Brian Micklethwait's Blog

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

Home

www.google.co.uk


Recent Comments


Monthly Archives


Most recent entries


Search


Advanced Search


Other Blogs I write for

Brian Micklethwait's Education Blog

CNE Competition
CNE Intellectual Property
Samizdata
Transport Blog


Blogroll

2 Blowhards
6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adloyada
Adventures in Capitalism
Alan Little
Albion's Seedling
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
Alex Singleton
AngloAustria
Another Food Blog
Antoine Clarke
Antoine Clarke's Election Watch
Armed and Dangerous
Art Of The State Blog
Biased BBC
Bishop Hill
BLDG BLOG
Bloggers Blog
Blognor Regis
Blowing Smoke
Boatang & Demetriou
Boing Boing
Boris Johnson
Brazen Careerist
Bryan Appleyard
Burning Our Money
Cafe Hayek
Cato@Liberty
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
CrozierVision
Dave Barry
Davids Medienkritik
David Thompson
Deleted by tomorrow
deputydog
diamond geezer
Dilbert.Blog
Dizzy Thinks
Dodgeblogium
Don't Hold Your Breath
Douglas Carswell Blog
dropsafe
Dr Robert Lefever
Dr. Weevil
ecomyths
engadget
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
ft.com/maverecon
Fugitive Ink
Future Perfect
FuturePundit
Gaping Void
Garnerblog
Gates of Vienna
Gizmodo
Global Warming Politics
Greg Mankiw's Blog
Guido Fawkes' blog
HE&OS
Here Comes Everybody
Hit & Run
House of Dumb
Iain Dale's Diary
Ideas
Idiot Toys
IMAO
Indexed
India Uncut
Instapundit
Intermezzo
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
Languagehat
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
Londonist
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
Neatorama
neo-neocon
Never Trust a Hippy
NO2ID NewsBlog
Non Diet Weight Loss
Normblog
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
phosita
Picking Losers
Pigeon Blog
Police Inspector Blog
PooterGeek
Power Line
Private Sector Development blog
Public Interest.co.uk
Publius Pundit
Quotulatiousness
Rachel Lucas
RealClimate
Remember I'm the Bloody Architect
Rob's Blog
Sandow
Scrappleface
Setting The World To Rights
Shane Greer
Shanghaiist
SimonHewittJones.com 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
Teblog
Techdirt
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
TigerHawk
Tim Blair
Tim Harford
Tim Worstall
tomgpalmer.com
tompeters!
Transterrestrial Musings
UK Commentators - Laban Tall's Blog
UK Libertarian Party
Unqualified Offerings
Violins and Starships
Virginia Postrel
Vodkapundit
WebUrbanist
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


Websites


Mainstream Media

BBC
Guardian
Economist
Independent
MSNBC
Telegraph
The Sun
This is London
Times


Syndicate

RSS 1.0
RSS 2.0
Atom
Feedburner
Podcasts


Categories

Advertising
Africa
Anglosphere
Architecture
Art
Asia
Atheism
Australasia
Billion Monkeys
Bits from books
Bloggers and blogging
Books
Brian Micklethwait podcasts
Brians
Bridges
Business
Career counselling
Cartoons
Cats and kittens
China
Civil liberties
Classical music
Comedy
Comments
Computer graphics
Cranes
Crime
Current events
Democracy
Design
Digital photographers
Economics
Education
Emmanuel Todd
Environment
Europe
Expression Engine
Family
Food and drink
France
Friends
Globalisation
Healthcare
History
How the mind works
India
Intellectual property
Japan
Kevin Dowd
Language
Latin America
Law
Libertarianism
Links
Literature
London
Media and journalism
Middle East and Islam
Movies
Music
My blog ruins
My photographs
Open Source
Opera
Painting
Photography
Podcasting
Poetry
Politics
Pop music
Propaganda
Quote unquote
Radio
Religion
Roof clutter
Russia
Science
Science fiction
Sculpture
Signs and notices
Social Media
Society
Software
South America
Space
Sport
Technology
Television
The internet
The Micklethwait Clock
Theatre
This and that
This blog
Transport
Travel
USA
Video
War


Friday September 28 2012

I told you (in the Romney’s Going To Win Big posting below) that they’d break ranks:

In my opinion Pat Caddell suggests a golden age of mainstream media non-bias that never really existed.  But nevertheless, interesting.

