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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: Radio

Wednesday July 30 2014

Nothing from me here today, but something at Samizdata (which makes a change), in the form of a remarkable song lyric from the 1920s by Cole Porter.  Pure libertarianism.  They maybe did not have the word back then (I don’t know), but they certainly had the thing itself:

Live and let live, and remember this line:
Your business is your business,
And my business is mine.

Indeed.

Thursday July 17 2014

The are two photos which I took last Monday.  The one with the bright blue sky, me looking up, was taken in Wigmore Street.  The one looking down, was taken from the ME Hotel Radio Rooftop Bar.

They are photos not so much of roof clutter, as of roofs, roof in all their elaborately designed glory.  But, you can spot the late twentieth century incursions:

image image

The aesthetic impact of radio and television aerials does not seem to be much discussed in the architectural world.  It could be that it has, and I merely haven’t noticed, but I don’t think that’s it.

Here is what I think is going on inside the heads of architectural aestheticians, on this subject.  The deal we will make with you mindless philistines is: you can have your damn aerials, because we know that if you are not allowed, by us, to have your damn aerials, you will hut us down and burn us at the stake.  But, we refuse to talk about them.  We will not incorporate them into our aesthetic theories of how things look, and should look.  We will not see them.

Which is how we got from the above scenario, where everything on the roof is elaborately designed, but the first few aerials have crept into the pictures, but have not been seen by the architects and their aesethetic guides, to this:

image

Yet still, they don’t see it and they don’t talk about.

Really, really weird.

I’ve been pondering roof clutter for a while now, but the more I ponder it, the more weird the phenomenon is.

What this reminds me of is a distinction that my sociology teachers at Essex University all those years ago made much of, that between the sacred and the profane.  The sacred stuff here is the regular “architecture”, the walls, the windows, the roofs, the interiors, and so on.  All of that is sacred, and is accordingly obsessed over, every tiny square inch of it, every subtle colour change, just as priests obsess about every word in a prayer.

But those aerials are profane.  They don’t register.  They aren’t architecture, any more than a tracksuit worn by a impoverished member of the congregation in a church is a sacred vestment, the details of which must be argued about by bishops and theologians, or the sales pitch being done over the phone on Monday morning (by someone who had been devoutly praying on Sunday) is itself a prayer.  That sales pitch is profane.  Forget about it.  Don’t even think about it.

Those aerials, in among the sacredness of all those designed chimneys and roofs and little towers, are profane.  And hence invisible.  Aerials are designed, by aerial designers, to make sense of radio waves.  But they are not designed to be looked at.  They are a pure case of form following function.  Architects ought to love them, if they believed their prayers.  But they don’t because what is there for architects to add?  Nothing.  The job has all been done, by profane aerial designers.

Well, I don’t know.  I’m thinking as I go along here, but writing it anyway.  Which is all part of why I have this blog.  At this blog, I am allowed to be wrong.  This is a thinking allowed zone, you might say, a place where the thinking does not have to be done before the blogging begins.  This is, you might say, a profane blog.

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:

image

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.

England squeak through against Scotland
Davies and de Bruyn get promotion for Surrey
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