Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Michael Jennings on Christmas tree with scaffolding
michael fallon on Russia unleashes tiger on China
Alastair on Santa's tired helpers
dodgy geezer on Matt Ridley on how technology leads science and how that means that the state need not fund science
michael fallon on Halloween buckets
Michael Hiteshew on Sign blocked by surveillance camera
Michael on Matt Ridley on how technology leads science and how that means that the state need not fund science
Simon Gibbs on My digital photos on his TV
Simon Gibbs on On the rights and wrongs of me posting bits from books (plus a bit about Rule Utilarianism)
Mark Rousell on Hot dog shadow selfie
Most recent entries
- I’m an adjective!
- Home advantage and hoping for the best in the World Cup
- Hirst’s Hymn outside the Tate Gallery
- To Covent Garden (3): Cat that looks a bit like a dog
- To Covent Garden (2): Rough roofs – smooth roof
- Christmas tree with scaffolding
- Santa’s tired helpers
- To Covent Garden (1): The twisty footbridge
- Trousers keyboard
- Cameras photoing the Wheel (in 2007)
- Was Guy’s Tower a key building in the architectural history of London?
- Photo-drone wars to come
- A link and a photo of a photographer
- Matt Ridley on how technology leads science and how that means that the state need not fund science
- Sign blocked by surveillance camera
Other Blogs I write for
6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adventures in Capitalism
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
Another Food Blog
Antoine Clarke's Election Watch
Armed and Dangerous
Art Of The State Blog
Boatang & Demetriou
Burning Our Money
Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry
China Law Blog
Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog
Coffee & Complexity
Communities Dominate Brands
Confused of Calcutta
Conservative Party Reptile
Counting Cats in Zanzibar
Deleted by tomorrow
Don't Hold Your Breath
Douglas Carswell Blog
Dr Robert Lefever
Englands Freedome, Souldiers Rights
Everything I Say is Right
Fat Man on a Keyboard
Ferraris for all
Freedom and Whisky
From The Barrel of a Gun
Gates of Vienna
Global Warming Politics
Greg Mankiw's Blog
Guido Fawkes' blog
Here Comes Everybody
Hit & Run
House of Dumb
Iain Dale's Diary
Jeffrey Archer's Official Blog
Jessica Duchen's classical music blog
Laissez Faire Books
Last of the Few
Libertarian Alliance: Blog
Liberty Dad - a World Without Dictators
Lib on the United Kingdom
Little Man, What Now?
Loic Le Meur Blog
L'Ombre de l'Olivier
London Daily Photo
Metamagician and the Hellfire Club
Michael J. Totten's Middle East Journal
More Than Mind Games
Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism
My Boyfriend Is A Twat
My Other Stuff
Nation of Shopkeepers
Never Trust a Hippy
Non Diet Weight Loss
Nurses for Reform blog
Obnoxio The Clown
On an Overgrown Path
One Man & His Blog
Owlthoughts of a peripatetic pedant
Oxford Libertarian Society /blog
Patri's Peripatetic Peregrinations
Police Inspector Blog
Private Sector Development blog
Remember I'm the Bloody Architect
Setting The World To Rights
SimonHewittJones.com The Violin Blog
Sky Watching My World
Social Affairs Unit
Squander Two Blog
Stuff White People Like
Stumbling and Mumbling
Technology Liberation Front
The Adam Smith Institute Blog
The Becker-Posner Blog
The Belgravia Dispatch
The Belmont Club
The Big Blog Company
The Big Picture
the blog of dave cole
The Corridor of Uncertainty (a Cricket blog)
The Daily Ablution
The Devil's Advocate
The Devil's Kitchen
The Dissident Frogman
The Distributed Republic
The Early Days of a Better Nation
The Examined Life
The Fly Bottle
The Freeway to Serfdom
The Future of Music
The Happiness Project
The Jarndyce Blog
The London Fog
The Long Tail
The Lumber Room
The Online Photographer
The Only Winning Move
The Policeman's Blog
The Road to Surfdom
The Wedding Photography Blog
The Welfare State We're In
UK Commentators - Laban Tall's Blog
UK Libertarian Party
Violins and Starships
we make money not art
What Do I Know?
What's Up With That?
Where the grass is greener
White Sun of the Desert
Why Evolution Is True
Your Freedom and Ours
Arts & Letters Daily
Bjørn Stærk's homepage
Butterflies and Wheels
Dark Roasted Blend
Digital Photography Review
Ghana Centre for Democratic Reform
Global Warming and the Climate
History According to Bob
Institut économique Molinari
Institute of Economic Affairs
Ludwig von Mises Institute
Oxford Libertarian Society
The Christopher Hitchens Web
The Space Review
The TaxPayers' Alliance
This is Local London
UK Libertarian Party
Victor Davis Hanson
WSJ.com Opinion Journal
Bits from books
Bloggers and blogging
Brian Micklethwait podcasts
Cats and kittens
Food and drink
How the mind works
Media and journalism
Middle East and Islam
My blog ruins
Signs and notices
The Micklethwait Clock
This and that
Proper Tea. There was a pun waiting to be in the title of a blog. My only suggestion is that the above graphic ought to be left justified, in line with the text. Maybe bigger, to go all the way across. But, whatever keeps you at it is the rule.
It’s been interesting watching the petition saying Go Gordon work its weird magic. Those wise in the ways of this particular procedure said very early on that this one would soon fizzle out, just like all the others. Just not enough people signing up, they said. But they were not comparing like with like. They were comparing this petition with other petitions where all there was was a petition. So for instance, there was recently another petition about life boat radio frequencies which the government is now making the RNLI pay for, which has long had over twenty thousand signatures, and the government hasn’t given a damn about it.
This Go Gordon one is very different. This is a proposition that increasing numbers of the political class are signing up to, more of them every day. Among such are those who write newspaper columns about the political scene. Guido is doing all that work so just go to him for the details. For such persons as that, this petition is a godsend, because it keeps on doing something. Every half our, it cranks out another little batch of numbers with which they can decorate their otherwise merely verbal verbalisations. When the petition site goes wrong, that’s another story. They can compare this petition with other petitions. In particular, they can compare this petition with The Other Petition, the one which demands that the Prime Minister keeps going, signed by such people as “David Cameron”. Did this Other Petition begin as a piss take? It really doesn’t matter, because piss is all that it’s taking now.
This Petition can add, in short (or not so short), another stabbing paragraph to all their other stabs, about the Gurkhas, about that awful Gordon Brown video, so awful that I dare not watch it or even link to it (lest I then find myself watching it by mistake), the recent budget, and the general fact that everyone now hates this man if they do not despise him.
When I first flagged up the Go Gordon Petition at Samizdata, I said it could get “very big, very fast”. I was both wrong, and right. The numbers are still tiny. Still only thirty thousand odd at the time of this being written, which, if you compare it even with what the likes of Guido were hoping, is nothing. But it has become just one more tiny but very nasty dagger into the heart of this now doomed government. Can the Brown regime stagger on for over a year more? I really don’t see how. If it does, it will make the Labour Party not just unelectable for a decade, but damn near unelectable ever. Fine by me. I just fear the cost to the rest of us in the meantime.
