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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

Sunday September 14 2014

Here. They may not have intended it to be sarcastic, but that’s how it reads.

Thursday September 11 2014

Last night, at that birthday party I attended, I was asked all the usual questions about what I was doing.  Which is not a lot just now, what with my waiting for Godot problem.

Inevitably, in some of these cross-examinations, this blog came up, with me saying that I write here about whatever I feel like writing about, with very little thought for the interests of my readers.  Cats on Fridays, general trivia, etc.  I do Big Issues at Samizdata and trivia here.  Blah blah.

However, an American lady friend, whom I had not met in quite a while and whom I was very pleased to meet again, told me that she quite liked my trivia stuff, and that she even read my postings about cricket (this being the most recent one).  I thought that only I and Michael Jennings and Darren the Surrey Member were at all interested in those.  It seems not.

I’m guessing that this interest on her part is partly actual interest, but also partly that a principle is at stake here.  Which is: that the trivia that other people are interested in, but not you, is not actually an entirely trivial matter.  Life is not only Big Issues.  It is the small pleasures that give colour and texture and individuality to life.  Watever matters, to someone, matters.  Your opinion about what the Big Issues are should not be allowed to drive a tank or a government bureaucracy over my trivial pleasures.

So, her reading about the trivial pleasures of others is her asserting this Big Issue to herself, as well as maybe learning something about other little parts of the world, like the world of cricket (actually quite big of course, as I daresay are the worlds of embroidery and gardening and croquet and rap music and all the other little things in life that I don’t personally care about, other than to believe that tanks or government bureaucracies should not be driven over them).

Me being me, my way of asserting the importance of trivia, in general, to people, in general, is me writing about the trivia that interests me.

Her way of asserting the importance of trivia to people generally is her reading about the trivia that others write about.  But we are both making the same point.

I don’t want to say that I have entirely described why my American lady friend likes to read what I write about cricket.  I merely speculate that the above speculations might be a quite small part of why she does this.

(She, like me, probably also thinks that thinking about trivia can often lead to interesting angles on Big Issues, of the sort that merely looking straight at the Big Issues might cause you to miss.  Pointless fun and truly original insight are often delightfully close neighbours, I think.  But that’s a tangent for another time, hence this paragraph being in brackets.)

Tuesday September 09 2014

New Yorker classical music critic Alex Ross writes about how he still loves his classical CDs.  Partly, he admits, it’s nostalgia.  CDs were such a huge leap forward when they first arrived that that moment of pure joy is very hard to turn your back on.  I can still remember what my first CDs were: Nielsen 3, Brahms Sextets, Barenboim complete Beethoven piano sonatas, Strauss Alpine Symphony … Then there was the realisation that classical CDs would just get cheaper and cheaper and abundanter and abundanter, and then very soon the reality of that happy circumstance.  Gramex Boss Hewland prices his stuff with more than half an eye to what Amazon charges, and it remains worthwhile to visit Gramex from time to time, even as all the other central London second hand CD emporia have faded away.  He piles them high and sells them cheap.

Yes, the physical space occupied by CDs is a problem.  Those piles can get very high.  (Visit my home to see that problem on an enormous scale.) But, for me, the internet remains an unenticing place to purchase and play classical music.  I have accumulated some virtual titles, as a result of buying them new on Amazon and having an additional “cloud” version of the same thing piped into my computer.  But I wouldn’t want to be without the CDs whose purchase provoked this additional twenty first century response.

I wrote recently about the value of keeping things separate, in my case my big home computer and my music making equipment.  Even as my big home computer continues not to materialise, I still have music as good as ever, with no messing with some new kind of system to make it work.

But the central problem with classical music on the internet is that it remains, I believe, a mess.  Pop music having overwhelmed classical music economically during the last hundred years or so, pop music is the big driver of internet music, and internet music is entirely organised for the benefit of pop fans, and their discreet tracks.  We classicists are liable, as Alex Ross explains, to get lumbered with such things as John Eliot Gardiner’s Beethoven Nine labelled as being the work of Lyuba Organosova, merely because she tops of the list of soloists for the final movement.  The labelling of classical tracks on Amazon, where they offer you little snippets to listen to, is routinely done by naming the pieces with such things as their tempo or loudness markings, while neglecting to tell you what the piece is or what number movement it is.  They just can’t be bothered to get it right.  Fair enough.  I understand why they can’t be bothered.  We classicists aren’t worth bothering with.  Buy the CD or don’t and consider yourself lucky, is the message.  Until someone really big and well organised does bother about it, classical music on the internet will remain an off-putting afterthought, piggybacking systems devised for something else, rather than an enticing attraction.

