Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
fathers day 2017 on New River Walk
Brian Micklethwait on Indian sign cautions against selfie sticks
Michael Jennings on Indian sign cautions against selfie sticks
Brian Micklethwait on Photoing last Friday's Last Friday meeting
Michael Jennings on Photoing last Friday's Last Friday meeting
Brian Micklethwait on Tim Marshall on 'Sykes-Picot'
Patrick Crozier on Tim Marshall on 'Sykes-Picot'
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- And in Other creatures news …
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- Looking up in the City
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- Leake Street photo session
- Longer life would make most of us (certainly me) more energetic and ambitious
- Azure Window broken
- Beltane & Pop van parked on the South Bank yesterday afternoon
- New River Walk
- Die Meistersinger was very good
- Spring in Islington
- ROH Covent Garden here I come
- Today’s plan
- Photoing the faces of strangers (or in my case: not)
- England crush Scotland in the 6N – plus the hugeness of home advantage
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This and that
I have been following the World T20 cricket tournament now taking place in Bangladesh on Cricinfo in the last few days or weeks or whatever it is, and it has been non-stop thrills and dramas and surprises, the latest being an amazing game between Sri Lanka and New Zealand.
Sri Lankan fans had been urging the replacement of Sri Lankan spinner Mendis by Sri Lankan spinner Herath for some time, and they were not wrong. Mendis in the earlier game that Sri Lanka lost against England: 4 overs 0 maidens 52 runs 0 wickets. Herath in today’s game against NZ: 3.3 overs 2 maidens 3 runs 5 wickets. NZ, chasing a modest 119, only managed 60.
Things will probably calm down as the final games approach, as often happens at big international sports tournaments. I seem to recall many football World Cups starting out fun but then getting duller and duller, culminating in four Continental European teams beating each other one-nil after extra time or nil nil with penalty shoot-outs, and one of them (I immediately forget which) gets to win it. But in the early rounds, when teams like Cameroon and Croatia and England are still involved, it is fun fun fun. I can even remember the long ago times when Scotland used sometimes to be involved in these early dramas.
I can’t say I was too distressed this morning about England being humiliated by The Netherlands. When I saw the scorecard after it was all over (I had been doing something else) I actually laughed, and not bitterly. Well done the Dutch. This is one of those results that are “good for cricket”. Cricket badly needs to extend its empire beyond the usual British Imperial suspects, and nothing attracts attention in an outsider country like their outsider team thrashing one of the insider teams.
England were never going to win this T20 tournament. They did okay for most of it, and only crashed into this Dutch debacle after they were definitely about to go home anyway. Besides which, this is T20, and crazy things happen in T20.
England were a bit unlucky against New Zealand, when rain gave NZ the win that they might not have managed had it not rained, given England’s quite decent total. England’s best game was against Sri Lanka (see above), when Hales hit a brilliant century. Lucky Herath wasn’t yet playing. And England did not disgrace themselves against South Africa. The margin, a mere three runs, flattered England, because actually it was all over several balls before that, with Bresnan only adding a bit of consolation slogging off the last few balls that got England near, but couldn’t have got them near enough in the absence of no-balls. Even so, decent effort, jolly good game, etc. Like every other England fan, I have no idea why Jade Dernbach remains in the England team, despite being regularly clobbered for about fifty. This time he conceded 0-44 in three overs and didn’t bowl his final one, and was dropped for the final game against The Netherlands. Will he play for England ever again?
The Dutch, on the other hand, had a terrific tournament. They got totally creamed by Sri Lanka and beaten by New Zealand. But in the first round they pulled off an amazing win against Ireland, where run rate calculations meant that in order to go through to the next round they had to score something like a hundred and ninety something in about fourteen overs. The Dutch were never going to manage that. But guess what, they did, and they eliminated both Ireland and Zimbabwe. Astonishing. Then, they gave South Africa one hell of a fright, losing a game by six runs that they were well on course to win. I was not amazed when they beat England.
Australia didn’t win a single game at the group stage, and were yesterday bowled out by India for 86.
The white guys have not been doing very well at this tournament. It’s happening in Asia and the Asian teams are the strongest.
Incoming from Simon Rose, entitled “End of the World not happening tomorrow”.
What this means is that the End of the World CLUB MEETING is not happening tomorrow, because of a double booking mix-up of some sort. But for a moment there, I was wondering what mad prophecy Simon was taking it upon himself to contradict.
The End of the World Club is an up-market version of my Last Friday meetings. Despite its rather grumpy old man title, these meetings are very good, with excellent speakers. For instance there was that fascinating talk by someone who had lived through the Zimbabwe inflation.
And, I first came across Dominic Frisby when he addressed the EotW Club, about this book. Ever since Frisby spoke at my home, about his next book I have been hearing his voice on television, what with me being fond of TV documentaries. Here (click on that only if you want to hear noise at once) is what he sounds like. More Frisby audio info here.
Email me if you want to know more about these EotW meetings, and I’ll put you in touch with Simon Rose.
If the world ever does end, I want Frisby doing the voice overing for it.
I read recently that there is some insane plan afoot to ban classic cars from London, on account of them all having the wrong kind of wicked global-warming-type engines or some such crap. I hope this plan is strangled at birth, but it is just the kind of plan that may not be.
Meanwhile, I here celebrate the occasional presence of beautiful antique cars in London with some photos, of a beautiful antique car:
That’s a Sunbean Talbot that I spotted in Lower Marsh, on July 6th of last year, which was an appropriately sunny day for photoing a Sunbeam.
Here is a close-up of the front, crop from what I originally snapped, for legibility. Click for even more legibility:
As you can see, STAR stands for Sunbeam Talbot Alpine Register. I reckon if you drive around in a fancy car like this you are fair game for internet searching, so I tried to see if I could find other photos of this exact car, who owns it, etc. But I failed. My commenters are typically cleverer at this kind of thing than I am, so, as I often say here: Anybody? Is it someone famous?
Interesting. I just looked at a particular classical CD on amazon.co.uk, and it told me I’d already ordered it, last October. As it happens, I knew this. I was just looking to see what had been happening to the price of the CD in question. But I am impressed that they reminded me.
In general, Amazon has a clunky, even twentieth century feel to it. Which for a clunky twentieth century guy is very reassuring.
