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
Drones
Economics
Education
Emmanuel Todd
Environment
Europe
Expression Engine
Family
Food and drink
France
Friends
Getting old
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
Other creatures
Painting
Photography
Podcasting
Poetry
Politics
Pop music
Propaganda
Quote unquote
Radio
Religion
Roof clutter
Russia
Scaffolding
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


Monday April 30 2018

Some dqys ago, on a day when the weather was undecided about whether to be sunny weather or rainy weather, and was switching between both, I caught site of a roof near to my home.  Later, I could not decide which of the four photos I took to show here, so here are all of them:

imageimageimage
imageimageimage

As to why I show them, well, see my title, above.

Usually; you want your camera to show what is really going on.  But this time, I enjoy its confusion.  If I did not tell you that this was wetness on those tiles, reflecting the sun, you would surely reckon that whiteness to be snow, or frost.

The human eye knows what it sees, so at the time I knew at once what this was.  My camera merely saw what it saw.

Sunday April 29 2018

Today, I connected my camera to someone else’s Mac.  But clicking through the photos on my camera proved impossible, the way I find this to be trivially easy on my clunky old PC with clunky old Windows.  We could not make this work.  Which just goes to prove that ancient computer truth.  There is no such thing as “user friendliness”.  There is only what you know how to make a computer do, which is trivially easy, and what you do not know how to make a computer do, which is impossible.

See you tomorrow.  Maybe only as briefly as this.  Or maybe not see you tomorrow at all.

Friday April 27 2018

Because of how my life is going to be for the next week or so, there may be interruptions to the daily stream of blog postings here, daily in the sense of being something every day however trifling or banal, and daily in the sense also of me doing something before every bed time.There may even be no postings at all, for the next clutch of days.

This particular blog posting is being done before bed time tomorrow evening, and also before bed time this evening.  But after midnight, which means it can either be backdated to today or left to date itself as tomorrow, the latter option being the one I select now.  All of which is within the rules I choose to go by.

But, be warned.  Maybe there won’t be any interruptions.  We shall see.

Meanwhile here is a rather randomly selected photo, taken last summer, of the old version of New Scotland Yard in the process of being deconstructed ...:

image

… to make way for this.  So far, this (see previous sentence) has yet to become visible.  It has yet to show, as they say of pregnant ladies.

In a perfect world, the traffic light in myj photo would have displayed a number, denoting the number of seconds that will elapse before the light turns red.  But this is not a perfect world, as you have surely noticed on the basis of similar – maybe worse - circumstances that in your life you have experienced.  The traffic light had already turned red.

And by personalised, I mean personalise for your cat.

This evening I had a Last Friday meeting at my home, and during it, I learned about a cat phenomenon that suits my Friday Cats and Other Creatures blogging habit.

It seems, or so I was told by one of my lady guests, that a recent invention is that a cat can have a chip on its shoulder - as in: electronic chip - which means that it can get in through the cat flap in the door to your house, but no other cat can do this.  For all other – chipless - cats, the cat flap refuses to flap.

This deals with the habit that cats have of following each other into their various “homes”.  Apparently, cat flaps of the more primitive sort have been allowing passing stranger cats to take occupation in your home when you are gone.  And your cat can’t stop them, if it is not a dominant sort of cat compared to the invading cat.  If your cat is not dominant, your house can become a house for all his dominant acquaintances. Scary for you, and even scarier, I presume, for your cat.  But now, your can can avoid all this grief, because if you have one of these new style cat flaps, only your cat can get into your house.  Your house becomes his safe haven.

Presumably what my lady guest was talking about was something like this:

SureFlap cat flap with microchip identification is made of plastic material. All cats can go out, but only cats with corresponding microchip can come in again. ...

When you think of it this way, cat flaps must have made quite a big difference to the lives of cats, good for some and bad for others.  And these personalised cat flaps are another big change.

Thursday April 26 2018

I like this, which I photoed this afternoon in my local laundrette:

image

I like the photo it makes, and I like the thing itself.  What I think I like about the thing itself is that it suggests to me that someone is putting an effort into this laundrette, like they care about it and intend for it to stick around.  In recent years, this places has seemed temporary, uncared for, intended for closure.  The above sign with socks suggests to me that the laundrette won’t be closing any time very soon.  Which I am very glad about.

Wednesday April 25 2018

I like doing podcasts, and have recently resumed doing this.  The difference between these and earlier efforts is that I am not making the mistake of trying to be the interviewer, a role which I have learned, the hard way, that I am utterly unsuited to.

