michael immediately added another comment, which included this photo, also deserving of a wider audience than it may get while buried in a comment thread:
Underneath which Michael added:
For instance, if on a slow afternoon you unexpectedly find your self at the tomb in Jerusalem where protestants believe that Christ rose from the dead, it can be really helpful to have your iPad with you.
Last night, Michael and I both attended the Adam Smith Institute Christmas Party. Here is my photo of Michael, taking a picture of me with his iPad:
And here is my photo of Michael’s photo of me, as instantly displayed on his iPad:
Michael could be sure that his photo was in focus even as he was taking it, and certainly immediately afterwards. I could only be sure that my photo of his photo was also in focus when I got home, and actually, a great many of the other photos that I took at this shindig were not properly in focus, there being somewhat insufficient light (with what there was of it typically being ill-directed for my purposes), and people being prone to move about when they converse with one another. Which makes Michael’s point yet again.
I only get excited about sport when my teams are winning, or (as in the case of the recent US presidential election, when I think they are). Is this common sense? Or a character defect? Evidence of grown upness? Or of fickleness and feebleness? Well, I know what works for me.
Match 2 Day 3 of the four match series between India and England in Mumbai saw the England cricket team have their best day since I don’t know when. By the end of it, India were 117-7, only 31 ahead, but Gambhir was still in and he and/or a bit of tail-end flailing could yet put England under severe pressure in the final innings. Who was to say that the Indian spinners would be so ineffective the second time around, or that England wouldn’t have a second innings just like their first, but without the 300 runs scored by Cook and Pietersen. When Day 4 began, England could still lose, and all the more humiliatingly because of how good things were looking.
Said Vic Marks:
I don’t want to dampen English optimism but there is a scenario where the last three wickets get India a three-figure lead and then it’s sweaty palm time.
I agree. Don’t burn your fences until they’ve hatched.
Nevertheless, to quote Marks some more:
… England are on the brink of a famous victory and one that would absolutely ignite this series.
And so it proved. And I had to stay awake, again, until 4am and beyond, again, just to check that all was well.
I was helped in staying awake by an absorbing morning between Australia and South Africa in Adelaide, which preceded the start of play in Mumbai. Australia already had South Africa four down, and were chasing further wickets on the final day. In the morning, they got none.
Much has been said about the amazing not out century scored by debutant du Plessis, and this was indeed amazing. Kallis later also did very well. But I was particularly intrigued by the contribution of A. B. de Villiers.
6 2 4 6 4 1
That makes 23 in 6 balls. He took his team to victory with an over to spare, by scoring 47 in 32 balls, with five fours and three sixes. In this innings against Australia, de Villiers faced 246 balls. The least he has scored on previous occasions when he has faced this many balls in the one innings, or so I read in one of the media reports of this innings, was around 150. This time, he got 33. Best statistic? Number of boundaries. Zero. I watched this on computerised telly. (Yes, I have my ways.)
Fellow testcricketlag sufferer Michael Jennings emailed me yesterday as follows:
I ruin my sleep for several days, and in return all I get is Australia falling two wickets short of winning. Quite annoying. We were down a bowler to injury, but so were they, so I guess I can’t really blame that.
I will also point out that Australia scored 202 runs in the final session of the first day, and South Africa managed 49 in the final session of the final day. Both were extremely good performances, of course.
And it appears that England can be very good if Pieterson and Cook can actually play successfully together. I wonder if they can keep it up.
This makes two postings already this morning, and it isn’t yet 2am. Wish me luck getting to sleep.
Incoming from Michael Jennings:
Now, back to serious stuff, the Australia v South Africa test series starts in just under an hour. If Australia win this series they get the number one spot back - possibly a little prematurely, but I will take it if it happens. And in truth, if they win this series I think they will deserve it as much as anyone else does.
I am now tracking this here.
As I said to Antoine in that election chat we recorded, this is the kind of cricket match I would have liked to follow twenty years ago, but couldn’t. Now, I can.
