Brian Micklethwait's Blog

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

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Saturday May 31 2008

Written messages liven up photos, I find.  Click on the words to get the bigger pictures.

imageimageimage

Derren Brown is currently performing at the Garrick.  Fortitude is on the back of the Edith Cavell statue, just north of Trafalgar Square.  Watch This Space is what it says on the National Theatre.

Friday May 30 2008

The universe is full of wrongs to be righted, mountains to be climbed, planets to be colonised, lies and follies to be corrected and evil arses to be kicked.  So, I am following the county cricket scores on Cricinfo.  Surrey are 42-1, and Ramprakash is yet again attempting to score his hundredth hundred.  But, the real news is what is happening at Hove, where Sussex are playing Durham.  Sussex are 26-2.  And here’s the good bit: both of those wickets were “b SJ Harmison”.  Caught somebody bowled SJ Harmison could just mean a silly shot, or a fluke.  But two bowleds and no stupid amount of runs - his figures at the end of his first spell: 8 overs 6 maidens 3 runs 2 wickets - suggests that Harm just might be getting some form back.

I know Harmison is psychologically brittle, or whatever is the euphemism for being a pathetic nutter this year.  I know he should pull himself together and his socks up, sort himself and pull his finger out, buck his ideas and shape up, and get stuck in and a grip on himself, etc. etc. psychobabble psychobabble.  But nobody qualified to play for England is more likely to rough up those Australians when they come here in a year’s time.  He did it on the first morning of the Ashes in 2005, and he could do it again.  Nobody will be asking Harmison to travel anywhere scary, like: abroad.  The worst that will be involved will be a couple of hideous expeditions to faraway London.

Saj Majmood has also taken a couple for Lancs against Yorks at Headingley.  But they are an lbw and a caught behind, and he has conceded 23 runs in 8 overs.  That could mean anything.

Thursday May 29 2008

Via The Welfare State We’re In, I came across this, which argues that the British Crime Survey substantially underestimates the amount of crime in Britain:

The report, ‘Crime in England and Wales: More Violence and More Chronic Victims’, is written by Graham Farrell, professor of criminology at Loughborough University, and Ken Pease, visiting professor at Loughborough and former acting head of the Police Research Group at the Home Office.

It reveals that, ever since its inception in 1981, the British Crime Survey (BCS) has omitted many crimes committed against people who have been repeat victims. If people are victimised in the same way by the same perpetrators more than five times in a year, the number of crimes is put down as five. The justification for this was ‘to avoid extreme cases distorting the rates’, but, as Farrell and Pease point out, ‘if the people who say they suffered ten incidents really did, it is capping the series at five that distorts the rate’.

There does seem to be a sincere belief among our rulers that crime is basically flat-lining or better, and an equally sincere belief among many of the ruled that it is getting worse.  Maybe this would account for some of that discrepancy.

One of the best things about blogs, the internet, etc., is the way that you come across stuff you would never read in today’s newspaper, because it is already old, old news.  The internet is not just a newspaper (and more).  It’s a newspaper (and more) library.

Wednesday May 28 2008

One of the most grimly memorable moments of the West Indies tour of England last year, was of the West Indian cricket journo and commentator Tony Cozier bitterly telling British TV viewers how crap his side were.  So it’s good to see that he is now more cheerful, despite the Windies losing again to Australia.  At least, he says, they bowled them out twice and were in with a chance on the last day.  And he cheers himself up further by comparing the Aussies now with the declining Windies in the last days of Ambrose and Walsh.

And as for England’s amazing and amazingly rapid recovery to win at Old Trafford the other day, well, I think that all the complaining from the likes of Mike Atherton, and, you know, me got them scared.  Didgets were extracted.  When Panesar’s good bowling and New Zealand’s bad batting in the second innings gave England a surprise chance to win, they got their heads down.  I still think England are a second rate side now, lacking two class quick bowlers and two class batters.  But they are a second rate side trying harder, against what now looks, I’m afraid, like a third rate New Zealand side, who likewise badly miss Bond and the recently retired Fleming, Bond especially.

Tuesday May 27 2008

Michael J emails the link to these bridges.  Randy Alfred of Wired writes:

A bridge inspires us. A bridge overcomes an obstacle and connects someplace to someplace else, with strength and often with grace and beauty. A bridge lets us go to the other side.

