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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: How the mind works

Thursday October 30 2014

This article confirms not one but two of my medical prejudices, which is double nice.  Experts have their uses, one of which is to tell you that you have been right all along about something they’ve only just discovered.

The article is about artificial sweeteners, and this is how it ends:

What does this all mean?

1. Our gut bacteria matters a lot. Some guts can withstand artificial sugars well and others can’t. It stands to reason that, as we learn more about the uniqueness of our own microbiome, those of us who want to lose weight would be well served by diets that are tailored to the way our body and its biomic mini-me processes sugar.

2. Artificial sweeteners are pervasive and some people still can lose weight and enhance their health while consuming them. But since we now know that, on balance, they seem to be more bad than good, moderating how much we consume might be smart, too.

3. The study suggests that if people replace artificial sugars with real sugars or cut it out, their biomes could change in a way that contributes to the restoration of normal glucose tolerance over time, all other things being equal.

So, artificial sweeteners have a tendency to be very bad for you.  That’s prejudice of mine number one.  But, they may not be bad for you because, and this is prejudice of mine number two, people vary, physically.  There is not just the one way of being healthy.  There are a minimum of several, and what is harmless or even beneficial for you and to those like you may be very bad for other sorts of people.

The basic reason I came to think that artificial sweeteners might be bad for me was, to begin with, pure rationalisation of the fact that I have always thought that they taste disgusting, compared to sugar.  “Diet” stuff, as a general rule, tasted, to me, horrible compared to regular stuff.  In particular, Diet Coke tasted like that pink liqued they make you gargle with at the dentist.  I started out believing that Diet Coke is bad for you because I wanted it to be, and I wanted the Regular Coke that I have always chosen when coking up to be less bad.  But the more I thought about that early frisson of (literally) distaste, the more I came to believe that my at first merely wishful thinking actually did make some sense.  Sugar really is somewhat more natural than most sweeteners, or so I assume, and we are more likely to be creatures that can handle sugar, even if not in the quantities that life now offers.

Plus, about five years ago, my niece told me that aspartame (which she said is an evil chemical used to make evil non-sugar) is evil.  Rubbish says Big Aspartame.  But I reckon, for some people, it is evil.

Friday October 24 2014

A few days ago, my beloved Panasonic Lumix FZ150 started misbehaving.  An immobile black blob, the same blob every time, started inserting itself into all the pictures.  Disaster.  I shook the camera to see if it might be a superficial problem like a bit of gunk which further shaking might move to a harmless spot, but the black blob never moved, not by one pixel.  I am sure this could be mended, but I didn’t have time for that, because last night I was about to attend that Libertarian Home cost of living debate, for free, on the clear understanding that I would take lots of photos.

Besides which, I hate not having a camera on me at all times.  Who knows what unimortalisable dramas I might have to endure while being bereft of the ability to photograph them?

So, I immediately went out and bought another camera, from a shop.  I chose the FZ150’s smarter younger brother, the Panasonic Lumix FZ200.  This camera was a bit costly, yes, but, having been around for a while, not as costly as it might have been.  And, it works better than the FZ150 in low light, or so everyone who cares has been saying.  At indoor meetings, for instance.

I had hoped that the FZ200, being so very similar to and merely a bit better than the FZ150, would use an identical battery, which would mean that I would then have two spare batteries for the FZ200, in addition to the one it came with, on account of me having bought a spare for the FZ150 when I bought that.  Alas, not.  The FZ200 has its own somewhat different battery, and that meant I needed yet another spare battery.  Now that SD card space is infinite, it is batteries that are now liable to run out, what with all the snaps you can now put on your infinite SD card.  One battery, for a big event or expedition, is not now enough.

So, I ordered an FZ200 battery via Amazon, and paid extra for it to arrive yesterday, instead of just whenever.

And it did arrive yesterday.  Once again, just as happened with that book that reached me the day before yesterday, the fundamentally important thing got done.  I wanted the book and I got it.  I wanted a new back-up battery, pronto, and I got it.  Good.

An email arrived first thing yesterday morning, saying that the battery would arrive between 11.54 and 12.54, and that I should be in at that time, to sign for the package when I received it.  Excellent. This email was identical in format to the ones telling me about how Macmillan Distribution (MDL) would be delivering the book that they had been promising, but I recognised the email about the battery as genuine, because it had lots of Amazon verbiage at the top of a sort that always signifies genuine Amazon business.  Again, good.  I was all set to write an admiring blog posting about this latest delivery service, the one that delivered the battery, an enterprise called DPD.

