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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

Saturday March 16 2019

The job of sports fan internetters like me is not to just wallow in the mere news that the commentators have just been reporting and to repeat their opinions about why it all happened (although that can be fun to look back on, in the years to come).  It is also to notice the daft things that commentators sometimes say.  The above gem of verbal inappropriateness came, from ITV commentator Nick Mullins, after just 13 minutes of the England Scotland rugby game at Twickenham, just after England scored their third try.  England really don’t look like they’re going to lose this one.

The basic reason England are winning is that Wales, earlier this afternoon, dessicated Ireland.  That actually is not a bad word for what Wales did to Ireland.  Ireland didn’t score any points at all until the clock had gone past 80 minutes, Wales having already scored 25.  This meant that Wales already had the Grand Slam, and that meant that Scotland would not now be working themselves into a frenzy of Scottishness to deny England, who were undone two weeks ago by a frenzy of Welshness (which did deny England the Grand Slam), the mere winning of the tournament.

And now, on the half hour, England have just scored their fourth try, making it 31-0 to them.

And what did Nick Mullins say about that?

This:

“Scotland are being drowned.”

When you get dessicated, what you want is water.  But not that much water.

I feel sorry for Scotland.  If you’re an England rugby fan, feeling sorry for Scotland is great.  Scots never feel sorry for us, which is how they torment us.  We feel sorry for them every chance we get, which is our way of tormenting them.  All I am missing now is a Scotsman for me to feel sorry for in person.  They must really hate that.

But hey, Scotland have just scored a breakaway try.

Said the moisture-obsessed Mullins, switching metaphors:

“A shaft of light.”

If you’ve been desiccated but then drowned, a shaft of light is probably what you want.  31-7 to England at half time.

I am going to miss the end of this game because I am off out to dinner.  Fine by me.  My guess is that the second half of this game will be rather an anti-climax, like the second half of the England France game.  The only thing that could make it interesting would be a couple more shafts of light for Scotland at the start of the second half.  If that happens, I would have to stop feeling sorry for Scotland, which would be terrible.

And Scotland have indeed scored, 7 minutes into the second half.  Just before they did, Mullins said:

“Scotland are beginning to throw some coals on the fire!”

Said a colleague:

“Can that be the spark?”

Scotland not drowned after all.

Well, well, well.  Two shafts of light it is.  Two Scotland tries at the beginning of the second half.  Suddenly I am starting to regret that dinner date, and to stop feeling sorry for the Scots.

And another.  31-19.  It’s a game.

Another Scotland try.  31-24.  If Scotland win this, they will be as insufferable as I was being half an hour ago.

I’m off to dinner.  Thank goodness for mobile phones.

Another Scotland try!  Under the posts.  31-31.

Mullins:

“Are you not entertained?”

I think I am.  Four shafts of light, in the second half alone.  Five, if you could the one in the first half.

England’s defence is being desiccated.

LATER (i.e. after I got back from my dinner party (very enjoyable)): England 38 Scotland 38.

Friday March 15 2019

Some video that says a lot about a lot, here.

Thursday February 28 2019

I don’t hate paintings that look like this, as so many paintings of a certain vintage do.  Hatred is for things you can’t avoid and mere paintings can usually be avoided with ease.  But I don’t respect paintings that look like this:

image

But that isn’t a painting.  It looks like a painting.  But, it’s a photo.  And I really like it.

It was photoed by Real Photographer Charlie Waite.  Read his tweet about it here.

Tuesday February 26 2019

On Sunday evening, and then again yesterday during the day, my water supply was interrupted.  This has never happened before.  Electricity, yes, that has been interrupted, I seem to recall.  And once, my hot tank refused to stop heating its water, which was alarming.  I had to switch off all my electricity myself, to stop my boiler boiling itself and perhaps exploding like a steam locomotive having a crash.  But, no water?  That was a new one for me, here.

When my taps first ran out of puff, I didn’t know what was causing this.  At first, I thought the problem might be my own personal arrangements, as it had been with that over-eager heating system.  But, I knocked on the door opposite and discovered that my neighbour had received an email threatening water disruption, and it all started to make sense.  One of our neighbours was having work done which necessitated a block-wide water switch off.  This was on Sunday evening, but the email concerned threatened disruption on Monday, disruption that duly occurred.

I wasn’t even completely sure if the water, when restored, would automatically fill up my pipes again, once it had abandoned them.  You know how you can get water to to go up and down in pipes, in school physics lessons.  What if interrupted water supply created a permanent unwillingness of the water to travel along my personal pipes, to my personal taps?