The new Surrey captain is already off the mark.
On the same day that I took this picture, of Waterloo Station with Vapour Trails, I also, somewhat earlier, took some other pictures. There I was, waiting for a bus to make its way slowly down Victoria Street, but instead what slowly made its way down Victoria Street was this:
My reaction on the day was that they were presumably English (what else would they be?), and processing on behalf of their mad Evangelical Christian cult, based in Essex or some such place. When I got home, I tried asking the internet what it was, but found no answer.
But last night I tried again, and eventually worked out that this was to do with Malta Day. Those are Maltese Crosses, now I think about it, and the date was a fit. They are processing from Westminster Cathedral in Victoria Street to … somewhere. The Maltese Embassy perhaps? For some kind of party?
Here are pictures of the exact same event, same place, same date, but five years ago.
So, foreign and not mad. Good to know.
Incoming from Michael J:
I could just use a nice little slice or two of Helvetica on my toast.
On the evening of August 3rd, i.e. in just over a week’s time, there will be a talk at my home, on the subject of Bitcoin, given by Frank Braun. Arrive any time after 7pm. Talk begins 8pm. Informal socialising from 9.30pm until late.
Frank Braun has provided the following biographical notes:
Frank Braun is a libertarian computer scientist who got interested in Bitcoin about two years ago due to its potential to increase personal liberty. He works as an IT security consultant and is sometimes getting paid in Bitcoin. He is a strong privacy proponent and cannot be found on Facebook.
Which might have something to do with why he preferred me not to include a picture of him in this posting.
Concerning his Bitcoin talk, Frank Braun writes this:
In this talk an introduction to Bitcoin will be given: how it works, its key innovations and limitations, and how it can enhance personal liberty right now and in the near future.
Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer (decentralized) digital currency which became public in 2009. It uses digital signatures and cryptographic proof so as to enable users to conduct irreversible, pseudonymous transactions without relying on trust.
It is mostly unregulated, not controlled by state agencies, and is heavily influenced by ideas from counter-economics and cryptoanarchy.
Currently there are 9.5 million Bitcoin in circulation (a Bitcoin is worth around 6 British Pounds) and an ecosystem of legitimate (exchangers, eBay like marketplaces, and many small merchants) and illegitimate (for example, the underground drug market place Silk Road) businesses has developed around it. It will be discussed what Bitcoin means practically for Libertarians and how it relates theoretically to the Austrian theory of money.
My home is not a big place, and it is possible that more people will want to attend than I can accommodate, so please email me (at Brian At BrianMicklethwait Dot Com) if you want to attend, good an early. My guess is that all who wish to attend will fit in, but that’s only a guess. I will then email back with my address, and further details of the evening.
Is this for real?:
Swallowable Perfume Makes Your Sweat Smell Nice
Netherlands-based artist Lucy McCrae teamed up with a synthetic biologist to create a perfume pill that actually turns your sweat into a fragrance.
Sweat has never been known for its nice odour, but that’s all going to change as soon as “Swallowable Parfum” becomes a reality. Australian artist Lucy McCrae is currently working on a revolutionary pill designed to deliver perfume directly into the body, turning the skin into an atomiser. ‘Swallowable Parfum is a digestible scented capsule that emits a unique odor through your own perspiration,’ McCrae writes on her website. The pill will essentially turn sweat into a fragrance that will have its own characteristic for every person, because we are genetically unique.
Personally I doubt if this is for real, my first reaction being to check that the date of the postings wasn’t April 1st. She’s an “artist”, and all she is doing is “working on” this thing. By the sound of it, all that this artist has done so far is she’s said to someone that she would like this. But, inventions have to start somewhere. And maybe publishing a mere wish on the internet will hurry things along a bit.
And what about that “its own characteristic for every person” bit? I smell unintended consequences. I bet, if this ever does work, that it won’t work equally well for everybody. There will be evil-smelling disasters as well as sweet sweat. But, what the hell, you could say the same kind of thing about life itself.
