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Category archive: Radio

Wednesday March 26 2014

On Monday last I attended a BBC Radio 4 event, at which Evan Davis interviewed Deirdre McCloskey:

image image

Yes that is the same screen, and it remained the same colour throughout.  In “reality” I mean.  If you were there, which I was.

But digital cameras, when set on “automatic” as mine always is, have minds of their own when it comes to colour.  One picture happens to have a lot of a certain colour in it, and it changes the overall colour of everything to compensate.  For instance, when you take indoor pictures but there is outdoor sky to be seen, then even if in reality the sky is deepest grey, the camera turns the sky deepest blue, and the indoor bits orange.  Likewise, when the sky is blue, but if you are outdoors, the camera, for no reason, is liable to fill a clear blue sky with pollution and turn it a sort of slate colour.  What was happening here is that these two pictures are both cropped.  But the left one was only cropped a bit, while the left one was cropped a lot.  And the stuff that got cropped out of the left one meant that the screen was no longer green.  It was blue.

As to what Deidre McCloskey actually said, well the thing I was most intrigued by was that she was entirely cool about being asked about how she used to be Donald McCloskey.  In which connection, don’t you just love how that circumstance is alluded to in this:


That’s an article reproduced at her website.  So, is that her handwriting?  Could well be.

I doubt the medical side of the switch was as easy to do as that.

The libertarian propaganda side of this is that McCloskey is a character, rather than just a boring bod in a suit.  The usual evasive sneers against pro-capitalists just won’t work on her.  And I even think it helps that (maybe because of those medical dramas - don’t know) her voice is a strange hybrid of male and female, often sounding a bit like electrical feedback.  She also has a slight but definite stutter.

The reason I feel entitled to mention all this is that it clearly does not bother her, or if it does she has learned very well to stop it bothering her, and indeed to make a communicational virtue of it all.  I guess she figures if you are saying interesting stuff, it really doesn’t matter if your voice sounds a bit funny and if people sometimes have to wait a second or two before hearing the next bit of it.  In fact it probably even helps, because it gets everyone listening, proactively as it were, guessing what is coming instead of just hearing it.

See also: Hawking.

Tuesday November 26 2013

Referred to by a Radio 3 announcer, this afternoon:

If Music is a Place - then Jazz is the City, Folk is the Wilderness, Rock is the Road, Classical is a Temple.

I heard it, googled it, and was able to copy-and-paste it from here.

Monday August 12 2013

I’m watching and listening to the England v Australia test match at Chester-le-Street, and the first hour of the fourth day has been a cracker.  Stumps flying, a bouncer fended into the gully, and a flurry of boundaries from England as they try to set Australia a decent target.  As of now, England are 277 ahead.

There has been much discussion from the TMS commentators about how lots of wickets have fallen in the morning, this morning being no exception.  But, that being the case, tomorrow morning could be very important, which they have not been discussing.  If England can just stick around for another few overs, Australia won’t be able to chase down all these runs today, and will have to bat tomorrow morning.  That could be decisive.  The prospect of them having to bat tomorrow morning may cause them to hurry today, or at least be in two minds about whether they should hurry.

All that said, this series has an air of insignificance about it.  This is because there is an imbalance built into these two series, in England and then this winter in Australia.  Whoever wins in England has to do it again in Australia to keep the bragging rights for a decent length of time.  Whoever wins in Australia gets those bragging rights.  If England win in England but Australia then win in Australia, Australia end up the winners.

The only big deal about this series, following that Lord’s slaughter, was: could England make it 5-0 and avenge that earlier 5-0 thrashing that Flintoff’s team got handed in Australia a few years back?  Bragging rights from a 5-0 thrashing last for ever.  That’s the rule.  But England couldn’t win at Old Trafford, in fact only the weather stopped England losing.  So, no permanent bragging rights.

Bresnan out for a crucial 45, England 285 ahead with just one wicket left.  But hello.  A dropped catch in the deep.  Steve Smith.  He doesn’t usually drop anything.

Anderson now prodding away defensively.  It’s like England have worked out what I said about tomorrow morning even if the commentators haven’t twigged that.  That flurry of fours was great.  But dot balls are now very good too.  But, another four from Swann!  He now has 22.  And another!  A real one day four, where he stepped back to square leg and bashed it through the covers.  It’s the kind of game where every ball feels like a tiny change of balance in the match.  “That dropped chance has already cost nine runs.” Make that thirteen because there goes another four.  England 298 ahead.  Anderson caught behind!  Spin!  Good for Swann!  Australia need 299.  “A morning of fluctuating fortunes.” I’ll say.

