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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

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.

Monday January 07 2019

I basically picked last night’s quota photo for alliterative reasons.  QUota.  QUantum.  As we bloggers say: heh.  No long essay was required to present that little joke, if joke it even was.

In the course of my search late last night for a suitable QP, I came across other photos which seemed suitable for showing here, but which demanded little essays to explain what it was that made them suitable.  And I was too knackered for that, having spent yesterday working on this talk for Christian Michel’s 5/20 soiree, and then in the evening giving the talk.

In particular, late last night, I encountered in my photo-archives this remarkable (I think) photo, which I took in Regent’s Park in March of 2012, as it was getting dark, when on my way back from taking photos on and from Primrose Hill:

image

What I find remarkable about that photo is the contrast between how very red the reflection in the water of the lights on the BT Tower is, compared with how very un-red the actual lights themselves are, as photoed through the mere air.

You often get this with reflections.  In photos, I mean.  Your actual eyes make adjustments as they scan the scene.  What I would have seen, with my eyes, when photoing the above photo, is quite bright red lights on the tower, and a similarly bright reflection.

But my camera, on automatic, doesn’t think like this.  All my camera is concerned about is the overall balance.  It has to pick just one balance and apply it to everything.  And because a reflection is involved, it often ends up picking a balance where the actual view is very light and bright, but the reflection contains all the action.  I often do this-and-this-same-thing-relected photos with a glass window doing the reflecting.  And often what you get with that is a completely blank white sky, but then in the reflection you get all the distinctions between quite light and not so light, quite blue and not so blue, that you don’t get in the bit of the photo that is directly of the sky.

And that’s what surely happened with the above photo.  The redness got lost when we were just looking at the lights themselves.  But the water darkened and strengthened that same redness, and made it really red.

On the day, I was more interested in the birds swimming around on the water.  The next eight photos in that directory are of ducks and geese, and the final three are of a swan.  After that I called it a day, what daylight having ended.  I only really noticed this reflected redness thing last night.

Most Real Photographers have to have the skill of knowing at once when they’ve photoed a good photo, and why.  We unreal photoers can take our time.

Friday January 04 2019

Or maybe that should be: How Twitter rots the brain.

Instapundit is a daily destination for me, and yesterday, there’s a posting about a piece at Quillette by Cathy Young about Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

So I read that, and am impressed.  Solzhenitsyn was a hero of mine when I was at school and university, and like Young, I was puzzled by his subsequent opposition to Western liberalism and fondness for Russian nationalism, along with all the nasty baggage that is liable to bring with it, like anti-Semitism.

At the bottom of the Cathy Young article is the suggestion that I should consider following Cathy Young at Twitter.  I do so.  I scroll down, and soon find myself smiling at otter jokes, all the otter jokes being based on the fact that “otter” is only one letter away from “other”.  Significant otters.  In otter news.  (Yes, Happy New Year again.)

And: Why did the otters cross the road?  To get to the otter side.

This didn’t take long at all.

Friday December 21 2018

The book.  The movie.

And the label:

image

Another Facebook “friend” (also an actual friend) found this, in another part of Facebook.

I don’t know the answer.  Let’s ask this guy.

Sunday December 16 2018

As I said earlier, a nasty old sofa is due to depart from Chateau BMdotcom, and nice new sofa is due to arrive.  And as I also said, I hoped it would be in that order.  Well, now it looks like the new sofa will be here tomorrow, while the old one is still here.  This threatened chaos.  In a place already suffering from severe infrastructural overload (aka IO, aka too much crap everywhere and nowhere to put new incoming crap), it’s all I can do to find space for a new copy of the BBC Music Magazine without it getting submerged.  Yet today I managed to liberate enough space for another sofa and still have a large chunk of change, volumetrically speaking.

The secret was getting rid of a whole clutch of things like this:

image

The main things that such devices store are empty air, and dust.  Lots and lots of dust.

I also found a pile of home-made versions of the same kind of thing, in which I had been storing more air and more dust, and (this time) nothing else:

image

That being about a decade’s worth of dust, going by all the bits of paper in the pile that I will soon be culling and compressing.

As one of my heroes, Quentin Crisp, once said, the secret with dust is not to stir it up.  Do that, and you find yourself living in a dusty home.  Just let it be and it behaves itself very politely.

I now learn (such is the internet) that what Crisp actually said was more like this:

There was no need to do any housework at all. After four years the dirt doesn’t get any worse.

I actually do do some housework, mainly in my living room, so this doesn’t really apply to me and my home.  But I like his attitude.  That gag about being a “stately homo of England” is also a Crispism.  The link above is to a large stack of verbal Crispnesses.