The spiritual connection is old. The high priest of ancient Rome carried the title of Chief Bridgemaker, or Pontifex Maximus. The head of the Roman Catholic Church still carries that Latin title, pontiff or pope in English.

The bridge can give reassurance to lovers holding hands, hope to the thwarted and consolation to the broken-hearted. The bridge connects, physically. It unites the divided. It makes one of what had been two.

The world has millions of bridges. To say Happy Birthday to the Golden Gate Bridge, we share with you a dozen of our other favorites.

My three favourites of their favourites are Ponte Vecchio ...

image

... Gateshead Millenium ...

image

... and Millau:

image

The first because I just like the picture, and the latter two because, by looking down, the photos also supply the urban context.

Monday May 26 2008

Hurrah.  I am at a party at Perry de H’s.  I have learned about a new cool blog, written by God, called Stuff God Hates.  It is apparently very good.  When I get home I will investigate.  UPDATE: I just did investigate and it is indeed most entertaining.

Sunday May 25 2008

Here’s one of my favourite Billion Monkey snaps, taken last Friday, looking down through the Millenium Bridge, to the open space in front of Tate Modern:

image

Billion Monkey.  Cool bridge.  Brianmicklethwait dot com heaven.

I like how you can see other people, but only in fragments.

Saturday May 24 2008

The England NZ game is a bit of a grind, especially now that England are batting, so very drearily, my worries about England all being confirmed.  But WI v Australia has suddenly come alive.  This from the Cricinfo text commentator:

The umpires are having a chat. And they offer the light to the batsmen who obviously take it and walk back to the pavilion. The crowd boo! End of day three. What a advert it has been for Test match cricket. West Indies rallied through Chanderpaul’s doggedness and courage, were charged by Bravo’s delightful cameo and Morton’s resistance to end up 119 runs short of Australia’s 431. Perhaps, inspired by the courage of Chanderpaul who withstood a sickening blow on the back of his head to continue batting, the West Indian bowlers came charging in and hit the right areas. First Jaques fell, then Ponting, then Katich before Hussey was cleaned up. 17 for 4 and Australia are wobbling. They still lead by 136 runs and the match cannot be more intriguingly poised.

17 for 4!  That may be bad for Australia, but it is good for cricket.  I still think the Aussies will win, but it really is good news that the Windies fans have something to cheer about.

Friday May 23 2008

Today I wrote out a very large cheque to settle a long overdue debt.  I stuffed it in an envelope, found out what first class postage costs these days, stuck the stamps on (I still have a great mass of stamps left over from the days of Libertarian Alliance mailings), and took it with me on my afternoon constitutional around the Billion Monkey hotspots of London.  Writing out cheques is not a familiar routine any more.  Nor is posting letters.

Just before posting this one, I had an uneasy thought.  Had I dated the cheque?  I couldn’t remember having dated it.  That didn’t prove I hadn’t, but just to be sure, I opened it up again.  Sure enough, I hadn’t.  Sending it undated would have been a serious insult to an already gravely insulted party, and might even have resulted in legal costs.  So: phew.

Was the fact that I forgot to date it, and that having not dated it, I couldn’t recall precisely whether I had dated it or not, evidence of my brain collapsing?  Or is the fact that I was sufficiently uneasy about the possibility of this error to open it up and identify the error evidence that I am still mentally one hundred per cent?

I had to buy a roll of Sellotape, to do the envelope up again.  It cost me 25p.  Which under the circumstances was a bargain.

Thursday May 22 2008

From a recent Cricinfo piece about the test cricket series that is just starting between hosts West Indies and Australia:

Ramnaresh Sarwan, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Dwayne Bravo may fulfil the trait of struggling sides and literally be asleep in the field over the next week. Sarwan and Chanderpaul arrived in the West Indies a few days ago from the Indian Premier League; Bravo touched down on Tuesday in a private plane, about 48 hours before the toss. The squad camp to prepare for the series had already concluded before the big names decided to arrive with their jetlag.

They flew from the star-filled Twenty20 stadiums into a contest that cannot match the hype, payments or short peaks of excitement they experienced over the past month. Tests offer tradition, style and stature. Whether those values remain attractive will be gauged during the three-match series and beyond.

