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Category archive: Friends

Friday November 20 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday November 10 2015



I’ve not been out much lately, but last Friday night I got to see Perry and Adriana’s new version of indoors.  That was the best photo I took, of a drying up cloth.

Click on that to see Adriana’s trousers, of the sort that are presumably threatening all the time to get tighter.

Monday October 26 2015

I just sat down to do a BMdotcom posting, about some strange disruption inflicted earlier this evening upon the Royal College of Music by the London premiere of the new James Bond movie.  While composing this posting, I realised that it would do nicely for Samizdata, so there it went.  I don’t do nearly enough for Samizdata these days.

The posting was based on something that Goddaughter 2 (now a student at the RCM) told me.  And she also told me something else, this time not disturbing or of any public significance, but merely rather entertaining.

GD2 now inhabits a big building, full of rooms occupied by her and her fellow students.  Lots of rooms.  Lots of doors.  All the doors looking like each other.

So, one of the ladies in a nearby room to GD2 has a boyfriend staying the night.  Boyfriend needs a piss.  Being a relaxed sort of individual, he strolls to the toilet, naked.  It is deep into the night, and he expects not to encounter anyone, and he does not, at first.  But then, problem.  Which door is the door to the room of his lady friend?  He does not remember.  About four different wrong doors are opened, complete with people behind them, most of whom were surprised but amused, before the correct door is found.

If this was a movie, that would only have been the beginning of the mayhem and the reactions to being woken up by a naked man at the door would have been far more extreme than they actually were.  But for me, this was mayhem enough to be very entertaining.  Boyfriend wasn’t bothered.  Like I say, a relaxed sort of individual.  And no harm at all came of this little nocturnal drama.  Just a mildly entertaining blog posting, or so I hope.

Friday August 28 2015

Incoming photo (which is something I like a lot), from Simon Gibbs, of a sign (I like signs a lot), near Southwark Cathedral:


Click on that to get the bigger, unhorizontalised picture, and read more about what this is about here.  Google sends me regular links to anything that is “new architecture london”, and there’s been lots written about this place.

Although, rather oddly, I couldn’t find any pictures of this sign.  Maybe this will change that.

The gimmick is that this is a pub that sprays alcohol into the air.  That was always going to be catnip to the media, social and regular.  “Breathe responsibly”.  Arf, arf. There are already plenty of pictures around of that sign.

Sunday August 16 2015

Last month, on the 22nd (thank you my camera), a friend took me to see a show consisting, in the first half, of improvised comedy, and in the second half of pre-written sketch comedy.  This was at a venue called the Proud Archivist (thank you me for photoing the sign saying that).

The core skill of the performers who were performing that night was improvisation, and it showed, part two being a rather severe disappointment after the often considerable excellence of part one.  The sort of sketches they did in part two needed to be done with detached and unrealistic faithfulness to the text, Footlights/Monty Python style, almost like you are reading the lesson in church, not “realistically”, as these performers tried to do.  But all it sounded like was that they had forgotten the damn words.  (I heard later that they included some improvisation in some of the sketches.  That was when this dire effect was at its most severe, or so I presume.)

But best of all, which as far as I was concerned made the entire expedition totally worthwhile, was the extraordinary light outside, for a few fleeting minutes during the interval, outside being where I went during the interval.

Here are two of the photos I took from just outside the Proud Archivist, next to the canal, during that interval:


Okay, what was photoed there is nothing out of the ordinary, with the second picture just being a close-up selection from the bigger picture displayed in the first.  But the light!  Photography is light, and that is light! Or, it was.  Do you at least get a hint of what it was like actually to have been there, then?  Hope so.

Friday August 14 2015

That’s not my punctuation.  That’s their punctuation:


This is sort of a wedding photo, in the sense that I took it just before the wedding of Ayumi and Richard, last Saturday, just outside the Church, where there is a market.

There was nobody manning this particular stall, selling miniature pub signs.  And I have a rule about signs that say No Photos, or for that matter No Photo’s.  That rule is: I take a photo of all such signs that I encounter.  Their rule: No Photos.  My rule: Photo of their rule.

I’m guessing that what they mean by a photo is a carefully composed photo of just one of these signs, so I don’t believe that, in the unlikely event that they find out about me posting this photo here, they’ll care.  Besides which, maybe they have discovered that if they exhibit all their signs for sale, and stick “Sorry! No Photo’s!” in among them, they get free publicity from photographers like me.

I didn’t really compose the shot.  I just grabbed it, on my way into the wedding.  But I do like how it says “Queen Vic” and then “England”, right at the top.  And, top left: “London”.

This had to go up today, because as you can see, cats are involved.  And my rule about sometimes having stuff here about cats on Fridays has mutated in my head into a rule that says that I may only mention cats on Fridays, otherwise they’d overrun the entire blog.

Speaking of cats, I also recommend this video, which I found when I visited, after long absence, Norman Lebrecht’s site, this morning.

And see also: Fossils reveal felines drove 40 species of canines to extinction after arriving in North America.

