Brian Micklethwait's Blog
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Michael Jennings on Happiness is Gold Blend at only £3 instead of £4.50
Michael Jennings on Happiness is Gold Blend at only £3 instead of £4.50
Schrodinger's Dog on Happiness is Gold Blend at only £3 instead of £4.50
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Category archive: Social Media
I have another last Friday of the Month meeting tomorrow. Patrick Crozier will speak about life in Britain in 1913.
In an email to Patrick, I asked him:
Were they libertarians?
And in the email to all those on my list for these evenings, I included that and other questions, together with Patrick’s responses about what else he’ll be talking aboutt. (If you want to be on that, click where it says “Contact”, top left.)
In response to this email, Antoine Clarke emailed back thus:
I definitely intend to be there. …
Good. And yes Antoine, bring some crisps.
And he continued:
For what it’s worth, my short guess would be: They weren’t libertarians, though they lived in a society that was largely libertarian (perhaps the problem was not getting the importance of [or caring about] the things that kept it libertarian). Assumptions about what the state could and should do were more libertarian.
But racism, at least between Europeans and non-Europeans, was there. It might not be translated into “… therefore they must be destroyed ...” but only weird people would marry blacks.
I think that only started seriously changing half a century later.
Perhaps the most significant impression people had was that life was a lot better than it had been 50 or 100 years ago, in terms of money, quality of life and freedom. And they thought it would probably continue.
I’ll shortly be sending out a reminder email about tomorrow night, containing links to this posting here, and to this Samizdata posting.
I like how, when a topic of discussion is announced, the discussion can now get underway beforehand, and continue afterwards. You do not have to show up at a meeting in order to be influenced by it, one way or another. And nowadays that applies to many more people than to those who do show up.
That’s one of things it says here. But don’t go there. You’d be wasting your time. All that the bit of it that concerns the above says is: “You can achieve everything you want if you’re unambitious enough.”
I get really pissed off with links that say something, and you go there, and all it is is someone saying what you’ve just read already, with no elaboration or justification or illustration or explication or any other sort of ation, of the sort that all links used to take you to. I am sure Twitter has its uses, but I wish people wouldn’t link to it in this annoyingly disappointing way.
My friend Alex Singleton dropped by the other day. He often does, after or between appointments that bring him near to my home. He has a blog, which I recommend, and Alex himself recommends blogging as a good way to spread ideas or sell products. I sort of knew Alex had a blog for a quite a while, but did not really register this fact. I am now digging backwards, and finding things like this, from someone called Harold Burson:
The term communications has become synonymous with PR but this does a disservice to our profession by making it tactical … The best term for what we do is public relations.
I recently read a book where “PR” meant photo reconnaissance throughout. It described a different world entirely from ours, in which misdirected photographic efforts could easily cost your your life. But yes, good to encounter someone who is not ashamed of what he does.
Too few practitioners have even heard of the legendary figures of PR, such as Ivy Lee and Sir Basil Clarke, let alone read about them. But it does mean that those who put the time in to study how PR works – practically, not academically – quickly shine.
That’s Alex himself. There are, throughout his blog, regular references to and quotes from old dead guys, another who is frequently mentioned being David Ogilvy. Why reinvent the wheel? A particular theme of Alex’s thinking is that the new social media don’t render all the wisdoms of the PR and advertising past obsolete.
I like how Alex writes. He prefers short and clear sentences to longer and wafflier ones, clear words to the vaguer words so loved by PR-ists. Everything he writes exudes confidence in his ability to help enterprise do their PR better. Which would explain why he is not afraid to have as his latest posting an admiring piece about Rudolf Flesch. Quote:
Flesch writes: “while we don’t need so many words any more to express our thoughts, the words we do use carry a much heavier load of ideas… as far as ideas are concerned, our sentences are usually much longer and fuller than those people wrote two or three centuries ago”.
The danger, he says, is that “our more heavy-handed writers don’t care much for the modern short sentence either; and so we get prose that consists of overlong sentences packed to the brim with long, overloaded words”.