I found this here, via here.  I am not that clever at embedding video, so apologies if this starts out all over the place.  Please tell me if, at your end, it still is.

I hope this goes viral.

On the other hand, there’s this:

“Obama’s fighting for his life, his party is fighting for their life, and they’re winning. This is, I’ve said all along, this is Romney’s election to lose and by God he’s losing,” Caddell said.

Well, I think Romney is already winning, but I can’t believe he won’t come out of his corner and land a few big blows, come debates time, but maybe he won’t.  Like I say, we’ll see.

Thursday September 27 2012

If I were a betting man, which I am not (or only in the form of blog postings like this one), I would bet that Obama is not just going to lose his forthcoming election, but lose it big.  I am not that confident about what follows, which is why it goes here rather than here).  It may be wishful thinking, but it is what I have been thinking, and I wanted to get it written down, so that later I can’t strengthen it in my mind if I am right, or blur it if I am wrong.

This guy also thinks this, as do others I have read saying it but have now forgotten the names of.

Of my immediate circle, Michael J has already commented, here, to the effect that he now sees no evidence of a landslide, and that Romney will probably win, but small.  What do others of the sort inclined ever to comment at this tiny little ticking-over personal blog think about this?

My reasons are, in no particular order (this is only a tiny little ticking-over personal blog):

The polls are bent towards Obama, by Democrat intimidation.  The Dems calculate that if they can persuade Repubs that Romney will lose, some Repubs will say what’s the use? - and stay home.  Voters love a winner and are less likely to vote for a loser, or so I keep being told.  No doubt this will diminish the Repub vote a bit, but not enough to make the polls an entirely self-fulfilling prophesy.  They are still several percentage points out.

The polls are also out by personal inclination.  Most of the people who work for these operations are Dems, because Dems are obsessed with politics, Repubs less so.  Repub kids get proper jobs like lawn mowing or pool cleaning, or if grown-up, they get actual proper jobs doing regular round-the year stuff for serious money, and if not that is what they are trying to do.  These Dem pollsters hear, even if they genuinely try not to, what they want to hear, not least because people tell them what people think they want to hear.

Polls have, in general, been getting ever more inaccurate, as people learn that they can say whatever they hell they like to pollsters, most definitely including nothing.  Even the ones sincerely determined to resist pro-Dem bias are still biased thus, somewhat.

In particular, this time around, people still don’t know how to answer the accusation that being anti-Obama is racist.  Which is why the Dems keep on using this accusation.  People know it isn’t so, but are unpractised at making the necessary subtle distinctions.  So, to avoid some presumably pro-Obama person even thinking they are racist, they either lie, or fluff, rather than speak their minds.

All of these polling distortion effects are quite slight, but each is enough to ruin a process where one or two per cent can make all the difference.  But, crucially, almost all these effects now point in the same direction.  That’s a big effect.  I think the polls will be more wrong this time around than ever before.

The economy is not good, and Obama has no story about how to improve it.

In particular, the economy is horrible for young educated people, the ones who voted for Obama in their millions last time around.  These people are pissed off, big time.  Quite a lot will blame Obama, and will stay at home.  Some, under the influence of cool libbo Ron Paul memes, may even switch to Romney.  Many are ashamed of how they voted for Obama with such enthusiasm last time, and are not telling the pollsters about this.  (See above: the polls are very wrong.)

Obama is pissing all over the Jews.  This never works.

The bias of the mainstream media is becoming more obvious now, to a lot of American people.  Last time, media bias went with the grain of American opinion, and the media have thus had eight uninterrupted years to degenerate into blatant propaganda operations, and the internet has had eight years to tell everyone that this is so.  More than ever before, media bias is now believed in .  Again, a matter of degree.  But like I say, these degrees all add up.  In particular, more now distrust those predictions of Obama victory, and will accordingly refuse to be influenced by them into not bothering to vote.

