Brian Micklethwait's Blog

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

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Category archive: Television

Saturday August 02 2014

Overheard in a TV advert for sweeties:

You can’t trust atoms.  They make up everything.

Talking of which, I am now reading Lee Smolin’s book about String Theory.  Basic message: It’s a cult.  I haven’t yet read him using that actual word, but that’s what he is saying.

I am, of course, not qualified to judge if Smolin is right, but you don’t have to be qualified to express a judgement, and I judge that Smolin is right.  And the way I like to learn about new stuff is by reading arguments about it, starting with the argument that says I am right about it.  Smolin is basically telling me that my ignorant prejudice that String Theory is one of the current world’s epicentres of the Higher Bollocks is right, although he is careful not to express himself as crudely as I just did, for fear of upsetting his physicist friends, and because, unlike me, he sees some merit in String Theory.

I have known that String Theory was in trouble for some time, because Big Bang Theory’s resident String Theorist, Dr Sheldon Cooper, has been having doubts about it.  He wanted to switch to something else, but they said: We hired you as a String Theorist and a String Theorist you will remain.

The above link is to a blog I had not heard of before, entitled Not Even Wrong.  Not Even Wrong is the title of another book I have recently obtained with has a go at String Theory.  I have not yet started reading this.

It’s true.  You can’t trust atoms.  And grabbing both ends of one and stretching it out into a string doesn’t change that.  It makes it worse.

Sunday July 27 2014

I just heard someone say in an American TV sitcom (I love American TV sitcoms) that they’re not going to answer the phone without knowing who it is, “like it’s 1994”.

I still do this, with my old 1994 style phone, which I greatly prefer to mobiles, because when I am out and about, I don’t have to answer it, and because phones connected to your house with wire cannot be lost, and because I know exactly where it is when it rings, and because that ring never changes.

Quite often, when I do answer, it’s a junk phone call, offering to extricate me from a financial error that I personally have not made by urging me to commit another financial error, and as soon as I realise it’s junk, I put the phone down.  Does this constitute some sort of “success” for the junk phoning enterprise?  Look, they answered!  Because obviously they knew who we were, this not being 1994, and yet still they picked up the phone!  Hey, we’re getting through!

Much of life these days seems to consist of doing many futile things, but contriving for these things the appearance of non-futility.  These days?  I suspect all days that have ever been, with humans involved, and no doubt many other species also, both before and now during the human epoch.  Only the futile things and the means of contriving a non-futile appearance for them change from time to time.

I don’t mind junk phone calls.  If they were more frequent, they would annoy me.  As it is, if there is a pause in incoming phone calls lasting a few hours, it is soothing to be informed, even if only by a robot actor voice spouting nonsense, that my phone is still working.  The pause was because nobody wanted to talk to me.

When answering junk phone calls, I pause any music that may be playing.  I do not mind this.  There is a part of my brain (yours too?) where you remember the musical phrase you were listening to when you last paused the music, and when you unpause it you carry on listening just as you would have done normally.  I even suspect that pausing deepens my response to particular pieces of music, by fixing particular moments of them in my brain more firmly than might have happened otherwise.

Since I am now rambling like the really old person that I am rapidly becoming, let me ramble some more.  In connection with none of the above, here are the wheels of a big mobile crane that I photoed in Victoria Street a while back.  Click on it to get the crane:

image

I like cranes.  That one is, I think, the Spierings SK599-AT5.  I love how you can find out about things like this, these days.  And this time it really is these days, rather than all days. 

Here is a link to a toy version of this crane.  Do contractors use toys like this to plan their jobs, I wonder?  As well as just to decorate their offices or amuse their spoilt children?

It is now late morning on Sunday.  Are sermons like this, when the priest is getting old, but is too well liked for anyone to want to sack him?  With a blog you can ramble anyway, because nobody can sack you.

Wednesday July 23 2014

Bizarre day today, and am only now shoving whatever I can think of to shove up.

I went trawling through the photo-archives, and came up with this weird selfie shot from 2006:

image

Two cameras I no longer use.  My previous pregnant-out-the-back telly.  Some book about Something For Dummies.

The word didn’t exist, but that didn’t stop me, or stop me from photoing others doing it.

