Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Brian Micklethwait on Miguel aligns his message with his van
Natalie Solent on Miguel aligns his message with his van
Brian Micklethwait on Tate Modern is now fighting with its neighbours about privacy
Michael Jennings on Cyclists
Michael Jennings on Tate Modern is now fighting with its neighbours about privacy
Brian Micklethwait on Tate Modern is now fighting with its neighbours about privacy
Michael Jennings on Tate Modern is now fighting with its neighbours about privacy
Patrick Crozier on Cyclists
Brian Micklethwait on M20 bridge destroyed by passing digger
rob on M20 bridge destroyed by passing digger
Most recent entries
- Matt Ridley on how technology leads science (again)
- The wonderful things they’re doing with plastics nowadays
- The Big Parliament Tower and the Shard as seen from the Westminster Cathedral Tower
- 240 Blackfriars behind some reinforced concrete that is being demolished
- John Croft: Composition is not research
- The cuddly killer
- Strand Palace Hotel footbridge
- Harley Davidson - woman playing gramophone records
- Wooden Citroens and black baby dolls
- Brittany lighthouses
- Citroen correction
- When the people are the Art
- Ghost Bus
- Cats don’t smile
- Just the top of the BOT … but still instantly recognisable
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
I just caught the end of a QI repeat on Dave, and Stephen Fry revealed the following choice titbit of information. It seems that several decades ago, mechanical construction toys of the Meccano variety used to be sold in two forms. Box Standard, and Box Deluxe. Hence, he said, the expressions “bog standard” and “the dog’s bollock’s”.
Time for some googling bog standard dog’s bollocks. The very first entry is by a guy who says he’s not convinced, or rather who is convinced that the above is wrong. But, he doesn’t convince me. I prefer what Fry said.
Thanks to google, the www, etc., I quickly became completely bored by this subject. Trivial but unanswered questions are moderately amusing. Trivial answered questions have nothing good going for them at all, especially when the answer is: nobody really knows.
I like this comment, on this, from “Chris The Brief”, in connection with the Baroness Scotland housekeeper rumpus:
This government has created so many new criminal offences and civil penalties that it is delightful to see the Attorney General become a victim of its legislation. As a lawyer practising criminal defence I’ve been saying for years that it will in due course become the accepted norm in society to have a conviction or two. By ‘criminalising’ so many people (and in particular children), the rule of law is severely weakened and morality, good character and integrity become less and less important.
Although, I like how that starts more than how it finishes. Good character and integrity remain as important as ever. It’s just that the law ceases to be so good at helping us all assess these things. But the general drift of what CTB says is spot on.
Luckily, there is at least some limit to the amount of damage a deranged legal system can do to a wrongly stitched-up individual, who has done something wrong only according to the crazy legal system, but not according to the rest of us. If the rest of us think someone is innocent of wickedness even if convicted by the stupid legal system, we can contribute to their defence fund, visit them in prison, and now, write them up on our blogs.
To put the same point another way, surely the punishment of being sent to prison in the usual old-fashioned kind of way, for having done something wicked, is not just that prisons are horrible places to be in, even for a quite short time. It is that when you get out, your problems will have only just begun, and while in prison you will know this. But, if you commit a New Labour type non-crime, that won’t apply nearly so much. Instead of being welcomed back into the free world by stone-faced employers who refuse to employ you, and outraged former friends - even relatives - who no longer want anything to do with you, you will be welcomed back into the land of freedom as the put-upon hero that you are.
And to put the same point yet again, more generally: when the law is done well, it aligns itself with the informal power of the wider society. The law sends you to prison. The wider society then makes the rest of your life a misery also. But when the law is done by the likes of this Scotland woman, it challenges, and is challenged by, social power.