How will the IPL impact on West Indian cricket?  Will it drain the last flickers of life out of the test team?  Or will the new money that the best West Indian players can now earn inject new life and glamour into the game there?  Twenty20 cricket will surely be very popular with crowds in the West Indies, where you’d think the locals would be naturals at it.  So maybe the IPL will end up saving West Indies cricket, while being also the cause of its transformation.

No cricket lover who remembers the great West Indies sides from the sixties, seventies and eighties could possibly be indifferent to what happens to West Indian cricket now.  I hope they do better than is now feared against Australia, and that some new stars emerge.  Preferably four fast bowlers.  Well, one maybe.  As I finish this, Australia, having won the toss and batted, are 18-1.  Emergency opening (in the absence of Hayden) Katich already gone.  Go Windies.

Another test match begins here in England tomorrow, against New Zealand, so that will conclude the spell of nicer weather we have had since the first test ended, in a severely interrupted draw.  The England bowling without Flintoff or Harmison firing properly looks second-rate and fragile.  The England batting when Pietersen gets out early, ditto.  At least Vaughan looks on song.

Wednesday May 21 2008

Maybe they should get the guy who did these:

image

To do one of these.  I think the horse is the least worst of those five, and the second least worst is the satellite dish with the wing in front.  The other three are just embarrassing.

Tuesday May 20 2008

Here.  Has Dave Barry been told?  Apparently not.  But, he does link to this.  I’m still rather ill.

Monday May 19 2008

And talking, as I was, of online nonsense available for free on the internet, how about this, which I have just added to the blogroll.  Is it a blog or just a website?  It accumulates dated additions, so I guess that makes it a blog, although it doesn’t quite feel like one.  Maybe it’s the lack of links.  I am already making good use of it.

Actually, further to this posting that Jackie D linked to, I do still buy a few magazines, two to be precise, Gramophone and the BBC Music Magazine.  When I stop getting those, it will be because I have switched to subscribing to them on the www, whereas no way will I now pay for a daily newspaper.  And I think the lesson there is that specialised magazines or data gathering enterprises do have a serious future.  It’s general magaziny magazines whose days, it seems to me, are numbered. 

Alex Singleton picked up on a New York Times piece earlier this month which made the point that good magazines can switch successfully to the internet.  If it’s good, detailed stuff, people will pay.  Maybe not as much per head, but then, it won’t cost as much per head to reach them.

Oh shit.

Sunday May 18 2008

Today I cleared great piles of shit out of my home, mostly purchased reading material, and it became very clear to me that I really should stop doing what it says in the title above.  (This is one of those blog postings, like lots of the ones at Dave Barry, which could just as well have consisted only of the title.  Reading the rest of this will add little, for you surely know already approximately what I am going to put.  Newspapers and magazines are not completely useless now, which is why, from time to time, I still keep buying them.  I still associate them with the intense pleasure that they used to provide.  But in the age of round the clock internet connection they add too little.  When I start reading them now, I find that I know too much of what is in them already.  I do learn things, but not enough things.  I am amused, but no more amused than I am by all the various online nonsense you can now get for free.  So, the newspapers are soon cast aside.

But, having not been properly read, they hang around.  I mean, how can you chuck out what you haven’t read?  So the crap accumulates, until eventually total infrastructure overload erupts, and, well, that’s a terrible thing to be living with.

Before chucking out the latest accumulation of tree remains, I could have photographed it all, but there have been too many photos here lately as it is.

Saturday May 17 2008

The weather is not good.  (I blame the start of test matches, which precisely coincided with the end of the spectacularly good weather we had until last Wednesday.) And I am feeling under it.  Sore throat, headache, etc.  So, a quota photo, in the form of one of the print-outs for my Mum (it was taken in her garden on a previous visit) that got an honourable mention last Thursday:

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It looked better in the print out.  Anyone selling chocolates is welcome to it.