Thursday July 17 2014

The are two photos which I took last Monday.  The one with the bright blue sky, me looking up, was taken in Wigmore Street.  The one looking down, was taken from the ME Hotel Radio Rooftop Bar.

They are photos not so much of roof clutter, as of roofs, roof in all their elaborately designed glory.  But, you can spot the late twentieth century incursions:

image image

The aesthetic impact of radio and television aerials does not seem to be much discussed in the architectural world.  It could be that it has, and I merely haven’t noticed, but I don’t think that’s it.

Here is what I think is going on inside the heads of architectural aestheticians, on this subject.  The deal we will make with you mindless philistines is: you can have your damn aerials, because we know that if you are not allowed, by us, to have your damn aerials, you will hut us down and burn us at the stake.  But, we refuse to talk about them.  We will not incorporate them into our aesthetic theories of how things look, and should look.  We will not see them.

Which is how we got from the above scenario, where everything on the roof is elaborately designed, but the first few aerials have crept into the pictures, but have not been seen by the architects and their aesethetic guides, to this:

image

Yet still, they don’t see it and they don’t talk about.

Really, really weird.

I’ve been pondering roof clutter for a while now, but the more I ponder it, the more weird the phenomenon is.

What this reminds me of is a distinction that my sociology teachers at Essex University all those years ago made much of, that between the sacred and the profane.  The sacred stuff here is the regular “architecture”, the walls, the windows, the roofs, the interiors, and so on.  All of that is sacred, and is accordingly obsessed over, every tiny square inch of it, every subtle colour change, just as priests obsess about every word in a prayer.

But those aerials are profane.  They don’t register.  They aren’t architecture, any more than a tracksuit worn by a impoverished member of the congregation in a church is a sacred vestment, the details of which must be argued about by bishops and theologians, or the sales pitch being done over the phone on Monday morning (by someone who had been devoutly praying on Sunday) is itself a prayer.  That sales pitch is profane.  Forget about it.  Don’t even think about it.

Those aerials, in among the sacredness of all those designed chimneys and roofs and little towers, are profane.  And hence invisible.  Aerials are designed, by aerial designers, to make sense of radio waves.  But they are not designed to be looked at.  They are a pure case of form following function.  Architects ought to love them, if they believed their prayers.  But they don’t because what is there for architects to add?  Nothing.  The job has all been done, by profane aerial designers.

Well, I don’t know.  I’m thinking as I go along here, but writing it anyway.  Which is all part of why I have this blog.  At this blog, I am allowed to be wrong.  This is a thinking allowed zone, you might say, a place where the thinking does not have to be done before the blogging begins.  This is, you might say, a profane blog.

Tuesday July 08 2014

Yes, I’m watching this bizarre game.

A commentator said of Brazil’s defenders that they are all over the place, or some such phrase, and added:

It’s like a testimonial match.

For you Brazil, ze turnament iss over.

My prediction?  Germany 5 Brazil 2.  My thinking?  Momentum will shift.  Brazil will be desperate - desperate - not to be further humiliated.  Germany will spare them further humiliation and save their energy for the final.

Vee shell see.

Hansen and Shearer of the BBC are now raking it over at half time.  Were Germany brilliant (Shearer), or Brazil awful (Hansen)?

LATER: I had a feeling about this game when I set the video recorder. But I hoped that it wouldn’t go to extra time because there is something else I want to record, starting at 11.30 pm.  Please let regular time not end all square.  Something tells me that my prayer will be answered.

FINAL SCORE: Brazil 1 Germany 7.  Well, Brazil did score a goal.  Right at the end.  Just after Germany had missed making it eight nothing.

The Spaniards may now be feeling a bit less bad.

Yesterday, London was bent totally out of shape by the Tour de France.  It became a French provincial city for the day, as I suppose some French people think it is always.

It rained.  I was otherwise engaged, and in any case did not fancy fighting my way through crowds for the mere chance of snapping a herd of cyclists racing past me for about twenty seconds, especially after I had watched a Lance Armstrong documentary on my television.  What a shit.  And what a shitty sport.  Besides which there would, I reasoned, soon be plenty of photos on the www of the drugged up veloherd pouring past the Docklands Towers, the City and its Big Things, Parliament, Buckingham Palace and so on.