I wouldn’t have any problem with someone hiring an illegal immigrant to look after their home. I may well have done this myself. All sorts of Eastern European ladies have had the grim task of cleaning up after me, over the years. If any of them were illegal, I don’t give an aeronautically unchallenged act of heterosexual intercourse. I did nothing wrong, and they were all excellent people, better people than me, every one of them, and more than worthy of the sums of money I happily paid them. If any policeman wants to make something of that, well, that could be just the injection of excitement that this blog has long needed to bring it alive and propel it towards the big time. Which is all part of why the saner sort of policeman doesn’t want to enforce all these Scotland laws. Which in its turn is all part of how the law suffers. In theory, all kinds of things are now illegal. In reality, you can do them with impunity, so long as you don’t make the mistake of Looking At Someone Important in a Funny Way. Then, they find out what laws you are breaking, confident that you are breaking a few, and set to work ruining your life.
So, I really would not care whether Ms Scotland lied about seeing the relevant documentation of her maybe-illegal cleaner, were it not for the fact that she is part - rather an important part if her title is anything to go by (although I think people are probably exaggerating how much personal power she herself exercised in this matter) - of this horrible law-machine churning out legal chewing gum for us all to get caught up in.
The true culprit here is an idea, which says that if there is a problem then the politicians must do something. They must “crack down”, “take action”, and so on. And the only way for them to crack down and take action is to pass a new law, forbidding more stuff, and obligating more stuff.
Lots of other libertarians have blogged similar things in recent days. I don’t claim any originality here. Most opining about politics seems to consist, as here, of choosing which bits of commonsense to go with and which bits to denounce.
I am getting a grim satisfaction from reading this article, linked to today by Arts & Letters Daily, about the travails of the state of California. It’s good to understand things, no matter how depressing those things may be.
The Golden State’s signature optimism may be to blame: How else to explain the delusion that Californians could be taxed like libertarians, but subsidized like socialists? The result, of course, has been a fiscal crisis addressed with slashed spending on public services and increased taxes in the midst of a deep recession - a recipe for yet more discord and trouble. In a grim irony, Californians are now being taxed like socialists and subsidized like libertarians.
With the result, brought home vividly in an earlier paragraph, that:
… from 2004 to 2007 more people left California for Texas and Oklahoma than came west from those states to escape the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. California is in the midst of a man-made disaster.
It’s pleasing to see that this writer, Troy Senik, at least understands what libertarianism is (i.e. uses the word as I use it), and more importantly, assumes that his readers do also. So, some good news.
In Britain, libertarianism is perceived by many as the whining of underclass barbarians, entitled to their state pensions from their teens onwards, as of right, and their right from then on to behave as they please, while others pick up all the bills for the consequences. Libertinism without personal consequences and at public expense, you might say. Libertarianism is perceived, that is to say, as doing to ourselves just what California has done.
Just before my big summer break, I did a piece about Speaker Bercow, predicting the following:
Having grovelled all over the Labour Party to get the job, Bercow may now turn on their government, ...
He might, quoth clever little me:
… do another flip and turn himself into something worth another dozen seats to the Conservatives. He could be another fistful of nails in the Labour coffin.
Watch the looks on Labour faces very carefully, when they talk about Bercow during the dying months of their vile and plundering government, as he turns into yet another torment for them. If he does. And if he does, I’ll definitely be doing one of those I told you so postings, linking back smugly to this one.
And this is it, because, look what Bercow just said:
Says the strongly pro-Conservative Coffee House blog (to whom thanks for alerting me to this):
… Bercow’s statement indicates that despite the controversial circumstances of his election, he is not afraid to confront the people that put him there. He was the wrong man for the job, but he should be allowed to get on with it.
Wrong man. But: should be allowed to get on with it. From Gastly Little Man who grovelled all over the Labour Party to National Treasure who now grovels all over the new dispensation in waiting, in one paragraph.
I told you so.
One of the many things that gets me, in a good way, about capitalism is its attention to detail. So this morning, for instance, I was opening a plastic carton of milk. I unscrewed the green plastic cap off the top, and then settled down to the usual drama of scraping and scratching and gouging (sometimes I have even used tweezers to get past this barrier), at the end of which I would have penetrated the top of the carton and would be able to pour out milk. But this time it was different.