Finally, they’re talking about the tomorrow morning effect, and the fact that Australia will be pushed to get all these runs without England having a second new ball.  Mornings have brought wickets in this game.  So have new balls.  What we need now is a couple of Aussie wickets in the twenty minutes between now and lunch.  There’s every chance of that.

No.  Australia 11-0 at lunch.

LATER: According to Simon Hughes, Keith Miller slept with Princess Margaret.

Monday February 11 2013

One benefit of meeting up with fellow libertarians is that together we sort out the world.  But there is also the matter of sorting out the ongoing activities of the libertarian movement itself.

When I finally got to the Rose and Crown did some exploratory chit-chatting with Simon Gibbs, about such things as future writings for Libertarian Home by me (I promise nothing but hope to do something) and about how he does his videos.  I would like to get good at doing videos, but don’t know where to start.  Except now I do.  Simon has agreed to teach me what he does.  He uses Adobe Premier Elements.  So, that’s what I have in mind to be using.  I also showed him my camera, the reviews of which when I first bought it said it would be good at video.  Will that do?  Yes, he said.

In exchange I was able to offer Simon some tips about how to do radio in general and the BBC’s Moral Maze in particular, which he was nearly on last week, and will surely be on Real Soon Now.

I daresay similar conversations were going on elsewhere in the room, where other libertarian doings were likewise being furthered.

I also got to talk with Richard Carey, who is to be my next Last Friday speaker but one.  Which means that I now have my next three Last Fridays sorted.  February 22: Michael Jennings.  (We now – at last - have Samizdata author archives!) March 29: Richard Carey.  April 26: Rob Fisher.  Michael will be telling us some of the things he has learned about the globe and its ways of organising itself from his various globe trottings.  Rob will be talking about open source software.  And now it is pretty much settled that Richard will talk about the relationship between libertarianism and Austrian Economics.  Excellent. Email me (see “contact” top left here) if you want to know more about any of these events.

Oddly enough, the one thing I didn’t think to do at this gathering was take any photos.  I was similarly forgetful on the Last Friday of January.

Neither omission was at all clever.  Photos create an aura of significance, a penumbra of meaningfulness, a force field of where-it’s-at-ness.  Not much.  A bit.  We can all do out bit, and bits like that are easily done by me, except that on these two nights, they weren’t.

And after all that I went home, watched some TV, and then went to bed.

Tuesday January 01 2013

Indeed.  My own happy new year was delayed by illness.  During New Year’s Eve and for a lot of today, I was ill (which meant that I had to pass on all this).  But then, late this afternoon, quite suddenly, I switched from being definitely ill, to recovering.  I am not fully recovered, still having the remains of a head ache.  But I am nevertheless in that state of post-illness contentment that comes from knowing that I definitely am recovering.

So, I am now having a happy new year, and I hope that my small band of regular readers having been having a happy new year also.

I am now listening to this (that’s YouTube sound only) over the top version of the Blue Danube on the piano, played by the wonderful Ben Grosvenor, on the radio.  Lovely, albeit mad.  (Lovely because mad.) Later I will record the Vienna New Year’s Day concert from off of the telly, with its superb music and its vomit-inducingly kitsch-ridden ballet dancing.  The visuals being because I like to watch conductors and orchestras at work.  I can just not watch the balletic ghastliness.

Saturday October 01 2011

Well here I am watching England v Scotland in the Rugby World Cup, and so far it’s been almost all Scotland, maybe because it’s raining and they love that.  Only after about half an hour have England started to do anything.  Parks has landed two tricky penalties into the wind, with the second one being adjudicated with the help of television.  A first, apparently.  And until just now, Wilkinson was on 0 and 3.  0 and 3.  Wilkinson.  It’s now 1 and 4, with Scotland leading 6-3, but if England can’t rely on Wilkinson, then as all their enemies (i.e. the rest of the world) say, what do they have?

The scrum seems to be a perpetual bore, with all this “touch” pause “pause” pause “engage” nonsense from the ref, which (a) seems to go on for ever, and which (b) still falls to pieces.  However, this time, it is only the England scrum that is falling to pieces.