The automatic delivery to my computer of audio files of CDs I have already ordered in plastic form is very cunning. It all arrives on my computer automatically, and arranges itself on something called my Cloud Player. It is now late at night, and although the speakers on my computer are nothing like as good as my real speakers on my real CD player, they are nearer and can thus be quieter. I’m playing one of these audio files now, which is one I have ordered in plasticated form but which has not yet arrived. This way, I can play it as soon as I pay for it, just as if I was living in the twenty first century!
And I’ve got to admit that there is something rather agreeable about not having to get out of my chair to hear music.
I will, I am now sure (although I actually promise nothing), be writing more in connection with the talk that Christian Michel has just given at my home, but as of right now, I am too tired to do it anything like justice. All I will say about it now is that it was superb. (Read his sales pitch for the talk in this earlier posting here.)
But two bits of trivia about the evening occur to me to mention, both so trivial that I don’t have to have all my wits about me to mention them.
First, I made a particular resolution not just to provide satisfactory snacks to my guests but to actually open the packets of the snacks and putting the snacks in plates. In the past, I have found myself burdened, once my guests have departed, with unopened packets of party food. My surmise is that this is not because nobody wanted to eat any of these snacks. No, the problem is that people don’t like to open food packets, because that feels, and worse, may appear greedy. It’s like they want to eat all of them. Or maybe, that they are reluctant to open a new packet when they only want one of them. But, faced with a plate of biscuits or a big bowl of crisps, they will not hesitate to partake, if so inclined. It’s a little thing, but this worked well, I think.
And second, as usual, the exactly right number of people showed up. How do they know to do this? Last time around I was afraid that there would be too many. This time, for various reasons involving several semi-regulars happening to have other things on such as wedding anniversaries, I feared there might be too few. In the event, the number of attenders, both last time and this time was pretty much identical and just right. It always is. A Samizdata commenter, commenting on something I wrote there about this odd phenomenon, said that there is an explanation of it in this book, which I’m pretty sure I already possess. I must track it down. With luck, this posting will remind me to do this instead of forgetting about it.
Only this here today, but that is mostly because I have finally ended my dry spell at Samizdata, with a posting that I started writing only with this little place in mind.
The thing that most pleases me about this latest effort is that I finally managed to pin down exactly what it was that I so liked about those Gormley Men, whom I photographed in 2007 and finally got around to blogging about here in 2011.
Here is part of what I just put at Samizdata:
I still remember fondly the time in London, in the summer of 2007, when the dreary concrete of London’s South Bank Arts district and nearby parts was invaded by a small army of naked metallic Gormleys. The many identical Gormleys were not, in themselves, especially inspiring. But look on the bright side. Nor were these Gormleys bent-out-of-shape semi-abstract grotesques, mid-twentieth-century style.
Bingo. Not heroic, but at least not villainously anti-human.
And although in themselves ordinary, the Gormleys were often standing in very interesting and inspirational places, high above the streets, up on the roofs of tall buildings:
A photo there, of a Gormley on the top of the Hayward Gallery.
Stick anyone on a pedestal – in general, look up at them – and they look more impressive. They look like they deserve to be looked up to. This positioning of all those South Bank Gormleys suggested (yes yes, to me – I admit that all this is very personal) ordinary men at least looking, very admirably, towards less ordinary and more inspiring far horizons. Some of the Gormleys were looking downwards, but most were looking out ahead. What all these Gormleys were not doing was just standing in Art galleries, staring miserably at their own feet, with signs next to them full of demoralising Art-Speak drivel. They raised the spirits of of almost all of those who gazed up at them.
I included in the above paragraph a link to this earlier Samizdata posting, about the difference between how the same sculpture looks, depending on the angle you look at it from.
A great deal of creative thinking consists of putting two things that you have already thought about next to each other, which previously you had only been thinking about in different parts of your brain.
The Gormley Men were ordinary, neither heroic nor villainous. But when looked at from below they looked more heroic than they really are. So to speak.
On Monday last I attended a BBC Radio 4 event, at which Evan Davis interviewed Deirdre McCloskey:
Yes that is the same screen, and it remained the same colour throughout. In “reality” I mean. If you were there, which I was.
But digital cameras, when set on “automatic” as mine always is, have minds of their own when it comes to colour. One picture happens to have a lot of a certain colour in it, and it changes the overall colour of everything to compensate. For instance, when you take indoor pictures but there is outdoor sky to be seen, then even if in reality the sky is deepest grey, the camera turns the sky deepest blue, and the indoor bits orange. Likewise, when the sky is blue, but if you are outdoors, the camera, for no reason, is liable to fill a clear blue sky with pollution and turn it a sort of slate colour. What was happening here is that these two pictures are both cropped. But the left one was only cropped a bit, while the left one was cropped a lot. And the stuff that got cropped out of the left one meant that the screen was no longer green. It was blue.
As to what Deidre McCloskey actually said, well the thing I was most intrigued by was that she was entirely cool about being asked about how she used to be Donald McCloskey. In which connection, don’t you just love how that circumstance is alluded to in this:
That’s an article reproduced at her website. So, is that her handwriting? Could well be.
I doubt the medical side of the switch was as easy to do as that.
The libertarian propaganda side of this is that McCloskey is a character, rather than just a boring bod in a suit. The usual evasive sneers against pro-capitalists just won’t work on her. And I even think it helps that (maybe because of those medical dramas - don’t know) her voice is a strange hybrid of male and female, often sounding a bit like electrical feedback. She also has a slight but definite stutter.
The reason I feel entitled to mention all this is that it clearly does not bother her, or if it does she has learned very well to stop it bothering her, and indeed to make a communicational virtue of it all. I guess she figures if you are saying interesting stuff, it really doesn’t matter if your voice sounds a bit funny and if people sometimes have to wait a second or two before hearing the next bit of it. In fact it probably even helps, because it gets everyone listening, proactively as it were, guessing what is coming instead of just hearing it.
See also: Hawking.
Because he is definitely some personal kind (is there any other kind?) of libertarian (he and this guy are mates from Eton), I have instructed Google to send me emails about popular entertainer Frank Turner whenever anything is said about or by him, which is quite often because he really is very popular.
Here’s an interview Turner recently did. They asked him how it feels to play in an “arena”, i.e. a very, very big place.
It’s a funny thing because I think whenever anyone starts out playing music you have a bucket list, or a ceiling of achievement that you might think of … and I’m really not trying to sound like Mr CoolHipsterPunkRock here, but the biggest bands I went to see when I was a kid played The Astoria, maybe Brixton Academy.
