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

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Category archive: How the mind works

Sunday August 13 2017

Luxury ‘thin house’ being built in three-metre gap between London buildings

And here is the picture under that headline:

image

What this story illustrates is that cities are not going to go away, merely because electronic communication is becoming ever easier.  People still crave physical proximity to wherever the action is that they most like.  Given the choice between living in a spacious home in the wrong place to a poky little box cupboard like the above, in the right place, then a lot of people choose the latter.

Besides which, why do I want “a spacious home”?  Then I’d have to look after the bloody thing.  I have a specious home.  It’s called London, and lots of other people look after it for me.

This Old School blogging is turning out a lot like regular blogging.

Although: I promise nothing.

The Plan began in my head as an exercise in cleansing my desktop of open windows, of the sort that are causing my computer to run out of memory, and to go back to behaving like a bad tempered human assistant rather than a new school computer, which is what it is when not overburdened with open windows.  “I thought you wanted me to do X.  Now you want me to focus on Y.  Give me time to change focus.  Or better still, stop doing this.  Grumble grumble.” That is what my computer would be saying, if it was the sort that ever said things.

What I will be doing is plonking down links to things , and then maybe, or maybe not, explaining a single figure percentage of the reason why these links interest me.  I will not say everything I have in mind to say about the things linked to, or indeed anything very substantial, merely something, or nothing.  Then, I will close the windows devoted to these links, and the idea is that the links from here will serve as substitutes for the open windows.  They probably won’t.  When I compile lists, I immediately forget everything on them, and when I do blog postings I immediately move on to something quite different.  So perhaps there will be no August 2017 Old School Blogging (2): This Interesting Little Subject.  But maybe there will.

I have already created another Word(clone) file entitled “August 2017 Old School Blogging (2)”, and have put those very words at the top of it, so as of now, it all looks quite promising.

Friday August 11 2017

Indeed:

image

I took all these statue photos yesterday, in a walk with GodDaughter 2 that I have already referred to, which started at the Shard (see below), Tower Bridge, and nearby places, and ended … well, quite a way downstream.

As often happens, my favourite photo of this subject was the first one I took.  But I also liked this next one, which neglects what seems to be the usual Big Things of The City background and adds only wall and water:

image

The explanation of the rather odd title of this posting is that what we have here is not so much a group of statues as a drama acted out by a group of statues.  Dr Salter (see below) is looking on at his small daughter, and at her cat.  But it is all taking place in his imagination, because the small daughter died tragically young.  It is all very well explained, with more pictures, here.  Follow that link, and you’ll even find a map of exactly where this all is.

The drama gets an extra layer of drama, because the original statue of Dr Salter was stolen, for its value as scrap metal.  I think I preferred the stolen one, but here is the replacement, with the addition of a young man with tattoos:

imageimage

The tattoos on the front of that guy were remarkable, and I regret now not asking him to let me photo them.  I know, I know, creepy.  But if he had said yes, I would have been delighted, and if he had said no that’s creepy, I’d have got over it.

Mrs (Ada) Salter also looks on, and these two headshots of her came out quite well too:

imageimage

While taking these photos, or maybe it was a bit later, I found myself musing aloud to GD2 (with her agreeing) that people seem greatly to prefer statues that are very clearly statues, made out of some sort of monochrome material such as stone or metal, rather than something more realistically coloured, a fact which has, from time to time, puzzled me.  Were the latter procedure to be followed, people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between statues and actual people, and this would freak them out.

A “realistic” painting or photo of a person is actually not realistic at all.  People are complicated in shape.  Paintings and photos are flat.  So, if you encounter a photo or a painting of a person, even if it’s life size, there is no possibility that you will be duped into introducing yourself to it or asking it for directions.  But if you encounter a genuinely realistic 3D statue of a person, only its deeply unnatural stillness would eventually tell you that this is not a real person.  And this would be awkward to be dealing with on a regular basis.

A giant statue of someone, realistically coloured, might be okay.  After all, miniature statues (go into any toy shop or gift shop to see what I mean) already are okay. Just as with a tiny but realistically coloured person statue, you could tell at once that a giant realistically coloured person statue was only a statue rather than a real person.

