Brian Micklethwait's Blog

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


Recent Comments

Monthly Archives

Most recent entries


Advanced Search

Other Blogs I write for

Brian Micklethwait's Education Blog

CNE Competition
CNE Intellectual Property
Transport Blog


2 Blowhards
6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adventures in Capitalism
Alan Little
Albion's Seedling
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
Alex Singleton
Another Food Blog
Antoine Clarke
Antoine Clarke's Election Watch
Armed and Dangerous
Art Of The State Blog
Biased BBC
Bishop Hill
Bloggers Blog
Blognor Regis
Blowing Smoke
Boatang & Demetriou
Boing Boing
Boris Johnson
Brazen Careerist
Bryan Appleyard
Burning Our Money
Cafe Hayek
Charlie's Diary
Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry
Chicago Boyz
China Law Blog
Cicero's Songs
City Comforts
Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog
Clay Shirky
Climate Resistance
Climate Skeptic
Coffee & Complexity
Coffee House
Communities Dominate Brands
Confused of Calcutta
Conservative Party Reptile
Contra Niche
Contrary Brin
Counting Cats in Zanzibar
Скрипучая беседка
Dave Barry
Davids Medienkritik
David Thompson
Deleted by tomorrow
diamond geezer
Dizzy Thinks
Don't Hold Your Breath
Douglas Carswell Blog
Dr Robert Lefever
Dr. Weevil
Englands Freedome, Souldiers Rights
English Cut
English Russia
EU Referendum
Ezra Levant
Everything I Say is Right
Fat Man on a Keyboard
Ferraris for all
Flickr blog
Freeborn John
Freedom and Whisky
From The Barrel of a Gun
Fugitive Ink
Future Perfect
Gaping Void
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
Idiot Toys
India Uncut
Jackie Danicki
James Delingpole
James Fallows
Jeffrey Archer's Official Blog
Jessica Duchen's classical music blog
Jihad Watch
Joanne Jacobs
Johan Norberg
John Redwood
Jonathan's Photoblog
Kristine Lowe
Laissez Faire Books
Last of the Few
Lessig Blog
Libertarian Alliance: Blog
Liberty Alone
Liberty Dad - a World Without Dictators
Lib on the United Kingdom
Little Man, What Now?
listen missy
Loic Le Meur Blog
L'Ombre de l'Olivier
London Daily Photo
Mad Housewife
Mangan's Miscellany
Marginal Revolution
Mark Wadsworth
Media Influencer
Melanie Phillips
Metamagician and the Hellfire Club
Michael Jennings
Michael J. Totten's Middle East Journal
Mick Hartley
More Than Mind Games
mr eugenides
Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism
My Boyfriend Is A Twat
My Other Stuff
Natalie Solent
Nation of Shopkeepers
Never Trust a Hippy
NO2ID NewsBlog
Non Diet Weight Loss
Nurses for Reform blog
Obnoxio The Clown
Oddity Central
Oliver Kamm
On an Overgrown Path
One Man & His Blog
Owlthoughts of a peripatetic pedant
Oxford Libertarian Society /blog
Patri's Peripatetic Peregrinations
Picking Losers
Pigeon Blog
Police Inspector Blog
Power Line
Private Sector Development blog
Publius Pundit
Rachel Lucas
Remember I'm the Bloody Architect
Rob's Blog
Setting The World To Rights
Shane Greer
Shanghaiist The Violin Blog
Sinclair's Musings
Slipped Disc
Sky Watching My World
Social Affairs Unit
Squander Two Blog
Stephen Fry
Stuff White People Like
Stumbling and Mumbling
Style Bubble
Sunset Gun
Survival Arts
Susan Hill
Technology Liberation Front
The Adam Smith Institute Blog
The Agitator
The AntRant
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 Croydonian
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 Filter^
The Fly Bottle
The Freeway to Serfdom
The Future of Music
The Futurist
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 Sharpener
The Speculist
The Surfer
The Wedding Photography Blog
The Welfare State We're In
things magazine
Tim Blair
Tim Harford
Tim Worstall
Transterrestrial Musings
UK Commentators - Laban Tall's Blog
UK Libertarian Party
Unqualified Offerings
Violins and Starships
Virginia Postrel
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