But then, straight after that, comes this:
I’d never been to an arena show before I played one.
How cool is that?
Which just goes to show that a precondition for being cool is not trying to be.
Shame about that Libertarian Party (see the “this guy” link above). That didn’t turn out quite so cool.
One of the rules I have developed for my own photographic activities is to try always to take pictures, in among all the merely nice pictures, which tell me where I was and what these nice pictures were of.
I do not always follow this rule. Rules are like that. The ones you follow all the time, automatically, don’t have to be rules. It’s the rules you often break which are nevertheless good which have to be rules, to persuade you to follow them more than you would otherwise.
Here, for instance, is a fun snap:
That was taken on June 29th 2007, 5.38pm (plus 30 seconds), a fact which I now know because my camera automatically recorded it. I called the photo ArtHasItsUses, as this young guy is demonstrating. But, where are we? I have two other snaps of the same scene, but none of them include any information about exactly where we are, like a street name. Nor did I photo the plaque at the bottom of the sculpture, as I often do. This would likewise have given me some useful words to google, and offered me the opportunity to supply a link to other works by the same artist. But I did neither of these sensible things.
I tried following the phone number that you can see behind the Thing, but before anything would tell me anything about that (maybe) then the anythings in question demanded to know all kinds of things about me, and I gave up.
I understand that many cameras nowadays automatically record exact place of shot along with exact time of shot. Mine is not such a camera.
A vague clue is that, judging by other photos taken somewhat earlier, I appear to have been in the general vicinity of Islington, North London. But where? And what is this rather agreeable Thing? Who did it? Anybody?
But for where? Would you believe, Iraq? No?
Built in China, apparently.
I think that’s my most recent selfie, taken at the beginning of this month. I took it in Croydon Road, Beckenham, while on my way to visit friends. Shop windows often include you in the pictures you take through them, even if you are not trying for that.
I of course have more recent pictures of others taking selfies of the more usual sort, where their own faces dominate the pictures, but with famous Big Things in the background. So yes, let me try to dig out the latest of those.
Here we go:
Although, note that there are two different smartphones being used there. That was taken from the southern end of Westminster Bridge, looking down to the riverside walkway. They are presumably trying to include the Houses of Parliament in their backgrounds.
As anyone who noticed the sudden piling up of moronic spam comments here may have suspected, I had an internet disconnect crisis last night, and it was still in effect this morning. I fiddled about with wires, last night and again this morning, because the last time it happened this is what solved it. I did lots of rebooting last night to no avail, so didn’t bother to do this again this morning. Instead I rang The Guru.
It was amazing how much The Guru was this morning able to learn about the problem, by which I mean to learn what the problem was not, just by unleashing his remote control Superpowers. He then suggested another rebooting, and I did this, just to humour him, and back it all came. But why? What was I doing right, all of a sudden? Very troubling.
It’s like that pivotal moment in movie history when Harrison Ford, in one of the first and good trio of Star Wars movies, got a bit of electrical kit in his spaceship to work properly by smacking it.
When I trawl through the archives, I keep coming across excellent snaps which for some reason I quite ignored at the time. Here is one such, taken in July 2007, on Westminster Bridge:
The Thing on her bag, the Wheel, is behind her. She is photoing Big Ben, unless I am much mistaken.
I think one reason photos like this one seem better now than when taken is because hiding the faces of my photographer subjects now seems more necessary than it used to.
The really good news is that the cameras in these old snaps are starting to look very old. Soon, they will be totally out of date, and at that point my Digital Photographers archive will become a wonder.
The skeletons of six cats, including four kittens, found in an Egyptian cemetery may push back the date of cat domestication in Egypt by nearly 2,000 years.
The bones come from a cemetery for the wealthy in Hierakonpolis, which served as the capital of Upper Egypt in the era before the pharaohs. The cemetery was the resting place not just for human bones, but also for animals, which perhaps were buried as part of religious rituals or sacrifices. Archaeologists searching the burial grounds have found everything from baboons to leopards to hippopotamuses.
Three policemen in Pakistan guarding the prime minister’s home have been suspended for negligence after a cat devoured one of the premier’s peacocks, it seems.
It seems? Well, did it or did it not?
This Japanese gum commercial makes me wish I had a super fluffy gigantic cat to help navigate the horrors of public transportation and carry me around, avoiding traffic and other pedestrian suckers who don’t have adorable cat chauffeurs. Then I remember that if a cat that big existed, it would probably just maul me to death, ...
Why are there so many cats on the internet?
The problem is that they are asking the wrong question, which should not be “Why cats?” so much as “Why not dogs?” And the answer is that dogs are trying too hard. When a dog gets in a box or hides under the duvet or wears a funny hat, it is because he is desperately trying to impress you – longing for your validation and approval. When a cat does one of those things, it is because it felt like the right thing to do at the time. And it usually was. It is cool, and effortless, and devoid of any concern about what you might think about it. It is art for art’s sake.
This, at any rate, is one of the theories (of which there are an awful lot) about why content related to cats seems to gain so much traction online.
Maybe. I guess that’s part of it.
The original reason for my Feline Friday cat chat is that cat chat on the internet, at first only at inconsequential blogs such as this one but now everywhere, illustrates that the number one impact of the internet is that there is now a new way to be amused, and cats are amusing. The serious political impact of this is that with the internet it is easier to concentrate on what you consider amusing, and to ignore what people who consider themselves to be more important than you consider to be more important. This really ticks them off. Which is nice. The internet puts politicians, for instance, in their proper place, on the sidelines. Cats may or may not be important, depending on how mad you are, but they are amusing.
The willingness of the big old Mainstream Media to tell frequent cat stories, as they now show and do, illustrates that these organs have now accepted that they no longer control the news agenda. If the people of the world decide that it is news that an angry 22-pound cat that trapped a family of three and prompted a frantic 911 call has been sent to an animal shelter, then news it is, and the big old media now accept this.
Yes, here is another strange science-fictional artificial landscape, photographed by me a few days ago, to set beside this strange artificial landscape, photoed by me last August:
Both these images were contrived in the same way with the same raw material. But what is the raw material and what did I do with it?
Incoming from Sam Bowman in the form of an email, dated March 6th, entitled “Bleeding Heart Libertarianism - an apologia”:
Thanks for mentioning my Libertarian Home talk on Samizdata. I look forward to seeing you tonight if you can make it.
