Brian Micklethwait's Blog

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

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Monday August 29 2011

That is to say, the one I never from then on hanker to replace with a better one:

image

Not wanting a better one is crucial with complicated toys, because you are then willing to invest the time and effort to get the very best out of it, by reading the book of words from cover to cover and really making the effort to understand everything, while not fearing that this time (as on all such occasions before) much of this time and and effort will be wasted.

Just announced.  Early reviews very good.  Any comments, pro or con, welcome.

Note that my category list includes “video”.  Apparently this thing does very good video.  As well as regular photos of course.

Friday August 26 2011

Indeed:

image

I’m referring to the brown rectangle above the computer screen.

I regularly write 2WRITE lists (and 2DO lists come to that), on bits of paper and in computer files, but then I lose them, either in the virtual infinity that is my hard disc, or in the unvirtual near-infinity of clutter that constantly rises up around me.  I have long known that I needed a Board, with notes to self which, once stuck there, would remain visible.  Now, finally, I have it.  Big moment.

For me, the big surprise was how small it needed to be.  I feared I might have to entirely reconstruct my desk, but luckily, an incremental addition proved more than sufficient.

Friday August 19 2011

My blogging pause here is working quite well, in the sense that I do indeed seem to be doing more at Samizdata, a far more significant operation than this. 

Number of Samizdata postings by me during May, when I was blogging regularly here: 9

Number of Samizdata postings by me during June, when I was also blogging regularly here: 12

Number of Samizdata postings by me during July, when I stopped blogging regularly here: 26

Number of Samizdata postings by me (so far) during August, during which month I have continued not to blog regularly here: 10

I have made no particular effort to blog at Samizdata.  I switched off my sense of obligation here, but did not switch it on again there.  I merely blogged, mostly there, whenever I felt inclined.

Samizdata is a good blog, but it’s archiving system is not good, so allow me to do some archiving of my own.  Vanity?  Yes.  But this whole blog is vanity.  My most important reader here, unlike at Samizdata, is me.

Aug 18: “The IPL has become a bit of a welfare state ...”

Aug 15: What Obama’s decline in job approval means – and does not mean

Aug 14: When words go walkabout

Aug 11: A repeat for the BBC Radio 4 Keynes v Hayek debate

Aug 10: Rioting is fun

Aug 9: Letting the Police do their job

Aug 8: Cameron’s Falklands moment

Aug 4: Does Democrats calling Tea Partiers terrorists mean that the Democrats are winning, or losing?

Aug 4: Keynes v Hayek reminder

Aug 1: The run out that wasn’t

July 31: Samizdata quote of the day

July 28: How Mushtaq Ali and Vijay Merchant defied the Maharajkumar of Vizianagram

July 27: Austrianism as Number Two

July 25: Samizdata quote of the day

July 25: A great day at Lord’s

July 24: Some not so recent Brittany pictures

July 23: Samizdata quote of the day

July 21: The Governor of the Bank of England chooses today to appear on Test Match Special - to talk about something entirely different

July 21: Will Schlichter’s book be out soon enough, and when should I review it?

July 20: Samizdata quote of the day

July 19: Rob Fisher on the Asus Padfone

July 19: Is Britain about to shrug off David Cameron?

July 15: How the de Havilland Twin Otter came back from the dead

July 15: Samizdata quote of the day

July 15: Who in the world has been going where in the world

July 14: Museum of Communism: Above McDonalds and opposite Benetton

July 13: One cheer for democracy and no cheers for real democracy

July 12: Steve Baker MP on how the IFRS makes bankers behave badly

July 10: Samizdata quote of the day

July 8: Samizdata quote of the day

July 7: When the News of the World (closure of) is the news

July 7: Samizdata quote of the day

July 7: The words “Twitter” and “Facebook” are interdit on French TV

July 6: Steve Baker MP quotes von Mises in the Commons: “There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion …”

July 5: Cricket gets more global but stays political

July 4: Samizdata quote of the day

June 27: Pointing the finger at strikes in China and in Britain

June 25: Samizdata quote of the day

June 22: Frank J on Obama’s re-election chances

June 20: Environmental news from Canada

June 19: Will Saudi Arabia now ban the burqa?

June 15: Toby Young on increasing the supply of good education

June 13: Samizdata quote of the day

June 11: Is the globe now ready to start thinking seriously about its elite?

June 8: Prices going up and a price going down

June 7: Ideas have consequences

June 5: Unsure of current legislation?

June 3: Death and surveillance

May 30: Samizdata quote of the day

May 26: Samizdata quote of the day

May 26: Samizdata mistranslation of the day

May 25: Allister Heath on how spending is still going up

May 22: Today I photographed the World’s End (and lots of boats)

May 21: Samizdata quote of the day

May 14: Good news on the environmental policy front

May 12: Rally Against Debt

May 1: Austrianism in Lawrence of Arabia

Friday August 05 2011

During the last few days, my regular internet connection has been out of action.  As a result I have been using my little laptop, which I think I christened “Judas” (yes) not just for internet stuff, but for word processing as well, because I need to be able to copy and paste the results into the blogging system.

However, this has created a problem.  On Judas, openoffice.org writer (the word processor I am using) does double brackets in a curved way, different in direction for the beginning of a quote to the end of a quote, and it does this relentlessly.  It won’t told otherwise. But straight up quote marks are important in blogging, if you like to embed links in a word processing file as you go along, as I do.  If you do curvey inverted commas, the links (which included inverted commas as part of the not-text “coding” so to speak) refuse to work.  You have to go through the entire thing, in the blog input process, and replace curved inverted commas with “.  (Probably not helpful to put “"”.  Now the default setting for “ here forbids me to do the other thing, when I want that.  Oh well.)