I do not, however, like doing podcasts because I assume that I will reach a huge audience with my brilliant insights and opinions.  Rather is it that I deepen my friendships with the people I share the microphone with.  The first is a mere outside chance.  The second is pretty much guaranteed to happen.

Although neither I nor any of the other people whom I podcast with assumes that we will reach a huge audience, we know that we probably will reach some sort of audience, probably very tiny, of friends and acquaintances and general passers-by, and that means that we had better say things we have thought about and which we mean and which are worth saying.  We need to be at our conversational best, just in case.

Compare that with two or three of us just chatting in a pub or an eatery or in one of our homes, but with no microphone on.  The level of conversational intensity, so to speak, is, in those circumstances, far lower.

Almost all of my renewed podcasting activity has been with Patrick Crozier.  I recall with particular pleasure the first of these recent efforts that we did about World War 1.  Who else has listened in?  I have no idea.  But I listened.  He listened.  I can listen again, and I have, more than once, because so many interesting things, I think, got talked about.

More recently, I took part in a group podcast on the subject of freedom of speech, alongside Jordan Lee, Bruno Nardi and Tamiris Loureiro.  On that occasion I can be sure that others were listening, because there was a room semi-full of people, listening, right there, in the Two Chairmen, where Libertarian Home meetings now all seem to happen.

The microphone that Bruno placed in our midst was distinguished by its size and its striking appearance.  I photoed it:

image

That photo, for me, illustrates the bigness of the difference that a microphone makes to a conversation.  Jordan, Bruno and Tamiris are all slightly better friends of mine now than they would have been if we’d not done this.

Why then, do I not switch on a microphone during my Last Friday of the Month meetings?  Maybe I will start doing this.  But for now, I believe that a roomful of people, assembled to hear a particular person speak on a particular subject, achieves that same heightened level of attention and conversational concentration that a microphone achieves for a smaller group of people who are talking amongst themselves.

It is also helpful for speakers to be absolutely sure that their talks won’t go straight to the www, and that means that they can confidently take an early shot at a new subject, with all the errors, hesitations and confusions that might occur.  Ideas need to be nurtured and shaped and polished, and that is far easier to do if such early efforts are not being bugged.

This Friday, I have another of my Last Friday meetings.  Dominic Frisby will be doing an early dry-run version of his Financial Game Show, which will be having a run of performances for real at this year’s Edinburgh Festival.  I’m pretty sure that me threatening to switch on a microphone during this out-of-town preliminary try-out version, so to speak, would have been a deal-breaker.

There’ll be another early version for this show at the King’s Head, Crouch End, on May 22nd.  I attended the very first outing of it at the same venue last Monday, and I can report that I and the rest of the small crowd had a lot of fun.  As Frisby reports at the bottom of this piece in MoneyWeek:

We had fun. My MoneyWeek colleague, Ben Judge, turned out to be the winner, prompting many in the audience to make accusations of an inside job.

Yes.  This was a pity, because actually what came across rather well was how imperfect the knowledge of financial experts often is, and how other people, with direct experience of whatever it is, often know more than them.

Tuesday April 24 2018

I’d never heard of it, until, yesterday, at a bus stop near near Finsbury Park tube station, I observed, and photoed, this:

image

This advert didn’t impress me.  I actually laughed.  The Pauline Quirke Academy.  Give over.  You’re ‘avin’ a laugh.  I did anyway.

Later, I saw the same advert in the tube:

image

This did impress me.

I think it was that the back of a bus is a tacky advertising spot, used by tacky enterprises that you have never heard of and will never hear of again.  Ergo, the PQA must be tacky and will soon disappear.  The tube is not such a tacky spot to advertise.  Ergo, the PQA is not so tacky after all.

I wish the PQA every success.  PQA website.

Pauline Quirke is best known to me for doing this.  And to most others, if the internet is anything to go by.

Might someone else who saw both adverts have been more impressed by the bus advert than by the tube advert?

Monday April 23 2018

I love this:

image

Not because of the flowers.  Because of the airplane.  Well, the flowers and the airplane.

It was taken by the same lady as did that outstanding selfie, that I reposted here on Saturday.

I didn’t find the above photo by looking for more photos by her on purpose.  It just turned up on my twitter feed and I liked it, before I even know who did it.

If cropped like that, well cropped.  If taken like that, then even better taken.