This Go Gordon petition will surely focus some renewed attention on all the other petitions, and cause more - and more effective - petitions in the future. In fact I would say that the only question is not whether that happens, but how much.
Mostly this is an excuse to link to pieces which link to pieces by me, and which are in all other respects most gratifying. And please, I’m not seriously complaining here. Micklethwait is indeed a bit of a mouthful.
I expected to find lots of Brian Micklethwaites, but while searching for those, and while finding far fewer than I expected (e.g. No. 16 here) , I also found someone who actually is called Brian Micklethwaite. I bet he just loves me. Google for him and you mostly get me.
Did you mean: “Brian Micklethwait”
Well, until recently, we Micklethwaits spent half our lives being told by helpful bank clerks who prided themselves on knowing their northern spellings that our name was really spelt Micklethwaite. And then asked if we are any relation of Maurice Micklewhite, aka Michael Caine. Presumably we’re fiftieth cousins or something. (Aren’t we all?) But basically: no.
Yes, this is an actual logo designed in 1973 for the Catholic Church’s Archdiocesan Youth Commission. It even won an award ...
Although you have to wonder if someone made this up.
You could argue that it actually isn’t “inappropriate”, which is what makes me doubt this thing’s genuineness.
Strange word that. Inappropriate. Having spent their often wrong and sometimes evil youths complaining about “wrong” and “evil”, the non-judgementalists had to find another word for when they themselves later wanted to be judgemental.
Following the success of this sign photo, which was “seen elsewhere” on Saturday by Guido, I give you a couple more, photoed today after I had attended a Wigmore Hall recital.
Sign One: “The name’s Wang ...”
Sign Two: The Indian Premier League is so exciting, it makes all your hair fall out!
Jayasuriya plays for the Mumbai Indians. It would seem that the only country where you are still allowed to call sports teams “Indians” is India. Do they have sports teams in India called Cowboys, I wonder? Maybe not, because presumably the Cowboys are the bad guys there.
Another little titbit of news to feed the ongoing story of how 20/20 cricket is gradually taking over from test cricket as the ultimate focus of an increasing number of the players. Jacob Oram of New Zealand reckons that being an allrounder means you get knackered too soon. (See also: Flintoff).
Jacob Oram is prepared to stand down from the New Zealand Test side to extend his career as an allrounder in the more lucrative limited overs formats. Oram, who this week watched his Chennai team-mate Andrew Flintoff return to England for yet another round of surgery, believes the physical demands on allrounders are such that many will be forced to give up one form of the game, or one skill set.
“At the moment, with what I do, I know it’s not sustainable,” Oram told Cricinfo. “I am 30, and I have the passion and desire to play well into my mid-30s, but to be honest, with the way things have been going, that is not going to happen unless something gives.
“I have talked to people about giving up bowling, or bowling in as few forms of the game as possible. I haven’t talked about this publicly before, but if I had to choose one thing, I would probably give up Test cricket before bowling. I have played eight years of international cricket and being an allrounder is part of who I am. To give up the bowling - it’s just not me, not what I do. I think it would be giving up Tests before I gave up being an allrounder.
I know I know, “who I am”, “not me”, “not what I do”, etc. He wants to be a bowler as well as a batsman, for existential French-actor-type reasons. But, the point is: he could have given up one day cricket and stuck to test cricket, couldn’t he? So why didn’t he? The money is definitely part of it.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Money talks, and this time what the money is saying is: give us cricket where every ball matters. Test cricket is okay. But four day county cricket is not something most of us have time to follow continuously. So, now for instance, I am more interested in IPL games than I am in four day county games, even if my county is playing in one of them. The other day, I postponed a quite important expedition because I was gripped by an IPL game (between two teams of no importance to me at all) where the regular bit of the game was a tie and they had a super over, two super overs to be exact, to settle it. A 1/1 cricket game in other words. Four day county cricket rarely does that kind of thing to me any more.
According to the Hindustan Times, this IPL thriller went down to the wire, literally which can’t be right, but you get the idea. When some people are excited, their command of English goes all to hell. Or maybe literally now just means that whatever it was was really really exciting. (Can anyone think of a meaningful sentence with three consecutive doubled up words? Oh oh never never mind mind.)
“I don’t believe in the Republican Party or the Democratic Party. I just believe in parties.”
In this particular episode, a politician tells the Sarah Jessica Parker character that he wants her to piss on him in the shower.
I can understand people being depressed about sentiments such as these, and portrayals of politicians such as this. But despising, on the one hand, politicians as they are now, and on the other hand despising the whole idea of cooperative, communal life and despising all argument about what form that communal life should take, are not the same thing. Arguing, in particular, that cooperation is the antithesis of compulsion is not the same as denying the need for or value of cooperation. But by defining actually-existing-politics as the only cooperative game in town, you can persuade yourself that hating actually-existing-politicians means necessarily believing only in nihilistic atomism. (See also this recent piece by me about, among other things, what Guido Fawkes believes in.)
Sadly though, people who one year are expressing extreme cynicism about politics will often, the next year, go mad for the latest version of the political delusion at its commanding-and-controlling taxing-and-spending worst, their cynicism and then mania being but different faces of the same urge to worship. This urge now centres (here in Britain as well as in the USA) upon President Barack Obama, the living embodiment, for now, of the claim that politicians can do anything, including make command-and-control tax-and-spend politics-as-usual work wonderfully well, if only they are heroic enough and eloquent enough, and if only they are ready to command, control, tax and spend even more. Some, such as me, are cynical about the entire political process as now organised, that is, cynical about the rules which govern it, such as that command, control, tax, spend are all perfectly fine. But anti-politics of other kinds is just disappointment that a particular politician, or particular clutch of or generation of politicians, is revealed as having feet of clay. The rules are fine; we just need politicians with nicer feet. We just need politicians who don’t, as it were, turn out to want to be pissed on in the shower. I say: wait for perfectly heroic politicians, while keeping the rules that are now such a temptation to them unchanged, and you wait for ever.
I further assume that the entire gang of producers, writers, directors, cast and crew of Sex and the City are, for as long as Obama-worship persists, either all of them Obama-worshippers, or else keeping very quiet about their Obamagnosticism (or very quiet about their Obamatheism).
Were those words just invented by me, I wonder? It turns out, not (I do love Google):
What’s true is that I’ve yet to feel comprehensive obamantipathy, obamangst, obamanimosity, obamanger or obamagnosticism much less obamatheism, but I definitely see obamapathy on the very near horizon.
Give it time, and many will be feeling all of the above. But, many of them will only be waiting for the next politician to worship.
There has to be some clever caption I can add to this, but I’ve been out and about today and am too tired:
Some serious reaction to the headline here.
Yes, I thought I might have a go at this. Some libertarian blogger or other, whose call sign, though well known to me, has slipped from my mind, commenting on something I wrote recently, somewhere, said something along the lines of: “There are lots of libertarian bloogers out there. Lots of us.” Well, how many? To put it another way, how well is the libertarian movement in Britain actually doing? This is surely one good way to measure it.