“Tonight” was March 6th (Simon Gibbs introductory spiel about Sam and his talk here), when Sam gave his talk at the Rose and Crown. This is not yet available on video, but it presumably soon will be, because as always at these Libertarian Home Rose and Crown talks, a video camera was in action. On the right is a photo that Sam took of me and him with his mobile, after he had given his talk.
And thanks for coming on Monday!
That was an ASI event, about whether prison works. (Answer, with all kinds of reservations: yes.)
I typed out quite a long email to you but decided against it, because I figured none of it would be new to you.
Wrong. Now that my hair is mostly grey and I no longer say everything I am thinking, other libertarians seem to assume that I now know everything that there is to be known, and because I own lots of books that I have read everything that there is to be read, about libertarianism. None of this is true. I do not read and have not read nearly as much as I have time to read and have had time to read. I regret that Sam didn’t preserve this longer email.
Having said that, since it’s something we’re both interested in I thought I’d try to outline my position a bit more briefly:
Excellent. I asked Sam, quite a long time ago now, if he minded me recycling what follows in a posting, and maybe then sticking bits of it up at Samizdata. No, he said, post away. So here it is:
I still hate the term ‘social justice’ (Hayek did a real number on me), and philosophically I’m not on board with the Rawlsian view of ethics. My moral position is preference utilitarianism – that people getting what they want is what’s good. Having said that, practically I think that ethical consequentialists and believers in ‘social justice’ are in basically the same position: both think that improving the welfare of the poor is a high priority.
I think it makes sense to treat libertarianism as being about means, not ends. Most political positions claim that they’re good because they will make people’s lives easier, happier, etc. (There are some exceptions of course.) I think many people make the error of forgetting that the world is complex, so they assume that differences of opinion about politics must be down to differences of opinion about what sort of world we want.
People sometimes also try to waterproof their beliefs by attaching moral claims to empirical arguments – eg, a supporter of the minimum wage, presented with strong arguments that undermine their empirical claims, may fall back on the argument that it’s just indecent for people to earn below £x/hour, and a decent society should simply not allow that, consequences be damned. Of course we libertarians often do this too – presented with strong arguments in favour of the minimum wage we may fall back on the claim that it’s just wrong to interfere with private contracts between adults. I think there’s some merit to both these claims (much more so the latter, obviously) but they shouldn’t be treated as unbreakable absolutes. If they were, were the earlier, empirical arguments just rhetoric?
So you can boil my position down to this: if I was convinced that free markets and a high degree of individual liberty were not the best way of allowing people to get what they want, I wouldn’t support them. My libertarianism/liberalism is entirely contingent on empirical beliefs I have about the world.
I make explicit the fact that I’d be relaxed about redistribution of wealth from rich to poor if I thought it led to good outcomes, and indeed I think the libertarian empirical case is much stronger on regulation of people’s lives (in the broadest sense) and commerce than it is on wealth redistribution. I also think that it’s where we have the most original things to say.
How this makes me any different to people like Milton Friedman and FA Hayek I am not sure, given that both were also explicitly supportive of wealth/income redistribution. Of course, any consequentialist libertarian would have to concede that, at least in theory, they would be open to the idea of redistribution.
Some emails, rather like some comments, can have particular expressive merit. Because people are relaxed rather than mounted self-consciously on their official high horses, so to speak, they often communicate in this more informal circumstance with particular eloquence. So, my particular thanks to Sam for allowing me to publish this. More of his many thoughts here, although you may have to scroll your way past a huge photo of Sam in front of a brick wall. (Odd. Did anyone else have this problem?) I recommend doing this.
I still can’t get used to the internet. I never really will. You can find all kinds of stuff out in a few seconds. You know that, and so do I know it. But, unlike (probably) you, I will never get truly used to this.
Last night, for instance, there was a TV show on about Fossils, fronted by this old Fossil Professor, and mention was made of – and a little sliver of film was shown of – a building (with lots of fossils in it) called the Royal Ontario Museum. I said, that looks like that Daniel Libeskind museum in Berlin, in the saw cuts in big blocks style. So let’s see about that Royal Ontario Museum shall we? Sure enough, that is Libeskind also.
I had imagined that the saw cut style was specifically used only for that Berlin museum, to make you wince when you look at the building, same as you do when you find out the grizzly details of what happened to all those Berlin Jews.
However, it now seems (to me) that Libeskind just likes doing saw cuts. Am I getting this wrong?
Maybe I could google that question also, and find out if anyone else agrees with the above. But that’s enough answers for one posting.
Last Wednesday, I snapper a whole lot of my fellow snappers, but I did not neglect inanimate objects. Here are some of the “I just like it” photos I also took that afternoon, as afternoon turned into evening and as the sun started hitting particular parts of those objects. Click at will for the bigger versions:
I make that: four Wheels (1.2 behind trees; 2.1 behind a little scaffolding; 4.1, bottom of, end on; and 5.2, in a piece of art in a shop window, behind a bird); two Big Bens (2.3, with all its spikes (most pictures of Big Ben include the clock, which then upstages all the spikes) and 4.2, serving as blurry backdrop for two street lights); two Millbank Towers (2.2 and 5.3, the one with the crew cut hairdo of roof clutter); one Shard (3.1, weird top of); one Spray Can (2.3, next to the Millbank Tower -will “Spray Can” ever catch on?) some cranes (1.1) and some tourist crap (4.3), which I love to photo even as I would never buy.
See also a vapour trail (3.3), part white, part dark, depending (presumably) on whether the sun is hitting it or not. (One of my best (I think) postings here concerned a dirty looking vapour trail.)
And see also that St Thomas’s Hospital car park under a park with a fountain (5.1), than I mentioned in the earlier posting with the photographers.
For someone else’s earnestly anxious ruminations about London’s incurably crowded and bustling state, try this. Not enough “affordable” housing, he says. This would suggest to me that building “affordable housing” is not affordable for the builders. Why not? What rules make affordable housing unaffordable to build? He says, of course, not enough rules and subsidies. I say too many rules and subsidies.
Maybe I’d start with the Green Belt, a huge doughnut of dreary fields through which commuter trains race and commuter cars crawl. In a free market, some of the green belt would stay fields or become parks, and some of it towns, that are affordable to live in. I wouldn’t just free up all of it, in one go. I’d carve out the prettiest bits of it and say: don’t build here. And I’d point at the boring bits (very numerous) and say, build here, whatever you like.