Sunday April 22 2018

And again, five years ago today, on April 23rd 2013.

The usual procedure has been followed for these clutches of photoer photos.  I consider only photos where the photoer face isn’t recognisable.  Then, I just pick what seem like the nicest photos, chosen for things like fun things in the background (1.2, 3.4), fun photoer posture (1.1, 2.1, 3.2) or fingerwork (2.2), fun clothing or headgear (4.3), fun decoration on the hands (4.4), really clear photos of the camera (1.3), or other crazy things also happening (4.1).  And enjoyable hair.  Always that.

imageimageimageimageimageimageimage
imageimageimageimageimageimageimage
imageimageimageimageimageimageimage
imageimageimageimageimageimageimage

There are X different sorts of camera to be seen:

Real Photographer cameras (5); small dedicated cameras, of the sort now rapidly being replaced by mobile phones (6); mobile phones (2), both in one photo (1.4); a clunky old video camera (1); a big screen tablet (1).  The surprise to me is how few mobiles there are in these photos.  Big screen tablet photoing was big for a while, but hasn’t caught on, probably because they are too inconvenient to be lugging around with you.  Easier to just get used to photoing with a mobile.  The new big screen question is: What is the biggest that the screen of a mobile can conveniently be?  I see quite a few of these “big mobile phones” nowadays.  If I ever get another mobile phone, this is what it will be.

The logical thing would be for pockets to get bigger.  I assume this is now happening.

Yes, ten years ago to the day.  April 23rd, 2008:

image

Memo to self: Go again to Alexandra Palace, and try to photo the exact same view, to illustrate what has changed.

No Cheesegrater.  The Gherkin stands in something resembling splendid isolation.

No Shard.  Just to the right of middle tower of the three dark Barbican (I think) towers on the right, we see Guy’s Hospital, in warmly lit concrete.  The Shard is now right next to that.

That’s just for starters.  Those are the two biggest changes.  But there’d surely be others.  The Gherkin is now almost surrounded by huge stuff.

Saturday April 21 2018

I reckon that, if there were some kind of competition for selfie photography, this selfie would, if entered, be a definite contender for a medal spot:

image

I am fond of arguing that you should judge a new technology or communicational device or software application, not by its merely average, everyday uses, but by its most significant uses.  So long as the average uses do no great harm, then if the highly significant uses are very good, that’s proof of the extreme goodness of the thing.  Don’t judge telephones only by all the silly but harmless chitchat they transmit, judge them by those life-saving 999 calls.  Don’t judge Skype by people just gibbering at random even though there’s no big problem with that, judge it in particular by how it connects people with relatives who are dying on the other side of the world.  Judge it when doctors use it to do long-distance and life-saving diagnoses, or when an absent father, working abroad, is able to keep in touch with his kids back home.

The same applies to selfies.  Most of them don’t do any harm, even if they aren’t great works of art.  But some are terrific.  See above.

As you can see very clearly, this one was taken with a mobile phone.  Look closely, and you’ll see that there is a perfect shadow of the photoer, just to the right of the mobile phone.

Found it here.

Friday April 20 2018

When you think of lions in Trafalgar Square, you think of lions like this one, as photoed by me, in January 2015, at the Charlie Hebdo demo:

image

But one of my favourite lion in Trafalgar Square photos, which I took in April of 2014 but never got around to putting here until now, was this one:

image

I think it’s the leather handbag that makes this so good.  This is a lion quietly going about her business (it feels like a her despite the mane), not conquering the world or even aggressively promoting anything.  She’s just out shopping.  She does have a rather startled expression on her face, but that’s because she’s being photoed.  She’s not angry you understand, just surprised that anyone should be interested in photoing her.  “Ooh, hello dear!  Are you photoing me?  I hope I’m looking my best.” And maybe a bit scared that I might have designs on her bag.

More seriously, I like to photo, and to show here, faces where face recognition is not an issue.

Thursday April 19 2018

Via Scott Adams, I encountered this, from someone called Peter Smith:

Been chatting to my wife while Twitter was down. She seems nice.

But what does she now think of him?

Wednesday April 18 2018

Yes, last night the Castalian String Quartet played late Haydn (op 76 nos. 1, 2 and 3) at the Wigmore Hall.  Wonderful.