Saying when a delivery will be made, to the nearest hour, is a huge step forward, when the receiver is householder in a household rather than an office worker in an office.  An office can have someone present throughout any given day, to receive incoming items and generally communicate with the outside world on behalf of all workers based there, present or absent.  But the idea that a householder should be expected to wait around all day just to sign for one incoming delivery is, frankly, contemptible.  As soon as a delivery person knows approximately when he’ll be arriving, and the chances are he will know this first thing in the morning, that information should be communicated to the householder.  This used not to happen, but with these two delivery enterprises, it did.  As I say, this is a big step in the right direction.

In both of these cases I did get this message.  The book was promised between 8.30 and 9.30, and it arrived then, by which time I just about believed that the book emails were genuine.  This battery was promised between 11.54 and 12.54, and it arrived then, just as I expected it to.

But all this fuss and palaver about timing becomes rather superfluous if all that the delivery person actually does when he arrives is leave the thing, unsigned for, in whatever place near to the householder he considers sufficiently near.  The whole point, as insisted upon in both emails about this, of stating a specified time of arrival, is to make sure that I, the householder, was present in person, to sign for the thing.  But in neither of these two cases was my presence, as it turned out, actually required.  My buzzer, the one outside the front door of all the flats where my flat is, is working fine.  I checked, using a visiting friend to hear it when I myself went downstairs and buzzed.  Yet neither of these two delivery persons deigned to use this buzzer.  They knew the number.  The book deliverer even found his way right to my own personal door.  But, no buzzing.

Let me spell it out.  Both delivery companies told me I had to be there during the hours they each specified.  Failure by me to sign would mean no delivery and further palaver while re-delivery was negotiated.  These proclamations may have been offered in good faith, but they were false.  I did not have to be there.

I got what I wanted.  But if the original supplier wanted proof that I had received the items in the form of my signature, then DPD and MDL, in the form of the two delivery persons, would be unable to supply this proof without faking it.  Were my signatures forged on little electronic devices, I wonder?

In the case of the DPD person, the person who did not even try to get my signature had, according to the DPD email, a name: “Mark”.  I had been anticipating something better from “Mark”. Sadly, not.

The basic problem here, I think, is that the service supply chain is too long and is out of control.  Suppliers of products promise in all sincerity that products will be delivered in exactly the manner they promise.  But the person they are depending on to keep that promise doesn’t care about that promise, or not about all of it.  He knows that, so long as the punter gets his hands on his precious thing, then whether any signing happens is, as far as the punter is concerned, a secondary matter.  Being commanded to be somewhere you didn’t actually need to be is annoying, yes, and this is what happened to me, twice.  But not getting the thing is something else again.  Had one of these items (especially the battery) not arrived when stated, then you can be sure that I would have been complaining.  But complaining as in trying to get my hands on the damn battery, not complaining as in just marking the whole scenario out of ten, after my basic problem (getting the battery) had been entirely solved.

By the way, when I enabled the graphic decoration of one of the Macmillan Deliveries (MDL) emails, the email then proceeded show me a picture of a DPD van.  Either Macmillan are all mixed up with DPD, or else Macmillan stole the DPD email and neglected to expunge DPD from it.  Or something.  I really do not care.

But that’s typical.  Who the hell was I dealing with here?  Who, in the event that either of these items had not turned up at all, would I have had to direct my seriously angry complaints?  As opposed to these mere grumbles about a basically satisfactory state of affairs, underneath all the crap.

When you have a major complaint to aim at one of these complicated supply chains, then you could well be screwed.  It may take you many hours or even days to find out even who to complain to, let alone how to gouge satisfaction out of them.  (Although, to be fair to Amazon, they take responsibility for everything that they do or that anyone unleashed via them does, for and to you, which is all part of why I bought that battery through Amazon rather than by some other cheaper but less dependable means.  (The previous sentence is a short explanation of why Amazon now rules the world.))

But (and to get back to my point before all the brackets), when it comes to lesser complaints, complaints about blemishes on a system that basically works pretty well, well, this is why blogs were invented.  With a blog posting, you can slag off the entire universe.  You don’t have to be bothered with which exact bit of the universe it was that did you wrong.  You can just tell your story.  Then, instead of you begging the universe to correct things, the universe, if any of it cares, has to convince you that there was no problem and to convince you to stop saying it.