Romney is not nearly as big a jerk as a lot of disappointed Libbos and Conservatives seem to think, or as Dems hope.  He keeps on winning.  I think he will do much better in the debates than most others seem to, because he has a story to tell, to and about an opponent who does not.  Romney is indeed not a genius debater, but he knows it, and knowing also that he is winning, he will prepare hard and go in with exactly the right amount of and kind of confidence, like a winning sportsman.  He will surprise many by how well he does.

Meanwhile Obama, surrounded by yes men, and fatally arrogant, and tired, a fed-up and probably knowing he is going to lose, and having nothing to say, will not prepare well enough for the debates.  He faces a near-impossible task, and will not be up to it.

The Dinesh D’Souza movie is hurting Obama, as will stuff like this (Arab money and support to pay for Obama’s career).  Americans are now ready to be told what sort of man Obama really is, this time around.  First time around, they just voted for the cool black guy, on the grounds that it was damn well time America had itself a cool black guy as President.  This time, policies and opinions will count, along with the (very bad) record of the last four years.  Obama’s policies and opinions are hurting and will continue to hurt him.

Romney is a cunning bastard politician.  His campaign will not only consist of the damaging things about Obama that he himself says.  He probably will stay fairly positive.  But the negative stuff will get out there, like that Arab money thing.

Romney now has a ton more money than Obama has.  Obama has spent most of his trying, and failing, to stay in the race.  Romney is about to spend similar quantities drawing ahead.

At some point between now and the election, some who now want Obama to win and are still propagandising for him will realise that he will not win, and will say why, if only to keep their own credibility in place, a bit.  They will want, as the saying goes, to keep (some of) their powder dry, in order to (e.g.) trash President Romney and all his works.  Obama will respond to these betrayals not with a spirited public rebuttal, but with a resigned shrug, which also will not look good.  (A public meltdown is probably too much to hope for, but I hope for it nevertheless.) How pronounced this effect will be is very debatable.  Maybe very obvious, maybe almost undetectable, but it will, to some degree happen. Already, to a tiny degree, it is happening.

Well, that’s enough to be going on with.  I just wanted to place my little bet, so that if it turns out right I can say: I told you so.  But much of the above is guesswork, so, Americans (especially Americans but also all others), please feel free to tell me I am wrong.

And then, we’ll see.

None of the above says that I think that this is the most important political battle in the world right now.  Its only major importance would be if Obama were to win.  But when (I think) Romney wins, the big questions will remain.  How bad are things going to get?  How unbadly can President Romney be persuaded to handle them?

For me, the big hero of all this is absolutely not Romney, or even Paul Ryan.  It is the collective hero that is the Tea Party.

Tuesday September 25 2012

Yes, Patrick Crozier (to whom deep thanks) has just improved the state of this blog, by making it that if you go via a monthly archive, you can easily access the comments on a selected posting here, even though the chances are you almost certainly won’t be allowed to add any more comments.

If you follow one of my links back to an earlier post here, however, you still may find yourself at a posting which has comments, but which makes no mention of them.  In a recent posting, for instance, I did a link, back to an earlier posting about a Muslim man photoing four Muslim ladies in black letter-box costumes.  But, as linked to by me, this posting has no mention of any comments.  If you want to look at the comments (a bit interesting in this case), then click on the title of the posting, and you will arrive at this, which is the exact same posting, but with all the comments there.

If you feel compelled to add something more, try emailing me.

The logic of why it is good to be able to access ancient comments is explained here, and well illustrated here.

A recent Patrick Crozier piece at Samizdata illustrates further the value of being able to access ancient comments.  Often a blog posting is a question, and a pretty blatant - often shamelessly explicit - attempt to solicit comments that answer that question.  I also do this a lot, and I do mean a lot.  There is little point in being able to read such questions, but not being able to read the answers.