My point is not to assess quality, or to wonder whether I personally like them or will want to read them every day or every other day. (This will not, in other words, be the libertarian bit of my personal blogroll.) Nor do I intend to fret about readership numbers. Just how many libertarian bloggers there are out there? Who are they?
Inevitably there will be border issues. Is blogger X a libertarian, or too much of a Lib Dem supporter, rather too willing to back the LDs even when they aren’t being libertarian? (He has that perfect right, of course, but does that mean I should strike him from this list?) Is blogger Y really an American blogger, despite having been born here? Does blogger P earn a place on the list, given that he last posted six months ago? Does blogger Q blog a lot, but only very rarely about libertarian issues or the fact that she’s a libertarian? And inevitably, if I keep at this, the question will arise of exactly what a libertarian is. (Some may argue that, on foreign policy grounds, Samizdata is a bit iffy.) This will, in short, be a personal list by me, however impersonal I try to make it.
Maybe the answer is to have a core list of definites, and then various other lists of people who, for this or that reason, may or may not merit inclusion.
Quite soon, I need to know if anyone else has done this. If they have and I like what they’ve done, I will stop bothering. But the only way to find out about a scheme like this, if you don’t know about it already, is to start doing it anyway.
What I now have in mind to do is shove in list towards the end of this posting, and as and when I revise this list, do another posting, copying, pasting and adding to the original list, adding whatever commentary seems appropriate at the time. This means that the blogging idea of postings going up, and then when finished staying up, warts and all, will not be violated.
This first list is simply my blogroll, severely culled of all non-libertarians. Just for now, I’ll follow an “if in doubt leave it out” rule. I wonder how many that comes to. Here we go:
Burning Our Money
Counting Cats in Zanzibar
Douglas Carswell Blog (yes I reckon he counts – even though he is a Conservative MP)
Ferraris for all
Freedom and Whisky
From The Barrel of a Gun
Guido Fawkes’ blog
Libertarian Alliance: Blog
Little Man, What Now?
Obnoxio The Clown
Oxford Libertarian Society /blog
The Adam Smith Institute Blog
The Welfare State We’re In
UK Libertarian Party
There must be several wrong inclusions and wrong exclusions just in that severely culled version of my blogroll. But, with apologies for all those wanting to be in, or out, it’s a start. I hope that, any week now, this list may start being of actual use. If for some reason you want to copy it, feel free.
It goes without saying, as people say when they really want to say something, and who in fact plan to to say it several times, that links to further libertarian bloggers to add to this list would be extremely welcome.
You wait for weeks for a classical music posting here at BrianMicklethwait DotCom (and I know you do), and then two show up in two days.
I’ve just been listening to an eighties Hyperion recording of Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, and in the sleevenotes I encountered this piece of verse, by Bernstein himself:
Of time to think as a pure musician
and ponder the art of composition.
Four hours on end I brooded and mused
on materiae musicae, used and abused;
On aspects of unconventionality,
Over the death in our time of tonality,
Over the fads of Dada and Chance,
The serial strictures, the dearth of romance,
“Perspective in Music” the new terminology,
Pieces called “Cycles” and “Sines” and “Parameters” -
Titles too beat for these homely tetrameters;
Pieces for nattering, clucking sopranos
With squadrons of vibraphones, fleets of pianos
played with the forearms, the fists and the palms
- And then I came up with the Chichester Psalms.
These psalms are a simple and modest affair,
Tonal and tuneful and somewhat square,
Certain to sicken a stout John Cager
With its tonics and triads in E flat major.
But there it stands the result of my pondering,
Two long months of avant-garde wandering -
My youngest child, old-fashioned and sweet.
And he stands on his own two tonal feet.
Such is the magic of Google that I didn’t have to type in all of this myself. I just had to type the first line into Google, and there it was.
Recently BBC4 showed a programme about Andre Previn, who seemed to possess every talent that Bernstein possessed except for the ability to write great tunes. Everyone loved Previn, including five lovely and lovable wives. He wrote Hollywood film scores of great renown, and conducted them himself, superbly, when absurdly young. Singers loved to sing for him. Oscar Petersen played jazz piano along with him. Morecombe and Wise did a great comedy sketch with him. His lovely violinist wife thought he was terrific. Vladimir Ashkenazy said hugely admiring things about his conducting, which is indeed very fine, just as Bernstein’s was. Like Bernstein, he also played the piano superbly. Liek Bernstein, he excelled as a populariser of classical music on TV. But: no tunes. Had there been any great Previn tunes, we would have heard them.
He didn’t seem that bothered about it, or about anything really, aside from a brief and unhappy time bossing the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He preferred the LSO. In LA, he was a side-show, outshone by Hollywood, and hated it. In London he was Hollywood. By any other reckoning aside from making great tunes, Previn has had a superb life.
Nor, so far as I am aware, are there any amusing Previn verses.
Saturn does flat very well, doesn’t it?
My Canon PowerShot S5 IS can’t manage this kind of thing very well, but when I get myself a DLSR ...
Lebrecht writes about the place in the history of classical music of London:
in the premier league of music capitals, London struggles for recognition beside Vienna, Paris and Milan. It is regarded as a bit of a parvenu, a place of skimpy traditions, capital of what Germans used to call the Land Without Music.
None of the three Bs - Bach Beethoven, Brahms - ever set foot on British soil and no symphonic genius was born within city limits. London lacks the history, the opus numbers and well-trod tourist trail to match the legends of European heritage. These prejudices are inarguable, yet the premise on which they are founded wilfully distorts the unique place that London occupies in the evolution of western music.
So what if we had no three Bs? Bach’s brightest son, Johann Christian, lived and composed here for 20 years and London commissioned Beethoven to write his ninth symphony. Every other musical genius has spent formative time in London - Mozart, Verdi, Chopin, Berlioz, Liszt, Wagner, Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Bartok, Schoenberg, Gershwin, Janacek and Ravel, down to the age of budget flights. Gounod took asylum here from the Franco-Prussian War, Nikolai Medtner from the Russian Revolution, Roberto Gerhard from Spanish Fascism and Andrzej Panufnik from Polish Stalinism.
For more than three centuries, London has been the world’s clearinghouse for musical ideas, a refuge for displaced talent and the prototype of a viable arts economy. Classical music’s most appealing image is a packed Royal Albert Hall at the Proms; the most visited shrine is the street wall of Abbey Road studios; and wherever the next wave is going to break it won’t be in Vienna, Paris or Milan.
Lebrecht chooses now to write about London because Handel, who died exactly two hundred and fifty years ago, inevitably looms large in his story:
Handel, who came to London in 1712 at the age of 27 and lived here until his death on April 14, 1759, has left the most visible legacy. His combustible, manic-depressive personality matched Samuel Johnson’s for gossip fodder and his gargantuan appetites for food and work were liberally caricatured. Handel has a monument in Westminster Abbey and the last of his residences on Brook Street was turned eight years ago into the Handel House Museum, a quaint anomaly beside the designer dens of Bond Street.
