Brian Micklethwait's Blog

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

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Thursday March 31 2011

imageYesterday Michael J and I met up in the Blue Eyed Maid in Borough High Street, much frequented by Indians and Pakstanis, to watch India play Pakistan in the Cricket World Cup.

Outside the Blue Eyed Maid, from the middle of Borough High Street, I could see, and photograph, both the Strata and the Shard, one at each end.

Nevertheless, for me, yesterday, the most visually striking item within view was right opposite the Blue Eyed Maid, in the form of the blue men that you see on the right, doing their best to jazz up an otherwise utterly forgettable building, of the sort which causes me to say that new architecture, in London anyway, has recently been getting better.  Could if have got any drearier than this?

There seems to be a little Movement going on, a submovement of recent scultpure as a whole, which consists of Men.  Not famous Men, like Field Marshal Montgomery or Nelson Mandela, just generic Men.  Gormley has been doing Men, most notably (if you are a Londoner) the Men he placed on the South Bank a few years back.  A guy called Peter Burke has put a bunch of men outside the Woolwich Arsenal, by the river, which I keep meaning to blog about, and which look like the moulds with which the Gormley Men were moulded.  And here are these Blue Men ("Climbers" - although actually they are just stuck on - there’s no way the drummer at the top is climbing anything), by the Israeli artist Ofra Zimbalista.  These blue Men predate the Gormley and Burke Men, unless I have it all wrong.

Because of the different coloured instruments, these particular Men (unlike most of her others) risk looking, not like Art, but like toys made of blue plastic, maybe advertising something.  But, their bottoms are showing, so that makes it Art after all.

Note also the horrible sign in the window, next to the blue man with a blue bottom at the bottom.  The last thing I want to suggest with all my recent photos of public sector mandated nagging is that the private sector, left entirely to itself, is unable to come up with its own brand of nausea signage.  Don’t you just hate it when they “love” you?

This is one of those postings where I have to put it up in order to see if there’s enough verbiage, so please bear with me on that front, if you are a very early viewer of this.  No, all is well.  Didn’t need this last bit.

Tuesday March 29 2011

Just spent a couple of hours (a) watching a Quest TV show about the Big Dig, which was about how they made a huge road tunnel under Boston while allowing Boston to continue about its business, and (b) doing some digging myself, in among my various domestic paper chaos mountains.

Boston Big Digs and suchlike are not going to be on the agenda for a couple of decades in the USA, I should wager.  Judging by what is now being said about US municipal debt.  E.g. by these guys (so I am informed by … well, he knows who he is).

As for my smaller digging, it was for just one essential paper thing, namely the instruction manual for a recording device that I bought about a year ago but have never got around to using, what with the instruction manual having gone walkabout.  But rather than just dig through all the paper chaos that has piled up chez moi, basically ever since I got shingles about a year ago, it made sense to combine all that with adding a little order to everything, rather than subtracting order like it was a police search on the television or some such exercise.  In short, I combined my single item search with some tidying up.

And then when I found what I was seeking, actually quite near to the surface of the paper chaos, the tidying up immediately stopped.  Nevertheless, even a quite small reduction in paper-entropy makes for a good feeling.

Here’s another of those horizontal slices I like to do.  It’s from one of these photos:

image

Which was one of the things linked to in the latest of David Thompson’s Friday ephemera.

See also these awesome frogs, which really are awesome.  The harlequin tree frog, which looks like some kind of liquorice based sweet, has a mouth whose inside is blue.  Frog number 6, not named for some reason, is entirely blue, but that looks comparatively normal.

The reed frog, on the other hand, in its extreme decorative implausibility, reminds me of this hippo.

Having looked for longish periods like they might make quite a few more against Sri Lanka than England did, their last 5.0 overs turned into these 3.5 overs:

W . 1 1 4 . | 1 . 1 1wd . . W | 1 1 . W 1 . | 1 . W . W

Five wickets for thirteen runs in other words.  All out 217.  Very demoralising.  NZ have to get early wickets, and expose Sri Lanka’s unpractised (because so far in the tournament not needed) middle and late order.

Thought.  If Sri Lanka walk this like they walked it against England, this will make England’s demolition look less bad, which might just prolong a few England careers.  But can NZ do this?  Cricinfo:

Difficult to imagine them spooking Sri Lanka like they did South Africa.

And like England did too.