The bit that usually needs to be scraped and scratched and gouged instead had an extra bit of plastic attached. Momentarily I was confused. But then I grabbed it and pulled, just as it said, and off came the top.
I love how someone went out there and found out that people are having trouble with this bit of the milk opening process, and passed it on to the techies, and the techies solemnly settled down to devise a cheap and effective answer. Probably they copied a method already used with other products. Maybe they actually invented this device from scratch. Don’t know. Either way, when they had it, the factory was informed of the change and the materials lined up and the new procedure added in the production process, and finally, I get to use it. Soon, all the milk carton purveyors will be copying this.
It is with the constant accumulation of such tiny but genuine little improvements like this that capitalism relentlessly improves, to the point where, if you pile up enough such improvements, you get regular miracles, of the sort that everyone notices and blogs about.
Politics is the opposite. Political moves seem to be designed not so much to work, as to be boastable about, usually before and instead of them working. Political moves also tend to be too big and ambitious. Too much is bitten off, and is choked on rather than chewed. (Please forgive the eating metaphor in a piece of writing about actual nutritional consumption.)
As we enter the endgame of a government more than usually devoted to what is boastable about rather than to what actually works, my part of the blogosphere echoes particularly loudly with rage and complaint. I prefer, at least some of the time, to use a more positive way to complain about politics, by contrasting it with the better way to do things.
I am slowly reading through The Rest Is Noise by Alex Ross. Slowly, because this is too big a book to be lugging around on my travels in London, and my travels in London are when I do a lot of my reading. To any readers wanting to know more than they know now about twentieth century classical music and the people who composed it, I heartily recommend it. It requires no knowledge of musical notation or musical jargon to read, for one of the most notable features of the Ross achievement is that he is able to write descriptively about music, which is, as anyone who has tried will know, very hard to do well.
I am now at the chapter on Weimar Berlin, Mahagonny, etc.. The previous chapter featured Sibelius, and here are a couple of good quotes to illustrate how well-written, entertaining and informative this book is.
First, here is Ross explaining how the almost instant public admiration, and not just in Finland, that greeted Sibelius contrasted with critical suspicion (p. 175 of my paperback edition):
Mainstream audiences may lag behind the intellectual classes in appreciating the more adventurous composers, but sometimes they are quicker to perceive the value of music that the politicians of style fail to comprehend. Nicolas Slonimsky once put together a delightful book tided Lexicon of Musical Invective, anthologizing wrongheaded music criticism in which now canonical masterpieces were compared to feline caterwauling, barnyard noises, and so on. Slonimsky should also have written a Lexicon of Musical Condescension, gathering high-minded essays in which now canonical masterpieces were dismissed as kitsch, with a long section reserved for Sibelius.
The fourth Sibelius’ symphony is more shockingly modernistic than his earlier works, and here Ross describes the Finnish reaction to that (p. 180):
When the Fourth Symphony had its first performance, in April 1911, Finnish audiences were taken aback. “People avoided our eyes, shook their heads,” Aino Sibelius recalled. “Their smiles were embarrassed, furtive or ironic. Not many people came backstage to the artists’ room to pay their respects.” This was a Skandalkonzert in Scandinavian style, a riot of silence.
Aino being his wife.
Finally, a quote from Sibelius himself. Sibelius was famously fond of alcohol, and also smoked a lot, but despite it all he lived to the age of ninety-one. Sibelius described this thus (p. 191):
“ All the doctors who wanted to forbid me to smoke and to drink are dead.”
The Rest is Noise has merits too numerous to list, but one in particular, for me, stands out, which is that Ross is always aware of what was going on in the popular culture at the times he describes, and especially of course in popular music. Another thing I like is that he is always aware of the wider historical setting in general. I am not just learning more about twentieth century music by reading this book. I am learning more about the twentieth century.