When the water returned later on Sunday evening, it was quite a relief to see it gushing out of my taps again, of its own accord, with no suction pump needed to coax it back into action.  But then, disruption happened again, exactly as threatened, on Monday.

It’s only when you are deprived of something you are used to having that you realise how much you depend upon it.  For washing, of me and of the things I eat from and off.  For flushing the loo.  There was an event I wanted to attend on Monday evening.  No go.  Unclean.

I had never had anything to do with my lady neighbour before this little water drama.  Interesting that things not working properly and “community” go together like this.  When the great machine we all depend on stops working, we suddenly become more dependant upon each other, if only to find out what the hell is going on and when it is likely to stop.

Saturday February 23 2019
Friday February 22 2019

Yes, about that horse’s head sculpture that I showed a photo of here, a week ago.

I complained about how the way its neck was sliced through was maybe too obtrusive a part of the whole effect.

Well look at this other photo I took of it:

image

Sorry about the bus, but this is my only photo from anything like the angle I need to make my point.  Which is, that the severed neck looks like a face, and the horse’s ears look like little arms pointing upwards.

And the whole thing looks like one of those idiotic Olympic mascots.

Not, surely, the look the sculptor was going for.

When GodDaughter2 and I took a walk through Hyde Park last week, we inevitably walked past the Serpentine, and next to the Serpentine, there was a lot of bird feeding going on, and I mean a lot.  Great screaming flocks of birds, birds of all sorts all muddled together, were assembling themselves around happy humans, who were chucking stuff at them.  It was also noticeable how very insistent birds were about checking out strangers, like me, to see what stuff we might have on our persons to chuck at them.

Here is a particularly fun photo I took of all this avian drama, fun because it turned out so artistic, being mainly monochrome (because photoed into the sun) and monochrome is artistic.  Monochrome, that is, apart from the bright red feet of one of the bigger birds (also because photoed into the sun – this time with the sun shining through those feet), which makes the photo even more artistic:

image

But why was all this bird-on-human excitement happening, so intensely and on such a scale?

The answer lay in a shop next to the water.  To my extreme shame, I did not photo the outside of this shop and cannot recall what it looked like.  I only snapped interior scenes, of intriguing products on sale inside the shop.  One of these products was the answer to this bird-human mystery.

The usual feelings that humans have about feeding birds in parks are (1) Hey! Wouldn’t it be fun to feed the birds?  But also (2) Don’t feed the birds!  It will give them a stomach ache.  It might even kill them.  Don’t feed the birds!  Often there are signs to this effect.

But at the Serpentine, there is a different and non-contradictory regime in place.  Feed the birds … this!  And all was explained:

image

I computer enhanced that to make it less dim and dreary, what with the dim and dreary (at least compared to the bedazzlement outside) interior light.

You can bet that the shop assistants in that shop spent a quite large proportion of their day explaining to customers that yes, we know, you want to have fun feeding the birds!  But, no indeed, you must not feed the birds human food!  So, feed them this food!  Fun for you!  Food for the birds!  Win win!

Monday February 18 2019

Being logical about it, there are five Six Nations weekends each year, during which each of the Six Nations plays all the other Five Nations, and there are forty seven Six Nationsless weekends.  But Six Nationalists like me know which weekends I am talking about.  I’m talking about the one between week 2 and week 3 and the one between week 3 and week 4.  The Six Nations is happening.  But, it’s not.  The Six Nations is under way.  But it’s stuck.  I have just endured the first of these two weird ordeals.

But in between these two black holes of non-Six Nationsness, the key game of this year’s entire Six Nations, Wales v England will be happening, in Cardiff.  Both England and Wales have won their first two games, and only they can each still win a Grand Slam.  England, with their three South Sea Island hulks playing, have been unbeatable, so far. And they have many times started out unbeatably against Wales.  But then the Welsh play catch-up rugby, which is a game that they, unlike any other Six Nation these days, can actually play, and they often then win, despite England’s scrum being on top for the whole game.  So I am taking nothing for granted.  Especially when you consider that England will have only one Vunipola playing, the other one having hurt himself against France, as earlier noted here.  But England will have a Tuilagi playing, in addition to the surviving Vunipola, so I just about fancy them to win.

Meanwhile, how did I survive the recently concluded weekend?  Well, there were two good cricket matches to be following.  There was an amazing test match between South Africa and Sri Lanka, which SL won by one wicket, following an unbeaten last wicket stand of 78, and what was clearly a wonderful 153 not out by their wicketkeeper Kusal Perera.