And that, in a nutshell, is what’s wrong with so much material that comes out of big organisations today.
You don’t put stuff like that up if you fear that your earlier postings will then be scoured by envious rivals, successfully, for great gobs of longwinded nonsense.
Alex, just like all these old dead guys, dresses smartly, as he explains in this posting, i.e. more smartly than he did in this photo of him (by me with me also in it) here. I particularly like that one.
Talking with Alex also helped me to think through an enterprise of my own that I am now contemplating. He supplied some very helpful ideas about how I could do this more easily and effectively.
England sports fans, cricket fans especially, are noted for their pessimism. There is no situation from which an England team cannot snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, and you can rely on an England fan to point this out, before during, and even right at the very end, just before (if they do) England win. I believe the Welsh are the same. But pessimism of this sort has its uses.
Yesterday, for instance, I did this posting on Samizdata about how all the proper commentators are saying that England will walk it against Australia in the two forthcoming Ashes series, home and away. Not so fast, I said. England could lose. With sport, you never know.
The result of this posting was that I was happy all of yesterday, no matter what happened. If England got off to a flyer, hurrah. If they did not, hurrah, because: I told you so. England lost early wickets, and later failed to recover. Hurrah, I told you so. Then, England knocked over four top order Aussies. Hurrah. Now, Australia are building a threatening stand. They are over a hundred for four, having earlier been 22-3, with Clarke bowled by an Anderson beauty. Heads I win, tails I win. Hurrah hurrah.
Australia 108-5. Smith snicks at Anderson. Hurrah again.
Now that everyone is able, thanks to all the New Media, to publicise their pessimistic sporting prophecies, this pleasurable effect is now greatly intensified.
Does this sort of thing explain real life pessimism, even real life pessimism on a cosmic scale, of the We Are All Doomed sort? When the world does end, will it end to joyous cries of: I told you so! ?
Australia 113-6! 114-7!! Hurrah!!!
114-8. Fiver for Jimmy A. Okay all this is very good for England, but this is so good it also illustrates that ... with sport you never know! Hurrah hurrah hurrah!!!
LUNCH: Australia 229-9. Last wicket stand of 112 and counting. First innings lead of 14 and counting. Hughes 63 not out. Agar, highest scoring ever test match number 11 debutant: 69 not out.
With sport, you just never know.
LATER: Agar is nearing a century. Already biggest ever score by any test number eleven, never mind a debutant. Amazing.
World record tenth wicket partnership in tests.
Doh! Agar out for 98. Shame.
Really, with sport, you never, never know.
I like scaffolding:
That was all photoed last week, where they are rebuilding Victoria tube station. There is always lots of scaffolding on the go in London. Lovely for a photographer like me, who is obsessed with Mondrianic rectangles, and who likes to notice (as do many other photographers) aesthetic effects created by things not done for any aesthetic purpose.
But I don’t like scaffolding so much when it is right outside my kitchen window, as it now is, for some ludicrously expensive tarting up of the block of flats where I live.
Luckily they do not have a loud radio. I am now playing them a Beethoven piano concerto.
I have been listening out for amusing things said by the scaffolders, in their loud cockney voices. So far the nearest thing to that has been this not very choice piece of dialogue, clearly audible, unlike most of their cockney shoutings:
“I like Jeremy Clarkson.”
“Are you on ‘is Twitter?”
I like Clarkson too, despite not being on his Twitter, until now, if that mere link counts. But I agree, this is not really much. Maybe they’ll improve on this in the days to come.
No. North Korea is not socialism betrayed. It is socialism done.
Which everyone here knows, but it is worth repeating.
Commenting on that, Perry de Havilland said:
That North Korea is ‘late socialism’ is a meme worth spreading.
Indeed it is.
Various people have been nagging me (a bit) about getting into Twitter, which things like this suit well. It reminds me (a bit) of when people got contemptuously angry (a bit) because I still didn’t have an email address.