Apart from telling me yesterday about the colourfulness of Eastern European modern concrete architectural abominations, Michael J told me something else. Remember Kevin Dowd, who I was enthusing about earlier in the year? Well, Michael attended the Paris Freedom Fest 2009 a few days ago, and said that Kevin Dowd’s speech, entitled “The Current Financial Crisis: a blueprint for reform” was sensationally good. Dowd’s LA lecture earlier in the year was good, said Michael, but this was something else again. “He called for a revolution!”
The speech was recorded, and Michael has been emailing Christian Michel (scroll down here for more info about him) who is apparently the one who will be shoving it up on the www, to - how to put this? - not delay doing this any longer than is entirely necessary.
I was out and about this afternoon, and just before disappearing into the Embankment tube station, i.e. when I thought I’d snapped all the interesting snaps that I thought I would be snapping, I snapped this:
That agglomeration of hideousness is basically the Queen Elizabeth Hall, where they play classical music. Beyond it, just across the road, is the National Theatre, which is done in the same lumpish style and of which a few lumps are also visible. I was looking back over the river from the downstream half of the Hungerford Bridge footbridges.
What has happened to those stairs, which is very recent I should add, is, I think, a harbinger of things to come.
London contains lots of award-winning concrete monstrosities dating from around the 1970s. See also: Guy’s Hospital, which also features in the above picture, top right. I think that’s Guy’s. (Yes.) Destroying all these award-winning monstrosities will be difficult, and very expensive. But, in the meantime, tarting them up amusingly will now be very easy. All that was required was the passing of sufficient time for the architects and architectural award-awarders who awarded awards to the creators of these award-winning horrors, and all the politicians who said yes to them, either because they were weak and were bullied, or worse, because they really liked them ... basically a generation of twats ... to die. While the twats who allowed and who built and who enthused about and who gave awards to these things were around, any attempt to brighten them up would be greeted with barrages of bullshit about the Architect’s Original Vision being all important and inviolate, blah blah. Basically, these were people who spent their twenties living in and often designing concrete monstrosities during the war (by which I mean WW2), for things like coastal gun batteries. Many of them had great fun, what with them being in their twenties and all, and came to love such things. Ooh, they then said, let’s make a Brave New World by making people live in gun emplacements. Like I say, twats. But now the twats are dying the fun can begin, and begin it has. I certainly hope it has. (I live in hope.)
I have many pictures of London concrete monstrosities, and must make a point of taking many more, before all have had their fancy new make-up applied.
Michael J, who is passing the time chez moi, taking tea, says that this brightening up process has pretty much been done in Eastern Europe, where this particular style – called, and what is more, here in the UK anyway, called by the people who did it, “brutalist” – was even more dominant, and where the twats responsible because powerless long before they died.
I don’t read Guido’s comments. The idiocy-to-insight ratio is just too disadvantageous. So I don’t know if any of them have already noticed that the curse of Gordon Brown has struck England cricket full on, in recent weeks. Worse, I’ve not even been reading Guido recently. I’ve been on a break. So this has probably all been said and commented upon at length and I’m the last to notice. But, just in case ...
England, and maybe you did notice this, recently won the Ashes. That is, they defeated Australia in a five match series of five day cricket games. It was one all and all to play for going into the final game, and although I can’t be sure about this, I rather think I may have said to myself: “Just so long as Gordon Brown doesn’t wish them luck.” Whether I did or not, he didn’t, and England duly won. God bless Gordon for keeping quiet about it all for so long. And I see that Guido did notice all that.
England have since made a point of not celebrating too much, the rapturous celebrations that followed the 2005 Ashes win now being regarded as having contributed to a severe decline in the team from that moment on. The hope now is that, by just pressing on with the next few games, saying there’s lots more progress to be made, lots of things still to work on, blah blah blah, England would not lose momentum, but will instead carry on doing well, instead of disintegrating like they did after 2005.