I am still hoping that someone will tell me who this guy is.  He looks a bit like a young Rio Ferdinand.  Anyone?

Monday September 24 2012

On the right, one of my more recent photos, i.e. more recent than all the various photos I took that day.

imageIt’s something we will all be seeing rather a lot of, quite soon.  Empty premises, very near to where I live.  These premises may be full again soon, although whether profitably is another matter.  In other such spaces the owners will have given up, which will be an equally common sight, and I fear, as the years go by, more common.  No more bright lights and shiny floors.  No more windows you can see through.

Meanwhile, nice reflections.  Of the lights in the shiny floor and, in the window I was photo-ing through, of the buildings opposite.  It’s the kind of photo that looks very different when small, because you cannot tell what on earth it is.  It accordingly becomes an abstract.

Or perhaps you thought it was a swimming pool (maybe upside down?), with lights to mark the swimming lanes.  Click to see what is actually happening.

LATER: Just noticed, top right, me.

Sunday September 23 2012

I haven’t lost interest in digital photographers, even if I don’t call them Billion Monkeys any more, because sometimes I had to explain that that didn’t mean Muslims, and any meme that has to be explained is a failed meme.

But here are some more digital photographers, photoed on the same day I took these and this:

imageimageimageimage

Click on them to get the bigger pictures.

This time I was able to have the sun behind me, instead of behind what I was photoing.

Thursday September 20 2012

I have just discovered this report by James Hamilton of a conference on the subject of the self help movement) and I like it a lot.  Or rather, I think I had seen it before, but then something else came up before I had properly read it, and I never got back to it.  Until today, when I read it right through.

Quote:

It is one of the classic “insults of class” – having to win for yourself the right to believe that you are entitled to form and follow your own ambitions. At the summit, Robert Kelsey attributed to self help his recognition that his sense of failure in life was in fact a fear of failure. That’s a hugely important point and he made it well. It’s also a middle class one. It’s easier to have a fear of failure when you know how and where to start, indeed, when you know you are allowed to start at all.

The need to change, to be different succeed is a familiar idea to anyone from a working class background. That, to put it bluntly, is because it’s true. It’s an easy thing for middle class journalists and writers to mock, who already have security, who already own the idea that you can achieve what you set out to do, who started life already halfway into the world most people must hustle and scramble to reach. It’s easy to mock when you’ve grown up knowing lawyers, poets, artists, bankers and academics and so assume that those fine careers are options for you. (I am lower middle class in origin and made it to 18 without having known personally any adults in any of those fields – I saw only computing, and not much of that. What about families where no one works at all?)

I’ve a friend, the child of a famous man, who has never read any self help, but knows it’s all crap. The family are wealthy: the chosen career is in a field with formidable entry costs. But I know this about my friend too: they’ve always had written goals. They’ve always used social “tricks” like mirroring and pacing in order to get on. They have a deliberate strategy to overcome failure when it occurs. They have another strategy for networking. They visualize their ideal outcomes.

So much of what they do is pure Tony Robbins. But they don’t know that, because actually, it’s just what people at their level in society do. Not overtly, or even knowingly: there’s no need. They’ll never be as self-conscious about it as people like me who have had to get it all out of a book (if not that one) because there was nowhere else for it to come from.

And I wonder if my friend, or anyone who has ever pitched an article for the hell of it, or just thought they might just – what the heck! – put in for that (interesting) job, or been called on to consult or whatever – I wonder if they have quite realized how unusual they are in British life. That their luck and fortune might lie – not in the results of their decisions, but in their assumption that they can make their decisions at all.

I came from a quite posh family, but I got rather less of this sort of advice from my parents than you might expect from such people.  So I too had to find out about it by reading books.  And then I developed a hobby as a career councillor, basically passing on what I had read.  And Hamilton is right.  There are indeed people who do not have it in their bones that they can decide things.  Such people can be greatly cheered up by being told that indeed they can.  Sometimes this is the only extra thing they need to learn (by which I mean merely think about for a bit because it’s obviously true once you actually say it) in order to take off like a rocket.