Well, NZ have made a start with the wickets.  SL got off to their usual rapid start but Tharanga is now gone, brilliantly caught by Ryder.  So my original title - “NZ not doing any better than England so far” - has had to be changed.  How many more can they now knock over?  (How bad can they make England look by comparison?)

I’m following it here.

Monday March 28 2011

Last week I journeyed out to faraway Strawberry Hill to dine with Patrick Crozier.  In the train back from Strawberry Hill to Vauxhall, I did some snapping, of signs:

imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimage

As I say in the title, all of these signs were in just my bit of the carriage, in other words in about one third of one carriage.  Three times all that is what there is in the whole carriage.  The rest of the economy is shot to hell but the sign makers are thriving.

imageOn the right there, is the door of the train, after I got off at Vauxhall.  In all cases click to get the original photo, which has been “lightly sharpened”, but is otherwise exactly as first taken.

Nag, nag, nag.  Regulation, regulation, regulation.  Law, law, law.  Health and safety, health and safety.

Not that it gets in the way of the journey, or of one’s enjoyment of it, unless you choose to get in a grumpy old tizz about it all, as I choose not to.  This is nagging with a very light touch.

More annoying are the announcements over the loudspeaker along similar lines.  Those do interrupt the journey somewhat.

Most annoying of all are the announcements over the loudspeaker about health and safety which you can’t quite decypher, and which you consequently fear may be of some significance, to do with closed stations or connecting lines that are malfunctioning.  On the whole, nagging noises on regular trains such as this one was are easily decyphered and hence reasonably easy to ignore.

Loudspeaker messages on the Tube are something else again.  The background noise is much louder, and just about anyone working for the Tube seems to be allowed to seize the mike and orate, in any style he or she chooses, and in any number of different accents.  Tube workers who fancy themselves as showbusinesspersons are numerous, and particularly annoying.

Compared to all that, the signs in these pictures of mine are positively benign.  But I suppose that is how the Nanny State gets itself dug in.  It does nice nagging, and nasty nagging.  Which gets you almost liking the nice nagging.

Although, it does occur to me that there is one slightly annoying feature of some of these signs, which is that it is not immediately clear whether something is being encouraged, referred to, or forbidden, especially if a graphic is unaccompanied by explanation.  This particularly applies to those signs on the outside.  Are push chairs with children forbidden, or positively welcome, or what?  Forbidden I think.  In which case, this is nagging of a rather more serious sort, certainly given the emptiness of the entire train at the late hour when I was travelling on it.

Saturday March 26 2011

Being busy is good.  What is annoying is trying and failing to accomplish something, while not feeling able to abandon it.  Busy, that is to say, without anything to show for it.  That’s what’s been happening to me this week.

Also, the previous thing I did, I sent in, but have had no reply about it from the person I would have hoped for a reply from, because he is next to me down the publishing chain.  Was it okay?  Was it crap, and is he fretting about how to say that?  Has he died in a car crash?  Did he even get it in the first place?  (My email arrangements have been very wayward of late.)

Further proof, if you want it, that blogs are absolutely not diaries.  Diaries tell you what is really going on, giving detail about what you’ve done, who (named) does or does not like it, but several years later when it either doesn’t matter or will at least be forgiven.  I have been very vague about all that in the above moans, and of course deliberately so.  I don’t want to tell you, now.  Which means that, what with this being a blog, I never will.  Blogs either tell you something of some kind of public significance, without betraying any confidences, or they tell you very little beyond such things as: I am in a bad mood.  I’ll spare you all the quota snaps or quota quotes.  Well, actually, I will spare myself the bother of supplying any such things.

My mood is not helped by the fact that as of now Sri Lanka are not just beating England in the cricket but slaughtering them.  South Africa choked yesterday, against NZ.  Sri Lanka won’t.  They are now chasing down England’s laboured total of 229, and are 132-0 with only half their overs gone.  England won’t extricate themselves from that.  I’d love to be wrong about that, in fact I would be ecstatic to be wrong about that.  But, I’m not.  The only question is if England will, like the wretched Windies, be beaten by ten wickets?

Also, Western Civilisation itself have been having, to my eyes and ears, a particularly bad last few days, what with what now looks like a botched intervention in Libya, the ongoing financial crisis (which I experience as rampant inflation), and what not. Worse, there seems to be no sufficiently widespread desire on anyone’s part actually to correct things, by (e.g.) clarifying what the West’s various foreign policies are, or by correctly diagnosing what is wrong with the world’s banking system.  A war has just been started with no coherent end in mind.  (Effective “World Powers” don’t call for things.  They do them.) The problems of paper money are being answered with more paper money, which is the problem, not the answer.