A giant cat statue, on the other hand, probably wouldn’t be a good idea.  People might think: Woooaaarrrrgggghhh!!!  A giant cat!!!  Get me out of here now!

Saturday August 05 2017

Yes, there were quite a few photoers up there yesterday.  But not as many as I think I was expecting.  Amazing to relate, most of the people there seemed just to be experiencing the view while they were looking at it.  And talking to one another.  And having drinks.  I know, weird.

But there were a few normal people there, concentrating on taking photos, and here are some of the ones I photoed:

imageimageimageimageimage
imageimageimageimageimage
imageimageimageimageimage

In last night’s posting about this expedition, I mentioned the reflections I was getting from the windows.  I kind of think that this doesn’t matter with these particular photos, which is why I am showing them here so soon.  In the foreground there are photoers, and in the background there is what there was in the background, including reflections, and sometimes even some rather pretty reflections, and also a lot of architectural detail, top of the Shard style.  These photos therefore require no elaborate thought, or cropping, or preemptive cringe commentary saying: this is interesting because of what you can see out there or down there, despite the damn reflections which I’m really sorry about.

I chose the above photos because I thought they were nice photos.  I wasn’t bothered about what cameras were involved.  So, it is significant that eight out of nine of the photos feature mobile phones rather than old school, dedicated, specialised, digital cameras.  The only exception is 3.2.

I hear it everywhere I go.  The cameras on mobile phones get better and better.

Will my next camera also be a mobile phone?

Thursday August 03 2017

It’s no great surprise that, at the website of the hotel that now calls itself Park Tower Knightsbridge, they are keener to show you pictures of the hotel’s interiors and of the views to be seen from the hotel, than they are to show you what the hotel itself looks like to the outside world.

That being this:

image

That’s a photo of this building that I took five years ago, from Hyde Park, which is not a place I visit very often.  Personally, I am rather fond of this building.  But I am not the sort of person who would ever stay there.  I’m guessing that those who do stay there are not that fond of how it looks from the outside.

Park Tower Knightsbridge was designed by my favourite architect from the Concrete Monstrosity era.  Favourite in the sense that when it comes to your typical Concrete Monstrosity architect, I hate almost all of what they did.  With Richard Seifert, I just hate some of it, and rather like quite a lot of it.

Especially now that this style is in headlong retreat, and all the arguments about it concern whether this or that relic of the Concrete Monstrosity era should or should not be dismantled.  When this style was on the march, smashing everything in its path to rubble, I would gladly have said goodbye to Park Tower Knightsbridge (or whatever it started out being called), if that was what it would have taken to stop the Concrete Monstrosity style in its tracks.  But now, I favour the preservation of a decent proportion of London’s Concrete Monstrosities.  I suspect that they may turn out, in the longer run, like the medieval castles of old (definitely feared and hated when first built), in eventually being regarded as charmingly picturesque.

And, I especially like the Park Tower Knightsbridge, because of its striking concrete window surrounds, and its non-rectangularity.  See also No. 1 Croydon, which I think may be my absolute favourite Serfert.

Striking concrete window surrounds and non-rectangularity might also be why I like this next building, One Kemble Street, also designed by Richard Seifert, and already featured here in this posting, which includes a photo of how it looks when viewed from the upstairs bar of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden.

imageimageimage

I took these photos, within a few seconds of each other, minutes before taking this rather blurry photo of the ROH.

In addition to being a posting about how I am rather fond of these two Seifert buildings, it is also a rumination upon roof clutter.

Note how both these buildings have an abundance of roof clutter perched on their tops.  But note also how that clutter is so arranged as to be largely invisible to anyone standing anywhere at all near to the building.

If you image google either One Kemble Street or Park Tower Knightsbridge, what you mostly get are these close-up views, with all the roof clutter out of sight.  It’s like those who own these buildings care very much about the impression the buildings give to passers-by, and most especially to those who actually go into the building, but do not care about how the buildings look to the rest of London.  They probably figure that nobody really sees these buildings, except from nearby where you can’t miss them.  But from a distance, and now that the architectural fashion that gave birth to them has been replaced by other fashions, they just, to most eyes, fade into the general background architectural clutter which is London itself.  If there is clutter on top of them, well, that’s London for you.  London, like all big cities these days, abounds in roof clutter.