Drop goal from Dan Parks, and at half time it’s England 3 Scotland 9.  Where was Parks and his drop goaling when Scotland were playing Argentina?  Can England pull themselves together and win this?  My understanding is that if they don’t win, they’ll be in the strong, otherwise Northern Hemisphere half of the draw, and after losing to Scotland won’t frighten anyone there, except themselves.

If Scotland win, but without the bonus point from winning by eight points (or whatever it is) or more, they won’t go through at all.  So at least England might take Scotland with them into nowhere land.

They’re showing the England scrum giving away penalties.  Not pretty.  It’s all looking very much like Rugby is Only A Game.

There’s just been a great tackle by Tui … langi?  Followed by some England attacking down the left.  Better.  But Scotland are doing well at the line-out.  England back on the attack.  If they can keep hold of the ball they look a threat.

Another scrum, more grief for England.

When the weather is wet, rugby is more of a lottery.  Here in England we are having a first burst of truly hot (as well as cloudless) weather of the entire year so far.  Hot weather is left wing.  Have you noticed that?

England have just won a Scotland scrum!  England attack.  England knock-on.  Too many England errors.  But, another England turn over at the scrum.  Better.  Wilkinson misses a drop goal.  He’s the weak link.  I’ll say it again.  Wilkinson is the weak link.  Is this his last England game?  Nevertheless, England as a whole look stronger.  If they could just score a try.  Not this time, England give it away and Scotland attack.  Scotland nearly score!  Scotland penalty, it’s good.  Scotland need to win by “8 points or more” and now lead by 9.

Until today I was happy with England’s progress, and may yet be, if they can win this.  Hey, Wilkinson puts over a drop goal!  Scotland back needing more points.  As I was saying, I was happy with England.  Everyone moaned about their early wins, but at least they were wins.  Argentina are hellishly difficult to beat, and England beat them.

Lots of displacement activity from me, rearranging CDs in CD shelves.  Another penalty success from Wilkinson!  England look threatening now.  England 9 Scotland 12.  If England can just scramble a win here, I’ll be back defending them.

What happens if it ends in a draw?

Another Wilkinson penalty attempt.  Just short.

The England scrum seems to be working better now.  The reason I’m unclear about the details of this game is that another of my displacement activities just now is listening to CD Review, where they’re comparing all the Bruckner 8s. 

Penalty to England.  If this goes over, it becomes 12 all, with minutes left.  If it stays like that, then, according to my calculations, England will win the group.  But, England go to the corner.

Ashton scores on the right!  England ahead!  “You can only feel sympathy for Scotland!” Well, I can think of a few other feelings I can feel.  Hah!!!  Toby Flood gave the scoring pass, a big miss-out looper.  He seems to have made a difference.

No swallow diving by Ashton this time.  Flood nails the conversion.  Flood is looking very good.  16-12.  That conversion means Scotland have to score a try, and, well, until now, Scotland haven’t done tries.  We’re past the 80 minutes mark, the next stoppage does it.  England win!

I have lots of recordings of Bruckner 8, but none of three the BBC has just recommended.  Bugger.

So, it’s official.  England are now the Germany of the rugby World Cup.  They look rubbish in early games.  But then the prettier teams knock each other out, and hey presto, a month later England are still in it.  That’s what happened last time.  I hope that happens again.

Apparently Tonga beat France.  Hah!!  (All the pool results so far are to be found here.) Looks like if Tonga could only have beaten Canada also, that would have meant France being out of it.  I think.  Antoine Clarke (pronounced Claire for the duration) won’t be happy.

Monday September 19 2011

The cricket County Championship ended on Thursday, and I am now suffering severe withdrawal symptoms, having this year got completely sucked into it.  Surrey, my preferred county (on account of me having been born and raised in it and it having won the County Championship every year from when I was four to when I was ten) got into a promotion battle.  To win promotion to Division One they had (a) to win their last four games, and (b) to get enough bonus points (which you get for batting and bowling well in the first inningses) to get them ahead of the opposition.  Winning one County Championship game is hard.  Winning four is a considerable achievement.  They did win four, which at first looked totally impossible.  They did get just enough bonus points.  And they got promoted.  I tracked all this, with growing fascination and growing admiration, because I wanted to, and because, thanks to the www and local radio, I could.

It was a three horse race, from which two horses would be promoted, between Middlesex, Northants and Surrey, the three of them in that order when the final round of games began, last Monday morning.  If all three won their final games (which they all did) then Middlesex, way out in front, would be Division Two champs, which they were.  The interesting action concerned Northants and Surrey, the former being ahead of the latter by one point when the final round of games began.  Surrey had one more win than Northants, so if Surrey got one more bonus point than Northants in the final games, with both winning, they’d have equal points totals and Surrey would would be promoted.