In case you are wondering why I have gone on at such length about a basically rather minor problem, the answer is that I am optimistic about problems like this actually being solved.  A business often does a basically good thing, but rather crappily, while they struggle to get it totally organised and running totally smoothly.  People buy whatever it is, but sneer at the crap, because it is crappy and because they can.  The businesses then hears all the sneering and gets it sorted and gets even better.  Compare and contrast: the government.

This is a point I have made here before.  Follow that link, as you now don’t need to, and you will read me deriding a plan to refer to a Big London Thing as the “Safesforce Tower”.  Salesforce is a perfectly decent business, which does whatever it does.  But it had a silly plan to change the name of a Big London Thing from something sensible to something very stupid.  And guess what, what with all the complaints about this plan from me and from multitudes of others, that ridiculous circumstance has now been corrected.  Not in the way I would have liked.  Salesforce has still not been shamed into civility.  But nearby politicians have forced civility down Salesforce’s throat.  And the Heron Tower will not now be officially called the “Salesforce Tower”.

Although, London being London, this tower might now actually be called the Salesforce Tower, unofficially, in perpetuity, as a joke, given that no other joke name now obviously suggests itself for this rather ungainly erection.

By the way, it turned out that one battery sufficed for last night’s meeting.  But, I did not know that this would be the case beforehand, and had I only had one battery I would not have felt free to take as many photographs as I did feel free to take.  With public meetings, it’s a numbers game.  The light is bad and people are constantly moving about, so half your pictures will be rubbish right off, if only because someone was blinking at the time.  The trick is for the other half of your pictures still to be a large enough collection for you to be able to pick out a few truly good ones.  So, the spare battery was useful, even if I didn’t make any actual physical use of it.

I realise that very few readers indeed will have read right to the end of this ridiculously long-winded and repetitious posting.  But, having written it and having posted it, I feel better.

Wednesday October 22 2014

Did the junk mail phenomenon always exist?  Or is it relatively new?  What I have in mind is the way that an entire category of communication becomes broken because it is overused by semi or total crooks shouting rubbish at you, thus overwhelming the actual human persons sending you individually useful messages.  Even real messages just sound like arseholes yelling at you.  The signal-to-noise ratio becomes so stupid that eventually, no genuine signals get through.

A few days ago, I received an email from something called Macmillan Distribution (MDL).  A package was due.  There were various buttons for me to press so that I could track the package, or tell them where else to deliver it, or some such thing.  I immediately assumed that this was an industrialised garbage message, the purpose of which was for me to tell crooks about myself by pressing one of the buttons.  Having received many junk messages just like this in the recent past, I assumed that this one was similarly fraudulent.

I noted that they had my name and address, and this might have supplied me with the clue that this was actually a genuine message about a genuine delivery, from a genuine enterprise, with buttons for me to press which actually did what they said they would do.  But instead, I merely thought: oh dear, now the international conglomeration of bastard junk emailer fraudsters knows my name and address.  Oh well, more crap to delete.

But this morning, the package actually arrived, at a time that the emails had been referring to.  The emails from Macmillan Distribution (MDL) (there were three emails in total) had all been genuine.  It was a book that I had already paid for and wanted to read.  So, good.

The actual delivery was a mess.  Some arsehole just smacked the door of my flat (sounding like when the cleaners vacuum the landings and bang their machines into our doors), and then just stuffed the package through my mail flap (which very luckily was big enough).  No electronic buzzing from outside and downstairs, to get my attention while I slumbered, like a proper delivery.  And how the hell did this arsehole contrive to get through the downstairs front door in the first place?  (We’ve had robberies from people claiming to be delivering things, but actually hoovering up the deliveries of others from our (unlocked and wide open) cubby holes.) So, very unsatisfactory, as home deliveries so often are.  But, the thing itself did arrive, which means the delivery scored one out of one on the one measure that really counts.

And, as I say, those emails were all for real.

No doubt there are various twenty first century, social media like methods that I could have used to track this parcel and its delivery, methods which screen out junk and preserve a benign signal-to-noise ratio.  Maybe, any decade now, I will have to get with the twenty first century and dump email completely.

I vividly recall when having email first became a necessity, when you suddenly started getting dirty looks at parties if you didn’t have it.  And when fax numbers ceased mattering.  (Remember those?)

As of now, regular twenty first century people half my age still seem to do email, or so it says on those little cards they give me.  But how long will this last?

More about package delivering from 6k, here.  “Wumdrop” sounds sort of like Uber, only for things.