But then, disaster. Gordon Brown congratulated England on their victory.
Since which disastrous Prime Ministerial intervention, it has been down hill all the way. England are currently engaged in a series of seven one day matches against Australia, and so far it’s played four lost four, with each loss seeming to be more abject than the one before.
Expect further England cricket grief, starting tomorrow, with ODI number five.
I was half listening to Surrey v Northants on the internet radio early this afternoon, while also following it on Cricinfo and
Mike Mark (thank you Briffa) Church (who does the commentaries for BBC Radio London but of whom I can find no mention on the www (no wonder)) was in “please send me an email” mode, so I did:
Dear Mr Church
Let me tell you why I like listening to you, especially towards the end of games, rather than following games on Cricinfo and listening to music (as I love to do). For limited overs games Cricinfo is fine. But for a four day county game which might within the next hour or so become a limited overs game, Cricinfo is useless.
Take this game. All that Cricinfo says is that the Surrey score is whatever it is. There’s nothing about how many overs Northants now have to get Surrey out and knock off the fourth innings runs. If Northants do soon embark on a plausible chase, Cricinfo will tell me virtually nothing about how well they are doing. The only clue they offer is if Northants are still slogging. That will mean they haven’t given up. But if they are still slogging, how many overs do they have left? This is a game that Surrey might even (as I write this) win, if Northants chase but mess it up. But from Cricinfo you get no clue of that, in four day games.
I am sending this email to you rather than Cricinfo because I know you like to get emails. But if you ignore this one because of it mentioning a competitor and potentially being helpful to them, that’s okay, I’ll just shove this on my blog.
Brian from Across the River
Across the river from the Oval, that is to say, where the game was being played. Or rather, the “Brit Oval” as Church always insists on calling it.
So anyway, he did read it out, within seconds of me having sent it off, and clearly without having read it first. He was on his own doing the commentating, and seemed to have no help with the emails either, not today. By the time he got to paragraph three saying he didn’t have to read it, he already had. I think I should have put my third paragraph first.
He did make one change, which was to say, while reading paragraph one, not “Cricinfo is useless” but: “Cricinfo is not good”. Which was fine by me.
A few weeks back Church was appealing for emails about cricketers with the names of famous people, and I emailed in about Napoleon Einstein, which was the first time I tried this. He instantly read that out too. Then I sent another much longer email, which he also read out, but in rather a hurry. Lesson: the very short ones are the best. I cut the above one before sending it, and should have cut it more. Sending emails to
Mike Mark Church probably makes me a better blogger.
Like I said when talking with Michael, I’m looking forward to when we get internet telly of these obscure games.
This one posting every two days thing isn’t yet resulting in any more writing of any long and profound pieces, but it is leaving me time and brain capacity to do more cleaning and feathering of my nest, tidying up, sorting out, chucking away, and dreaming up of further rearrangements of a more fundamental sort involving carpentry.
Yesterday I picked up a piece of paper from the shelf to the left of my desk, and saw what you will see if you click on the picture to the right. A week ago this might not have shocked me, but now, my standards have risen. The nest needs quite a bit more feathering.
If I were making a real nest, I would cut up the wires with my beak, and use them to make my nest.
Quoth Meades on the telly last night, while talking about Aberdeen:
“It is making cities tidy that causes them to die.”
And he wasn’t talking about rubbish collection. Wise words, I think.
Someone has a plan to build a huge shopping centre stroke car park with a park on top in the middle of Aberdeen. Meades disapproves. And Donald Trump wants to put a golf course nearby. Ditto.
Another way for cities to die is for Respectable Opinion to forbid all further untidiness, allowing only the antique variety.
Before my summer break, the rule here was: something every day. I have to have a rule of this kind, otherwise the days of unexplained silence pile up and the burden of writing something which brings me back with a bang, or merely an explanation, becomes one more reason for further delay, in a vicious circle of procrastinatory silence. But now the rule is changing, in fact it already has changed, to: something at least once every two days.