But that wouldn’t “solve” all London’s problems. These are caused by London being a great city that millions of people want to live and work in. “Solve” whatever is considered to be London’s biggest problem now, and you merely make all other London problems that bit worse. London will always be overcrowded, and lacking in this or that thing that Guardian opinion-mongers consider necessary and regard as an excuse for bitching about capitalism and for recommending more regulations and subsidies.
First you fuck with the free market and stop it doing its stuff. Then you blame the free market and fuck with it some more. See also: environment.
But I digress. Last Wednesday was a very nice day. As is today, by the look of it.
I love weird window reflections, and these reflections bounced off partially broken windows are something else again:
Taken by me, April 19th 2007, besides the Regents’ Canal.
For more information about Ron’s Eel and Shell Fish, try this link: Ron’s Eel and Shell Fish.
I am watching the England Italy Six Nations rugby game. Already England have, rather to my surprise, already scored two tries. 6-17 England.
Throughout the week there has been a whole lot too much talk, for my liking, of how England were going to beat Italy by fifty points, so that Ireland would then face points pressure in Paris in the day’s final game, rather than the mere pressure of having to win. That’s the sort of talk that can have you neglecting the small matter of simply winning the game. And indeed, England did begin rather scrappily. Mike Brown even made a mistake. But England are now playing like they assume they will win, and the only question is by how much. I sit corrected.
It’s hot out there in Rome, by the look of it. Both sides are making mistakes. But England are looking really dangerous when the backs have it, and are scoring tries. Brown is looking good, as he has all tournament. Burrell looks very strong, ditto.
The thing is, games which end as try fests often begin as hard slogs, and the idea that the winners might rack up fifty seems ridiculous. And then, bang bang bang, they do. The commentators are now pointing out that the Ireland Italy game was very even, until suddenly, at the end, it wasn’t. England will know all about that, and by that reckoning they are ahead of schedule.
Even if England don’t run away with this, France can still win the Championship for England by beating Ireland.
And hey! Another England try! Two for Mike Brown, of the three England tries so far. 6-22 England. Farrell needs to kick everything, and in particular this one, from far out. No worries. 6-24. Farrell four out of four. Half time approaches.
Well, England can’t lose this now.
Probably just as significant as the England tries is that Italy nearly scored an early try themselves, like they did against Ireland. But England stopped it.
Half time. The commentators are saying the Italians are already knackered.
Thank goodness Burrell and Farrell are both spelt the same way. Burell and Farrel (for instance) would have been hard to live with. Although, while Farrell is pronounced Farrell, Burrell is pronounced Burelle. Reminds me of Hyacinth Bucket. I wonder if they ever call Farrell Farelle.
Second half begins.
LATER (there was always going to be a LATER with this one, and probably more than one): 6-31 England. Burrell off for Tuilagi! Bad luck Burrell. 6-38 England, Tuilagi try (pronounced Tooey Langy - don’t ask me why). Tooey Langy another try. 6-43. But oh dear. Interception and try by Italy. 11-43. Again, every point matters and someone with an English sounding name (Alan? Allen?) misses it. 11-43.
It’s not going to happen. From the tournament point of view, England might as well have won 17-19 or some such semi-fiasco. England pressing but time is running out.
At 6-43, England were playing catch-up rugby, and it cost them. When Italy scored that was it. No more England tries since then, and the whistle is about to go. But, Robshaw scores! Too little, says the commentator, too late. Indeed. 11-52 England, unless Farrell misses the penalty from nearly in front of the posts. “Immaculate from him once again.”
And it ends. Now Clive Woodward is saying that all the substitutions made at the end might have cost them. In particular, substitutions affect defence, you suspect.
So, an Ireland win by anything in Paris wins it for them, and a loss by Ireland wins it for England. Allez France!!!
LATER: Not quite.
Last Wednesday, I was finally able to take advantage of the beautiful spring weather London has been enjoying for last week or so, and walked down Victoria Street to Parliament Square, and then across the river.
And the photography is well and truly back in business. There ought to be a nominated day, when photographers all gather to photograph the first grouse of the season. What would be the urban equivalent of that, I wonder?
I photographed other things besides photographers, but mostly I did photograph photographers:
Those are just little square bits from bigger pictures. Click to get the latter.
The fountain behind the lady photographer in 3.1 is the one in the garden of St Thomas’s Hospital, which doubles as the roof of a big car park.
Smart phones getting smarter all the time.
From Tim Berners-Lee, no less, on the occasion of the twenty fifth anniversary of his glorious invention, the www:
Berners-Lee also mentioned something about a Magna Carta for the web, but I am afraid the cat remark has overwhelmed all that stuff.
Or, maybe the cat angle has drawn attention to the Magna Carta stuff, which would otherwise have been ignored even more. (I am starting to notice many rather irrelevant cats in adverts nowadays.)
This time it’s another person whose name I am determined to stop getting wrong, who is called Christiana Hambro. For no intelligent reason that I can think of, I have been getting the Christiana bit of her name wrong. The good news is that I can’t now even remember what I used to say instead, because I have known for several hours, ever since I thought about doing it, what the rest of this posting is going to consist of, and because this posting is already doing the job of fixing Christiana’s correct Christian name, Christiana, in my head, even before I write the posting, never mind before I stick it up for others to read.
Christiana is the one on the left, of these two pictures:
And the one of the right is Christian. Christian Michel. I have never got Christian’s Christian name wrong. Putting these two people next to one another in my head has solved my Christiana Hambro problem.
Christian Michel will be speaking at my next Last Friday meeting, on March 28th. This is what he just emailed me about what he will be saying:
In August 1938, a rich and talented American journalist gathered 36 economists and philosophers in Paris, in what has become known after his name: the Lippmann Colloquium. The objective was nothing less than a refoundation of liberalism, under attack by Marxists and Fascists. Participants only agreed in their opposition to command economies. Mises remained attached to unfettered free markets. Röpke and Rüstow developed what became Ordoliberalism, still the official ideology in today’s Germany. Einaudi, future president of Italy, remained faithful to the social teachings of the Church. Hayek tried to federate all these currents in the Mont Pélerin Society, to the point of dilution. In America, neo-liberals merged into the neo-conservative movement, whilst in France, Michel Foucault, in his insightful Birth of Biopolitics, reclaimed it for libertarianism (which he espoused in his last works, to the horror of the Leftist establishment). Today, for the likes of Naomi Klein and George Monbiot, the term ‘neoliberalism’ is a word of abuse, whilst it was meant to characterize the very ‘third way’ they so eagerly embrace. In the talk, I will go over the debates within the liberal movement of the last 80 years, which all revolve around the definition of this neologism: neo-liberalism.