Here’s a picture of Perera celebrating that amazing win:

image

But, note those empty seats.  I wonder how many people actually paid to be present at this game.  Rather few, if that’s anything to go by.  People are now saying, as they have been for many years, that Test Cricket is dying.  But it keeps being interesting, in a way that the other crickets now played can’t ever really match, any more than a number one pop song can quite match a Bruckner Symphony.  That’s if you like Bruckner symphonies.

The other good cricket game was one of those other crickets games, the final (finally) of the Big Bash League, contested between the Melbourne Poisonous Spiders and the Melbourne Big Hairy Bastards.  Or some such belligerently metaphorical contestants.  It was definitely Melbourne v Melbourne.  Melbourne won, but not before Melbourne had looked certain to win but then suddenly collapsed, allowing Melbourne to snatch the trophy.

The two semi-finals having happened on Thursday and Friday mornings, I was up promptly on Sunday morning to follow this game.  But it happened in the Australian afternoon instead of in the evening, and it was all done when I clicked in.  Oh well.  It was fun to read about.

Friday February 15 2019

This afternoon, GodDaughter2 and I walked from the Royal College of Music, up past the Albert Memorial, then through Hyde Park to Hyde Park Corner, and then on to Soho Square.

At Hyde Park Corner, GD2 directed me to this sculpture, which I never knew about until today:

image

GD2 likes this, especially at night when it’s lit up. 

This guy also likes it.  This guy, on the other hand, hates it.

Me, I’m not sure.  It’s very striking, was my first reaction.  But now, I’m troubled by the way that, because the head is pointing downwards, the cut through the neck of the horse seems like a real cut, rather than just a sculptural convention.  It made me think of that famously gruesome horse’s head in the bed scene in The Godfather.  Perhaps more seriously, I feel that the way the neck is cut like that makes the shape of the object as seen from a distance excessively determined by the cut, rather than by the fact that it’s a horse’s head.

The problem is that, what with this sculpture being called Still Water, the horse’s head has to be pointing downwards, because the horse is presumably drinking that water.  So if you want only the horse’s head, that head has to be cut off, one way or another, and any way that happens is liable to count for more than it should.

Wednesday February 13 2019

Last night: Manchester United 0 Paris St-Germain 2.

This evening: Tottenham Hotspur 3 Borussia Dortmund 0.

From a BBC report on tonight’s game: How could anyone underestimate the resolve of this Spurs side after the manner in which they have kept pace with Premier League pace-setters Manchester City and Liverpool without any squad strengthening and recent injuries to key figures Kane and Alli?

But: Oh dear.  Because this makes it that bit more likely that Man U will sack Solskjaer and buy in The Poch.  Which it would seem they can do and Spurs are powerless to prevent, unless The Poch decides for Spurs.  As he well might.

I really, really hope Man U contrive some kind of miracle revival in their away leg in Paris.  As to what Spurs manage in their away leg, well, I just hope they get through, and that nobody else important gets injured.

And that the way Spurs are now playing says to Poch: You can’t walk away from this.

PLUS (later): This

Thursday February 07 2019

There’s a bridge right near where I live that is wending its way through politics to the point where geography and physics and civil engineering will take over, and they will actually start building it.

I refer to the biking-and-walking-only bridge that will eventually join Battersea to Pimlico:

image

The bridge is at the stage where they are trying to pacify objectors to it.  Hence this Canaletto-like pseudo-photo, in which the actual bridge itself is hardly to be seen at all!  How could anyone possibly object to this wraith-like presence, scarcely visible through the mist rising from the river and bathing everything in obscurity?  The steel struts that will eventually to be seen holding up the actual bridge are invisible in this pseudo-photo, so it’s just as well that the bridge itself, as (just about) seen here, is made by laser-beams projecting into the mist and weighs nothing at all!  If you want to protest, protest about those big lumpy old boats clogging up the river and making such a rumpus, not the ghost bridge.

That’s the trouble with infrastructure.  Those who will be disrupted by it know exactly who they are, or they think they do.  But the far greater number of people who will have their lives somewhat improved by by this or that item of infrastructure only find out about this after it comes on stream.  On in this case, on river.

My guess is: I will like this bridge, and will quite often walk across it, if only to avoid a there-and-back-the-same-way walk to and from Battersea.  (Now, to avoid this, I often take the train from Battersea to Victoria, and then walk home from there, past my local supermarkets.) But that’s only a guess.  Meanwhile, those who now live in the peace and quiet of Georgian Pimlico just know that their sleep will from now on be ruined by noisy bike gangs at 4am, making their way from Notting Hill (after a spot of carnival rioting) to Brixton, and if not by that then by something else equally unwelcome, perhaps originating in Battersea and walking across the river, while probably being drunk.  Why take the chance?  So, if they can stop the bridge, they’ll stop it, just to make sure.

