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

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Category archive: Books

Sunday April 21 2019

Niece Roz tweets:

Had enough of your relatives already? Don’t just think about murdering them - come along to @scarthinbooks tomorrow afternoon and talk about how you could actually-- (Just kidding, Twitter. Just kidding)

Scarthin Books is, alas, in the Peak District, where Roz lives.  This is impossibly far away from London, where I live.  If she ever holds an event like this in London, I will definitely attend.  I will make sure that all present know that she and I are related.  Otherwise I will say little.  I will concentrate on looking quietly attentive and quietly thoughtful.

Photo of Roz’s second Meg Dalton book here.

Thursday April 04 2019

I read quite a while ago, because I got sent a proof copy.  What do I think of it?  Very good, and with one especially good moment near the end, which (spoiler alert: I’m about to say something about this moment) I thought was a very acute comment on the nature of human moral beliefs and intuitions, and which I thought was very well set up to achieve maximum dramatic impact.

image

As I have to keep explaining, Roz Watkins is my niece, that being why I keep plugging her books at this blog when most of what you see here is stuff about London and my photos of London.

Trouble is, writing about detective thrillers is a bit of a mug’s game.  I am used to writing about books of the sort where you are allowed to go into the details of what the book actually says.  If I find the argument presented in a book, of the kind I’m used to writing about, to be persuasive, then I can say so and say why.  But when you are writing about a detective thriller, telling everyone what it says, and especially how it concludes, is a big no.  Those who “review” books like this one seem often to be reduced to cliches, all about how they stayed up all night reading it, did not see the end coming, liked the general atmosphere, the leading characters, the dialogue, and so on and so forth, in pretty much those sorts of words.  In particular, reviewers compete with each other to find out how many generalised adjectives they can deploy as a substitute for “very good” (see above).

So, yes, I think this book is very good, but if you want to know why I think that, you’ll have to read it.  Even then, you might not discover, because maybe you’ll disagree with me.  (At which point you too will be forbidden to explain in any detail why you didn’t like it.)

One thing I can say without any fear of giving away any plot details is that the title on the cover of this second book is a lot easier to read (light coloured lettering, mostly dark background) than the title of the first one (lightish lettering, light background) was.  I thought that the first book, The Devil’s Dice, was very good, but I think this second one is a bit better, partly for the reason vaguely alluded to in the first paragraph of this, and partly because I found the politics of it (there is some politics, loosely defined (as in: not British party politics)) to be intriguing.

Friday March 22 2019

One of the things explained in the article linked to in the previous posting is that product placement often happens in a quite subtle way, without the brand being spelt out clearly, for everyone to see.  Street art adverts can be part of a campaign, and the street art bit only makes sense if you also notice the rest of that campaign.

So, for instance, is this, also spied in Bermondsey by me the day before yesterday, also some kind of advert?:

image

Maybe.

I googled “red chameleon” and found two books both called that, but no other products.  No beer.  No deodorant.  No dating site for psycho-communists.

So, maybe it’s just a painting, of a red chameleon.

LATER: And it would appear that these are just flamingos:

image

I also saw them on my Stoke Newingtonian travels.

Both the flamingos and the red chameleon are, it would seem, the work of Frankie Strand.  That she signed the chameleon was a clue.  And a little googling got me to her particular fondness also for flamingos.

Wednesday February 06 2019

The Monday before last really was a very good photoing day.  (I’ve been calling it Sunday but actually it was Monday, Monday January 28th.  I remember at the time being confused about what day it was.)

First, seconds after I had stepped out into the sunlight, there was this:

image

That being me, in among the branches of the tree.

Then, following further excitements yet to be revealed, there was this lighting effect.  And then there were these smartphone-photoing ladies.  And then these guys, also photoing, with another shadow selfie added by me onto their backs.

Then I went past the Wheel, and gave that the Wheel and Tree treatment:

image

And just before it got dark, I ended up at the top of the Tate Modern Extension.

When it was dark, I climbed into Blackfriars Station, and walked over the river to Blackfriars Tube.  And enjoyed the view, with its weird reflections of the station in the sky above the City Cluster:

image

I love how the black sky turns blue in that.

But before I went home, I dropped in on Waterstones, in Piccadilly, to see if the newly released paperback version of The Devil’s Dice was on show.  And it was:

image

I am finding it exhausting just thinking about that day, and how it ended.  It was very cold, and the cold takes it out of you, by which I mean me.

Friday January 04 2019

Here.

Transport Blog is up again, but not being added to again.  I miss transport blogging.

More about the bloke whose Twitter feed I found this bit of video at here.

Wednesday January 02 2019

I just posted something at Samizdata about a talk I’ll be doing for Christian Michel this coming Sunday, i.e. January 6th.  A rerun of this, basically, but with my thinking somewhat further advanced.

In the course of my homework for this posting, and for the talk itself, I came across these two rather fine images, which nicely illustrate the two history dates loom large in my story, the invention of the printing press …:

image

… and the invention of the electric telegraph:

image

I found these images here, and here.

Note how all the books are German.  A major impact of printing being nationalism.

Wednesday December 26 2018

And here, as promised yesterday, are the other dozen of the Christmassy (Google reckons it’s double ss at the end there rather than the single s I used to name the photos) photos that I was gathering together yesterday.  They, like the previous lot, are shown in chronological order, the first one being from 2015 to now, the most recent from earlier this month:

imageimageimageimageimage
imageimageimageimageimage
imageimageimageimageimage
imageimageimageimageimage

I used half a dozen of these two dozen photos to concoct a Merry Christmas photo-posting at Samizdata, in the small hours of this morning, what with there having been nothing there yesterday, until I did that.  And then faked the timing.  Just like I often do here.