Tuesday October 21 2014

There I was, lying in the bath, listening to Radio 3.  Some music had ended, and I was now being subjected to a programme which I do not usually listen to, called Words and Music.  And I heard the actor Jim Broadbent saying these words, by Michel de Montaigne:

I take the first subject that chance offers.  They are all equally good to me.  And I never plan to develop them completely.  For I do not see the whole of anything.  (Nor do those who promise to show it to us.) Of a hundred members and faces that each thing has, I take one, sometimes only to lick it, sometimes to brush the surface, sometimes to pinch it to the bone.  I give it a stab, not as wide, but as deep as I know how.  And most often, I like to take them from some unaccustomed point of view. Scattering a word here, there another, samples separated from their context, dispersed, without a plan and without a promise, I am not bound to make something of them, or to adhere to them myself, without varying when I please, and giving myself up to doubt and uncertainty, and my ruling quality, which is ignorance.

Sounds like a blogger, doesn’t he?  A blogger, that is to say, like me. Especially where he says “without a promise”.  I keep saying that. Above all there is that “this is what it is and if you don’t like it you know just what you can do about it” vibe that so many bloggers give off.  With Montaigne, we are arriving at that first moment in history when writing and publishing new stuff had become easy.  Not as easy as it is when you blog, but a whole lot easier than it had been.

I transcribed the above quote from Broadbent’s reading of it.  The punctuation is somewhat uncertain, and at one point assertively creative on my part.  I added some brackets, around what is clearly a diversion from his main line of thought to which he immediately returns.  It’s a sideswipe at others and it is then forgotten.

Such is the wonder that is the internet that I had little difficulty in tracking down the quote.  It is near the beginning of Montaigne’s essay entitled “Of Democritus and Heraclitus”, in volume three of his essays.

image

The BBC used a more recent translation, which I much prefer the sound of, it being less antique and long-winded.  And if Montaigne himself was also antique and long-winded, then I still prefer intelligibility to stylistic accuracy.

LATER: More about Montaigne, also emphasising the modern social media angle, here.

Monday October 20 2014

I sympathise with whoever wrote this:

West Brom can hardly believe their luck. Being denied a win at the death by Manchester United is one thing, but having teased a previously woeful Marouane Fellaini back to life must really does takes the biscuit.

“Must really does takes the biscuit.” I reckon he was choosing between, not two, but three different ways of saying what he was saying, but managed to combine all three.

This is the kind of mistake that can only happen with a computer.  If you were merely writing, or typing with an old school typewriter, there is no way you would have put that.

When I perpetrate something like that, and I frequently do, and if I later spot the mistake, I then allow myself to correct it, no matter how long ago I made the mistake.  Is this wrong?  My blog, my rules.

A subsection of Sod’s Law states that whenever you mention someone else’s mistake in something you say on the www, you will make a similar sort of error yourself.  If I do this in this posting, I will not correct my error, but will add something “LATER”, in which I identify my error.

Computers.  New ways to screw things up.

I attended a talk this evening at Christian Michel’s about robots.  The point was made the robot cars probably will be safer, but every once in a Blue Moon, there will be a truly spectacular disaster, of a sort impossible to perpetrate with old school cars.

Wednesday October 15 2014

It’s that time of the year when I go into one of my local supermarkets and immediately start taking photos, like that, or like this:

image

Yes it’s Halloween.  And the shops, in this case Sainsbury’s, are full of Halloween crap.  And I photo it.  I wouldn’t buy any of it.  Oh no.  I am far above that sort of thing.  But, I photo it.

Except, how about these rather cute buckets?  Just the thing for my Last Friday of the Month meetings, to put crappy food in:

image

Only 50p per bucket!  I got two.  And I just might go back for more.

image

Not that.  I wouldn’t want one of them.  That’s my picture of Sainsbury’s, having the last laugh.

Sunday October 12 2014

I have already quoted a couple of interesting bits from Bill Bryson’s excellent book, At Home.  I have now finished reading this, but just before I did, I encountered some interesting stuff about paint (pp. 453-5):

When paints became popular, people wanted them to be as vivid as they could possibly be made. The restrained colours that we associate with the Georgian period in Britain, or Colonial period in America, are a consequence of fading, not decorative restraint. In 1979, when Mount Vernon began a programme of repainting the interiors in faithful colours, ‘people came and just yelled at us’, Dennis Pogue, the curator, told me with a grin when I visited. ‘They told us we were making Mount Vernon garish. They were right - we were. But that’s just because that’s the way it was. It was hard for a lot of people to accept that what we were doing was faithful restoration.