When things get reissued, the labelling is liable to go completely to buggery.  I, for instance, have that Barenboim set of Beethoven sonatas on EMI from way back, long before the internet, when it first came out as a set of CDs.  Since then it has been reissued.  So, when the internet tries to assist me in cataloguing recordings I myself have made of it onto my hard disc, it gets it all wrong.  Useless.

Classical music on the internet will eventually get sorted out.  And when it does, I will, if not dead, presumably hear about it from my classical music mags.  A consensus will be announced, saying things like “Classical CDs really are pointless nowadays”, and when you read such articles, it will, after about a decade of premature enthusiasm of the geek-bollocks sort ("all you have to do is blah blah dance on the head of twenty seven pins blah blah blah turn seventy three cartwheels blah blah blah what could be easier? … yes it might all crash but to solve that blah blah blah ..."), eventually become true.  A actual, real world majority of Classical freaks will be using this single, best arrangement, and it will work, all the time, like email.  Or not.

Even when such a new classical dispensation does emerge, I will probably not bother to switch.  It’s not just sunk costs; it will also be declining costs.  As internet classical music becomes ever more appealing, so the price of mere CDs will sink and sink, until all of them can be purchased by me from Amazon, for £0.01 plus postage.

Meanwhile, I like that my CD filing system (aka my CD collection) is always accurate.  When I dig up a CD that says it is so-and-so’s recording of Brahms 4, it is, and then when I play it, it will be played in the right order.  Notes will be to hand to read about this recording if I want to, conveniently stored right next to the CD.

I do have lots of virtual music, as an addendum to my CDs, like those files that Amazon spontaneously volunteers, and like stuff I have recorded from the radio.  But the latter starts out being called something like DAB002, and I have never sorted out how to file it conveniently, or even to edit it into individual performances.  Life is too short to be bothering.  Why edit, when CDs are already edited.  Virtual music is strictly an afterthought for me.  Plastic music remains the thing itself, for me.  And (see above) I don’t believe I’m just being sentimental, even if I am somewhat.

Wednesday September 03 2014

That posting I did the other day about how a really fast computer perfectly fills in for the imperfections of my own deteriorating mental processes may not have impressed anyone else, but it impressed me.  And now I am listening to Beethoven symphonies on my CD player, and I am thinking that something similar may happen between a really good symphony orchestra and a conductor.

“Great conductors” are famous for carrying on into their dotage.  Lots of people have written and talked about this.  The Great Conductor’s grasp of everyday life and its processes collapses, yet the great man’s ability to go on conducting seems mysteriously unimpaired.  Why?

This only applies to “great conductors”.  Merely good conductors have to jack it in.  Again, why?  Why this difference?  Why do only the Great Conductors often keep going so long?

The usual answers to questions about why this happens tend to focus on the mental processes of the Great Man himself, and upon the magical power of music to improve the brain, or in this case prevent its collapse.  But how about considering also the musicians whom they conduct, and the general situation that conductors in generally tend to find themselves in as they get old, and how about also the essence of a what a conductor does and does not do, when he is conducting.

A merely good conductor doesn’t get to conduct a Great Orchestra, and accordingly, his job is to make merely good orchestras, or even not that good orchestras play better.  Lots of instructions and arguments are involved.  You’re doing this, you ought to be doing it like this, and so on.  So our merely good conductor finds himself in circumstances where his declining mental abilities are often cruelly exposed.  He forgets what he said to the first oboist ten seconds ago, and so so.  And, being merely good, and there being plenty of other merely good conductors available, our merely good conductor in due course gets a free transfer into conducting retirement.

But now consider the Great Conductor.  He is conducting a Great Orchestra.  Because he can.  Two circumstances now prevail which are absent when a merely good conductor conducts a merely good orchestra.  First, the concert is a sell-out, every time.  The CDs continue to sell, no matter how much bodging and stitching and patching up the engineers have to do afterwords.  (All sorts of rumours circulate in classical music about this kind of thing.) But second, crucially, the Great Conductor is not called upon to do anything except conduct the Great Orchestra that he is still able to be put at the front of.