Tuesday January 29 2019

I do like an interesting hat, when I photo a photoer:

image

And I admire this photoer’s choice of subject matter.  The Scalpel was looking especially fine, its angle catching what was left of the setting sunlight.  We’re at the top of the Tate Modern Extension, by the way.  A favourite spot of mine.

But, going back to that hat.  What does it say on it?  P........S?  Philadelphia Eagles?  Pittsburgh Steelers? A bit long, but conceivably one of those.

Hang on, I wonder if I photoed any more photos of that same photoer, which might shed light on the matter.

Yes:

image

I hope a robot couldn’t identify this guy from that photo, what with it being so blurry, although I dare say his loved ones could.  But, anyway, what that says is that the hat goes P....OTS.  And we have our answer.  He is a supporter of the New England Patriots.

And no wonder he is proud to be sporting this celebratory headgear.  The Patriots are due to contest Super Bowl “LIII” (53), against the Los Angeles Rams, this coming Sunday, which I will be watching on my TV.  Here is a Daily Telegraph report about that.

The game will be played in Atlanta’s Mercedes Benz Stadium, of which, the Telegraph says:

That jagged-looking roof opens and closes in a very pleasing way:

The “:” is there because there then follows video of this pleasing effect (that being it on YouTube).  I greatly enjoyed this.

Blog and learn.

Saturday January 19 2019

I wonder what this extraordinary place …:

image

… will turn into.

Approximately halfway between Turkey’s largest city Istanbul and its capital Ankara, the Burj Al Babas development will contain 732 identical mini chateaux when, or if, it completes.

Begun in 2014, the hundreds of houses have been left in various states of completion since the dramatic collapse of the Turkish economy led to developer Sarot Group to file for bankruptcy in November.

Too bad people can’t buy them one by one, and put them in lots of other places around the world.  Sadly, houses don’t work like that.

Having them all next to each other surely defeats one of the major purposes of a new house like this, which is to outdo your neighbours.

It looks miniature, doesn’t it?  The houses look like things you have to careful not to tread on.

Wednesday January 16 2019

With thanks to Patrick Crozier‘s Twitter feed, this, posted by Steve Stewart-Williams.

He got it from Denny Borsboom, who says (at his Facebook page), this:

Different scientific models can have equivalent observational consequences. In statistics, this is known as statistical equivalence; in the philosophy of science, underdetermination of theory by data. This is often hard to explain and I know few good illustrations that go beyond Wittgenstein’s duckrabbit. This GIF is a really nice illustration - and beautiful too.

If I knew how to post a GIF here, I would.  But I couldn’t make that work.

For me, the the star with seven points is the most remarkable aspect of this.

Wittgenstein’s duckrabbit is presumably that creature that looks like both a duck and a rabbit, depending.

Monday January 14 2019

Last night, Spurs lost 0-1, at “home” (i.e. Wembley), to Man U.  I had been half hoping that Spurs might lose, because this would make it less likely that Man U would want to replace their current manager, Solskjaer, with the man whom he outmanaged last night, Spurs manager Pochettino.  Spurs really need Pochettino to stay, and they want Man U to back off trying to lure him away with their infinite money.  It is all explained in this piece.  I said that!  But alas, I didn’t say it soon enough.

This being why the Spurs strikers were so careful to aim all their shots at goal straight at the Man U goalie, David de Gea.  They want The Poch to stay with them too.

Just kidding.  de Gea did really well.  And concerning that, I liked this tweet at the end of the game last night from Watford goalie Ben Foster:

I see a lot of people saying all De Gea saves were straight at him, please factor in that the guy has some mad sense to know where to be at just the right time, you can’t teach that. Proper goally

But not very proper punctuation.  What has Ben Foster got against full stops?  Maybe he used up all his stops, performing a similar miracle to de Gea, for Watford against Crystal Palace.

I recall hoping on a previous occasion that my football team would lose.  England were playing Germany at home.  It was again a management issue.  It was worth England losing to Germany if that resulted in Kevin Keegan ceasing to be England manager.  Keegan is a great guy, but was wrong to manage England.  England did lose.  Keegan did step down.  Soon after this, England beat Germany in Germany, 1-5.  But sadly not in the World Cup or the Euros or whatever it was, which England and Germany both qualified for.  Germany presumably won that.

My thanks to Patrick Crozier, with whom I dined earlier this evening, for lots of details about the above, which I had either forgotten or never knew in the first place, like Foster being the Watford goalie and England playing Germany in the last game at old Wembley and then winning 1-5 in Germany.