And: An actual exhibition about cats and the internet, just opened in New York.

Monday August 10 2015

A friend of mine has a young daughter who is a very promising ballerina.  Young and very promising ballerinas tend to find themselves being guided from time to time by quite significant ballet persons, and I have urged my friend to pass on to any significant ballet persons he meets that they ought to do a ballet based on the antics of us digital photographers.

If any significant ballet persons ask what sort of thing that might involve, I suggest they be shown pictures like these, which I took between 2006 and 2007:

image image imageimage image imageimage image imageimage image imageimage image imageimage image imageimage image image

Click on any of those pictures and you’ll see that what they’re all about is the big bodily contortions that digital photographers do, mostly just to get their cameras at the right height.  But, there is also the matter of the fun and games the people being photoed often get up to.  They do lots of more self-conscious posing.

Quite a few of these pictures have been posted on the www by me before, mostly on this blog.  But the idea of this posting is to gather together a biggish collection of such pictures, all in one place, for the ballet persons to say: “Wow!  Yes!  We’ll do it!  Pay the crazy blogger double whatever he asks to let us look through his entire photo archive!”

There’s a whole other clutch of pictures showing digital photographers and their hands and fingers.  They wave their fingers about, just to keep their fingers out of the pictures.  Ballet people would like that too.  In the absence of more pictures here, they could just walk over Westminster Bridge and watch the photographers doing it.  Because, provided they are only using small cameras, the photographers do this all the time.

Me being me, there is no category here for “dancing”.  So, “sculpture” will have to do, as in humans making sculptures of themselves.

And that’s not to even mention the whole selfie thing, and the amazing human sculpture making that that can involve.

Saturday August 08 2015



I spent the morning not doing anything here, and then the later morning making sure that there were no Ashes mishaps.  Then I spent from the middle of the day almost to the end of the night attending a wedding.  I took about eight hundred pictures, but for now, one must suffice, not very wedding related, other than it was taken from where the reception took place, namely from the upstairs bar and terrace of Doggett’s Coat and Badge.

I am often out and about in London as the sun sinks, but seldom in a place like this, a crucial few dozen feet higher up than usual.  I think this affected the effect of the sun on the Big Things of the City.

Although, it could just be that I was in a good mood and the view was slightly unfamiliar.  After all, I was high enough to see over the new Blackfriars Bridge Station, and thus see those Big Things from an angle I’m not used to.

I am not used to the Gherkin being totally hidden by the Cheesegrater, which in this shot it just happens to be.  Perhaps that is what is making the Cheesegrater look so good, to me, today.  There is no bulge bulging out from behind it.

As you can see, one of the cranes was on fire with the light of the sun.

