Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Darren on The good done by the Apple Newton
Darren on Don't judge a new technology by its first stumbling steps
Michael Jennings on The good done by the Apple Newton
Brian Micklethwait on I think I may at last have found myself a sofa
Tatyana on I think I may at last have found myself a sofa
Katherine James on A new Morrisons is opening in Strutton Ground next Monday
Katherine James on 3D printed baby in the womb
Simon Gibbs on "In order to comply with Google's regulations ..."
Brian Micklethwait on I think I may at last have found myself a sofa
Friday Night Smoke on I think I may at last have found myself a sofa
Most recent entries
- Under Blackfriars Bridge
- Feline ephemera
- The good done by the Apple Newton
- 3D printed baby in the womb
- A new Morrisons is opening in Strutton Ground next Monday
- Ashes Lag recovery continues
- A Bitcoin vending machine and a Lego photographer (and a Lego Hawking)
- “In order to comply with Google’s regulations …”
- Blue wind
- Don’t judge a new technology by its first stumbling steps
- Me trying to tell Norman Foster and Richard Rogers apart
- I think I may at last have found myself a sofa
- The Met swoops on the Adams Family
- South Bank Architects?
- Colour photography
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6000 Miles from Civilisation
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Category archive: Science fiction
Yes. I spent my blogging time today fretting about the finishing of this. So, no time to do much here.
But there’s an internet out there.
Here’s a very quick vid, of Kenneth Williams opining (which would be a good word for him to say) about specialisation.
Does this photo tell us the direction the Great Climate Debate is going? I took it in Foyles, underneath the Royal Festival Hall, London, on September 2nd:
I put this up to entertain you, and also so that I can send a short email to Bishop Hill about it, rather than a long and annoying one. Because I’m guessing it might interest him.
The Bishop’s (as of now) latest posting concerns an article written by some academic CAGWers (CAGW = Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming), about how they can defeat their ever more annoying and persuasive “denier” enemies?
The answer to this conundrum is - you will never believe it - to be found in the realms of communication. Although Garud and his colleagues note that some observers think that communication is not enough, and point to such initiatives as the Climate Science Rapid Response Team (seriously!) that are already in place, they suggest that something called a ‘narrative approach’ might also be a part of the solution.
But that, as the Bishop well knows but Garud et al do not, is no solution to the problem the CAGWers have. The “narrative approach” is their problem. What the CAGWers have been doing is spinning a narrative and calling it science for the last quarter of a century and more, and now this narrative is unravelling, thanks to the efforts of people like Bishop Hill. This latest plan is for them to stop pretending that they aren’t doing this. That can’t work.
If the anti-CAGWers had relied on books like Michael Crichton’s State of Fear, which is one of the books in the above photo, to carry the main weight of their arguments, they’d have been utterly crushed.
LATER: Bishop Hill has linked to this, and there are comments there too.
Last night I attended a book launch, of two books, one by Madsen Pirie, and the other by J. P. Floru.
I took lots of photos, but literally just the one came out half decently. All the rest were too blurry.
So, what was special about this one? Seriously, see if you can work it out:
That’s J. P Floru, looking up for the cameras while signing a copy of his book. There’s a clue there.
I hope to be saying more about Floru’s book at Samizdata, Real Soon Now, but I promise nothing.
Someone asked what the new mainframe looks like. It looks like this:
On the front, big black rectangular nothingness, like the Monolith in 2001. The Monolith, unlike Dawkins, is sort of a God, because it taught that monkey how to make a space ship by throwing a bone into the air.
But the nothingness at the front of my new mainframe is more prosaic than that. It is a big plastic door, which you open when you want to play a CD or a DVD or something. Besides which, I conjecture that many geeks have computers which they refer to as The Monolith. Dawkins, not so many. Dawkins it remains.
It turns out it was a cookbook.
The blog posting (linked to from here) is entitled Exploitation Movie Posters 1939 - 1960. But why exactly are these movies referred to as “Exploitation” movies? Who is being exploited? And in what way is Apocalypse Now any less exploitative than the movies advertised in these particular posters?
I suppose the notion being got at is that it is our desire for pure and utterly undiluted entertainment, with no morally lofty excuse attached, to do with being educated, uplifted, improved, that is being “exploited”. Our baser instincts are being played to. Our ids are being massaged, while our egos look down, aghast.
Being a libertarian, I am particularly wary of the word “exploitation”, blurring as it does, often deliberately, the boundary between being used in a way that you consent to (often enthusiastically) and being used (often outrageously) in a way that you do not consent to. Dare to favour the first and you get accused of favouring the second. Which is a difficult trick to combat if you don’t realise what the trick is.
Putting the point about ids and egos in the language of consent, to talk of “exploitation” movies is to suggest that while our base appetites “consent” to watch movies like these, we ourselves do not. We are at the mercy of our appetites, who are co-opted by our “exploiters”. Our appetites betray us, enslave us even. But controlling our base appetites, if that’s what we decide they are, is for us to do for ourselves.
Personally I don’t think that there is anything wrong about enjoying Cat-Women of the Moon.
Photoed by me last night in Victoria Street, just outside Rymans:
It helped a lot that he was asleep and with his back to me, oblivious. But it was the book that had me taking out my camera. I zoomed in a bit:
It’s this. Quote from a very satisfied Amazon reviewer:
This is the greatest science fiction novel ever written, and in my humble opinion one of the greatest novels of the 20th Century. Strangely, it has long been known to me as “Tiger Tiger” and I have never got used to this, its original title.
Underneath the superb and imaginative futuristic setting is the story of a man transformed from a Dave Lister-style space bum into a raging, semi-literate savage intent on killing the spaceship Vorga that left him stranded. Through his weird and often violent trials and tribulations he is transformed into a powerful, intelligent and finally great man on whom the future of civilization rests. The story he uncovers and the “driven” people at the centre of the immense power struggle in which he finds himself, are remarkable and yet terrifying.