I surmise that if you are conducting a Great Orchestra, the effect is rather similar to the effect I described of me sitting at the keyboard of a super-fast state-of-the-art computer (such as I am still being deprived of as I type this).  I type and the computer reacts immediately.  I switch from one thing to another, and the computer follows me, instantaneously.  Well, does not rather the same thing apply when a Great Conductor conducts a Great Orchestra?  I suspect it does.

What goes ragged and unreliable when you get old is memory, short-term being especially embarrassing, but basically all varieties of it.  But what remains, typically, is your senses, your grasp of right now.  And conducting is all about being, as modern parlance has it, “in the moment”, “in the now”.  What matters is what you are telling the orchestra to do, right now, and they do it, right now, in the same moment.  This, we oldies can still be a part of.  What we can’t do is always remember precisely how things went ten seconds ago, or yesterday, or a week ago.  But guess what, when you are conducing, you don’t need to think about that!  In fact, it may even be an advantage if you make a habit of not thinking about that.  Insofar as you do need to be reminded of where you’ve got to, the orchestra does this, by playing what must now be played.

What I am surmising is: it’s not that the Great Conductors are “kept young” by the process of conducting an orchestra and by the gloriousness of the music itself.  What is happening here is that as a Great Conductor gets old, at much the same rate and in much the same way that the rest of us do, he finds himself in a situation where the kinds of deteriorations that happen to us all do not matter.  The show is able to go on for about another decade or more beyond when you would think it should have ground to an embarrassing halt.  His wife has to butter his toast and remind him which symphony he is about to conduct and tell him which city they are in.  But once the playing begins, all is well.  Any conducting mistakes, and the orchestra irons them out, which may even keep them more alert and awake.

For yes, being conducted by a really old Great Conductor may even work better than usual.  A sixty year old Great Conductor may have all kinds of tyrannical and complicated ideas about how to interpret the music which he may insist on talking about at insulting length during rehearsals.  He may want to rearrange the orchestra’s membership.  He may be a bully and a tyrant.  And he may still be quite good at all this, as in: able to make life hell for the orchestra.  But all that one of these ninety five year old Great Conductors is able to do is wave a stick in front of the orchestra on the night.  The occasional unclear wobble of that stick is not a problem.  A great orchestra just takes its cue from its leader and its various section leaders.  They know how to play well, no matter what idiocy is going on on the podium, especially if they have played the piece lots of times before with the Great Conductor.

The key variable may simply be: do they like the Great Conductor, or do they not?  Perhaps fifteen years ago he was a sadistic bastard, in which case as soon as he starts forgetting people’s names or forgetting what he was trying to say a moment ago in rehearsal, then he is gently but firmly told to stop.  But, if they like the old geezer, then all he has to do is stand in front of them on the night, and they are easily able to turn his increasingly vague wavings into a performance of genuine substance and distinction.

Don’t get me wrong.  The Great Conductor is still truly great.  He is still contributing that certain special something that even the greatest orchestras – perhaps especially the greatest orchestras – do truly need.  But that’s now all that the Great Conductor is contributing.  And that, if you think about it, could be just about the perfect arrangement for all concerned.

Scrub all of the above if the conductor goes deaf, as Beethoven did quite early in his life.  He had to give up performing altogether, and concentrate entirely on composing.  Poor old Beethoven.  Lucky old us.

Monday September 01 2014

As threatened here many times, more and more postings here are going to be about getting old.  One of the symptoms, certainly for me, is short-term memory loss.  (That isn’t the only kind of memory loss I now suffer from, but forgetting immediately something that happened two seconds ago is particularly disconcerting, if for most of your life this has not happened.) Thank goodness for word processing.  Everything you just wrote is now there in front of you, rather than forgotten.  Right now, instead of wondering what that last sentence was, I can read it back again.  The problem just doesn’t exist any more.  When I am talking, on the other hand …

Which is one of the many reasons why the speed of a computer is so important.  I am now using my back-up computer, a very slow laptop, aka: Dawkins.  Mercifully, word processing, once I have persuaded Dawkins to concentrate on it, is fine.  Letters appear on the screen as soon as I type them, no matter how fast I type.  But when it comes to internetting, or any kind of switching from one sort of software to another, it’s like I’m back in the 1990s or even the 1980s.  It takes around ten seconds for Dawkins to switch his attention from this to that.  And ten seconds is easily long enough for me to forget what I am doing, and why I decided to make the switch I just tried to make.  Finally it appears.  But why am I reading it?  Did I want the link for something I am writing?  Was there some thought I was thinking?  Was I just bored with previous thing?

