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Thursday July 26 2012

On the evening of August 3rd, i.e. in just over a week’s time, there will be a talk at my home, on the subject of Bitcoin, given by Frank Braun.  Arrive any time after 7pm.  Talk begins 8pm.  Informal socialising from 9.30pm until late.

Frank Braun has provided the following biographical notes:

Frank Braun is a libertarian computer scientist who got interested in Bitcoin about two years ago due to its potential to increase personal liberty.  He works as an IT security consultant and is sometimes getting paid in Bitcoin.  He is a strong privacy proponent and cannot be found on Facebook.

Which might have something to do with why he preferred me not to include a picture of him in this posting.

Concerning his Bitcoin talk, Frank Braun writes this:

In this talk an introduction to Bitcoin will be given: how it works, its key innovations and limitations, and how it can enhance personal liberty right now and in the near future.

Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer (decentralized) digital currency which became public in 2009. It uses digital signatures and cryptographic proof so as to enable users to conduct irreversible, pseudonymous transactions without relying on trust.

It is mostly unregulated, not controlled by state agencies, and is heavily influenced by ideas from counter-economics and cryptoanarchy.

Currently there are 9.5 million Bitcoin in circulation (a Bitcoin is worth around 6 British Pounds) and an ecosystem of legitimate (exchangers, eBay like marketplaces, and many small merchants) and illegitimate (for example, the underground drug market place Silk Road) businesses has developed around it. It will be discussed what Bitcoin means practically for Libertarians and how it relates theoretically to the Austrian theory of money.

My home is not a big place, and it is possible that more people will want to attend than I can accommodate, so please email me (at Brian At BrianMicklethwait Dot Com) if you want to attend, good an early.  My guess is that all who wish to attend will fit in, but that’s only a guess.  I will then email back with my address, and further details of the evening.

Tuesday July 24 2012

Yesterday I an Michael J went to the Oval, to watch South Africa crush England at cricket.

And while England were beig crushed, here is what happened to me:


Taken a day later.  Probably a good thing, for me, that England didn’t spin it out any longer.

Summer has finally arrived in London.  It would seem that God loves the Olympics.

Friday July 20 2012

Also snapped last Sunday in Borough High Street, with Feline Friday in mind.  I promise nothing, mind, but I do like to mention cats on a Friday here, from time to time:


Appropriately, given the footloose and fancy free reputation of the feline, this is a company that specialises in rental accommodation.

I wonder when they decided on that name.  And were they thinking, I wonder, that they would, because of it, get lots of free publicity on the internet?

Is there a Mr Black, or a Mr Katz, involved in the enterprise, or was the name just picked because they liked it?  (LATER: Yes to both!  See comments.)

More about them here.

Wednesday July 18 2012

And here, taken about one minute before the picture of cranes in the posting below, is what the top of the Shard looked like, as of last Sunday:


Commenting here, I said this:

Dave Walker

Agreed about the top of the Shard looking a bit odd. This is the main departure of the real thing from the visualisations, i.e. fake photos. I think what they didn’t see coming was that, what with there being no internal partitions up there, the light comes straight through, and the floors are emphasised, the way they aren’t anywhere else below.

I suspect there may be further changes to come up there, when it gets filled in, so to speak. I have many pictures of it looking as it does now, and will be looking carefully to see what, if anything, happens up there next.

Or then again, maybe what we now see is what we will continue to get. And pictures will soon start appearing, here and elsewhere, of tiny people in silhouette, inside. Some taking photographs no doubt, which is one of my particular photographic enthusiasms.

Stay tuned.

Here are three pictures I took last Sunday, of a church and of the Shard, lined up in various ways.  And here is a picture I took a bit before that, on the same trip.  Instead of looking north along Borough High Street, I am looking west, along a side street adjoining Borough High Street:


When the light is good, London constantly offers fun surprises of this sort.

Friday July 13 2012

Indeed.  By no less a personage than Guido Fawkes:


That’s only a picture, so it’s no use trying to follow the link in the picture.  It’s just a picture.  But the link refers to this posting.  Follow that link and you will learn what got the Great Man’s attention.

Squirrels make good photographic prey.  They run about, thereby attracting your attention.  Then they stand absolutely still, while you take the photo.  In London, they are tame and do not mind being only about two yards away from you.  Timid squirrels used to avoid being eaten, and thus dominated the squirrel gene pool.  Now timid squirrels miss out on eating stuff themselves.  Evolution in action.