Often, when I watch string quartets in action I feel a bit sorry for the second violin and the viola.  Not with these players.  Even the most innocuous and repetitious little chords, chugging away in the background, were made to come alive.  Every note, every phrase, especially every chord, had been thought about, but unlike with some of the latest string quartets, the result was not, despite my early fears, any excessive yanking around of the tempo and general over-emphasis on passing detail at the expense of the bigger musical story and the longer musical line.  There was plenty of detail, but all in the service of the pieces as a whole.

Here they are, soaking up the applause at the end:

image

And here they are taking a bow:

image

I was going to call this posting The Castalian String Quartet take a bow.  But when string instrumentalists take a bow, is that bow to rhyme with how (the lowering of the head forwards when being applauded), or is it bow to rhyme with go (the thing they each use to play their various instruments)?  The English language is, to borrow a phrase I recently heard being used to describe a rather over-enthusiastic expert on something or other, a minefield of information.

Whenever I really enjoy a live concert, I tend to rootle around afterwards in my CD collection to see what recordings I have of the music I just saw being played.  While concocting this posting, I had this cd on in the background.  Also wonderful.

I’m guessing from all the microphones that were to be seen last night, which my photos only show a few of, that there may soon be a cd of this concert.  I hope so.

Tuesday April 17 2018

This morning I get a phone call:

Me: Hello.

Voice at the Other End: Hello.

Me: Who is this?

Voice at the Other End: Me.

That is such a perfectly idiotic answer.  And such a perfect joke, provided only that it isn’t happening to me or to you.  It should be in an American sitcom, and I am sure it has been.

The subsequent conversation included this:

Me: I am going to blog this.

My thanks to Me.

Monday April 16 2018

Twitter is causing ever more interesting things to pile up on my computer screen, and slow everything down.  (I know, “bookmarks”.  Hate them.) So, here is a blog posting consisting of such links.  Which I can come back to and follow through on but probably never will, but possibly just might.

Eyebrows - we all have them, but what are they actually for?

The Kremlin has a Reckless Self-Image Problem.

Via 6k, how to take bizarre photos by stuffing wire wool into a egg whisk, setting the wire wool on fire, and swinging all that around on a rope.  Do not try this at home, unless you want to burn down your home.

Next, a Twitter posting about cactus patterns:

So frustrating! My cactus patterns are going viral on FB, but the person who posted the photo of them a) didn’t credit me and b) deletes any comments I write responding to people asking for the patterns.

But what if she made that up? As a ruse to get the world to pay attention to her cactus patterns?  Or, what if she hired, in good faith, some sleazy “internet marketer” who deliberately posted her photos on some faked-up Facebook site, minus any credit, told her about it, and then blocked her complaints?  The sleazy internet marketer then advised her to complain about this to all and sundry, knowing that all and sundry would sympathise.  She seems like an honest person, doing honest business, which is why I pass this on.  But a decade of internetting has made me cynical.

Next, a Spectator piece about someone called Scaramucci, who is writing a book about Trump.  The piece says more about Scaramucci than it does about Trump, but his book sounds like it will be quite good.  Scaramucci sounds like he has his head screwed on right, unlike a lot of the people who write Trump books.

Also in the Spectator, Toby Young realises that his wife is smarter than he is.  And she chose to stay at home and raise their kids because that’s what she wanted to do.  You can feel the tectonic plates of Western Civilisation shifting back towards stay-at-home mumhood, even as mere policy continues to discourage it.  Jordan Peterson, take a bow.  That man is already raising the birth rate in rich countries, by encouraging both fatherhood and motherhood.  The only question is: By how much?  Trivially, or significantly?  My bet, with the passing of a bit of time: significantly.

George Bernard Shaw tells it like it was and is about Islam.  I lost track of how I chanced upon that, but there it is.  These days, GBS would probably get a talking-to from the Thought Police, a talking-to which might well include the words: “We’re not the Thought Police”.  If the Thought Police were to have a go at her, they just might get an earful themselves.

Mike Fagan liked this photo of Mont Saint Michel with sheep in the foreground.  I can’t any longer find when he liked it, but he did.  Reminds me of this Millau Viaduct photo, also with sheep in the foreground.

Boaty McBoatface got turned into David bloody Attenborough, but Trainy McTrainface proudly rides the railway lines of Sweden.  As usual, You Had One Job supplied no link (so no link to them), but here’s the story.

Thank you Paul Marks for telling me about someone telling me about Napoleon’s greatest foe.  His name?  Smith.

The sun is now spotless, or it was on April 11th.

David Baddiel has doubts about the bloke who said “gas the Jews” rather a lot, to a dog.  As do I.  It should be legal, but don’t expect me to laugh.

