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Category archive: How the mind works

Tuesday December 01 2015

Photoed by me, earlier this evening:


This is my regular laundrette.

There seems to me to be something doom-laden about these messages. 




And may God have mercy upon your soul.

It’s the severity and coldness of the machines and the negativity of the news about that wash, after which no further washes may be washed, and about the close, after which the rest is silence.  In most other circumstances those merry wishes would be cheerfully inconsequential.  But not these ones.  They too seem to be spoken with funerial gloom, in a way that portends a Christmas which will, this time, be anything but merry.

Sunday November 29 2015

I have begun reading Matt Ridley’s latest book, The Evolution of Everything.  Early signs: brilliant.  I especially liked this bit (pp. 7-10), about modern ideas in the ancient world:

A ‘skyhook’ is an imaginary device for hanging an object from the sky.  The word originated in a sarcastic remark by a frustrated pilot of a reconnaissance plane in the First World War, when told to stay in the same place for an hour: ‘This machine is not fitted with skyhooks,’ he replied.  The philosopher Daniel Dennett used the skyhook as a metaphor for the argument that life shows evidence of an intelligent designer.  He contrasted skyhooks with cranes - the first impose a solution, explanation or plan on the world from on high; the second allow solutions, explanations or patterns to emerge from the ground up, as natural selection does.

The history of Western thought is dominated by skyhooks, by devices for explaining the world as the outcome of design and planning.  Plato said that society worked by imitating a designed cosmic order, a belief in which should be coercively enforced.  Aristotle said that you should look for inherent principles of intentionality and development - souls - within matter. Homer said gods decided the outcome of battles. St Paul said that you should behave morally because Jesus told you so. Mohamed said you should obey God’s word as transmitted through the Koran.  Luther said that your fate was in God’s hands.  Hobbes said that social order came from a monarch, or what he called ‘Leviathan’ - the state. Kant said morality transcended human experience.  Nietzsche said that strong leaders made for good societies.  Marx said that the state was the means of delivering economic and social progress. Again and again, we have told ourselves that there is a top-down description of the world, and a top-down prescription by which we should live.

But there is another stream of thought that has tried and usually failed to break through. Perhaps its earliest exponent was Epicurus, a Greek philosopher about whom we know very little.  From what later writers said about his writings, we know that he was born in 341 BC and thought (as far as we can tell) that the physical world, the living world, human society and the morality by which we live all emerged as spontaneous phenomena, requiring no divine intervention nor a benign monarch or nanny state to explain them.  As interpreted by his followers, Epicurus believed, following another Greek philosopher, Dernocritus, that the world consisted not of lots of special substances including spirits and humours, but simply of two kinds of thing: voids and atoms.  Everything, said Epicurus, is made of invisibly small and indestructible atoms, separated by voids; the atoms obey the laws of nature and every phenomenon is the result of natural causes.  This was a startlingly prescient conclusion for the fourth century BC.

Unfortunately Epicurus’s writings did not survive.  But three hundred years later, his ideas were revived and explored in a lengthy, eloquent and unfinished poem, De Rerum Natura (Of the Nature of Things), by the Roman poet Titus Lucretius Carus, who probably died in mid-stanza around 49 BC, just as dictatorship was looming in Rome.  Around this time, in Gustave Flaubert’s words, ‘when the gods had ceased to be, and Christ had not yet come, there was a unique moment in history, between Cicero and Marcus Aurelius when man stood alone’.  Exaggerated maybe, but free thinking was at least more possible then than before or after.  Lucretius was more subversive, open-minded and far-seeing than either of those politicians (Cicero admired, but disagreed with, him).  His poem rejects all magic, mysticism, superstition, religion and myth.  It sticks to an unalloyed empiricism.