The old rule should have left plenty of blogging time for those bigger and more significant pieces that I have always yearned to write more often than I do. But, it didn’t. There’s nothing like a whole day to concentrate on just the one thing. And nothing like blogging insignificantly every day to tell me, as I go to bed, that I have accomplished something today when actually I have not. Hence yesterday here, and hence, maybe, also, tomorrow. If I feel like putting stuff here more often than once every two days, I will. But from now on, don’t count on it.
Not that this will necessarily result in any increase in the number of bigger and better pieces that I write, for in this matter as in most others, I promise nothing. The odds have merely shifted a little in that direction.
Who do you reckon these guys are? Zaheer Ashiq, Umran Shahzad, Adeel Ibrar, Aziz Ataul, Zeeshan Ali, Shahbaz Butt, Shahid Ahmed, I Dawood, Mubasshar Bhatti, Munawar Ahmed, Aamer Waheed.
Yes, well done, got it in one. It’s the Norwegian cricket team.
One of the happier musical memories of my summer break was hearing the Welsh classical pianist Llyr Williams play a BBC lunchtime concert, I think it was. He was playing some Bach, maybe arranged by Busoni, or maybe just Bach done by Bach. I forget which, and it really doesn’t matter. And his playing included a particularly fascinating and illuminating effect.
You know how, when people are playing piano duets, you can usually tell that there are two different people playing, unless they are in absolutely perfect accord. The different players are, mostly, just that little bit out of time with each other. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. So, it’s two people. Fine. Okay, hold that thought.
Now, Llyr Williams is playing Bach, and it’s one of those pieces where there are two absolutely distinct lines, two distinct tunes following each other around the keyboard. And Williams contrived to play these two tunes as if he was two different people, with the exact same subtle failures to be exactly together that you usually only get with two different people. He sounded like he was really trying to be in time with himself, or rather with his other half, but not quite managing it. Magic. Because it really made the separateness of the two interweaving tunes come dazzlingly alive. They became two separate pieces of music making, each one powered by a distinct and separate mind. It was chamber music, but done by just the one bloke. Amazing.
I think I have this recorded, in among lots of other stuff I stole off of the radio, but I haven’t found it yet. Hope so.
Incoming email from Perry de Havilland with a link to this, which is about a magic water bottle. You put in any water provided it isn’t sea water, however dirty and full of crap (literally), and out comes clean, drinkable water, or so the man in the video says. Website here.
LIFESAVER bottle is the worlds first all-in-one, personal ultrafiltration bottle. With a filter size of just 15 nanometres, it removes all waterborne pathogens such as viruses, bacteria and parasites without the need for any foul tasting chemical treatments or long stand times.
LIFESAVER bottle incorporates a built in pressurisation system to give a two litre per minute filtration rate - as fast as you can drink it!!
Filtration occurs on demand rather than at the time of collection, meaning that you can quickly ‘scoop and go’ at any flowing or stagnant water source and be absolutely confident that you will be drinking completely safe, sterile water.
I do love technical fixes, that you just sell to people, one by one. No politics. No having to get lots of anti-technological UN bureaucrats who will be made monkeys of by the thing to agree with it. No complicated infrastructure that will cost millions. Just sell it, one bottle at a time, first to rich Americans, then to other Americans, then throughout the rich world, and finally to the wretched of the earth.
To start with the anti-technos will want it abolished, because it spreads the notion that their pet problems that are their excuse for being stupid about everything are actually soluble, by sensibleness aka capitalism. (They’ll probably say it has a huge carbon footprint, like they do with everything they don’t like.) Then when it starts to spread like wildfire, they’ll switch to moaning about the magic water bottle divide, and they’ll start saying it should be done for about half the - by then - very low price that it has plummeted to, saying that capitalism can’t do that. Then their scheme will collapse in a maelstrom of incompetence and mutual recrimination, and the capitalist version will duly (i.e. about a year later) plummet to the price they made such a fuss about it not being able to plummet to, and then after that just carry on plummeting. These bottles now cost well over a hundred quid. In two decades, they’ll be a quid or less.