The picture on the left is the best snap I took of this particular squirrel.  The one on the right, which I took eight seconds later (according to my camera), is included because it is one of those photos which, I think, looks badly photoshopped (nothing looks well photoshopped because you don’t see the joins), but which is actually not.  I’m referring to the way the squirrel looks like there’s a line drawn around it.  Something to do with its fur, when combined with the out-of-focus background.

I took these photos on the same day, a couple of hours later, as the ones in the posting immediately below, of the Bomber Command Memorial.

This posting as “How the mind works” attached to it because it’s about how the minds of squirrels work..

Sunday July 08 2012

Last week I used one of the photos I took at the new Bomber Command Memorial at Hyde Park Corner as a Samizdata Quote of the Day.

Here are some other snaps I took of the Memorial:


For some reason, I often find the little cards and photos of loved ones that people put on these memorials to be more evocative than the Big Thing itself.  And given that others will of course also be photoing the big picture, I often find myself concentrating on these small things when I photo these things.  And on others taking photos of course, that being a constant preoccupation of mine.

You don’t have to agree with everything Bomber Command was commanded to do during WW2 to salute the bravery of those who did it.

I for one find that prominent Pericles reference to defending freedom (the one I made into an SQotD, and which you can see in the final picture above) slightly odd.  Bomber Command was an offensive weapon, as is made clear in the Churchill quote about how only the bombers could offer victory (see photo in line 3, far left).  And its purpose was not just to win the war (which despite Bomber Harris’s promises it only helped to do), but to punish the damned losers of it for having started it.  This was a punitive war, and everyone at the time knew it.  Oh sure, the story at the time in the newspapers was that it was all precision bombing of military targets, blah blah, but if any bombs just happened to land on civilians, the attitude of civilians on our side was: serve the bastards right.

You have to realise how most British people felt about the Germans during WW2, including most of the bomber airmen.  The Germans were the people who, having experienced World War 1 in all its horror, concluded from it that they needed to have a re-run of it, but this time win.  Starting WW1 was forgiveable, albeit a horrible blunder, and we still quarrel about who exactly did start it.  Starting WW2, on purpose, was unforgiveable.

Okay, maybe a lot of Germans were not in favour of all this.  But they went along with it, very happily.  Until it all started to go wrong.

WW1 ended with a negotiated German surrender.  This time around, our Anglo ancestors were determined that every last German left alive would not only lose, but know that Germany had lost.  Each German must taste defeat, and if they died while tasting it, that was just fine.  This time, the surrender would be unconditional.  No “stab in the back” crap.  Stabbed from the front, with overwhelming force, by an enraged world.

Never again.  You must never, never, do this again.  That was what Bomber Command was saying.

In a way, the bombing offensive was a continuation by other means of the silly pamphlet dropping over Germany which was what the bombers first did.  Sending a message, but this time in a form that would register.

You may not like any of this, but that is how it was.

Friday July 06 2012

Like this (and welcome to all visiting from Guido):


This is such an important issue.  Regular punters owning guns in America controls crime in America, except where idiot politicians forbid this.

But irregular punters, libertarians, not just having weapons but being downright enthusiastic about them.  This will defend Libertaria, once someone finally gets it going, somewhere in the world.

Lots of libertarians think “defence” is a difficult issue.  No.  Just allow anyone who wants to do it to do it.  The enemy are a bunch of wankers who don’t think they should be allowed to wield weapons.  No contest.  As for the armies these people think they command, our job will be to get our spies in among them, and stop them doing anything.

Building railways in built-up areas, organising drains, controlling infectious diseases; Things like that will be far harder to sort out.

By the way, I like the word “Libertaria”, to describe the place when Libertarianism first kicks off in a big way.  I have been in the habit of calling this mythical land the “libertarian utopia”.  But “utopia” is a word with baggage attached, a lot of it very bad.  “Libertaria” dodges all such stuff.

Sunday July 01 2012

I mean these ones:


Taken by me yesterday, in North East London, across the Regents Canal, on a day when the sky was especially dramatic.  But does anyone know how I can make those gasometers go straight up in the air instead of converging so violently?  I use PhotoStudio 5.5.  Just the technical term or the function I need to look for would help.