My internet connection is doing weird things, going on and off and on again and off again, for no apparent reason. I fiddle about with the connections, which sometimes seems to work, but this could be coincidence.
Times like these remind me of how much my life revolves around times like these not happening too often.
The cricket County Championship ended on Thursday, and I am now suffering severe withdrawal symptoms, having this year got completely sucked into it. Surrey, my preferred county (on account of me having been born and raised in it and it having won the County Championship every year from when I was four to when I was ten) got into a promotion battle. To win promotion to Division One they had (a) to win their last four games, and (b) to get enough bonus points (which you get for batting and bowling well in the first inningses) to get them ahead of the opposition. Winning one County Championship game is hard. Winning four is a considerable achievement. They did win four, which at first looked totally impossible. They did get just enough bonus points. And they got promoted. I tracked all this, with growing fascination and growing admiration, because I wanted to, and because, thanks to the www and local radio, I could.
It was a three horse race, from which two horses would be promoted, between Middlesex, Northants and Surrey, the three of them in that order when the final round of games began, last Monday morning. If all three won their final games (which they all did) then Middlesex, way out in front, would be Division Two champs, which they were. The interesting action concerned Northants and Surrey, the former being ahead of the latter by one point when the final round of games began. Surrey had one more win than Northants, so if Surrey got one more bonus point than Northants in the final games, with both winning, they’d have equal points totals and Surrey would would be promoted.
The other thing you need to know about Division Two of the County Championship is that this year they have been using a kind of cricket ball which has two important properties. It is very hard to bat against when it is new. And it is very easy to bat against when it is old. What this means is that batsmen who can merely survive when the ball is new are at least as valuable as batsmen who can flog it around to all parts when the ball is old.
On Monday morning, Surrey, batting first against Derbyshire, lost two very early wickets, captain Hamilton-Brown, and Ramprakash. (Ramps has finally, it would seem, run out of puff. He has had a bad season, for the first time in well over a decade. But part of his problem is that he bats at number three and frequently goes into bat when that ball they are now using is new.) Things looked very bad. But Steve Davies (badly dropped early on) and Zander de Bruyn (pronounced de Brain) then batted until lunch, taking the score past 100, in other words they not only survived, they actually flourished. They both got out soon after lunch, and Tom Maynard then made a century, others also chipping in with important support. But that very early batting by Davies and de Bruyn was crucial. Thanks to Surrey batting aggressively, they were 400 for 8 by the end of day one, which got them maximum batting bonus points. But if it hadn’t been for Davies and de Bruyn on that first morning, they wouldn’t have got anywhere near to 400 (the exact number of runs you have to get to get maximum batting points), because by the time the ball had got old and easy to hit everywhere, the way Maynard did hit it everywhere, Surrey would have been more like 200 all out. Even if they had then contrived to win the game, their bonus points would not have been sufficient.
Northants, meanwhile, also batted well enough to go on and win their game, but they were all out in their first innings, on the Tuesday morning, for 343. They also needed to get to 400, given that Surrey already had. But they didn’t. Ergo, they lost out on promotion by two points out of 227.
I love that I knew all this (scroll down here for all the rules about how many points you get for what) at the time, and consequently knew exactly what was going on, and why the batting of Davies and de Bruyn was so crucial, even as it was happening. Cricinfo and BBC Radio London (aka Mark Church) were my two main sources, but in truth Mark Church, busy describing a cricket match, doesn’t always get all the subtleties of things like bonus points exactly right. For that, you really need to be able to read something.
Mark Church is an amiably rambling old codger on the radio, but an intensely scripted, driven, humourless young professional on Surrey TV. Odd. Something to do with doing radio for six hours on end each time, but telly for more like six minutes each time. Surrey TV’s picture and camera coverage is now appalling, but give it a few years ...