‘Even now paint charts for Colonial-style paints virtually always show the colours from the period as muted. In fact, colours were actually nearly always quite deep and sometimes even startling. The richer a colour you could get, the more you tended to be admired. For one thing, rich colours generally denoted expense, since you needed a lot of pigment to make them. Also, you need to remember that often these colours were seen by candlelight, so they needed to be more forceful to have any kind of impact in muted light.’

The effect is now repeated at Monticello, where several of the rooms are of the most vivid yellows and greens.  Suddenly George Washington and Thomas Jefferson come across as having the decorative instincts of hippies. In fact, however, compared with what followed they were exceedingly restrained.

When the first ready-mixed paints came on to the market in the second half of the nineteenth century, people slapped them on with something like wild abandon. It became fashionable not just to have powerfully bright colours in the home, but to have as many as seven or eight colours in a single room.

If we looked closely, however, we would be surprised to note that two very basic colours didn’t exist at all in Mr Marsham’s day: a good white and a good black. The brightest white available was a rather dull off-white, and although whites improved through the nineteenth century, it wasn’t until the 1940s, with the addition of titanium dioxide to paints, that really strong, lasting whites became available. The absence of a good white paint would have been doubly noticeable in early New England, for the Puritans not only had no white paint but didn’t believe in painting anyway. (They thought it was showy.) So all those gleaming white churches we associate with New England towns are in fact a comparatively recent phenomenon.

Also missing from the painter’s palette was a strong black. Permanent black paint, distilled from tar and pitch, wasn’t popularly available until the late nineteenth century. So all the glossy black front doors, railings, gates, lampposts, gutters, downpipes and other fittings that are such an elemental feature of London’s streets today are actually quite recent. If we were to be thrust back intime to Dickens’s London, one of the most startling differences to greet us would be the absence of black painted surfaces. In the time of Dickens, almost all ironwork was green, light blue or dull grey.

Famously, the rise of the Modern Movement in Architecture was triggered by, among many other things, a revulsion against the excesses of Victorian-era decoration, especially architectural decoration.  Decoration became mechanised, and thus both much more common and much less meaningful.  What did all this mechanised decoration prove, what did it mean, when you could thrash it out with no more difficulty than you could erect a plain wall?

What the above Bryson quote strongly suggests, at any rate to me, is that something rather similar happened with colour.

Why is the overwhelming atmosphere of Modernist architecture and architectural propaganda so very monochrome, still.  Part of the answer is that it was only recently learned how to do monochrome.  Monochrome looked modern, from about 1900-ish onwards, because it was modern.  Monochrome was the latest thing.  Colour, meanwhile, had become much cheaper and had been used with garish nouveau riche excess, and there was a reaction to that also, just as there was to excessive decoration.

Sunday October 05 2014

While rootling around in the www like it was about 2003, I found this piece, dating from 2009, which was all about this apparently pretty but otherwise unremarkable abstract picture:

image

In case you don’t already know what is going on here, the big story here is that the blue bits and the green bits are the same colour.  What colour your eyes see something as depends on the other colours in the immediate vicinity.

The writer linked to above found this graphic here, which you can too if you do a bit of scrolling down.

If you saw this around 2009, or something similar around 2003, then apologies for the repetition.  That early period of blogging, just after 2000, will always seem to me like a fleeting golden age, when everything of this sort was being discovered and passed on for the very first time.  Because we could.  Before, we couldn’t.  Now, we could.  But now (as in now), most of this sort of trivia has been in circulation for a decade, and it lacks the impact it once had.  We bloggers must find new things to say, to cover for the fact that blogging itself is no longer new.  This is not a bad thing.