Most of the pictures I found today involved Parliament and Buckingham Palace rather than more modern Big Things, and the veloherd (all with hats designed by Zaha Hadid) of course, and the best Tour de France in London snap by far that I found today was taken three months before the big day, when they were still telling everyone about it:

image

Classic.  Seriously, what better background could there be to a sport that is all about wheels?

Original and slightly bigger picture, with the story, here.

Sunday June 15 2014

Mick Hartley writes about England’s loss to Italy last night in their opening World Cup game:

Much football punditry has always seemed to me to be an effort to provide a plausible post-hoc storyline for what was to a considerable extent a matter of chance.  … as though the whole enterprise must be made sense of by virtue of the winning team being the team that deserved to win.

Very true.  (I’m guessing that, with luck (ho ho), this book will have a lot more to say about this tendency.) Actually, much of the appeal of football (to those to whom it appeals) is that the “best” team on the day often doesn’t win.  This means that the supporters of bad teams can live in constant hope of upsets.

This also explains why, at the early stages of a season, surprising teams are often at the top of the table.  Later, the law of averages asserts itself inexorably, and the best teams arrange themselves in logical order at the top, and the surprise early leaders sink back into the pack where they belong.

All of which makes something like the World Cup quite good fun.  All you have to do to win it is win five or six of your first six games.  All the best teams have to do not to win is lose one or two of their first six games.  One of the great moments of all World Cups is the one when a Much Fancied Team gets on its Early Plane Home.

What the pundits seem to have been saying about England is that, because the “expectation level” is low, they might do quite well.  The expectation level is low so it’s high, in other words.  My take on England is that they are a fairly bad team, who played fairly well against Italy, and lost, and that they will probably do fairly badly, but you never know, because there are only half a dozen games for each team to play.  I will video-record all of England’s games, such as they are, just in case.  I live in hope of a small series of upsets.

I also video-recorded the Spain Netherlands game, by far the most remarkable one so far.  Will Spain be this time around’s Much Fancied Team early departure home?

And I also videoed the first game, between Brazil and Croatia, with its truly dire opening ceremony.  This was a real collector’s item of awfulness.  What is it about these terrible opening ceremonies, with their meaningless costumes and absurd dance moves?  Witnessing them is like listening to someone talking in a language has only recently been invented - for aliens to speak in a movie, for instance - which consists of no actual words, only meaningless sounds.

The opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympics in London contained many things I disagreed with, and I continue to disagree with the entire principle of me and all other anti-Olympickers having to pay for the damn thing for the next thousand years.  But at least that ceremony contained stuff that meant something.  Although come to think of it, maybe the only people who understood it was us Brits, and for countless mllions elsewhere, that was also the gibbering of aliens.

Saturday May 31 2014

Yesterday was the last Friday of the month, and that means a do at my place.  This time I remembered to take photos:

image

I’m not expecting many marks for artistic impression with that one, but it gets across what these things are like quite well.  It’s not a big place, so there’s only room for a few more than a dozen, a dozen in comfort, and that is always the number of people that seems to show up.  (There were a few more present last night than you can see in that picture.)

What the turnout lacks in quantity it really seems to make up, time and again, in quality, and that was especially so last night.  And because numbers are small, that means that people can really dig into the subject.  They can really think aloud, so to speak, rather than just soak up what the speaker says and then maybe ask the one snappy question. Which means that people who came to learn about the subject, really do, more than they would have done from just the one speaker.  Afterwards, there isplenty of time for further talk and networking, what with the place being mine, rather than some hired venue that has to be vacated in a rush.

Although I promise nothing, I will try to say more about the actual topic (Internet Governance - more about that in this posting) in future blog postings.  Today was busy for me, and tomorrow will also be crowded, although the main reason for that is I’m meeting my mates in a pub to watch the IPL Final.

What’s that you say?  What does IPL stand for?  IPL means Indian Premier League, 20-20 cricket, tomorrow’s final being between the Rajasthan Royals and the Kolkata Knight Riders.  Last night was also full of acronyms.  More about them (see above) later.  Maybe.

Talking of acronyms, who knew that Detlev Schlichter had opinions about the England and Wales Cricket Board?