Davies and de Bruyn weren’t the only ones doing vital stuff for Surrey. I pick them out merely because what they did was not quite as obvious as other other stuff that Surrey also did (or even as obvious as other things that Davies and de Bruyn did), like win four games in a row, which was, as I say, an amazing achievement. Much more obvious was the contribution of Pragyan Ojha, the Indian spinner that Surrey signed for their last few games. The thing about him was that he was not only able to bowl well. He was able to bowl well when the ball was old and when nobody else could bowl well. So he kept opposing sides down to much lower totals.
In general, Surrey’s bowling just gets better and better, which tells me that their new coach, Adams, is very good at coaching indeed. Surrey not only triumphed themselves this year. They also supplied England with two of their best new regular bowlers, Tremlett and Dernbach, supplying England with regular bowlers meaning, basically, saying goodbye to them. Linley and Meaker, the next two Surrey quick bowlers in the queue, have done very well. Hence, along with Ojha, all those wins. You can’t win proper games of cricket without getting people out.
As for Surrey’s batting, I even suspect that Ramps may have done them a favour by not scoring centuries two games out of every three. That meant the other batters couldn’t say, oh well, Ramps will bat properly, we don’t have to. They had to. They did.
Talking of proper cricket, two days after getting promoted, Surrey also won themselves an improper cricket title, the forty overs each way slog final against Somerset having been at Lord’s on Saturday. Ojha didn’t play, but Surrey did play numerous other spinners, who tied Somerset into all kinds of knots. In slogfests, the slower it comes at you, the less it just bounces off your bat to the boundary. You have to really hit slow deliveries, and that can get you out. Surrey made a bit of a meal of slogging off the runs, and rain complicated things, but they never really looked like not winning.
So, Surrey promoted. Surrey win a cup competition. The other London county also promoted.
Plus, England beat India 8-0. 4-0 in the tests, once in the twenty over slog, and 3-0 in the fifty over slog series. Surrey have a bowling line-up India could only dream of. (Why Odja didn’t do any bowling for India this summer is very mysterious to a Surrey fan like me, although I presume English 2nd Div batters are far worse at playing spin than sub-continentals in test matches, so they didn’t realise how good he’d be until he proved it for Surrey, too late.)
Cricket lovely cricket.
Actually, the funniest single thing in the entire cricket season was the extraordinary public attack launched by the Chairman of Yorkshire CC on his own players, Yorkshire having this year been relegated to Division Two. (So Surrey won’t play Yorkshire next season either.) In the same season that Lancashire won the Championship, which won’t have improved his mood any. (No more Roses matches in the Championship.) Usually when sportsmen do badly these days, those in charge of them are impeccably polite about them in public, taking “full responsibility” for their own errors, blah blah, and keeping any complaints about their underlings strictly private. Look at Indian captain Dhoni’s relentless public politeness, every time he was interviewed after yet another Indian debacle. But t’ Yorkshire Chairman went ballistic.
I have been reading and thinking about Detlev Schichter’s Paper Money Collapse for quite a while now, but until today had not written anything. When I heard yesterday that the time to be talking it up had now arrived, I was taken a bit by surprise, the exact release date never having been made very clear to me. Maybe to others, but to me, not.
There is already quite a buzz out there about this book, and even more of a buzz about its author, thanks to all the blogging he’s been doing on the basis of the ideas in the book, and I surmise that there is a demand for opinions about the book which, just for the time being, is not being met adequately. In a fortnight, that probably won’t be true. Now, it is.
I further surmise that I am not a grand enough personage for my opinions about a book to count for anything much, in a world where several dozen reviewers and bloggers have already sounded off. My opinion will only have impact if I get it out there now.
So I decided to move quickly. Something okay, at once, would get my opinions about this book noticed (as in noticed at all), and the book noticed the tiniest bit more than otherwise, because I would be beating the drum for it at a quite time, so to speak. Instead of spending further days being ultra-clever, at ultra-length, by which time nobody would care what I thought of the book, I immediately (in the small hours of this morning) wrote an adequate little review of it, for American Amazon, which is where the action now is, because Americans can already buy it there. My review is brief enough to be Amazon friendly, but long enough to suggest that I had really thought about it, and meant it when I said it was very good.