I don’t know.  I’m still trying to get my head around these thoughts.  Maybe it’s just convention.  On stage appearances matter, and offstage appearances do not.  When it comes to how things look, the side walls of these buildings count.  They’re on stage.  Their roofs do not count.  They’re off stage.

Monday July 31 2017

Today I followed England beating South Africa at the Oval, and listened to some of the BBC live radio commentary.  Today they did a prank on Boycott, telling him that the ICC was going to mess about with the classification of certain cricket matches in the past, declaring them no longer to have been first class, meaning that Boycott’s famous Headingley hundredth first class hundred was now only his ninety ninth first class hundred. Apartheid, etc.  Boycott believed it all, as did I, and was not a happy man, as was not I.  But they made it up.  Ha ha.  Boycs had to just shrug it off, but I bet he wasn’t best pleased.  As wasn’t I.

I don’t tune into Test Match Special to be told deliberate lies.  This kind of thing is only excusable if it’s the morning of April 1st.  There’s far too much of these kinds of lies maskerading as jokes on the telly.  Now, it seems to be spreading to the radio.  I mean, what next?  Made up cricket scores?  Anouncing that England have won when actually they lost?  Only kidding!  Gotcha!  Bollocks to that.

Coincidentally, later this evening I watched a rerun of Room 101, where one of the guests urged the oblivionising of the excuse of saying only joking.  The claim is that saying “only joking” makes everything that preceded this excuse, no matter what, alright.  I agreed with the Room 101 guest.  No, it doesn’t.  One of these days someone is going to have his head bashed in with a nearby implement following such behaviour, and it is going to be well-deserved.  Also, I trust, recorded for radio or better, television.

A much funnier bit of cricket radio, I thought, was yesterday, when they had father and son Surrey legends Micky and Alec Stewart on.  They’ve just named the Oval pavilion after Micky.  Plus, Micky Stewart recalled his days in the triumphant Surrey team of the nineteen fifties, which I recall vividly as a kid.  They prepared spinning pitches especially for Laker and Lock, apparently.  All the counties had pitches to suit their own bowlers, in those far off days.

Anyway, when the now distinctly elderly Micky was about to leave the commentary box, one of the commentators said: “You won’t be with us much longer.” i.e. much longer with them, in the box.  The commentator had in mind that the answer to the final question he was about to ask needed to be brief.  But before the commentator could clarify his rather unfortunate way of saying what he had been trying to say, and quick as a flash, Micky said: “I feel okay.” Much mirth, including in my kitchen.

“I feel okay” was certainly the meaning of what Micky Stewart said, but maybe those weren’t his exact words.  There are lots of other recordings of BBC cricket stuff, but I couldn’t find any recording of this exquisite exchange at the BBC cricket website.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t there, merely that I couldn’t find it.  I hope that such a recording does exist because this exchange deserves to outlive the man who supplied its lightning quick punch line.  Micky Stewart was making a joke about his own imminent death, not inflicting any cruelties or lies on anyone else.

Saturday July 29 2017

Digital photography has completely transformed graffiti, by making each item of graffiti easily photoable, before the next one comes along and superimposes itself upon this one.  All “artistic” graffiti can survive, in digital form.  It thus make more sense than it did (and it doesn’t matter how much sense that was, merely that it increases) to do arty graffiti.

So now here comes the hypothesis, along approximately similar lines: that digital photography is making New York skyscrapers taller and thinner, by making the views that you see from them more valuable, because digitally photoable.  Well, that isn’t a surprise, because having written that, I summarised it into the title of this posting.

imageI found myself thinking this when I went from a report about how a tall thin New York skyscraper project has stalled (allegedly because one of the parties failed to realise how expensive New York construction cranes are), to a not-so-recent article about tall thin New York skyscrapers in general.

Key quote, from “Skyscraper Museum creator and director” Carol Willis:

“The unprecedented per-square-foot sales price – from $4,000 to as much as $11,000 for these exclusive condos with their trophy views – makes them very profitable for developers, even though they are also enormously expensive to build.”