Handel is being made much of just now by Radio 3, and very properly so. I have mostly resisted his charms, but for bad reasons, I am finally realising. He was rich and successful, and he loved to eat. He was, in other words, a rather typical bourgeois entrepreneur, who happened also to be a magically effective composer. Ancient prejudices against artists being too successful and too much in control of the emotions they portray and evoke so skilfully, soaked up from my pre-self-consciously-libertarian childhood during which I responded too respectfully to the pronouncements of anti-bourgeois and anti-capitalist cultural commentators, have been allowed by me to linger unexamined for too long. Handel’s music is very fine.
A key turning point for me was hearing a magical performance, a few weeks ago on Radio 3, of Handel’s magical aria, “Waft her, angels, through the skies ...”, from the oratorio Jephtha, given by magical tenor Mark Padmore. I immediately bought the CD, and have been regularly listening to this particular track especially ever since. I have not got myself organised with musical downloads from the internet. But if you are so organised, I warmly recommend this particular track, a snip at 79p from Amazon.
And here is my most interesting recent Billion Monkey snap:
The interesting bit is that while I was taking it a taxi got in the way. I was angry, until I looked at my little camera screen and saw what had happened.
Because somebody recently commented on this posting I recently relistened to the recorded conversation I did with my friend Bruce the Real Photographer, and as I said to Bruce the Real Photographer during that, Real Photographers think of the shot they will most like and then systematically contrive that shot, while we Billion Monkeys just snap away pretty much at random and then pick the shots we most like.
UPDATE: Billion Monkey Monk!
I have a busy day today, but have realised that if you say something like I’ve got some Guido pictures which I will stick up at my blog Real Soon Now, then stick your Guido pictures up at your blog Real Soon Now is what you had jolly well better do, before the Sunday Mirror writes an article saying that Guido has hacked into your hard disc and scrubbed everything, or that you pushed the wrong button and scrubbed them yourself.
I probably have others, but the only Guido snaps I have found so far were taken at the launch party for the Globaliz(s?)ation Institute on July 19th 2005. All were taken in the space of the same minute, and all turned out okay. They are consecutively numbered, so there were no others that I scrubbed in between the first and the last. All of which speaks well of the Canon PowerShot S1 IS on which they were taken. Click on all of the below to make them bigger.
The Globalis(z?)ation Institute was started but later stopped by Alex Singleton, who now writes/blogs for the (now much denounced by Guido-worshippers) Telegraph, although on the blogging front he’s been a bit quiet lately. Maybe he is concentrating on leader writing. Maybe he is in a basement somewhere, tied up, where they’ve put him for knowing too much about Guido, and for having liked him. You can see Alex in the right foreground of the snap where Guido is himself snapping.
I already used the Guido snapping snap in this very early posting here, although without blowing Guido’s cover. All I said was that he was the bloke who was running some other Global Something or Other Thing, as indeed he was at that time.
Bloggers: copy and reproduce at will, should you wish to, with or without attribution, it’s up to you. If any of these snaps do take on a life of their own, my bet would bet on the final one, in which Guido stares straight at my Canon S1 IS, as if saying “I own you - you are nothing to me - an object”, in the way John Travolta made Danny de Vito do in Get Shorty. If anyone wants a snap to illustrate how You Don’t Want Guido As An Enemy (and you really don’t, do you?), this would surely do very nicely. Although probably what Guido was really thinking was something more like: I wonder where I can get another drink.
The interesting thing about this particular clutch of snaps is how many clever looking young men and women are to be seen in them, whom I had never met before and whom I have never met since. My guess is that older, fatter and more haggard versions of these then Bright Young Things will be popping up on the news in the years to come, revealing themselves to be People of Significance.
Cool people don’t take snaps at cool parties. Only uncool twats do. But as the years go by, if you were such an uncool twat at such an event, you can feel your temperature going steadily down, until eventually you’re the only cool one who was there. Apart from Guido, obviously. He is now in the vicinity of Absolute Zero, and looks like remaining there for some while yet. (Who will play Guido in the movie?)
Here are snaps of some of the Bright Young Ladies that I exhibited at the time. (The actual baby is one of Guido’s, by the way.)
Photos, to put it another way, are like wine. You take them, and then just leave most of them in your hard disc stroke wine cellar. Years later, provided you have not cocked up the labeling, some of them become quite significant, and more and more of them as the years go by.
Today a friend of mine was selling the Vita-Mix 5000 blender, at the Incredible Veggie Show, in the Royal Horticultural Hall, London SW1, a short walk away from my home. So I went to see her in action.
It was quite a performance, and it’s quite a product. I was impressed.
It makes tasty and nutritious fruit sludge. much like an Innocent smoothy but a whole lot cheaper. It makes tasty and nutritious hot soup, equally cheaply, which it cooks by just blending it more ferociously than it blends the fruit sludge. It even, if you have a deep freeze machine, makes ice cream, kind of, although it seemed more like sorbet to me. But maybe that’s because veggies don’t allow cream.
People are now economising on fancy restaurants, and in is the new out. But if restaurant prices are now beyond more people’s reach, food prices are also rising fast. So, a blender, I conjecture, is a household gadget now mutating fast in the UK from luxury to necessity, as I’m guessing it already has in the USA. The Vita-Mix 5000 is the best blender there is, at any rate according to Vita-Mix, and my friend actually agrees, in private as well as in public. All of which means that it is selling like crazy, even in these straightened times, even because of them. The stand where my friend was demonstrating was mobbed all day by people who were, judging by what I heard them saying to each other, as impressed as I was. Today, my friend and her colleague between them sold twenty two.
Just as with a computer, the Vita-Mix 5000 comes with copious documentation, telling you how to perform the above and other miracles. At nearly £400 it doesn’t come cheap, but when I can, I think I’m going to get one.
Incoming from James Hamilton:
Brian - if you haven’t seen this already:
The bigger original is here.
I love the way people look when they are concentrating hard on doing things, which includes taking photos, which includes taking photos of themselves in the mirror.
Indeed, except that this picture used to be at Instapundit but now isn’t:
A beautiful young woman expressing implausible enthusiasm for a gadget with a face, even though vehicles are rather cheating because they automatically have two eyes and are automatically symmetrical.
Will it really become the favored car of hot blondes with bare midriffs?
And will I be set upon by American lawyers demanding that the picture be removed, leaving only incomprehensible text? If that happens, the picture will still be here.
Headache. Going to bed. Quota photo:
No tree would ever look like this in the wild, I don’t believe. They seem to cut them back in a rather peculiar way, a bit like show dogs, and then allow greenery.
Today I was out and about, and wore sandals with no socks. Didn’t regret the decision. Regretted only having to lug a jumper around with me. Lovely.
I have just been commenting over at Samizdata, on this. Johnathan Pearce links to this article, and Guido Fawkes himself commented that the Telegraph got that story from his blog two days ago, while somehow neglecting to mention the fact. Indeed..
My first comment, with some links added:
Yeah (Guido), just what I was going to say.
The spat between Guido and the Telegraph is almost as much fun to watch as the one between Gordon Brown and the rest of the universe, prompted by Guido.
The way Guido is treated in the article JP links to amounts to a blatant lie. By omission, admittedly, but still a lie. Guido is mentioned, but not as the source of the story! The DT (perhaps henceforth the Daily Telegraph should be known as the Delirium Tremens) just happened to hear about the story, from some completely random and different source! Tossers. One of the best things about the blogosphere is that this kind of lying by the media can be nailed up and hung out to dry.