Sunday September 16 2012

Some of Michael J’s better bits of writing, as regular readers here will know, take the form of comments.  Knowing that a few people at least are interested in the topic in question, and knowing something about it (Michael knows something about everything), he often finds himself then able to let fly, as he might not be able to do in a regular blog posting.

Here’s the latest MJ comment, on this, which is by Rob Fisher, about taxies:

At Skopje airport in Macedonia last year, I found the worst regulated taxi mafia I have ever seen, and that is saying something. Not only is there no public transport of any kind into the city from the airport, regular taxis are not allowed to pick up passengers from the airport either. There is a special class of horrendously overpriced “airport taxi” that is the only way of getting into town from the airport. When I arrived in Skopje last year I was approached aggressively by half a dozen of these taxi drivers as I walked out at the terminal.

This pissed me off. I had already found out about their scam (and knew that they were likely to charge me something like 25 to 30 euros to get into town), but their being rude and aggressive to me as well annoyed me. (Note to foreign touts trying to sell me stuff when I am visiting your country - I do not like it when you keep trying to sell me something after I have said no, and I *really* do not like being shouted at. Being in a situation where the people selling you something have done their best to make it impossible to prevent you from buying it does not lead to high standards of customer service, generally, either. The supposed justification for this taxi mafia is probably so that foreign visitors will receive a “high standard of service”, I suspect).

So I walked out of the carpark towards the road. The taxi drivers followed me halfway out of the carpark, but eventually figured out that I meant it. I had downloaded local maps onto my iPad, and I knew that there was a town perhaps half to three quarters of a mile away, and that this was on a long road connected to several other towns and the centre of Skopje. I walked down the side of the busy road and past the field full of ageing NATO military equipment that had been brought for some use in Kosovo and after a half hour or so reached the town and road on the map. My guess was correct, and there was a bus stop on that road, and people waiting at the bus stop. (There were also bars, restaurants and grocery stores in the town, that were open). I waited a few minutes, a bus came along, and caught the bus into town. The fare was about 40 cents. The bus driver was warm and friendly.

Amount of effort required for the local bus company to offer a service to the airport? Essentially none at all - that existing bus route would merely need to divert briefly to the airport. However, the airport taxi mafia was clearly powerful and well connected enough to prevent this. First impression given to foreign visitors by all this: Skopje is a town full of rude, nasty rip off merchants. (As is often the case, most locals are not actually like this, but not a good first impression. This really did not give me a high opinion of the quality of local governance, however).

Heaven knows who you have to be related to be to get one of these airport taxi licences though.

(And if I had not found a bus route? Well, as long as those bars, grocery stores and restaurants had in fact existed and been open, I am sure that there would have been no trouble if I had gone into one of them and asked a barman or cashier how to find a taxi. The “taxi” in question might well have ended up being a private car driven by the barman’s brother in law, but the negotiated price would have been much fairer).

One of the best things about blogging is that you can vent about things that really, really annoy you.  if it’s a business which needs customers to do voluntary business with them, who knows, they might do regular ego-googling and get your message, while fearing that others might be getting it too.  Things might improve.  Your rant might improve the world for all of us, a tiny little bit.  Good.

If it’s the government, which the above circumstance is, pretty much, you can at least tell the bastards, and the rest of the world, what you think of think of them.  This too is soothing.  Also good.

Saturday September 15 2012

This morning I went to Samizdata and discovered that (a) it has a very good Samizdata Quote of the Day up today, supplied by Guy Herbert, but that (b) thanks in part to careless ilalics instructions by Guy, Samizdata was suffering from PID, aka Permanent Italics Disease.

It looked like this:

image

Click on that to observe more of the details.

Basically, Guy had switched on the italics at the start of the quote, and then switched them on even more at the end of the quote, instead of switching them off.  All it took was to omit one “/”.