In particular, the pollsters do not have to know. I think the polls have, all along, been wrong about this election, wronger than ever before. The polls are not being told what people have been, are, and will be thinking. The polls were wrong when they said Obama was walking it. They are wrong now that they are saying it’s close. They will be wrong when they say Romney will just about win, as they soon will. But on the day, in the real poll, Obama is going to be slaughtered. Romney will win all the “battleground” states and several which are not now even thought to be in contention.
What polls tell you is not what the result will be. They tell you what the pollsters think the result will be. How do they know what they know? Same way I do. They guess. (In this respect, poll results remind me of economic models.) Okay that isn’t entirely true. I myself factor in what the polls say when I make my guesses. But the polls are sufficiently wrong to be very wrong indeed, for an event that can be bent into a completely different shape by single figure percentage point errors.
[LATER: Actually, I think I got the first two sentences of the paragraph above wrong. It should read: “What polls tell you is not what voters are thinking. They tell you what the pollsters think the voters are thinking”. What I actually put is indeed “not entirely true”. This explains, I think, and as my original version does not, why pollsters don’t get the result right, but do get right the direction in which opinion is heading at any particular moment, which, as I introspect, I have been letting them tell me about. Because they do get that right. The misleading samples of people that the pollsters each talk to include a few who change their minds, and the pollsters do pick up on this. So, now, the pollsters are getting right that opinion is flowing steadily away from Obama and towards Romney. But at no stage in this process did, or do, or will they register how bad things were, and are, and will be, for Obama. End of LATER.]
We shall see, etc.
Romney’s final burst of adverts will have further impact. Obama’s adverts have accomplished little. They said Romney isn’t likable, is a right wing nutjob, etc. Debate One negated this message. They said something about “Big Bird”. Ridiculous. But that doesn’t prove that adverts accomplish nothing, by their nature. Just as in the debates, and unlike Obama, Romney (and Ryan) have plenty of persuasive things that they want to say.
In a comment on this, I noted that the TV Umpire lady in the Vice President debate did Biden no favours by allowing him to behave so very badly. Had she told him early on to stop his giggling and interrupting, Biden might well have won that debate. But give TV Umpire lady her due, she did at least interrupt Ryan, whenever his speeches were starting to sound too eloquent.
But Romney’s adverts can correct that, by saying everything Team Romney now wants to say, and which the mainstream media have until now stopped them saying by less expensive means. And, they can use the exact words which will work best.
Plus, Team Romney will have, I believe, another two debates worth of Obama waffle to use, like they have already used Biden’s laughing.
Like Jim Bennett said:
John, let me suggest that the criteria for victory are changing. The debate no longer ends when the debaters walk off stage. And now it no longer ends when the TV spinners have, like cuckoos, laid their eggs and flown away. There is now the long, long reverberation in social media, where the basic debate footage serves as raw material for mash-ups and parodies and treatments for the rest of the election cycle and beyond. And Biden’s performance, which won him some tactical advantage in the debate, has set him up as the target for rich satire and a way that Ryan’s conventional performance didn’t and cannot do. His performance is comic gold, and although within hard-core Dem/left circles he will be celebrated as the warrior, everywhere else, and especially for basically apolitical young YouTube viewers, he will be the jackass supreme. I suspect that by Election Day, the various parodic videos will have had a larger viewership than the debate itself. By this criterion, the tactic was a massive miscalculation.
If the same thing happens to Obama, between now and the election (I believe it will), he really will be slaughtered.
But … we shall see.
LATER: Mitt Romney in a landslide.
So I read this blog posting and wondered if the super dramatic picture of a heron taking flight from a telegraph pole is a 6000 picture, of if he just stole it from somewhere. So I looked in his flickr collection (which I recommend a good browse through), and there it was. Which made sense, because there was no link to anywhere else.
The bird on the right is a sugarbird, which flies through the air, or so it would appear, not by flapping its wings, but simply by having a very long tail. Presumably its wing is pointing directly at us, and is consequently hard to make out.