Golden Cheesegrater with cranes
With GD2 in Richmond Park (1): Views of London
Tomorrow I will get out less
Out and about with GD1 (4): On the survival of professional photography
A man taking a Selfie before it was A Thing (and me taking a picture of him)
Moving speaker – unmoving listeners, video holder and books
Out and about with GD1 (3): Baritone borrows my charger
Out and about with GD1 (2): How mobile phones both cause and solve meeting up problems
Heaven aka the Barley Mow
A very distant and yet very good view of the Big Things of London
Church not dwarfed by anything
Ruddigore in Blackfriars
Customer service
White Van Brians
Bad taste
From a cat cushion to Bill Murray and a nude to a demon horse sculpture that killed its creator
The Leaning Stonehenge Tour Bus of Salisbury
Exit Caesar
It feels like Sunday already
Talk went well - two (not really) quota photos
Incidental Last Friday details
Old Quimper Cathedral
Christmas Day photos
My digital photos on his TV
ASI Christmas Party photos
Photoing at the ASI party
At the ASI Christmas Party
In the City with Gus
Michael Jennings at the Rose and Crown
Triple selfie
A birthday party with difficult lighting
Happy Friday (eventually)
ASI Boat Trip 5: Individuals
ASI Boat Trip 4: Groups of posing people
Big Things from high up at the Oval
Last night at my place
Lilburne on a T-shirt and Lilburne on a mug
Two bits of hospitality trivia
Sam Bowman on Bleeding Heart Libertarianism
Remembering another Christian name (and flagging up another talk)
3D printed baby in the womb
Church really dwarfed by modernity
Eiffel Tower with chimney pots – La Défense ditto
Digital photography as telepathy
Happy Old Year
Mercedes-Benz W123
Friend on telly
Fat bastard!
Alex on Quentin
The Heron Tower restaurant
The next four Brian’s Last Fridays (including December 27)
Photoing each other - and photoing stuff in the canal
The Alex Singleton blog
The Johnathan Pearce Samizdata gap
Wedding photography (7): Evening
Steve Davies talk last night
the Norlonto Review is back!
Wedding photography (6): The Wedding and the Reception
A Fleet Street lunch
Wedding weather looking good
Alastair James on Blythe Hill Fields and smartphones
Doing libertarian business at the Libertarian Home social
Talking architecture at the Libertarian Home social
Brian’s Fridays will resume on the 25th of this month
A (slightly delayed) Happy New Year
Christmas Eve feast
Nice blog you have here … shame if something happens to it
“I just came across this fascinating photo …”
Usain Bolt takes photos of photographers!
The view from the train
Happy New Year
Occupy St Paul’s pictures
Les Rillettes Henaff
Alex Singleton has a new blog
No fruit juice
Five pictures of me
Sexy beasts
Out to lunch with Alex Singleton
David Botsford a decade ago
Marmite spoons!
Merry Christmas
And here’s the proof!!!  Sixteen little square pictures!!!
Talk at Christian Michel’s
Thirteen swans
Only up to some random linkage and a little felinity
Transport Blog restarts
Beyond the Dome with Goddaughter One
10/10/10 launch for Norlonto Review
Cathedral photo
Ums and ahs
iScream from Artisan du Chocolat
Peaceful time in war zone
Tim Evans looking happy
Sneezing chat
Making the effort
Alex Singleton on Photoshop CS5
Steve Davies lecture - photoing and videoing the lecture - post-lecture chat
Goddaughter One is now a photoblogger
We’ll always have Chelsea
Why do pregnant women now do quite a lot of driving of their husbands?
Two real cats sighted in Spain!
Two red cats
Possible holiday interruption
Saying it with lights in the Victoria Station shopping centre that were still switched on!
Free Skullcandy on a bus in snowy Edinburgh
Samizdata and Zimbabwe both on the up and up?
Antoine Clarke talks about Facebook and Twitter – Guido and … Ian Geldard?
Paul Marks on the financial crisis and on the badness of Obama
I’ve just sold Jesus!!!
Decorated hippo
A little archaeology
Me and Michael Jennings talk tech trends
Tienanmen + Twitter = Teheran
London Bites @ Sway
Summer break
Green eyed monster devouring cat food
Vince Miller with cat
Friend anonymous
Busy day and busy night
Cat blogging and Gormley blogging
The Vita-Mix 5000 at the Veggie Show
Google and dongle
Another Samizdata piece
Happy Christmas to all my readers
Happy Christmas
Waiting for shooting to start
To Guy’s with Gerald
At Liberty 2008 all day
On top of Tower 42
Antoine and Michael on what to do now
Tom Burroughes on the banking crisis
When three’s company but four’s a crowd
Busy at my other personal blog
“Japan is fantastic …”
Why I prefer to live in a failing neighbourhood
Resizing Slim with Expression Engine
Twenty20 cricket on Sky TV
Posting at Michael’s
Party pieces
The new Lowe look
Tea with CDs
A new British citizen
Computer blues
Billion Monkey Alan Little?
Billion Monkeys say Happy New Year!
Here it is Merry Christmas
Billion Monkeys and a Real Photographer at the Golden Umbrellas
She’s alive I tell you! Alive!
Socialising with the Social Media
Talking with Antoine Clarke about Sean Gabb
Renaissance Man
Ideas and opportunities
A talk and a photo
On the appeal or lack of it to Young Europeans of “capitalism”
Friends of Slava
Billion Monkeys at the wedding!
Charm defensive
The visitor
Camera chat
The Mainstream Media finally get around to noticing Andy and his sand sculptures
Evite makes sure I remember it
Me on a bridge by Goddaughter One
When “it’s” becomes “it is” – plus a picture of some Mac users
That Rooney goal
World War One talk at Christian Michel’s
Back to the future with the virtuoso violinists
Superb Simon Hewitt Jones gig – and a couple of blogger gripes
Christmas and New Year’s Eve
Haircuts before and after
By the rivers and canals of East London with Goddaughter One
Hellcab at the Old Red Lion
Alice in Texas on form - England in Australia not
Why photographing Big Ben can resemble being photographed with a sandwich
Sometimes things just work out
Adriana Media Influencer: What do you do? (the mp3s of the book)
Screen back
“Publish it in your Blog!”
Everyone likes Magic Andy
Antoine Clarke and I don’t talk about elections quote of the day
Should blogs - this one in particular - specialise?
[new addition to my blogroll]
Remembering the Alternative Bookshop experience
A talking blog welcomes me back
I’m back
Patrick and Brian talk about the War on Terror - thoughts about podcasting
Adriana tours her own back yard
Not much here today
Kristine writes down some of what Adriana said
Adriana’s Thing mp3
Podcasting with Adriana tomorrow
Unpaid happiness is not misery but it is a step in that direction
Billion Monkey Lady photos me!
Something to bore everyone
One click
Roll playing
Billion Monkey flash!
Bashing on for Samizdata
Billion Monkey at Tom and Noreen’s wedding!
A handwritten letter from Alex Singleton
On style and politics
Pie error
Another phone glitch
Chris Tame’s funeral will be this coming Saturday
On the spread of voluntariness
Quoted but not linked to
Not well
It went fine
Comedy on Thursday and rehearsing for it
Perry and Adriana in the Guardian