Friday May 16 2008

Yes, some more Friday cat blogging, to go with the dog blogging below.  I have already recycled, here, a chunk of Paul Graham’s essay called Lies We Tell Kids.  Here is another chunk, cat-related:

One of the most spectacular lies our parents told us was about the death of our first cat. Over the years, as we asked for more details, they were compelled to invent more, so the story grew quite elaborate. The cat had died at the vet’s office. Of what? Of the anaesthesia itself. Why was the cat at the vet’s office? To be fixed. And why had such a routine operation killed it? It wasn’t the vet’s fault; the cat had a congenitally weak heart; the anaesthesia was too much for it; but there was no way anyone could have known this in advance. It was not till we were in our twenties that the truth came out: my sister, then about three, had accidentally stepped on the cat and broken its back.

Yes, that should be concealed.

Yesterday all her children joined my Mum at her home for a get-together on her 84th birthday.  My sister Daph and I contributed photos, as one does nowadays, some printed out at a shop and others for display on Jesus, and my sister and I took more of all of us.  All the printed pictures looked better than we had previously realised with our mere computer screens, both mine of Mum’s garden and Daph’s of her home in West Wales.

By common consent, the winning photo was ... :

image

Daph is demonstrating a stomach muscle strengthening exercise, and Fred the dog decided to join in.  Mr Daph quickly got the camera and took the shot.

Thursday May 15 2008

I just read this piece about procrastination (linked to yesterday by Instapundit), right through, with no shilly-shallying, and now I am blogging about it, seconds later.  Although, only time will tell whether this gets put up on my blog with equal promptitude.  I am sure I am not the only blogger now writing facetiously self-referential silliness on this topic.

Procrastination, I surmise, is a big deal for many bloggers, certainly for me.  For me, it’s a big deal because blogging is my response to my self-image as a procrastinator.  I constantly postpone big or biggish projects.  My big constantly postponed thing at the moment, which I keep meaning to just sit down and bloody well do, is writing a review for Samizdata of this excellent but rather complicated book (the complications being because the story itself is so controversial in its factual details) about a man who got on with stuff so energetically and promptly that he became, for a short while, the ruler of England, no less.  Or, maybe he didn’t quite do that.  Historians don’t seem quite to agree.

Instead of doing such big pieces, I do small ones instead, like this stupid little piece, which never occurred to me to be writing about until about fifteen minutes ago.  My ego thus massaged, the big project only gets postponed all the more.  Writing something becomes a defence against the guilt caused by failing to write what I really want to write, by which I mean “really want to have written”.  And further postpones the big stuff.

Much of my career counselling is passing on tricks for dealing with the vice of procrastination.  One of my regular questions to my victims is, for instance: When your time is entirely your own, what do you do?  Not: What do you wish you did?  What do you actually do? What, in other words, can you do without will power?  What activities do you not procrastinate at?  Avoid being a procrastinator by “deciding” to do those things you don’t naturally postpone, the things that come naturally to you, so naturally that it requires willpower for you to interrupt them, to do such things as eat, sleep, maintain your marriage, etc.  Do the things where you love not only the outcomes, but also the process.

The story of my life, when I think about it, is that when I first saw word processing, in the electronics department of Essex University in the early nineteen seventies, I fell in love with it.  Not with what I could do with it.  With the simple fact of it.  It has been a lifelong romance.  I still love the simple fact of being able to type this stuff, and immediately see it up there in front of me straight away, with mistakes being instantly correctable.  Wow!  Such is my romantic loyalty to word processing that I always word procress blog postings first, and only when they are done do I shovel them into my blogging software.  For many, I surmise, blogging is a release from the drudgery of word processing.  For me, blogging is merely an add-on, the cherry on the cake.  There is further tweaking when it’s in the blog machines (I’m tweaking now), but my basic tool remains word processing.  End of diversion.  Go back to end of previous paragraph, and then proceed forward to the next paragraph.  (A downside of word processing.)

So as I was saying, another trick to battle procrastination, also highly relevant to bloggers, is to accomplish large things by slicing them up into small things, and then doing them a small slice at a time.  Thus, a blogger can write a big piece by writing it a bit at a time, and then link back to it when it is all finished.  Or maybe copy and past all the bits and polish it up, as the final slice of work.  Often it is the size of a task that daunts.  Reducing its size makes it startable.  I read another book a while ago, where the best tip I got from it was to ask, of any project: What is the first small thing that I need to do to get that started?  Never mind finishing it.  What would s

This picture is definitely rather funny.  This, on the other hand makes perfect sense:

image

Photoed yesterday afternoon.  She’s taking a picture of Big Ben.