Last night at my place
0.080519 would still have beaten 0.074163
Go Chef
Cricket news: Surrey win – IPL – The Big Wosname
Homer Simpson on Thames
Well that’s a relief
Libeskind doing the saw cut style in Ontario
Omaha dead
Faberge - Brutalism
The ROH from the ME Rooftop Bar
One new thing (an IPS screen) makes me want another new thing (also an IPS screen)
Slightly wider tube trains
How hydrogen bombs work
Strange yellow train on the underground
Friend on telly
Quota videos
A Strutton Ground shop and a Strutton Ground pub
Rooftops
BMdotCOM insult of the day
Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
Cheap hippos are hard to find
Six Nations joy
A (slightly delayed) Happy New Year
“No one has to know!”
Ryan wins
Some more presidential debate prophecy
Usain Bolt takes photos of photographers!
AB-solutely fabulous!
Rainbow Bridge
Shard even nearer to completion
The England rugby aftermath
France beat England
England squeak through against Scotland
Davies and de Bruyn get promotion for Surrey
Thrashing India
Natalie Solent at Biased BBC
Adam Curtis skewered
Today there is cricket and there is cricket
Friday link dump
Release Ai Weiwei
Gordon Brown curses the United Kingdom
“Things appear almost impossible to escape from …”
Meaning in sport
The fluctuating fortunes of Praveen Kumar and the devastating impact of Lasith Malinga
Pronouncing on the Six Nations
Clumbersome
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom mixed metaphor of the day
Female cows in TV advert shock
Poetry
The Humpty Dumpty Learning Channel
Ashes highlights on ITV4
Nice try
Only up to some random linkage and a little felinity
Another senior moment
Scientology enthusiast is now Climate Change Minister
Another strangely punctuated headline and a depressing television play
To Serve Man
I don’t usually approve of swear blogging but …
Woody Allen on media lies and on not learning as he gets older
Andy Flower urges England fans not to punish cricket for being corrupt
Cricket technology and its imperfections
The names people choose for their children are strange
Obama raises the price of tanning
303 Squadron in the movie and on the telly
The age of multi-channel television
England beating Australia – Germany beating England
Curse you Friends Provident t20
I love television
Surrey are now crap at cricket but they are sitting on a gold mine
Everybody draw Mohammed every day!
Everybody draw Mohammed on May 20th!
I flipping told him
Muralitharan and Hayden carry on doing badly
Watching IPL cricket beats watching England play rugby
IPL on ITV4!
Separating the men from the toys - the future of warfare and of sport?
List of popular misconceptions
You had a hard disc?  Luxury!
Chimpcam
Cricket talk tonight
An after-echo of the creation of the world - Burgon recycles Milhaud
Yet more ramblings about Guesswhatgate
Unravelling the puzzle – and making it into a movie
Giant Bean covered in mirror
American video
Gordon Brown dithers about rugby - cricket’s on the up
Barney Stinson on how gay marriage will encourage regular marriage
Of lists and distant totally photorealistic skyscrapers
All your Quite Interesting questions answered
Jonathan Meades on city planning
More recorded cricket chat and some further Oval hindsights
Hislop fluffs the rhyme
Labour down – silly parties up
Photographers in bother
Mrs Billion Monkey doesn’t want to catch swine fever!
France falls in love with Hugh Laurie
Daniel Hannan and the shape of the media to come
Indian Premier League trumps test cricket
Angleterre formidable - France merde - Italy crap
It all depends on whether there is anything worth Twittering
On being sold a telly
Jennings did it
Rubbish
Nothing from me here today but something on Samizdata about cannabis
It could be a rather small funeral
I am not drunk - I just didn’t know what to put so I just started
OLED TV - very thin and detailed but not very big and not ready yet unless you’re stupidly rich
More random links
Keeping up with the NFL
On not seeing Schoenberg’s Variations for Orchestra
Four Minutes
“… the idea is to remain ignorant of how dumb you look …”
There’s only one way to find out!  Fight!
England sinking fast
Dongling at Michael’s
This and that on the Graham Norton Show
A thin bridge in Wales
Not the same thing
City of London lumps and a south London spike
Televised insincerity
Mockery
Rock and roll will die very soon!
On the perils of recording to your TV hard disc at the midnight hour