In general, I like how media people are now reported, accurately, as active participants in these stories. They are, for example, active participants in power politics, because journos are junior members, sometimes quite senior members, of political cabals. When the newspapers were unchallenged by blogs, newspapers all wrote about themselves as mere observers of events, rather than as often being also shapers and provokers of events. Another lie, this time a seriously big one.
Don’t miss Guido’s classic comic vignette of him having a run-in with a bloke from the New Statesman, who, Guido makes quite clear, is part of the Derek Draper gang but doesn’t want it talked about! I’ll bet he doesn’t.
Janet Daley, bitterly looking for points to make to defend her beloved old DT, today makes the point, already made by Tim Montgomerie, that Guido may be an uberblogger, but he chose (had to choose?) an old-school dead-tree newspaper to actually break the stuff. Yes, good point. Guess: something to do with the libel laws? After all, when the News of the World published these emails, full of smears, that was the first time they were really, you know, published. Just passing on what we’ve read isn’t a libel defence, is it?
See also Toby Young, whom Guido links to, on how Guido probably waited to see if these smears would actually materialise of their own accord. As he says, Guido then saying where the smears came from would really have been an explosion.
It is becoming clear to me that this story is actually only non-trivial because so many people already know that this is the kind of bastard Brown is, and has been all along. And these are the kinds of bastards he has knowingly used all along. It is not an aberration, this is business as usual. And, we know.
If it had only been an aberration, sacking the emailers might have more than sufficed. In fact, their defence, that we only emailed about it, we never actually did it, might also have worked. But, everyone knows that this is a mere symptom, and now the questions just will not stop.
Brown made his first mistake immediately, long before this embarrassing non-apology thing. Instead of simply saying that he knew nothing of the emails, which was very probably also a lie but rather hard work to nail, he made what could prove the fatal error of going further and saying that in his opinion this kind of thing had no place in politics blah blah. Lie. Brown is so used to flannelling thus, that he didn’t realise until too late just what he was attempting to say. As we all know, he does this kind of thing, and his henchmen do this kind of thing, all the time. We all know it. In Brown’s opinion, this sort of nastiness is central to politics. And this lie about his opinions opens up the entire can of worms (see in particular Iain Dale for news of the worms in Scotland and Wales) for the dog pack to bark at Brown about. (Sorry for the metaphor mixing there.)
Brown is nothing if not a stubborn old bastard, but I really think that this time his resignation might only be days away. That is, we might be only days away from about half a dozen Labour Big Beasts saying: GO!! Oh, they’ll be polite. They won’t say: fuck off you mad bastard. They’ll say: great and noble as you have been, indeed are, your position has, because of to the scurrilous nature of what passes for political commentary these days, blah blah blah, your noble work saving the world, blah blah blah, tragedy, blah blah blah ...: go. The point being, if the Labour Party does not sack this horrible man, then that makes them terminally horrible too.
And the good news is that this might cause all the financial chaos to be dealt with just that tiny bit less catastrophically. Remember all that?
And now, I think I’ll copy all that and stick it on my personal blog.
Another commenter also queried why the DT refers to Guido’s as a “the Tory blog”. And JP asked, in general, of the DT, what gives? Here’s my second comment:
The Telegraph, what gives?
Well, I don’t know the full story, but here are two bits of it, I think.
First there is the already well-understood problem being faced by all newspapers nowadays, that their advertising revenue is falling off the cliff. It’s not so much that blog reporting is snapping at dead-tree heals (oh god more mixed metaphors) so much as blogs pouring into territory already being vacated by the newspapers for other reasons, money reasons. The DT has, simply, sacked lots of rather good journos, and tried to replace them with fewer and worse ones.
But second, the pro-Labour rot, if rot it be, set in a long time ago. Remember when New Labour ex-heavyweight Sion Simon used to write for the DT?
Some time around 1997, before or after May 1st, the DT had a big think, and decided that the old ruling class that they used to stick up for, the one that wore tweed suits and went to posh schools and shot things at the weekend, had now been replaced by a new ruling class. As indeed it had. Should the DT stick with the mere principles it had used to defend the old ruling class (things like sticking up for free markets, at least in animal killing and the like), or go with the principle that the DT sticks up for the ruling class, whoever it happens to be? They decided, at the very least, to hedge their bets, and to make nice with the new ruling class.
Hence their present very half-hearted and incompetent water-carrying for the present government.
By the way, of all the stuff now going on, the thing that would most have pleased the late Chris Tame (JP has already mentioned the possibility of him gazing down happily on all this broohaha) is the way the DT is now getting such a sandbagging, and at the hands of a hardcore libertarian, who is a type of person the DT has spent decades pretending did not exist (because both ruling classes, the old and the new, preferred this pretence also). As an earlier commenter notes, they are still, pathetically, keeping on with this pretence, by calling Guido a Tory. Never mind the idiotic ideological animus this reveals, still; it is insanely inaccurate reporting!
The general public won’t now be noticing, but its core readership (the people who do not care for the present ruling class one little bit) are definitely noticing all this patheticness, and this spells doom for them.
Chris really hated the DT. I think you can see why.
I really want my next camera to be my last, apart from later, sneaky, very cheap, very small ones that we all buy when all photography they can see you doing becomes illegal outside your own living room. And so far, the best looking option was the Olympus E-620.
But the trouble is, I really want a good camera, for taking things like dazzlingly detailed views of London where every tiny detail comes out perfect, and everywhere I go I hear the same story: Canon, Nikon. Canon, Nikon. Canon Canon Canon. Nikon Nikon Nikon. All the rest are pale substitutes. Canon and Nikon are brilliant cameras, and have an infinite range of superb lenses. The others: not.
So, the news that Nikon are producing, well, a Nikon, with a twiddly and see the picture beforehand screen, is, for me, stunning news. Finally, the makers of serious cameras are getting that these twiddly screens are (a) no problem to add, (b) no problem if you don’t want to use them, and (c) really great for all those who think they’re great and do want to use them. Like me. Basically, the rumour is that it is a twiddly-screened D90, which makes it very good.
It’s the small hours of this morning now, and as of now, this is only a rather strong rumour. The rumour looks like it will be confirmed in the bigger hours of this morning.
Do these thoughts make sense? Am I right that a Nikon is sure to be better than an Olympus? At the very least, this gives me a choice. And surely Canon will follow suit some time rather soon, yes?
Yesterday morning I put this in a hastily done tribute to the Great Guido:
Guido ... greets threats with genuine pleasure. What did you just say, mate? Yeah that’s what I thought you said. I love it! And the creature who did the threatening has accomplished a minus quantity ...
She liked that bit too.
So anyway, now read this. The scenario is not identical, because Guido is not being threatened exactly, but the bloke asking the question now looks like a total loon. I mean, what the blazes is the point of asking if someone has connections with an intelligence service? Because you see, the one thing the total loon in question did not see coming was that Guido would shove this piece of surreal dialogue up on his blog, on this day of all days when the very Prime Minister himself is, thanks to Guido, tottering. You just never know what Guido will do next!