Sadly, just the make sure, I probably need to explain again that the first category listed below refers to digital photographers.

Wednesday May 14 2008

Yes, as of now, from in the middle of this posting, DK has struck himself down with the dread contagion.

Once again, I blame the effing splendid DK for this no doubt temporary blemish only from the moment of error until the end of the particular posting the error occurs in.  All further italics in previous postings are a bug in the software.

Tuesday May 13 2008

Isn’t this a cool bridge?

image

I particularly like the triangles at each end.  I don’t understand why it had to be built, why a footpath would not have sufficed.  But when a bridge has this low a temperature, who cares?

whilst the upsides are incredible views and a testament to engineering brilliance, the downside for gephyrophobiacs is that you’re seemingly placing all your trust in a single, relatively thin lattice tower which also happens to be standing at an angle. of course this is essential for the bridge to stay upright (a quality i always look for in a bridge) but visually it couldn’t be more frightening.

I repeat, I think, that deputydog is a Wanker with a capital W on account of being a capitalletterphobiac.  Is he trying to make some point about the internet not knowing the difference so the distinction no longer counts?  Stupid, anway.  It reminds me of those silly “computer"-like fonts that temporarily erupted, and were then dumped so that we could all go back to Times Roman or Helvetica and read things properly again.  That Quibble aside, dd is well worth regular visits.

Monday May 12 2008

I fear that Jonathan Ross is becoming a national embarrassment, not because of what he is paid, but because he says things like “I’d fuck you” to people like Gwyneth Paltrow.  GP took it like a lady when Ross said this to her last Friday or Saturday or whenever it was, but since when did Brits need lessons in the social graces from Americans?  (Well, since about the last three decades, I suppose.)

But there was a saving grace to last Friday’s show, in the form of a pop duo at the end called the Ting Tings, and I have it all on my hard disc.

Two of the great pillars of pop are pretty girls with attitude who really put on a show, and great percussion.  Put these two pillars next to each other, and it can get very good.

I still have a tape of Republica doing Drop Dead Gorgeous.  I still remember a great version of Would I Lie To You? by the Eurythmics, performed at some otherwise totally forgettable awards ceremony.  And then there’s Blondie, in particular: Hangin’ On The Telephone.

So anyway, how about those Ting Tings?  I checked out other YouTubery of them doing the tune they did on Ross, which is called That’s Not My Name, but the Ross version was by far the best, I thought.  Maybe the reason was that in all the other versions, the two Tings were in front of audiences they liked.  And they tried to get across to them, perform to them, include them in the show.  But on Ross, I suspect, they felt in seriously foreign territory.  I bet there was a big discussion beforehand about how much of a terrible compromise it would be to go on such a despised couch potato show like that, and strut their stuff in front of old geezers like me and Ross.  But, they did it anyway, and submitted to Ross’s twatting about (I’m thinking particularly of the embarrassing idiocy at the end).  The result of that contrast was that they, the lady Ting in particular, gave a much more introspective and musically intense performance.  Instead of smiling at the audience, Miss Ting let her hair down, literally, over the front of her face, for the duration, and took refuge from all the surrounding Rossery in the pure pureness of the thing itself.  With truly excellent results.

There’s a sort of Ravel’s Bolero shape to it, a gradual crescendo, with some sweetly major key orchestral type legato music in the middle that ups the intensity level, and in the end it’s frenzy.  A lot of that shape is missing in the other versions.  On Ross, it was terrific.

image

By the way, it’s true what they say about allowing stuff out for free on the internet and on the telly helping sales.  For a tenner, I will be getting whatever CD materialises.

Ting ting.  Imagine Leslie Phillips saying that.

Sunday May 11 2008

Arf arf.  Desperate Dan used to say arf arf when amused, or so my best friend who lived at no. 76 told me.  I am amused.  The dash in the title of this posting is because the printer is eating children, not a face.

imageI love that 6000 did not just link to the sunset gasometer photo I featured here, but actually copied it into his blog.  Which is why I do this to lots of other people’s photos.  Unless otherwise informed, which so far I absolutely never have been, I assume they love it too.

Being as I was on the subject of flypasts, and liking as I do flat pictures, how about this?:

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It’s the business slice of one of these, this one to be exact.  It’s two Red Arrow jets not quite colliding.  For if those links stop working, I have also downloaded the original, which was taken by a “Mr Gooding”.

