Brian Micklethwait's Blog

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

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Category archive: Social Media

Friday April 26 2019

Video here.  Says Patrick Crozier: This is brilliant. Say I: not very fair.  Plus: I question the editing.  Was this what happened all the time?  Or was this the one recorded highlight?

Here.  I also like the photo at the top of his Twitter feed.  He describes himself as a “campaigner”, which sounds ominous.  But like he says: how they weigh owls.

Sunday April 21 2019

Niece Roz tweets:

Had enough of your relatives already? Don’t just think about murdering them - come along to @scarthinbooks tomorrow afternoon and talk about how you could actually-- (Just kidding, Twitter. Just kidding)

Scarthin Books is, alas, in the Peak District, where Roz lives.  This is impossibly far away from London, where I live.  If she ever holds an event like this in London, I will definitely attend.  I will make sure that all present know that she and I are related.  Otherwise I will say little.  I will concentrate on looking quietly attentive and quietly thoughtful.

Photo of Roz’s second Meg Dalton book here.

Saturday April 20 2019

I like both of these.

This:

Capitalism works better than it sounds. Socialism sounds better than it works.

And this:

Capitalism is the only reason socialism has any money to redistribute.

I like them, as in: I like them as pithily expressed things to think about.  Not sure the first one in particular is actually true.  Socialism, when you actually spell out what socialists want and what they think should be done to dissenters, turns out to be ghastly, long before it actually happens.

And if capitalism sounds worse than it is, maybe you aren’t saying it right.

Yesterday there were four postings here.  Mostly small, but still, four.  The above stuff is Twitter, but this blog is not Twitter.  This blog leaves you time to have a little read and a life.

So, this is your lot for today.

On the other hand, if you have forty minutes to spare on subjects like the above, try listening to this.  It’s the IEA’s Kristian Niemietz talking about socialism.  He too thinks that capitalism is “counter-intuitive”.  His manner is a lot more low-key and considered than you would expect it to be if you only followed him on Twitter.

Friday April 19 2019

ABC News reports, with video:

This very responsible turkey halted traffic on a two-lane road in New Hampshire until the entire flock was able to cross.

Via Roz the Crime Fiction Writer, who says:

He has the exact demeanour of our old school lollipop lady.

Pigeons and foxes aren’t the only ones who have adapted to human civilisation.

Saturday April 06 2019

A little snatch of video.  Won’t take you long at all. I encountered it here, and you can too.

It made me lol and maybe it will make you lol too.  Or maybe just smile a bit.  Or not, even if you do quite like it.  Or not, because you don’t like it.  The decision is yours.

Thursday April 04 2019

I read quite a while ago, because I got sent a proof copy.  What do I think of it?  Very good, and with one especially good moment near the end, which (spoiler alert: I’m about to say something about this moment) I thought was a very acute comment on the nature of human moral beliefs and intuitions, and which I thought was very well set up to achieve maximum dramatic impact.

image

As I have to keep explaining, Roz Watkins is my niece, that being why I keep plugging her books at this blog when most of what you see here is stuff about London and my photos of London.

Trouble is, writing about detective thrillers is a bit of a mug’s game.  I am used to writing about books of the sort where you are allowed to go into the details of what the book actually says.  If I find the argument presented in a book, of the kind I’m used to writing about, to be persuasive, then I can say so and say why.  But when you are writing about a detective thriller, telling everyone what it says, and especially how it concludes, is a big no.  Those who “review” books like this one seem often to be reduced to cliches, all about how they stayed up all night reading it, did not see the end coming, liked the general atmosphere, the leading characters, the dialogue, and so on and so forth, in pretty much those sorts of words.  In particular, reviewers compete with each other to find out how many generalised adjectives they can deploy as a substitute for “very good” (see above).

So, yes, I think this book is very good, but if you want to know why I think that, you’ll have to read it.  Even then, you might not discover, because maybe you’ll disagree with me.  (At which point you too will be forbidden to explain in any detail why you didn’t like it.)

One thing I can say without any fear of giving away any plot details is that the title on the cover of this second book is a lot easier to read (light coloured lettering, mostly dark background) than the title of the first one (lightish lettering, light background) was.  I thought that the first book, The Devil’s Dice, was very good, but I think this second one is a bit better, partly for the reason vaguely alluded to in the first paragraph of this, and partly because I found the politics of it (there is some politics, loosely defined (as in: not British party politics)) to be intriguing.

Wednesday April 03 2019

I follow Tottenham Hotspur on Twitter, and for once, the hysterical tweeting whenever Spurs score a goal (often in a game they lose (which they don’t tweet about the rest of)) was justified.  This time the fuss concerned the very first goal scored for Spurs in their new stadium, by Son Heung-min. 