This is, I am well aware, an example of one of those something-however-pointless postings that I threatened when introducing my current once every other day policy, whenever that was.

Do bloggers also choke?

Sri Lanka now 161-0.

LATER:  Ten wickets.  Who saw that coming?  Apart from everyone, when Sri Lanka got to about a hundred, I mean.  England spent the preliminary round of the tournament doing good against good teams, and bad against bad teams.  Today they were up against a good team, and were, it would seem, hopeless.  Unpredictable as ever, I guess.

Thursday March 24 2011

Here.  Via here.  Makes this look very restrained.

Wednesday March 23 2011

Here is a photo that was taken almost exactly six years ago, on April 4th 2005:

image

And here are two more photos taken of pretty much the same scene, last Sunday, this one looking a bit to the left of the above scene:

image

And this one looking a bit to the right of the first scene:

image

I took the latter two before I thought to do the comparison, but it is quite revealing, isn’t it.

Two quite big buildings have arrived, and one quite big building has departed.

This next contrast is of course even more striking.  2005:

image

2011:

image

The views are not exactly the same.  But at least I can be confident that they were taken from the exact same spot, to within a few feet.

Monday March 21 2011

It’s now rare for me to find a picture of a stylish new bridge that I haven’t ever seen before.  Here is one:

image

That’s the nicest snap I’ve been able to find of the Seafarers Bridge in Melbourne.  Other good pix of it here together with explanatory verbiage.

Here at BM.com, we now particularly like Melbourne.

That‘s not a Health and Safety Notice, this is a Health and Safety Notice:

image

Spotted here, as was this transport related headline.

Sunday March 20 2011

Another sign of the times:

image

This afternoon I went east, to see how the Shard is getting on.  It is getting on.  This shoe repairs shop is in a peculiar elevated shopping street near the Shard, the other side of the street from London Bridge Station, towards the river.

I like that the phone number still starts with 0171.

Saturday March 19 2011

England may be through to the last eight of the cricket, but they are being slaughtered by Ireland in the Six Nations rugby.  At the moment, it’s 24-3 to Ireland.  Further proof, if you need it, of how unpredictable the Six Nations can be.

Four years ago, I wrote this, and the only thing that has changed is that Italy have stopped being so predictably bad:

The thing about the Six Nations is that you never know what will happen.  Sport is always a matter of animal spirits.  The consistently good sides are merely those that know how to unleash their animal spirits at exactly the right time, along with such things as skill, pace, etc.  But if the animal spirits falter, of if the other guys get an unexpected dose of them, all pre-match bets are off.  Thus England, having won their first four games, can show up in Scotland, to play a Scottish side that have only one win in four, say, for the formality of winning the Grand Slam, and then England can lose.  France can get bored, against anyone, and lose, or get excited and beat anyone.  Wales, however poor their side is supposed to be and however many vital stars may be out injured, can get inspired, against anyone.  You just never know.  Only Italy have so far mostly failed to rise to any of their many occasions.  Sometimes they beat Scotland, and that’s about it.

I also recall writing (I remember these ancient postings of mine even if no one else does) about the last time the English rugby team came Ireland in a World Cup year, trying to win a Grand Slam.  Last time around they succeeded, superbly.  All year long, the BBC commentators have been saying that that England side was something else again compared to this one.  How right they were.

Hello.  England have scored a try.  Thompson, who must have played in that 2003 game.  Will that get their juices flowing?

Oh dear.  Wilkinson (!) has missed the conversion.  24-8.

But, things do seem a bit different.  England are looking better, and Ireland are looking jittery.  I doubt it will change things enough, but … with the Six Nations, you never know.

But, with every minute that passes, England’s chance of staging some miracle come-back diminish.  Which will make it an Irish double over England, in the same month.  The first one was very entertaining.  This one, not so much.

And now it’s raining.  That settles it.