Tim Worstall:

All of which leads to the correct Brexit stance to be taking. No deal. We’ll go to unilateral free trade and the rest of you can go boil your heads. We’ll give it a couple of decades and we’ll see who is richer, OK?

Quillette: The China Model Is Failing

The three temporarily separate Elizabeth lines.

Wisdom.

Anton Howes on Sustained Economic Growth.

John Arnold made a fortune at Enron.  He is now spending some of it on criticising bad science.

Human genes reveal history.  This book is number (about) twenty on my to-read list.

Philip Vander Elst on How Communism Survived Thanks to Capitalist Technology.

And finally, Bryan Caplan still thinks this is pretty good.

I now feel much better.  And more to the point, my computer seems a lot sprightlier than it was.  This has been the computerised equivalent of cleaning my room.  The job is not done, but I have taken a chunk bite out of it.

Sunday April 15 2018

I liked this, from the Megan Mullally character in Will & Grace (latest series, episode 6, beginning of):

“Sorry I’m late, but I got here as soon as I wanted to.”

At their frequent best, American sitcoms keep on nailing down these universal feelings about the world and its various demands, yet in a way that you never heard before.  It’s like they show you the world, but with perfect subtitles attached, explaining everything.  My sense is that a gag like that one is proposed by one person, and then talked through by a huge team of gagsters at a big table for about half a day until it is polished and refined down to its pure and perfectly funny essence.  (Either that, or some bloke just thought of it, just like that.)

In general, I really like American sitcoms, because, in addition to being funny, they are another world, but another world where they speak an almost identical language to mine.

In English, and also in American it would seem, sorry is definitely the hardest word.

Saturday April 14 2018

Indeed.  Last night I was walking somewhat exaustedly from St James’s Park towards Victoria, and this took me along Petty France, which is where the Ministry of Justice is to be found.  This is the one that used to be the Home Office and which looks like an Eastern Bloc Embassy.  And in Petty France, right next to this Ministry of Justice, I spotted this:

image

Yes, an urban fox.  You expect to see such beasts in the more sprawling London suburbs, the sort that contain lots of open spaces and vegetation.  But not trotting along the pavement, right past a major government ministry.

It was getting dark rapidly, and for some idiot reason I had set my camera to make movies instead of regular photos.  But that did at least mean I could pick out a less bad still shot.

Luckily, the quality of the photo is not the point here.  It’s the principle of the thing.  Cats and dogs, yes.  (At first, I thought that this fox was a cat.) Horses, carrying policepersons, exercising themselves in between riots.  Good.  Ducks.  Pigeons.  Herons (see below).  That’s all fine.  But foxes?  That was a real surprise.  And a definite first for me, in central London.

Friday April 13 2018

Yes, way out west.  Barnes.  I was there earlier in the week with GodDaughter 2.  We dined here, right beside the river.  Very nice.  Very appetising.

It was a dull day just like today, but I had my camera with me anyway, and in among photoing the bridge upstream and the bridge downstream, I also photoed various birds.  Including this one, which I suspected was a heron and which a little bit of image googling confirmed was a heron:

imageimageimage
imageimageimage

The first three came out quite well, but the final one, bottom right, is the heron disappearing across the river, in a bird blur, with an even blurrier bird reflection underneath it as it flew away.  My camera moving excitedly didn’t help, but I still quite like it.

My favourite, however, is the first one, top left.  In that one, I particularly like the goofy way that the heron seems to have its knees pointing inwards, like he has been caught breaking some rule, and is shuffling his feat.  Or her feet.

Thursday April 12 2018

At the time of the Scottish Independence referendum, I discovered in myself a great fondness for the Union Jack.  Not for its political symbolism.  I see the break-up of the UK as pretty much, in the longer run, inevitable, and probably desirable.  We’d be rid of Scotland’s stupid politics, and they have to live with all the consequences of their stupid politics and would shape up.  Win win.  No, I just like the Union Jack as a design.

One of the many things I like about the Union Jack is how you can change the colours, yet still keep it clearly recognisable, as an altered Union Jack, but still a Union Jack.I don’t know any other flag design that works so well that way.

So, for instance, this afternoon, on my way from meeting up with a friend, I was in Wilton Road (I think it was) and I encountered this Union Jack variation:

image

Website.