Saturday May 10 2008

I did some more teaching today, at Hammersmith Saturday.  To no very obvious effect, but if you are not stupid (I am not stupid) or a bastard (I am not a bastard) and you keep showing up (I keep showing up), you will presumably accomplish something of educational value.

Meanwhile, it gets me out more, and to places I do not normally frequent.  I already spotted the wrapped church nearby, but missed that Hammersmith Saturday is also close to The Ark.  Picture taken this morning:

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It is currently unoccupied, as the big advert on the side reveals.  I like curvey buildings, but it has to be admitted that there are reasons why they don’t build more such objects.  Being more for outward effect than for the mere convenience of those who live or work in them, such photogenic blobs can be rather hard to let in a way that balances the books.

More Ark pictures here.  That’s a piece at galinsky - they don’t capitalise so why should I? - which looks like a good resource.  Although, I have to say that this turns out to be disappointing, with many glaring omissions.

Expect more Ark pix here.

Friday May 09 2008

On Wednesday last, I got lucky with a flypast.  There I was, wandering along the South Bank from the Wheel to the RFH, and suddenly, out of a clear blue sky, these appeared in the sky with a great roar.  I got rid of all optical enlarging (because that reduces the area photoed and means you will probably miss completely), pointed, and clicked.  Bingo:

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Click to get a bigger picture, but not any bigger of the actual airplanes.  Which I do to emphasise that Wednesday was yet another lovely London day, which was of course exactly prophesied by the weather persons.

The flypast, I subsequently learned, was to do with this event.  Typhoons, apparently.

But where can I learn about other flypasts, before they happen?  The Red Arrows have their own site, but these were not Red Arrows, just RAF.  What I want is not all the displays by the Red Arrows or whoever, wherever, that are coming up.  I want all aerial displays, by anybody, in London.  Can anyone help?  Who knows? - one day I might manage to take photos like these.

That Jeremy Clarkson is putting himself about, politically I mean.  When the historians write of how the New Labour tide receded, to be replaced by whatever other incoming tide replaces it, Clarkson will, I suspect, figure rather prominently.

Thursday May 08 2008

I said in this posting about the excellence of our weather forecasts and the fact that Tuesday would turn out warm and sunny that I would put pictures up the next day of all this warm sunniness.  Apologies for the delay, but here they are, and they illustrate perfectly what a twat Stephen Fry is about weather forecasts.  I took them just after 5 pm on Wednesday afternoon.  If anyone wants to say that it was cloudy earlier in the day, I have cloudless pictures from earlier in the afternoon also.

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Click to get them bigger.  The top two are looking in opposite directions along the canal, taken from the bridge that I walk over on my way to Kings Cross Supplementary.  The point about the big wobbly-fronted building is that if there are clouds that it might reflect, it duly reflects them.  That day, there were no clouds to reflect, no matter where you looked.  Just blue blueness.

It was also, again as prophesied, breezy.  That I find harder to photo.

Here’s one I took later, just before 8 pm, before disappearing back into Kings Cross Station:

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Not the most spectacular sunset you’ll ever see.  No clouds.

Wednesday May 07 2008

Two amazing gizmos have been featured recently on Gizmodo.  First there is this eleven-a-side table football table (more here):

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And then there are these hamster powered cars (product details here):

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The hamster race-track could have been great, but it is far too small.  The cars should be racing each other on a track that is big enough for all three of them to have a meaningful contest.  All they have so far is one hamster going around a tiny single track, and not even in a car.  Just a sort of ball thingy.  Which is rubbish.  But, it is rubbish that is easily correctable, so hurrah for capitalism anyway.

If ubergadgetblogger engadget has recently mentioned either of these two superb gadget/gizmos, or any other gadget/gizmos that are half as splendid as these two, then I missed it.  Which could quite well be.

Tuesday May 06 2008

Not a great photo, but an okay photo of a great urban feature, just next to the Hammersmith Flyover, where I was on Saturday morning:

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Temporary pleasures like this are surely among the ones most worth photo-ing.  The famous landmarks that we Billion Monkeys tend to concentrate on will be with us for decades.