Presumably the question about Guido having spook connections - and of course he has spook connections, so does everyone who is anyone - was aimed at throwing some darkness on the matter of how Guido got The Emails. Best guess I’ve read is that it was via Unite, the union where the much hated Charlie Whelan, who was cc-ed The Emails, now practises his evil craft.
The question (see previous posting but one) gets more serious by the hour: Who will play Guido in the movie?
You have to love Guido. He should be on a plinth in Trafalgar Square.
Is anyone else on the right of British politics now admired so much, by so many? Who will play him in the film?
Samizdata couldn’t let the day pass without climbing aboard the Guido bandwaggon, and since nobody else seemed to be home, that was my main blogging activity today. The trivia shovelling that I mostly do here will just have to wait.
UPDATE Sunday: A Guido obituary.
My rant about advertising got bounced back to her readers by the ultra-clever woman who thought of most of it in the first place. According to her, there was even something vaguely original in it. Www-o-www.
The thing about that piece I liked was that I finally sorted out in my own brain how come I could have the following two things in it at the same time. First, I love old-school advertising, having even written a piece in the old pre-www days about how there ought to be more of it (although trying to link to it I now realise that this is one of the few Libertarian Alliance products that is still not www-ed). More to the point, I love commerce. I’m a libertarian, so of course I do! But second, the www is destroying old-school advertising by enabling customers to talk amongst themselves and by not supporting much in the way of what I suppose we might call “new-school advertising”, i.e. white blackness, dry wetness, etc.. Answer: the www changes advertising in the same kind of abrupt way that it changed the give-it-away pamphleteering that I used to do for the Libertarian Alliance, only in the opposite direction. Give-it-away pamphleteering went from something requiring extreme cunning and cleverness and effort to something that anyone could do. Advertising went from big-business on the up-and-up to big-business on the down-and-down. From a world in which it made sense to want more advertising, for things not then advertised which should have been, we moved with great suddenness to a world where advertising was just beside the point. You have a point? So start a blog and make it. Who needs advertising?
Anyway, all this is a preamble to a new kind of posting I am now going to do quite a bit of, having done one such posting already. Expect, over the next few days and weeks, to see internet adverts here. These will be unpaid, copied, shrunk to fit my width as necessary, put up without permission, and they will preferably be examples of the flat picture genre. Like this:
... which you can even click on from here, and which I found adorning a Neatorama posting about insanely big Soviet projects which was linked to today by David Thompson. (By the way, talking of DT’s latest clutch of Friday ephemara see also: this.)
I will feature, in a post-modernistically ironic way, adverts that are completely not likely to be of any interest to my sort of readers. I don’t expect any commenters to be saying: actually thanks to you I bought one and it was rather tasty, or some such. But sooner or later that might happen, I suppose, if I keep on with this. For, as is usual here, I promise nothing.
One consequences may be that casual passers-by will think that these adverts are real, i.e. paid for, and that therefore I am an A-list high-traffic high-intensity blogger rather than a kitten-blogger, but that some of these passers-by will hang around after they realise this isn’t so, because they like it here.
But the basic idea is to have some fun and just generally throw little rocks into the pond that we call “life”, and see what happens. As a result, I hope to learn things about advertising, the www, etc. that I didn’t know before. Will I be legally threatened? Will there be mad incoming emails written in advert-lingo by besuited drones? Will I be offered free samples? Will I be legally threated and offered free samples? My guess: nothing. But, we’ll see. Maybe. If I keep up with this.
My particular hate with this dog food advert is the word “register”, which to me means: please put my name and address on five computers and spam me for the rest of my life and in fact for quite a few years after it has ended with semi-related propaganda about semi-related products. Or: I am now arriving at a hotel and the hotel now has to tell the government about that, like we’re all Edward Fox in The Day of the Jackal. Why do you have to “register” to buy doggy food?
Risk number two in this quote (from this) is my nomination for the understatement of the century so far:
Seasteading is far from certain to succeed, but this is a hard problem, and there will be no easy answer. Two of the greatest risks are the expense and danger of the marine environment, and the chance that states will interfere.
The chance? Make that the certainty.
Thoughts like this are on my mind, because I spent quite a bit of my time today thinking about a talk I’ll be giving tomorrow evening about Chris Tame. Chris always used to say, and I always agreed (because I always did and definitely still do), that the future victories of libertarianism will either happen slowly, or not at all. You have to be patient, and Patri Friedman is a classic impatient type, of the sort Chris would have said was, well, being impatient. Friedman is impatient with the slow drudgery of converting people, with talk, with books, with articles, with blogs, and all that tedious jazzamatazz. So, he is into seasteading.
But seasteading will only flourish if there are enough landlubber libertarians out there to (as they say in the USA) run interference for it, by arguing against their various governments wanting to shut it down, mostly by publicising that this is what they are trying to do and threatening to publicise it some more if they do. This was how communism got stuck in and started, and contrived for itself its various doomed chances to work. At that, at least, it succeeded triumphantly. It erupted in a few places, and in all other places it had sympathisers. Weight of numbers and weight of argument, in other words. All of which took a hell of a long time to contrive.
Libertarianism is now, I suspect, spreading faster than ever before, not least because of this latest round of financial chaos, which has by no means yet run its course, and which, far from vindicating the present clutch of statist policies being deployed to deal with it, is at least as likely instead to be utterly discrediting these policies, at least in a sufficient number of people’s eyes to get libertarianism seriously in business as a mass movement.
The other funny thing about Patri Friedman’s article is that it is an article about how articles don’t work. So, why write it? Why not just get on with the seasteading? Answer, because him just seasteading, without writing about it and persuading people of what a good idea it might be, just wouldn’t work. So, you see, he’s back to spreading ideas. Just like the rest of us. Luckily, he’s pretty good at it. It runs in his family.
Lebrecht writes about Lang Lang:
At nine, he failed an audition to the Beijing Conservatory and was ordered by his father to swallow a bottle of pills and kill himself. Failure, after all the family’s efforts on his behalf, was not to be tolerated. Lang Lang told me this story two years ago in a BBC studio and the air froze. He could not see why I found it strange that he should remain devoted to his tyrannical parent and he was unable to offer any resolution to their collision, beyond saying that they did not speak for a month after the incident. When he played his first recital at Carnegie Hall, he brought his austere father on stage for an encore.
But he didn’t swallow the pills, did he? And father relented. Failure was tolerated.
But, no wonder he wacks hell out of a piano and they call him “Bang Bang”.
What started here on Saturday as a discussion of the PurseBook turned, in the comments, into a comparison between my little laptop, Jesus (i.e. the original Eee-PC), and the Samsung version of the netbook, the NC-10. So yesterday, I went looking for the now highly recommended NC10, to see how the two devices compared. In one of the Micro Anvika shops in Tottenham Court Road, they were kind enough to let me photo the two side by side:
I confirm that the keyboard on the NC10 is just within the comfortable range of a small-handed touch typist like me, whereas Jesus’s keyboard is just too small.