As I say, I do love technical fixes, so maybe there is something seriously wrong with this gizmo, and I am getting carried away with what is actually a piece of deception, perhaps because it is self-deception, or perhaps because it is just a con. I certainly have my doubts about the extent to which the man in the video “invented” this bottle. Surely, all he did was stuff the best sort of magic nano-filter stuff for the purpose into the best sort of bottle for the purpose. He merely, that is to say, developed it. But no matter, he still done good, I think. As enthusiasms go, I think this is a pretty honourable one. I live in hope.
Yesterday, the need for sheets took me to Primark, Oxford Street. Having obtained my sheets I walked along Oxford Street towards Bond Street, to inspect the HMV shop there, where the depressing news is that the space formerly occupied by classical now houses both classical and jazz, and lots of other wrinkly pop stuff like Frank Sinatra etc. Classical CD recording hurtles onwards, with ever more iterations of the standard repertoire and ever more obscure discoveries. But I guess for most, the internet is replacing the shops.
Classical CD shops are not the only businesses with problems. Take property development. Before I got to HMV Bond Street, I passed this huge building site, right next to Oxford Street:
I know. Not much like a building site, is it? What’s happened is they’ve stopped, and they are trying to sooth a bit of the pain by hiring the place out to advertisers. Hence the giant Fiat.
Another big building site I’ve recently been keeping an eye and a digital camera on is this one:
This is where they are still saying they will be putting the Shard of Glass. Michael J keeps telling me: no way. MJ may well be right, but judging by the number and power of the cranes and diggers I’ve seen there every time I’ve visited, it’s going to be a very expensive patch of empty ground, if that’s all it proves to be for the next decade.
So, will it be Giant Promotional Things for the next ten years, or this?:
I live in hope.
Last week I was walking along Victoria Street next to Patrick Crozier, in search of pizza, and I told him something which I consider to be quite clever, namely that archaeology will quite soon (i.e. in a matter of decades) include the art of three dimensionally photo-ing a volume of earth (in the manner of those airport X-ray machines only far, far better), thereby revealing all kinds of information presently destroyed by digging. For the sake of a few pots and pans and bones, priceless fragments of nearly destroyed manuscripts and articles of clothing and human remains, only able to reveal their secrets if left exactly where they are, have been destroyed by our current crop of diggers, to the fury of their professional brethren in the future. So, Patrick, I said, what do you reckon on that?
Sorry Brian, he said, I wasn’t listening. I was thinking about bagpipes. (Some bagpipes were mysteriously playing.)
Luckily, I have a blog, and can dig up my item of potential wisdom and exhibit it here.
Just to say, I’m (sort of) back, from what has actually been my longest blogging break since I began blogging, in 1762. Well, 2002, I think it was. Whether I put stuff up every day from now on remains to be seen, but I will probably try to do something quite like that, from now on, until the next break.
About the time I started this break, I read a blog posting, somewhere, saying that the reason so many people were stopping blogging was not just burn-out, dry-up, fed-up, etc., but because we bloggers had, finally, won. I think there is truth in that. 2009 was the year when, in the UK, all pretence that blogging and bloggers were of no significance to anything or anyone but themselves was finally abandoned. I am only a tiny part of blogging, tinier and tinier as the years go by, but, I am still part of it, and thus part of that victory. And when you win a victory, that’s the time to pause, rest, and consider what to do next. It just comes naturally to do that. So, partly for that reason, and partly because I just felt like a summer break anyway, I paused.
But now I’ve had my little holiday, and have learned that although blogging may sometimes be a bit of a grind, it is, for me, greatly to be preferred to the alternative of not blogging. So here I am again.