The church being restored or rebuilt or whatever it is, is St Paul’s Hammersmith.  This is it before they covered it up.  And here is another view of the covering.  Better lit than mine, but less weird.

Monday May 05 2008

Stephen Fry is widely believed to be a rather clever man, but on an episode of QI that they showed this evening because of the snooker finishing early, he said something deeply stupid, to widespread agreement from all the fawning panellists by whom he was flanked.  He said that British weather forecasts are hopeless, about as much use as looking at the insides of a bird, or some such oh-so-clever classical allusion.

I’ve said it before and I will now say it again.  Nonsense.  Our weather forecasts are superb.  If ever I have in mind to go out tomorrow, I make a point of attending to the weather forecast very carefully.  Often my decision to go out at all tomorrow is made the night before purely on the strength of the invariably almost unreally accurate weather forecast that I have just watched.

We have just been told that tomorrow, for instance, as in May 6th 2008, the south of England will be delightfully warm, breezy and sunny.  Ideal for a day out and about.  And that, I am here to tell you, is exactly how it will turn out.  Tomorrow, I will show you the photos to prove this fact, as fact it most certainly will prove to be.

These universal ideas that are obvious bollocks are very odd.  Another one I recall from my youth was that people all used to say, to universal applause from every other idiot present, that there was “no difference between the major political parties”.  This is not true now, but it was total and obvious tripe in those far off days.  Yet everyone kept on repeating this mantra about there being “no difference” out of sheer habit.  It never seemed to occur to anyone at all to give the matter twenty seconds of solid thought and then to declare the notion to be the idiotic nonsense that it quite clearly was.  Now, if you want a cheap laugh at a party, say that weather forecasts are useless.  Or, maybe not.  Maybe someone with both a mind that works and a willingness to make use of it will be present, and you will be firmly contradicted for the thoughtless fool that you are.

Sunday May 04 2008

imageI’ve been watching the world championship snooker on the telly, and Steve Davies did an interval report in which he said that in China they have more snooker players – about thirty million – than in the rest of the world put together.  I did not know that.  I take it for granted that all the cues and balls and tables and whatnot are now all made in China, but I didn’t know they were also turning out the majority of the players.  The picture is of Ding JunWei, who apparently beat Steve Davies in the UK Championship.  He is eighteen years old.

But as Steve Davies has also just pointed out, there were five players from Essex in this year’s championship, which is more than all of China had.  So for the time being, Essex rules.

Friday May 02 2008

Boris wins.  And actually not that narrowly.  1,043,761 to Boris.  893 thousand something or other for Ken Livingstone, with not that much difference between the second choice totals.

Here is the photo of Boris that I took in July 2006, at Lords Cricket Ground:

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I’m watching the proceedings on BBC News 24, or whatever it’s called.

Boris is now making his victory speech, and he said it is already tomorrow.  Not so, this still gets in as May 2nd.  He’s going with magnanimity towards Ken rather than putting the knife in.

“Let’s get cracking tomorrow.  Let’s have a drink tonight.” Well said.  I feel a sense of connection to these London politicians.  It won’t last.  Tomorrow I will get back to realising that they are only politicians, and that politics is daylight robbery.  Now Ken is saying that it’s his fault he lost.  Also very impressive.  No doubt these two men will very soon also get back to stabbing one another, the way nature intended.  But for a brief moment, they conspired to create a little moment of magic.  Very cunningly but also very classily done by both men.

I’ll add a link or two to news coverage over the next few minutes.  It now really is tomorrow morning.

BBC.

The Man From YouGov is now crowing, ever so politely, just as Guido said would happen.

Rob Fisher is not amused.  Londonist is.  Diamond Geezer despairs.

Fraser Nelson on Boris’s secret weapon: driving the left mad.  Coffee House roundup of their Boris v Ken bloggage here.

Instapundit notices with more linkage, in particular to this.

John Redwood on Labour’s rubbish policy.  Not a metaphor.

Boris’s acceptance speech.

Last night they had bloggers on BBC1, and the BBC woman talked about them as if they were there to lower the tone.  In fact they raised it, and the BBC’s own Jeremy Vine lowered it.  Iain Dale did very well, I thought, coming across as thoughtful and analytical.  He too thought Vine made a twat of himself, as did Guido.