I can remember articles by unimaginative future-fearers (see Postrel: The Future and Its Enemies - no link, see below) saying Do We Really Need very fast computers to do boring old domestic stuff, computers which are massively faster than we are, and which we therefore can’t keep up with?  Well, maybe not “need”, but want, definitely.  And maybe not “we” but I, definitely.

I turns out that lightning speed is immensely useful, to someone with my kind of brain, still wise after a fashion, but getting less superficially clever by the month.  The lightning speed is not something I have to keep up with.  The lighting speed keeps me up to speed.

Lightning speed within a programme, which with dumb word processing I still have.  And lightning speed between programmes, which I do not now have.  It turns out that really quite a lot of my computering consists of switching from one programme to another, to add a link and to copy and paste something from somewhere, or just to meander, whether randomly or to follow a logical train of thought.  Straight word processing is still the instant joy that it was from 1981 onwards, but anything else is like wading through treacle.  (And I am now experiencing that 1981 joy again, by experiencing the contrast with everything else.)

Oddly enough, adding photos (see yesterday) is not too bad, because adding photos and writing about them can all be done in the same piece of blogging software. (Which reminds me, I haven’t made a word processed copy of yesterday’s posting, which I like to do.  That will involve more treacle-wading.)

You want links?  Give it another week.  As you can tell, all that talk (see … whenever) about God being back in business last Thursday or whenever did not materialise.  Maybe this week.

Sunday August 31 2014

The weather in London today was particularly fine.  The light was bright and washed clean by recent rain, and the atmosphere was neither too hot nor too humid.  There was bright blue sky, but there were also plenty of clouds.  I had a bank to visit and electrical items to obtain, all doable on Sunday if you are in Tottenham Court Road, and then I and my companion went south towards the river.

I photoed tourist stuff, hereinafter termed touristuff.  I love to photo touristuff.  It changes from year to year, and it is arranged in hightly photogenic clumps such as you could never enjoy if you merely bought a single touristuff item:

image image

Those queens seem now to be very popular, but popes less so.  But those decapitated lady bottle openers are a new siting, for me.  It’s amazing what can look sexy, even after being guillotined.

I photoed books, under Waterloo Bridge.  Books in large and sunlit clumps, and particular books, with particular titles:

image image

It seems that the Conan The Barbarian books were written not by just the one writer, but by a team of writers.  I did not know this.  I wonder how that was organised.

I photoed Art.  I photoed a lady all in white, photoing Art under the Queen Elizabeth Hall.  That’s if you reckon middle of the range graffiti to be Art.  Is this a possible future for brutalist architecture?  Painting such concrete relics would surely make sense.

And I photoed people sitting on Art, in the form of giant green chairs, next to the Imax Cinema roundabout near Waterloo station

image image

Apparently these big green chairs used to be down in that strange circle of pedestrian space that surrounds the bottom of the Imax Cinema, inside the roundabout.

If my walkabout this afternoon is anything to go by, Art is becoming less about Deep Significance (of the sort that has to be explained with Art Bollocks essays next to the Deeply Significant Art), and more about fun.  Bring it on.

And bring on the day when they have exhibitions of Touristuff in Tate Modern.  I hardly ever go inside Tate Modern, but I bet that would be more fun than what they put there now.  And it might also be more Significant.

Thursday August 28 2014

This afternoon, The Guru is coming by to reconstruct God, so God (the other one) willing, I will be back in serious computing business by this evening.

When I was recently in Brittany, my hosts supplied me with a state-of-the-art laptop and a state-of-the-art internet connection.  These last few days, without God (my one) and having to make do with Dawkins (my obsolete and clunky little laptop, the thing I am typing into now), I have felt less connected to the world than I did in Brittany.  I am connected, after a fashion.  But Dawkins is so slow and clunky that I have been doing only essentials (like finding out about England being hammered in the ODI yesterday), and checking incoming emails, and shoving anything however bad up here once every day.  It’s like I’ve regressed to about 2000.