So, can anyone help me make this change to the default setting of openoffice.org writer?  I have tried finding where this is done, but failed.  I googled, but even that didn’t make any sense.  Nobody seemed able to understand the concept of giving foolproof step-by-step instructions.  Instead they jumped to the conclusion that (e.g.) “paragraph” something would tell you where to go.  It does not.  “Paragraph” gets several mentions in the interface, and none of them behaved as the geek in question said.  Again with the damn geeks and their inability to empathise with humans.

What the geeks don’t get is that I very seldom do anything with my word processor except process words, in whatever way I am able to make it do this, without changing any settings.  I know, how primitive.  Well, when it comes to fiddling with computers, I am primitive.

So, if you are a geek who knows that answer, and if you are not now feeling too insulted, and you know how to explain things to humans without geek short cuts that mean nothing to humans, please help.  It would be much appreciated.

Tuesday August 02 2011

The win by England over India, concluded yesterday, was extraordinary.  Now, of course, in retrospect, it was inevitable.  India are exhausted by having won the World Cup, by having played in the IPL, by having played in the West Indies, by their lack of experience in English conditions.  The ICC crocked them.  Etc., etc., etc..  But they didn’t look exhausted on the first day, when England were 124 for 8, did they?  Or when they were themselves 267 for 4, already well ahead, on day two.

One of many remarkable facts about this game was that England won by a landslide without anything significant being contributed by any of: Cook (2 and 5), Trott (4 and 2), or Swann (12-0-76-0 and 3-0-21-0), other than Swann’s useful bit of batting in the first innings, when he helped Broad to get England past two hundred, and when he made more than twice as many runs (28) as Cook and Trott combined in the entire match (13).  Which is another way of saying that this really is a team.  Cook, Trott and Swann have recently done stellar things for England and are fixtures, provided only that they are fit.  But this time, others did the stellar things, like Broad and Bell and Bresnan.  This really is a team.  Everyone is justifying his place and making his presence felt, and the problem now is not who to pick, but who to leave out.

When India began their final innings, the first wicket they lost was that of Dravid.  So when V.V.S. Laxman was then bowled by Anderson to make it 13-2, India’s resistance ended.  Once any two of Dravid, Laxman and Tendulkar were gone, the rest of the Indian batting was exposed, India were toast, everyone immediately knew it, including them, and including Laxman.  Catches involve a moment between: it’s a catch, and: he’s caught it and he’s out.  Sometimes quite a long moment, when it’s hit up in the air, or when there’s an appeal and a pause while the umpire decides, which also applies to LBWs of course.  Now decision reviews can prolong that same gap to something lasting several minutes, or so it seems.  But when a class batsman like Laxman has one of his stumps sent spinning like that, while offering only a routine defensive shot with no big wind-up or back lift or dance down the pitch, there is no gap at all of this sort.  The game moves from one state to another radically different state, instantaneously.  Rarely does a test match go from being still some kind of contest to absolutely no contest, with such brutal suddenness.

Another vivid memory of this match was, for me, the incoming emails to cricinfo when Pietersen dropped a very catchable chance from Yuvraj when Yuvraj was on four, on day two, and when Yuvraj then went on to make over fifty and share in the century partnership with Dravid that took India into that seemingly commanding position towards the end of day two.  Pietersen, said one emailer, has just dropped England’s chance of becoming the Number One test match team!  The longer the stand when on, the more all the commentators went on about that dropped catch.  How costly could that be?  Was that a series defining moment?  Most have already forgotten about that, but I remember it still, and now I remember it here.

England have dropped quite a lot of catches in this series, the one serious criticism that one can make of them.  They might have had Indian opener Mukund out first ball for the second time in the match, making it 0-1 off the first ball of the innings for the second time in the match, but that second one was one of the many chances that they dropped.

At Lord’s on the last day, as England chiselled away at the Indian batting, the commentators were losing count of the number of catches dropped by England.  Literally.  I remember one of them saying England have now dropped two, and I could personally already recall three.

My guess is that average teams are cast down by dropped catches, because they know that if they don’t hold their catches, they will probably lose.  But above average teams positively feed off dropped catches, almost in the same way that they feed off undropped catches, or wickets of any other kind.  Average teams regard dropped catches as evidence of their terrible averageness.  Above average teams regard dropped catches as evidence that chances are being created and that success will soon follow.  They drop a catch and promptly start bowling and fielding even better.

On that glorious first day at Melbourne a few months ago, England began with, I think, two dropped catches, before one finally stuck, and that extraordinary demolition of the Australian first innings finally got underway.  Yes, scroll down here, and you see it.  0.5: Watson dropped, by Collingwood.  2.1: Watson dropped, by Pietersen.  Only when we get to 3.2 do we read: SR Watson c Pietersen b Tremlett 5.  What England were thinking, I think, was not: Oh no, there goes our chance of keeping him down to a small score.  It was: We’ve got this guy on the run.  Any ball now, one of these chances is going to stick.  What an excellent team they are.

This series is not over yet.  India have only to win one of the last two games and not lose the other and they stay top of the test match ratings, and they could still do that.  When this last game was getting started with a clatter of early England wickets, I was dusting off my thoughts about how England have recent previous in going one up in a series and then losing a game to make it one all.  They did this in the last two Ashes series, before winning them, and it seemed to be happening again.  Now, I remind any readers of this who are now taking it for granted that England will crush India in the final two games, that India with a full hand of bowlers, that much better acclimatised and surely wanting very much not to be whitewashed, could still make a lot of grief for England.

Next summer, when the South Africans drop by, should be equally fascinating.