I am not saying that I know how valuable “trophy views” are or were, nor that I know how much the ease of photoing them has increased that value.  I simply assert that this value, in New York, has increased, because of digital photography.  Do you think it hasn’t?  Do you think that digital photography has decreased that value?  Perhaps the latter, for some.  But for most people, surely not.

That being so, you would expect skyscrapers to get taller and thinner, to provide more views and better views than previously.

It makes sense that the impact of digital photography in the form of taller and thinner skyscrapers would happen in a city that offers great views in all directions, and views (see the graffiti thoughts above) that are constantly changing, like New York.

Nor, by the way, am I saying that this is the only reason why New York skyscrapers are getting taller and thinner.  I am sure there are a lot of other reasons, like: only tiny sites being available these day, zoning laws changing to allow greater tallness and thinness, technology ditto, a general rise in demand caused by New York being a good place to live, billionaires getting richer, and many other such imaginable reasons.  I merely assert that digital photography is one of these reasons.

Photo of 432 Park Avenue (designed by the Walkie Talkie guy) when it was under construction, here.

Wednesday July 19 2017

This is an I Told You So posting.

Here is what I said, back in 2014, about Google Glass, when they tried getting some idiot fashist woman involved in trying to selling it to other posturing idiot fashists, and someone called Robyn Vinter said Google Glass would never catch on, because, in her opinion, Google Glass wasn’t cool:

I think that the writer of this piece, Robyn Vinter, makes the very common error of saying that a piece of kit won’t catch on because, in her opinion it is, in a general sort of way, not nice or not good.  I know it’s only a jokey piece, pandering to ignorant prejudice and general technophobia, but it contains a serious and wrong idea about how technology gets established in the wider world.

Technology doesn’t catch on because people like Robyn Vinter think that it’s cool.

Technology or software, or whatever, catches on because it solves a particular problem for a particular group of people, and they start using it.  People like Robyn Vinter then say: ooh, how very uncool you are.  And the people using the thing say: guess what Robyn Vinter, we don’t care what you think, we are finding it extremely useful, to do what we want to do.  If you don’t think we look cool, this is entirely your problem and absolutely not our problem at all.  Gradually other uses for the thing in question accumulate, and quite a few people use it for several different things and get really excited and try to use it for everything, because they now like it so much.  If enough uses are found, then the alleged uncoolness of the thing just gets overwhelmed by people using it, in public, in full view, and to hell with the coolists.  If the coolists still want to write articles about how uncool this thing is, even though thousands of their potential readers are now using it, then they are pushed aside and other writers willing to say that it’s cool after all are told to write that instead.

So the question is: will Google Glass be useful enough?  Basically, it would appear to be a screen that you can use while you are doing something else, to do computer stuff and regular stuff at the same time.  Sounds extremely useful to me, for ... various things that I now know not of.  But I am sure things will turn up that it is very useful for, even essential for.  Work, basically.  Not strutting about in the street.  No.  Getting worthwhile things done, more efficiently, faster.  That kind of thing.  We’ll soon see, anyway.

And now, at Dezeen, I read this, entitled Google Glass resurrected as a tool for hands-on workers:

Following a two-year hiatus, the Google Glass augmented-reality headset has made a comeback, and is being targeted exclusively at businesses.

I told you so.  Google Glass still hasn’t properly caught on yet, but at least Google are now setting about making it catch on in a way that might succeed.  (Perhaps a Google-person even read my 2014 blog posting.)

Work.

Wednesday July 12 2017

Everything involving computers is easy if you know how to do it and you do it often.  Everything involving computers is hard, if you only want to do it very occasionally, and if you don’t know (or don’t remember (which comes to the same thing)) how to do it.  Words like “intuitive” and “user friendly” are thrown about a lot when people like me say things like this, but they are bullshit.  It’s either very easy, or nearly impossible.  “User friendly” just means being presented with an incomprehensible lump of informational overload, in prettier letters and prettier colours and more prettily designed.

