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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: Friends

Friday May 25 2018

Those photos of Oscar would appear to have made quite a difference to Oscar’s life, because he went missing last Monday, and three of these photos helped to find him and get him home again:

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GodDaughter2 will be telling me more about all this soon.  Like: Were there any other recent photos of Oscar that would have worked the same trick?  I don’t want to jump to conclusions, as people say when they do want to jump to conclusions, but maybe without my photos, Oscar would have ended up having a totally different life.

The heart of the operation was the much grumbled-about social media.  The above poster was concocted in London by a friend of GD2’s, and then socially media-ed all over the local area in France.  Facebook, take a bow.  In addition to being an actual friend of mine, GD2 is a Facebook “friend”, but I hadn’t been paying attention to her Oscar postings, until she phoned and then emailed me about all this excitement:

About 300 people shared various posts I posted on Facebook to find Oscar. He left Monday, I started looking for him last night and we got him today!

GD2 made all this happen while in London, that email having arrived was yesterday, last night being Wednesday evening.  It seems that Oscar, having got lost, was then cared for by another family.  But when, thanks to the above social media activity, they got in touch and Oscar got back to his original carers, GD2’s family, he apparently spent many hours sleeping, which is not the routine I recall when I was there.  This tells to me that he was very stressed while away, and was relieved to be home.  With home needing no sneer quotes, the way it might with some cats.

6k has also been impressed by these Oscar photos, this one in particular …:

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…, and he has been making that the basis of various would-be internet memes, of which this one is the latest:

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Reuniting lost loved-ones is a classic excuse for the Total Surveillance World we now live in.

And actually (see above (sometimes)) quite a good excuse.  If I, or someone, had not been surveilling Oscar, he might still be lost.

I also remember how, in the past, GD2’s parents would grumble about how much time she would spend social-media-ing, instead of doing “real” things, like sleep or homework.  But finding Oscar was very real.

Thursday May 24 2018

In Quimper, the city in Brittany which I recently visited on account of having friends who live there, I photoed this:

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My camera’s ability to notice details that I didn’t notice at the time …

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… immediately enabled me to learn who did it, and what else he has done.

I love the internet.

Sunday May 20 2018

Next Friday, my good friend Adriana Lukas will be giving a talk at my home entitled Personal Recollections of Life Under Communism.  While concocting some biographical information for my email list members, I took a closer look than I have before at her Twitter feed.

Way back in 2015, Adriana retweeted this remarkable image:

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It looks like some ancient oil painting, rather than the latest-thing highest-of-high-tech imagery, which of course is what it is.

GE Healthcare’s 3D-printing software works seamlessly with GE Advantage Workstation systems already working inside hospitals around the world. After a scan, the anatomy is rendered as a 3D image using GE’s Volume Viewer software, a 3D-imaging platform that combines data from sources like CT but also MRI and X-ray. The software then converts the image file generated by the Volume Viewer and within seconds translates it into a file format that can be interpreted by a 3D printer.

“In the past, it would take several days to get the images back” from an outside 3D software processor, Cury says. “The advantage of the new software is it’s in the same workstation where the technologists already do work on 3D images. The steps are a lot quicker and easier.”

More than 100 hospitals around the world have already ordered GE’s 3D organ printing software, which can be used for any type of organ as well as models of bones and muscles. GE says that as more hospitals use the software, it will be easier and quicker for doctors like Cury to share files with each other and have 3D models to use for planning and education prior to procedures.

The most impressive 3D printing stories often feature hopelessly old-school businesses, like GE.  This is because 3D printing is the ultimate non-disruptive technology.  It attaches itself to existing businesses and makes them better.  If you know only about 3D printing, and are not willing to cooperate with a regular business, forget about it.

All those stupid 3D printers that they tried to sell in Currys PC World a few years back were just ridiculous junk for making further even more ridiculous junk.