Back to my dust.  To get rid of that dust, which did have to be got rid of because the receptacles containing it had to go, I had to carry them out of my bedroom very carefully, into the living room, and part of this involved stepping down from my bed to the floor.  Imagine doing that with a tray full of drinks.  But, all went well, and I have now liberated a hug gob of space which I had previously thought permanently clogged:

image

That will accommodate a lot of IO, in the days and weeks to come.  Those two boxes on the right can go too, come to think of it.  All they contain is big envelopes that I will never use and whose glue long ago stopped working.

Each time I have a campaign against IO, I think that I really have, this time around, completely run out of space.  But, each time, it turns out that there’s more, lurking in plain sight.

A good day.

Saturday December 15 2018

Well, it’s official.  I care more about cricket, as played by anyone, than I care about football, as played by Spurs, the football team that I tell myself I support.

If I truly support Spurs, how come I only bothered to wonder the next day.how badly they had lost to Barcelona recently, in their clearly doomed attempt to qualify for the last sixteen of the European Champions League, or whatever they call it?  Answer me that.  On the night, I was so concerned about when the next test match between Australia and India would start, and whether I could hear any commentary on it, that I completely ignored Spurs.  When you consider that this Barca/Spurs game was on Tuesday night, and that the Australia/India game didn’t start until the small hours of Friday morning, you can see what a crap Spurs fan I am.

It was only some time on Wednesday that I internetted the news that Spurs had got a draw against Barca (thanks to a late equaliser), and that because Inter Milan had also only got a draw in their game, Spurs had squeaked through, but only after an agonising wait for the Inter result caused by that game going on for a couple of minutes longer.

While all this drama was going on, I was oblivious to it, and was instead scratching about on the internet chasing that cricket game.

Which is still going on.  Day 3 will be getting underway in a few hours, on Radio 5 live sports extra.  My sleep is already deranged, in a way that usually only happens when England are playing in Australia.

Today, I did keep track of the Spurs Burnley game, which Spurs won (thanks to a very late winner).  So: more drama.  But although I was aware of this while it was happening, I was again scandalously relaxed about it all, despite this game being billed as a Spurs Must Win If They Are To Stay In With A Chance To Win The League sort of a game.  Oh well, I was thinking, as it remained 0-0 right up until extra time.  Oh well, that’s how it goes.  Maybe next year, when they have their own stadium to play in.

Maybe the reason I am not shouting at Spurs in my kitchen, urging them on to glory, is that they are indeed engaged in building themselves a brand new custom built headquarters, in the form of that new White Hart Lane stadium.  So according to my way of thinking, they shouldn’t now be doing this well.

However, it would seem that all the money that the new stadium will bring into the club has caused Spurs to do something now that they haven’t been doing for several decades, which is keep their best players.  I’m talking about the likes of Kane, Deli Alli, Moura (who scored the late equaliser against Barca) and Eriksen (who got today’s very late winner).  Such stars might still make more money if they went to Real Madrid or some such even richer club.  But, at Real, they might not do as well on the pitch as they are now doing for Spurs.  They might then fall off the football pyramid of greatness, never to climb back on it again.  Footballers are interested in money and glory, not just in money, not least because glory turns into more money later, when they later try to get football jobs without being players any more.  Spurs look like they could be about to do both money and glory rather well.

The same goes for the current rather-hard-to-spell Spurs manager who is masterminding all this.  Many now assume that he will shortly move to Madrid.  I’m not so sure.

I mean, if this is how well these Spurs guys can do while the new Spurs HQ is still being finished, think how well they might do when they get really settled in in the new place and are able to concentrate entirely on football.

Or maybe it’s that a new stadium is not really a new headquarters building, more like a huge new factory, for something like a brand new airplane.  Boeing bets the company every time they launch a totally new aircraft.  A football club bets itself whenever it moves into a new stadium. But this stadium is actually for doing football, rather than just a place to do lots of headquartering.

Monday December 10 2018

A slow motion catastrophe, all the more inevitable because this is, after all the internet.  But, it doesn’t happen.

This popped up on my computer screen, courtesy of Facebook.  What happened was was that I activated a video a Friend had stuck up, and this was what Facebook wanted me to see next.  It looked like a nice little catastrophe to pass the time with, so I activated that as well.  And although that catastrophe didn’t happen, what did happen was even better.

Do the people who arrange things like this play with toys beforehand?  That would make sense.

Apparently Transport Blog may be coming back to life, any month now.  But, it promises nothing.

Tuesday December 04 2018

Indeed:

image

Photoed last March, which I suppose is not yet Spring.  If that’s right, then that makes WInter the longest season.

Wouldn’t it be great, for me I mean, if leaves happened in Winter, but if all the other seasons were too hot for them?