Mainstream Media

The Sun
This is London


RSS 1.0
RSS 2.0


Billion Monkeys
Bits from books
Bloggers and blogging
Brian Micklethwait podcasts
Career counselling
Cats and kittens
Civil liberties
Classical music
Computer graphics
Current events
Digital photographers
Emmanuel Todd
Expression Engine
Food and drink
Getting old
How the mind works
Intellectual property
Kevin Dowd
Latin America
Media and journalism
Middle East and Islam
My blog ruins
My photographs
Open Source
Other creatures
Pop music
Quote unquote
Roof clutter
Science fiction
Signs and notices
Social Media
South America
The internet
The Micklethwait Clock
This and that
This blog

Tuesday March 23 2010

Yes, it turns out that I have shingles.  Uncomfortable, unsightly, incurable.  But not life-threatening.  Or not life-threatening as in death-threatening.  It is certainly life-threatening in the sense that it threatens to recur irregularly from now on and make a misery of great chunks of the rest of my life.  Especially in the spring, apparently, because that is when the nervous system, having battled away over the winter, is at its weakest.  Or, it may go away entirely after a week or two, and never return.  It will always be there, in fact it always has been (being the left over virus from chickenpox).  But with luck, it will go back to being inactive.  I shall see.  I’ll spare you the photographs.

My doctor gave me a print-out of the document linked to above.  The internet is a huge opportunity for the NHS, just as it has been for the BBC, because both the NHS and the BBC are free at the point of use (aside from such things as prescription charges), and dependent upon continuing political support.  It’s like they are in a state of permanent campaigning on behalf of themselves.  Whereas commercial organisations would fret about the cost of supplying such information on such a voluminuous scale, the NHS, which gives such stuff away for free anyway, takes to it very naturally.  The doctor asked me if I’d like a leaflet.  Yes I said, looking for leaflets and seeing none.  Then, she printed it out in seconds.

The central point being that what sensible people want from doctors is mostly information, and only very secondarily a cure, or even, often, much in the way of treatment.  Above all, you want to know what is happening.

Actually, I already knew I had shingles, because I had rung up a nurse friend, and after I had begun to describe my uncomfortable and unsightly symptoms, she then interrupted by concluding the description, to which I answered yes, yes, yes, and she said: shingles.  It took the doctor about half a second to agree, looking at it all for real.

Sunday March 21 2010

Photoed near my home this afternoon:


Yes, Mr White Van Man supports England.  But I think the Germans win that one, don’t you?

Friday March 19 2010

That’s right.  Recently, someone sent me an email informing me that the picture in this posting, of a green cat with some green kittens, is copyright her, and could I please acknowledge this in the original posting.  Unfortunately this email has vanished into thin air, perhaps becoming Dark Matter.  I think this may have something to do with the fact that I began replying to it, but then forgot about that without cancelling the process.  That sounds bad to me.  If the person who sent this email could send it again, I can do the necessary.

Thursday March 18 2010

My email system recently wanted to correct my name in an email I was sending.  It wanted to change Micklethwait to Sickle-feather.  I realise that Micklethwait is a somewhat unusual name, but doesn’t it even know that this is the name of the person it is working for?  It seems not.

Further thought: if this blog crashes in ruins, like my last two blogs, then maybe I’ll call the next one Brian Sickle-feather.

Tuesday March 16 2010

I’m ill still, so don’t expect massive gobs of profundity.  But I will give you a superficiality to be going on with, which is that whereas on the whole my camera has better eyesight than I do, when it comes to electric signs, this tendency goes into reverse.  This being because electric signs are there to be read by humans, not by cameras.

So, for instance, this sign I snapped the other day said WILTON ROAD RESTRICTED ACCESS, to me.  But not to my camera, which could only get ILTON tOAD :ICTED ESS:


I took lots of snaps of this sign, as it meandered through all the various things it had been put there to say, including a rather threatening message to the effect that the rest of the message announcement was CAMERA ENFORCED.  If you defy the sign and drive your car along Wilton Road a camera will observe you and fine you and if you don’t pay it sent you to prison.  I don’t believe everything our rulers tell us, but I believe that.