Thursday March 17 2011

As was revealed in the previous posting, today I had lunch out with somebody.  That somebody was Alex Singleton, and on our way to dine we passed this Pimlico shop with its window full of mirrors:

image

Alex has started an enterprise called Alex Singleton Associates.  At present he is busy organising a master class on how to get good coverage from newspapers and social media.  Since Alex was until very recently a journalist for the Daily Telegraph, and since one of the other speakers is Guido Fawkes, who knows all there is to be known about new media, blogging, twittering and such like, it is bound to be good value to anyone shrewd enough to attend this event.  A snip at £150, provided you book a little bit early (otherwise £199), and provided that you intend to apply what you learn to something which is potentially profitable.

Seriously, if you are running the kind of enterprise which is big enough to need such stuff but not big enough to be able to carry it on the payroll full-time or buy it from a PR monster with a huge name and bills to match, why not give this a try?

One of Alex’s particular strengths is talking and writing about tech products like software packages, in language that non-technical people, i.e. most of the likely users of such stuff, can understand.  Here, for instance, is a piece he wrote last year about a slimmed-down version of Photoshop.  Pieces like this get lots of hits, from people who might be put-off by excessive geek-speak.  Only geeks can produce such wonders, but once they have, they can maybe use a little help from someone like Alex saying what they are offering.

Yes, Alex did pay for lunch, as cynical old you probably guessed by now.  But there was no deal that I would write this.

If I thought Alex’s enterprise was a probable waste of space, I would not have told you I thought that.  I just wouldn’t have told you about it at all.

Anyway, it was the photo that got me started.

It looks as if the England cricket team are finally being put out of their misery.  They are now 134-5 against the Windies.  Bright start but now they’ve crumpled.

Everyone is talking about how “tired” they are, but it wasn’t just the physical effort.  Their problem has been that after winning the Ashes, they were expected to carry right on.  Their problem was psychological as well as merely physical.  It’s hard to separate the two angles at the best of times.  With England now, impossible.

The thing was, while they were winning the Ashes, they were concentrating entirely on winning the Ashes.  Then, suddenly, that over-riding aim was snatched away from them.  The Ashes were done with.  They won them, but that’s not the point.  The point is, that was the Big Aim, to the total exclusion of all other aims, however immediately those might follow.  That’s the only way to win the Ashes.  But when a Big Aim has gone, you need time to turn your mental guns around and aim them at a new Big Aim.  And what was the new damn Big Aim, after the Ashes were done with?  Was it to win the one-dayers against Australia?  Was it to win the World Cup?  They were playing (and losing) those damned one-dayers when they should all have been having picnics with their WAGs and thinking about nothing at all, letting their subconscious minds adjust to the next Big Aim.

“Tiring” doesn’t quite capture it.  It’s like they were trying to do essential maintenance on a car and drive it at the same time.  It’s no wonder the wheels have fallen off.

They are now like people trying to do a full days work on no sleep the night before.  Because something similar happens when you’ve done three or four months of maximum effort, and are then expected to make more efforts without even a fortnight off in between.

Their subconsciouses have all decided.  The Big Aim is now to get bloody home and have a holiday.  Anyone who does well and causes them to have to stay out in India for another fucking week is a fucking traitor.  Their subconsciouses have all become a bolshy trade union.

Except Trott’s subconscious, because he doesn’t have one.  Trott is a robot.

Some say that, well, these preening bastards are paid top whack to do this kind of thing.  The Battle of the Atlantic was far worse, as is working in a call centre.  They should just get on with it.  Well, they have “just got on with it”, and they have done, if anything, amazingly well.  They tied against India, and beat South Africa.  Those were the surprises, not the defeats.  I wouldn’t put it past them to beat the Windies, even now, through a combination of sheer willpower (willpower being the conscious and brutal self-abuse that consists of over-riding the subsconscious) and the Windies getting a bit windy.

I see that Luke Wright is playing.  And Tredwell.  And Tremlett.  Good calls.  They picked the team consisting of the eleven blokes most eager (or least reluctant) to play.  It’s all about effort now.  Like I say, good calls.

England 243 all out.  Better than it looked like being.  Luke Wright a useful 44.

*****

Okay I just had lunch with somebody, and I’m back.  Windies 140-5.  Pollard batting.  150-6.  Pollard out!  Bloody hell.  Looks like England could be there for another week.  Big stand.  Windies need twenty-one to win with four wickets left, going like a train.  England doomed.  Wicket.  Windies need 21 with three wickets left.  Wicket.  Wicket.  Windies need twenty with only one wicket left.  England favourites.  S.J. Benn run out 2.  England win by 18:

. W . . . . | . . . 1 . . | W . W . 1 . | . . . 1,W

By England’s standards in this tournament that wasn’t even close.  Go here for the scorecard.