Spurs beat Crystal Palace 2-0.

Here’s what the new stadium looks like, with added fireworks:

image

It says there: “Just incredible.”

I’m not a real Spurs fan, because I don’t think it looks “just incredible”.  I just think it looks like a football stadium, and a rather bland and boring one.  But, that’s fine.  It’s a big old machine for people to play and watch football in.  Also American Football and pop music, apparently, which makes sense.

I also like this photo:

image

In the distance, the Walthamstow Wetlands, i.e. various reservoirs.  Here is a photo I took of the stadium from next to those reservoirs.

This was not just an important occasion for Spurs; it was also an important game for Spurs.  Had Spurs lost to Crystal Palace this evening, it would have put a severe damper on the rest of their season.  As it is, they will return to their new home for the next game they play there in very good spirits.

Sunday March 31 2019
Monday March 25 2019

Matt Kilkoyne:

The growth of London’s Isle of Dogs is beautiful. More please.

image

What I like about this is the way the Big Things in the background are all blue-grey glass, while the little things in the foreground are all the same reddish brick.  It’s almost as if they knew beforehand what plans would be allowed and what plans wouldn’t!  These Big Things are totally unlike the City towers, in mostly being individually banal and un-"iconic", yet they add up to something that is indeed, to me anyway, rather impressive.  The bigger it all gets the more impressive it will be.  London – this bit of it at least - has learned from New York.

This is all part of the relentless shift of London’s centre of gravity down river.

Down river towards London Gateway, about which the internet still has amazingly little to say.  My take on that?  There will be the grandmother of all grand openings, if only to accommodate all the reporters on that project who have been persuaded to say nothing about it for now.  (Or: Do reporters truly not care?  If so, more fool them.)

Friday March 22 2019

One of the things explained in the article linked to in the previous posting is that product placement often happens in a quite subtle way, without the brand being spelt out clearly, for everyone to see.  Street art adverts can be part of a campaign, and the street art bit only makes sense if you also notice the rest of that campaign.

So, for instance, is this, also spied in Bermondsey by me the day before yesterday, also some kind of advert?:

image

Maybe.

I googled “red chameleon” and found two books both called that, but no other products.  No beer.  No deodorant.  No dating site for psycho-communists.

So, maybe it’s just a painting, of a red chameleon.

LATER: And it would appear that these are just flamingos:

image

I also saw them on my Stoke Newingtonian travels.

Both the flamingos and the red chameleon are, it would seem, the work of Frankie Strand.  That she signed the chameleon was a clue.  And a little googling got me to her particular fondness also for flamingos.

Tuesday March 19 2019

A friend has put this photo that he photoed on Facebook:

image

If he objects to me using it, I’ll take it down, but I doubt he will.

It illustrates two things.

(1) The arrival of a new kind of skyscraper, the Very Thin Big Thing.

(2) How much less of a nuisance trees are, photographically speaking, when not smothered in stupid leaves.  As it is, that photo is a fine addition to the Winter Tree With Big Thing Behind It photo-genre, which is a photo-genre I like a lot.  With leaves, it would be significantly duller.

Here is a Guardian piece which explains why these Big Thin Things are now happening in New York.  I now intend, although I promise nothing, to do a Samizdata piece in which I expand upon this circumstance.  Clue: the provisional title of this piece is “Law and liberty in New York”.  The point being that clear law says exactly what you may not do, but by so doing, it also says exactly - exactly - what you may do.  Unlike in Britain with its insane “planning permission” system, where you just have to hope that some random assemblage of local tyrants doesn’t take against the plan you’ve been working on for months, and where there’s now no way beforehand of guessing what these tyrants will decide.  In New York, if you follow the rules, you know you are allowed to build it.  Result: well, New York.

Friday March 15 2019

Taiwan Birds (well worth a long scroll down there (some truly amazing birds (I think))) yesterday featured this remarkable photo ...:

image

…, and has this to say about it:

Congratulations to Chen Chen-kuang … for winning the Hamdan HIPA Prize for his shot of a ...

… see above.

And there was me thinking that “Drongo” was just a word made up by Australians to describe … drongos.  Apparently drongos really exist, and presumably drongos behave in a way that Australians disapprove of.

Taiwan Birds adds:

Never leave your camera behind! And spend years refining your skills ...

Indeed.

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

Sunday March 10 2019

Here:

image

It reminds me of the scene at the end of Starship Troopers (a scene which I may now be imagining (but I think it happened)) where the victorious Starship Troopers celebrate their capture of The Queen Bug.