Sadly, I don’t have a photo of the sign saying CAMERA ENFORCED, saying something like CAM ENFO.  Next time I’m passing, I’ll correct that.  If I remember.  And if it is still there.

And now I’m off to bed for another two days.

Sunday March 14 2010

My fellow BrianMicklethwaitDotCom sports correspondent Antoine Clarke emails with the link to this, which says, very amusingly, that the French rugby team are very good just now and fun to watch, while England are very bad just now and about as much fun to watch paint drying, in Birmingham.  Antoine is more than even convinced that the England players are okay, but that the coaching is all wrong.  Over-coaching.  That’s what he says.  I’ve DVDed the games, but have only watched occasional moments.  The England moments that I forced myself to witness on the day all looked dire.

I’ve been watching the IPL, as in Twenty20 cricket from India, on the telly.  Two big Amazing Facts so far: one, that Yusuf Pathan got a century in thirty seven balls for Rajasthan against Mumbai; and two, that Rajasthan still lost.

The complaint about Twenty20 cricket at first, and still, was and is that it is unsubtle.  But unsubtlety is really just ignorance.  When it started, they and we all had a lot to learn about how the game is played and how to do well and who is doing well, and what to do when you are doing badly, etc. etc.  How do you bat if you are four down for very little at the start?  How do you stop people hitting you for six?  As all concerned learn about these things, it gets to be a very subtle thing indeed.  (This reminds me of what I also like to say about newly liberated markets.  At first vulgar and dishonest crap abounds.  But then when everyone learns about it all, things calm down and get much better.)

The first two matches this time around (which is the third time around), were notable for being very exciting, and for being very fluctuating.  The first began with poor batting, then they recovered well.  Then the other guys started batting well, but then, from a commanding position, faltered and eventually lost.  The early complaint about Twenty20 was that nobody ever recovers.  Once you’ve fallen behind, you just fall further behind until it ends.  No see-saw-ing.  All see and no saw.  If you see what I mean.  But that first game was see-saw-see-saw.  The second game, the one where Yusuf got that amazing hundred, was all over bar the adverts, until Yusuf nearly won it for the other side.  And he would have, had he not been very unluckily run out.

Violence and subtlety can overlap, and in Twenty20 cricket, they do.

I think one of the things I especially like about the IPL is that lefties, I sense, don’t like it at all.  They preferred India when it was a basket case, taking its economic policy advice from them and from the USSR.  Now that it has liberalised, i.e. turned its back on lefty/USSR economic policy crap, India is doing outrageously well, at any rate by comparison with the bad old days.  And the IPL showcases that outrageous economic wellness for all the world to see.  Ludicrously rich Indian film stars owning entire teams that cost a billion quid.  Cheerleaders.  Spoilt rich brats making painted faces at the cameras.  And above all, Indians hitting sixes and bowling really fast and looking like ancient mythic warriors, rather than all thinking and looking like Mahatma bloody Gandhi and being glad if they scrape a draw.  Hurrah!

UPDATE: Hurrah!

Friday March 12 2010

imageNot feeling well, so early to bed.  Quota cat, for rubbing out pencil mistakes, presumably.  Still make many mistakes, but they no longer involve pencils as a general rule.  Purchased in British Museum last month, when Goddaughter 2 came to visit, and we needed uplifting places to visit.  I finally got to take photos of that amazing new roof they’ve put up, over one of the (previously out of doors) courtyard.  But no time for that now.  What was that?  Get well soon?  Thank you.





Thursday March 11 2010



Found it here.

This kind of thing makes me suspect Photoshopping, but it seems to be real.

It seems to be very knowing and deliberate.  It says “PORN QUEEN” in the logo, where it merely says “COFFEE” in the original.  That’s no confused Chinese accident.  That’s someone who knows just what he’s doing.

Which makes me wonder why Coffee is missspelled (sssp?) Coffe.  I seem to have spelling on the brain just now.

Wednesday March 10 2010

The real signs of aging are not just things like wrinkles around your eyes, and there are a great many more than seven of them.