As the Harvard historian Stephen Greenblatt has documented, a bald list of the propositions Lucretius advances in the unfinished 7,400 hexameters of De Rerum Natura could serve as an agenda for modernity.  He anticipated modern physics by arguing that everything is made of different combinations of a limited set of invisible particles, moving in a void. He grasped the current idea that the universe has no creator, Providence is a fantasy and there is no end or purpose to existence, only ceaseless creation and destruction, governed entirely by chance.  He foreshadowed Darwin in suggesting that nature ceaselessly experiments, and those creatures that can adapt and reproduce will thrive.  He was with modern philosophers and historians in suggesting that the universe was not created for or about human beings, that we are not special, and there was no Golden Age of tranquillity and plenty in the distant past, but only a primitive battle for survival.  He was like modern atheists in arguing that the soul dies, there is no afterlife, all organised religions are superstitious delusions and invariably cruel, and angels, demons or ghosts do not exist.  In his ethics he thought the highest goal of human life is the enhancement of pleasure and the reduction of pain.

Thanks largely to Greenblatt’s marvellous book The Swerve, I have only recently come to know Lucretius, and to appreciate the extent to which I am, and always have been without knowing it, a Lucretian/Epicurean.  Reading his poem in A.E. Stallings’s beautiful translation in my sixth decade is to be left fuming at my educators.  How could they have made me waste all those years at school plodding through the tedious platitudes and pedestrian prose of Jesus Christ or Julius Caesar, when they could have been telling me about Lucretius instead, or as well?  Even Virgil was writing partly in reaction to Lucretius, keen to re-establish respect for gods, rulers and top-down ideas in general. Lucretius’s notion of the ceaseless mutation of forms composed of indestructible substances - which the Spanish-born
philosopher George Santayana called the greatest thought that mankind has ever hit upon - has been one of the persistent themes of my own writing.  It is the central idea behind not just physics and chemistry, but evolution, ecology and economics too.  Had the Christians not suppressed Lucretius, we would surely have discovered Darwinism centuries before we did.

Friday November 20 2015

On Friday November 27th (i.e. exactly one week from now), my friend from way back, Antoine Clarke, will be giving a talk at my place entitled “Herding cats, or lessons from drunks about organising anarchy”.

These talks happen every last Friday of the month, and before they give one of them, I ask each speaker to supply a paragraph or two about what they’ll be saying, so I can email my list of potential attenders.  Antoine has just supplied me with ten paragraphs on his talk:

It would be hard to imagine any more dysfunctional organisation than a leaderless group of drunks promising among themselves to quit drinking and to help other drunks to quit.

And then I realized that there is a similar organisation for narcotics addicts, one for cocaine addicts, crystal meth addicts and even “sex and love addicts” - whatever that may mean.

Alcoholics Anonymous has been described as a “benign anarchy” by one of its founders and manages to organize over 100,000 groups worldwide with between 1.5 million and 2 million members. Its power structure has been described as an “inverted pyramid”.

AA operates by having almost completely autonomous branches, no publicity, no professional class of “charity workers” and no set fees.  It has a “12-step program” and “12 traditions” which have been described respectively as “rules for not killing yourself” and “rules for not killing other people”.

The effectiveness of AA at curing or controlling alcohol addiction is not clear cut. Because of anonymity, self-selection and the difficulty of known if someone who stops attending meetings has relapsed or simply found he can lead a functional lifestyle. The fact that over a dozen other organisations have copied AA’s 12-step and 12 tradition system suggests at least some level of success, unlike, say the UK’s National Health Service which has fewer imitators.

One particular problem for AA is that any 12-step program will only really work if it is voluntary, but in the USA especially, courts mandate that convicted criminals attend AA meetings as a parole condition.  I think this reduces recidivism among the criminals (compared with them NOT following a program), but it surely dilutes the effectiveness of AA groups (more disruptive attendees, people going through the motions, possible discouragement of others).

I shall be looking at the elements of AA’s structure and organisational culture to see what lessons can be learned about the possibility of anarchic institutions especially at handling social problems.

What interests me is the “anarchy with table manners” aspect of AA and the contrast with truly dysfunctional libertarian organisations, like the Libertarian Alliance.

I’m also interested in the issue of government interference and the ways in which well-meaning interventions make matters worse. I shall also take a look at the spiritual element of AA’s 12-step program, noting that it claims to work for atheists and agnostics as well as for theists.

Hopefully, this is an attractive alternative to binge drinking on a Friday night in central London.

Indeed.  There will be no binge drinking at the meeting.