Why are computer things hard?  It is because computers can do so many things.  This means that whenever you are trying to persuade your particular computer to do something in particular, that it doesn’t usually do, you have to thread your way through a multi-page questionnaire, in the course of which you tell it: no, I don’t what that, or that, or that.  I want this.  And at any point in this Q&A obstacle course, you may find yourself confronted by a page of things to pick from none of which seem to have anything to do with what you are trying to tell the damn computer to do.

In the Army, I believe, they used to (and perhaps still do) call this: dumb insolence.  Dumb insolence is the offence of taking every word in the orders you have been given with extreme literalness and just waiting, dumbly insolent, to be given different orders, and meanwhile carrying on with what you had been dumbly and insolently doing, even though you know (because of the shouting) that this is not what is really wanted.  You shout at the computer to just use a bit of common sense.  I want this, you moronic machine.  Nothing.  Just the same old screen, and if you click on any of it, you get another page of irrelevance, or perhaps the right page but the exact same dilemma.  None of it seems to have anything to do with what you want it to do.

The fact that the more computers can do, the more there need to be people around who know how to tell the computers to do whatever very particular thing is actually required, rather than all the other things that the computer is now capable of doing, bodes extremely well for the employability of humans in the months and years and decades to come.  But meanwhile, if you happen not to know how to get the computer to do what you want, you can only hope and pray that at some future moment, the answer will drop into your lap.  Someone will tell you.  Your computer will suddenly, out of the blue, volunteer something relevant.  Or, it has been so volunteering all along, but because of all the other garbage it was also volunteering, you didn’t notice, but then, miraculously, you do notice, and bingo.

What brought all this on?  Well, my computer recently had some attention from the Guru and also some upgrades, and in among all this the computer changed its way of opening photos, which for me is a big deal.  I open a lot of photos from my archives, in fact I do this every time I am doing a quota photo posting, which is a lot, and when I do this I am usually in a hurry.  So, just when I really don’t need my computer to be misbehaving, it has been misbehaving.  The problem has been that instead of using “Windows Photo Viewer” to show me a photo that I click on, it instead decided to use something called “Photos”.  Quite different and lacking one crucial ability, which is the ability to take me from a photo up on my screen in “Photos” to the directory the photo is in.  “Windows Photo Viewer” can do this.  “Photos” can’t, or not in any way I know how to make it do that isn’t immensely complicated, every time.

How to correct this?  For about a week I couldn’t.  The internet, as so often, was no help at all.  It said that this was easy if blah blah, but if blah blah blah bah, then contriving the answer I wanted was really difficult and involved blah blah blah blah blahdy blah blah blahdy blah.  If you get my meaning.  (Which turned out not only to be incomprehensible, but also wrong.  See next paragraph.)

And then, the answer dropped into my lap.  I saw a page I didn’t recall seeing, with a question that I hadn’t noticed before.  I was allowed the option of opening a photo “with” a different programme.  But then crucially, I was also presented, in a way that I either hadn’t been shown before or that I hadn’t noticed before, with the option to put a tick in a box saying: always open the photo with this progranne that you have just chosen to switch to.  Problem solved.  My computer now opens photos, just as it always did, with Windows Photo Viewer, unless otherwise instructed.  Which I now know how to do, but will soon forget.  Which won’t matter.

The idea that computers are getting steadily more “smart” is a half truth.  Yes, they can do steadily more and more with each passing year.  But the more they know how to do, the stupider they get at actually doing it for you.

And oh look.  Just before posting the above, I was checking out an SD card that I used in my camera today, having forgotten to put my regular SD card back in it.  And this irregular SD card turned out to have a bunch of photos on it that I took in the summer of 2014, in France.  And it turns out that the French also have something that sounds to me a lot like Dumb Insolence, although I think it’s more like “polite rudeness” than that in your face deadpan British sneer.  You decide:

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Whatever the exact translation, I bet this “douce insolence” is how French personal computers behave, when you a trying to make them do something new, and they just won’t be told.

For some reason, that was on the front window of a shop, called “Agatha”, in the Rue Gustave Thomas de Closmadeuc, in the town of Vannes, on the south coast of Brittany. A perfume perhaps?