Friday May 18 2018

My friends in Brittany have a new cat: Oscar.  (He replaces this cat.)

I, of course, took many photos.  I like these ones:

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And I like this one best of all:

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Oscar has reached the stage in life where he is still a kitten in his behaviour, but not any longer in his appearance.  Sort of a cat teenager.

Oscar has a very short attention span, and is currently programmed to check out everything he sees, like some obsessively exploratory robot.  He sees a lot and he keeps on seeing something else.

So, for instance, you click your fingers at him to initiate some sociability, and he sees that, and runs towards you, but then, while still on his way towards you, he sees something else behind you, and carries right on towards that, after only the most perfunctory acknowledgement of your fingers, in which he has already lost interest several tenths of a second earlier.  Or he has simply forgotten why he is is motion, and he just carries on.  Very strange.

But as he calms down, he will presumably start to treat people more in the way they like to be treated.  When I took an afternoon nap, he also fancied a nap and had his on top of me.  But, had there been a more satisfactory household appliance, like a warm fire, he might well have preferred that to curl up next to that.  It didn’t seem personal, just a matter of comfort.

But I still liked him.  Cats are just so likeable, whether they are actually being likeable, in their own minds, or not.  All they have to be is non-objectionable and not too scared to check you out.

Friday May 11 2018

When you go by train to Quimper from London, you start by going by Eurostar to the Gare du Nord in Paris.  And when you step outside the main entrance of the Gare du Nord, you find yourself next to a big red bear with wings.

Although I noticed this big red bear with wings when I first got to Paris, I only photoed it on the way back, a week later, when I and GodDaughter 2’s Mum were in less of a hurry between trains and when the weather was much better.

Also, on the way back, we didn’t suddenly see the big red bear with wings.  We could see it as we approached the Gare du Nord, and I had my camera ready to go, as it had been all afternoon:

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I quite like this big red bear with wings, but I am less sure about whether I admire it.  It seems like a mixture of too many unrelated things.  The lots-of-holes style of sculpting, which I associate with 3D printing, is one thing.  Making a bear look like a bear is something else.  And then, there are those wings.  On a bear.  Wings with holes in them.  The idea of the wings is that they turn the bear into an angel bear.  Something to do with global warming and the melting icecaps, I read somewhere and then lost track of.  The artist, Richard Texier, is not big on logic.  He prefers to stimulate the imagination.  To evoke magic.

The big red bear is called, see above, “Angel Bear”, and it has an inescapable air of kitsch abou it, to my eye.  Like something you’d buy, smaller but still quite big, in a posh gift shop, for far too much money.  I prefer a bull that Texier has also done, in the same 3D printed style.  No wings.  Much better, to my eye.  Cleaner, as a concept.

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But still a bit gift shoppy, I think.  Which is another way of saying that I bet these big old animals are by far his most popular works.  I suspect that Texier may be a bit irritated by this.  He likes being popular and he likes these big animals.  But he also likes his more abstract less gift shoppy stuff, and wishes the populace liked them more too.  Things like this:

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I found both of those images at the Richard Texier website, at this page.

Despite my reservations about the big red bear with wings and my preference for other Texier works, I can, when I look at his big red bear with wings, feel Paris trying.  Trying to become that little bit less of the big old antique such as, compared to London, it now is.  I mean, you can’t miss the big red bear with wings.  Personally, I don’t find it to be wholly successful.  But it is holey.

Monday May 07 2018

The pattern with all my best photo-expeditions is that there is an Official Designated Destination, and then there is all the other stuff I get to discover.  The principle purpose of the ODD is to get me out of my snug little home and into the big wide world that is Outdoors, to see both the ODD and whatever else I bump into in the vicinity of the ODD.