The other key difference is screen size, and I’ve done a little photoshop(clone)ping to highlight the difference. (Ideally, I should have switched Jesus on, but I only realised this too late.) Jesus’s screen is really very small by comparison, as I hope you can see. Equally pertinent, the Samsung screen looks to be quite a bit better and more detailed. Certainly Windows look very fine on it, far better than cludgy Linux looks on Jesus.
I’m a very bad judge of weight, but I was a teeny bit disappointed by the admittedly quite light NC10, having expected something more dramatically light, more like a Christmas card than a regular laptop. But, the weight is certainly not a problem.
I don’t regret getting Jesus. He served me well during my recent frenzy of mobility at the time of my Mum’s death and then funeral. Above all, Jesus cured me of any hankerings towards using Linux for serious everyday life. But, put it this way: you can now buy Jesus for under £150 quid new in a London shop, which is way less than half what the shops are charging for the NC10. I reiterate the offer I made in my previous posting. Hundred quid laptop anyone?
For just a bit more, and if you don’t mind lugging around something just that bit bigger and heavier, you might prefer the NC20.
I love to photo crane clusters, the ultimate in unselfconscious aerial urban clutter. And today I encountered a beauty, just to the south east of Centre Point, which is at the junction of Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road. They’re building the inevitable agglomeration of shops, hotels, offices, flats, whatever, and I’m sure when it’s finished it will be impeccably dull. But meanwhile, it looks like this!:
I like them because there are lots of them. And I like them because they are bright red.
ADDENDUM Tuesday morning: On second thoughts, maybe the following snap, taken seconds before the above one, tells the story a bit better:
The first snap is, I think, maybe, somewhat more artistic. The sheer tumult of it all is better conveyed by letting craneness fill almost the entire picture. But there is more to photography on blogs than art. There is the matter of telling people what is going on. And telling me what was going on when I look back at such snaps, perhaps comparing them with how the finished object turned out.
Nothing much from me here this weekend, or not since the small hours of Saturday morning. But a couple of bits at Samizdata, about cricket, and about crime (that’s if you agree that Taxation is Theft).
Sounds like the ultimate idiot toy.
This (the device is elaborated on here) . . .
. . . has always struck me as a mobile computer shape with a huge future. Wide enough to have a proper (i.e. wide enough) keyboard, yet thin enough to fit in your pocket like a wallet, although by the look of it, this particular one is still too wide to be a wallet. This photo makes it look better in this respect than it really is. Oh, and cheap enough to not be bloody ridiculous like those bloody ridiculous Sony Vaios. (Recently I read that Sony were complaining that cheap netbooks were diverting computer design away from true progress. Prats. The cheapness is the progress.)
People have been doing things like this PurseBook for years, but the configuration has never quite stuck. Now, because small computers have suddenly become seriously powerful and hence actually useful and worth buying by others besides geeks, it just might.
What’s needed is some attention to graphics. I was really impressed when Michael J showed me his iPhone not long ago, which, because it has such a tiny screen, has – and has to have – superbly legible lettering. Nice bold Helvetica-like lettering that you can easily read, despite being tiny, quite unlike the spindly and illegible stuff that used to be considered sufficient. Thank you (I strongly suspect) Steve Jobs. Such lettering now seems to have immediately become ubiquitous on all iPhone clones. Everyone saw it, and just said yes, that’s how you do it. These PurseBooks need a similar graphic breakthrough. They need lettering that economises heroically on vertical space, but which makes use of the relatively generous width to do it.
One day, the screens of such computers will unroll up from the top of the keyboard, or perhaps just appear in the air, as big as you want and exactly where you want, projected onto the air molecules in a way that you can see clearly but which others can’t so they won’t be bothered. Problem solved.
Regular commenter-on, linker-to and quoter-of postings here Lynn has a posting up at her place about comments, and how she’d like more. So go there and comment! Now that I’ve said that, please, please do go there and comment, because if nobody from here now does, I will look silly. And you wouldn’t want that, would you?
Whether any of you lot do comment there or not, others have, and my favourite comment so far includes this:
. . . the reason you don’t get comments on your thoughtful posts is you make your points in a solid enough fashion that there’s not much left for commenters to say except “great post!”, and no one wants to leave that comment, because it sounds lame.
So now you know, bloggers of the world, why so many of your postings get no comments at all. They say it all, superbly, and there is simply nothing to add.
Yes it’s My God Has He Really Photoed That? and yes he has:
Out there in Normal World, WWW means the internet. But here at Brian Micklethwait Dot Com it means someone’s taken a hat trick, and cricket fans have all the information there that they need to work out who. Go Freddy!!!
The consensus is that England are rubbish at one day cricket, and now they’ve just beaten the Windies, in the Windies. So what does that make the Windies? Actually the explanation of this is simple. One day cricket is much more of a game of chance than is test cricket. On the day, anyone can win. And England just did.
This is strictly one of those “well I like it” postings, and, well, I do like it. I do love that Wheel, and can never not snap it whenever I look up and see it, somewhere or other, and especially if peculiar and weird things are in the foreground, or just generally in the shot. This time where I am is on the down river Hungerford footbridge, looking through the side of the old railway bridge which is now in between the two new footbridges.
The one on the left was taken seconds before the one on the right. I was always trying to take the one on the right, but the one on the left was the first thing that happened, so I had to do it again. The final version is one of those snaps that actually, in the sense that the blurry grid in the foreground is more easily seen, when look at a very small version of the picture. So, that’s what I’ve done with it, and with the other to make it a matching pare. Click on either to get them bigger. (I needed another sentence here to make this posting look nicer, and this is it, although I then had to make it longer.)
This is one of those cases where your eyes see things one way, and the camera in quite different ways.
Here’s another Wheel snap, taken a bit later the same (last Wednesday), this time with the scaffolded top of the Big Bastard hotel that’s being built near Waterloo Station, in the middle of the roundabout across Westminster Bridge from Parliament.
And since I am on the subject of the Wheel Plus Other Stuff, there, on the right is another Wheel snap, this time taken from the bar in the top of the National Portrait Gallery, to which Elena the Struggling Actress took me earlier that same day. That roof in the foreground may (but may not) be something to do with the nearby National Gallery, but what do I know?
I keep meaning to settle down and reorganise lots of my snaps by Landmark instead of just by Date, so I can show a big set of, e.g. this Wheel, from all sorts of different places, with all manner of strange stuff also in view, to stop it being a straight tourist picture. Well, maybe. But I promise nothing.
I am always on the lookout for Fixed Quantity Of theories, ever since I wrote a pamphlet for the Libertarian Alliance called The Fixed Quantity of Wealth Fallacy. And I have long felt that I was observing another of these amongst advertisers and their defenders, in the form of a Fixed Quantity of Advertising Money. I claim no originality for any of this thinking. My Guru on this, Adriana Lukas, has been telling me stuff like this for years. What I have in mind is the notion that there is this great gob of money that is just Out There, to advertise stuff, and It Has To Go Somewhere.