Tuesday November 17 2015

So there I was, in the bath I think it was, listening to the cricket in Dubai, and Agnew mentioned what sounded like a rather interesting photo, of a very tall cricketer called Mohammad Irfan, being interviewed.  The particular fun being that Irfan is very tall, and both the interviewer and the cameraman are standing on boxes:

Agnew mentioned that he had seen this photo on Twitter, and that was enough of a clue for me to find it (scroll down to Nov 15 until you get to the bit where it says: “Love this pic of Irfan being interviewed") very quickly:


Bonus: another photographer in the shot.

More and more, the world is following me, in no longer wanted to exclude other photographers from its photos, but instead to include other photographers.

Sunday November 15 2015

This is a hastily drawn illustration of a characteristic urban phenomenon of the late twentieth century, namely: the Meaningless Triangle:


The blue lines are the edges, aka the curbs, of two city streets, which, for reasons lost in history, meet each other at an angle.

The black lines are are piece of Modern Movement type Modern Architecture, circa 1970, made of grey concrete, with big, boring windows.  Something like an office block or a department store.  The Meaningless Triangles are the pink bits.

In the days of Modern Movement type Modernism, architects were obsessed with making everything rectangular, which explains that jagged, saw-like edge to the big Modern Movement type building, at the bottom of my diagram.  In order for the building to be in line with one of the streets, it has to be at an angle to the other street, because the streets are not themselves at right angles.

So, why not just have wall to the building that are not at right angles?  This is what is done now.  Why not then?

There are many reasons.  One is that doing this kind of thing, in the days before computers, was a bit difficult.  But more fundamentally, right angles were, you know, Modern.  Only the despised higgledy-piggledy Past had walls at crazy angles.

More fundamentally, Modern Movement architecture was not so much about building a mere building, as about building a small fragment of a potentially infinite urban grid.  In a perfect world, the Modern Movement type building would not stop at the boundaries of the site.  It would instead stride madly off in all four directions, covering the whole earth in a single rectangular grid.  You think that’s mad?  Sure it’s mad.  But this was how these people thought, in those days.  Hey really did publish schemes to cover the entire world with just the one new building, and smash all the others.

The boundaries of the site were an affront to the building.  The building did not end gracefully and decorously at the boundary, and then show a polite face to the world.  No.  It merely stopped, as gracelessly and rudely as possible, and in a manner which threatened to go bashing on, just as soon as a socialist upheaval (preferably worldwide) could clear all the higgledy-piggledy crap of the past out of the way.  In a perfect world, there would be no boundaries, no property rights.  No arbitrary lines where one bit of “property” stops and another bit starts.  Oh no.  All would be owned by the People in Common, and our architect is the instrument of the People in Common, and supplies tham all, all I say, with a new and infinitely huge new building.

I know, insane.  Don’t blame me.  I’m just telling you what these lunatics were thinking.

Luckily, the higgledy-piggledy old world kept these maniacs under control.  They had to stop their damn buildings at the edge of the site.  If they had tried to bash on beyond the site, they’d have been arrested.  But, they could make the ragged edge of the building look as ragged and ugly as they liked, and they did.

Hence all the Meaningless Triangles.

If you want to hear me talking about the above, go to this video, of me giving a talk about Modern Architecture, and start watching at 41 minutes.

What got me blogging about Meaningless Triangles was that I recently, in the course of wandering through my photo-archives, came across this photo:


What we see there is a very meaningful building, built to fill in a Meaningless Triangle.  As I recall, this is a few dozen yards from the entrance to Kensington High Street Tube station.  Yes, I just found the Caffe Nero in Wrights Lane, near that very tube station.  That’s the one.  I took my photo of it in 2010.

Monday November 09 2015

The German conductor Herbert von Karajan probably did more to popularise classical music after WW2 that any other single person.  His LPs and then his CDs and DVDs sold in their millions.  I have many Karajan CDs myself.  So, the question of whether he was any sort of Nazi and if so what sort remains a hot topic.

Playwright Ronald Harwood, author of a play about Wilhelm Furtwängler, was recently interviewed on BBC4 TV.  During this, Harwood mentioned, in contemptuous passing, that Karajan was obviously a Nazi.  Furtwängler was interesting because it wasn’t clear, hence that play.  Karajan?  Not interesting, because clearly he was.  He hired a Jewish secretary after the war.  What more do you need to know?