In my thankyou email back to him, I told Christian that this piece alone makes an illuminating read.
Which is a lot of the point of talks these days, now that we can all know about everything that is happening that we even might be attending. Yes, the small number of people who choose to squeeze themselves into my living room on the 28th will hear Christian’s talk, and very good and very detailed it will be, I am sure. They will learn lots that will not be learned by others. But meanwhile, many more will read the above spiel by Christian about his talk, and the ripples will spread out way beyond my living room. If just half the people on the Brian’s Fridays email list read the above piece, when I send it out in about a week’s time, many of them will learn quite a lot. I had no idea Michel Foucault ended up as a libertarian, until Christian started telling me about this.
I found the above picture of Christian Michel here. I probably could have dug up a picture of him taken by me, but image googling was easier, given the state of my photo-archives.
Christiana’s relevance to all this is that she is one of a number of free-market-stroke-libertarian activists who have been putting some organisational juice behind spreading these ideas to British students. She is based at the I(nstitute of) E(conomic) A(ffairs). I took that photo of Christiana at the Liberty League Freedom Forum 2013, which she helped to organise, and “helped” may well be a serious understatement.
I hope to organise a Brian’s Friday at which Christiana and/or one of her colleagues describe the outreach work they are doing at the IEA. In my opinion it is the biggest single piece of news about the spread of libertarian thinking in Britain. The British public continue to be indifferent to libertarian ideas, as is their habit with so many ideas. But the British student libertarian movement is now growing from insignificant to … significant, and it is to a great degree thanks to the work of people like Christiana.
They were both as pristine and polished as life-size dolls recently removed from their cellophane boxes; rich-girl thin, almost hipless in their tight jeans, with tanned faces that had a waxy sheen especially noticeable on their foreheads, their long, gleaming dark manes with centre partings, the ends trimmed with spirit level exactitude.
I claim no expertise in the matter of the differences between male and female writers, but might not paragraphs like that have caused suspicions that “Robert Galbraith” was really a woman, even if the information had not been revealed on the front cover? It’s the detail. The waxy foreheads, the centre partings, trimmed like that. I don’t think a man would have gone into quite such detail, nor - in this age of male timidity about being anti-female – been as wonderfully rude about it.
I could be imagining all that. I don’t read much fiction by men either, and maybe the best men writers are just as exact about the women they describe and can be just as rude when doing it. And maybe most women writers would not refer to a spirit level in such a context. Really, I just liked it.
Earlier this evening Detlev Schlichter spoke to the Libertarian Alliance (London Tendency), on the subject of Ludwig Von Mises and his claim that economics is a body of knowledge based upon “A Priori” knowledge.
I attended and took photos:
As you can see I was sitting just behind the video camera, and had fun lining this up with the object of its attentions.
The talk was good, as you will be able to hear when the video is up and viewable.
While sorting out the link to Libertarian Alliance (London Tendency) I discovered that Sean Gabb, leader of the Libertarian Alliance (South Coast Tendency), has recently given a couple of talks to the Libertarian Alliance (London Tendency). I did not know this. Interesting.
Quoted by “Robert Galbraith” (aka JK Rowling) at the beginning of The Cuckoo’s Calling:
Unhappy is he whose fame makes his misfortunes famous.
Celebrity and its discontents are nothing new.
Just chanced upon this piece of dialogue at Cricinfo:
John Ryan: “Tell me - did it rain all day on what would’ve been the 5th day in Port Elizabeth?” Actually, it didn’t. Rain arrived only after lunch, had the match progressed that far.
That was in the commentary on this game, the start of which was being delayed by more rain, when I came across this, which is why John Ryan was able to ask about the rain on that phantom fifth day (February 24th) at Port Elizabeth without changing the subject.
6000 reckoned, in the comments on this, that the weather was bad until 4pm, and that play therefore might not have been possible at all, and certainly not before then. The above says otherwise. Odd. A very local effect perhaps. The weather in Port Elizabeth was bad, but not so bad at the ground itself, maybe?
The point of all this is that if Australia had managed not to be all out on day four, which they very nearly did manage, and then if no play had been possible on day five, they’d not have lost.
And now this latest match has been abandoned without a ball bowled. But you followed the link above, and you already knew that, didn’t you?
Early England try at Twickenham. Did not see that coming. But then, I’m remembering what happened in Wales last year. Wales now have a penalty. 7-3 England. Already England have more points than they got last year. Sunny day. Looks like it will be a cracker. (Wales just missed a try by kicking when a pass would have been a scoring pass.)
LATER: England win 29-18, two tries to none. As I say, I did not see this coming. Home advantage strikes again. If England can beat Italy, and they obviously can, and if France can oblige with another home win, against Ireland, then England will win the Six Nations.
A DAY LATER: My summary is that England played like a good England side, and Wales played like an average England side. Last night I was trying to work out why the match was so disappointing for me, despite England getting a very good win. It was this: that Wales of old seem to be no more. Presumably the Welsh plan is that Wales should play like a decent All Blacks side. But what I like to see is Wales playing like a great Wales side, and we’ve not seen that for quite a while now.
Christopher Seaman, in his book Inside Conducting (pp. 89-90):
If you truly love a work, you’re bound to feel emotionally involved while you’re conducting it, and if this doesn’t get across to the musicians you’ll get a cold performance. Some conductors need to use bigger gestures than others to communicate with an orchestra. It takes great aptitude and long experience to pour your heart out yet still maintain the necessary composure. Professional musicians don’t need a good conductor to be over-demonstrative in order to pick up his musical ideas and feelings. I sometimes tell students who thrash around ineffectively with paroxysms of emotion that they’re meant to be cooking the music, not eating it. (The French term for conductor is chef d’orchestre, but that’s a coincidence.) James Levine is reputed to have said, “My tears only hurt my ability to make the audience cry.” And Richard Strauss said to Rudolf Schwarz, “Don’t sweat – let the orchestra sweat. Don’t weep – let the public weep!”