And the ODD for my recent trip to Brittany via Paris was the top of Quimper Cathedral, from which I hoped to photo the numerous bridges across the river that flows through the middle of Quimper, past the Cathedral.  Civilians are only allowed to climb to the top of Quimper Cathedral on very particular and rare days, and you have to book in advance.  April 29th was such a day, which is why I journeyed to Quimper on April 28th.  (I could not leave home earlier than that because on April 27th I had one of my Last Friday of the Month meetings.)

My Hostess (GodDaughter 2’s Mother) journeyed with me from London to Quimper, via Paris, and my Host (GodDaughter 2’s Father) and I duly presented ourselves at the big front door of the Cathedral, at the appointed hour of 4pm.

As we approached, we had already seen from below where we were presumably headed:

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And so it proved.

So, how would all those bridges look?

Until this moment, the best picture of the bridges of Quimper that I had been able to take was this, which I found in a Quimper shop, way back in 2006:

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But alas, in April 2018, the trees of Quimper were all covered in leaves, and when I pointed my camera at the bridges, leaves was pretty much all I got:

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This was about the best I got of any of those bridges:

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I see four bridges there.  There are a lot more than four bridges in the middle of Quimper.  Trees I like.  But, I hate leaves on trees.

Was I upset about this, having come all that way?  Not really.  I’ve always wanted to see this view, and now I have seen it, along with lots of other things to be viewed from the same spot.  This spot turned out, bridge-wise, not to be nearly as good as I had hoped, but at least I now know this.  I’m not going to die wondering.

Besides which, the Official Designated Destination is not justified only by how good the thing itself is.  At least as important is what else it causes me to encounter, and I encountered plenty.  If the ODD is a disappointment, the trip as a whole can still be great, as this one was.

Now that I am home, I did a little further image googling, and in among a mass of photos of the bridges of Quimper from ground level, with the nearest bridge almost entirely blocking the view of all the others, I found this one aerial shot:

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I can tell you from the scaffolding that this photo, even though this is the first time I’ve ever seen it, was probably taken in 2006, because all my Quimper Cathedral photos when I went there in 2006 also had one of the Cathedral towers smothered in scaffolding.  That was in September.  My guess is that the above aerial photo was taken earlier that summer.

Tourisme Bretagne needs to get in touch with 6k.  If he’s not free to photo those bridges from above, maybe he could recommend someone.  Or maybe they could find a place towards the top of a building closer to the bridges whose owner would be willing to allow bridgists to come and photo all the bridges.  Those bridges are a huge tourist asset, and they need to get them seen, and photoed, by visitors in all their glory.

Saturday May 05 2018

I’m back home now, but yes, earlier today I had lunch in Paris.

I don’t normally do food photoing, but I reckon this one came out pretty well:

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This photo was an afterthought, but that helped because I photoed the food while it was being eaten rather than before we started, which worked out better, I think.  And it tasted even better than it looked.  It’s liver of some kind, and it didn’t come cheap, but boy was it tasty, and it kept us fueled for the rest of the day.

But now?  I’m now knackered and am off to what will by my tardy standards be an early bed.  More about all this tomorrow, unless there’s some unignorable drama.somewhere, like someone dropping an H-bomb or some similar foolishness.

Wednesday April 25 2018

I like doing podcasts, and have recently resumed doing this.  The difference between these and earlier efforts is that I am not making the mistake of trying to be the interviewer, a role which I have learned, the hard way, that I am utterly unsuited to.

I do not, however, like doing podcasts because I assume that I will reach a huge audience with my brilliant insights and opinions.  Rather is it that I deepen my friendships with the people I share the microphone with.  The first is a mere outside chance.  The second is pretty much guaranteed to happen.

Although neither I nor any of the other people whom I podcast with assumes that we will reach a huge audience, we know that we probably will reach some sort of audience, probably very tiny, of friends and acquaintances and general passers-by, and that means that we had better say things we have thought about and which we mean and which are worth saying.  We need to be at our conversational best, just in case.

Compare that with two or three of us just chatting in a pub or an eatery or in one of our homes, but with no microphone on.  The level of conversational intensity, so to speak, is, in those circumstances, far lower.