But, as I have said before here, Guy was only culpable in part.  He is only to be blamed (i.e. not very much at all) for the text wrongly left italicised within his own posting, in other words his own brief comment on the quote.  He cannot be blamed for the fact that the rest of Samizdata was, until I corrected it, thus polluted.  This is a failure of the blogging software that Samizdata uses.

Here is part of a comment by Michael Jennings on my first PID posting here:

This is one good reason for blogging to Samizdata rather than my own blog when I am travelling, I suppose. Samizdata has editors, and if I make such an error someone will fix it. ...

Indeed.

I am getting lots of encouragement to switch to Wordpress, on account of everyone else now using this.  I am strongly inclined to do do this, and actually to start up a new blog on Wordpress, rather than get all in a twist trying to shovel all this stuff here into Wordpress.  There is no particular reason for me to do this, it seems to me.  Comments on that?

But, more to my point in this posting, question: Does Wordpress allow PID?

Friday September 14 2012

On the same day that I took this picture, of Waterloo Station with Vapour Trails, I also, somewhat earlier, took some other pictures.  There I was, waiting for a bus to make its way slowly down Victoria Street, but instead what slowly made its way down Victoria Street was this:

imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimage

My reaction on the day was that they were presumably English (what else would they be?), and processing on behalf of their mad Evangelical Christian cult, based in Essex or some such place.  When I got home, I tried asking the internet what it was, but found no answer.

But last night I tried again, and eventually worked out that this was to do with Malta Day.  Those are Maltese Crosses, now I think about it, and the date was a fit.  They are processing from Westminster Cathedral in Victoria Street to … somewhere.  The Maltese Embassy perhaps?  For some kind of party?

Here are pictures of the exact same event, same place, same date, but five years ago.

So, foreign and not mad.  Good to know.

Monday September 10 2012

As earlier reported here, Surrey were this year in definite danger of being relegated from Division One of the County Championship.  They are out of danger now, but while the battle lasted, it was quite a battle.

Promotion is one thing.  Relegation is something else again.  It is one thing to hope that rival teams to yours will merely fail to win.  It is something rather nastier to hope, as I was hoping last week, that two particular other teams would both lose and be relegated, as they now have been.  These mean-spirited emotions are surely familiar to English football fans.  They were new to me.  My preferred football team, Spurs, seldom gets threatened with relegation, from the Premier League.  Their default finishing position used to be eleventh and is now more like fifth.  Never in my recent recollection have Spurs been something like nineteenth with only a fortnight to go.  Besides which, that’s only football.  Cricket is cricket.

As the penultimate round of games got started last Wednesday Sept 4th, Surrey were well placed to escape the drop, being a dozen or so points ahead of Worcestershire and last year’s surprise Championship winners, Lancashire.  Oddly, the weather all over England, so vile for much of the summer, was perfect and remained so for the next four days.  Result weather.  Nobody was going to be relegated while being denied the chance to avoid it by rain.

Worcester played Warwickshire.  Victory for Warks would guarantee them the championship, and on that first morning, they destroyed the Worcester first innings.  By the end of day one, Warks basically had the game won, and they duly did win inside three days. Warks County Champs.  But screw that, the important thing was: Worcester couldn’t now catch Surrey, no matter what Surrey did, so goodbye Worcester.

The serious battle, then, was between Surrey and Lancs, and it looked highly likely that they would only settle their differences in the Lancs v Surrey game that is due to start tomorrow, in Liverpool. Meanwhile, Lancs played Middlesex at Lord’s.  (Go Middx!) Surrey played Nottinghamshire at the Oval.

In both these games, the difference between the first innings was small.  Surrey, batting first, got a small but still worthwhile lead of 42.  Middx and Lancs both got bigger but almost exactly equal first innings scores.  This meant Lancs got more batting points than Surrey, but had less time than Surrey to force a win.

On the third day, Friday of last week, Surrey and Middlesex both batted nervously, both trying to build a safe lead that they could defend the following day.  Both eventually succeeded, but we fans were not to know this before they had accomplished it.  And half way through Saturday it was nearly over.  The numerous Surrey spinners (including a certain Kevin Pietersen, who got two top order wickets) knocked over Notts, Surrey winning by 195.