The other thing you need to know about Division Two of the County Championship is that this year they have been using a kind of cricket ball which has two important properties.  It is very hard to bat against when it is new.  And it is very easy to bat against when it is old.  What this means is that batsmen who can merely survive when the ball is new are at least as valuable as batsmen who can flog it around to all parts when the ball is old.

On Monday morning, Surrey, batting first against Derbyshire, lost two very early wickets, captain Hamilton-Brown, and Ramprakash.  (Ramps has finally, it would seem, run out of puff.  He has had a bad season, for the first time in well over a decade.  But part of his problem is that he bats at number three and frequently goes into bat when that ball they are now using is new.) Things looked very bad.  But Steve Davies (badly dropped early on) and Zander de Bruyn (pronounced de Brain) then batted until lunch, taking the score past 100, in other words they not only survived, they actually flourished.  They both got out soon after lunch, and Tom Maynard then made a century, others also chipping in with important support.  But that very early batting by Davies and de Bruyn was crucial.  Thanks to Surrey batting aggressively, they were 400 for 8 by the end of day one, which got them maximum batting bonus points.  But if it hadn’t been for Davies and de Bruyn on that first morning, they wouldn’t have got anywhere near to 400 (the exact number of runs you have to get to get maximum batting points), because by the time the ball had got old and easy to hit everywhere, the way Maynard did hit it everywhere, Surrey would have been more like 200 all out.  Even if they had then contrived to win the game, their bonus points would not have been sufficient.

Northants, meanwhile, also batted well enough to go on and win their game, but they were all out in their first innings, on the Tuesday morning, for 343.  They also needed to get to 400, given that Surrey already had.  But they didn’t.  Ergo, they lost out on promotion by two points out of 227.

I love that I knew all this (scroll down here for all the rules about how many points you get for what) at the time, and consequently knew exactly what was going on, and why the batting of Davies and de Bruyn was so crucial, even as it was happening.  Cricinfo and BBC Radio London (aka Mark Church) were my two main sources, but in truth Mark Church, busy describing a cricket match, doesn’t always get all the subtleties of things like bonus points exactly right.  For that, you really need to be able to read something.

Mark Church is an amiably rambling old codger on the radio, but an intensely scripted, driven, humourless young professional on Surrey TV.  Odd.  Something to do with doing radio for six hours on end each time, but telly for more like six minutes each time.  Surrey TV’s picture and camera coverage is now appalling, but give it a few years ...

Davies and de Bruyn weren’t the only ones doing vital stuff for Surrey.  I pick them out merely because what they did was not quite as obvious as other other stuff that Surrey also did (or even as obvious as other things that Davies and de Bruyn did), like win four games in a row, which was, as I say, an amazing achievement.  Much more obvious was the contribution of Pragyan Ojha, the Indian spinner that Surrey signed for their last few games.  The thing about him was that he was not only able to bowl well.  He was able to bowl well when the ball was old and when nobody else could bowl well.  So he kept opposing sides down to much lower totals.

In general, Surrey’s bowling just gets better and better, which tells me that their new coach, Adams, is very good at coaching indeed.  Surrey not only triumphed themselves this year.  They also supplied England with two of their best new regular bowlers, Tremlett and Dernbach, supplying England with regular bowlers meaning, basically, saying goodbye to them.  Linley and Meaker, the next two Surrey quick bowlers in the queue, have done very well.  Hence, along with Ojha, all those wins.  You can’t win proper games of cricket without getting people out.

As for Surrey’s batting, I even suspect that Ramps may have done them a favour by not scoring centuries two games out of every three.  That meant the other batters couldn’t say, oh well, Ramps will bat properly, we don’t have to.  They had to.  They did.

Talking of proper cricket, two days after getting promoted, Surrey also won themselves an improper cricket title, the forty overs each way slog final against Somerset having been at Lord’s on Saturday.  Ojha didn’t play, but Surrey did play numerous other spinners, who tied Somerset into all kinds of knots.  In slogfests, the slower it comes at you, the less it just bounces off your bat to the boundary.  You have to really hit slow deliveries, and that can get you out.  Surrey made a bit of a meal of slogging off the runs, and rain complicated things, but they never really looked like not winning.