Well, I for one needed to know a bit more than only that, so I did some googling and came across this by Peter Alward, former vice-president of EMI Classics:

I first met Karajan in 1976, and we remained friends up to his death. He was one of EMI’s flagship artists in the late 70s and early 80s; most of his operatic work was for us, his symphonic work for Deutsche Grammophon. Yes, he cultivated the cult of the maestro - he was a shrewd businessman and recognised his market worth. He was not slow in coming forward and speaking his mind, but no conductor is a shrinking violet. I feel he was misunderstood. There was the glamorous image - the jet-set lifestyle - but this was all a defence. He was really very shy, a simple man with simple tastes. I vehemently oppose the theory that he was a Nazi. He was an opportunist. I’m Jewish, and if I believed otherwise, I wouldn’t have spent a minute in his company.

Opportunist sounds about right to me.  Karajan, like all conductors, needed power, over an orchestra.  Needing this sort of power, he had to avoid antagonising whoever the politicians were, the ones with the more regular sort of power.  But he did not care about politics for its own sake, merely as a means to the end of his music making.

Trouble is, you can surely say the same for a great many other servants of the Third Reich.  I bet plenty of rocket, airplane, tank, bomb and ship designers were equally opportunistic, and equally free of any positive desire to be Nazis.  But whoever happened to be Germany’s politicians, these people would have served them.  All they cared about was rockets, airplanes, tanks, bombs and ships.  Classical music was not as important to the Nazi regime as armaments were, but it was quite important.  Karajan did help.

The most interesting titbit I learned from this little burst of Karajan-googling was that apparently his second wife, Anita, whom he married in 1942, was burdened with a Jewish grandfather.  But hKarajan wasn’t merely “burdened” thus.  He burdened himself.  Wikipedia:

On 22 October 1942, at the height of the Second World War, Karajan married Anna Maria “Anita” Sauest, born Gütermann. She was the daughter of a well-known manufacturer of yarn for sewing machines. Having had a Jewish grandfather, she was considered a Vierteljüdin (one-quarter Jewish woman).

Just marrying a quarter-Jewess, before that was dodgy, is one thing.  Being a celeb and marrying a famous heiress with a famously rich and half-Jewish dad, and doing all that in 1942, is something else again.  That’s more than just hiring an entirely Jewish secretary after the war.

When I read about such people and about such times, I don’t feel inclined to condemn.  I merely wonder how I might have behaved, or misbehaved, had I been confronted by such pressures and such temptations.

Friday November 06 2015

The modified cliché is a standard method to spice up writing.  You take a too-much-repeated clutch of words, like a metaphor so stale that you hardly notice the metaphor any more, and you alter it or add something to it to bring things alive again.  (Said Vinegar Joe Stillwell of Louis Mountbatten: “There’s less to that young man than meets the eye.” I still remember something Harry Phibbs wrote about how he was “eager to intrude upon private grief”.)

Something similar can be done with architecture, on a far more grand scale:


The individual bricks, so to speak, of this architectural pile are impeccably dull.  Yet they are combined in a very dramatic way.  Which makes the impeccable dullness that is thus still very visible all the more entertaining.

Modifying a cliché has particular architectural advantages, because it means that you already know how the cliché bits work, because that’s been done thousands of times already.  (See this earlier posting.)

Of course, combining them in this new way could create all manner of problems of different sorts, so you still need to be careful.  But, despite the dangers, I like this.

Tuesday November 03 2015

... causing them to stay stuck inside my head for ever.

That’s it really.  Provided something can get out of hand inside a head.

What I am talking about, in the event that you don’t already recognise the syndrome, is that you think of something to put on your blog, and start seeking out links, and you find highly pertinent links to add, but at the far end of them, you find further highly pertinent things to add to the original posting, until it ceases entirely from being the piece of fun that blogging ought mostly to be, and becomes a giant piece of homework that never gets done.

So, memo to self: Stop it.