An old story about colour perception
BMdotcom quote of the day from 6k about crazy kids
Is it practise or practice?  (And: would perfect communication actually be perfect?)
Another facade being carefully preserved
Blog down
Breaking my Samizdata silence
Sign with sarcastic sneer quotes
On meeting an American lady friend who likes to read my stuff about cricket
On the unappealingness of classical music on the internet
A speculation about why Great Conductors carry on for so long
It turns out that lightning speed is immensely useful
Out and about in the sunshine
On not letting either God or (the other) God do everything
Postrel goes for Gray
Bond car
Out from under the weather
Smaller Old Thing in front of Big New Things
A Sunday ramble
Palestra
Sacred architecture and profane roof clutter - a speculation
Football comment
ASI Boat Trip 5: Individuals
Why you are wrong
OpenOffice Writer default resetting nightmares
The colour of sound - I now get this because I just experienced it!
Robyn Vinter is wrong about Google Glass
What to call the sneerquote Salesforce /sneerquote tower? (plus a quite profound tangent)
Why aren’t people happier about amazing new stuff?
Hartley waterlily
Will England get lucky?
A Real Photographer does a shadow selfie
Chinos?
How much does it cost to power up a mobile phone?
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom quota quote of the day
Me and the first cranes at London Gateway last September
Shell Building looking good (and why it’s okay to say you like a picture that you yourself took)
Bag Man
Pictures of soon-to-be-built London Big Things
Happiness is a wallet that I didn’t lose after all
Premier League soccer news
A global temperature graph that seems to fit the recent facts
Sorry for the outage last night
Two bits of hospitality trivia
Finally working out what I liked about those Gormley Men
Green screen blue screen
Amusing cats versus important people
Another strange artificial landscape
England ahead of the game in Rome - but in the end not by enough
Remembering another Christian name (and flagging up another talk)
JK Rowling describes two rich girls
Christopher Seaman on conducting
Under Blackfriars Bridge
Blue wind
Me trying to tell Norman Foster and Richard Rogers apart
Colour photography
Zooming in on that approaching bus
When you are old you tend to assume that confusion is your fault even if actually it is not
When Open Symbol attacks!
Megan McArdle on success and failure
One new thing (an IPS screen) makes me want another new thing (also an IPS screen)
Temporary art made of brightly dressed people
6k quota photo of sea
Will Kevin Pietersen now play lots of cricket for Surrey?
My 110 percent problem
England crush Australia and keep the Ashes
Big Thing news from New York and London - and a picture of climate alarmism losing
The text of my talk for Christian Michel last night
Making sense of digital photography
Digital photography as telepathy
Aiden Gregg meeting photos
Upside down photo
Happiness is still Gold Blend at only £3 instead of £4.50
Quota crane and quota plane
Nowadays a picture is no longer worth a thousand words
I’m not the only one who suffers from rightward lean
David Byrne on the constraints of artistic form
Ashes to ashes
Victor!
A quota thought that (luckily for me) went nowhere
Broad thrives properly on getting abuse
On the insecurity of ObamaCare - and on the unwisdom of only punishing big and later
Crows nest made of coat hangers
A blog as a semi-dustbin
A photo of a photograph
Pain in the midriff
Heroes?
Simon Gibbs last night at the Rose and Crown
Rob Fisher on old things not looking old
Wedding photography - old and new
Alex on Quentin
Jamie Whyte on deferring gratification less as he gets older
Otherwise blogging (and a Burgess Park butterfly)
Cranes seen through Cardinal Place
Smaller is more legible – big is more fun
Twisted picture from Burgess Park (untwisted with Photoshop Elements)
Anton Howes at the Rose and Crown
Chain link fence reflected in a puddle
The next four Brian’s Last Fridays (including December 27)
Quotes from there
Stuart Broad has a kitten heel
Two favourite photos from September 5th
A free man
Morgan – Abbey reflected in Morgan – Abbey reflected in other cars
Bad and good in bad weather
Getting started a bit earlier
Photoing each other - and photoing stuff in the canal
Chess set made of London’s Big Things
Australian selection inconsistency and getting the causal link the wrong way round
You can achieve everything you want if you’re unambitious enough
Strange artificial landscape
Perry Metzger on taking seriously the declared objectives of opponents
The Alex Singleton blog
Blank-faced tower – crazy hairdo
The Johnathan Pearce Samizdata gap
Should Broad have walked?
The right sentences but not necessarily in the right order
Samir Chopra on how match fixing turns cricket into not cricket
Phablet news
Cats without tails are not scary
Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
So painters also used to “take” pictures
Shadow photography
The ups and downs of English