Six of the Windy wickets taken by bowlers, Bopara and Tredwell, who didn’t play in the Ashes.  One run out.  And the other three?  Swann.  He of the dew-induced tantrum.  Two wickets in his last over.

England now need help from some of the other results.  If they lost that they were definitely out.  Now they’ve won, only maybe through.

So, the torture continues.  Will they get eliminated?  Torture.  They get eliminated.  Torture.  They get through.  Torture.

Wednesday March 16 2011

6000:

The next week and a bit is looking rather busy. If I were a young surfer dude who works in advertising, I’d probably say that it was looking “hectic” or “insane”, but I’m not that sort of person, so I’ll settle for “rather busy”.

So here, have a quota photo. Quite an arty one, I think, too.

It is indeed.  It’s shoes and a doll on a stony beech, for those who can’t be bothered to look.  If this was an arty movie, it would mean that a family had drowned, because Art usually means bad news of some kind.  I expect all that really happened was they had a picnic near the sea.

I am also having an insane week, because I have fixed to do something, on Friday, and have only two days left during which to do the hour or so of preparation that is still required.

Monday March 14 2011

Next weekend the Six Nations Rugby will end, I trust with England winning the Grand Slam.  England have certainly been the best side, but there are worrying signs that they aren’t that good either.  England’s best moment came a few minutes into their second game, against Italy, when the England halves cut the Italian defence into fragments and put Ashton in for the first of his four tries in that eight-tries-to-one drubbing.  Italy never recovered their defensive poise after that early shock to their system.  In particular, they had probably not prepared for those inside passes that England have specialised in this year.  But subsequent England opponents, I surmise, have practised against this particular ploy, and there has been nothing quite as good as that Italy performance from England since.  Other sides are getting wise to the England threat, and once they respect it, they can settle down to nullifying it.

Basically, I think defences have got very, very solid.  Professional is the word.  As in: very, very boring.  They make all the backs they are up against either run into them, which is boring, or run sideways, ditto.  And England’s defence is one of the best.

Antoine Clarke asked in a comment on this what I made of Italy.  Briefly what I think of Italy is that they are slowly improving, while France are struggling with the fact that those professional defences can no longer be bamboozled with Gallic flair.  Something to do with defenders not making eye contact, but just covering all the likely areas, and hunting in little teams.  One guy takes your top half, the other your lower torso.  This leaves France reduced, humiliatingly, to just another collection of Six Nations cloggers.  This is not new.  It has been happening for some years.

France also have the problem of a coach who has completely lost it, his extraordinary eruption after France got beaten narrowly by Italy having been by far the most amusing Six Nations thing that happened last weekend.

But question.  During that Italy France game, the BBC were calling the French coach “Lee Vr Mon”.  But I regularly hear other people who also ought to know call him “Lee Yeh Vr Mon”.  To put it another way, is there a grave accent over the first e in Lievremont, or is there not?  I’m thinking: yes there is.  You might miss an accent, but you are less likely to make one up that isn’t really there.

You expect individual English BBC commentators who used to be players to screw around with foreign names.  Yesterday Guscott, for example, was calling Rougerie “Rougier”, and I recall complaining about this kind of thing from Jonathan Davies a couple of years ago.  But you don’t expect BBC people who are there because their expertise is talking to mess up foreign names.  But I rather think they did.  Antoine?

And talking of screwing up, Serge Betsen was and I believe still is a fine player, but his command of English is inadequate for him to be a commentator on Brit TV.  All he did was subtract the question mark from the questions asked of him.  So Betsen, are France very optimistic about bouncing back from their loss against England and winning this game this afternoon?  Betsen: Yes eh eh eh eh eh France air eh eh eh eh vairy optimistic eh eh ay bout boun seeng back and eh eh eh weeneeng thees gemm.  The more tongue tied he became, the longer the questions got, just to make sure that something coherent was said.  Betsen may be an expert on rugby in French, but in English, this is not expertise.

Sunday March 13 2011

This time a rather self-consciously arty one (if “HOXTON” and “SHOP LOCAL” are anything to go by):

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Next to Regents Canal, London.  Taken in April 2007.  Click on it to get it bigger.