No it doesn’t. What if, as Adriana herself has long been saying, advertising just shrinks, from Capital A Advertising back to plain old old-school advertising, to the emission of product information and specs, accompanied by puff from the makers explaining why they made it and why they hope it will do well and who they think might like it and might like to buy it, just put on some internet notice board somewhere, for people to link to and talk about and agree with and disagree with and generally pass it on if they’re interested. Because you see, all those billboards and telly ads and full page spreads in the newspapers are not just being switched off. They are not being replaced on anything like a sufficient scale to keep everyone in the puffery trade still puffing along in the manner they used to be accustomed to.
In a way it’s the old hippy dream, first publicised by the likes of Vance Packard in the 1950s, that advertising would just stop, and simply be replaced by people just making stuff, and other people just buying it if they wanted it. Capitalism eh? You make impossible demands of it, and then the damn thing does it!
Personally, I am finding that the capital A Advertising that has dominated the last half century still works okay, in those places where it always did work okay. Works okay as in: does not annoy me. (Whether it still sells me stuff on the same old scale is a different story. I guess: not.) I don’t have a problem with movie posters in the London Underground, or big signs next to motorways or on the side of buses. But I find “internet advertising” very irritating.
Interestingly, when I am surfing, I find myself making a distinction between Real Adverts and “internet adverts”. Real Adverts are adverts that I have already seen in the Underground or wherever, simply reproduced on internet sites. Thus, for instance, I have recently been noticing internet adverts for Quantum of Solace, which are graphically identical to the real adverts that you see out in Real Advert World, i.e in the Underground and on billboards in the street. To this QoS advert, I do pay some vaguely respectful attention, in among being annoyed by how it is placing itself in my way and demanding my attention - which I suppose must supply a quantum of solace to old-school advertisers. But any advert that is only on the internet, I find absolutely worthless. Total junk. Nothing but interruption between me and what I am actually trying to pay attention to.
Much seems to hinge in the advertising trade on the notion of “targetted” advertising. I find targetted adverts particularly annoying, and particularly uninformative.
The point is, whenever I now see an internet advert which I have not seen in Real Advert Space, I don’t know if it is a Real Advert (like that QoS one), or merely an advert targetted at me. And if it is targetted at me, then to hell with it. If someone is only saying this to me, then I’m almost certainly not interested. What I want to know about is what someone rich thinks it worth his while to say to everybody. It is exactly the untargetted nature of old-fashioned adverts, Real Adverts in Real Advert Space, that makes them so useful and amusing to me. Untargetted adverts are Real Adverts. Targetted adverts are visual spam.
Untargetted adverts are adverts which I know to be very expensive. What they tell me is that this product, and this Real Advert, are things that lots of other people besides me are interested in, or things that someone with a lot of money to burn thinks that lots of people besides me will be interested in or might be interested in. But if I see an advert at the top of a blog or website that I have only seen on blogs or websites, how do I know how it got there? Is this on this blog for everyone? Or: just for me, and for all the other people on some rather small list that merely happens to include me? Don’t know. So, even if it actually is a Real Advert, being bombed at everyone who reads this bit of the internet, I screen it out. Basically, what I am saying is: I hate internet advertising, because I learn nothing from it. It is not just interruption. Interruption is all it is.
Advertising still works, in Real Advert Space, in such places as the Underground or Trafalgar Square or an airport or beside the motorway - in the sense, as I say, that it does not induce active hostility. But the internet is not a “public space”. It is my personal space, or something, or I don’t quite know what. Whatever it is exactly, the internet is certainly not a giant collection of Undergrounds and Trafalgar Squares. What works on the internet is someone talking to me, or writing talkatively for me, in a manner that I can easily switch off and can choose to go on listening to. Perhaps a bloke is talking about some new product about which he is genuinely enthusiastic or intrigued by or admiring of, because he just is, not because he has been paid to say all this, any more than I am being paid by Adriana Lukas to puff her stuff. What absolutely does not work is some hired twat dripping with insincerity, whom I know nothing about except this, standing right next to me and the person who is now talking with me so amusingly, and shouting into my ear - because the hired twat has “targetted” me.
From time to time I get emails from people wanting, or saying that they are wanting (who knows the real story? - what if they are just compiling a list of suckers to bombard with penis enlargement emails) to advertise on my blog. The answer to all of these people is: no.
If I want more money, I’ll try to do more paid work or try to spend less of what I have on classical CDs. I will not clamber aboard the sinking ship that is the capital A Advertising Industry.
Any adverts you seen here, Real Adverts or internet adverts, will have been put here by me because I consider them to be in some way interesting. No money will have changed hands.
So, for instance, if I include this piece of foolishness (which I came across at the top of this ...
... it is because it was easy to copy and reduce, and because it gives me the chance to mock the bit of it that says “Where the conversation begins”. (These twats still seem to imagine that conversations can’t begin without them.) Nobody paid me.
And here is another advert, which I actually quite like, which I snapped in the Underground:
I like it because, based on the snippets I’ve seen of it so far, I am going to rather like Michael Sheen’s turn as football management legend Brian Clough, and am looking forward to recording it when it comes out on telly and adding it to my home-made DVD collection.
On the other hand, the examples of internet advertising I have supplied in this are woefully insufficient to make my point. Which sort of is my point, because in the normal course of things I literally don’t see them, as anything but something to be scrolled past or swatted aside. While searching rather pointlessly for actual examples of such interruptions, I discovered something which rather proves the point some more. In my bit of the internet, there really isn’t much advertising to be seen. Which would rather suggest that it isn’t worth anyone’s while to be doing it.
I didn’t hear Kevin Dowd’s lecture live, but I did show up for some of the socialising afterwards, to do a bit of networking and generally to suss out how well it had gone (well). And there I met with James Tyler, who told me then about the speech he was going to give about sound (i.e. free market) money last night at Policy Exchange. This talk got flagged-up beforehand yesterday at Guido’s:
So Guido is looking forward to James Tyler’s speech tonight at Policy Exchange. Little known outside the City’s money markets - in which he is one of the largest and most invisible players - he is going to sound the cry for sound money in terms that Hayek would approve.
I have left this comment, which is now “awaiting moderation”, so I recycle it here:
Well done. Only sorry I couldn’t be there. . . .
That’s right. I wasn’t able to get to this event either.
. . . And congratulations on the mention at Guido’s, which will do wonders for the impact of these wise words. The usual sneer about clevernesses to do with economics, and in particular to do with money, is: If he’s so smart, why ain’t he rich? It would appear that, if what Guido says is right, you are rich.
Time was when a talk like this would sink without any trace beyond the memories of the tiny few true believers present. Now, it gets given, Guido plugs it, and voilà. There’s nothing anyone else can then do to stop it being noticed, because ignoring such a thing is no longer something any one person can now effectively do, however powerful he may still remain. The gates are no longer being kept. When something of potential significance is ignored, that’s something a sufficiently unanimous group of people merely refrain from doing, and such unanimity has now been ended, hopefully for ever.
UPDATE: Comment number one on this is from Guido, and says this:
James Tyler gave a speech to Policy exchange calling for a free banking solution to the credit crisis. He wasn’t shouted down. 10% of the audience supported him.
The not being shouted down bit being just as important as the 10%. You can bet that in among the 90% are a lot of people who are now thinking about the notion, in a way they never had before.