Tuesday July 11 2017

Having been scouring London, so far without success, for the exact sort of computer screen that I now know I want, I have not had any spare brain space to take photos.  So, in search of something to stick up here this evening without taking up too much of your time by making your read lots of stuff (or having you decide not to read lots of stuff), I went looking in the archives.

And found this:

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Which I like.  It’s the bright colours, in contrast to the greyness of the background, I think, partly.

Where was I when I took that?  I was in Oxford Street.  I know this because I took a closer look and one of my reflections ...:

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And I recognised that building behind me.

Here is a photo of it that I took more recently:

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And behind it is Centre Point, which is at the top end of Oxford Street, and that is where the original sunglasses photo was taken.

I don’t care if buildings are rather silly.  I do care that they are recognisable.  I really like recognisable.

I have a vague recollection of noticing this building when it was under construction, and tracking it down, together with a picture of what it was then merely going to look like.  But I don’t have time for that now.

Sunday July 09 2017

One of the things personal blogs are for is blowing off steam about this or that petty unhappiness that life has just thrown at the blogger.  Today, that is what this blog is going to be for.  As for you, what could be more amusing than reading about the misfortunes of others, in this case me? Other people’s misfortunes are the stuff of comedy, even if they aren’t actually that funny.

So yesterday I dragged myself through London’s current wave of tropical heat-haze weather to PC World Tottenham Court Road and picked out a new computer screen.  You ask: Why not buy via the internet?  Answer: So if it goes wrong, I can take it back.  It has gone wrong.  It’s fine in every way, except on the right of the screen it overheats something awful.  Clearly something bad is going on in there, which only stops when I unplug it.  (For some idiot reason it doesn’t seem to have an on/off switch, or not that I can detect.) So today, I will have to take it back, through the same heat-haze.

I will get my money back.  I’ll have no trouble convincing them it’s not right.  All that will have to happen is for it to be plugged in.  What I won’t get back is the time and grief and sweat and misery of taking it back.

I plan to keep the free HDMI cable that came with it.  That will be some compensation.  I’m guessing that when something like this happens, they don’t try to reassemble the complete package of things I bought, screen plus all the extras, because mending the screen would be a colossal waste of time and money.  They will just write the whole thing off and dump everything, perhaps dishing any useful extras out to the staff.  So if I hang on to an extra, they won’t care.  This won’t fully compensate me, but it will be something.

I wonder: Do they have a system which might enable me to dump all those useless screens I have accumulated?  (Follow the link above (or more conveniently, scroll down to the posting before last)).  That would be very helpful.

This probably hasn’t been miserable enough for your taste.  Too much emphasis on what I can successfully rescue from this very minor mess.  Too little in the way of accumulating catastrophe climaxing in a genuinely major mess.  Blogger has problem.  Blogger sorts problem as best blogger can.  Not really comedy gold, I realise that now.  When a blogger uses a blog to cheer himself up and actually accomplishes that, it stops being so funny.

So now you is the one who is rather miserable, and I is the one who is laughing.  Oh dear.  How sad. Never mind.

Tuesday July 04 2017

Yesterday I attended a Royal Opera House Covent Garden dress rehearsal, of Puccini’s Turandot.  Never having seen Turandot on stage before, I learned a lot.  The singing was pretty good, especially the choral singing, but maybe I say “especially” about that because I generally prefer choral singing to “operatic” solo singing.  The staging looked appropriately splendid and exotic.

But the best fun of all was, afterwards, finding this bizarre piece of writing by Michael Tanner, for the Spectator.  What is bizarre is that Tanner disapproves of the characters and he disapproves of the “happy ending” at the end of Turandot, like some myopic Victorian moralist objecting to King Lear because of what sort of people they are and because of what happens at the end of that.

Turandot is obviously a very wicked and tyrannical ice-queen type of a woman.  But Calaf earns Tanner’s special condemnation.  This is because Calaf, being from Asia in olden times rather than the Home Counties of England now, prefers conquest, sexual and political, to the love of a good woman.  He is going to subjugate Turandot, sexually and politically, or die trying, and damn the consequences.  But in Michael Tanner’s world tenors are not supposed to think and behave like that.  Their job is to embody virtue, not watch while the slave girl who has been in love with Calaf throughout the opera is tortured and then commits suicide to spare herself more torture. After which Calaf carries right on with subjugating Turandot.  But the fact that Calaf is not the sort of person whom Tanner would want marrying his sister is rather beside the point.  Or to put the same point a quite other way, it is exactly the point.  It isn’t just the setting of Turandot that is exotic.  These are profoundly different sorts of people to those that Michael Tanner, or for that matter I, approve of.