Almost all of my renewed podcasting activity has been with Patrick Crozier.  I recall with particular pleasure the first of these recent efforts that we did about World War 1.  Who else has listened in?  I have no idea.  But I listened.  He listened.  I can listen again, and I have, more than once, because so many interesting things, I think, got talked about.

More recently, I took part in a group podcast on the subject of freedom of speech, alongside Jordan Lee, Bruno Nardi and Tamiris Loureiro.  On that occasion I can be sure that others were listening, because there was a room semi-full of people, listening, right there, in the Two Chairmen, where Libertarian Home meetings now all seem to happen.

The microphone that Bruno placed in our midst was distinguished by its size and its striking appearance.  I photoed it:

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That photo, for me, illustrates the bigness of the difference that a microphone makes to a conversation.  Jordan, Bruno and Tamiris are all slightly better friends of mine now than they would have been if we’d not done this.

Why then, do I not switch on a microphone during my Last Friday of the Month meetings?  Maybe I will start doing this.  But for now, I believe that a roomful of people, assembled to hear a particular person speak on a particular subject, achieves that same heightened level of attention and conversational concentration that a microphone achieves for a smaller group of people who are talking amongst themselves.

It is also helpful for speakers to be absolutely sure that their talks won’t go straight to the www, and that means that they can confidently take an early shot at a new subject, with all the errors, hesitations and confusions that might occur.  Ideas need to be nurtured and shaped and polished, and that is far easier to do if such early efforts are not being bugged.

This Friday, I have another of my Last Friday meetings.  Dominic Frisby will be doing an early dry-run version of his Financial Game Show, which will be having a run of performances for real at this year’s Edinburgh Festival.  I’m pretty sure that me threatening to switch on a microphone during this out-of-town preliminary try-out version, so to speak, would have been a deal-breaker.

There’ll be another early version for this show at the King’s Head, Crouch End, on May 22nd.  I attended the very first outing of it at the same venue last Monday, and I can report that I and the rest of the small crowd had a lot of fun.  As Frisby reports at the bottom of this piece in MoneyWeek:

We had fun. My MoneyWeek colleague, Ben Judge, turned out to be the winner, prompting many in the audience to make accusations of an inside job.

Yes.  This was a pity, because actually what came across rather well was how imperfect the knowledge of financial experts often is, and how other people, with direct experience of whatever it is, often know more than them.

Tuesday April 17 2018

This morning I get a phone call:

Me: Hello.

Voice at the Other End: Hello.

Me: Who is this?

Voice at the Other End: Me.

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

The subsequent conversation included this:

Me: I am going to blog this.

My thanks to Me.

Friday April 06 2018

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

Here we go:

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

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

Monday April 02 2018

So this evening I dined at Chateau Samizdata, where hippos assemble, from all parts of the world.  This hippo, with storage space and a lid, is the latest arrival:

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I said I thought it looked a bit like a sheep.  It’s the legs.  I was told, no, it’s a hippo.  The food was great and the drink was even greater, and I even got a present of some drinks glasses that were superfluous to Chateau Samizdata’s current requirements.  So,yes, now that I look at it again, I see that it looks exactly like a hippo.  No question about it.  Not like a sheep at all.

Saturday March 10 2018

I visit the Royal College of Music quite a lot these days, thanks to GodDaughter2 studying there.  There were those Bach Cantatas.  Last Thursday there was a recital of songs by Women Composers, in which GD2 performed.  And this evening, there was the RCMIOS (RCM International Opera School) production of Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream.  All excellent.

It doesn’t feel right taking lots of photos while in the place, but here was a snap that I both liked and didn’t feel bad about taking:

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They’re hardly going to call that snooping, are they?

The RCM is a truly bizarre agglomeration of buildings.  The corridors joining this bit of it to that bit of it are labyrinthine.  I never know where I am, if only because I am usually following GD2 around the place, rather than finding my own way around.