Then I put it this same review up at Samizdata.
Commenters at Samizdata suggested I also put it on UK Amazon, so I did.
Then the Cobden Centre also stuck it on their blog.
What the book says is that the end of the world as we know it is nigh, but never mind about that. The point is, people are reading my stuff. Hurrah.
This evening, half watching a TV show about 9/11, I learned that there actually soon will be a big new tower where the old Twin Towers were.
With high profile sites like this one, and profiles don’t get any higher, it is often hard to sort out the internet image which is the actual thing, that they are actually going to build, from all the internet images which are just various people’s suggestions from a few years back of what they might build. But it would seem that the object on the right is It, and that it will be finished in about two years time.
About time too. It doesn’t look that great to me, but maybe that computer “rendering” makes it look like just another tower, when in truth it seems that it will be half as big again as anything else in Manhattan. Besides which, with architecture, you never really know until it is finished. Models and computer pictures never quite tell the true story.
To everyone except cricket fans, WWW means the “world wide web” (yawn), but to us true believers it spells hat trick, three consecutive wickets in three consecutive balls. Which was what Stuart Broad got this afternoon against India, in among a couple of other Ws.
Antoine tW . . | . 1 . . 4 1 | . . W W W . | . Wittered that I must have been all excited, but actually I missed it. I was out in the sunshine. I only clocked it, on my laptop, when I stopped in at Marie’s Cafe in Lower Marsh for some of her delicious chicken and cashew nuts with rice, after visiting Gramex (also in Lower Marsh) to stock up on cheap classical CDs.
By then, England were already batting, and it was nearly the close. There had already been another W (Cook – having a rotten series (12, 1, 2, 5 so far) – cricket eh? funny old game), but mercifully there were no more.
I said in this, a couple of days ago, that if India hit back hard after their Lord’s disappointment, this has the makings of the best series here since 2005, and behold, India have hit back. England will have to bat very well tomorrow.
While in Lower Marsh, I took this artistic snap. Well, I like it:
And what with all the sunshine and all the great cricket (Surrey also won in a very close finish - earlier on in that game, Ramprakash was given out for “obstructing the field”, which happens in proper cricket about once a decade if that, and which I heard on the internet radio commentary just before I left home) and the great CDs I’d bought, I was in a really good mood. So instead of just getting the bus home, I strolled across Westminster Bridge like it was 2005 and took photos of people taking photos. Here are my favourites of those snaps:
When I got home and got to see the test match highlights on the telly, I discovered that the middle W of Stuart Broad’s hat trick should never have been given. Harbhajan Singh clearly hit it before it struck his pad, yet the umpire gave him out LBW. Still, the Indians would insist on not having techno-reviews, so they kind of deserve it. Hard on Harbhajan though.
Talking of techno-reviews, everyone is trashing Hot Spot, which is the one that shows if the ball has struck the edge of the bat, sometimes. What the players are saying is that sometimes, the ball does strike the edge of the bat, but doesn’t show up on Hot Spot, especially now that the batsmen all put Vaseline on their bats, in order to confuse Hot Spot.
However, correct me if I am wrong, fellow cricket fans, but this merely means that Hot Spot shouldn’t over-rule an umpire’s on-the-pitch opinion that the batsman did snick it. If Hot Spot says he did snick it, but the umpire says not, then Hot Spot is still right. Right? So, Hot Spot is still some use, and should not be totally got rid of. The rule should be: If the umpire says you’re out and Hot Spot says not out, you’re out. If the umpire says not out and Hot Spot says out, you’re out. Only if they are unanimous that you are not out, are you not out. You say that that is hard on the batsmen? I say it would serve the bastards right for putting Vaseline on their bats.