Memo to self about not letting blog postings get out of hand inside my head …
Mental notes
Excellent headline
Steven Pinker on the (im)moral message of the Old Testament
The culling of the Northern Hemisphere
I am now really enjoying the Rugby World Cup
On packaging – and on the need to chuck it out
Juliet Barker on Knights of Old: A lot of history in one paragraph
I was photoing white vans in February 2007
A day in BMdotcom heaven (4): A tale of two penultimate overs
Rainbow over Millbank
Steven Johnson on The Myth of the Ant Queen
Weird wide angle lens effect
Shiny little car
On clapping in between movements at classical concerts
Big Ben through the legs of Gandhi statue in Parliament Square
Further spectacular information storage progress (which will immediately become very useful)
Lady rickshaw driver
Lining things up behind the Royal Festival Hall
One day cricketers playing at test cricket
Don’t mention The Wires!!! in South Korea either!
My next camera?
When David Irving called a British Judge “Mein Fuhrer”
Tomorrow I will get out less
A smartphone wearing sunglasses
A new Grand Chose for Paris
What writing for Samizdata should now (for me) mean
Cannon Street Station at the end of the street
Smoke over west London
Out and about with GD1 (3): Baritone borrows my charger
Out and about with GD1 (2): How mobile phones both cause and solve meeting up problems
Two strangers photoed by Mick Hartley and shown there (and here) without their permission
Photoing old Dinky Toys in Englefield Green
Heaven aka the Barley Mow
The selfie stick is a very useful piece of kit
Ed Smith on sporting maturity – Burns and Henriques collide – Secretariat and his jockey
Paul Johnson on Mozart and Da Ponte
England crush NZ (and Surrey beat Leicester)
Real Photographer - shame about the adverts
Ballerina and crane
First test against NZ – first day
Adverts for small and cheap drones
A photographer and an advert
All this stuff
Ancient carved god spied in modern London
Why I mostly write about architectural design rather than about interior design
Lovely light
Animals not understanding cameras
The Wires get mentioned!  (But it makes no difference!)
Going from knowing a piece of music to also knowing what it is
Don’t mention The Wires!!!
A Shiny Thing by Frank Stella Hon RA
Richard J. Evans on how evidence can become more significant over time
Don’t mention The Wires!!
CATable at the Building Centre
Bad taste
“The image was taken at long range and therefore is deceptive …”
Click on the picture to get a different picture
From a cat cushion to Bill Murray and a nude to a demon horse sculpture that killed its creator
My favourie partial eclipse photos
BT Tower behind trees
Feline Friday – an apology for yesterday’s premature posting about cat recognition
Peter Thiel on how humans and computers complement each other
The ROH bar and its floating-in-the-air drinkers
Why quota photos?
Another from the I Just Like It directory
How bet hedging explains the perpetual terribleness of everything
I said it twelve years ago
Is 2007 old enough?
Drunkblogging a new London Big Thing
Peter Thiel on striking a balance between optimism and pessimism and on how failure is overrated
Triple Chess and a Four Wheeled Pedal Board
Miniature photographic fakery
It feels like Sunday already
Incidental Last Friday details
BMdotcom What if? of the day
Thoughts on habits and on changing incentives with the passing of time
BMdotcom (mathematical (and sporting)) quote of the day
Two pictures of the Shard behind some railings
Hand done photos
Some photographers last November
Touch typing or no typing at all
Don’t mention The Wires!
Trousers keyboard
Was Guy’s Tower a key building in the architectural history of London?
Photoing at the ASI party
I finally did something for Samizdata
Non-faceless architecture in Rome
On the rights and wrongs of me posting bits from books (plus a bit about Rule Utilarianism)
How the internet is cheering up Art
Marginal Eurostar economics
Looking down through the see-through Tower Bridge walkway – but what about looking up through it?
As found not-art
The Poppies (3): People taking selfies
The Poppies (2): The crowds
Photographed flatness that doesn’t look flat
The Poppies (1): What they look like
Early tries by my guys
A cat book and a feline front page
Why I am a point-and-shoot photographer rather than a Real Photographer
Pavarotti could not read music (very well)
The uniqueness of our microbiome
MDL and DPD delivered what they promised but were wrong about me having to be there to sign for it
The death of email?
Only with a computer
Halloween buckets
How Bill Bryson on white and black paint helps to explain the Modern Movement in Architecture
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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 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
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
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
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
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
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
Not the same thing
Wonderwoman picked by Unsuperman
Profundity and silliness
Obama still won’t do nasty
Chivalry and the mad feminists
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
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
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
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
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
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!