I came across an approving reference to the bit about “cooking the music, not eating it” in a review of this book in the BBC Music Magazine, November 2013 issue.
I do like how you can chase these things up properly nowadays.
Taken by me, Thursday evening:
This was definitely the best picture I took during that little session, between leaving the meeting at the Rose and Crown and arriving at Blackfriars Tube on the other side of the river, but it always takes me a while to be able to see which are the best. I think it is because I need to forget entirely about which ones I had highest hopes for at the time.
Incoming from 6000, aware of my Feline Friday habit, about a 16th century plan to use cats and doves as weapons of war:
Asking for trouble, I’d say.
Thus encouraged on the cat front, I went looking for other weird stuff, in the cat category.
I found this, which is a camera decorated with a logo that is part Hello Kitty and part Playboy Bunny. Weird:
I guess the Kitty is wearing those big pretend rabbit ears.
And weirdest of all, beauty bloggers are decorating cat claws:
It seems that doing crazy things with cats is a permanent part of the human condition. Although to be fair, the excuse for the pink claws above is that they stop your cat from scratching the furniture. And I suppose making them brightly coloured means you can see at once if the cat is wearing them, or has managed to get rid of some of them.
In the latest manifestation of the original Friday ephemera, there are no cats. Not this time. But 6000 included the weaponised cat notion in an ephemeral collection of his own. His final ephemeron was an octopus photo. That also just about qualifies as feline, if you focus on the final three letters.
From towards the end of this by Stephen Green:
Apple is one of the biggest users of batteries on the planet. Every iPhone, every iPad, every MacBook runs on battery power. Apple devices also tend to get the best battery bang for the size, compared to the competition. This is a company which understands better than probably any other on the planet how to make devices which conserve power while still producing best-in-class performance. If Apple wants to continue to improve, they should absolutely pursue every kind of energy source Cook believes might produce future improvement for Apple’s devices and for its customers. Will there be blind alleys and dead ends? Sure.
The Apple Newton was a dead-end device, but creating that product also resulted in the super-low-power ARM chips which run damn near every decent mobile device on the planet.
Interesting. I don’t know what an ARM chip is, but that sounds reasonable. I’m guessing the Apple Newton was one of those ideas where a whole lot of new things all had to work at once, and only some of them, like those ARM chips, did.
I once bought an Apple keyboard, but apart from that I can’t remember buying any Apple stuff. But, I am acutely aware of how much I have benefited from their activities, which caused everyone to do far better than they would have done otherwise.
… Yet for me, the most memorable 3D printing innovation of the last year or so was the launch of a $1,200 service called ‘Form of Angels’ from the Japanese pioneer Fasotec. Here an MRI scan is taken of a pregnant woman, and then used to produce a 3D printed model of her unborn baby. The plastic foetus can even be supplied embedded in a resin model of its mother’s midriff for presentation on the expectant parent’s mantelpiece.
Pictures of what that looks like here, among (as you can imagine) many other places.
That at any rate is the date that all the workers working on it have given me, when I asked them:
Although, I suspect that the word “local” is supermarketese for “half as expensive again as you would like”. Fair enough, their gaff their rules. And it all helps. Even if the only consequences are that the other local late-night stores drop their prices by a few pennies and keep their milk a bit colder, well, every little helps.
But then again, see the picture on the left where it says “Great OFFERS” three times over. So, maybe the downward price pressure radiating from this new place will be quite substantial.
I also think it’s a very smart move to feature the opening time very prominently on the front. No matter how often I am told which shop stays open until when, I forget, and 6am-11pm every day is nice and easy.
The shops that are being replaced by this Morrisons are (a) a Jessops camera shop, and (b) a remainder bookshop. Both replaced by the internet, presumably. But, if you are caught short for sugar or coffee or cheap wine at 10.30pm, the internet doesn’t do it.
My Ashes Lag is really being taken care of, by the South Africa Australia cricket, which is in South Africa, God bless it. It starts at Really Early am London time. Crucially, it keeps on doing that. You don’t cure Ashes lag with just one virtuous wake-up. You have to string a bunch of them together. Nothing like a really good test series that starts at Really Early am day after day to do that. It’s just a pity the series is not a fiver rather than a mere threeer.
Australia are crushing South Africa in the third and final game, just as they did in the first game, and just as South Africa crushed them in the second. And I sort of told you so:
Mitchell Johnson won the first game for Australia, then did nothing in the second, but I think I heard that the pitch for the third game will suit Johnson, so maybe it will be an Australia win.
Well, not really, I mostly sat on the fence. But, at least I am not surprised. South Africa are 71-4 in their second innings, with Amla out but AB de Villiers still there. At tea they were 15-3.
I really hope they have lots more one-day games, and that at least some of them start good and early.
The other really good news, aside from the Ashes Lag thing, is that South African captain Graeme Smith has now retired from internatioanal cricket, and can now devote all his energies to getting Surrey back on their feet.
Rather annoyingly, what with me trying to get other stuff done, cricket remained interesting all day, with Pakistan chasing a vast Bangladesh score, in the Asia Cup, or something. The highpoint of that was the innings of Shahid Afridi which began like this, the W at the start being the fall of the wicket that brought him in:
W 6 2 6 1 |6 2 . 6 6
35 in ten balls, in other words. At the start of all that, Pakistan were in a seemingly hopeless position. After those two overs, the chase was doable, and they duly did it, despite Afridi having a bad back which meant he couldn’t stretch out and avoid being run out, just after he’d raced to fifty.
Tomorrow, the decisive SA v Aus action is likely to come at the start, so that’s more good news on the Ashes Lag front. If early wickets fall, especially that of de Villiers, that will be it. If they don’t, and especially if de Villiers hangs around for a decent time, South Africa would have an outside chance of a draw. But, I doubt it. South Africa’s only real chance is if Johnson gets hurt early in the day, just like Steyn got hurt early on day one.
Incoming from Rob Fisher, about a Bitcoin vending machine in London. I wonder how that works. It would probably defeat me. There was no mention of this on Friday night, when Dominic Frisby spoke at my place about Bitcoin, or not that I heard.
Now that I am mentioning incoming from Rob Fisher, there was also earlier incoming from Rob Fisher about a Lego photographer, which sounds like someone merely photographing Lego. But it’s a lot sillier than that.