By the way, and I keep meaning to mention this, I don’t like the design of the top of Guido.  It makes it look like there’s dirt on my screen, which is annoying because there often is, so the illusion is credible.

Guido’s commenters are expressing the fear that a great pile of pile-em-high-sell-em-cheap postal votes will crash in and steal it for Ken.  I hope this doesn’t happen, and have now worked out why.  Aside from disliking tax-and-spend lefties, I am simply curious to see how Mayor Boris will turn out.  He reminds me of a recent radio comedy joke: “His men would follow him anywhere, if only out of morbid curiosity.” That’s Boris, I think.  The other Guido comment that stuck in my mind was from someone saying that Gordon Brown will now punish London, with complicated but deadly tax tinkerings, etc.  I hope that it’s Mayor Boris, that he proves as clever as his enthusiasts say he is, and that he bellows at Gordon whenever he does this.  Samizdata’s Johnathan Pearce has been drip-drip-dripping away lately with stories of big businesses leaving London, or, in the case of Shire Pharmaceuticals, Basingstoke, which is nearly London.

Another complaint about Guido, peculiar to just now I trust, is that whenever Guido is up on my screen, the rest of my computer misbehaves.  Coincidence?  Maybe, but no links to him for the time being.  I think he has just crashed Internet explorer for me, again.  Guido Fawkes, that is.  See my blogroll if you are confused.  Good luck.

Despite myself, I always get sucked into elections and election watching on the night.  I think the big news for London is that it is, finally, a political battleground, with two great political machines vying for the Mayor and all the Mayor’s budgets and buildings and corruption opportunities, instead of merely one Ken Livingstone machine just hoovering up all this stuff unopposed, or opposed only by the Evening Standard.  I suspect the big story of the next few days in London will be the high turnout, nearly as high as for a general election.

I hope Boris doesn’t put a stop to London having more skyscrapers.  Maybe the change will merely be that the skyscrapers will be Jewish rather than Arab.  I hope that if they decide to build a Thames Estuary Bridge, Boris decides to hustle up enough more money to make it a great looking bridge instead of a boring one, such as is I believe is threatened now.  And I hope Boris cancels the London Olympics, which will bankrupt us all for generations, but that is presumably too much to hope for.

Thursday May 01 2008

There’s an election happening in London today, and the early guesses say that Boris Johnson will be the new Mayor, and Ken Livingstone the new ex-Mayor.  I have no idea.

Shane Greer is angry about this article by Steve Richards.  Greer says that Richards’ piece is elitist, because it calls the voters stupid and ungrateful.  But Richards has half a point.  Ken Livingstone has done quite a lot of popular things for Londoners, if you are the sort of Londoner who relies on public transport rather than your car., and who doesn’t pay that much in the way of council tax.

Voters aren’t stupid, but they are indeed ungrateful.  They don’t vote about what you’ve done, they vote about what they want done.  They don’t vote about the past, they vote about the future.  The most famous British example is probably the way that the victorious Winston Churchill was unceremoniously dumped in 1945.  War won, thank you Winnie, but no, you are not the post-war Prime Minister that we now want.  You can do heroism, but not a land fit for the heroes to come home to.  Goodnight.

Voters can also be punitive.  When someone they basically don’t like has done the job they were voted in to do a few years back, the backlash can be something terrible.  This is partly what happened to the Conservatives during the last decade.  This may now be happening to Ken.  Ken may have been regarded as necessary, to make the trains run on time, etc.  But he has never been really liked, and now all those corruption stories and all that disgusting cosying up to terrorists starts to count for more than the tube and the buses.  So, thanks for the buses mate, and piss off.

What I think also may be happening in London is that Ken Livingstone has made being the Mayor of London matter, and this has had the effect, it would now appear, of causing potential Conservative voters in London local elections to become actual Conservative voters.  Boris Johnson has served to highlight this same effect, by being a celeb with high recognition, and by not making any big mistakes.  My favourite comment about the London Mayor election is from a commenter at Guido’s - which I can’t now find because my I-now-wish-I-was-a-swear-blogger computer is playing up, as it is now doing from time to time - saying that the amazing thing was that Boris had said and done nothing seriously stupid for three whole months.

He has gone from the authentic Boris as seen on HIGNFY to a boring twat, in the manner of Robert Redford in The Candidate.  Which means he will probably win.