Wednesday April 11 2018

I have an abundance of CDs, and CDs last for ever, provided you don’t mistreat them violently.  I do not mistreat my CDs at all.  CD players, however, do not last for ever, no matter how well you treat them.  I was in Tottenham Court Road this afternoon, seeking another CD player, small enough to go beside my bed, to replace the small CD player there which is misbehaving.

The weather was grim and grey.  We had a couple of first days of spring a while back, but so far there has been no actual spring.  Not good photoing weather, in other words.  But I did get a few shots of this ensemble, of the BT Tower, pollarded trees, and cranes, of which this was my favourite:

image

I tried a little “sharpen lightly” on that, and it looked, as you would expect, sharper.  But, the weather wasn’t sharp today, so I undid it.  That is exactly what emerged from the camera.

Tuesday April 10 2018

Yes, another illusion, to add to this one, and to make a similar point, by what appear to be rather similar means:

image

The blue stripes do not slope.  They merely look as if they slope.

I found this Here.  I recommend following that link and scrolling down to the .gif there, which proves that everything above really is horizontal.

Talking of horizontal, what happens if I do a horizontal slicing job?  This is just the top blue stripe:

image

The trick still works, even if not as strikingly.  Not that I care much about the details.  That things like this work is what interests me.

Commenting on the previous illusion, Commenter Alastair recommended this book.  It’s now on its way to me.

Sunday April 08 2018

I think this is an amazing photo:

image

Taken by 6k.  Amazing colours and contrasts.

It has a sort of Paradise Lost feeling about it.  Paradise is the beach.  But the sky causes Paradise to be Lost, temporarily I trust.

I have a feeling 6k does quite a lot of photo-editing, based more on what he says than on how his photos actually look.  For the good news is: you can’t tell for sure, just by looking at the photos.  I don’t like it when you can tell for sure that there’s been lots of mucking about with a photo.

I do very little photo-editing, because I consider most of it to be cheating.  The only thing I do quite a lot of is cropping, usually to cut out recognisable faces.

6k is not at his best right now, having recently been worse.  Knee operation.  Hope he gets well soon.

Yes.  From yesterday’s Times, in the Review section:

image

Here is what Roz is making of this.

Sadly, that wonderfully admiring review is behind a pay wall.  But: remarkable.  I don’t know how much difference a thing like this makes to sales, but it surely can’t hurt.  All those favourable Amazon reviews also help a lot, as Roa, unsurprisingly, confirms.

Here is a piece I did for Samizdata, more about crime fiction generally, but provoked by – and giving a plug to – The Devils Dice.

Why all this fuss from me about The Devil’s Dice is because Roz is my niece and because The Devil’s Dice is very good.  See also this earlier posting here.  I have not posted an Amazon review, because If I didn’t say I’m her uncle that would be dishonest, and if I did, then it would be dismissed as hopelessly biased, as it would be.

Roz’s cat is less impressed.

Saturday April 07 2018

Yes, ten years ago to the day, I was photoing photoers, and it is now a vanished era.  Of dedicated, cheap, small cameras:

imageimageimageimageimage
imageimageimageimageimage
imageimageimageimageimage
imageimageimageimageimage

It’s the red ones I like best.

Friday April 06 2018

Just got back from a great talk by Rob Waller at Christian Michel’s, about Artificial Intelligence, dream or nightmare, etc.  Rob himself was quite optimistic, but to illustrate the pessimistic side of the debate, he talked about … well, see above: a robot dog apocalypse.  He mentioned also its creator, Charlie Brooker, which made googling easy.

Here we go:

We’ve all seen movies and TV shows about killer robots. But until Netflix’s new season of its future-shock anthology drama Black Mirror, never before have we seen a terrifying vision of machines run amuck that so closely resembles the design of actual real-life robots — namely, those Boston Dynamics “dogs” that have impressed the world with their remarkable balance, speed, and dexterity … yet also unavoidably make you wonder: What if one was chasing me?

image

But then Rob talked about how AI was achieving huge increases in agricultural productivity and miracles of environmental protection, by doing such things as providing water automatically for migrating birds, and also for crops.  Like I said, he was optimistic.

Thursday April 05 2018

Twitter is getting seriously addictive for me these days.  What will stop that is that it is getting a bit samey, as the same people keep on saying the same things.

Kristian Niemietz spends most of his Twitter time shouting at Corbynistas.  So I was rather delighted to see this:

image

Miemietz supplies no link, which I hate.  This hatred reminds me of the time when I used to rain curses down upon would be Libertarian Alliance authors who did not supply proper footnotes, in that now long gone era when there were no links.  Just footnotes.  I know, weird.