Sounds rather good. He seems to have just started it. Hope he enjoys himself.
Michael J and I were thinking of going to Lords today, to watch the cricket. As it turned out, he had other business (good luck with that mate - he knows what I mean), and we scrapped the idea.
Just as well we did. Had we gone, at the sort of time we probably would have gone, then according to the radio commentators I was listening to this morning we would have been stuck in a huge queue outside the ground, while everything interesting that was going to happen all day happened, in the morning. Lords beat the drum, sold tickets for the last day for a mere tenner, but then didn’t open enough gates when lots of people showed up. Very bad.
They said the blockage was something to do with “security”. The terrorists have won!
By the time many of those unfortunates who did accept this offer got into the ground, it was effectively all over. Bangladesh had five wickets left, but lost them too quickly to make a proper fight of it. The only excitement concerned whether one of the England bowlers would five wickets in the innings (which he did), and then ten wickets in the match (which he didn’t).. This is a new chap called Finn, who is very tall, who is, they say, quite fast, and who keeps falling over after bowling, which is not what you want, is it?
Surrey, my county team, are meanwhile showing signs of life. (I realise that now, absolutely nobody is reading this. Did you know that all rabbits born on a Thursday have poisonous bites? It’s true. If nobody dares to disagree in the comments, I will draw the inevitable conclusion, although it is true about the rabbits, if not widely known. I looked for this at Snopes. There is nothing there about this not being true, so it must be.) They won both of their limited overs games the weekend before last, the first with an improbably good late batting performance when all looked lost, and the second by taking two early wickets and never letting up, winning crushingly with vast numbers of overs and wickets to spare. (I wonder if those links will last.) Both are great ways to win, from the morale point of view. Then, in the next unlimited overs game, they looked on a hiding to nothing, until a big last wicket stand by Surrey’s two South African fast bowlers got them to first innings near equality, when a huge first innings deficit followed by defeat on the last day looked inevitable. Instead, following that big stand Surrey managed to bowl the other fellows out cheaply and then win, with the South Africans also getting lots more wickets. First unlimited overs win for Surrey since the last time they had an unlimited overs w, a long, long time ago.
Although, one of those South African fast bowlers, Nel, was fined and banned for two games for misbehaving, in the very game he did so well in. Nel is a schizophrenic sort of a person (persons?), with an alter ego called “Gunter”, and it was presumably Gunter who did the misbehaving. It usually is, according to what I’ve read. So why was Nel expected to carry the can? As commenter Yorvik says:
All well and good banning Andre for two matches but wouldn’t it be better to ban this Gunter chap for life? He seems to be the one causing the problems.
Indeed. I mean, in Gotterdammerung, we don’t blame Siegfried for what he did when magically disguised as someone else, even though his behaviour was far worse. Did Nel/Gunter refuse to recognise the love of his life and cause her, with his various miscalculations, culminating in his death, to give up on everything and jump into a bonfire? On a horse? I think not. (Incidentally, I rather think that Siegfried’s alter ego may also have been called Gunther, in the sense that he was disguised as another character in the thing called Gunther. (I have many recordings and DVD’s of the Ring Cycle, but have never really got stuck into them all for a solid fortnight, ignoring everything else. I just like the way it all sounds.) So anyway, how about that? Does Nel like Wagner, I wonder? Please add Wagner comments to prove that you have read this far.)
So anyway, Surrey are now playing Glamorgan. The first day was lost to bad weather, and during the second Glamorgan made nearly 400. But Surrey are now batting, and at tea have reached two hundred plus for three. Two of their newly acquired players, an unproven but presumably promising young chap fresh out of college and a very expensive new wicket-keeper that they have recently bought from a Poor County somewhere to the west, who is both a very good wicketkeeper and a dashingly free hitting batsman, flailed away to put on nearly a hundred for the first wicket. The wicket-keeper in particular really put his pedal, as they say in other places to the ones I generally frequent, to the metal. He got a dashing eighty something, at about a run a ball. He generally gets out for a dashing 25 at a run a ball, so this could yet get interesting. On the other hand, Surrey have also bought in a prestigious new batsman, Younis Khan, who recently retired in a huff from being a Pakistan test cricketer. He got out for a duck. On the other other hand, Ramprakash is now on 70.
England have now duly won their game against Bangladesh. It was all over by tea. And oh dear, the Surrey game just got interesting but not in a good way, with Surrey losing two sudden wickets, Ramps and new dashing young captain Rory Rory Hamilton-Hamilton-Hyphen-Brown-Hyphen-Stroke-Undeserved-Good-Looks for a golden duck. What’s a golden duck? It’s a duck made of gold. What did you think it was? Plus, did you know that they have recently discovered that there are certain very small physics type particles that have the ability to travel faster than the speed of light? Yes. But the bad news is: they don’t go much faster. About ten percent faster, which is nothing. Apart from setting the scientists at each other’s throats, because for them this is a big drama, it will hardly make any difference. Science fiction, for example, where the entire Galaxy is shrunk by warp speed travel back to the size of medieval Europe with everybody just a day or two away and all fighting each other like in Star Wars, will continue to be science fiction rather than any sort of guide to the actual real future. Mobile phones may get ten percent faster when you are talking to Australia or the Moon or something. Other than that, nothing very significant, unless you are a theoretical scientist. It’s amazing what a persevering reader can learn from the blogs, don’t you think?
Unravelling the puzzle – and making it into a movie
“This is fun!”
Twickenham shop attacked by the Dark Side of The Force
She learned to knit her before she learned to spell her
The robotic future
iPods From Space
The old USSR: good for thirty more years . . . then it collapsed