A mannequin in Tachbrook Street sheds light on the nature of perception
Crossrail grubbings
Art without Artists
The Qur’an is not science – science cannot be ignored
Cheap hippos are hard to find
Reflections on and in Westminster Tube Station
Bad times for the NHS
Domestic cats are destroying the planet
Is Samizdata in danger of becoming a photo-blog?
A (slightly delayed) Happy New Year
An earlier tablet photographer
Michael Jennings on why iPad photoing is not ridiculous
Steven Pinker’s description of The Enlightenment
American election talk
“No one has to know!”
Click to see the big picture
James Hamilton on self help and class
Malta Day procession
Meow
Doctor Theatre - here very briefly but now there
“I just came across this fascinating photo …”
Cricket ranking
Surrey might not be relegated after all
Untrue colours from Windows Photo Viewer
Black Katz
Hyde Park squirrel
It got my attention
Literally the light switch of leadership
There’s a Communist in the White House
Is Samizdata dying?
Shard even nearer to completion
Fate
Lighter blogging here but not none
Jarrod Kimber on biased cricket commentators
Go Gary Johnson!
Knowing it but not knowing it
A review of Detlev Schlichter’s new book (multiplied by 4)
The final Steve Jobs Thing will be a brand new custom-built Apple headquarters
Big Things and small things
Notes to self but not to you
Thrashing India
A board to stick Post-it notes on reminding me of all the things I hope to blog about
Less (here) is more (at Samizdata)
How can I change the double inverted commas in openoffice.org writer from curved to straight-up?
How England have dropped catches yet still won matches
My personal Fixed Quantity of Blogging unfallacy
No fruit juice
Brainwave-controlled cat ears for humans created by Japanese Neurowear
When size matters
Meaning in sport
The Armstrong Gun
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom narcissistic self-quote of the day
The fluctuating fortunes of Praveen Kumar and the devastating impact of Lasith Malinga
Gormley’s South Bank Men
Quota choke?
Ireland beating England in Dublin
Subconscious cricket
Sportsmanship by us – bullying by them
Crushed cricket minnows - missable soccer goals - Ashton’s swallow diving
Wot inflationz?
From a strange airplane propeller to the strange strings of a double bass
Underestimating Paul Marks
A Spanish geography lesson
The free market encourages curiosity
Rain on a car
BM.com quote of the day
Cool sculpture
On pictures that don’t get any bigger when clicked and on the power of the tangential
Richard Dawkins on university debating games
Boxing Day morning at the MCG
The new mainframe
The Ashes: chickens and now a swallow
The Humpty Dumpty Learning Channel
How quickly the mood can change!
More blood to Australia
Cats only seem smart and dogs only seem dumb
Digger and chain
The Brusio spiral viaduct also looks like a toy train layout
Another ephemeron for David Thompson?
Talk at Christian Michel’s
The joy of error correction
Those cameras are getting cheaper
Why does a coffee lover not want coffee when he’s ill?
Paulina Porizkova gets older
James Waterton on a very smart very dumb Russian
Twenty ten twenty ten
Greenies make a video saying: “We’re a bunch of vile greenie-nazis!”
Real life toy trains
Toby Baxendale on what went wrong and what to do about it
A picture I want to remember
Anti-aircraft guns may not have killed many enemy airplanes but they did point them out
“An alternative definition of intelligence …”
The names people choose for their children are strange
Obama raises the price of tanning
Farnborough (3): On the photographic appeal of the Red Arrows
Snappy quote from Victor Davis Hanson that may or may not actually be true
Exploitation?
Peaceful time in war zone
On cricket and death
Choosing the best pictures by waiting a few days
Big box computers versus laptops
If they don’t want to be British Petroleum anymore they should stop calling themselves BP
Making those Big Statements one slice at a time
Making the effort
I love television
Muggins
Incoming from Molly Norris!
Molly Norris was just kidding!
Everybody draw Mohammed on May 20th!
Why my libertarianism has the look and feel of socialism
“Is this a case of us operant-conditioning them or them operant-conditioning us?”
You know where you are with a book - usually
Muralitharan and Hayden carry on doing badly
Green cat email mystery solved
Getting well soon
Watching IPL cricket beats watching England play rugby
One of the many signs of aging
Two bridges in Portugal
Why do pregnant women now do quite a lot of driving of their husbands?
The right to photograph
My sleep and luggage and bus and fluid travel hell
Andrew Hughes on making heroes of cricketers
Hasselblad hit by custom-built headquarters disease!
Yet more ramblings about Guesswhatgate
The angst of team blogging about stories like the CRU hack
Samizdata and Zimbabwe both on the up and up?
Frank McLynn: “Counterfactual history is the essence of history …”
Climbing aboard Samizdata
Graeme Swann - twitterer but no twit
Twitterings