I have managed to put up a few pictures here, in God’s absence.  But Dawkins’ screen makes these pictures look terrible.  I am looking forward to seeing God’s version of these pictures and hope they will be greatly improved compared to what I am seeing now.

Thank God (the other one) I haven’t been depending on God (my one) for music.  As I have surely explained here many times, one big reason I prefer CDs (and separate CD players scattered around my home) to all this twenty first century computerised music on a computer is that if God goes wrong, as he just has, I don’t lose music.  I also have music concerts recorded off of the telly, onto DVDs, which I can play on my telly, which is likewise a completely separate set-up to God.

In general, the argument against having everything done by one great big master computer is that when something goes wrong with that master computer, everything else in your life also goes wrong, just when you may need those things not to.  One of the things that willgo wrong, rather regularly, with your all-in-one master computer is when this or that particular one of its excessively numerous functions becomes seriously out of date.  I mean, if it has a vacuum cleaner included, what happens if vacuum cleaners suddenly get hugely better?  In Brian world, all I have to do is get another new and improved vacuum cleaner, and chuck out the old one.  In all-in-one master computer world, you are stuck with your obsolete vacuum cleaner.  Or, if you can, you have to break open your all-in-one master computer and fit a new vacuum cleaner, and probably also lots of other new stuff to make sure the new vacuum cleaner works, which buggers up a couple of your other functions that used to work fine but which no longer work fine.  Or at all.  I prefer to keep things simple, and separate.

Something rather similar applies with how to handle (the other) God.  That is another arrangement you don’t want to have running the whole of your life for you either.  It’s okay if you do God for some of the time and keep Him in his place, but you want scientists telling you about science, doctors about medicine, and your work colleagues about your work, and so on.  If, on the other hand, absolutely everything in your life, and worse, everything in the entire world you live in, is controlled by ((your version of) the other) God, everything is very liable to go to Hell.  (Aka: Separation of Church and State.  Aks: don’t be a religious nutter.)

I have my own particular take on (the other) God, which is that He is made-up nonsense.  But just as wise believers in (the other) God don’t let that dominate their thinking on non-God things, nor do I think that my opinions about (the other) God can explain everything else as well.  These opinions merely explain the particular matter of (the other) God being made-up nonsense.

Do not, as they say, put all your eggs in one basket.

Tuesday August 26 2014

I’ve started reading Virginia Postrel’s The Future and Its Enemies, years after everyone else who has read it.  I haven’t got very far yet, but I am delighted to discover that one of the Enemies that Postrel takes several cracks at is John Gray, that being a link to a crack that I took at Gray at Samizdata a while back.

And I see that Postrel, like me, does not confine herself to analysing and criticising Gray’s arguments, but notes also the cheapness of the tricks that Gray often uses to present his arguments.

What disguises the trickery, at least in the eyes of Gray and his followers, is the air of profundity that is regarded as being attached to the process of foreseeing doom and disaster.  In truth, incoherent pessimism is no more profound than incoherent optimism, which is to say, not profound at all.

Says Postrel (p. 9):

Although they represent a minority position, reactionary ideas have tremendous cultural vitality.  Reactionaries speak directly to the most salient aspects of contemporary life: technological change, commercial fluidity, biological transformation, changing social roles, cultural mixing, international trade, and instant communication.  They see these changes as critically important, and, as the old Natinoal Review motto had it, they are determined to “stand athwart history, yelling, ‘Stop!’” Merely by acknowledging the dynamism of contemporary life, reactionaries win points for insight.  And in the eyes of more conventional thinkers, denouncing change makes them seem wise.

Seem.  Amen.  I’m still proud of this in my piece about Gray, which makes that same point about the seeming wisdom of being a grump rather than a booster:

He trades relentlessly on that shallowest of aesthetic clichés, that misery is more artistic than happiness, that any old rubbish with a sad ending is artistically superior to anything with a happy ending no matter how brilliantly done, that music in a minor key is automatically more significant than anything in C major.

There are plenty more Gray references in Postrel’s book, if the Index is anything to go by and it surely is.  My immediate future is bright.

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!