Here is another snap I reckoned it okay to take, of some building work in progress:

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The fact that both of these snaps feature things which are only temporary is what makes me think them not to be breaches of etiquette.  I don’t know if that’s truly right, but it feels right to me.

However, the point of these two photos is, as I later (like: one hour ago) realised, that they are both photos of the same things.  The first photo is the corridor from the inside, and the second photo, in addition to all that grubbing about in the earth at the bottom, also features the same corridor from the outside.  The outside of a corridor is not normally something you get to see, is it?

The reason I found myself inside that corridor is that it is the temporary way of getting from the main part of the Royal College to the college bar and canteen.  I took the above photo on my way from that bar and canteen to the main entrance of the College.  I was on my own at the time.

Wednesday March 07 2018

I gave a talk to Libertarian Home early in 2015, entitled What is the Libertarian Movement for?, and it is now up at the Libertarian Home website.  A more accurate title for what I ended up saying would be more like: What the libertarian movement is and how to be part of it.  It is more about how to do libertarianism than about why to do it, although that is implied.

What I said hasn’t dated in the time since then, and this was one of the better speaking performances I’ve done, I think.  Certainly better than the most recent talk I gave, at Christian Michel’s on the subject of causation, about which, it turned out, I had very little more to say than this.  Memo to self: now that the cold snap has ended, get a haircut.  I have reached the age when I need to keep my hair short, the way it was in this video.  The tramp look makes me look too much like a tramp.

My thanks to Jordan Lee for supplying a written summary of what I said.

Tuesday February 06 2018

After a hard afternoon yesterday, exploring Churchill and his wartime government’s subterranean lair, I was, in the evening, in no mood to do much else.  But Christian Michel had one of his 6/20 evenings (yes I know, on the 5th (there was a reason but I have forgotten it)), and I forced myself to attend, knowing that I would not regret this.  And I didn’t.

The highlight of my evening was undoubtedly getting to talk with an artist and art teacher by the name of Elina Cerla.  We spoke about how we were both fascinated by the difference between how two eyed people see things, and how one eyed cameras, or camera-like gadgets used by artists, see things.  Summary: very differently.  Also about how she is more concerned to help people solve the artistic problems they consider important, rather than to shape them all into her preferred sort of artist.

She gave me her card before we went our separate ways, so I’m guessing she will have no problem with me linking you to that website.

You could become one of Elina Cerla’s pupils by doing what this says:

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Having already wandered about in the website, I was particularly struck by that naked figure when I came across it elsewhere on the website, so I was intrigued later to find that she chose it to illustrate her teaching advert.  I think you will agree that this image inspires confidence that the time of pupils will not be wasted.  This is someone with definite skills to impart.

I am presently listening to this YouTube interview.  Refreshing absence of art-speak bullshit and political infantilism, of the sort commonly emitted by those who practice (or who are attempting) shock-art.

Tuesday January 30 2018

My friends Perry and Adriana now live a short walk away from South Kensington tube.  I can now get to them in about half an hour, compared to over an hour when they lived way along and just off Kings Road, and a solid bus ride away from any tube station.

And just as good, every time I now visit them to collect the Amazon purchases that they receive for me, as I did today, I get to see one of my favourite statues in London, the one of Bela Bartok.  When I walk past that, I know I’m going the right way.

Trouble is, when I go past Bartok, the sunlight usually arrives on his back, and I get a photo like this:

image

Nice windows.  Shame about the face.

So, inspired by the example of 6k (see below), I cranked up my photoshopclone and redid the photo so that I could see what the face consisted of:

image

Nice face.  Shame about the windows.

You could probably combine the two, and make it: nice face, nice windows.  You.  Not me.  That kind of thing just does not interest me enough to want to know how to do it. I wanted to see the face and I did.  Mission accomplished.