To quote myself (who else will?):

If you submit something to the LA for publication, your manuscript must be legible, and it must be complete. If we publish it exactly as you have submitted it, you should be content. On the other hand, if we are unable to publish it as it stands, either because we can’t read it, or because it lacks vital details, we will not be at all content.

We do not favour the “people generally, are, in a general way, inclined to think approximately such and such” style of writing. Who thinks it? Exactly what do they think? Where’s the proof that this is what they think? You should supply chapter and verse. If you are depending upon or taking issue with some written point of view or other, it is essential that you should enable your readers to acquaint themselves at first hand with what you are praising or criticising. They must be able to satisfy themselves that your criticisms are fair. They must, if encouraged by your praise of something, be able to explore further. The LA would be a waste of everyone’s time if all that happened was that a whole bunch of people read everything published by the LA, but read - or wrote - nothing else.

Accordingly, you must supply complete and accurate footnotes. ...

Ah, those were the days.  It’s a wondrous exercise in invective, though I say it myself.

Although, I note that I broke my own rule.  Who actually said: “no one says that”?

But however much those days were the days, I still prefer these days, when you just shove in a link.  Much easier.

Like this link, to the actual story about the missing cat that no longer was missing.

Later: Also this.

Wednesday April 04 2018

Yes, a few days ago now, I had a haircut.  I like to get value for money, and get rid of lots of hair whenever it gets cut.  Here’s the before and after of it:

imageimageimage

Both of those photos are examples of Multiple Selfies, where, one way or another, you get two or more selfies instead of just the one.  The one on the right, if my camera screen and my camera and my mirror and your screen were all perfect (which they are far from), would have been an Infinitely Multiple Selfie, but in reality it only makes it to being what the one on the left is: a Double Selfie.

Note how in each case I artfully disguise the state of my chin(s?).  On the right by holding my head high and stretching it.  On the right with the careful (but alas not quite perfect) placing of the camera.  Sometimes, when selfie-ing I try to look my best.  Often, I just don’t bother.

I know what you’re thinking.  Selfies aren’t cool.  But look at it this way. The human face is interesting, but you can’t just photo Other People and shove their faces up on the WWW, WWWithout their permission.  It’s not polite.  It could make trouble for them, if they are strangers who didn’t want it known that they were in London, or if they are friends of mine and don’t want it know that they are friends of mine.  Which leaves my face as the only face it is convenient for me regularly to photo and then stick up here, with my oWWWn full permission.  I had to crop the Double Selfie on the left to cut out another bloke.  I did this because of internet etiquette, not raging egocentrism.  Besides which, if selfies are raging egocentrism, this is my blog and I’ll do whatever I want with it.

So anyway, back to the haircut.  I have been going to the local haircutting shop, Adriano’s, at the corner of Horseferry Road and Horseferry Road (it does a right angle kink), pretty much ever since I moved into my home in about 1990.  Every time I go there, I say: very short please, shorter than you usually do.  And the old bloke there (Adriano?), who has a full head of hair, starts snipping away, very carefully, and goes on for as long as he considers seemly.  The result looks great, but not as short as I want.  Once, I very nearly got what I wanted, when another bloke with shorter hair cut my hair shorter.

This time was different.  It was another bloke, with no hair on his head at all.  He is not completely bald, but he had that look where he was pretending he wasn’t partly bald by saying, I’m deliberately bald.  On purpose.  Without such deliberation, I would have hair all over my head!  It fools nobody because his hair immediately starts to grow again, and his actual baldness is quickly evident.

Anyway, I felt optimistic about this guy.  Make it almost as short as your hair, I said, but not quite.  Said he: OK.  Maybe, finally, I’d get the haircut I wanted.  I did.  Instead of the agonising, disapproving and prolonged snipping I was used to, Mr Baldie got an electric shearing device and just sheared it off, as if my head was a sheep.  It took less than a minute. The next three minutes was just tidying up, and it was all done.

Next time, if Mr Baldie does it again, I will take photos during as well as before and after, because these would have been outstanding.

I rather think that in the left hand one, above, before, a weird effect is that my hair is shorter on my right side than on the left.  This is because, being right-handed, I pull out more hair from the right side than the left side, when washing it in the bath.  (I wash it in the bath.)