This is like denouncing the Ring Cycle because Wotan is a god rather than a geography teacher, or because the dragons in the Ring Cycle do not behave like hedgehogs.

Calaf was also criticised by Tanner for standing still and just singing, instead of doing lots of “acting” in the modern style.  But Calaf’s whole character is that of a would-be ultra-masculine tyrant.  And tyrants instinctively exude power and strength, for instance by standing still in a very masculine chest-out pose, and singing very sonorously, rather than by doing lots of fidgety acting.  It is their underlings and victims who do all the acting, by re-acting to people like Calaf.

However, it often happens that critics who denounce works of art in rather ridiculous ways nevertheless understand them very well, and often a lot better than the people who say that they like them.  They absolutely get what the artist was doing.  It’s just that they don’t happen to like it.  I recommend Tanner’s piece as a way of understand how very different Calaf and Turandot are from their equivalents in, say, La Boheme.

Sunday July 02 2017

One of them being taken by the people in my photo, and the other being taken by me, of me:

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Taken on Westminster Bridge, in March of last year.

I’m standing in their screen, behind them, in case you were wondering.  MeaIwhile, I am wondering if they photoed me photoing them.  I don’t know what the V sign gesture is about.

I surmise that one of the many differences between photoers like me and Real Photographers is that Real Photographers abhor any trace of themselves in the photos they photo, whereas photoers like me rather like it when you can see me in the photo,although preferably rather dimly.

I am off socialising now.  I find that having already done my duty here makes socialising a lot more fun.

Saturday July 01 2017

Indeed.  My proper screen has conked out, just while I was rebooting, on the instructions of Windows 10, which lead me to fear that my computer was screwed.  But the Guru suggested that the symptoms I was seeing, namely my screen being blank almost all the time, and just occasionally saying things, was perhaps the screen. So, with much difficulty (and much dust) I swapped my misbehaving screen for another, very inferior one, which I acquired a while back to be a visual aid at my meetings, but which I never use, for anything, until now.

And I am being reminded of why I never use it.  It is terrible.  It is small, too yellow, just horrible.  It is rather small, but despite that, great swathes of it on each side are blank, just not being used.  No doubt I could fix that, if I knew how.  But if I did that, I might get used to this screen, and that can’t happen.

Not so very long ago, this screen I’m having to use now would have felt like a miracle.  Now, it feels like a punishment.

Thursday June 29 2017

June 30th (i.e. tomorrow): Barry Macleod-Cullinane is a Conservative local councillor, and as a libertarian of long standing he is perfectly qualified to speak about “Townhall Libertarianism”. 

July 28th: Leandro d’Vintmus is a Brazilian, and a musician.  And also interested in how political and psychological libertarianism interact and reinforce each other.  Very different from the usual sort of Brian’s Last Friday, and all the better for it.

Aug 25th: Nico Metten will speak about “Libertarian Foreign Policy”.  Nico is your classic unswerving libertarian, except that he talks rather quietly.  Insofar as, in this complex matter, there are distinctions to be made, subtleties to be teased out, hairs to be split, we can depend upon him to make them, tease them out, split them.

Sept 29th: Financial journalist Tom Burroughes (aka Samizdata’s Johnathan Pearce), financial journalist, will speak about the (in his (and in my) opinion) very bad idea of a “universal basic income”.

Oct 27th: Rob Fisher, who is a parent, will offer some reflections about that.

Also fixed: January 26th 2018: Tim Evans, Professor in Business and Political Economy at Middlesex University Business School, will speak about the business of higher education, which is one of Britain’s most significant export industries.  We libertarians are used to complaining about higher education for the bad ideas that if all too often spreads.  But what about the economics of the higher education business?

Plenty of food for thought, I think you will agree.