Friday March 11 2011

I will start with Would-be Lib Dem MP jailed for battering family cat to death with walking stick after it scratched his grandchild, which explains itself fairly clearly.  That headline sounds rather long, in the manner of Hello Magazine.  But I seldom read newspapers, so what do I know about that?

Better news is that Nottingham scientists identify cell component involved in triggering cat allergy.

Charlotte Gore contrasts Magic and Kittens Socialism with the bad sort, the actually existing sort of Socialism that actually happens, which always gets blamed on capitalism, because it’s bad so it must be capitalism.  I am a bit confused by the Internet Explorer references, but the phrase itself is a good one, I think.

Here is a reminder that in another world, cat means Competition Appeal Tribunal.

And here, to get even more gloomy, is a reminder that in some worlds, cat means catastrophe, today being a particularly appropriate day to reflect on that fact.

So, has the Japan disaster affected the cat bond market?  Probably.  Although, apparently reduced demand from Japanese refineries for crude oil has cause the price of oil to go down.  Odd.  But, presumably this means that the price of the kind of oil you actually buy, to heat your house or power your car, will go up.

Cricinfo:

Miller to Wilson, FOUR, Ladies and gentlemen. Say it in hushed tones. An upset is on the cards.

This time it’s Ireland versus the West Indies.  Ireland beating Windies would not be such a surprise as Ireland beating England, but it would be a surprise.

And the Blogger’s Curse, or maybe the Commentator’s curse, strikes again.  Ireland lose a big wicket, Ed Joyce, for 84.  Suddenly, it looks a lot less likely.  Enter Kevin O’Brien, the hero against England.  Exit Kevin O’Brien for a duck.  A one hit wonder, it would seem.  All now depends on Wilson now, see above.

Meanwhile, England, having sportingly given away their first three wickets, to Bangladesh for a mere 56, are maybe going to make a proper score, but maybe not.  With luck, there will be some final overs slogging from Morgan (already past 50) and Bopara.  Oh dear, exit Morgan, for 63.

The reason Ireland doing well is so important is that if your sport is not the number one sport (i.e. soccer), then you are going to care about it spreading, as well as about your team doing well.  Commenters wondered which side I was on when I wrote this, about that amazing Ireland run chase that toppled England.  No Blogger’s Curse there!  They were right to wonder.  I greatly enjoyed that epic Ireland run chase, partly for the expansionism thing, and partly because I don’t think England are really in line to win this, and all progress they make is just a bit of a bonus, after the Ashes.

Trouble is, Ireland beating Windies means cricket may shrink in the Windies.

And oh dear, Wilson is out.  Wilson is Surrey’s number two wicket keeper.  In other news, Surrey’s number one wicket keeper is also out.

Ireland surely won’t win now.  They were 177-3 when I began this, only minutes ago.  Now they are 199-6 and looking doomed.  Indeed.  Now 200-7.

England, meanwhile, are making a right old hash of their “batting powerplay”, which I think means that the fielders have to come in from the boundary and hence take lots of catches off miss-hits, which they wouldn’t have taken normally.  And yes, that is exactly what has happened.  England are now 217-9.  Bangladesh could well win this.  What’s the betting it goes to the last over?

Ireland lose, 231 all out.  England 225 all out, which Bangladesh will fancy beating.  But the Cricinfo commentators are saying that this is “never a 300 pitch”, so maybe England will win.  Like I say, last over.

Get the result here.

Here:

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First posted November 2009, but well worthy of a repeat showing, I think you will agree.

Thursday March 10 2011

Here:

Don’t you hate it when bloggers post just to tell you they have nothing to say? Well… that’s what I’m doing right now.

Just passing on what she said.

Wednesday March 09 2011

Indeed.  Another snap taken last night, just before the big advert below:

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I like the whiteness, the hinges, the signs, the bike at an odd angle, and the fact that (see sign on the right) that it’s the Noel Coward Theatre.

Here’s the sign, closer up:

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Alas, we are once again up against the limits of what my camera can do in artificial light, which this was.  Underneath “overbury” it says: “A passion for perfection”.

That bloody Tom Peters has got a lot to answer for.

Tuesday March 08 2011

Some smarmy little interruption to my computing routine with a message based on my googling habits convinces me only of somebody’s willingness to snoop on my googling habits.  The message itself means no more to me than the sight of my face in the mirror in the morning.  It costs no one any money worth talking about, and therefore tells me nothing about the product except that they would like me to buy it.  Which I already know.  What such interruptions do not do is persuade me that it might be worth buying.