While saving the Lego Photographer I came across a photo I had saved in the same directory of a Lego Hawking, so here is that also, on the right there. I found this photo of Lego Hawking … somewhere on the internet. Google Lego Hawking and you’ll get many hits. Best to get all such nonsense blogged and forgotten, all in one go.
Incoming, entitled “Request Link Removal”:
I am contacting you on behalf of Eurostar, we work with their Online Marketing team and are currently reviewing the number of links pointing to the Eurostar website. In order to comply with Google’s regulations, there are a number of links which we are required to remove or nofollow. We have identified such links from your website and would like to request that you either remove the link or add a nofollow tag to it.
The link(s) we wish to be removed can be found here:
[original link written out but it doesn’t fit properly here]
Please can you let me know once you have altered the link or if you have any questions,
SEO Account Executive
360i | 62-70 Shorts Gardens | Covent Garden| London, WC2H 9AH
The link in the above email is to an entire month of postings here, so it took me a while to find the offending link in question. I was half hoping I wouldn’t find it, so I could send a sarky email back saying: Be more specific. Which posting? No such luck. It’s in this posting, where is says “November”. Worth following that link because it is to one of my very best ever (I think) photos.
I don’t understand what a “nofollow tag” is or how to make such a thing work, so I just removed the link.
My link originally went “http(semicolon)//stpancras.eurostar.com/en-gb/why-we-moving” (I’ve changed “:” to “(semicolon)” there to stop this version causing more grief). Trying StPancrasDotEurostarDotCom now gets Google saying:
Oops! Google Chrome could not find stpancras.eurostar.com. Did you mean: www.eurostar.com/stpancras
Interesting that Google omits the question mark there, I think.
So, presumably this is a case of an old Eurostar website that they no longer want anyone reading.
Or is it? I don’t know. Can anyone tell me more about what just happened?
To me, it all has a slightly objectionable taste to it. The link to our site no longer works, so you must remove your link to it. Why? Why can’t the link just not work any more? Does it clog up the internet, or something, with repeated attempts to make the link work? Is that what this is about?
Yesterday I did something that is often rather hard. I photographed some wind. Any idiot who can video (a category of idiot that does not really include me – although I hope to be changing that Real Soon Now) can video wind. You video trees swaying. Roof clutter swaying. Things being blown around. Whatever. But how do you photo the wind? Answer you photo its static dislocative (my word processor says that isn’t a word – it is now) effects. But these effects are rather rare. What you need is something like sails on boats, or some kind of urban substitute for sails on boats. Yesterday, when on my way to Victoria Station, I encountered just such a substitute.
Did you detect a whiff of verbosity in the first paragraph above? If so you would, I think, be right. This is because I was writing verbiage to go next to a big vertical picture, verbiage that needs to be enough to prevent the picture impinging upon the previous posting.
The first two paragraphs of the above verbiage did not suffice to accomplish this task. Hence these final five paragraphs.
And hence the fact that they are five paragraphs rather than one.
I was just making sure.
I can’t tell until I post it, whether this problem has been sorted, so I am now over-reacting.
From the Preface of Christopher Barnatt’s 3D Printing: The Next Industrial Revolution:
Within a decade or so, it is likely that a fair proportion of our new possessions will be printed on demand in a local factory, in a retail outlet, or on a personal 3D printer in our own home. Some objects may also be stored and transported in a digital format, before being retrieved from the Internet just as music, video and apps are downloaded today. While the required technology to allow this to happen is still in its infancy, 3D printing is developing very rapidly indeed. Some people may tell you that 3D printing is currently being overhyped and will have little impact on industrial practices and our personal lives. Yet these are the same kinds of individuals who once told us that the Internet was no more than a flash in the pan, that online shopping would have no impact on traditional retail, and that very few people would ever carry a phone in their pocket.
In 1939 the first TV sets to go on sale in the United States were showcased at the World Fair in New York. These early TVs cost between $200 and $600 (or about the same as an automobile), and had rather fuzzy, five inch, black-and-white screens. Most of those who attended the World Fair subsequently dismissed television as a fad that would never catch on. After all, how many people could reasonably be expected to spend a large proportion of their time staring at a tiny, flickering image?
The mistake made by those who dismissed television in 1939 was to judge a revolutionary technology on the basis of its earliest manifestation. Around 7S years later, those who claim 3D printing to be no more than hype are, I think, in danger of making exactly the same error.
I’m guessing that what I saw in Currys PC World, Tottenham Court Road, was the 3D Printer equivalent of those “rather fuzzy, five inch, black-and-white screens”, at the New York World Fair, the first stumbling steps.
I haven’t read much of this book yet, but I have already learned one excellent application of 3D printing, which is to print not the Thing itself, but the mold for making the Thing. You then make the Thing itself in the regular old way. Clever.
LATER: Here is Barnatt’s description of that last thing (p. 9):
A particularly promising application of 3D printing is in the direct production of molds, or else of master ‘patterns’ from which final molds can be taken. For example, as we shall see in the next chapter, ‘3D sand casting’ is increasingly being used to print molds into which molten metals are then directly poured to create final components. As explained by ExOne - a pioneer in the manufacture of 3D printers for this purpose - by 3D printing sand casting molds, total production time can be reduced by 70 per cent, with a greater accuracy achieved and more intricate molds created. In fact, using 3D sand casting, single part molds can be formed that would be impossible to make by packing sand around a pattern object that would then need to be removed before the mold was filled with molten metal.
Like I say, clever.
My scanner turned “molds” into “maids” throughout that piece of scanning. Not clever.
A while back I did a posting about an acquaintance of mine, called Victor. He had been attending my Last Friday meetings, but I was forgetting that his name is Victor. So, I did a posting, with a picture of him next to a picture of a Handley Page Victor airplane, to make me remember that his name is Victor. It worked.
So now, I am doing another posting to solve another name problem I have long had, which is knowing the difference between trendy Brit Architect Norman Foster and trendy Brit Architect Richard Rogers.
So here they are. Norman Foster on the left, …:
I am well aware that these two men look quite different. But when looking at one, in a photo or on the telly, I am unable to imagine the other, or know which is the one I am looking at, Richard Rogers or Norman Foster.
Foster first. Ffffffff. Rogers on the right. Rrrrrrrr. And I’ve given this posting a title which will enable me to get back to it easily, if ever there is more confusion in the future.
If this doesn’t work, sterner measures may be needed, but I’ll leave it at that for now.