So, Surrey promoted.  Surrey win a cup competition. The other London county also promoted.

Plus, England beat India 8-0.  4-0 in the tests, once in the twenty over slog, and 3-0 in the fifty over slog series.  Surrey have a bowling line-up India could only dream of.  (Why Odja didn’t do any bowling for India this summer is very mysterious to a Surrey fan like me, although I presume English 2nd Div batters are far worse at playing spin than sub-continentals in test matches, so they didn’t realise how good he’d be until he proved it for Surrey, too late.)

Cricket lovely cricket.

Actually, the funniest single thing in the entire cricket season was the extraordinary public attack launched by the Chairman of Yorkshire CC on his own players, Yorkshire having this year been relegated to Division Two.  (So Surrey won’t play Yorkshire next season either.) In the same season that Lancashire won the Championship, which won’t have improved his mood any.  (No more Roses matches in the Championship.) Usually when sportsmen do badly these days, those in charge of them are impeccably polite about them in public, taking “full responsibility” for their own errors, blah blah, and keeping any complaints about their underlings strictly private.  Look at Indian captain Dhoni’s relentless public politeness, every time he was interviewed after yet another Indian debacle.  But t’ Yorkshire Chairman went ballistic.

Friday February 11 2011

Last night I did a Samizdata posting about a BBC Radio 4 programme on the psychology of the global warming debate.  Then, since one of his commenters had mentioned in passing that this programme was coming up, and what with him having long specialised in the subject, I thought maybe Bishop Hill might be willing to give my Samizdata posting a mention.  So I emailed him with the link, on the off chance.  And sure enough, there it is, generously quoted, in the latest (as I write this) Bishop Hill posting.  I have just emailed him thank you.

It says a little something about how well Bishop Hill has been doing that now it is a Samizdata contributor hoping that Bishop Hill will give a plug to a Samizdata posting.  I can just about remember when we were plugging him, and he was emailing us his thankyous.  Those days are now long gone.  Another straw in that wind: five comments so far on the Samizdata piece, one by me.  On the Bishop Hill posting, already, seemingly in no time: eleven.

When trying to think of an example of significant bloggers to mention in my previous posting, I found myself giving equal billing to Guido Fawkes ... and to Bishop Hill.  And I think that’s now about right.  I don’t know the numbers, but, in terms of impact and influence in their distinct arenas, I think they are very roughly on a par.  And that’s absolutely not to do down Guido.  It’s to do up the Bishop.

On the rise of Bishop Hill
Thoughts on England not just keeping the Ashes but winning the series 3-1 (with asterisks)
Australia so nearly 55-0 (plus thoughts on the impact of Twenty20 cricket)
Mozart might have become a criminal
Boxing Day morning at the MCG
And it resumes …
First blood to Australia
English will not last for ever shock
The long and short of conversation - Hitchens on YouTube
Which just goes to show that stuff gets around
Lucky we didn’t go to Lords
Why David Hepworth is wrong about podcasting
Those angry Americans
Cricket talk tonight
Scrounging Englishmen and stories too good to check
When Cricinfo doesn’t supply the info
Llyr Williams and Llyr Williams play Bach
More recorded cricket chat and some further Oval hindsights
How the BBC ignored the problem of how to pick two from three equal-ish teams
England and me both upset
Ingrid Fliter has a problem with the piano
Handel in London – and an angelic tenor aria
On not seeing Schoenberg’s Variations for Orchestra
Cricket chat
“Who are you going to sell it to if we don’t buy it?”
The Rite of Spring sounds to me like technology rather than nature
Me talking about the great twentieth century musical divide
Rain stops Murali
Taking the recording studio into the concert hall
The UK is not crowded
Humphrey Searle’s Hamlet is the worst Shakespeare opera ever
Ramprakash at his level of competence
When inimitable means very imitable
Test match special
Depressed about the Windies
Classical under-15s
Surrey crash to earth
“A fitting end to a very badly organised tournament …”
A double cricket surprise
A John Lewis cat and a John Lewis DAB radio
Dutilleux piano music on Naxos
Frederick May
You can have everything
Alex and Brian’s latest classical music mp3 – Saint-Saëns etc.
Patrick and Brian talk about the War on Terror - thoughts about podcasting
Armando Iannucci on going to classical concerts - and me on not bothering
Listening to Peter Briffa’s first podcast
Antoine Clarke
iBrian may be coming but I promise nothing
Still ill
Shakespeare Sunday
Why I liked John Peel