Which means that, for the last week, I have not only done something for here, every day, but have done something there, every day.  More on the thinking behind this sudden burst of Samzdating here, some time soon, maybe, I promise nothing.

Friday December 21 2018

The book.  The movie.

And the label:

image

Another Facebook “friend” (also an actual friend) found this, in another part of Facebook.

I don’t know the answer.  Let’s ask this guy.

Forget those electric sheep
Roz is now being quoted
Sign of our time
Thoughts on concentra …
The man from Glint
Driverless vehicles with faces and driverless vehicles to sleep on
The paperback cover will be much more legible
Cats - Dogs - Hitler - and Surrey don’t win
The notes for my talk
Conjecture and refutation
The men but not the luggage - and a round of golf
I need a link dump
More horizontality that looks like it isn’t
The Devil’s Dice is The Times crime fiction book of the month
No daisy eating
Islam can’t be made nice
Assorted Twitterings
The Devil’s Dice in Piccadilly
And another crowd scene (in a bookshop)
A talk by me to Libertarian Home
Creature photos
Deidre McCloskey praises the Bourgeois Deal
The Gayer-Anderson Cat
A recognisable Lancaster and a recognisable Vulcan
Maps!
Le Corbusier gets Dalrympled
An interruption ends
A disruptive book about nineteenth century French painting
Me and Patrick Crozier talking about WW1: If only?
Doing what I have to do
Just how Polish Chopin was and how he played
Photos of Jamie Bartlett speaking to Libertarian Home last night
A picture of a book about pictures
Marc Sidwell on experts
Pictures of James Tooley last night
Softening the brutalities of brutalism with colour
Some more Christmas cheer
Fantastic Beasts has an alcove in W.H. Smith all to itself
The painted word
The internet is for telling me what’s on the telly
The cuddly killer
Illness and coolness
Recent taxis with adverts photos
Trump
Wainwright on facadism
Simon Gibbs on computer programming - me on how Alex Singleton has not written himself out of a job
Anton Howes on the idea of (and the unstoppability of) technological innovation
Londres
How David Irving put himself on trial
Moving speaker – unmoving listeners, video holder and books
Shard - Guys - Tate Modern - Blackfriars Bridge - photoed during Magic Hour
Made-up London detectives in real London places
Amazon review of Inflation Matters
How bet hedging explains the perpetual terribleness of everything
Pete Comley talking about inflation on Friday February 27th
The Bayeux Tapestry – the ultimate horizontalised graphic
BMdotcom What if? of the day
A feline Friday at Guido
Charlie Hebdo demo in Trafalgar Square
On the rights and wrongs of me posting bits from books (plus a bit about Rule Utilarianism)
A cat book and a feline front page
The death of email?
Happy Friday (eventually)
Postrel goes for Gray
Confirming my String prejudices
Will England get lucky?
Compact Cats buried under London’s poshest homes
Building as ornament
Bennett and Lotus on how Emmanuel Todd’s family provoked his Grand Theory of Everything
Well that’s a relief
Two bits of hospitality trivia
Alex Singleton at the ASI last night
Making sense of digital photography
Boris Johnson’s London
Scott Wiener on pizza boxes
Tough going in Australia
Jane Austen’s naval brothers
Daniel Hannan’s latest book(s?)
Guido in the Spectator (and in Free Life)
Cli-fi
Huge semi-submersible ships
Emmanuel Todd links
Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
So painters also used to “take” pictures
Typing on the new smartphone
The mystery of the one good photo
Better a year late than never
The Qur’an is not science – science cannot be ignored
Classical CDs from Gramex
Steven Pinker’s description of The Enlightenment
James Hamilton on self help and class
America 3.0
A review of Detlev Schlichter’s new book (multiplied by 4)
76 operas and a monument in the wrong place for Hermann the German
Emmanuel Todd’s latest book - in English
Science can relax about the harm done to it by Climategate
After the wedding
Pictures of Detlev Schlichter
The bike behind the theatre
Let us now trash infamous men
Julian Assange drove Daniel Domscheit-Berg’s cat Herr Schmitt crazy
I can now copy and paste from .pdf files
Bouncing bombs and spinning cricket balls
Lancaster
An amazon reviewer defends Alex Ross
Alex Ross on Hollywood film scores
English will not last for ever shock
Happy hundredth
Mmmmm … bookshelves!
At the launch of Alchemists of Loss
Sleeping rough and reading an SF classic
As strong and sweet as the free market itself
God is not One
Molly Norris was just kidding!
You know where you are with a book - usually
Cat tales
Talking about The Hockey Stick Illusion with Bishop Hill
In Alicante
Unravelling the puzzle – and making it into a movie
Trying to become an adequate interviewer of promising libertarians
Frank McLynn: “Counterfactual history is the essence of history …”
Under a hundred copies
Our shortening atten … ooh look!
What a difference a g makes
France falls in love with Hugh Laurie
“Vivid characters, devious plotting and buckets of gore …”
MBA - necessary but insufficient
Reading Kasparov
The Rand revival - and some thoughts about Rand’s failure to understand architectural tradition
What-iffing
And here is a real quotation
Quota quotes from Wodehouse
On autobiographical ruthlessness
Thoughts concerning FDR’s warmongering nature
Redirect
Not the book I want to read right now - maybe later
Official bias
Switching from dumb bombing to smart bombing
“I’ll build it with explosive bolts connecting the wings to the fuselage …”
If the Jews have been running the world they haven’t been doing it very successfully
A poetic Hornby
Me elsewhere
An impulse posting about procrastination
You must enjoy reading!
Professor Wenger
Theodore Dalrymple on the menace of honest public officials and much else besides
Bookcase staircase many books electric book manybooks.net
Emmanuel Todd (3): Quotes from the Introduction to The Explanation of Ideology
Emmanuel Todd (1): Anthropology explains ideology