Meanwhile, Lancs just couldn’t finish off the Middlx second innings.

At which point, a big difference between football and cricket suddenly loomed large.  Football matches in such circumstances all end within minutes of one another.  But cricket matches end when they end.  Once Surrey had won against Notts, Lancs knew that only a frantic victory slog, following a Middx safety first declaration, could save them.  They had to beat Middx.  They had to make 300 in just under 40 overs, or die trying.  A draw was now no good to them.  So, they flailed away, lost wickets at regular intervals, and lost.  Goodbye Lancs.  Had Surrey not won, Lancs could have drawn their game against Middx, and then gone back to Liverpool, and bet everything on beating Surrey, in what would have been a classic relegation decider.  As it is, this game will still go ahead, but everything is now decided.

Meanwhile, Middx, flush with the points they got handed to them by a desperate Lancs, leepfrogged up to second in the county championship.  That won’t last.  Their season is over, and rival counties will overtake them.  But even so, thank you Surrey!  By winning your game with hours to spare, you handed us another dozen points!

Imagine Spurs and Arsenal being so gracious towards one another.

In the midst of all this, on the Wednesday I think it was, there was also an England South Africa one day game going on.  I did know this, but for several hours completely forgot about it.

Sunday September 09 2012

Indeed:

image

Yesterday was one of those perfect autumn days when vapour trails, instead of being burnt away in seconds, linger and expand into long, straight clouds.

That’s actually Waterloo Station itself there, photoed from the other side from the old Eurostar bit.

The automatic setting on my camera, under the influence of the sun, made it all seem darker and more doom-laden than it really was, but I don’t care.

Thursday September 06 2012

This idea (alluded to in my previous posting about my comments system here) of readers digging up old comments and admiring them is no joke, as regular Samizdata commenter “llamas”, obligingly and entirely coincidentally, and after most of that previous posting had already been written, says, in a comment on my latest posting at Samizdata (which is about Obama potentially losing both (a) the US mainstream media and consequently (b) the plot and his rag in public).

Says llamas:

(puffs out chest) I actually predicted a lot of this, right on these very pages, almost 4 years ago

See what I mean.  Others may not care what you wrote four years ago, but you might.  And you might want to dig it up, llamas style, and say: I told you so.  Okay maybe you only told the world whatever you told it in comment number three (of three) in a posting here about kittens, but … you did say it.  You genuinely were thinking that, then.  You are not just saying it now, and imagining it now.  You aren’t making it up.

Here, just out of interest, is some of what llamas said, on November 5th 2008, about what was in Obama’s future:

Once the voters actually start getting what they voted for, ‘good and hard’, I think there will be a backlash that will make 1994 look like a walk in the park. If there is a really-good foreign-policy crisis in the mix - even sooner. Obama simply does not have the leadership, the skills or the experience to impose himself or his ideas on the nation in any significant way. He is Pelosi and Reid’s tame poodle, and as they go, so will he.

I saw a piece of video (widely re-broadcast) that shows an Obama supporter crying that now she won’t have to worry about her mortgage, won’t have to worry about putting gas in the car anymore - if she helps Him, He’ll help her.

Well, come about May, when her mortgage bills just keep on coming and the tank of her car does not magically refill, she’s going to be asking - where’s mine? And when she then sees her net income go down - she has a job, ergo, she’s going to pay more taxes in ObamaDemocratWorld, and the price of gas does not go down, and her 401k is still in the tank ... you see where I’m going with this?

President-elect Obama has promised to solve all of the world’s problems. Every one. It’s right there in his speeches. We’re all going to be happy and prosperous together. He said so.

And when he fails to deliver - as he must, since he has no actual power to do any of what he promised to do - and when the Congress starts to do what it REALLY had in mind all the time - the balance will change, quick and hard.

It will be hard days getting there. But the pendulum always swings back to center, and the further from center that it has been dragged - as it was yesterday - the hard the swing back.