Rude Ian Morbin should have a blog
Why I vote against AGW
Quotes dump
All your Quite Interesting questions answered
A muddle of wires
It’s now something at least once every two days
Llyr Williams and Llyr Williams play Bach
Green eyed monster devouring cat food
Ingrid Fliter has a problem with the piano
Busy day and busy night
Our shortening atten … ooh look!
Small photos that look like something else
Thinking thin at the top
Anti-politics versus (or just and) the heroic delusion
“. . . and the air froze . . .”
The Fixed Quantity of Advertising fallacy and the menace of targetted advertising
Redesigned Bishop
Unamazing photo of amazing road
MBA - necessary but insufficient
Reading Kasparov
The Rand revival - and some thoughts about Rand’s failure to understand architectural tradition
Brian Micklethwait’s Education Blog is now on indefinite hold
Truth is true
Dream magic that spoilt the magic
Rock faces
Rubbish
Nothing from me here today but something on Samizdata about cannabis
Advice to daily bloggers
Link to Samizdata piece about arguments from incredulity
The shadow of Shipman – and forgetting things
Star Wars mosque and rockets mosque
Cricketers don’t have to get along – they just have to turn up and play
Generational taste in furniture
Making the new look and feel like the old
On not seeing Schoenberg’s Variations for Orchestra
Do not read this if you prefer all epigrams about getting well to be tasteful
“… the idea is to remain ignorant of how dumb you look …”
Jesus above the keyboard instead of beyond it
The Official Story and the Most Confident Alternative
Thoughts concerning FDR’s warmongering nature
Watching Karajan
Why Willem Buiter blogs and why I do
Wires
Another resizing test
Billion Monkey hits 40
Ruminating about politics and ideology
I need to get out less
“This is fun!”
The uses of Jesus
SDHC
Brought?
Not the same thing
Wonderwoman picked by Unsuperman
Profundity and silliness
Obama still won’t do nasty
Chivalry and the mad feminists
Mini-lit
Rock and roll will die very soon!
Will Wilkinson
North Carolina Billion Monkeys mad for Obama!
Keith Windschuttle on history - truth - Robert Hughes
On classical music voice addiction
Why I prefer to live in a failing neighbourhood
On the nature of the evolution argument
I’m not nearly grand enough to ignore this
Clarkson on Sarah Jessica Parker
Linkable Lefever
The Fat Man is not alone
Party pieces
Crackers
Pietersen not humbled
A poetic Hornby
Armed is less dangerous
The new Lowe look
I predict that Germany will win
Cisco – fuck off and die
Photos are better
Art is always a value judgement
Avoiding barbarism in the street
Bowled Harmison bowled Harmison
Is my brain failing, or not?
An impulse posting about procrastination
Ting Tings on Ross
The absurdly derided excellence of British weather forecasts
This is why I put stuff up here every day
Eusociality
You must enjoy reading!
The personal and the political
Head Men need to be a bit wrong in the head
A deeper voice
Paul Marks told us so
You tend to listen more carefully when something might go badly wrong
The return of Friday cat-blogging
Sounding like a different country
Pillocks
Fourth innings heroics
Professor Wenger
Lucky I don’t take cricket seriously
Democracy for sale – starting with football and beer
Inventions which start as toys
Another don’t-get-it-right-get-it-written Samizdata posting
Another cat!
Probably not right - but definitely written
The romance of new technology – or the drudgery of it
November 15th 2007 resolution - good enough is good enough
The A380 bulge
The drive to see smiles (and they have to be real)
“How much better …?”
Someone is displaying mutilated cats in San Antonio
Understanding is the booby prize exclamation mark
The Emperor Jones
Breaking blog silence
Nine points better than last time!
At the dogs
Dave Gorman sees faces!
Voluntary World 3: Transport Blog illustrates the Muggins principle
Internet problems solved
How compulsion deranges the spreading of ideas
A double cricket surprise
The idea that mental illness does not exist
So that’s how you pronounce Csikszentmihalyi
Words of wisdom from Brian Micklerthwit
Darrin M. McMahon and me and George Orwell on the pursuit of happiness
Cats can be taught!
Shadow and light near Tower Bridge
Glenn Gould on the hereafter
Alan Turing – dead earth and cold wires
Not what it looks like
An improbable England win in the Six Nations
Real world
How Stephen Hough took a nap during a piano concerto (that he was playing)
Indexed - blogrolled
Normblogging
But what is so evil about Powerpoint?
Not everything means anything
Everyone in the world is not like me
On letting career decisions make themselves
Geek girl I like your thinkings - are nice - I want have sex with it
Thoughts on the Age of Google
Blogging is filing for those who can’t
One click
Armando Iannucci on going to classical concerts - and me on not bothering
Strange reflection
Doh!
On China Law Blog and on the reinforcing of prejudices
The thief of time
What The Tyranny of The Facts said
This and that at 9.07am
Same greys!  Same colour!