Tuesday April 03 2018

A reason I like to put my photos on a blog, rather than just shove them out to the world on Flickr or Instagram or some such thing, is that I often like to say complicated things about them.  I like to say why I like about them, basically.  For the photos I show here, this blog is about what’s in the photos, as well as just photoing itself.

I also like explaining the photos.  Often it isn’t obvious what they are off, or where the thing they are of is.

Distressing though it is to contemplate, not everybody in the world is able to live in London, the way I do.  Some of these unfortunates read this blog and view my photos.  Not knowing London, such persons require explanations.

Take this photo, for instance:

image

Very pretty, I hope you agree.  But where on earth is it, and where was it taken from?  It was taken from the top of the Tate Modern extension, which is the brick building in the middle of this photo:

image

What we also see in that photo is the big old tower of Tate Modern, and in the foreground, one of London’s more interesting railway stations, interesting because it is on a bridge.  I love that about it.  Especially if it encourages other bridges to be building, say out east, which also have buildings on them, like old London Bridge once did.

But I digress.  Which is another reason for sticking photos on a blog.  On a blog you can digress all you want.

So anyway, back to that photo at the top, of the staircase with all its shadows.  Where would that be?

Well, here’s another photo taken from the exact same spot, at the top of the Tate Modern extension, which puts the staircase in context and shows where it is.  It is right in the middle of this view:

image

Or consider this rather banal view, also to be seen from the top of the TME, this time looking south:

image

On the right are those flats, whose inhabitants have been complaining about being looked at through their big windows, with its big lift shaft on its left.  And further over to the left, further away, we see the three-eyed tower that is Strata, or the Razor as some call it.  Why do I show you that?  Because this ...:

image

… which is what I saw by moving along a bit to the right, and looking at Strata through the lift shaft.

How would you know what that was, if I didn’t explain it?

And there’s more explaining to be done.  What is that odd brick pattern, reflected in the glass of the lift shaft, through which Strata is to be seen?

Well, here is a closer-up photo of the TME, taken around the same time, but when the sky was white rather than blue:

image

Click on that and you get a closer look at that brickwork.  Or better yet, just look at this even-closer-up photo of it, that I took, also on the white sky day:

image

I actually like this brickwork a lot.  It makes this extension both blend in with the old power station that Tate Modern used to be, and yet makes the new building distinctive.  In general, this extension has a highly individual look about it.  As I think I’ve said here before, Art I can take or leave, but I do like the new buildings they build for it.  Yes, see also here.

Monday April 02 2018

So this evening I dined at Chateau Samizdata, where hippos assemble, from all parts of the world.  This hippo, with storage space and a lid, is the latest arrival:

imageimageimage

I said I thought it looked a bit like a sheep.  It’s the legs.  I was told, no, it’s a hippo.  The food was great and the drink was even greater, and I even got a present of some drinks glasses that were superfluous to Chateau Samizdata’s current requirements.  So,yes, now that I look at it again, I see that it looks exactly like a hippo.  No question about it.  Not like a sheep at all.

Sunday April 01 2018

I became fixated on Spurs in the 1960s, like a baby goose, because then they were so good.  Plus, I always like their Jewish angle and still do.  I have supported them, strictly at a distance and media access permitting, ever since. They’ve been sporadically good since that ancient time, but never as good.  Finally, that seems like it might be changing.

Today Spurs beat Chelsea at Chelsea, the last time they did that having been in 1990.  Spurs are now in fourth place, which if they stay there is high enough to get them into the Champions League again.  They are now 8 points clear of Chelsea in fifth.  With seven more games to be played, it’s not settled yet, but things just got a lot better for Spurs.

I just watched Dele Alli’s two goals on the TV highlights, and with both it was not just the skill but the speed with which he did what he did that was so impressive.  Before that, Eriksen hit what the radio commentators were calling a potential goal of the season.  One of those long distance, fast and late inswingers.

So, to celebrate, here is a photo I took of the new Spurs stadium, which will get moved into next season or thenabouts.  It will be a few games before the Spurs team settles in and starts enjoying their home advantage whenever they play there.  But judging by how well they did this season at the at first unfamiliar Wembley, it shouldn’t take them too long to settle into New White Hart Lane.

So, this is how New White Hart Lane was looking last November, with one of the Walthamstow reservoirs in the foreground:

image

Mmmm.  Cranes.

I haven’t checked progress more recently, and can offer no photos from since then.  But here are 103 more pictures, and counting, of New White Hart Lane’s progress.  I knew you’d be excited.