But a big bastard advert where God intended big bastard adverts to be, in the Tube, proves that Dell think that they at least might have a hit on their hands, and that maybe they already have such a hit.  Big adverts like this cost real money.  So, with the usual apologies for the slight blurriness that happens when I try to photo in indoor light:

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It is the middle of the three small images there that really got my attention.  That’s a very cute way to combine the touch pad concept with the regular laptop.  I wouldn’t dream of buying a mere touchpad thingy.  I have to be able to type.  So, like I say, that really interests me.

A little googling (which will - see above - presumably precipitate an echoing deluge of bullshit back at me of the same message) took me to the news that this gizmo has, indeed, been around for quite a few months.  It just wouldn’t make sense to beat the big drum for a product that isn’t proving popular.

Advertising as a peacock’s tail.  Or something.

Sunday March 06 2011

Time for another string of weird symbols that mean everything to cricketophiles, and bugger all to anyone else:

1 W 1 . 2 1|W 1 . W

This Cricket World Cup would be a very poor sort of thing without England playing in it.  I take a patriotic pride from the fact that England’s first four games have been just about the best four games of the tournament so far.

The non-English contribution to the tournament reached its nadir yesterday, when Sri Lanka and Australia, having contrived a very promising start, then had to watch this happen:

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This fiasco having been preceded by the usual crop of proper-team-minnow annihilations.  Like I say, thank goodness for England.

It all comes from England’s splendid habit, from the point of view of the tournament as a whole, of playing good against good sides, but bad against bad sides.  Evens things out perfectly.  Having damn near lost to the Netherlands and having actually lost to Ireland, and having damn near won against India, today they actually won against South Africa.  South Africa are, or were, many people’s (including my) top pick to win this thing.  The hyroglifics above are the concluding spasms of the England South Africa game that just ended.  Broad: 6.4-0-15-4.  Work that out, American women!

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To me, there is something deeply admirable about a team which gives weak opponents a chance, but does everything it can to beat stronger ones.  This is the definition of being sporting, is it not?  After all, the game’s the thing.

Also, this good against good but bad against bad thing, if you think about it, augurs very well for England in the rest of the tournament.  As the bad teams go, England will face only good teams, and will just play better and better!

The extreme opposite of England have been New Zealand.  New Zealand have been crushing teams worse than them, like they’re going to win the whole thing.  But when they have come up against a proper team, they have turned into total crushees.  They are bullies, in other words.

TUESDAY: Better.  The New Zealanders have finally picked on someone their own size to beat up.  They batted first today against Pakistan, and the last six overs of their innings went for: 14, 8, 28, 15, 30, 19.  Total 302.  That’s within range for the Pakistanis, and it could be a great game.

Friday March 04 2011

How about this (and I do really recommend clicking on that to get it bigger) for a stunning picture of a great and growing city?:

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I am fond of saying that skyscrapers are as much a fact of nature as a wasps’ nest or a beaver damn or a corral reef.  This picture says that loud and clear, don’t you think?

To be more particular, it has the look, to me, of a forest that has been burnt, but is now starting to recover.  Soon, some of those skyscrapers will be thousands of feet tall.

Via the ever-entertaining, reliably ephemeral, David Thompson.

Thursday March 03 2011

Here:

I don’t call anyone “Doctor” unless they can write me a prescription for drugs.

Quite right.  Found in a piece denouncing “Doctor” Krugman, who is only a doctor in the sense that he doctors his numbers.

Not that there should be any such thing as “prescription drugs”, but that’s a different argument.

Tuesday March 01 2011

One of the pleasures of blogging is that you learn about new and interesting blogs from comments on existing blogs.  From a comment on this posting which I recently did for Transport Blog, I learned of this blog, which is something to do with some kind of broadcasting venture.  Not sure what kind of broadcasting venture.  More research is needed on that.

And, feeding into a recent interest of mine, there is a recent posting there, featuring a couple of Soviet era Health and Safety posters:

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Judging by the blogroll, I should have alerted myself to this blog long ago.  And the fact that whoever did this posting found these posters via David Thompson’s blog (one of my favourites), and found them interesting, suggests that he and I are even more on the same wavelength, aesthetically and culturally as well as merely politically.