“It’s only a parable!”
On the nature of the evolution argument
Vaughan steps down
Never mind the telly
Cricket misery
Nigel Kennedy’s amazing Elgar
Twenty20 cricket on Sky TV
Posting at Michael’s
Clarkson on Sarah Jessica Parker
Pietersen not humbled
A poetic Hornby
Today I have been blogging elsewhere and also doing other things
Bird’s Nest in smog
I predict that Germany will win
Brown leapfrogs Cameron with 36 point jump
“If only it were true …”
Eurovision sense from Squander Two
Ducks - frogs - turtles – beavers – Galaxy Quest
Bowlers who look like actors
Avoiding barbarism in the street
Ting Tings on Ross
The absurdly derided excellence of British weather forecasts
They play a lot of snooker in China – and in Essex
Voting for Boris?
The IPL is a new face for India but Harbhajan slapping Sreesanth is no big deal
Head Men need to be a bit wrong in the head
Big, Bigger, Biggest - starring Heathrow Terminal 5
Tower Bridge in the blue grey afternoon (and Jenny Agutter obviously did it)
The Rite of Spring sounds to me like technology rather than nature
It really is about bloody time Jonathan Davies learned how to pronounce Jauzion
Watching paint dry at the end of a Six Nations game
Lizzy Bennet tells it like it is
Pianists conducting themselves
Paris Hilton and the Something Else First rule
The great DVD packaging clearout
Billion Monkey murderers!?!
The economics of Jonathan Ross
The Lord is watching
Blu-Ray - HD DVD – IBM – Microsoft - Google
Here it is Merry Christmas
Holiday
Probably not right - but definitely written
The qualitative difference made by quantity
Gadget question
Not actually all that dramatically
Breaking the Left’s stranglehold on the moving image
Ramprakash at his level of competence
Australia out! – New Zealand out! – pass forward!
A surprising outburst of truth
Test match special
Depressed about the Windies
Toy train to Darjeeling
“A fitting end to a very badly organised tournament …”
A double cricket surprise
Old gits at the Oval – and Shane Warne
Cricket blogging by me elsewhere
“What do YOU think?” - “More -isationisation!”
Islam was peaceful and tolerant until the Christians attacked it
Very small screen – high resolution
Just making conversation
Footbridge in the dark and cricket
Four Nations still in it!
Clever old Catt
Magic Andy makes magic dragon
An improbable England win in the Six Nations
Dame Edna and Borats in Piccadilly Circus!
The Great Global Warming Swindle debate now begins
Displacement photo of Billion Monkey!
Newsnight Review – one at a time please
That Rooney goal
Micklethwait’s Four Star Theory of the Internet
Empty football stadiums on TV
Screw you Dove – good on you Ruth Kelly – the right to avoid gay adoption
Me on internet telly this evening with Andrew Ian Dodge
Telly on computers
Refuting decimation
Caught on camera
Me on 18DSTV
Rubble
Male cows do not have udders
Do the Lib Dems just tell everyone what they each of them want to hear?
Me on the intertelly tonight
Down by the river
The extreme memes spread by moderate Muslims
Me on 18 Doughty Street tonight
What to do about intrusive mobile phones
One click
Billion Monkey flash strikes twice! - 7/7 a year later - Office Space on TV even though I own it
Sleeping fire
Big Media crap and football cock-ups
Very amusing person alert
County cricket - great and not so great - and what to do about that
Dnalgne no emoc! - Billion Monkey snaps mental Maradona!
The latest Brian and Antoine mp3
Young People models for Old People
Sergei Khachatryan plays Shostakovich Violin Concerto 1
Another phone glitch
The internet is creating new video stars
Wafa Sultan
Disaster in Paris
Blogging takes a back seat
Only a game
Those little big things that you hate
Another Billion Monkey and some Celluloid Gorillas in Victoria Street
“And also our sensitivity to our office being firebombed”
More ancient rock and rollers photographed from off of the telly
What it was only better
The Superbowl is live on the telly!
The animal spirits of Six Nations
Talking about my generation
TV.com
Dye hard
Pink and green Richards
The Elgar/Walker piano concerto and the future of “classical” music
Where are all the posh real men actors?
Rylance’s Richard II – and how Richard II pre-echoes Lear
Rylance’s Richard again
I know that guy!
The new stand at the Oval
David Zinman – Thomas Adès – Howard Shelley
Machines to record digital TV
Photographing the TV
Bromwell High is very good