To everyone except cricket fans, WWW means the “world wide web” (yawn), but to us true believers it spells hat trick, three consecutive wickets in three consecutive balls. Which was what Stuart Broad got this afternoon against India, in among a couple of other Ws.
Antoine tW . . | . 1 . . 4 1 | . . W W W . | . Wittered that I must have been all excited, but actually I missed it. I was out in the sunshine. I only clocked it, on my laptop, when I stopped in at Marie’s Cafe in Lower Marsh for some of her delicious chicken and cashew nuts with rice, after visiting Gramex (also in Lower Marsh) to stock up on cheap classical CDs.
By then, England were already batting, and it was nearly the close. There had already been another W (Cook – having a rotten series (12, 1, 2, 5 so far) – cricket eh? funny old game), but mercifully there were no more.
I said in this, a couple of days ago, that if India hit back hard after their Lord’s disappointment, this has the makings of the best series here since 2005, and behold, India have hit back. England will have to bat very well tomorrow.
While in Lower Marsh, I took this artistic snap. Well, I like it:
And what with all the sunshine and all the great cricket (Surrey also won in a very close finish - earlier on in that game, Ramprakash was given out for “obstructing the field”, which happens in proper cricket about once a decade if that, and which I heard on the internet radio commentary just before I left home) and the great CDs I’d bought, I was in a really good mood. So instead of just getting the bus home, I strolled across Westminster Bridge like it was 2005 and took photos of people taking photos. Here are my favourites of those snaps:
When I got home and got to see the test match highlights on the telly, I discovered that the middle W of Stuart Broad’s hat trick should never have been given. Harbhajan Singh clearly hit it before it struck his pad, yet the umpire gave him out LBW. Still, the Indians would insist on not having techno-reviews, so they kind of deserve it. Hard on Harbhajan though.
Talking of techno-reviews, everyone is trashing Hot Spot, which is the one that shows if the ball has struck the edge of the bat, sometimes. What the players are saying is that sometimes, the ball does strike the edge of the bat, but doesn’t show up on Hot Spot, especially now that the batsmen all put Vaseline on their bats, in order to confuse Hot Spot.
However, correct me if I am wrong, fellow cricket fans, but this merely means that Hot Spot shouldn’t over-rule an umpire’s on-the-pitch opinion that the batsman did snick it. If Hot Spot says he did snick it, but the umpire says not, then Hot Spot is still right. Right? So, Hot Spot is still some use, and should not be totally got rid of. The rule should be: If the umpire says you’re out and Hot Spot says not out, you’re out. If the umpire says not out and Hot Spot says out, you’re out. Only if they are unanimous that you are not out, are you not out. You say that that is hard on the batsmen? I say it would serve the bastards right for putting Vaseline on their bats.
I think I understand, but can someone (Alec?) explain it all, just so I’m sure.
Think about it: What’s the best way to make sure there is only goodwill out there towards Muslims?
That’s right: Kill all the bad Muslims.
It’s the way that he combines hate-the-hateful speech with everyone-live-in-harmony speech that makes it so funny, right speak with left speak. Reminds me of that great speech for the defence in Animal House.
This evening I attended the ASI blogger bash, and one of the speakers, Harry Cole, said something along the lines of: Lefties are better at comedy than the Right.. Which I suspect is a lot truer of Britain than it is of the USA. Closely related to that observation is that in Britain, as was also discussed, we are years away from anything resembling a British version of the Tea Party. The British Right, in other words, is not in tune with the Zeitgeist, or even any major slab of the Zeitgeist, the way the USA Right is in the USA. And even there, it may just be a temporary consequence of the Obama phenomenon,, which is a huge attempt to turn the USA into something entirely different. Europe, basically. When that attempt gets switched off, whenever that happens, the Tea Party may die with it. By which I mean either go home or else turn entirely into dull old regular politics.
LATER: Further illustration of the same proposition. When Cleese was funny, he was, if not Left, then at least anti-Right. Now that he’s not funny, he’s Right.