For me, one of the depressing ones is how my knowledge of spelling has gone into reverse.  So, for instance, looking over my posting of yesterday, I see the word “treck”.  Is that right?  Should it perhaps be “trek”?  I used to know things like this but not any more.  According to my spellchecker it’s “trek”.  I never was a Startreck fan.  But ah yes, Startreck looks wrong.  Startrek looks better.  So it must be trek.  Actually I just googled it to be sure, because Startrek didn’t look right either, and it turns out it’s Star Trek.  And there’s another sign of aging right there: inconsequential babbling.  Treck is now corrected.  I realise now that that posting was typed straight into my blogging software, which doesn’t do spellchecking.

A related thought also just struck me which is that I used to think I could spell, because I never saw any spelling mistakes in my own stuff, but that others couldn’t, because look at all the spelling mistakes in their stuff.  Do you see the logical flaw there?  (Floor?  Flore?  Phlaw?  There goes another word.) Maybe I never could spell, but merely thought I could.

It’s like that thing where people say they can always spot a toupée, when the truth is that they can only spot the toupées they can spot.

Seven signs of aging?  I think it may be six.

I need another category here, called “How the mind stops working”.

Tuesday March 09 2010

So there I was having lunch in Chelsea last whenever it was last week, and I decided to take a snap of the rather fine Casablanca poster opposite me, complete with three dimensional china Bogart.  However, the two people opposite me thought I was photo-ing them, so the upshot (ho ho) is that I was:


That’s him and her.  Most enjoyable.

This was the first time I have properly met David Tebbutt, but for me, he goes way back, to the early days of (not that) cheap personal computing, before even IBM compatibility, when Tebbo and his ilk would trek over to California to hunt down the latest in personal computer wizardry, and tell me (and all the other readers of Personal Computer World) all about it.  All of which was long, long before the days of 32gb SD cards.

Sunday March 07 2010

imageThis is my favourite recent photo, of all the ones I have taken in the last few days.  The crane is working on a building a little bit south of Victoria Station.  I particularly like the two tiny red lights.

I am in awe of the technology of cranes.  There they stand, often massively taller even than the skyscrapers they build, with torsos that are ridiculously thin and spindly, yet quite clearly they are more than sufficient to remain standing, provided (I assume) that they are correctly used.  Mishandle those loads, and goodness knows what catastrophes would be unleashed.

How much do crane operators get paid?  I’m guessing: a lot.  Think of the difference between having a good crane operator and having a bad crane operator, on your site.  And think what a difference cheap mobile phones must have made to such work.

Recently I recorded a short TV show called something like “The Secret Life of Cranes”, but I haven’t yet watched it.  I must.  Ah, here it is, the Solitary Life of Cranes.  I’m watching it now.

The Solitary Life of Cranes is a big disappointment.  Nothing about how cranes work, just a lot of waffle about blokes in high-up boxes seeing other people’s lives.  Ah, now some work is getting done, at last.

Now I’m going to do that thing with squiggles recommended in one of the comments on this, by Charles Pooter.  Wouldn’t want to disturb the kitten.

UPDATE Tuesday: The above posting was done late on Saturday night.  I have now removed one sentence which, on re-reading, just made no sense whatever.  I think it just got left there by mistake.  Also, in the very first sentence, I now see that I put “years” instead of “days”.  What am I? A climate scientist?!?

Friday March 05 2010

Incoming email, forwarded by Michael J, about how whoever it is can’t answer emails because “something has crashed on my computer”, and also “the mouse is missing”, ho ho:


I’m sure this photo is everywhere by now, but I don’t care.

The crossed legs are an especially nice touch.

I would not for a moment pretend that this ...


... is anything other than a piece of horizontalised butchery, done by me because I like horizontalising.  To enjoy the real thing go to the real thing.  And while you are there, I recommend a minimum of a few minutes of browsing through all the others.  Whenever I go to this site, I look at everything I’ve not seen since last I went there.

I don’t know where this photo was taken.  Or this one, for that matter, which I also like a lot.  Miami?

All these photos are copyright.  I hope the above counts as fair use.

Thursday March 04 2010

Incoming from Peter Briffa:

That’s your March sorted out then, Brian.  And quite a lot of April.