I’m starting to think that Obama is going not just going to lose this November, but be wiped out.  But that could just be wishful thinking on my part, and in the event that Romney does win, even if by a landslide, then his troubles will have only just begun.

Basically, my take is that, yes, Romney has to win, but then the Tea Party has to keep him on the straight and narrow.  It’s a lot to ask.

I doubt if anyone has been wondering where I have been for the last six days.  Me not blogging is not exactly a big surprise these days.  But I have actually been doing good things for this blog, by cleaning up the comment system.

Basically, spam commenters have been making my life a misery and this blog an object of ridicule to any who still bother with it, and I decided to drop all other blogging activity until I had turned back the tide.  That is now done.  For the time being at least, the spamsters have given up.

Basically I fixed it so that neither you nor the spammers can comment on any posting here, except the very recent ones.  But you can now read all the proper comments that have accumulated here over the years, along with the postings.  Previously, I had shut down quite a lot of the comments in such a way that not only could you not add a comment yourself; you couldn’t even read the comments that had once been there.  Many (not most but many) comments from way back, not a few of them very interesting, had been scrubbed out as if they had never been. 

Now, all those genuine, non-spam comments, every last one of them, are back.  If you remember saying something brilliant about something I wrote about something or other, just type “something or other” into the search box on the left, and you can dig it up and admire it without fear of interruption.

I use Expression Engine, for the benefit of geeks.  And the trick in Expression Engine was to fix it so that comments “expire”.  Comments which have “expired” may not be responded to with further comments, but the entire comment thread can still be read.

Comments that have not been “allowed”, on the other hand, just disappear.  But, those that I had disallowed didn’t disappear entirely.  They could be re-allowed again.  This is what I did, for all disallowed comment threads.  But, I also made sure (by choosing a recent date now in the past) that all these comments have now “expired”.  Are we clear?

All of which means that the spammers will no longer regard this blog as a target rich environment.  They don’t mind me deleting their crap, so long of some of it sticks, for a little while, like when I am sleeping or having a life.  The trick is to make it impossible for them to chuck it here in the first place, or not on any scale.  There will still be a handful of recent postings for them to crap all over the comment threads of, but here’s hoping they will now look for bigger pastures (such as this blog used to be from their point of view) to ply their dishonourable trade. It’s now been more than a day since spam commenting opportunities here ceased to exist in anything resembling abundance, and the spammers seem, for the time being anyway, to have moved on.

I would love to meet someone who was foolish enough to boast to me, or come to that to anyone, that he does or ever did spam commenting for a living.  I would probably end up in prison by the time I had done my thing to them, but it would be well worth it.  Their lives would be a living hell from then on also, because I would have gone to as much trouble as was needed to accomplish that.  Besides which, an enlightened judge or jury might decide that what I did, though harsh, was an entirely reasonable example of a crime of passion, or perhaps self-defence, even a public duty well performed, and that the little runt got just a little bit of what he entirely deserved, and that I owed the runt one pee in damages, which I would be delighted then to administer to the runt on the court-room steps, hopefully thereby ruining all the expensive clothes he had purchased for the trial in a vain attempt to persuade everyone that he was not a runt.

Meanwhile, the price this blog pays for all this anti-spamming activity is that no non-runts can now comment on ancient postings here, or not with a “comment”.

But very few ever did, and if you really do want to add something to some old thing here, do please feel entirely free to email in with such commentary, making it clear that you would welcome me including it in a new posting, which will then (because very recent) be available to be commented upon by others besides me.

The other somewhat bad news is that this all took me a very, very long time.  Basically, I re-edited every single individual posting here, of which there are now getting on for three thousand.  I am sure there was a much quicker way for me to have done this, but in truth I quite enjoyed the task.  It went well with listening to music.  Plus, I enjoyed acquainting myself with clever things I have written in the past, and with clever comments that others had written (some of them showing me to be not so clever, but there you go, that’s the price of mouthing off on the www).

Nevertheless (Patrick C)?  Could I have done all this in a few moments?  I bet I could.