As was revealed in the previous posting, today I had lunch out with somebody. That somebody was Alex Singleton, and on our way to dine we passed this Pimlico shop with its window full of mirrors:
Alex has started an enterprise called Alex Singleton Associates. At present he is busy organising a master class on how to get good coverage from newspapers and social media. Since Alex was until very recently a journalist for the Daily Telegraph, and since one of the other speakers is Guido Fawkes, who knows all there is to be known about new media, blogging, twittering and such like, it is bound to be good value to anyone shrewd enough to attend this event. A snip at £150, provided you book a little bit early (otherwise £199), and provided that you intend to apply what you learn to something which is potentially profitable.
Seriously, if you are running the kind of enterprise which is big enough to need such stuff but not big enough to be able to carry it on the payroll full-time or buy it from a PR monster with a huge name and bills to match, why not give this a try?
One of Alex’s particular strengths is talking and writing about tech products like software packages, in language that non-technical people, i.e. most of the likely users of such stuff, can understand. Here, for instance, is a piece he wrote last year about a slimmed-down version of Photoshop. Pieces like this get lots of hits, from people who might be put-off by excessive geek-speak. Only geeks can produce such wonders, but once they have, they can maybe use a little help from someone like Alex saying what they are offering.
Yes, Alex did pay for lunch, as cynical old you probably guessed by now. But there was no deal that I would write this.
If I thought Alex’s enterprise was a probable waste of space, I would not have told you I thought that. I just wouldn’t have told you about it at all.
Anyway, it was the photo that got me started.
Normally I avoid using the the words “London Eye” to describe the Wheel. It’s not an eye, or if it is an eye is a very peculiar one which rotates, and although the eye has evolved numerous times in nature, the wheel never has (which seems to me to be a powerful argument against Intelligent Design (but I digress)), and certainly never in combination with a big collection of eyes arranged in a circle.
But, rootling through Flickr, having typed in “from london eye” (because I am afraid the name has well and truly stuck), I came across this great snap by Damien Laidler, taken on December 28th, 2007:
That whatever-it-is at the bottom on the right is the only blemish. Maybe a slice off the bottom of the picture? Not sure. Pity about that. Otherwise, brilliant. Taken in the morning. It’s taken through glass, from one of the Eye pods (ho ho), so cut Mr Laidler a little slack on the detail/focussing/precision front.
Until this picture, the only Eye shadows I’ve seen have been the ones it casts in the evening on the buildings nearby. These can sometimes be quite dramatic (I took a few goodish shots like this last night), but I don’t want to draw any attention away from the above photo by, in this posting, by showing any other lesser Eye shadows.
The big lump at the far end of the spiky bridge is Charing Cross railway station, or to be more exact, a big pile of offices, on top of Charing Cross railway station. And the tall and thin tower behind it is the Telecom Tower, or the BT Tower, or whatever they are calling it this decade. I remember it as the GPO (as in General Post Office) Tower.
I just stuck up an all very sane and sensible SQotD about the banking industry, so I’ll put this pearl of wisdom on a closely related matter here. Ready? Here we go:
You can’t watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” these days without thinking how much sense Mr. Potter is making about irresponsible lending.
Originally here. I found it here. Frank J Fleming, for those who don’t know, is the senior blogger here, and is a genius. And oh look, I just found the above twitterlet in a list of similar stuff in an IMAO blog posting, much of it about nuking things. Nuke the oil leak, says FJF. Well, to be more exact, he wants Obama to nuke the oil leak. But, maybe this is because FJF actually wants Obama to be disliked. For him, this would be a win win. A nuclear explosion and Obama being disliked.
Because, the transition from regular city to giant hole is just too abrupt, and also maybe because the lighting looks different between the city and the hole:
Not Photoshop, sadly.
And they found it at the Guatemalan Government Flickr site. And the Guatemalan Government isn’t going to make up a story like that, just for a laugh, now is it?
It swallowed up an entire three story building. A defective sewage pipe apparently.
Count your blessings.