Not long ago, there was talk of Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket being on YouTube.  But when Michael J lent me his Sky TV connection a few months back, all it did was destroy my internet connection, and then stop working.  (I did get to watch the decisive session of the 2009 Ashes though.  Fabulous.) I was afraid this YouTube thing would do the same, and be very shoddy to look at, and keep going off, and screw up everything else I was trying to do.  So, for me, it’s great that it will be on the proper TV.

TV should be on TV, and TVs should be separate from computers, I think.  Computers still have a bit of developing to do before they can handle permanent video in the background.  Mine has, anyway.  Like with having photos on computers in the 1980s.  You could do it, but it didn’t work at all well.

Having it on the proper telly also means I will be able to record it all, and have a vast stack of DVDs.  Sport DVD recording is like wine collecting.  To start with they aren’t much, but, as the years go by ...

Wednesday March 03 2010

Another thin picture (see also this posting) of unmanned aircraft, the MQ-9 Reaper:


HereBigger (recommended).  Recent article, which includes another great photo here.  Our guys said gimme in summer 2008, so they have them now?  Thank you Instapundit.

Who would have thought it?  The future of warfare is blokes flying radio-controlled toy airplanes.  At present it’s still men against toys, with the toys winning, but soon all nations will have them, and millions of others besides.

This was how chess got started, wasn’t it?  First men killed each other.  Then, they said, why don’t we just use sculptures of men, and move them remotely?  That way, nobody gets hurt.  I think I smell a whole new sport here.  Imagine it, fat blokes at an airfield having aerial dogfights, where the losers lose their airplanes, but nobody dies.  Great TV!  Watch those dogfights!  Superstar controllers will be feted in the media.  And, they won’t die.  They’ll have dual scores: kills, and killeds.  Nerd heaven.

I just attached this rather eloquent comment to a Johnathan Pearce Samizdata posting about how he might emigrate out of here if Brown won the next election, Heaven help us:

I think JP is doing us a favour by talking about leaving, and would be doing us another favour if he did leave, if things got that bad.

No number tells politicians more clearly that they have to shape up and stop wrecking the place better than the number of people just buggering off. People leaving is the one number that tends to signify that things are about to get better, because it just can’t be ignored or spun. The number can be lied about, of course, but big queues to get out are hard to pass off as anything else.

It happened like this at the end of the 70s when all those movie stars upped sticks. They did us a favour too. They don’t call this “voting with your feet” for nothing.

Voice and exit.

Unless of course the Brown government builds a Berlin Wall around the country. But that would be pretty hard to miss also, if it worked. The more you have to sacrifice and risk to get out, the more dramatic it all looks, and the more obvious is the damage done by the lying bastards who did it.

And that’s the central problem now, making it clear how much damage is being done. That’s what the Brown gang are now all busy trying to conceal.

JP’s posting helps with this.

I wanted to have a diary entry, so to speak, about how I felt just now about it all.  Comments at Samizdata are hard to get back to.  Postings here are easier to get back to.

Other eloquent comments are rapidly accumulating.

Tuesday March 02 2010

Until I came across a snap of such a lorry here.  And once I knew, I could Flickr into action, and I found a slightly better Marmite lorry picture here:


This one is good too, where a commenter says:

Yup, they pipe it ashore from the Marmite rigs and load it up into the tankers ... of course if you have the right contacts you can buy it in 50 gallon drums ...

Here’s hoping the world never runs out.

Monday March 01 2010

imageIncoming link from Michael J:

What lies beyond iPad?

iPhone.  iPad.  iBoard.  ... iMat?

iWall would surely make much more sense.  I’d have one, if I had any wall space.  And if it didn’t cost anything, like my soul, for instance.

I wish my bloody spellchecker ( Writer) would stop changing iPhone to Iphone, iPad to Ipad, etc.  Normally I can ignore this interfering thing, but this is annoying.  You’d think it would know things like that.

And here we go again, I need to fill in with other verbiage, to stop that elongated picture blasting its way through the bottom.  Be prepared for multiple postings of this, and multiple alterations to this paragraph.

Actually, because it’s long and thin, I quite like how it impinges upon the posting below.  I think I’ll leave it, for now anyway.  What does anyone else think?